With Donald Trump's onslaught of authoritarianism domestically, his first military operation, the bungled raid in Yemen, during which a reported 30 civilians and one Navy SEAL were killed, has gotten comparatively little attention.
But there are two very important stories about that raid today, which I want to highlight.
1. Cynthia McFadden, William M. Arkin, and Tracy Connor at NBC News: Yemen Raid Had Secret Target: Al Qaeda Leader Qassim Al-Rimi. The ostensible reason for the raid, we've been hearing from the administration, was intelligence gathering. But it turns out that was not the case.
The Navy SEAL raid in Yemen last week had a secret objective — the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who survived and is now taunting President Donald Trump in an audio message.He is alive and mocking Donald Trump in an audio recording: "The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands." That is troubling for a number of reasons, not least of which is that Trump will be piqued by such provocative taunting, which is precisely the point. That will make him even more reckless and dangerous.
Military and intelligence officials told NBC News the goal of the massive operation was to capture or kill Qassim al-Rimi, considered the third most dangerous terrorist in the world and a master recruiter.
But while one SEAL, 14 al Qaeda fighters and some civilians, including an 8-year-old girl, were killed during a firefight, al-Rimi is still alive and in Yemen, multiple military officials said.
How easily manipulated into bad decision-making Trump is cannot be in question, given the very manner in which he was talked into launching the raid in the first place. Which brings us to...
2. Caroline Mortimer at The Independent: Donald Trump's Staff Get Him to Agree to Policies by Saying 'Obama Wouldn't Have Done It'. And, yes, that includes the Yemen raid.
Defence Secretary, General James "Mad Dog" Mattis, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, reportedly convinced Mr Trump to go ahead with the raid by suggesting Mr Obama would never have been so bold as to actually go through with it.It was not. And despite the fact that the White House declared the raid "a successful operation by all standards," NBC News notes that the White House and Pentagon had no comment on the latest revelation of their intended target and failure to kill him.
They suggested that the death of al Rimi would be a "game changer" in the fight against al-Qaeda, according to a senior White House official.
At this point, it should be abundantly clear even to the most diehard Trump supporters that he has no idea what he is doing. And he is seeking input from people with their own conflicting agendas, who are eminently willing to manipulate him to get what they want, irrespective of whether it's good for the country.
We are in real trouble.
If Trump were the patriot he claims to be, he would admit he is profoundly out of his depth and resign his position immediately.