The Raid Into Syria

Syria_map ""Iraq is in contact with the American side about reports regarding the attack along the frontier with Syria. This region is a theatre of insurgent activities against Iraq using Syria as a launch pad," Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.

He said Baghdad was also asking Damascus to extradite members of an unnamed group it accused of killing 19 Iraqi security guards in a recent attack.

In Syria, the official press said Sunday’s attack — which the authorities say left eight civilians dead, including four children — was a "war crime" by the administration of US President George W. Bush.

"The American forces from Iraq committed cold-blooded murder," government newspaper Tishrin wrote. "They committed a war crime in killing eight Syrian civilians in a quiet village."

Official media reported that American helicopter-borne troops from Iraq launched an assault on a building site Sunday in the village of Al-Sukkiraya, which lies just eight kilometres (five miles) from the border.

It was the first confirmed US action of its kind into Syrian territory amid frosty relations between Washington and Damascus."  AFP


How does one explain this operation?

At present; the Bush Administration and its perennial and unending hostility to Syria is about to disappear, negotiations between the US and Iraq are in a delicate condition, Syria has signaled a desire to improve relations with the US, Israel and Lebanon, there is a new US commander in Iraq.

Where in all of that is an explanation for this US commando raid into the Syrian border country?

Some thoughts:

– The US Special Operations Forces (USSOF) counter-terrorist forces may have been "off the leash" on this one.  These forces are exclusively focused on hunting down terrorist people and support group world-wide.  Rumsfeld made them largely independent of the regular military chain of command.  They amount to a global SWAT team.  They develop their own targeting intelligence and make their own plans.  The amount of control that the local US joint commander has over them is not very clear.  They are not noted for a great deal of insight into geopolitical niceties.

– General Odierno, the man who replaced Petraeus in Iraq, is not famous for nuanced reactions to frustrating situations.

Whatever the cause, the result of ham fisted actions of this kind can be disastrous for the chance of making something better emerge from the situation that Bush/Cheney is leaving for President Obama and his team.  pl

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69 Responses to The Raid Into Syria

  1. Three weeks ago I was sitting in the shade at the Roman ruins of Tyre, the seaside complex. The security guards were chatting us up and had brought us coffee and bottled water. My companion, an American, had been asking them how it went for them when Israel bombed Tyre in 2006, and they told us of evacuating under fire, and the rows of coffins lined up full of children.
    The youngest and most jocular guard said to me: “May I say something, and you don’t get upset?” I nodded. “We know the Death (al Mawt) does not come from the American people. The death comes from the guys on top. The guys at the desks. They send us the death, not the American people. We are not angry at the American people.”
    Just a thought we can all hold on to. Prayers may help, too.

  2. lina says:

    “Rumsfeld made them largely independent of the regular military chain of command.”
    Does that make them vigilantes?
    Rumsfeld is history. Who’s driving this train?

  3. Mad Dogs says:

    Reading between the lines over the last 8 years, I just get the impression that there seems to be a “personal” backstory in Junya’s animus towards Syria.
    This just feels like something other than your typical “policy” defined by the Foreign Service types at Foggy Bottom.
    Tin Foil Hat Warning!!!
    With zero evidence to support my speculation, perhaps something like a childish imaginary dot connection fixation by Junya that postulates Syrian involvement in the assasination attempt on Junya’s father after Gulf War 1.
    In any event, if this is merely Foggy Bottom foolishness, they have definitely hit the bottom of the barrel.

  4. Ormolov says:

    The most alarming thing about this post to me is that Colonel Lang, with expertise in both the Arab Middle East and in Defense Intelligence, should be unable to make sense of this attack, or even to describe its root causes.
    I don’t call into question your expertise, Colonel. I am merely frightened that you are unable to clarify this action more.
    In a sense it’s like the conspiracy theorists who insist on KNOWING, beyond all shadow of a doubt, who shot JFK or who was responsible for 9/11. To me, they are laughable control freaks who can’t stand not knowing, even at the expense of being right.
    No conspiracy here, perhaps, apart from the Bush Administration’s continuing efforts to burn the entire world to the ground by the time they leave office. I am only dismayed that we may never know just what happened here, just as the earlier bombing of a Syrian installation by Israelis will never be accounted for.

  5. Patrick Lang says:

    The usual chain of command is from SECDEF to the regional COCOM (Petraeus and Odierno working for him)
    For these SOF people the chain runs from SECDEF to their own COCOM (SOCOM at McDill AFB) pl

  6. Patrick Lang says:

    This operation makes no geopolitical sense at all. That is my point.
    Eventually, someone will tell me what happened. pl

  7. charlottemom says:

    Wow…are the desparate going “rogue” Kind of like the “diva” in McCain’s campaign wandering off the reservation? Or so say the former Romney aides now attached to McCain campaign. Intrigue.

  8. Jay says:

    This situation seems to one up the stealing of the W keys from the WH computers.

  9. praxis says:

    Scary indeed when you can’t deduct a reasonable rationale for a very grave act: Attacking a foreign country is an act of war.
    And when all you have to go is the military’s dull talking points whose only purpose is to defuse tensions and allow the military to do whatever it deems necessary without much accountability, at least to the common people.

  10. Mad Dogs says:

    More food for thought in this post at the Syria Comment blog of Josh Landis:
    Is the US Raid is a “Parting Shot” by the White House?

  11. Will says:

    from Haaretz via the friday-lunch-club bog. the syrians were told to close their borders. the jordanians and saudis complied. the syrians were recalcitrant. they paid the price. the israelis laugh at the syrians’ inability to repeatedly defend their sovereignty.
    It seems all straightforward Bush-Obama doctrine. If there are terrorists there, and the host country cannot or will not act, then we will act.
    It seems the Iraki government concurred. I thought Maliki was tight with the Syrians having spent years in exile there. ?????
    Of course, all this is great news for McCain- close to election. Yes, the Syrians have a takfiri internationalist Salafist internal problem, b/ yet they still use them as payback. It is the only weapon they have have. the dilemma- how to be transit b/ not to be burnt by the radioactive fighters anathema to their secular state.
    At one time they tried to help the U.S. w/ the tribes when Khaddam was VP b/ the U.S. blew their efforts off.

  12. Will says: by Prof Josh Landis has a pretty good analysis of the situation. Infiltration had gone down from 100 per month to 20 across the syrian/irak border. Petraeus wanted to send generals to the sham/dimashq to restart intel sharing. The syrians wanted ambassadorsrelationships restored first. U.S. said no.
    things went nowhere. Petraeus bombed out of frustration. that was my take out of reading it. Oh! who got bombed. A family of smugglers- not Al Qa’eda- as on a similar raid sometime ago.

  13. Kieran says:

    The administration is trying to show its ‘strength’, targeting a country they know will not respond (after the visits of Pelosi, Kerry, Brzezinski, the Syrians feel sure the Obama administration will move to repair relations and so will do nothing to jeopardize that). See for reference the Israeli strike on a Syrian ‘nuclear’ facility last year. Cheap points.

  14. grim says:

    I have a better explanation: The real significance of this operation is not the thing itself, though that is not without importance. This is not a first in Syria. It is our acknowledgment of it, rather, and the unimpressive Syrian response that are significant. Having watched the recent evolution of same in Pakistan, it’s a fair assumption that a deal has been cut with Syria, and this is not the last such raid we – even better, the Syrians – will acknowledge. We are operating within a comfort zone, so to speak.
    The more interesting question is: What did Syria get in return?
    One guess: A scrub of some sort on the reactor business.
    ADM Owen knows.

  15. Patrick Lang says:

    I prefer to wait until I actually know what happened before “explaining” this otherwise inexplicable act.
    High on my list would be some foolish action inspired by Darth Cheney and executed by soffies indifferent to the amount of political damage they did.
    Any advantage gained in killing a few takfiris in this is far outweighed by the negative effects. pl

  16. Curious says:

    I thought this was one of those election year fiction produced by pentagon photo-op department. “major operation in Anbar province ” . But there are pictures/civilians killed, and Syria is not going to be happy about this.
    (are the pictures real? looks iffy to me. And the Syrian hasn’t aired TV images yet…. hope not. that would look pretty bad)
    It’s a lovely time to have international incidence on top of global financial crisis.

  17. Fred says:

    Wasn’t Dick Cheney’s daughter principal deputy assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs? I wonder how many people she purged at State for not signing on to the ‘freedom’ agenda.

  18. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Am I wrong in suspecting that, if this were the case twenty years ago, we would have gone ahead with the mission and then denied it while we “gathered more information to determine exactly what happened,” with a very serious and grave expression, followed a few days or so later with an apology for our “mistake?” In other words, even if we had decided to pull this off, we would have at least acted as if we really do care about international boundaries and sovereignty.
    From a soldier’s point of view, after so many years in Iraq the temptation must be running strong to finish this job ASAP – to do whatever it takes, geopolitics be damned. That’s understandable although it may not be the best thing to do.

  19. Was the “RAID” entirely US forces? Did Iraqi’s participate or approve? If it was unilateral US how does this comport with the notion that we are working with Iraqi government and armed forces? Interesting take on SOFA in Iraq and impact if signed in op-ed page of today’s WAPO!

  20. Mat Conn Lee says:

    I don’t think this is difficult to explain. We went into Syria because we could. We killed the kids because we could. We may have killed a terrorist or two so that justifies killing the kids.
    As far as this being a rogue type operation, I don’t believe it. I suggest it was approved at the highest levels. Is it tied into the elelction? Isn’t everything!

  21. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    1. Some alleged information on the target from a BBC posting:
    “The attack was in the village of Sukariya, which is inhabited almost entirely by the Mashahda tribe.
    They are very relaxed, laid back people, not very religious – there’s no Mujahideen from this tribe. The guard and the woman who died were very simple people.
    They lived in a tent and were being paid to guard building materials such as cement and timber, 24 hours a day. These people will have had nothing to do with the insurgency in Iraq.
    Most of the people who live here have families in Iraq. A lot of smuggling goes on: bringing guns and sheep from Iraq to Syria.”
    2. Mccltachey Report:
    “WASHINGTON — A U.S. raid on a farm in eastern Syria is thought to have killed an Iraqi smuggler who oversaw the infiltration of foreign fighters into Iraq for the al-Qaida in Iraq terrorist group, a U.S. official said Monday.
    The smuggler, whom the official identified as Abu Ghadiya, was “one of the most prominent, if not the most prominent, foreign fighter facilitator” operating across the Iraq-Syrian border, said the official, who asked not to be further identified because Sunday’s operation was classified….
    Abu Ghadiya is the nom de guerre of Badran Turki Hishan al-Mazidih, a Sunni Muslim who was born in the late 1970s in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and was a lieutenant of al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in 2006. He was believed to be living in the Syrian town of Zabadani.
    On Feb. 28, the Treasury Department charged that Abu Ghadiya and three members of his network were smuggling “money, weapons, terrorists, and other resources through Syria to al Qaida in Iraq, including to (al Qaida) commanders.”
    “Abu Ghadiya and his network go to great lengths to facilitate the flow through Syria of money, weapons, and terrorists intent on killing U.S. and Coalition forces and innocent Iraqis,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey.
    “Former al Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi appointed Badran as the group’s Syrian commander for logistics in 2004,” the Treasury said. “After Zarqawi’s death, Badran began working for the new AQI leader, Abu Ayyub al Masri. As of late-September 2006, Badran took orders directly from Masri, or through a deputy….”
    So is the Treasury Department running raids now?

  22. Dave of Maryland says:

    Any advantage gained in killing a few takfiris in this is far outweighed by the negative effects.
    Such as, the Status of Forces agreement has likely been rendered DOA.

  23. johnf says:

    I agree with the Darth Cheney suggestion.
    Europe has pretty much given up on the American approach to Syria and is entering meaningful negotiations with them. The Syrian Foreign Minister was in London today for some serious talks.
    Could have been foot-stamping from Cheney.

  24. batondor says:

    How about seeing it as a training exercise?,0,4379577.story
    “Other military officials note that only 12 of the 36 special operations units already in Afghanistan are being fully used. Many lack the supporting infrastructure — surveillance drones, helicopter transport and intelligence networks — in part because it is still needed in Iraq.”
    There certainly may have been a specific target (the smuggler, Abu Ghadiya), but it seems excessive in and of itself… but a scenario that has the WH green-lighting such projects to transfer experience for forces in Iraq to those preparing for the Afghan theater seems more coherent.
    “According to a senior Pentagon official, among those advocating a special operations influx [into Afghanistan…] is Army Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the White House’s Iraq and Afghanistan “war czar.” A spokesperson for Lute did not respond to requests for comment.”

  25. Mad Dogs says:

    Caveat Emptor – From the The Long War Journal blog:

    The US military incursion into Syria was aimed at the senior leader of al Qaeda’s extensive network that funnels foreign fighters, weapons, and cash from Syria into Iraq, a senior intelligence official told The Long War Journal.
    US special operations hunter-killer teams entered Syria in an attempt to capture Abu Ghadiya, a senior al Qaeda leader who has been in charge of the Syrian network since 2005. US intelligence analysts identified Ghadiya as the leader of the Syrian network, The Washington Post reported in July. Ghadiya was identified as a “major target” by the US military in February 2008…
    …The US military has officially refused to confirm or deny the raid took place. But several senior intelligence officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject told The Long War Journal that the raid was indeed carried out inside Syria…

  26. Mad Dogs says:

    And more cavet emptor news reports; this from the International Herald Tribune (the international version of the NYT):

    The leader of a Syrian network that smuggled fighters, weapons and cash into Iraq was killed in the cross-border raid by U.S. special forces, a United States counterterrorism official said Monday.
    The operation targeted the home of Abu Ghadiyah, the nickname of the leader of an important cell of foreign fighters in Iraq, the U.S. official told The Associated Press in Washington who spoke on condition of anonymity.
    The U.S. Treasury Department has identified Abu Ghadiyah as one of four major figures of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia Iraq wing who live in Syria.

    And from the domestic version of the NYT:

    A raid into Syria on Sunday was carried out by American Special Operations forces who killed an Iraqi militant responsible for running weapons, money and foreign fighters across the border into Iraq, American officials said Monday.
    The helicopter-borne attack into Syria was by far the boldest by American commandos in the five years since the United States invaded Iraq and began to condemn Syria’s role in stoking the Iraqi insurgency. The timing was startling, not least because American officials had praised Syria in recent months for its efforts to halt traffic across the border.
    But in justifying the attack, American officials said the Bush administration was determined to operate under an expansive definition of self-defense provided a rationale for strikes on militant targets in sovereign nations without those countries’ consent…

  27. Patrick Lang says:

    I don’t care who ordered it. It was a stupid thing to do. We have to stop thinking that terrorists are the most important thing in the world… pl
    Knock off the phony socialist menace crap. Stop writing “amerika” like a teenager from the 70s, and you might get published here. pl

  28. srv says:

    “the result of ham fisted actions of this kind can be disastrous for the chance of making something better emerge from the situation”
    Mission Accomplished.

  29. batondor says:

    For what it’s worth, Pat… I agree, in general, but particularly with the idea that we can use military force selectively and precisely and with impunity to solve these broader problems…
    In fact, I was tempted to add to my previous post that I am currently reading The Bay of Pigs by Howard Jones and the most striking thing is the degree to which the Kennedys bought into the complex schemes to trigger a popular insurrection against Castro…
    I sometimes wonder how it would have gone if the initial landing had actually succeeded. In any case, I hope Obama is watching and learning (the right lessons, that is…).

  30. ServingPatriot says:

    You wrote:
    High on my list would be some foolish action inspired by Darth Cheney and executed by soffies indifferent to the amount of political damage they did.
    I would absolutely agree with this tidbit. Whether it was Ghadiya or not, this event, not unlike the “routine” cross-border operations in Pakistan’s western frontier, smacks of the “global manhunt” Seymour Hersch described all the way back in 2002. It would not surprise me in the least to learn that the “manhunt” orders come right from the very top via some sort of closely held special program; heck, Cheney, the president said, “has the portfolio for intelligence activities.” so why wouldn’t it have been done this way. My question is for the flag officers leading SOCOM & JSOC – did you do your legal homework better than Myers did?
    And you’re absolutely right that it was politically stupid.
    Want to take any odds that the America government officials posted to the Embassy in Damascus had any idea this was brewing?
    How about the vaunted General Patreaus now ensconced in his CENTCOM HQ?
    I wouldn’t.
    PS… If it was Ghadiya, and he was a cross-border operator and they knew where he was, why oh why did the soffies not just team up with their Iraqi proteges and nail the guy on one of his trips into Iraq? Would certainly have made the trivial nuisances of attacking another country, defending Iraqi territory, and building ISF capacity much more relevant, no?

  31. David W. says:

    Who would’ve predicted that Assad Jr. would outlast Bush Jr?
    Looks like a return to the body count method of accounting to me. Was G. Gordon Liddy there to verify that they were all takfiri?

  32. Mad Dogs says:

    Pat wrote: “I don’t care who ordered it. It was a stupid thing to do. We have to stop thinking that terrorists are the most important thing in the world… pl”
    Yes and yes.
    As far as “who” ordered it, I’ve gotta believe that the “Go” word was given from the White House.
    The reason that I bring up this aspect, is that it is also likely that the current inhabitants of the White House sought to also provide some of that same ol’ GWOT – “You’re either for us or for the terrorists” ammunition to the McSame campaign.
    I’d imagine that those WH folks would like the McSame campaign to try and box the Obama campaign into responding as to whether they support cross-border violations of sovereignty in order to make us safe from terrorists.
    I would expect the Obama camp to try and finesse a response rather than explicitly picking a side.

  33. Ed Webb says:

    johnf points out that Muallem was in London for talks. Note that the Foreign Secretary did not appear with him in joint news conference as planned. Whether or not this was the prime motivation, this has put the UK in a tough diplomatic position in terms of renovating relations with Syria while maintaining solidarity with the US. Leaves the European action more in the hands of Sarkozy.

  34. “For these SOF people the chain runs from SECDEF to their own COCOM (SOCOM at McDill AFB) pl”
    Col., does COCOM have forward operating bases in Iraq from which they can run helicopters with no coordination with CENTCOM? Is the reason there have been no statements from CENTCOM (at least as of earlier this afternoon) because they are clueless?

  35. ChrisH says:

    Sounds like a “Phoenix Program” operation from the Vietnam era to me. “Go in, small force, get the hit, get out. Nope it wasn’t us!”.
    Plausible Deniability

  36. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    1. AP reports:
    “However, local officials said seven men were killed and two people were wounded, including a woman. An AP reporter saw the bodies of seven men at the funerals Monday.
    Amateur video taken by a villager on a cell phone Sunday showed four helicopters flying overhead as villagers pointed to the skies in alarm. The grainy images, viewed Monday by the AP, did not show the helicopters landing.
    Another villager told the AP he saw at least two men taken into custody by U.S. forces, and whisked away by helicopter. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared for his life.
    At the targeted building, the floor was bloodstained Monday, with abandoned tennis shoes scattered amid pieces of human flesh. A tent pitched near the site had bags of bread, pots and pans and wool blankets.”
    2. BBC reports:
    “Syria says all the victims were civilian.
    Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said they were a father and his three children, a farm guard and his wife, and a fisherman.
    He said: “Killing civilians in international law means a terrorist aggression. We consider this criminal and terrorist action.”
    3. McClatchy reports:
    “The body of Badran Turki Hishan al Mazidih, an Iraqi national who used the nom de guerre Abu Ghadiya, was flown out of Syria on a U.S. helicopter at the end of the operation Sunday by CIA paramilitary officers and special forces, one U.S. official said.”
    “It was a successful operation,” a second U.S. official told McClatchy. “The bottom line: This was a significant blow to the foreign fighter pipeline between Syria and Iraq.”
    “A senior U.S. military officer said the raid was launched after human and technical intelligence confirmed that al Mazidih was present at the compound close to Syria’s border with Iraq. “The situation finally presented itself,” he said.”

  37. Harper says:

    I was told yesterday by a senior U.S. intelligence official that the Syria raid was approved at the White House, and was not an off-the-reservation or locally ordered attack. This, the source said, raises a number of questions: Did the U.S. government ask Syria to take action against the smugglers along the Iraq border? If not, then the strong suspicion is that this incident “ordered at the White House” came from Cheney and Abrams. It came at precisely the moment that Israeli is going into early elections, and where Livni is openly promoting negotiations with Syria under the overall Arab peace plan umbrella. This raid, against Syrian-based terror support networks facilitating the flow of Al Qaeda fighters into Iraq, would be a gift to Bibi Netanyahu, who will campaign against Livni from a hardline stance against any negotiations with Syria (“the terror state”). Can’t say that this source is 100 percent right, but it certainly offers an explanation of why now, and why the White House would have approved it. At NSC Abrams has always been strongly opposed to any negotiations with Syria, and David Wurmser, formerly of Cheney’s staff, has been fanatical against any Israel-Syria peace deal.

  38. Patrick Lang says:

    The SOF forces in Iraq have their own bases, transportation and communications. pl

  39. J says:

    What Harper said regarding the Syria raid is ‘correct’. Cheney and his heart-throbs Netanyahu/Likud will do any and everything to make sure there is ‘no peace’ in the region. To keep things in a quandary is beneficial for them $$$ wise. That way they can maintain their BIG $$$ expenditures for the U.S. to Israel military aid packages. The former Mossad liquidator Livni’s peace overtures towards Syria, has caused Bibi (Cheney) and the Likud to cork-screw themselves into the ceiling with rage. Alas, ‘anything’ to cause angst between Israel and its Arab neighbors benefits the Likud and Netanyahu.
    Also certain parties were kept out of the loop regarding the raid, i.e. Crocker, Ambass. in Syria, and the Centcom hierarchy.

  40. J says:

    ‘Also’, if Netanyahu/Likud gain control of the Israeli leadership, expect wars with Syria, Lebanon, and Iran ‘to happen’.

  41. J says:

    With the way things are proceeding, we need another ‘Fighting Quaker’ to emerge onto the scene to rescue our nation from the fascist onslaught that is occurring ‘within’.

  42. Patrick Lang says:

    It is now clear that both Odierno and Crocker were bypassed by the WH in greenlighting this operation for the Soffies. Well, the titles of Iraq COCOM and Ambassador are nice. They should take comfort in that.
    Motive? Look to the Israeli cabinet crisis and coming election. pl

  43. Curious says:

    The attack came days after a top US commander in Iraq told reporters that US troops bolstering their presence on the Syrian border, which he called an “uncontrolled” gateway for fighters entering Iraq.
    The unconfirmed details and unquestionable tragedy of the raid have left once-promising US-Syria ties in tatters. Top officials in Damascus have blasted the “cowboy” tactics of US forces, and Syrian public opinion has become vociferously anti-American.
    The so-called “massacre” won’t lead to war between the US and Syria, but it marks an important turning point in a turbulent and unpredictable relationship that stretches back some 60 years.

  44. Curious says:

    This is a complete diplomatic breakdown. The worst thing that can be done is Pentagon start winning an explanation on TV.
    They better put an experience diplomat to handle the situation. Less we want a long term damage to already bad US-Syria relationship.
    Remember, Syria has the ability to launch a war into Iraq and win. (If Pentagon barely able to handle few crazy alqaeda’s member and militias, then they should think what if Syria start training Iraqis in Syria and launch Hezbollah style liberation movement.
    I give them 5 years combined with Iranian effort to win.)
    What Pentagon still doesn’t get: by now everybody in the area already have a plan to get our ass. Conventional modern army strategy is gone. Everybody already have network built to ignite credible guerilla war using advance light weapons. There isn’t a single thing we can do, since we don’t have cultural grasp nor ally in that area.
    DAMASCUS (Reuters) – Syria decided on Tuesday to close an American school and a cultural center in Damascus, in an apparent response to a U.S. military raid that the authorities said killed eight civilians.
    The move marks a further deterioration in relations between the United States and Syria, which are already strained by U.S. charges that Damascus is failing to do enough to stop militants from entering Iraq to attack its forces.

  45. Binh says:

    If the White House cleared it, does that mean Gates signed off on it?

  46. Patrick Lang says:

    I don’t think one can reasonably connect the Reichswehr to the rise of fascism in Germany. If you can, tell us how. pl

  47. Will says:

    Thanks J. I had never heard of the “Fighting Quaker” Smedley Butler. From the Wiki quote “War is a Racket:”
    “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”[21] ”
    i guess someday a leatherneck will write “Muscle for AIPAC?”

  48. Mad Dogs says:

    Binh wrote: “If the White House cleared it, does that mean Gates signed off on it?”
    Given this White House’s mania for secrecy and off-the-books skullduggery (particularly Cheney and Addington), Gates may not even have known about it.
    That said, Gates probably did know about it, but he may not have been in the command decision loop.
    According to that NYT report, the “orders” came from the CIA:

    …American officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the raid said the mission had been mounted rapidly over the weekend on orders from the Central Intelligence Agency when the location of the man suspected of leading an insurgent cell, an Iraqi known as Abu Ghadiya, was confirmed…

  49. Mad Dogs says:

    And of course, where would we be without this “person-of-interest” IPSNews quote:

    …The suspected involvement of some of the most vociferous anti-Syria hawks at the highest levels of the Bush administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney, have combined with U.S. silence on the matter to fuel a guessing game as to just exactly who ordered or approved Sunday’s cross-border raid.
    “This operation is pretty clearly run by U.S. special operations forces pursuing a terrorist target,” Col. Pat Lang, a retired U.S. military intelligence officer, told IPS. “Their sole mission is like a SWAT team to go around and hunt terrorists.”
    Lang said that these special operations forces sometimes operate distinctly outside the normal military chain of command by design of hawkish former Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld.
    “If left to themselves, they would do this kind of thing [the Syria raid]. That’s what they do,” said Lang. “They don’t follow policy, they carry out their assigned mission.”
    Because the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, is dealing with mounting concerns about the SOFA, Lang suspects that he’d be hesitant to directly approve such a bold a provocative attack as Sunday afternoon’s.
    “I haven’t established it yet, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the authority to do this came right out of the White House,” Lang told IPS.
    Asked if the decision doesn’t undermine pressing U.S. goals for commanders in Iraq, Lang said that while the considerations are there, they don’t always filter up into decision making in the executive branch.
    “Usually command arrangements of various kinds are messy,” Lang said, “and this White House has shown a tendency to want to bypass the established chain of command and influence what’s going on [in the field].”

  50. mo says:

    Question to you all if I may. Exactly how does this attack help Mccain/Likud?
    Promoting the “Syria is harboring terrorists” line? Hardly since these people were not exactly receiving Moukhabarat protection in downtown Damascus alla Mughniyeh. In the US, it may have a modicum of traction but the Israelis aren’t going to buy it.
    The only way I can see it helping is if the Syrians respond, militarily or by allowing more insurgents into Iraq, or by breaking of discussions with the EU and/or Israel.
    The first, well anyone who thinks that was ever a possibility should never ever be allowed near a foreign policy decision again.
    The second, while possible, is hardly going to happen overnight and very unlikely to happen quickly enough or on a large enough scale to seriously affect any election. And frankly, even if it did, who is going to care? In the US it would simply re-enforce the belief that the time for withdrawal is now and in Israel, lets be frank, since the Syrians already provide support for Hizballah, they arent going to care one bit.
    And the third? Those special forces could have gone into the Presidential palace in Damascus and not affected Syrias drive to come in from the political wasteland.
    For me the goal of this operation is more local. To my, albeit amateur, eyes, this was nothing more than another demonstration of Syria’s military weakness.
    The question then is who was the demonstration for?

  51. Dan M says:

    I used to keep a list of alleged “Al Qaeda” members killed in Iraq that were either identified as “senior” or “top lieutenants” by US military sources. I had over 50 names on it before i stopped keeping track 2 years ago.

  52. Dan M says:

    Mo, you’ve begged a question here: “For me the goal of this operation is more local. To my, albeit amateur, eyes, this was nothing more than another demonstration of Syria’s military weakness.The question then is who was the demonstration for?”
    If this was in fact designed to demonstrate that Syria can’t militarily stop US special forces from swooping over the border and doing what they will, then it was even more stupid than it seems at present.
    Syria knows well its military position vis a vis the US. The US does too. Everyone does.
    The oddest part of this is that when there was far more smuggling of jihaddis over that border a few years ago, we weren’t attacking inside syria. Now that things are relatively quiet, we are.

  53. J says:

    Mad Dogs brought up a good point — orders came from the DCI. There was a ‘reason’ that the DCI Hayden was in Lebanon very recently.

  54. Jon T. says:

    1. When is the US Election?
    2. Petraeus went where – a move “upstairs” or to greater responsibility?
    3. Odierno took Petraeus’ place and is what now? Not known for evenhandedness in difficult situations, “nuanced reactions to frustrating situations”?
    3. Who is invested in fomenting a continuation of chaos?
    4. How ‘real’ or ‘true’ is it that Al Queda has a locatable chief of recruitment to be pursued and eliminated?
    5. Are elite soldiers operating against a farm pawns or bishops – in other words what is their function? Killing or antagonizing and publicizing?
    Statement: on the first post from Leila – many Muslims and people other than Americans ‘get’ that the men and women at the desks send conflict, not the American people. That doesn’t stop them from leaving a centrist position and going to a Madrasah or far away from rationale reasoned response. Many have nothing against American people, even soldiers before they become soldiers, or while soldiers.
    That doesn’t stop the conflict. As always, I say that prayer, each in our own way, calls. The tipping point idea is very real. I become the change I want to see. As people do this, perhaps America will no longer be a Czarist state and will return to a vibrant Republic.

  55. Patrick Lang says:

    I think not.
    As you know the Iron Chancellor was oft known to remark that “genius lies in knowing when to stop.” pl

  56. GSD says:

    Has John McCain sung any snappy tunes about bombing Syria?

  57. mo says:

    On further considering its my guess, and its a long shot, is that this operation was to take some sort of chip off the Syrian table in Syrian-Israeli negotiations; Doing something the Israelis could not do themselves in order to prove to them that whatever it was they were saying they could no longer say.
    The Israelis have twice recently shown Syrian air defence to be awol but they needed US troops to prove that the ground defense was equally non-existant.
    But Im just guessing.

  58. LA_Times is claiming Damascus greenlighted this. Any thoughts, pl?

  59. Mad Dogs says:

    Pat, this is an interesting article over at The New Repbublic and I wonder what your thoughts are (the whole article is “interesting” and worth the read):

    Twilight Struggle
    On Sunday, U.S. helicopters accompanied by a special forces team struck in Sukkariyeh, Syria, just over the border from Iraq. It was a raid with enormous implications for the war in Iraq and the broader war on terror…
    …That is a big story. But it doesn’t begin to capture the magnitude of the strike in Sukkariyeh. We have entered a new phase in the war on terror. In July, according to three administration sources, the Bush administration formally gave the military new power to strike terrorist safe havens outside of Iraq and Afghanistan. Before then, a military strike in a country like Syria or Pakistan would have required President Bush’s personal approval. Now, those kinds of strikes in the region can occur at the discretion of the incoming commander of Central Command (Centcomm), General David Petraeus…
    …Why has the administration changed policy at this late date?…
    …But with the clock winding down on the administration, it has a greater appetite for racking up victories against al Qaeda–and less worries about any residual political consequences from striking. Roger Cressey, a former deputy to Richard Clarke in the Clinton and Bush administrations, says, “[W]ith the administration in the final weeks, the bar for military operations will be lowered because the downsides for the president are minimal…”

  60. Curious says:

    Syria just send a demand for explanation in the UN. I don’t think they would bother that if they agreed.

  61. Thor says:

    Training can take place anywhere; this was definitely not a training exercise. Terrorists do not consider borders when striking at us why should we consider them when striking back. No one in the SOF community would conduct a raid across international borders without his boss saying yes and his boss saying yes and so forth. This had nothing to do with politics and elections and everything to do with reliable Intel on a real target worth stretching to hit.

  62. Christie says:

    My post on the other thread was not an attempt to connect the Reichswehr to the rise of fascism in German. The point, rather, was that what ultimately happened in Germany came about in a way that made it imperceptible to the average citizen:
    “Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’….”
    “Sea-smurf” can be “so well explained”. But is it really inconsequential? Of and by itself, it seems unimportant, just the reasonable formalization of an existing ad hoc system. But put it together with such things as free speech zones, the harassment and arrest of peaceful protestors during political conventions, raids on the lodgings and vehicles of citizens planning to protest, government spying on advocacy groups, in particular peace groups, the use of agents provocateurs, and interfering with and arresting credentialed representatives of the media at a national political convention and it no longer looks quite so benign. Especially if one takes the time to ask why this is even necessary. Are disasters, natural or otherwise, and the need for “help with civil unrest and crowd control” so frequent and so huge that civilian authorities are, on a regular basis, unable to cope?
    Our civil liberties are being chipped away, slowly and inexorably and with much too little notice. Moreover, we are bit by bit becoming used to the militarization of our society. It is at this point impossible to say what the end point of all this will be, but I find that the America I grew up believing in is slowly disappearing unnoticed by the average person and with the changes continually explained away by one argument or another.

  63. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    The incident might suggest to some Syrian officials and the pubic the need to increase cooperation with Russia, or other partners, in the air defense area.

  64. mo says:

    “Terrorists do not consider borders when striking at us why should we consider them when striking back ”
    Because “Terrorists” are not signatories to international treaties and laws. Because if you act like them, you are no better than them, and because its attitudes like this with a “holier than thou” self-rightousness to act as judge, jury and executioner, without regard to the lives of any innocents that may be in the vicinity that has led to the disgust the rest of the world feels for this administration and the policies it has followed.

  65. Andy says:

    A brief point on “sea-smurf” that seems to have not been widely acknowledged: The original Army Times article was incorrect when it claimed that the civil unrest and crowd control training were for any domestic mission, including CCMRF. That training, and the equipment that goes along with it, are currently being instituted into all the Army’s BCT’s for use in Iraq and Afghanistan and NOT for domestic missions. The CCMRF mission is singularly focused on support to civil authorities in the case of a catastrophic CBRNE event and that support consists mainly of transportation, medical, decontamination, command, control & communications (C3) and related functions. “Crowd control” is not one of those functions. Were that necessary, local civil authorities or the National Guard in title 32 status would be the legal way to meet that need.
    As it turns out, the 1BCT in question is not only training for this domestic CCMRF contingency to which it has been assigned, but also for a return to Iraq or Afghanistan. The crowd control and non-lethal weapons training (that again, all BCT’s are getting) is to prepare for overseas deployment, not for a domestic deployment. I can only guess the Army Times made the leap in causality between CCMRF and “crowd control” etc. without fully investigating the reality.
    Anyway, to keep this on topic, I seriously doubt this raid was about making Syrian Air Defense or ground forces look weak. Anyone who follows such things knows the bulk of both ground and air defense assets are in western Syria and there is hardly anything in the east along the border with Iraq. Regardless, Israel has demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the Syrian air defense several times over the last few years.

  66. Curious says:

    The Iraqis amazingly hold their line against Bush SOFA.
    A lot of Bush administration players are going to get their harsh dues after Bush is gone. Military tribunal type of stuff. Breaking international laws and constitution.
    The threat by the George W Bush administration last week to withdraw all economic and military support from the Iraqi government if it does not accept the US-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) has raised the stakes in the political-diplomatic struggle over the issue.
    However, most Iraqi politicians are now so averse to any formal legitimization of the US military presence – and particularly of extraterritorial legal rights over US troops in the country – that even that threat is unlikely to save the pact.

  67. Curious says:
    US’s Syrian raid sets Iraq on fire
    By Sami Moubayed
    DAMASCUS – The United States raid on Syria on October 27, which led to the killing of eight civilians, sent shockwaves throughout Iraq, mainly enraging the Sunni community, former Ba’athists and tribal leaders who are pro-Syrian.
    It came as such a surprise to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that he was completely dumfounded at commenting. Here was the prime minister of Iraq, an ally of Iran and a former resident of Syria, watching Syria being attacked from his own territory – without his knowledge.
    Maliki’s relations with Damascus can be described as cordial at worse, warm at best. They have never been excellent, but he categorically opposes any destabilization of Syria, knowing that the spillover into Iraq would be colossal.

  68. Curious says:

    This start to look like the Israel Gang inside Cheney office trying to pull some show, stopping normalization with Syria.
    maybe it’s just a fluke
    Syria decides to cut off ties with Iraq
    Olmert ‘wants more Syria talks’
    Livni criticizes Olmert’s intention to continue Syria talks

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