Speaking this morning at the Joint Chiefs of Staff change of command ceremony, President Barack Obama hailed the killing of radical cleric and Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, a dual Yemeni/American citizen, as a major blow to jihadism. Today’s operation was a drone strike carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command working with the CIA.
** QUICK HITS. In defiance of party rules, Florida has officially picked January 31st for its Republican presidential primary. So look for Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina to move to early and mid-January. … While most Republican candidates struggle in their fundraising (we haven’t heard from Rick Perry yet), President Barack Obama is somewhere over his $55 million target for the quarter just ending in fundraising for his joint party and presidential committees. … Obama’s fundraising was slowed by having to cancel more than a dozen major fundraisers while the preposterous debt ceiling/deficit reduction struggle dragged on over the summer. … A very quiet day in California politics, with Governor Jerry Brown signing and vetoing some more bills, amusing himself with a signing message on a bill allowing the display in a Kern County museum of a dead mountain lion which has been in deep freeze for three years due to a 1990 initiative mandating that dead wildlife be disposed of by the state Department of Fish and Game. As it changed the sacrosanct provisions of an initiative, the bill required and got a 4/5 vote. “This presumably important bill earned overwhelming support by both Republicans and Democrats. If only,” he lamented, “that same energetic bipartisan spirit could be applied to creating clean energy jobs and ending tax laws that send jobs out of state.”
** DETAILS OF AWLAKI TAKE-DOWN BEGIN TO EMERGE. The US is taking a more low-key approach in discussing and revealing details of the operation that killed radical cleric and Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki today in a town less than a hundred miles from Yemen’s capital city of Sanaa.
In part because it was an American operation in a nation, Yemen, which in the midst of a tricky insurrection against a longtime US ally, Ali Abdullah Saleh, whom the US is trying to get to step down from power.
And in part because Awlaki, born in New Mexico, with university degrees from Colorado and California, who preached at mosques in Colorado, California, and Virginia (ministering to 9/11 hijackers in California and Virginia), still held American citizenship but had been convicted in no court of law.
Nevertheless, details of the operation are beginning to emerge.
U.S. military and intelligence forces have been tracking Anwar al-Awlaki for years. On Friday, they found him and killed him.
Awlaki, who apparently inspired the Fort Hood major who killed 13 service members and whose ties to al Qaeda may go back as far as the 9/11 hijackers, was tracked down leaving a funeral in Yemen and killed by a rocket fired from a U.S. drone aircraft.
CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports the hunt for Awlaki was code-named “Objective Troy” and had been in high gear for months.
A CIA drone finally got him, but that was only the tip of a much larger military operation. Missiles fired by the drone took out Awlaki’s vehicle. That made the American-born cleric the first U.S citizen to be targeted and killed as a terrorist.
A senior defense official said, “a very bad man just had a very bad day.”
President Obama seemed to have no qualms about Awlaki’s American roots. “Awlaki was the leader of external operations for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” Mr. Obama said after Friday’s attack. “In that role, he took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans.”
Samir Khan, another American member of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and two passengers were also killed. But Awlaki was the main target. He had narrowly escaped an earlier drone strike the week after the Bin Laden raid, and this time the U.S. was taking no chances.
His hideout in a remote Yemeni town was under continuous surveillance and the pattern of his daily routine monitored.
Harrier jets flying from an amphibious carrier off the coast were ready to take a shot if the CIA drone missed. There was even an option for sending in Marine Ospreys with Special Operations Forces to collect any intelligence left after the strike, but that was never used. It was all part of a secret buildup which has occurred in and around Yemen as that country emerged as home to one of al Qaeda’s most active branches.
“This is further proof that al Qaeda and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world,” Mr. Obama said.
Since the bin Laden raid last May, the U.S. has killed seven other senior al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Awlaki is number 8.
** NEW POLL: MORE ALARMING NEWS FOR DEMOCRATS. A new Gallup Poll brings fresh news for alarm among Democrats. Although the Republican presidential field is providing more than ample evidence of its extremism, a plurality now feels that Republicans would be better than Democrats in handling the nation’s problems.
Both on the economy, and on national security.
The latter is not unusual. But the former certainly is.
In addition, reflecting the multiple failures in government, a majority favors the creation of a third party.
Americans see the Republican Party as better able than the Democratic Party to protect the country from terrorism and military threats, and to keep the country prosperous over the next few years. …
These views come as record numbers of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed and express highly negative opinions about a number of other dimensions of the federal government. Next year’s elections provide Americans with an opportunity to vent their frustrations in the presidential and the congressional elections. At this point, Republicans, who currently control the House but not the presidency or the Senate, appear to be at least slightly better positioned going into the elections, given Americans’ preference for the GOP to handle the nation’s domestic and international woes.
Democrats held the advantage over the Republican Party on the “prosperous” dimension from 2003 through 2009, a period that included the majority of George W. Bush’s presidency and the first year of Barack Obama’s. The advantage switched to the GOP last year and remains so this year, by 48% to 39%. …
Americans’ current tilt toward the Republican Party as better able to handle terrorist and military threats has generally persisted over the past decade, with the exception of a September 2007 survey in which the Democrats edged out the Republicans. …
Americans are highly dissatisfied with the way things are going in the nation and have low economic confidence, creating an environment in which a third-party challenger could find significant backing from American voters. Indeed, 55% of Americans say the two major parties do such an inadequate job of representing the American people that a third party is needed.
Americans’ current views regarding a third party are similar to what was measured last year and in 2007. However, in other years over the past decade, interest in a third party has been somewhat lower — particularly in September 2008, in the middle of a spirited presidential election campaign involving Obama and John McCain, the two major-party candidates.
>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 9 AM Pacific, President Barack Obama presides over the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairmanship Change In Office Ceremony at Fort Myer. After that, White House press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room. The events will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
** LIVE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE.
With massive geopolitical events swirling and the 2012 presidential race unfolding, the White House is increasingly a pivot point for the day’s events. Live streaming of key presidential events is now available as a matter of course here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
NWN will continue to present other live netcasts in full streaming mode, as it did with the Ronald Reagan Centennial events from the Reagan Library, as they emerge and are technically available and as significance dictates.
Radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a New Mexico-born, California-educated jihadist who prompted the Christmas Day bomber over Detroit and the Fort Hood shooter, was killed today in Yemen.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … 9/11 AT 10+: DID OSAMA BIN LADEN WIN AFTER ALL?
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Virginia.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefing and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
Obama was then scheduled to deliver remarks at 8 AM Pacific at the “Change of Office” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ceremony at Fort Myer, Virginia, but the event has been delayed, perhaps because of the killing of Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, a native Californian, gives way to Army General Martin Dempsey.
At 9:30 AM Pacific, White House press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room.
The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
At 10:40 AM Pacific, Obama will be interviewed live by radio host Michael Smerconish in the Oval Office.
At 5:05 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event in a private residence.
In the ever exciting Republican presidential race, former frontrunner Mitt Romney is coming up over $5 million short of the last quarter’s fundraising mark, which in turn was down from the same period four years ago.
And Jon Huntsman is closing up shop in Florida, where he had headquartered his presidential campaign, throwing all his chips into the New Hampshire pot. Where he has actually cracked double digits in recent polling.
Ron Paul has reportedly raised $5 million for the quarter, which is less than Obama raised in his recent California trip.
Michele Bachmann is apparently out of money.
The big question is how did Rick Perry do? We’ll know soon enough.
An apparent major triumph for the Obama Administration today with the death of radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Awlaki, a key Al Qaeda leader, operationally and especially as an Internet preacher and recruiter, was killed by an air strike in Yemen.
While Awlaki’s father was a Yemeni politician, Awlaki himself was born in New Mexico, where he lived for the first seven years of life. After the family returned for a time to Yemen, he came back to the US, where he garnered a bachelor’s degree at Colorado State University in civil engineering and a master’s degree in educational leadership at San Diego State University.
Despite his engineering degree, Awlaki quickly gravitated to a life of religious activism, becoming a Muslim cleric.
Awlaki ministered to some of the future 9/11 hijackers at his mosque in San Diego. From there, he transferred to a mosque in Virginia, where he ministered to more of the 9/11 hijackers.
After the 9/11 attacks, he made moderate-sounding statements. But he quickly revealed himself as a jihadist, though some credulous liberals like Salon commentator Glenn Greenwald, unaware of his ties to the 9/11 hijackers, believed that Awlaki was forced into radicalism by the Bush/Cheney Administration’s excesses.
Awlaki went on to become a sensation as a mass preacher of radical Islam. He corresponded extensively with Major Nidal Hassan, the Fort Hood shooter, prompting him into his murderous acts of homegrown jihadism.
Mitt Romney, claiming that the Obama agenda is “the most anti-business agenda I’ve ever seen in my life,” campaigned yesterday at the Eagle-Tribune editorial board meeting in New Hampshire.
The Christmas Day 2009 would-be bomber of a Detroit-bound jetliner said that Awlaki, who had inspired him with his teachings and corresponded with him, was one of his trainers in Yemen, to which Awlaki had decamped and where he had become the best known member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Al Qaeda franchise causing more trouble than the increasingly decimated Al Qaeda Prime.
The Obama Administration tried and failed on several occasions to kill Awlaki, whose death warrant Obama signed early on. But today they have apparently succeeded.
Obama is monitoring a variety of geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Times: Libya is nine hours ahead of Pacific time, Iraq is ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning
Brown is working his way through some 600 bills which he must decide upon by October 9th.
** MAD MEN‘S FEAT. Out of sight, out of mind?
It’s been little more than a week since Mad Men won a record-tying fourth straight Emmy Award for best drama, and it’s all looking and feeling rather anti-climactic. Ironic, since Mad Men joins only The West Wing (2000-2003) and Hill Street Blues (1981-84) in accomplishing the feat. LA Law also won four best drama awards in the late ’80s and early ’90s, though not consecutively.
It’s a great feat for a great show, a show which, as is obvious from all the writing I’ve done on it, is my favorite, though hardly perfect. This is a landmark series about important things, not the least of them being America at the apex, on the cusp of change in the 1960s, imperial New York at its peak, the rise of consumerism and the persuasion industry, men, women, and some very cool fashion and design. To name a few. …
History, deep and multi-faceted, swirls around us, but our culture increasingly focuses on the momentary. … From my September 28th essay.
** MEG WHITMAN TO RUN CALIFORNIA (ICON)! The 2010 Republican nominee for governor of California is back. And apparently out of her leading role in her mentor Mitt Romney’s formerly frontrunning campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. She won’t be running California, but she will be running a California icon. … From my September 22nd column.
** T2 AND ALIENS ANNIVERSARIES POINT UP THE PROBLEMS WITH TODAY’S ACTION MOVIES. … From my September 18th essay.
** OBAMA AND THE REPUBLICANS: TWO CONTRASTING NIGHTS. … From my September 9th column.
** THE FARM WORKERS AND JERRY BROWN MAKE UP, FOR NOW. … From my September 7th column.
** JERRY BROWN FINDS POST-BUDGET FOCUS. … From my September 1st feature.
** WHY OBAMA WAS RIGHT ON LIBYA AND BIN LADEN AND WRONG ON AFGHANISTAN. … From my August 31st essay.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 feature.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th, 2009 Huffington Post column.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in three wars in the region, and the Arab awakening underway, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti. While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading around $81 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $47 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity, and down $33 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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