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Tags: afghanistan | over the horizon hoax | terrorist attacks | ronald kessler

Ronald Kessler: Biden's 'Over-the-Horizon' Hoax Will Jeopardize US Safety

afghanistan on a map, seen through a magnifying glass
(Juan Camilo Bernal/Dreamstime.com)

Ronald Kessler By Wednesday, 29 September 2021 09:50 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

As testimony from America’s top military leaders has now made clear, President Joe Biden lied when he said no one warned him not to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

But much more concerning is Biden’s repeated lie that a so-called ''over-the-horizon'' capability in Afghanistan will keep America safe from terrorist attacks.

In a little noticed announcement last July 6, the Pentagon first referred to this when it said it was developing such over-the-horizon capabilities if needed to take out terrorist plots in Afghanistan.

At the time, the Afghan government was still in control of the country. The over-the-horizon strategy assumed that the U.S. would continue to have an embassy in Afghanistan and that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could deploy officers with diplomatic cover and spies known as non-official cover officers (NOCs) who could continue to develop human sources to unravel impending terrorist plots.

Now that capability is gone. The American embassy in Afghanistan is no more, and it is too dangerous to deploy so-called NOCs who have no diplomatic immunity in a country run by terrorists.

But that did not deter President Biden from claiming even after the Afghan government fell that an over-the-horizon capability from aircraft carriers and military facilities in the Middle East would take care of terrorist threats from Afghanistan.

''We conduct effective counterterrorism missions against terrorist groups in multiple countries where we don’t have a permanent military presence,'' Biden said.

But in other countries, law enforcement and security agencies try to uncover terrorist plots before they happen and typically cooperate with U.S. agencies. For years, even Russia has cooperated with the U.S. to stop terrorist plots.

That is quite different in Afghanistan, where terrorists are now in charge.

Without human sources in Afghanistan, the FBI’s ability to stop terrorist plots aimed at the U.S. will be severely limited. Before 9/11, because of relentless media criticism and a lack of clear authority under Justice Department guidelines, the FBI had become so gun-shy and politically correct that even though terrorists were known to hatch their plots in mosques, the bureau was averse to following suspects there.

Under the guidelines in place before 9/11, FBI agents were told they could not look at online chat rooms to develop leads on people who might be recruiting terrorists or sharing techniques for making explosives. The FBI had to first determine that there was a sound investigative basis before it could sign on to chat rooms any 12-year-old could enter.

In other words, ''A crime practically had to be committed before you could investigate,'' Weldon Kennedy, a former FBI deputy director, told me for my book ''The Secrets of the FBI.'' ''If you didn't have that, you couldn’t open an investigation.''

On top of that, FBI agents pursuing criminal counterterrorism investigations were barred from communicating with the CIA or even with their fellow agents on the same squad if those agents were pursuing leads from intelligence sources.

The Patriot Act did away with these restrictions that a low-level bureaucrat in the Janet Reno Justice Department had conjured up. Critically important, after 9/11, under prodding by President Bush, the FBI became much more prevention-oriented.

Rather than immediately seeking a criminal prosecution, the first priority became developing intelligence on the next plots, often with the help of the CIA and National Security Agency (NSA).

The change in direction has been remarkably successful. Because the FBI has been rolling up plots, since 9/11 we have not had a successful foreign terrorist attack.

Despite that improvement in the FBI’s capabilities, now that Biden has allowed Afghanistan to become a haven for terrorists and has stymied our efforts to uncover plots there, the FBI will be unable to pinpoint Al Qaeda plots with the help of CIA assets on the ground as it previously did.

Most troubling, when the U.S. military entered Afghanistan after 9/11, it found that Al Qaeda was working on developing chemical and biological weapons, just as Osama bin Laden had decreed it should.

Not to worry, Biden told the nation.

''What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with Al Qaeda gone?'' Biden mindlessly commented during a White House briefing explaining his decision to withdraw U.S. forces.

The Pentagon quickly contradicted him and said the terrorist organization continues to exist in Afghanistan. As Biden spoke, the Taliban had already freed thousands of Al Qaeda and ISIS fighters in jailbreaks.

With an entire country under their control, the Taliban and their Al Qaeda partners now will be able to expend millions of dollars to hire top scientists to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Leon Panetta, President Barack Obama’s defense secretary and CIA director, recently put it best: ''There is no question that they [the Taliban] will provide a safe haven for Al Qaeda, and for ISIS, and for other terrorists.'' Given that reality, because of the withdrawal of U.S. forces, Al Qaeda ''will plan additional attacks on our country, as well as elsewhere,'' Panetta predicted.

Biden’s over-the-horizon hoax and unthinkable irresponsibility will jeopardize our safety for years to come.

Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, is the New York Times bestselling author of "The Secrets of the FBI" and "The CIA at War." Read Ron Kessler's Reports — More Here.

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Without human sources in Afghanistan, the FBI's ability to stop terrorist plots aimed at the U.S. will be severely limited.
afghanistan, over the horizon hoax, terrorist attacks, ronald kessler
Wednesday, 29 September 2021 09:50 AM
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