Last week, President Joe Biden called off an airstrike in Syria after intelligence revealed last-minute that there was a woman and some children at the site, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
After 10 days of deliberations, Biden had ordered the Pentagon to conduct airstrikes on two Iranian-supported militia targets in Syria on February 26, according to the report, in his first known use of force.
However, according to battlefield reconnaissance delivered about 30 minutes before the bombs were set to drop, a woman and a couple of children were in the courtyard at one of the sites. With the F-15Es en route to the targets, the president bailed on the second target but let the strike on the first target go ahead.
Biden was highly criticized by both the political left and right for the airstrike carried out.
The goal of the airstrike was to signal to Iran that the new White House team would respond to a February 15 rocket attack in northern Iraq against the U.S.-led coalition but wasn’t aiming to escalate a confrontation with Tehran, senior administration officials reportedly told The Journal, describing the days leading to the strike in interviews with the newspaper.
To reinforce the point, a confidential message was sent to Tehran after the U.S. airstrike, administration officials said, though without providing details, according to the newspaper.
“We had a pretty coordinated diplomatic and military plan here,” one administration official reportedly said. “We made sure the Iranians knew what our intent was.”
Another major goal was to avoid undermining the political position of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, whom Washington sees as a partner in the fight against Islamic State and would likely have faced criticism at home if the attacks had occurred on Iraqi soil, the officials reportedly added.
From the start, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the only senior member of Biden’s cabinet with military experience, reassured the president that he could take his time to decide how to respond militarily, according to The Journal.
“You own the clock,” Austin reportedly advised Biden in the White House meeting immediately following the attack in Erbil, a second administration official who participated in the session told the newspaper.
The president tried to justify the strike the day after it, arguing in a letter to Congress that it was necessary for defending U.S. troops.
“Those non-state militia groups were involved in recent attacks against United States and Coalition personnel in Iraq,” Biden wrote, citing the February 15 attack as an example.
“These groups are also engaged in ongoing planning for future such attacks,” he added.
“In response, I directed this military action to protect and defend our personnel and our partners against these attacks and future such attacks,” Biden continued.
“The United States always stands ready to take necessary and proportionate action in self-defense, including when, as is the case here, the government of the state where the threat is located is unwilling or unable to prevent the use of its territory by non-state militia groups responsible for such attacks.
“I directed this military action consistent with my responsibility to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad and in furtherance of United States national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct United States foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.”
READ THE FULL ORIGINAL WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORT HERE.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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More Deadly Fentanyl Has Been Seized at U.S. Borders Than Heroin For First Time in History
History has been made in the worst of ways. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data shows 2021 was the first time in American history that federal law enforcement seized more of the deadly drug fentanyl than heroin at our borders.
Data shows 11,200 pounds of fentanyl was seized in 2021 compared to 5,400 pounds of heroin. The numbers were double that of 2020’s fentanyl seizures. 319,447 pounds of marijuana, 190,861 pounds of methamphetamine, 97,638 pounds of cocaine and 10,848 pounds of ketamine were also seized in 2021.
Taking the 2022 fiscal year into account, 2,158 pounds of fentanyl has already been seized. 277 pounds of heroin have also been seized in the same time period. The Washington Examiner reports:
Not only were fentanyl seizures at the highest level ever recorded, but fentanyl overdoses within the United States also hit new highs, indicating the success that transnational criminal organizations had in pushing their deadly products to the public. A DEA investigation this fall found a direct link between criminal drug organizations in Mexico and fentanyl-related overdose deaths.
Many drug users are unaware they are taking the substance because street drugs are being laced with fentanyl, making even the most dangerous of illicit drugs deadly.
The Examiner adds, “Because just a few grains of the substance is all it takes for a user to feel its effect, its value per ounce is higher than other drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine. For example, the DEA states 2 milligrams is enough to kill someone who inhales, consumes, or injects it.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) additionally “seized 20.4 million pills that were fake versions of prescriptions and pumped full of fentanyl. The pills were enough to kill every American, according to the DEA.”
Due to small dosages of the drug being so potent, “it also makes it significantly easier for the criminals transporting it to sneak into the country.”
The Examiner also reported on the deadly drug’s connection to Wuhan, China:
Mexican cartels purchase the ingredients for fentanyl from labs in Wuhan, China . The cartels will produce the fentanyl from those ingredients and push it into the U.S. Chinese-based financiers launder the profits for the cartels out of the U.S., back to China, and on to Mexico.
The cartels are in the business of selling whatever drug brings in the most money and is easiest to produce. Through the decades, federal law enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border has seized millions of pounds of drugs — most of which was marijuana.
Over the past five years, marijuana seizures have significantly declined as U.S. states legalized recreational cannabis and legal grow operations began in the U.S. Because marijuana can only be grown in certain climates, similar to cocaine, it made drugs such as fentanyl and methamphetamines more attractive because they can be produced anywhere, any time.
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