Yesterday, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin unveiled the State Department’s latest “Patterns of Global Terrorism” report. Benjamin declared that al-Qaeda was “on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse,” and explained:
We saw millions of citizens throughout the Middle East advance peaceful public demands for change without any reference to al-Qaeda’s incendiary world view. This upended the group’s long-standing claim that change in this region would only come through violence… These men and women have underscored in the most powerful fashion the lack of influence al-Qaeda exerts over the central political issues in key Muslim-majority nations.
First, it’s important to give credit where credit is due: President Obama deserves credit for the death of bin Laden, and numerous other terror masters. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to take an aspirin and then claim to have cured the common cold. An election may be coming up, but predicting al-Qaeda to be both down and out is woefully premature.
Republicans aren’t the only ones furious at the Obama administration for giving a group of Hollywood filmmakers access to potentially classified information on the Osama bin Laden raid. Government transparency advocates and press freedom groups say the incident highlights a double standard, in which filmmakers are favored for access over professional journalists:
Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, called the special treatment given to the filmmakers “outrageous.”
“If these filmmakers got access that trained national security and military reporters did not, then it’s telling the public: ‘We are not going to allow trained journalists to tell this story. If you want to know what happened, go buy a ticket to a movie,’” she told The Daily Beast in an interview.
Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists said, “The whole interaction with the filmmakers appears to be self-serving and self-aggrandizing [attempts] in an election year to glorify the administration.”
Did the filmmakers access classified information? The White House is denying it, but government emails and transcripts obtained by Judicial Watch under a Freedom of Information Act request this week show that the filmmakers went to classified facilities and met with officials whose names had to be redacted — a sign they were given treatment that journalists typically aren’t.
To listen to some Democrats lately, President Obama’s re-election is in the bag. Most are convinced that Mitt Romney has too many problems connecting with ordinary Americans to be considered a serious threat to the president. Their confidence in their “cool kid” candidate and contempt for their opponents is such that many refuse to accept the possibility that the president is in for the fight of his life in an electoral environment that is radically different from the situation in the fall of 2008. And yet the evidence that the race is a virtual dead heat continues to be right there under their noses. The release today of tracking polls from the two leading firms confirms that the Democrats need to sober up about the competitive race that is about to unfold.
Gallup, whose results tend to skew slightly toward the Democrats, reports that Romney has a 47-46 edge for the period of April 24-29. Rasmussen, which tends to tilt slightly toward the Republicans, also shows Romney ahead for their last reporting period of April 27-29 by a similarly slim 47-45 margin. Both polls illustrate that the presumption that Romney has no chance is simply a Democratic fantasy that fails to take into account the general dissatisfaction with a failing economy. It also may show that the administration’s decision to spend the last week trying to politicize the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy Seals might have been a bad mistake.