Six years ago the American intelligence community scrambled to determine if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s newly-elected president, had been among the radical students who had seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, ultimately holding 52 diplomats hostage for 444 days. To me, the larger question was not whether Ahmadinejad was guilty but why, a quarter century later, the American intelligence community had not used its considerable resources to comb through myriad photographs and identify every single hostage-taker. It is astounding to realize that because the CIA is so inefficient, those Iranians who broke every diplomatic protocol, abused America’s representatives, and burned its flags might receive visas to visit Disneyland, or benefit from American taxpayer money to participate in State Department-sponsored trips to the United States.
Alas, we might be in the midst of another intelligence failure. Byron York called my attention to the fact that among Libya’s rebels are many of the terrorists who infiltrated into Iraq to support terrorism against American forces participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom. While at West Point’s Counter Terrorism Center, Brian Fishman (now at New America Foundation), penned the best analysis of the Sinjar documents, the foreign fighter records seized by American forces in 2007. He found that Libyans represented the second largest national foreign fighter component. Many blew themselves up, but others returned to Libya, in areas now controlled by the rebels. If President Obama truly wanted to disincentivize terrorism, he should task American Special Forces to track down these Libyan terrorists and kill them. If the CIA does not know the names and whereabouts of the Libyans who hunted Americans in Iraq, then heads should roll at Langley. Any terrorist who took up arms against America should not sleep well, ever again.