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Inside the Ring
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw T. Sikorski is urging the U.S. Congress not to cut funding for U.S. missile defenses because he is worried it will undermine Polish support for the recent U.S.-Poland agreement to build missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic.
“The implementation of the Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement will require political commitment of both sides and appropriate funding,” Mr. Sikorski stated in a Sept. 9 letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. David R. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat.
The minister stated that the Polish public is closely watching the congressional debate on missile-defense funding as part of the fiscal 2009 defense bill.
“A significant reduction in funding for the missile-defense site in Europe may be interpreted in Poland as a lack of commitment to the common defense against missile threats,” he stated.
Mr. Sikorski also stated that the Russia-Georgia war makes U.S. and Polish security ties “more necessary than ever.”
A spokesman for Mr. Obey had no immediate comment.
The Pentagon asked Congress for $285 million for European missile defense work, including the Polish interceptor site, radar and construction funds. The House cut $165 million, leaving $119 million.
MISSING BIN LADEN
A new book on the CIA reveals that the arrest of an al Qaeda foot soldier disrupted a 1998 U.S. bombing raid on al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
Former national security reporter John Diamond states in his forthcoming book that Pakistan arrested al Qaeda member Mohammed Sadeeq Odeh the day of the bombing.
Odeh was supposed to take part in a meeting of al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan, including bin Laden, on Aug. 20, 1998. The meeting was canceled after Odeh’s arrest in Pakistan prompted concerns in al Qaeda that details of the meeting were compromised, Mr. Diamond writes in “The CIA and the Culture of Failure,” due out Monday.
Odeh had helped assemble the bomb used in the attack on the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and was ordered by al Qaeda to depart Nairobi the night before the attack and go to Pakistan and from there to Afghanistan for the meeting.
However, he was detained in Karachi for carrying a false passport and was in airport detention when the bomb went off in Kenya on Aug. 7, raising suspicions that led authorities to find explosive residue on his luggage.
The arrest became known to bin Laden, who canceled the meeting and thus thwarted the Clinton administration’s cruise-missile strike on Afghanistan called Operation Infinite Reach.
“The result was that U.S. cruise missiles struck empty tents and crude terrorist training obstacle courses, to the embarrassment of the superpower attacker,” said Mr. Diamond, who is the first to reveal why the raid failed.
About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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