Inside the Ring: Forbes pressures Obama

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In the Senate, concerns over China's military were voiced by Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who led efforts to highlight the need to sell additional F-16s to Taiwan that was rejected by the administration as a way to avoid upsetting military exchanges with Beijing.

There is widespread support for selling the additional jets based on China’s major buildup of missiles across the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait where more than 1,200 Chinese missiles are targeted on the island.

The debate over new F-16s to Taiwan is now being augmented by calls for selling the more advanced F-35, specifically a short-takeoff variant that could survive a missile strike on military runways.

Other deficiencies in speaking about China include the Pentagon’s playing down of cyberattacks from the Chinese military. Defense spokesmen have dismissed the attacks by claiming there is not enough evidence to link them to China’s army.

However, defense officials with access to classified data say the level of detail the connects the army to worldwide cyberattacks is alarming.

Richard Fisher, a military-affairs specialists, agrees with Mr. Forbes.

“By cutting the public version of the 2012 Pentagon China report in half, the much greater amount of data in the classified version becomes ‘denied’ for use in public debate,” Mr. Fisher said.

“This means that members of Congress will also feel far more constrained from using current threat data to justify defense programs this country needs. This is the kind of intellectual disarmament that precedes unilateral disarmament.”

AL LIBI’S DEATH

U.S. intelligence agencies are quietly celebrating the death of al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader, Abu Yahya al-Libi, who was killed this week in a CIA-directed drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal area.

The taking out of al Libi is another major blow to the terrorist group behind the Sept. 11 attacks. The killing of the al Qaeda leader is yet another sign of the group’s decline after more than a dozen of its commanders have been neutralized.

“Abu Yahya was among al Qaeda’s most experienced and versatile leaders — operational trainer and Central Shura head - and played a critical role in the group’s planning against the West, providing oversight of the external operations efforts,” said a U.S. official who confirmed the death.

Current al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, “will be hard-pressed to find any one person who can readily step into Abu Yahya’s shoes,” the official added.

“In addition to his gravitas as a longstanding member of AQ’s leadership, Abu Yahya’s religious credentials gave him the authority to issue fatwas, operational approvals and guidance to the core group in Pakistan and regional affiliates. There is no one who even comes close in terms of replacing the expertise AQ has just lost,” he said.

RUSSIA, NORTH KOREA ARM SYRIA

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

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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