When I first learned that the Biden administration had launched a drone strike in retaliation for Thursday’s suicide bombing, killing two ISIS-K planners, my first impulse was to be impressed. In his presser addressing the suicide attack, he said, “We will hunt you down and make you pay,” and sure enough he had bagged the bastards — and in record time.
Then I began to read the details in news accounts of the retaliatory strike, and everything suddenly seemed a little too perfect. Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for U.S. Central Command, mentioned in his statement that the operation had been “over-the-horizon,” that “initial indications” were “that we killed the target,” and that there had been no known “civilian casualties.” In short, the captain left no Biden administration buzz word unturned.
But things grew sketchier still when the Pentagon conducted a briefing with the press during which they reported two additional details: (1) The ISIS-K planners they had taken out were “high profile.” (2) The names of the planners would not be released. Why the names would not be released Pentagon spokespersons wouldn’t say.
It’s a curious move. If Joe Biden for the first time in his life ordered an attack that successfully neutralized a terrorist, why isn’t he all over TV boasting about his accomplishment and naming names? He has taken victory laps over far less. In addition, wouldn’t this be move be good PR for him, especially with his poll numbers in free fall?
Breanne Deppisch of Spectrum News, who was present at the briefing, asked whether the ISIS-K members killed in the Friday night strike were “directly involved” in the Kabul airport bombing. The answer she received is that the two were “planners and facilitators” for ISIS-K, and that “that’s enough reason there alone.” So much for hunting down the parties responsible and making them pay.
One noteworthy moment at the briefing came when the Pentagon’s John Kirby was asked whether the U.S. shared any advance intelligence about the operation with its new “ally,” the Taliban, and was told they had not. Wouldn’t the U.S. feel it incumbent to share this information with the Taliban, especially since the latter is reported to harbor no great love for ISIS-K?