In a major national security speech this spring, President Obama said again and again that the U.S. is at war with "Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces." So who exactly are those associated forces? It's a secret. At a hearing in May, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked the Defense Department to provide him with a current list of Al Qaeda affiliates.And yet we have accused people in court of abetting our enemies. (E.g., Bradley Manning.) How can people be prosecuted for aiding our enemies if we haven't said who they are?
The Pentagon responded – but Levin's office told ProPublica they aren't allowed to share it. Kathleen Long, a spokeswoman for Levin, would say only that the department's "answer included the information requested." A Pentagon spokesman told ProPublica that revealing such a list could cause "serious damage to national security." "Because elements that might be considered ‘associated forces' can build credibility by being listed as such by the United States, we have classified the list," said the spokesman, Lt. Col. Jim Gregory. "We cannot afford to inflate these organizations that rely on violent extremist ideology to strengthen their ranks."
It's really time to bring this charade we call a war to an end. And that, by the way, is the lamest excuse I have ever read for keeping something secret.