There are Republicans running around Washington trying to calculate how much this week's campaign junket to Kabul cost the American taxpayers. But this isn't just another General Services Administration swindle. Those who want us to hire a new commander in chief need to explain what's in -- and not in -- the so-called Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement Obama and Karzai signed in the few minutes they spent together Tuesday morning. The document has glowing words about "shared determination" and "mutual commitments" but is silent on our financial burden. It contains nothing about how many American military personnel will remain in Afghanistan after our "combat forces" are withdrawn in 2014 and fails to describe their mission or capabilities. Unlike a status of forces agreement, it provides no legal protections for U.S. troops. In short, it's fluff. The Romney team needs to tell us how it would do better.
The substance of what actually transpired in Kabul wasn't the only missed opportunity for the GOP to hone in on the Obama administration's destitute national security record. On Monday, John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, told a Washington audience that "targeted strikes" from remotely piloted aircraft (the media incorrectly refer to them as drones) are the most "effective," "legal," "proportional," "ethical" and even "humane" way of protecting us from terrorists. Instead of a GOP response, it took Jose Rodriguez, former director of the CIA's National Clandestine Service and author of the new book "Hard Measures," to ask how death by Hellfire missile is more "humane" than capturing and questioning terror kingpins. Rodriguez points out that Obama's "take no prisoners" policy means no captured terrorists, no interrogations and no human intelligence.
Obama doesn't talk about our abysmal lack of human intelligence in this long war. He called waterboarding and sleep deprivation for captured terrorists "torture" and banned those enhanced interrogation techniques.
Our appalling HUMINT deficit was evident shortly after Air Force One took off from Bagram Air Field early Tuesday morning, when suicide bombers struck "Green Village," a secure compound outside Kabul. Press accounts incorrectly ascribed the attack -- which killed seven and wounded dozens, including schoolchildren -- to the Taliban. A credible source says that the assault was conducted by the Haqqani network and that NATO officials were alerted more than six hours before the strike about the arrival of the suicide team in Kabul. The intel provided included information on how to precisely locate the terrorists. When I asked why the attack wasn't prevented, I was told: "It was HUMINT. Nobody pays attention to HUMINT."
Strategists in the "Romney for president" campaign need to identify problems such as these and explain how Romney would fix them -- fast. Bin Laden is still dead. But the war being waged against us isn't. If Republicans fail to focus on doing better, the O-Team will turn the "theater of war" in Afghanistan into a "theater of the absurd."
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.