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General: Action will come 'without warning'

McCaffrey is a highly decorated veteran of the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars; he was appointed drug czar in 1996.
McCaffrey is a highly decorated veteran of the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars; he was appointed drug czar in 1996.  

By Frank Sesno
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who was drug czar during President Clinton's second term, said in an online exchange last month that those against the United States in its war on terrorism would "be killed suddenly, in significant numbers and without warning."

McCaffrey, who commanded the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division in the Persian Gulf War, offered his blunt assessment on the mission and the strategy confronting the United States and its allies in an e-mail exchange with a cadet at West Point, where McCaffrey teaches.

The exchange took place September 19 -- a little more than a week after the deadliest terror attacks on U.S. soil. McCaffrey and others have since distributed the e-mail widely to friends and associates in the national security community.

McCaffrey told CNN he is not displeased the exchange became public, because he is eager to articulate the likely multi-faceted course of action.

McCaffrey identified multiple objectives -- to increase domestic security, build a strong coalition and finally "take the gloves off and use integrated military power to find, fix and destroy" terrorist organizations.

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He told the cadet, "We are going to disrupt these people through preemptive attack ... we will deceive them, we will run psyops on them, at selected points and times they will be killed suddenly, in significant numbers, and without warning."

"Tomahawk missiles, 2000 pound laser guided weapons dropped from B2's or F22's at very high altitude, remote control, booby traps, blackmail and at places, small groups of soldiers or SEALs will appear in total darkness, blow down the doors and kill them at close range with automatic weapons and hand grenades," the e-mail message read.

McCaffrey went on to say: "We will find their money and freeze it. We will arrest their front agents. We will operate against their recruiting and transportation functions. We will locate their training areas and surveil or mine them. We will isolate them from their families.

"We will try to dominate their communication function and alternately listen, jam or spoof it. We will make their couriers disappear. If we can find out how they eat, or play or receive rewards, or where they sleep -- we will go there and kill them by surprise."

McCaffrey said the military component would be "a supporting but lesser aspect of a strategy that will be based fundamentally on diplomatic and economic leverage to compel cooperation with international law."

The retired general said there would need to be substantial and costly efforts to reduce the "environmental factors" that feed "extremist madness."

That would include "dramatically increased" international aid to address the poverty of Palestinians, Afghans, Sudanese and others, he said.

A U.S. military official who was shown McCaffrey's comments said they were the "insights of a very smart guy."

Another official said they do not contain any national secrets, but they do accurately reflect the strategy the United States has adopted.

In the words of this official: "It's the plan."


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