David Kirkpatrick

September 11, 2011

Ten years later …

I don’t really have a lot to offer aside from two blog posts.

First up is a post of mine from MarketingSherpa this Friday. I interviewed a reputation management expert for a how-to consumer marketing article who worked the American Airlines account for a major PR firm that day. He provided an interesting insight into some of the behind the scenes aspects of 9/11.

From the link:

I spent 48 hours doing nothing but monitoring and taking in reports from different people. I didn’t go to bed. I didn’t go home. It was kind of funny because the next day after the first 48 hours was over, I actually had scheduled a meeting with the Interactive Marketing team at AA.com.

I went to that meeting and I hadn’t gone to sleep. They insisted on having the meeting, not because they really wanted to have the meeting, but they knew that I was also in the Corporate Communications side, and that I knew what was going on.

The second is a post on the personal blog from a Sherpa colleague of mine, Brad Bortone, was a NYC resident on that morning. His post covers the first Mets home game after the attacks.

From the link:

For all the good that a night of baseball seemed to be doing, it was clear that the outside world wasn’t going away, no matter how much we wanted it to do just that. Then Mike Piazza stepped up once last time.

In the eighth inning, with the Mets down 2-1, and fan enthusiasm rapidly waning, Piazza hit a defining shot of his career. A fastball by Steve Karsay, left right in Piazza’s wheelhouse, promptly found its way over the center field fence, giving the Mets a 3-2 lead which would hold up till the end.

Piazza tried his damnedest to maintain composure as he rounded the bases, but the fans weren’t as controlled. Despite the thinning attendance, the cheers were as loud as any I’ve experienced in my 31 years. It was as if 41,000 people, after two weeks of holding their breath, finally allowed themselves to exhale.

November 5, 2010

Creating terrorists — here comes the science …

Looks like “taking the fight” to the terrorists on their turf to keep them from coming here is a fairly flawed strategy. Studies on phase transition show that action only serves to create many more terrorists than would ordinarily be running around as bad actors (and not in the emoting sense.)

From the link:

Feedback loops are interesting because they lead to nonlinear behavior, where the ordinary intuitive rules of cause and effect no longer apply. So a small increase in one type of behavior can lead to a massive increase in another. In the language of physics, a phase transition occurs.

Sure enough, that’s exactly what happens in August’s model. They show that for various parameters in their model, a small increase in the removal rate of active radicals generates a massive increase in passive supporters, providing an almost limitless pool from which to recruit more active radicals.

What this model describes, of course, is the cycle of violence that occurs in so many of the world’s trouble spots.

That has profound implications for governments contemplating military intervention that is likely to cause “collateral damage.” If you replace the term “active radical” with “terrorist” then a clear prediction of this model is that military intervention creates the conditions in which terrorism flourishes.

They say that this feedback loop can halted only if the removal of terrorists can be achieved without the attendant radicalizing side effects. As August and colleagues put it: “if this happened practically without casualties, fatalities, applying torture or committing terroristic acts against the local population.”

This is an interesting approach. It clearly shows that public opinion and behavior can change dramatically in ways that are difficult to predict.

 

September 11, 2010

Remember

Filed under: et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:46 am

That image is not easy to look at, but I think it’s important to remember what it meant for America and to protect this date from demagogues and politicization. This event brought international terrorism to U.S. soil in a manner that dwarfed all previous attempts, and in consequence it, at least for a while, united all citizens of America.

The aftermath of what happened to U.S. polity and policy after 9/11 can be debated, but for a few weeks in September 2001, this was truly a nation united.

Here is bit from a comment on a blog post of mine from February 2, 2008 (the post from January 31) on how I felt on September 11, 2001:

Sure that Tuesday morning I was blindingly angry. I was woken in a vacation condo on the beach in Panama City Beach, Florida, to hear the World Trade Center towers were both struck by planes. When the media began reporting celebrations in Afghanistan I immediately thought of bin Laden (didn’t think of al Qaeda per se, but I was aware of bin Laden pre-9/11). My next thought was we should nuke that country back from its then (and now) Middle Age society to the Stone Age, or maybe to time before humans walked in Afghanistan.

That was my heart. I feel no less strongly about Islamic terrorism today than I did at that moment. I do know I think the US did very well for itself before 9/11, and to me nothing occurred that warrants changing our fundamental approach to the world.

August 22, 2010

On the Cordoba Center controversy

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:26 am

Or as it’s better known these days thanks to the latest media meme, the “ground zero” mosque. Here’s the plain facts as simply put as I can get them down — the group behind the Cordoba Center has every Constitutional right to put the center right where it is planned to be as it has met New York’s zoning, and other, requirements. Proponents, and (more likely) opponents of the center have every Constitutional right to debate, discuss, cajole and otherwise use their free speech rights to influence the general public and the group behind the center. Whether placing the Cordoba Center that close to ground zero of the New York 9/11 attacks is a good or bad thing is subject for debate, but whether it can, or cannot, be placed there is not.

Which leads to this incredibly wrong-headed post by Andy McCarthy at the Corner.

From the link:

A friend poses the following: Imagine that there really were these fundamentalist Christian terror cells all over the United States, as the Department of Homeland Security imagines. Let’s say a group of five of these terrorists hijacked a plane, flew it to Mecca, and plowed it into the Kaaba.

Now let’s say a group of well-meaning, well-funded Christians — Christians whose full-time job was missionary work — decided that the best way to promote healing would be to pressure the Saudi government to drop its prohibition against permitting non-Muslims into Mecca so that these well-meaning, well-funded Christian missionaries could build a $100 million dollar church and community center a stone’s throw from where the Kaaba used to be — you know, as a bridge-building gesture of interfaith understanding.

McCarthy goes on to pose a series of hypothetical questions on the reaction from the Saudis, the Obama administration, Christian leaders and more. It’s very clear he’s getting at the point if his friend’s imagined situation had come to pass (I’ll just ignore the insinuation right-wing Christian extremist groups don’t exist in the United States) the conversation would be quite different.

In that he would be very correct, but unless he’s arguing the United States should become more like Saudi Arabia — a freakish mix of monarchical and theocratic power — the entire premise of his point means nothing. Of course if the situation were reversed the entire discussion would be radically different. Because the Cordoba Center discussion is playing out the way it is here is testament to the strength of the United States Constitution, and an example of what makes our nation great — truly the land of the free and the home of the brave.

It’s too bad some actors in this late-summer mini-drama want neither freedom, nor see bravery, in America. Some of those commenting on the center want the power to bulldoze the Constitution and to see fear in the America people.

June 2, 2010

Searching for “mal-intent”

I have to admit, stories like this really set off klaxon alarm bells in terms of civil liberties and what looks a lot like a slippery slope of pseudoscience. Particularly when talking about trained security teams pulling 152,000 people out of airport lines over the last few years leading to over 1000 arrests. Arrests for outstanding warrants and immigration violations — no terrorism arrests, even though screeners did miss at least 16 actual terrorists.

I’m guessing if you randomly pulled that many travelers you’d easily get that many hits for run-of-the-mill violations. You’d probably even randomly catch a few terrorists. I think it’s safe to say I have very serious reservations of the efficacy of screening for mal-intent, and even greater reservations on how that screening weakens civil liberties and personal privacy.

From the link:

If Bob Burns is correct, terrorists may betray themselves someday by jiggling on a Nintendo Wii balance board, blinking too fast, curling a lip like Elvis — or doing nothing at all. Burns and his team of scientists are researching whether video game boards, biometric sensors and other high-tech devices can be used to detect distinct nonverbal cues from people who harbor “mal-intent,” or malicious intent.

“We’re looking pre-event,” said Burns, the No. 2 at the Homeland Security Advanced Research Project Agency, a counterpart of the fabled Pentagon agency that developed Stealth aircraft and the Internet.

“We’re trying to detect a crime before it has occurred.”

OK, roll the sci-fi thriller “Minority Report,” in which Tom Cruise and other “pre-crime” cops use psychic visions to arrest murderers before they kill. Or maybe “The Men Who Stare at Goats,” a George Clooney comedy inspired by real military experiments with supposedly psychic soldiers.

The work on mal-intent, which has cost $20 million so far, represents the future in screening: trying to find the bomber, not just the bomb.

“Sometimes people look at our projects and say, ‘This is crazy,'” conceded Burns, a former submarine weapons officer.

May 5, 2010

OBL in WDC

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 9:29 am

Ahmadinejad is crazy … crazy like a fox. Check out this exchange with George Stephanopoulos:

STEPHANOPOULOS: One final question. There’s a new documentary out that says that Osama Bin Laden is living in Tehran. And the subject of the documentary, a man named Alan Parrot, one of the world’s foremost falconers living in Iran, says he’s spoken to Osama bin Laden several times since 2003. Is Osama bin Laden in Tehran?

AHMADINEJAD: Your question is laughable.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why?

AHMADINEJAD: The U.S. government has invaded Afghanistan in order to arrest Bin Laden. They probably know where Bin Laden is. If they don’t know he is, why did they invade? Could we know the intelligence?

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think if they knew, they would find him. They would get him.

AHMADINEJAD: First they should have tried to find his location, then invade, those who did not know about his location first they invaded and then they tried to find out where he is, is that logical? Do you think this is logical?

STEPHANOPOULOS: What I think is that you didn’t answer my question. Is he in Tehran or not?

AHMADINEJAD: Our position is quite clear. Some journalists have said Bin Laden is in Iran. These words don’t have legal value. Our position towards Afghanistan and against terrorism is quite clear.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it true or not?

AHMADINEJAD: Maybe you know, but I don’t know.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I’m asking you. You’re the President of Iran.

AHMADINEJAD: I don’t know such a thing, you are giving news which is very strange.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, let me ask it a different way. If you did know that Osama bin Laden was in Tehran, would you show him hospitality? Would you expel him? Would you arrest him?

AHMADINEJAD: I heard that Osama bin Laden is in the Washington, D.C.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No, you didn’t.

AHMADINEJAD: Yes, I did. He’s there. Because he was a previous partner of Mr. Bush. They were colleagues in fact in the old days. You know that. They were in the oil business together. They worked together. Mr. Bin Laden never cooperated with Iran but he cooperated with Mr. Bush–

STEPHANOPOULOS: I’ll ask one more time and then I’ll let you go. If you knew that Osama bin Laden was in Tehran, which you say you don’t. If you knew, would you expel him? Would you arrest him? Would you show him hospitality?

AHMADINEJAD: Our borders, our borders are closed to the illegal entry of anyone. Anyone who that may be. Whether it’s the three American mountaineers, Mr. Bin Laden or anyone else. The borders are closed. Our position is clear.

I’m quite surprised, to see that you adjust your daily lives based on the news that is being broadcast. I’m concerned that the government of the United States takes positions based on such news. If it is so, it is too bad. The news must be accurate and accountable, otherwise it will disrupt the relations between the nations. Just like this, did the government of the United States knew about the location of Mr. Bin Laden? And you said, “No, they went to find out.” Well, first you locate–

STEPHANOPOULOS: They lost the trail.

AHMADINEJAD: –to find out they have invaded Afghanistan. First they have to find out his location and then invade. It’s like for a judge to arrest someone and then go after the evidence.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you deny categorically that he’s in Tehran today? He is not– Osama bin Laden is not in Tehran today?

AHMADINEJAD: Rest assured that he’s in Washington. I think there’s a high chance he’s there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don’t agree.

Thank you for your time, Mr. President.

(Hat tip: Mike Allen’s Playbook)

March 2, 2010

Why does Chuck Grassley hate America?

Does he not understand the rule of law within the United State’s judicial system, or is he just trying to score very cheap and dirty political points? I’m guessing the latter is the case, but arguing lawyers for terrorism defendants are somehow terrorist sympathizers goes against everything our excellent judicial system stands for. If Grassley, and others, want to pervert our system when it comes up against terrorism suspects, the terrorists were clearly successful against Grassley and his other pantywaisted cohorts. I’m pretty sure the rest of us true Americans have faith in a process that has served us well for two hundred-plus years.

Here’s the “quote for the day” from the Daily Dish courtesy of an Air Force Colonel and former military commission prosecutor during the Bush 43 administration. Someone who has a bit more skin in this game and understanding of what is at stake legally than the cowardly Grassley and Liz Cheney:

“It is absolutely outrageous for the Cheney-Grassley crowd to try to tar and feather Neal [Katyal] and Jennifer [Daskal] and insinuate they are al-Qaeda supporters. You don’t hear anyone refer to John Adams as a turncoat for representing the Brits in the Boston Massacre trial,” – retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who served as a chief prosecutor for the military commissions under Cheney.

And here is the odious video from Liz Cheney’s group, Keep America Safe, that spawned all the blogging today on this topic and brought Grassley’s comments from last November back into the light:

October 23, 2009

Cato v. Heritage

On the topic of the Patriot Act two right leaning think tanks pair off. This she says/he says is a nice, succinct illustration of one key difference between the right-wing hawkishness/pro-military industrial complex and libertarian schools of thought.

In a nutshell, the Heritage Foundation is all for the Patriot Act and its civil liberties trampling totality. The Cato Institute is for protecting the hard-won freedoms of American citizens while continuing to work at keeping the U.S. safe from terrorism.

The point further boils down to: do you trust handing the government total control over your civil liberties and right to privacy, or not. Personally I’m 100 percent behind the Cato approach, and honestly the Heritage position strikes me as profoundly un-American. The founding fathers would certainly not recognize the Heritage stance as having anything to do with their noble ideals.

October 20, 2009

Why FISA never needed reform in the first place

I’ve already done a post today on this excellent article by Julian Sanchez on the Obama administration and how it’s retaining some of the Bush administration’s overreaching tools for use in the “global war on terror.” So far the Obama administration has been a disappointment in not rolling back the beating U.S. civil liberties took in the Bush administration’s  panicked response to 9/11.

And as it turns out — and that I’ve argued repeatedly — the tools to fight international terrorists were firmly in place before 9/11, they were just implemented with Keystone Kop level competence.

From the second link:

The FISA Amendments Act is the successor to an even broader bill called the Protect America Act, which similarly gave the attorney general and director of national intelligence extraordinary power to authorize sweeping interception of Americans’ international communications. It was hastily passed in 2007 amid claims that the secret FISA Court had issued a ruling that prevented investigators from intercepting wholly foreign communications that traveled across US wires. Former Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell even claimed that FISA’s restrictions had rendered it impossible to immediately eavesdrop on Iraqi insurgents who had captured several American soldiers. The New York Post quoted tearful parents of the captured men expressing their horror at the situation and a senior Congressional staffer who alleged that “the intelligence community was forced to abandon our soldiers because of the law.”

Yet as a Justice Department official later admitted, the FISA law clearly placed no such broad restriction on foreign wire communications passing through the United States; rather, there had been a far more narrow problem involving e-mails for which the recipient’s location could not be determined. And as James Bamford explained in his essential 2008 book, The Shadow Factory, the delay in getting wiretaps running on the suspected kidnappers was the result of a series of missteps at the Justice Department, not the limits of FISA — no surprise, since even when FISA does require a warrant, surveillance may begin immediately in emergencies if a warrant is sought later. (The suspected kidnappers, by the way, turned out not to have been the actual kidnappers.) Yet on the basis of such claims, a panicked Congress signed off on almost limitless authority to vacuum up international communications — authority that we already know has resulted in systematic “overcollection” of purely domestic conversations, and even resulted in the interception of former President Bill Clinton’s e-mails.

October 12, 2009

A sad day for civil liberties

Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to extend the Patriot Act past the sunset provision slated to go into effect this year.

From the link:

Supporters of the Patriot Act say it gives law enforcement important powers to track down and investigate terrorists. Without the Patriot Act, U.S. law enforcement efforts to find terrorists would be significantly harmed, members of former President George Bush’s administration argued.

But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), a digital rights group, both protested the Judiciary Committee’s decision to move the bill forward.

Click here to find out more!

Parts of the Patriot Act would expire at the end of the year if Congress doesn’t renew them. The Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted 11-8 to approve the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act with a handful of amendments.

One of the most controversial portions of the bill allows the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to obtain warrantless subpoenas to get personal information from Internet service providers, telephone carriers and other businesses.

The National Security Letter (NSL) program allows the FBI, and potentially other U.S. agencies, to issue letters to businesses or organizations demanding information about targeted users or customers. E-mail messages and phone records are among the information that the FBI can seek in an NSL.

September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

Filed under: et.al. — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:06 pm

Another day that will live in U.S. history infamy. Here’s the New York Times from today looking back to an awful morning.

And this bit is taken from a post of mine on a different subject remembering where I was and how I felt when I first heard the news of the terror attack:

… that Tuesday morning I was blindingly angry. I was woken in a vacation condo on the beach in Panama City Beach, Florida, to hear the World Trade Center towers were both struck by planes. When the media began reporting celebrations in Afghanistan I immediately thought of bin Laden (didn’t think of al Qaeda per se, but I was aware of bin Laden pre-9/11). My next thought was we should nuke that country back from its then (and now) Middle Age society to the Stone Age, or maybe to time before humans walked in Afghanistan.

That was my heart. I feel no less strongly about Islamic terrorism today than I did at that moment. I do know I think the US did very well for itself before 9/11, and to me nothing occurred that warrants changing our fundamental approach to the world.

July 25, 2009

9/11 changed everything …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:39 pm

… and almost gave rise to a tyrannical police state in America. If Dick Cheney had his way with every policy directive the terrorists would truly have won.

Thanks, Dick.

From the link:

Some of the advisers to President George W. Bush, including Vice President Dick Cheney, argued that a president had the power to use the military on domestic soil to sweep up the terrorism suspects, who came to be known as the Lackawanna Six, and declare them enemy combatants.

Mr. Bush ultimately decided against the proposal to use military force.

A decision to dispatch troops into the streets to make arrests has few precedents in American history, as both the Constitution and subsequent laws restrict the military from being used to conduct domestic raids and seize property.

The Fourth Amendment bans “unreasonable” searches and seizures without probable cause. And the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally prohibits the military from acting in a law enforcement capacity.

May 14, 2009

Bush torture program — politics over protection?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:55 pm

Sadly, that may well be the case. It’s horrible that the Bush 43 regime overturned United States policy against torture, ostensibly to keep the nation safe from terror attacks. It’s an entirely new level of criminal to have done so in order to cook up information (proven to be false) to take this nation to war.

Inexcusable, anti-American and criminal. This is subversion of U.S. law at the highest level of government, the White House.

From the link:

At last, the torture debate looks to be heading toward what’s been the big question lurking in the background all along: was the Bush administration using torture in large part to make a political case for the invasion of Iraq?

Writing on The Daily Beast, former NBC producer Robert Windrem reports that in April 2003, Dick Cheney’s office suggested that interrogators waterboard an Iraqi detainee who was suspected of having knowledge of a link between Saddam and al Qaeda.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse was questioned on the issue today in two TV interviews. Speaking to CNN, Whitehouse allowed: “I have heard that to be true.” To MSNBC, he noted that there was additional evidence of this in the Senate Armed Services committee report, and from Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell. “This thing is just getting deeper and deeper,” said Whitehouse, noting that if it were true, it would significantly bolster the case for prosecutions.

April 8, 2009

US electric grid compromised

Filed under: et.al., Politics, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:46 pm

This is truly scary information. The next terrorist attack on U.S. soil isn’t necessarily coming from Islamacist extremists, and you can bet it’s not going to be commercial jets used as battering rams. And, no, it’s not going to be Obama’s “fault” any more than 9/11 was Bush’s fault.

From the link:

Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.

The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven’t sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.

“The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid,” said a senior intelligence official. “So have the Russians.”

The espionage appeared pervasive across the U.S. and doesn’t target a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official. “There are intrusions, and they are growing,” the former official said, referring to electrical systems. “There were a lot last year.”

March 19, 2009

Information warfare study

Filed under: Media, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:17 am

The release:

Information warfare in the 21st century: Ideas are sometimes stronger than bombs

Terrorist organizations sometimes have an advantage in the media; a new study describes how our side can regain the advantage in this arena too

Terrorist organizations sometimes have an advantage in the media. A new study by Dr. Yaniv Levyatan of the University of Haifa, published in the journal of Israel’s National Security College, describes how our side can regain the advantage in this arena too.

“Information warfare” plays a crucial role in the struggle against terrorist organizations, sometimes more so than conventional weapons. Therefore, the information warfare against terrorist organizations ought to be instigated and on the attack, and should continue even when military warring has ended. Thus concludes a new study by Dr. Yaniv Levyatan of the Ezri Center for the Study of Iran and the Gulf at the University of Haifa, which was published in the National Security College’s Bitachon Leumi journal.

According to Dr. Levyatan, in the modern field of struggle between a sovereign country and a terrorist organization it is also necessary to relate to the information warfare that is taking place in the new and traditional media as well as other technological platforms, from the Internet to computer games. “The terrorist organizations invest efforts in information warfare tools, which enables them to bridge the physical gap between them and their conventional fighting forces. Today, these organizations frequently hold an advantageous stance in this field,” he points out.

The study also shows that terrorist organizations have created built-in advantages in the information warfare. For example, one of the conclusions of the Second Lebanon War is that one of Hezbollah’s targets was to drag Israel into a disproportionate response so that it would be able to exhibit Israel in the Western and Arab media as a brutal country. Hezbollah’s and Hamas’s use of citizen populations as human shields is also intended to display Israel in the media as an inhumane country.

In order to counter the terrorist organizations’ advantages, Dr. Levyatan presents strategies that Israel ought to carry out in this field, the guiding principal being that just like in conventional warfare, the country must initiate and not be dragged behind the other side, and of course it must rely on intelligence. “There is a major difference between gathering intelligence for military fighting and gathering intelligence for information warfare. Intelligence for information warfare must relate to components such as who the enemy’s elitists are, what their social structure is, and what their political and tribal affiliations are. It is important to know what symbols are significant to the opponents, what the population’s primary information channels are, and which messages would be engaged or discarded,” the researcher points out.

He asserts that an efficient technique in information warfare is to photograph the combat fighting against the terrorist organization. This way, the organization’s claims of exaggerated use of force can be refuted, or it can be shown that the terrorists are those who are injuring the population that they claim to be defending. Another technique is to identify the point of weakness between the population and the organization, and use that to our advantage. For example, if basic needs are lacking, the army provides assistance for the population – and we point out that it does so while the terrorist organization prevents the population of its basic needs.

“Information is a weapon, and just like an army invests in tanks and planes, the army must also invest in information weapons. The army must develop abilities and skills that are not always considered as an intrinsic part of its activities – such as computer games, culture products, video clips, and television programs. When the army succeeds in presenting a product of information that incriminates the guerilla organization, it might be able to meet its required target more efficiently than if it had acted with physical force,” Dr. Levyatan concludes.

 

###

March 15, 2009

Dick Cheney scrambles …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:15 pm

… for a desperate CYA move.

The man has admitted to war crimes and hopes beyond hope for a terrorist attack to stave off the inevitable prosecution for those crimes.

This should be shouted down by the GOP with full force. But it won’t be.

From the link:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday again asserted that President Obama has made the country less safe, arguing that the new administration’s changes to detention and interrogation programs for suspected terrorists would hamper intelligence gathering.

January 30, 2009

Terrorists are criminals, not soldiers

That very point is one of Bush’s failures in the poorly named “war on terror.” These fools are criminals. Sometimes common, sometimes uncommon, but criminals none the less. They aren’t soldiers. Just barbaric thugs wielding dark ages theology in defense  of cowardly acts.

Bush played perfectly into the hands of these idiots by declaring war on the very concept of terror, labeling them “enemy combatants” and giving them special — if unpleasant — status. Better to have utilized our law enforcement and military to capture and legally try each and every one. Being called a common international law-breaking loser is much less sexy than being martyred as a combatant captured in a global war.

Here’s a great bit from Cato-at-Liberty. It’s part of a much longer post on Ali Saleh Mohamed Kahlah al-Marri that deserves reading, but this perfectly illustrates where the Bush response to terrorism utterly failed.

From the link:

German also points out that terrorists rely on their claim to be something more akin to soldiers than criminals to maintain political legitimacy. IRA terrorists held by British authorities staged a hunger strike to retain treatment as “prisoners of war” rather than “criminals.” Ten of them willingly starved to death rather than be lumped in with murderers and rapists, the goal of the British “criminalization” strategy. As German writes:

The reasons for the hunger strike reveal much about the IRA and about terrorists in general. They didn’t strike over the anti-Catholic discrimination that led to the civil rights movement. They didn’t strike over the RUC’s police abuse or the stationing of British troops in Northern Ireland. They didn’t strike over being arrested without charges, interned, and tortured. They didn’t strike over indefinite detentions or even over Bloody Sunday. They knew all those things helped their cause. They went on hunger strike because the British government was going to make them look like criminals.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, architect of the 9/11 attacks, sees the writing on the wall — the Obama administration intends to close down the Military Commissions and try him and his co-conspirators in a traditional court of law. This is why he tried to plead guiltyand become a martyr for his cause. If we convict al-Marri and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court and not a Military Commission or one of the proposed national security courts, the Al Qaeda boogey-man is revealed as a thug, not a noble Muslim soldier. 

November 28, 2008

A report from Mumbai …

Filed under: et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:18 pm

… via the American Conservative:

Deeprak Chopra is on the TV. Among other things, he says that the Al-Qaeda and like minded terrorists are really worried by Obama, and his capacity to transform the whole moral-intellectual landscape between the West and Islam, and are striking out to try to prevent that. Sounds about right to me.

Will Bush pardon Rove?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:04 am

My gut tells me yes, but it could easily fall either way. It’d be craven, but no more craven than pretty much every other president has acted at one time or another.

A preemptive pardon would be sold as keeping “the architect” from unfounded partisan attacks, but the reality is history will almost certainly see that move as an acknowledgement Rove, and by association the entire Bush 43 administration, was knee-deep in illegal and unconstitutional activities for a number of years. That stain will never be washed away.

There’s a little to like about the Bush 43 years and a whole lot not to like, but the defining action of the outgoing administration is authorizing torture. George W. Bush is the first United States president ever — ever – to authorize torture under the auspices of our nation. Taking a long view I doubt anyone would say Islamo-terrorism is/has been the greatest threat this country has ever faced, but until Bush 43 no president saw fit morally or tactically to institute a program of systematic torture applied to potentially innocent captives.

No rule of law, no rule of human decency and no real objectives at the end of the day other than to detain and torture prisoners who might (and you better believe some are) or might not (and you also better believe we’re destroying some innocent lives) be guilty of conspiring against the USA. The utter lack of judicial oversight — military or civilian — ensures no one knows the truth of guilt or innocence.

So at the end of the day will Bush pardon “the architect?” I guess we’ll know sometime in the next two months.

From the link:

Should Rove be indicated by the special prosecutor before January 20, 2009 (unlikely) or should the House Judiciary Committee seek and receive a contempt of Congress charge, which it could do (veryunlikely), that would make Bush’s decision to pardon Rove easier. “I think Bush pardons Rove on his last day in office regardless,” says George Shipley, a longtime political foe of Rove in Texas. “Bush has to pardon a hundred guys—washboarders, torturers, lawyers who wrote the opinions on torture, the White House political staff who violated the Hatch Act. And Rove.”

Others disagree. “I would think Bush would not want to further damage his presidency by clearing the hired help,” Roger Stone says. “Bush Senior’s pardoning of Casper Weinberger is different. Weinberger was secretary of defense and a social peer of the Bush family. Karl is still the hired help.” What’s more, Bush may not be pleased with the way his presidency has turned out. “Rove is the architect of Bush’s current unpopularity,” Stone says. “He is the architect of failure. Bush might want the judgment of history to be on Karl as well as himself.”

As such, Rove may have worries separate from potential indictments or a possible presidential pardon: his legacy. Within the Republican Party, he is now viewed by many as the mastermind behind one of the greatest collapses of a political party in American history—losing both chambers of Congress in 2006, now the presidency.

November 19, 2008

Stay classy, al Qaeda

Filed under: et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:47 pm

Actually there’s nothing classy about those stone-age morons, but this is so stupid it’s painful. Who knew that along with being hate-filled, sharia-lovin’ buffoons, al Qaeda is also quite racist.

In case you’ve missed the news on the latest missive from the cave:

Indeed, the only thing I have a really strong blogometric opinion about today is the letterAyman Al-Zawahiri has issued, in which the terrorist calls the President-elect a “house slave.” If this isn’t disinformation–and it would be nice if our intelligence community were clever enough to have forged the statement–it is fabulous news for reasons most succinctly described by Richard Clarke:

“Obama’s election has taken the wind out of al Qaeda’s sails in much of the Islamic world because it demonstrates America’s renewed commitment to multiculturalism, human rights, and international law. It also proves to many that democracy can work and overcome ethnic, sectarian, or racial barriers.”

August 10, 2008

Asbahi, Islam and the current US political climate

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:14 pm

This is a great insider’s view of an odd, and disconcerting in many ways, subject. The linked 538.com post is on Mazen Asbahi resigning as national coordinator for Muslim American affairs from Obama’s campaign. The real meat is the political climate in the United States toward all Muslims fostered by the Bush 43 regime.

First a bit from the intro of the post:

A Perspective on Mazen Asbahi

 

Earlier this week, Mazen Asbahi, whom the Obama campaign had appointed on July 26 to be their national coordinator for Muslim American affairs, announced that he had resigned his position.

Rany Jazayerli, my friend and colleague at Baseball Prospectus, knows Mr. Asbahi, and wrote me a long e-mail detailing his perspective on the matter. I asked him whether he’d be willing to share his perspective with the readers of FiveThirtyEight, and he graciously agreed. The following are Rany’s words, unedited, and pulling no punches.

Here’s part of Rany’s essay. It’s worth the time to hit the link and read this entire piece. He has a strong point and makes it well. Asbahi resigned after the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets tied him to Jamal Said and made insinuations Said was tied to Islamist terrorism:

“The Justice Department named Mr. Said an unindicted co-conspirator in the racketeering trial last year of several alleged Hamas fund-raisers, which ended in a mistrial. He has also been identified as a leading member of the group in news reports going back to 1993.”

Pardon my Arabic, but what the f**k is an unindicted co-conspirator, and why is our government using this phrase? Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? And whatever happened to the notion that indictment is just the first step towards a guilty verdict? A prosecutor is supposed to be able to indict a ham sandwich, so what does it say that they’ve never been able to indict Said? (Maybe that’s his secret: Muslims don’t eat pork.)

In that racketeering trial – which, again, ended in a mistrial – the government listed close to 300 Muslim organizations as “unindicted co-conspirators”, which is tantamount to saying “we think some of them are terrorists, and since we don’t know who, we’ll just blame them all.” So much for innocent until proven guilty. This isn’t even guilty until proven innocent – it’s guilty with no recourse to prove you’re innocent. How can you defend yourself against an indictment which doesn’t exist? Said is guilty by association. Which makes Mazen, apparently, guilty by association with someone who’s guilty by association. It’s McCarthyism squared.

June 24, 2008

McCain’s top adviser goes there

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:08 am

In an unbelievable gaffe, McCain’s top adviser, Charlie Black, went on record stating a major terrorist attack on US soil would help his candidates chances. I’m pretty sure the American public has had more than its fill of campaigns using scare tactics and fear to try and win elections.

In a year where the Democratic faithful are pumped up and enthusiastic and a portion of the Republican base is still openly talking about “punishing” the party for the Bush 43 years, I think floating the idea of terrorism helping either candidate will do no good and probably a lot of harm. Wonder if Black is out after this. I doubt it, but McCain will have to take some public measure beyond this tepid apology from Black:

“I deeply regret the comments, they were inappropriate,” Black said in a statement after McCain said that if Black had made such a comment, “I strenuously disagree” with it.

“I recognize that John McCain has devoted his entire adult life to protecting his country and placing its security before every other consideration,” said Black, one of McCain’s most trusted political advisers.

Fortune magazine said Black, in discussing how national security was McCain’s strong suit, had said when asked about another terrorist attack on U.S. soil that “certainly it would be a big advantage to him.”

Black’s comment to Fortune was a distraction for McCain as he seeks to catch up to Obama in the polls, where Obama leads by about 6 percentage points.

Obama’s camp quickly came out with this response:

The Obama campaign is going after the McCain camp over top adviser Charlie Black’s claim that a terror attack on U.S. soil would help McCain politically.

Here’s the statement from Obama campaign spokesperson Bill Burton:

“Barack Obama welcomes a debate about terrorism with John McCain, who has fully supported the Bush policies that have taken our eye off of al Qaeda, failed to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, and made us less safe. The fact that John McCain’s top advisor says that a terrorist attack on American soil would be a ‘big advantage’ for their political campaign is a complete disgrace, and is exactly the kind of politics that needs to change. Barack Obama will turn the page on these failed policies and this cynical and divisive brand of politics so that we can unite this nation around a common purpose to finish the fight against al Qaeda.”

Note the line about how Obama “welcomes a debate about terrorism” with McCain. That Obama wantsto have a debate about national security is fast becoming an Obama campaign refrain.

 

 

March 3, 2008

Chavez aiding S. American terrorists?

Filed under: et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:49 pm

This Bloomberg story doesn’t look too good for the portly Venezuelan dictator:

Colombia Files Show Chavez Funded FARC, Rebels Sought Uranium

By Helen Murphy

March 3 (Bloomberg) — Colombia’s police chief Oscar Naranjo said documents from the computer of a guerrilla leader killed last weekend in Ecuador show links to Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez.

The documents on the computer of Raul Reyes, the second in command of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, indicate that Venezuela provided the guerrillas with at least $300 million and would help Chavez in the event of a U.S. attack on Venezuela.

Naranjo said the FARC, as the group is known, was seeking to buy 50 kilos of uranium for bomb making with aim of getting involved in international terrorism.

To contact the reporter on this story: Helen Murphy in Bogota at Hmurphy1@bloomberg.net .

(Hat tip: Fark)

February 1, 2008

Terrorist fools in action

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:32 pm

I’m giving more than a hat tip to Captain Ed (looks like it’s been a Captain’s Quarters kind of day).

He’s right. Terrorists are fundamentally evil. I can’t add anything more than his sentiments about this, so here’s his entire post:

The Despicable Nature Of Our Enemy

Baghdad got hit by two bombers today, but neither of them committed suicide. The al-Qaeda attack involved strapping remote-controlled bombs to two girls with Down’s Syndrome, and detonating the devices when they walked through the market. The explosions killed 73 people in one of the deadliest days since the surge pacified most of Iraq:

Remote-controlled explosives strapped to two mentally retarded women detonated in a coordinated attack on Baghdad pet bazaars Friday, Iraqi officials said, killing at least 73 people in the deadliest day since the U.S. sent 30,000 extra troops to the capital last spring.The chief Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, claimed the female bombers had Down syndrome and that the explosives were detonated by remote control, indicating they may not having been willing attackers in what could be a new method by suspected Sunni insurgents to subvert stepped up security measures.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said the bombings showed that a resilient al-Qaida has “found a different, deadly way” to try to destabilize Iraq. … Involving women in fighting violates cultural taboos in Iraq, but the U.S. military has warned that al-Qaida in Iraq is recruiting females and youths to stage suicide attacks because militants are increasingly desperate to thwart stepped-up security measures.

If nothing else has shown the remarkable bloodthirstiness and heartlessness of the AQI terrorists, this should do it. People who would exploit the mentally handicapped as walking bombs have no sense of humanity, justice, or peace. They are, simply put, evil people who have no capacity for negotiation or co-existence.

In a way, this shows how desperate AQ has become. They obviously cannot fill their ranks with willing participants, and even hostages won’t suffice. Instead, they exploit the weakest and most innocent and use them as commodities to kill as many people as possible.

The Iraqis have seen this evil up close and have rejected it. They understand now that there is no accommodation with evil. It has to be defeated, and defeated utterly.

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