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  • The Controversial CTC Report

    Posted by Zenpundit on January 26th, 2013 (All posts by )

    Cross-posted from Zenpundit.com

    The Center for Combating Terrorism at West Point released a report on domestic terrorism that raised hackles for a number of reasons. Despite the dismissals of liberal political pundits, the reasons for objections to the CTC report are legitimate but they did not need to arise in the first place and might have been avoided with a slightly different editorial approach or appropriate caveats (I just finished reading the report, which is primarily focused on the usual suspects). Here’s why I think the normally well-regarded CTC stumbled into a hornet’s nest:

    First, in this foray into domestic terrorism analysis, the center chose to concentrate only on the threat of violence of the Far Right while ignoring other threats coming from the Far Left, infiltration by criminal insurgent networks from Mexico, notably the ultraviolent Zetas whose reach has stirred gang violence in Chicago and Islamist terrorism, either homegrown “lone wolves” or from foreign infiltration or subversion. In itself, this is understandable if the CTC plans a series of reports with a separate focus on different domestic threats; but without that context, it is a myopic analytic perspective, particularly given the demonstrated capabilities of various AQ affiliates or just south of the border, the criminal-insurgency of  the narco-cartels. Had all of these been addressed in one omnibus report, any complaints from conservatives were likely to have been muted or nonexistent. This is not to say that the radical American Far Right does not have a violent threat potential of its own worth studying; it does and it is real. But available evidence indicates it to be the least organized, least operationally active and least professionally competent in terms of terrorist “tradecraft” of the three.

    The second and most problematic aspect of the report is an intellectually sloppy definition of a dangerous “antifederalist movement” where noxious concepts like “white supremacy” and wacko conspiracy theories are casually associated with very mainstream conservative (or even traditionally bipartisan!) political ideas – coincidentally, some of the same ideas that contemporary “big government” liberal elites tend to find irritating, objectionable or critical of their preferred policies. Part of the equation here is that American politics are evolving into a very bitterly partisan, “low trust” environment, but even on the merits of critical analysis, these two passages are ill-considered and are largely responsible for most of the recent public criticism of the CTC:

    ….The antifederalist rationale is multifaceted, and includes the beliefs that the American political system and its proxies were hijacked by external forces interested in promoting a “New World Order” (NWO) in which the United States will be absorbed into the United Nations or another version of global government.  They also espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights.  Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government
     
    ….In contrast to the relatively long tradition of the white supremacy racist movement, the anti-federalist movement appeared in full force only in the early to mid-1990s, with the emergence of groups such as the  Militia of Montana and the Michigan Militia. Antifederalism is normally identified in the literature as the “Militia” or “Patriot” movement. Anti-federalist and anti-government sentiments were present in American society before the 1990s in diverse movements and ideological associations promoting anti-taxation, gun rights, survivalist  practices,and libertarian ideas 

    This is taxonomic incoherence, or at least could have used some bright-line specifics (like “Posse Commitatus” qualifying what was meant by “anti-taxation” activists) though in some cases, such as “libertarian ideas” and “civil activism”, I’m at a loss to know who or what violent actors they were implying, despite being fairly well informed on such matters.

    By the standard used in the first paragraph, Glenn Greenwald, Ralph Nader and the ACLU would also be considered “far right antifederalists”. By the standards of the second, we might be in physical danger from Grover Norquist,  Congressman John Dingell and Penn Jillette. No one who opposed the recent increases in income tax rates, dislikes gun-control or thought the DOJ may have abused its power in the prosecution of Aaron Swartz or in their stubborn refusal to prosecute Bankster racketeering is likely to welcome a report under the auspices of West Point that juxtaposes such normal and perfectly valid American political beliefs with neo-Nazism. A move that is simply going to – and quite frankly, did – gratuitously irritate a large number of people, including many in the defense and national security communities who are a natural “customer base” for CTC reports.

    As I said previously, this could easily have been completely avoided with more careful use of language, given that 99% of the report has nothing to do with mainstream politics and is concerned with actors and orgs with often extensive track records of violence. As the CTC, despite its independence, is associated so strongly with an official U.S. Army institution, it needs to go the extra mile in explaining its analysis when examining domestic terrorism subjects that are, or appear to be, connected to perfectly legitimate participation in the political process. This is the case whether the subject is on the Left or Right – few activists on the Left, for example, have forgotten the days of COINTELPRO and are currently aggrieved by the activities of Project Vigilant.

    I might make a few other criticisms of the report, such as the need for a better informed historical perspective, but that is hardly what the recent uproar was about.

     

    12 Responses to “The Controversial CTC Report”

    1. ErisGuy Says:

      “Combating Terrorism Center”

      One more government department that needs abolished.

    2. Mike K Says:

      The Army is increasingly a PC force with the notorious General Casey making inane comments about the Fort Hood massacre.

      General George Casey’s staggeringly inane comment after the shooting captures the atmosphere that explains it: “Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”

      Diversity at this point is a synonym for mindlessness and self-hating hypocrisy. Were Hasan a virulent and outspoken Christian military chaplain, he would have been branded a hate criminal and whisked away. But since he is a Muslim, since Obama isn’t at “war with Islam,” and since Islam is so obviously a religion of peace, he was given a wide swath.

      Under the paralysis of a PC culture, all Muslims are moderate Muslims and anyone who says otherwise is a bigot. If Hasan didn’t define Islam as a religion of peace but as a religion of jihad, that was okay; he would come around in time to the superior liberal understanding of Islam as non-violent…

      I just read Tom Ricks’ The Generals and Casey does not do well in it. I’ve been annoyed with Ricks’ hatred of Bush and attacks on the Iraq War but he has Casey pinned like a butterfly in the book. The Army is in danger of being run by politicians in uniform.

    3. Cris Says:

      Considering the Army’s dismal record fighting irregulars, I don’t think we have anything to worry about. West Point churns out an astounding number of intellectually brain-dead ass-kissers who will do or say anything to become a general. Between politically correct/political clout appointments to the Academy, and PC promotion, purchasing of commissions seems like an enlightened process.
      This report, like the one from Big Sis that preceded it, has two goals. The first, above, well stated by Zen. The second is what we all know as well. The Democratic Party’s unstated goal is to slowly undermine the constitution (for reasons best known to itself). They are “sloppy” for a reason.
      Right now, their opposition is verbal, and dealt with by force only occasionally. At a certain point organized resistance will begin and then have to be put down by force levels thought of as totalitarian. Documents such as the above will provide cover.
      Far-fetched? Ask Mr. Nakoula, if you can find him.
      Will we tolerate it? Ask the Afghans.

    4. grey eagle Says:

      Liberals believe in two things.
      1) The US should be governed by the ‘will of the people’
      2) The voters are too stupid to know what is good for them and therefore liberals must decide what is ‘the will of the people’.

      This is why the press never criticizes liberal leaders even when the torture people or kill babies because whatever a liberal does is for the common good.

      It also explains why non-liberal presidents and legislators face non-stop criticism from the press and are never praised except when they commit suicide.

      Nakoula made a movie that provided a handy narrative to the liberal press supporting the liberal claim that the death of an ambassador and some FSOs (to be named later) was caused by an attempt by right wingers to subvert ‘the will of the people’. Nakoula’s movie was pro-Christian. Liberals oppose any Christian/Jewish religious interference in determining ‘the will of the people’.

      Liberals argue that Right wingers who buy guns to oppose ‘the will of the people’ are by definition terrorists.

    5. Smock Puppet, 10th Dan Snark Master and Sarcasm Amplifier Says:

      }}} Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government

      Those sick, freaking BASTARDS!!!

      /sarc Off.

    6. VSSC Says:

      @ mike K – “The Army is in danger of being run by politicians in uniform.”

      Dude. That horse has left the barn. as far as the warriors – notice all the Warrior generals getting retired early [Mattis USMC], Petreaus destroyed…and the Navy is relieving Commanders at a wartime rate, in a war you’re losing badly. The Army is also getting rid of people in the enlisted ranks who don’t have enough “schools”. You see they didn’t get to the right NCOES [education system] as they were distracted from proper career managment by “War”, which is apparently not educational for the Trade.

      We don’t know exactly what the Navy is doing but they’re being very public about it. They are either in the hands of a Zhukov or a Torquemada, I’d bet on the latter.

      Cris – the Constitution has not governed since the New Deal.

      CTC – shame it does good work on the actual foes were fighting.

      Perhaps CTC senses something in the wind…?

    7. Cris Says:

      VSSC-Agreed, heh heh.
      I didn’t say the Dems had just broke ground, did I?

    8. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Well, this and things like this – http://tpnn.com/obama-reported-to-be-dismissing-military-leaders-who-will-not-fire-on-civilians-if-ordered/
      … which indeed may only be a rumor – are certainly enough of an indicator of the direction that winds are blowing in. Framing up centrist, military veterans and retirees, small-government and fiscally-responsible constitutionalists, small business owners and red-state residents as potentially dangerous far-right radicals and potential insurrectionists is the first step in neuturalizing them. Hey, they’re only counterrevolutionary freaks; we don’t need to lower the tone of our administration to deal with them.

    9. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      The second and most problematic aspect of the report is an intellectually sloppy definition of a dangerous “antifederalist movement” where noxious concepts like “white supremacy” and wacko conspiracy theories are casually associated with very mainstream conservative (or even traditionally bipartisan!) political ideas – coincidentally, some of the same ideas that contemporary “big government” liberal elites tend to find irritating, objectionable or critical of their preferred policies. Part of the equation here is that American politics are evolving into a very bitterly partisan, “low trust” environment, but even on the merits of critical analysis, these two passages are ill-considered and are largely responsible for most of the recent public criticism of the CTC:

      As I said previously, this could easily have been completely avoided with more careful use of language, given that 99% of the report has nothing to do with mainstream politics and is concerned with actors and orgs with often extensive track records of violence.

      If an error is obvious, and:

      1) made by what should be an organization or individual that should be capable of sufficient intellectual rigor to avoid such,

      2) when if the errors have been pointed out [as they have been repeatedly since the report was released] and neither corrections nor explanations have been made,

      3) when allied and associated organizations have made the same generic errors and meet criterias 1 & 2,

      4) and when there is no record of any countervailing errors in the other direction that could indicate that a deliberate bias possibly was not involved ….

      then it becomes reasonable to assume that the error(s) are neither accidental, the result of sloppy scholarship, nor anything but deliberate.

      When the organizations involved are intimately involved with the coercive organs of the state; it is also reasonable to presume a high likelihood that the errors are previews of future state policy.

      Subotai Bahadur

    10. veryretired Says:

      Same thing happened in the ’90′s under Clinton. All of a sudden, the biggest threat in the country was right-wing militias and anti-tax dissidents. The feds went on and on about it, as if the leftists or islamists or drug gangs had somehow disappeared, and the most dire threat in the nation was some posse in Montana that objected to the income tax.

      It’s just one more brick in the endless wall of collectivist propaganda.

    11. bobmark Says:

      Same thing happened in the ’90′s under Clinton.’

      All fads come around again. Bell bottom pants will be around again too.

    12. Mrs. Davis Says:

      Congratulations on making it through this pile of dung. I started it and became alternatively so amused, frustrated and bored that I couldn’t finish it. I agree that it might be of value if it were part of a series. But even as part of a series it shouldn’t classify these threats politically or ideologically, but by threat level or goal. This was clearly a political hit piece by someone currying favor or funding. Another demerit for the West Point rep.