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  • Archive for the 'Terrorism' Category

    SWOT, One Year On

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 15th April 2014 (All posts by )

    A year ago I was dispassionately composing my analysis. Today, when I left the Sprint campus and drove east on 115th Street to turn north on Nall toward I-435, there were TV news vans with telescoping antennae lining the street at the entrance to the Jewish Community Center.

    Coincidentally the number of dead is identical. There are, however, no (physically) injured survivors, and the motivation for the attack was similar only in that it was intended to draw attention to a cause. I fear that the perpetrator is cunning enough to succeed in that; his previous notoriety was due to legally forcing some radio stations to briefly carry Nazi ads during an election campaign season. Much has been made of the gentile – and indeed seriously committed Christian – identity of the victims, but I believe that was unimportant to him. What mattered was that he seize a mechanism for dissemination of conspiracy theories, and now, given the administrative blockheadedness of the American justice system and the puerile conventions of American journalism, we are all too likely to be subjected to many hours and tens of thousands of words of exceptionally vicious, totalitarian propaganda, varying portions of which will be heard by tens of millions of people. This guy knew exactly what he was doing.

    I could tell that from the video snippets of his arrest, just as I could tell, hours before it was officially confirmed, that he would turn out to have come from rural Missouri (Aurora is nearly a 3-hour drive from Overland Park; he had to have cased both facilities beforehand) and would turn out to be a southerner with prior Klan involvement. It was completely obvious from his accent, his tone of voice, and his attitude on camera. He is now operating inside the American institutional OODA loop. Our entirely proper determination to grant a scrupulously fair trial – when we’re not piling on the charges in order to ram a plea bargain through, that is – will be roughly equivalent to giving him not airtime for advertisements, but his own highly rated nationwide radio network.

    Fortunately, he is also sufficiently sui generis that copycat attacks are unlikely, at least in the immediate future. Should an American Dolchstoßlegende catch on, however, things may deteriorate sharply. The general case is to scapegoat a relatively small, easily-identified minority: it was the “1%,” or twenty-five guys on Wall Street, or the Koch brothers – or George Soros, or Obama/Pelosi/Reid, or the leftist academics on their Long March through the institutions – or (of course) Jews, or Latino immigrants or Asians stealing our jobs. If we just expropriate, or deport, or exterminate them, and everyone like them, the story goes, our country will be purified, and Utopia ensue. The ideology may be Nazi or Communist; either will do in a pinch, as Hayek wrote nearly three-quarters of a century ago: its adherents are uncertain, and know only that they hate Western liberal civilization.

    Just to make things more complicated, tolerance can definitely be taken too far. Interviews with the perpetrator’s neighbors in Lawrence County, Missouri, immediately elicit idiotic postmodernist comments to the effect that he seemed like a nice enough guy but had some opinions that they didn’t agree with. Great. Your assigned reading is here, you nitwits.

    So when blood ran in the streets of my city, did I follow my own advice in the ostensibly-uplifting conclusion to my analysis of a year ago, and immediately redouble my efforts on whatever it is I was supposed to be doing? Well, it was a Sunday, so there was somewhat less of that, although I tend to devise more projects for my spare time than I could possibly execute anyway. But in the event, whatever it may say about me, I felt tremendously violated, as though the murders had occurred in my driveway rather than six miles away. And what I actually did was drink rather more cheap boxed red wine than usual and break down a couple of times. I don’t have any particular aversion to weeping, but I don’t need to do so very often. Turns out I needed to on Sunday evening. The question of how I will react should much larger-scale events occur in even closer proximity remains unanswered.

    The problem, of course, is that this kind of thing isn’t supposed to happen here … which is a rather hypocritical sentiment in light of the actual statistics on violent death locally. A couple-three people a week get murdered in this town, three-quarters of them in an area covering only one-tenth of the municipality of KC, Mo., and a tiny fraction of the area of the entire MSA. Assuming that the said area (34 mi²) has the same population density as zip code 64130 (of which it largely consists), a moment with a calculator establishes that the homicide rate in question – the southwestern boundary of that area reaches to within two miles of my house – is nearly 80 per 100,000 per year, making it one of the most dangerous places in the Western world, and also as dangerous as Iraq before the Surge, which the media thoughtfully informed us at the time was the Worst Thing Ever. Gallivanting off to Haïti is all very well, but perhaps I should find a more local ministry to volunteer with while I’m at it.

    But it really isn’t supposed to happen here, and not just because Overland Park is a world away from the East Side. Side-by-side, indeed inextricably mixed, with the ongoing mayhem five minutes’ drive from my doorstep is a deep reservoir of peace and contentment. God damn it, we just want to listen to jazz and eat barbecue. In its best moments, there is no gentler place on Earth. The lives of those taken on Sunday bear witness to that.

    “The new thing — the thing which we had not known — the thing we have learned now and should never forget, is this: that a society of self-governing men is more powerful, more enduring, more creative than any other kind of society, however disciplined, however centralized.” – Harry S. Truman, Radio Report to the American People on the Potsdam Conference, 9 August 1945

    “Boys, if you ever pray, pray for me now.” – Harry S. Truman, to reporters, 13 April 1945

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, History, Judaism, Law Enforcement, National Security, Personal Narrative, Politics, Predictions, Quotations, Religion, Society, Terrorism, USA | 3 Comments »

    Her Inevitableness

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 11th February 2014 (All posts by )

    This is what I used to call her, in blog posts at ncobrief.com during the run-up to the 2008 primaries; Hillary Clinton; who seemed so … inevitable. She would be there, a power to behold and take seriously in the presidential primaries. “In the place of a Dark Lord you would have a Queen! Not dark but beautiful and terrible as the Morn! Treacherous as the Seas! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth! All shall love me and despair!”
    Well, I am certain that some of Hillary Clinton’s supporters have loved and despaired, in the resulting contest between ebony and ovary in the 2008 primaries. Eh – I didn’t care at the time, still don’t care and can’t be made to care. I will note for the record that my daughter was taking college classes then, and both of us were annoyed beyond all reason by the assumption that because we were both women, and politically involved, that we were OF COURSE all about Hillary. Our support was taken as a matter of fact. THE FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT! This possibility was apparently intended to make us both go wobbly in the knees and vote with our vaginas instead of our brains.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Conservatism, Media, Middle East, Military Affairs, Politics, Terrorism | 23 Comments »

    The Hillary Campaign, step two.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 5th January 2014 (All posts by )

    The New Yorker has an interesting short piece about al Qeada, this week by Lawrence Wright. It concerns the recent court rulings about NSA metadata collection.

    Judge Pauley invoked the example of Khalid al-Mihdhar, a Saudi jihadist who worked for Al Qaeda. On 9/11, he was one of the five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon. In early 2000, Mihdhar made seven calls from San Diego to an Al Qaeda safe house in Yemen. According to Pauley, the N.S.A. intercepted the calls, but couldn’t identify where Mihdhar was calling from. Relying on testimony by Robert Mueller, the former director of the F.B.I., Pauley concluded that metadata collection could have allowed the bureau to discover that the calls were being made from the U.S., in which case the bureau could have stopped 9/11.

    Fair enough but Wright has another point.

    But the Mihdhar calls tell a different story about why the bureau failed to prevent the catastrophe. The C.I.A. withheld crucial intelligence from the F.B.I., which has the ultimate authority to investigate terrorism in the U.S. and attacks on Americans abroad.

    In August, 1998, truck bombs destroyed two American Embassies, in Kenya and Tanzania, killing two hundred and twenty-four people. Three days later, F.B.I. investigators captured a young Saudi named Mohammad al-‘Owhali at a hotel outside Nairobi. He had fresh stitches in his forehead and bloody bandages on his hands. In his pocket were eight brand-new hundred-dollar bills. Two skilled interrogators, Steve Gaudin and John Anticev, persuaded ‘Owhali to write down the number he called after the bombing. It belonged to Khalid al-Mihdhar’s father-in-law, Ahmed al-Hada, and was one of the most important pieces of information ever obtained in the effort to prevent terrorist acts in the U.S. It became known as the Al Qaeda switchboard.

    The title of Wright’s piece is “The al Qeada Switchboard.”

    The N.S.A.’s tracking of calls to and from the Hada household allowed the F.B.I. to map the global network of Al Qaeda. But not all the information was shared. In 1999, Mihdhar’s name surfaced in one of the recorded calls, linking him to Al Qaeda. “Something nefarious might be afoot,” an N.S.A. analyst wrote, but Mihdhar’s name was not passed on to the F.B.I.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Islam, Law Enforcement, Middle East, Politics, Terrorism | 2 Comments »

    Appeasement, Then and Now

    Posted by David Foster on 26th October 2013 (All posts by )

    The Prime Ministership of Neville Chamberlain is closely associated with the word “appeasement.” The policy of appeasement followed by Britain in the late 1930s  is generally viewed as a matter of foreign policy–the willingness to allow Germany’s absorption of other countries, first Austria and then Czechoslovakia, in the desperate but misguided hope of avoiding another war.

    But appeasement also had domestic as well as foreign policy aspects. In a post several years ago, I quoted Winston Churchill, who spoke of  the unendurable..sense of our country falling into the power, into the orbit and influence of Nazi Germany, and of our existence becoming dependent upon their good will or pleasure…In a very few years, perhaps in a very few months, we shall be confronted with demands” which “may affect the surrender of territory or the surrender of liberty.” A “policy of submission” would entail “restrictions” upon freedom of speech and the press. Indeed, I hear it said sometimes now that we cannot allow the Nazi system of dictatorship to be criticized by ordinary, common English politicians.”

    Churchill’s concern was not just a theoretical one. Following the German takeover of Czechoslovakia, photographs were available showing the plight of Czech Jews, dispossessed by the Nazis and wandering the roads of eastern Europe. Geoffrey Dawson, editor of The Times, refused to run any of them: it wouldn’t help the victims, he told his staff, and if they were published, Hitler would be offended.

    I’ve just finished reading Niall Ferguson’s War of the World, and this book contains much more information about appeasement in British domestic society and politics. Some excerpts:

    (Times Berlin correspondent Normal Ebbut) wrote regularly on…the (Nazi) regime’s persecution of Protestant churches. As early as November 1934, he was moved to protest about editorial interference with his copy, giving twelve examples of how his stories had been cut to remove critical references to the Nazi regime.

    and

    The Times was far from unique in its soft-soap coverage of Germany. Following his visit in 1937, Halifax lobbied near all the leading newspaper proprietors to tone down their coverage of Germany…The government succeeded in pressuring the BBC into avoiding ‘controversy’ in its coverage of European affairs…Lord Reith, the Director-General of the BBC, told Ribbentrop ‘to tell Hitler that the BBC was not anti-Nazi’…Pressure to toe the line was even stronger in the House of Commons. Conservative MPs who ventured to criticize Chamberlain were swiftly chastised by the whips or their local party associations.

    and

    At around the time of the Abyssinian crisis, the historian A L Rowse–who was just thirty-four at the time of Munich-recalled a walk with (Times publisher Dawson) along the towpath to Iffley, in the course of which he warned the older man: ‘It is the Germans who are so powerful as to threaten the rest of us together.’ Dawson’s reply was revealing: ‘To take your argument on its own valuation–mind you, I’m not saying I agree with it–but if the Germans are as powerful as you say, oughtn’t we to go in with them?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Britain, Civil Liberties, Europe, Germany, Islam, Leftism, Terrorism, The Press, USA | 27 Comments »

    Al Shabaab’s Sarajevo in Nairobi

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 23rd September 2013 (All posts by )

    There is a profound moral dimension to the photos and videos coming out of Kenya.

    They are showing a multiracial civilization — an up-scale mall is the commercial epitome of modern civilization — under attack with multiracial cops and generally black African military saving multiracial civilians from faceless terrorist barbarians.

    There is a huge message about the nature of our terrorist enemy that will resonate with the Western public in much the same way that pictures and video from Sarajevo did in the 1990s vis-a-vis the Serbs.

    This Al Shabaab atrocity for publicity and fund raising will cost them and their Islamist co-belligerents far more in the long run.

    Dehumanization works both ways.

    Posted in Current Events, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Islam, Terrorism, War and Peace | 51 Comments »

    The depressing divide in US understanding of reality.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 14th September 2013 (All posts by )

    I read left wing blogs most days to see what the other side thinks. I used to comment but the comments were usually deleted, often without notice, so the nasty responses to my comments would be there the next day but the offending comments would not appear.

    The Huffington Post has become a very successful left wing site that advertises itself as moderate. I skim it most days and occasionally comment although my comments are all moderated and I can’t tell if they are deleted or not. I have a few followers so some must appear. Today I went there to see what the left thinks of the Syrian fiasco. The headline was not reassuring. That may change soon but it says “We Have a Deal !” The story follows with a rather naive heading.

    The story has over 14 thousand comments, double the number when I read the story earlier this morning. The story is bad enough.

    A diplomatic breakthrough Saturday on securing and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile averted the threat of U.S. military action for the moment and could swing momentum toward ending a horrific civil war.

    Marathon negotiations between U.S. and Russian diplomats at a Geneva hotel produced a sweeping agreement that will require one of the most ambitious arms-control efforts in history.

    The deal involves making an inventory and seizing all components of Syria’s chemical weapons program and imposing penalties if President Bashar Assad’s government fails to comply will the terms.

    After days of intense day-and-night negotiations between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and their teams, the two powers announced they had a framework for ridding the world of Syria’s chemicals weapons.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Blogging, Conservatism, Current Events, History, International Affairs, Leftism, Middle East, Obama, Russia, Terrorism | 33 Comments »

    9/11 Plus Twelve Years

    Posted by David Foster on 11th September 2013 (All posts by )

    (Rerun, with an important update at the end)

    Simply evil: Christopher Hitchens suggests that sometimes the simple and obvious explanation for an event is more accurate than an explanation which relies on an elaborate structure of “nuance”

    A time bomb from the Middle Ages. Roger Simon explains how 9/11 altered his worldview and many of his relationships

    An attack, not a disaster or a tragedy. George Savage explains why the persistent use of terms like “tragedy” by the media acts to obfuscate the true nature of the 9/11 attacks. Much more on this from Mark Steyn

    Claire Berlinski was in Paris on 9/11. Shortly thereafter she wrote this piece for City Journal

    Marc Sasseville and Heather Penney were F-16 pilots with an Air National Guard squadron. Their order was to bring down Flight 93 before the terrorists in control of it could create another disaster on the scale of the World Trade Center…but their aircraft were configured for training, with no live ammunition and no missiles. A video interview with Major Penney here

    Joseph Fouché writes about how the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in March 2001, and the murder of Ahmed Shah Masood on September 9 of that year, prefigured the 9/11 attacks.

    On September 11, 2005, Rare Kate didn’t go to church. Follow the link to find out why. In my original post linking this, I said “What if American and British religious leaders had responded the depradations of Naziism in the spirit of this liturgy? Actually, some of them did. The impact on preparedness was certainly malign, and the people who took such positions certainly bear a share of moral resposibility for the deaths and devastation that took place. Ditto for those who are behaving in a similar way today.”

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an important leader of the anti-Nazi resistance in Germany (executed in 1945), wrote the following:

    Today there are once more saints and villains. Instead of the uniform grayness of the rainy day, we have the black storm cloud and the brilliant lightning flash. Outlines stand out with exaggerated sharpness. Shakespeare’s characters walk among us. The villain and the saint emerge from primeval depths and by their appearannce they tear open the infernal or the divine abyss from which they come and enable us to see for a moment into mysteries of which we had never dreamed.

    I was reminded of the above passage by something Cara Ellison said in a 2009 post about 9/11:

    I guess I thought they were all gone, those types of monsters, stranded on reels of black and white film.

    The refusal on the part of many individuals to face the seriousness of the radical Islamist threat to out civilization stems in significant part, I feel certain, from a desire to avoid the uncomfortable and even dangerous kind of clarity that Bonhoeffer was talking about.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, History, Islam, Middle East, Obama, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    Why the “Israel Lobby” Backed Obama on Syria

    Posted by Jonathan on 9th September 2013 (All posts by )

    Martin Kramer:

    Stephen J. Rosen has written a smart piece on how Obama forced AIPAC to back his planned military action against the Syrian regime. It’s titled “Pushed on the Bandwagon,” and he makes a strong case. Of course, AIPAC views action on Syria as a kind of proxy for action against Iran, and assumes that the former will make the latter more likely when push comes to shove. In fact, bopping Assad may well be a substitute for action against Iran: Obama hopes that by a relatively cheap shot at Syria, he’ll restore enough credibility to restrain Israel vis-à-vis Iran. Alas, a cheap shot won’t restrain Iran, and may even impel it to push its nuke plans forward. Israel has to face reality: it may or may not be a post-American world, but it’s a post-American Middle East. (And if the military operation goes badly it could be post-AIPAC, too.)

    The Rosen piece is here. It’s worth reading, particularly for the reminder of how Obama operates politically (there are no appeals to principle; it’s all about arm twisting, threats and domestic political considerations).

    Kramer’s interpretation is persuasive. Obama probably wants to use a weak attack on Syria, or preferably mere talk about Syria if he can get away with it, as a substitute for rather than a prelude to doing anything about Iran’s nuclear program. Syria is Iran’s puppet and if Obama were serious he’d be going after the mullahs. Instead he appears to be running out the clock until they have nukes, while also doing his best to degrade our military in order to lock in our impotence for the foreseeable future. (J. E. Dyer discusses our current weakness in detail: here, here and here.)

    Whatever the course of Obama’s political career going forward, we are probably going to pay dearly for his ineptitude and anti-American malice.

    Posted in Current Events, International Affairs, Iran, Israel, Jewish Leftism, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Obama, Quotations, Terrorism, War and Peace | 7 Comments »

    Obama, US Military Victory, and the Real “Red Line” in Syria

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 9th September 2013 (All posts by )

    The thing that really bothers me in all the back and forth surrounding the American strike on the Assad Regime debate, and the Democratic Party aligned media spin of what the meaning of words “Red Line” mean, is how off-point from the interests of the American people it all is. The Assad regime’s use of Nerve Gas isn’t the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Deploying those Clinton era spin techniques over the definition of “Red Line” is the political equivalent of pointing and yelling “_Squirrel_!”

    The bottom line is that if the Assad regime of Syria survives on the strength of chemical weapons of mass destruction, an incredibly dangerous to American national security situation will come to pass. The Chemical Weapons Convention will be dead, publicly murdered and discredited similar to the way the Kellogg-Briant Pact against war was in the face of Nazi rearmament. There will be an arms race for chemical weapons of mass destruction in the Mid-East & elsewhere. That will require the US military to rearm with either lethal chemicals or with tactical nukes — with all the costs that requires both financial and moral — in order to maintain a credible deterrent for future conventional military operations.

    The issue with the Assad Regime’s use of chemical weapons of mass destruction is the Assad regime . The only fit punishment, one that will prevent catalytic proliferation of chemical and other weapons of mass destruction around the world, is the Assad Regime’s over throw. That overthrow is readily obtainable by American military forces and can be achieved without a single boot on the ground, nor a single foreign ally.

    The fact that the Obama Administration is unwilling use grasp those means, and to politically justify their use with the same sort of weapons of mass destruction argument that Pres. George W. Bush deployed to justify regime change in Iraq, is the real strategic “Red Line” for Syria. It is a Red Line that the American people chose in electing a Democratic Senate in 2006 and in both electing and reelecting Pres. Obama (and a Democratic Senate) in 2008 and 2012.

    It is a “Red Line” that has to be erased by competent and principled Presidential leadership that forthrightly explains the threat, continually over time, if Americans are to continue enjoying — its admittedly rapidly declining — freedom from police state surveillance at home.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in International Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Terrorism, Uncategorized, USA, Xenophon Roundtable | 24 Comments »

    “Did Vladimir Putin Bait a Trap for the United States in Damascus?”

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th September 2013 (All posts by )

    Interesting thoughts:

    By showing that Obama’s America is unable and unwilling to keep its promises, Putin has widened the leadership void in the Middle East—as a prelude to filling it himself. By helping to clear Iran’s path to a bomb, Putin positions himself as Iran’s most powerful ally—while paradoxically gaining greater leverage with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, who would much rather negotiate with Russia than with Iran, their sworn enemy. While the Americans were heading out of the Middle East, and the Chinese were too busy with their own internal debates about the future of their economy and society, Putin saw that something valuable had been abandoned on the world stage, and he took it. For the price of 1,000 dead civilians in Damascus, he has gained great power status in the oil-rich Middle East. Iran, for its part, gets the bomb, which isn’t great news for anyone, but was probably going to happen anyway.
     
    [. . .]
     
    Only time will tell whose evil is worse—Putin’s or Obama’s. While Putin delights in using the old-school KGB playbook to consolidate his one-man rule, and to expose the empty moral posturing of the West, Obama believes that he can talk his way into a workable accommodation between his own sense of morality and global reality. But the lesson of Obama’s fig leaf is that it is better to be honest about what we are doing in the world and why. If Putin baited a trap for the United States in Damascus, it was Obama who walked right into it. If Obama had stood up and declared that the United States had no vital interest in Syria but would stop Iran from getting nukes—and would prosecute the authors of the nerve-gas attack at The Hague—then Putin would have been trapped. The same would have been true if Obama had said nothing and blown up two or three of Assad’s palaces. But he did neither. Sometimes, well-meaning lies and political spin can be just as deadly, in the end, as nerve gas.

    (Via Tom Smith.)

    Posted in International Affairs, Iran, National Security, Obama, Russia, Terrorism, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    Appeasement, 2013

    Posted by David Foster on 9th July 2013 (All posts by )

    Appeasement, British-style:  Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer have been banned from entering Britain. The reason? Fear that they might say something offensive to Muslims….especially those Muslims of the extremist and violence-prone stamp.

    Appeasement, American-style:  At the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, inmates were unhappy that the treadmills provided for exercise were “Made in America.” So they were replaced with treadmills made in Muslim countries.  And even worse: since detainees objected to the sight of the American flag, it is no longer raised at Guantanamo anywhere the inmates can see it.

    Appeasement, German-style: A female Muslim student at the University of Duisburg-Essen ripped down parts of a graphic novel exhibit, which included the work of the internationally known Israeli artist Rutu Modan. Journalist Pascal Beucker says that  the university’s management remains puzzled over the student’s conduct. Indeed, they were so puzzled that: “As a result of the student’s handiwork, school officials promptly closed the exhibit.”  What about the vandal?  ”The university management said it would conduct a conversation with the Muslim student about her conduct and reserves the right to take legal action against her, according to rector Ulrich Radtke.” (emphasis added)

    Also, see this post by Barry Rubin about some revelations concerning the Obama administration’s attitude toward the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Posted in Britain, Germany, Islam, Israel, Middle East, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 1 Comment »

    Who are they protecting us from ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 13th June 2013 (All posts by )

    The latest word on the NSA scandal, and it is a scandal, is that the FBI is not allowed to snoop on mosques.

    Since October 2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents. No more surveillance or undercover string[sic] operations without high-level approval from a special oversight body at the Justice Department dubbed the Sensitive Operations Review Committee.

    Who makes up this body, and how do they decide requests? Nobody knows; the names of the chairman, members and staff are kept secret.

    We do know the panel was set up under pressure from Islamist groups who complained about FBI stings at mosques. Just months before the panel’s formation, the Council on American-Islamic Relations teamed up with the ACLU to sue the FBI for allegedly violating the civil rights of Muslims in Los Angeles by hiring an undercover agent to infiltrate and monitor mosques there.

    That makes sense. After all, all terrorists thus far have been fundamentalist Christians.

    Oh wait.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Anti-Americanism, Islam, Middle East, Military Affairs, Politics, Religion, Terrorism | 75 Comments »

    Obama, NSA Surveillance, and the Future of the American Information Technology Industry

    Posted by David Foster on 12th June 2013 (All posts by )

    I’m currently reading 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War, by Charles Emmerson. The book describes the social and political climates then existing not only in the major European countries, but also in other places around the world, ranging from Australia to Canada to China.

    In his description of Jerusalem–then under control of the Ottoman Empire but with a population including residents and pilgrims from many countries–the author says:

    Different countries even had their own postal services, circumventing the Ottoman telegraph service, which was widely thought to be a nest of spies reporting communications back to Constantinople.

    Fast forward 100 years….In the wake of the reports concerning NSA surveillance programs, there is widespread concern..among non-Americans as well as among citizens of this country…that the American telecommunications and information-processing services may be “a nest of spies” reporting communications back to Washington…and from there, possibly, to other shadowy recipients. These concerns may have serious economic ramifications.

    See, for example, Forbes–NSA Surveillance Threatens US Competitiveness:

    Non-US customers of any US business will immediately evaluate their exposure to these new risks and look for alternatives. European, Canadian, and Australian tech companies will profit from this. Competitors in those regions will offer alternatives that will also draw US customers away from the compromised US services.

    Washington Post–European Leaders Raise Concerns on US Surveillance

    “The German business community is on high alert,” said Volker Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. “It’s not just about listening in on some bearded guy from Ulm who bought a ticket to Afghanistan and makes conversation with his friends in Waziristan. . . . The suspicion in large parts of the business sector is that Americans would also be interested in our patent applications.”

    Popular Mechanics–Why the NSA Prism Program Could Kill US Tech Companies:

    Think for a second about just how the U.S. economy has changed in the last 40 years. While a large percentage of our economy is still based in manufacturing, some of the most ascendant U.S. companies since the 1970s have been in the information technology sector…

    Let’s say you ran a business in (Japan, India, Australia, Mexico, or Brazil)  that relied upon information services from a U.S. company. Don’t these revelations make using such a service a business liability? 

    See also Business Insider–Did Obama Just Destroy the US Internet Industry?

     

    I don’t think these revelations, even if they are fully validated, will really “kill” US tech companies or “destroy” the US Internet industry…the headlines are a bit over the top, as headlines often are. I do believe, however, that the American information technology industries will be significantly harmed, with implications for the entire US economy…something that we really cannot afford at this particular point in time.

    I think it is obvious that the US government needs to conduct anti-terrorist surveillance programs, which must encompass telecommunications networks…the idea that NSA should be abolished, as some have suggested in recent days, is to my mind very unwise. But non-Americans as well as Americans have every right to be concerned about the scope of what has apparently been going on, and the apparent lack of proper controls, and furthermore, to raise questions about how the information gathered is actually being used.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Economics & Finance, Obama, Privacy, Tech, Terrorism, War and Peace | 14 Comments »

    RERUN–The Perfect Enemy

    Posted by David Foster on 26th May 2013 (All posts by )

    (Originally posted in February 2009. I was reminded of it by recent events in London and Sweden)

    Suppose you wanted to create a perfect enemy. An enemy so vile that its evil would be recognized by almost everyone. An enemy that would inspire people to come together in order to ensure its defeat.

    To be more specific: suppose you were a screenwriter with the assignment of creating a suitable villain-organization for a major motion picture. The marketing plan for this movie suggests that it will be marketed primarily to a certain demographic and that, hence, your villain-organization should be particularly appalling to members of that demographic. The demographic in question consists of people who are affluent, highly educated (college with at least some postgraduate education), not particularly religious, and who consider themselves politically liberal or “progressive.” The plot of the movie demands that the audience must see the necessity for Americans–of many beliefs, occupations, and social backgrounds–to come together in order to defeat the enemy.

    Oh, and one other thing. The year in which you are given this assignment is 1999.

    You will clearly want your enemy to share many of the characteristics of the Nazis–disrespect for human life, wanton cruelty, a love of apocalyptic violence. But to make the enemy particuarly awful from the standpoint of your target demographic, you will want to emphasize certain aspects of its belief system.

    Members of your demographic usually have strong beliefs about women’s rights. So, your enemy must have a particularly disrespectful belief set, and a violent behavior pattern, towards women. Similarly, your demographic is generally favorable toward gay rights…so the enemy must advocate and practice the suppression, torture, and killing of gays. Your demographic is generally nonreligious and often hostile toward religion…so, make sure the enemy includes a large element of religious fanaticism. Members of your demographic talk a lot about “the children”–so make sure your enemy uses children in particularly cruel ways.

    Had you created such an enemy for your screenplay in 1999, you would have surely felt justified in assuming that it would achieve its intended reaction with your target demographic.

    It didn’t work out that way, though.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Britain, Film, Iran, Islam, Religion, Terrorism | 9 Comments »

    Conspiracy Theories

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 12th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Last week was a week for the conspiracy theories. First, we had Benghazi and the hearings which interviewed career State Department officers, most of whom probably vote for Democrats. The fact that they were ordered not to talk to Congressmen and denied any attempt at help when under attack, even from as close as Tripoli, invites speculation about motive. Peggy Noonan, a little unusually, hits this one out of the park.

    Since it is behind a pay wall, I’ll quote a few bits.

    What happened in Benghazi last Sept. 11 and 12 was terrible in every way. The genesis of the scandal? It looks to me like this:

    The Obama White House sees every event as a political event. Really, every event, even an attack on a consulate and the killing of an ambassador.

    Because of that, it could not tolerate the idea that the armed assault on the Benghazi consulate was a premeditated act of Islamist terrorism. That would carry a whole world of unhappy political implications, and demand certain actions. And the American presidential election was only eight weeks away. They wanted this problem to go away, or at least to bleed the meaning from it.

    That sounds about right to me.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Elections, Health Care, Islam, Medicine, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, Tea Party, Terrorism | 12 Comments »

    RERUN–Benghazi

    Posted by David Foster on 9th May 2013 (All posts by )

    (Here is something I wrote in November of last year)

    At a minimum–at a bare minimum–the Benghazi affair reveals a dismal level of incompetence pervading the Obama administration. There is also reason to believe that it reveals decison-making about life-and-death matters based on this President’s desire to preserve his “narrative,” rather than facing reality and acting upon it. And, I suspect, the more we learn about what happened in Benghazi, and why it happened, the more disturbing the answers are going to be.

    I’m currently re-reading the memoirs of General Edward Spears, who was Churchill’s emissary to France in 1940. There was a disturbing amount of defeatism, and in some cases actual sympathy with the Nazi enemy, among certain government officials and other French elites. Weygand’s friend Henri de Kerillis, a Deputy and newpaper editor, had been consistently pressing Prime Minister Daladier to investigate some sinister behavior by members of the extreme Right.

    “Il faut de’brider l’abces,” he had said time and time again to the Premier. He had done so again lately and received this strange answer: I have done exactly what you urged, I have opened the abscess, but it was so deep the scalpal disappeared down it, and had I gone on, my arm would have followed.” This was really very frightening, and I said so. “You cannot be more frightened than I am,” said Kerillis.

    I feel sure that we are going to find that the abscess revealed by the Obama administration’s behavior re Benghazi goes very deep indeed.

    5/9/2013: A useful source of information about the Benghazi debacle and the related investigations is the site  Special Operations Speaks.

    Posted in France, History, Middle East, Politics, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »

    Missing the Point

    Posted by Jonathan on 1st May 2013 (All posts by )

    This Politico piece is an example of wishful thinking, agenda-driven failure to acknowledge the big picture or both in its attempt to explain away the jihadist angle in the Boston bombing.

    “We found a number of people who wanted to do bad things but didn’t want to see themselves as criminals,” a psychologist who works with federal law enforcement agencies told me. “They are murderers in search of a cause. They tell themselves, ‘I want to change the world.’ Some we give the romantic term ‘terrorist.’ They are people who want to do something bad, so they say it was for Al Qaeda or a jihad.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Islam, Media, Terrorism | 6 Comments »

    Immigration

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 24th April 2013 (All posts by )

    UPDATE: Mickey Kaus now has a column called Gang of 8 Fraud of the Day. Today’s is “Back Taxes.”

    Negotiators had to choose between a hard-line approach favored by Republicans, like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), that would have required immigrants and employers to painstakingly piece together a tax history so the government could collect what is owed and a less burdensome option of focusing on people who already have a past-due bill with the Internal Revenue Service.

    Yup. No tax audits. Only if they already have an assessment is it pursued.

    Rubio’s published materials now often carefully say to-be-legalized immigrants would have to merely ”pay taxes” as opposed to pay “back taxes.” That hasn’t stopped the bogus “back tax” meme from being propagated during Rubio’s current round the clock Con-the-Cons tour.

    The Senate has served up another in Harry Reid’s menu of “Unanimous Consent” bills with no hearings and no amendments except those he approves. This is not how the Senate is supposed to work and is a large part of the reason that Congress has produced such bad legislation since 2008. Now, we have another massive bill which is being presented with minimal hearings and debate.

    The “Gang of Eight” has written this bill and it is supposed to be fast tracked with no argument. Marco Rubio has been pressing for approval and now Paul Ryan is aboard.

    In an interview last week with the Catholic television network EWTN, Ryan recalled his history at Kemp’s side and how they worked together to fight Proposition 187, a California ballot initiative that prevented non-citizens from using the state’s social services.

    One reason why immigration worked in this country for 150 years was the fact that immigrants were here to work and support themselves. There was no welfare for them. Prop 187 in California was passed with 60% of the vote and even had majorities in heavily Hispanic districts. It was ruled “unconstitutional” by the California Supreme Court and the decline of the “Golden State” has followed. His reasoning at the time ?

    “I actually campaigned with Jack Kemp against a thing called Prop 187,” Ryan told host Raymond Arroyo. He said they both worried that the proposal would burn Republicans within the immigrant community, and “make it so that Latino voters would not hear the other messages of empowerment.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Britain, Business, Civil Society, Conservatism, Education, Human Behavior, Islam, Middle East, Politics, Religion, Terrorism | 10 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 24th April 2013 (All posts by )

    Richard Fernandez:

    The Tsarnaev’s were showered with a huge amount of things. And did they like it? No they hated it. Hated the whole idea of the dirty, degenerate, corrupt West. They hated the idea and took the goodies without a thought. Despite this the mainstream culture is set to respond to their attack with more things. More drones, detectors, armored vehicles, barriers, restrictions, weapons, armor …. more items the list of which goes on and on. But omitted from the catalog of responses will be any campaign to mentally engage radical Islam — to debate against it, denounce it or render it uncool — because that would be bigoted.
     
    It is often forgotten that Freedom of Speech means debate. It means patches on software, not paint on the equipment box. It means fixing the insubstantial. It means mental action. This is important because in the case of radical Islam Freedom of Speech has been redefined as the obligation to remain silent. That obligation has even been given a special term: it is called Tolerance. And no one seems to have noticed that Tolerance is essentially the opposite of Freedom of Speech. It means don’t program. Don’t unhack the hack. Do nothing. Pretend it’s all a joke. Watch the whole system melt down. Tolerance is a rejection of the manifest truth that information matters because it can cure or it can kill.

    George W. Bush’s biggest mistake was to avoid making a serious effort to confront radical Islam intellectually. He had the right general idea, which was that radical Islam is an existential threat that we must defeat, and that defeating it would require many years and the use of force to punish and destroy the Islamist regimes that attack the West through terrorist proxies and eventually WMD. He got about one-half of the use-of-force part right, which isn’t a bad outcome in the scheme of things. However, he failed almost completely in making a public rhetorical and intellectual case against radical Islam and for his geopolitical strategy. As a result of this failure, ten years later most Americans are ignorant about or misunderstand his strategy and have elected feckless leaders who are reversing his gains, while radical Islam is advancing against only weak intellectual opposition in its areas of operation.

    Posted in Islam, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Terrorism | 21 Comments »

    Despicable

    Posted by David Foster on 24th April 2013 (All posts by )

    US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Istanbul, compared the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing to the nine Turkish activists killed by the IDF as they tried to break Gaza’s naval blockade. Here’s what Kerry said:

    I know it’s an emotional issue with some people. I particularly say to the families of people who were lost in the incident we understand these tragedies completely and we sympathize with them. And nobody – I mean, I have just been through the week of Boston and I have deep feelings for what happens when you have violence and something happens and you lose people that are near and dear to you. It affects a community, it affects a country. We’re very sensitive to that. 

    Kerry is here conflating the legitimate use of force by an allied state, against people who knowingly put themselves in harm’s way by challenging a naval blockade, with a terrorist act against the wholly innocent citizens of Boston. His statement insults the citizens of Boston, it demonstrates hostility toward Israel, and it blurs moral distinctions and projects a sense of weakness which can only encourage more terrorist attacks against the United States in the future.

    As Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks said, “It’s unconscionable to compare the loss of life resulting from an act of self-defense to the results of cold-blooded, premeditated murder by terrorists.”

    In related news, Richard Falk, the Princeton professor emeritus who is a high official of the UN “Human Rights Council,” blamed the Boston terror attacks on US foreign policy and “Tel Aviv.”  More at Breitbart:

    The Obama administration has long championed the UN Human Rights Council, which it decided to join as one of its first foreign policy moves in 2009. Thanks to the Obama administration, U.S. began a second three-year term on the Council this past January. At the opening of the Council’s most recent session in March, Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer traveled to Geneva to address what she called “this esteemed body.” As author Anne Bayefsky says:

    There is nothing about a “human rights” body that countenances the likes of Richard Falk that is “esteemed,” and the United States should resign–effective immediately.

    Posted in Islam, Israel, Middle East, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    Easy Shot

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 23rd April 2013 (All posts by )

    One of the episodes that I am having a hard time making sense of in the chase for the Boston bombers is the shootout in Watertown. This website, if it is to be believed, seems to have photos of the shootout. I am sure that more photos and video will come out. But we aren’t at the point yet where I can actually put together the events of that shootout and compare them to what I think is an enormous amount of b.s. coming from the Watertown Police Chief.

    The more important question I have for you is this – can you go to jail for shooting known terrorists (or anyone) that are taking shots at the cops? In photo number one, that appears to be an extremely easy shot – I am certain I could have put one through at least one of their heads* at their distance, and since all you really need is a .22 to get it done (low flash/report), I am also fairly certain that the bad guys would have no real idea where the shot came from.

    If I were to take these bad guys out, would I be sitting in a jail cell today? I am guessing yes. Would I beat the rap? Hard to say.

    *with a .22 long gun, that has a decent scope

    Posted in Law Enforcement, Terrorism | 39 Comments »

    Rights

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 21st April 2013 (All posts by )

    Just a quick question for those who certainly know more about this subject than me. Are our fourth and fifth amendment rights suspended during a situation like in Boston when they are doing a door to door search? Personally, I would not have let the cops into my house unless they had a warrant. Nor do I answer questions from cops without representation present.

    Posted in Law, Law Enforcement, Terrorism | 21 Comments »

    The “Professionals”

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 21st April 2013 (All posts by )

    Lots will be written about the Boston bombings in the coming months but what I have to say about it will be relatively short and sweet.

    From my outpost here in rural Wisconsin, it appears that the people of Boston are a bunch of babies. They follow orders from “professionals” very well though, that I will admit.

    There is zero chance that a “stay in your house” order would be obeyed out here in the sticks – I have talked to many of my farmer neighbors already on the subject. In fact, there is also zero chance that those murderers would survive long out here in the rural areas – they would have gotten shot between the eyes, plain and simple, by any of a number of citizens. On that subject, what is up with the lack of marksmanship with the “professionals”? Hundreds and hundreds of rounds volleyed, and one guy lives to tell the tale? Houses shot full of holes that weren’t even in the line of fire? Really? These guys get paid to do this?

    There were thousands of cops on the scene in Boston, and the surviving jerk still somehow got outside of the cordon. I would think this to be embarrasing to the “professionals”. It was clear, at least from where I was sitting, that the “professionals” didn’t have a great grasp on the situation. I laughed when I saw the state troopers marching in formation or the swat guys parading through the neighborhood riding on the running boards of the Hummer. The show of force does not impress the terrorists, or basically anyone – besides perhaps the cowering citizens of Boston and the associated suburbs.

    Can you imagine how bad this would have been if the bombers were actually smart?

    Sorry to have to take this tack in the wake of these murders, but it really, really looks bad on tv from where I am sitting, at least.

    People of Boston: get some guns, band together, and do something. When we had a horrible blizzard here a few months ago we had lives on the line but we all worked together, checked in on each other and helped where needed. You didn’t hear about it because we took care of it ourselves with no help from anyone including the “professionals”. People and livestock were in serious danger, but we worked hard and made things happen while the “professionals” told us to stay inside.

    The “professionals” obviously didn’t bring their “a game” to this event, nor should be counted on to do so in the future. Always remember: you are the first responder. Take action.

    Posted in Big Government, Current Events, Law Enforcement, Terrorism | 48 Comments »

    SWOT Analysis of Boston Marathon Bombing

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 20th April 2013 (All posts by )

    Negative items (weaknesses and threats) first.

    Overconcentration of political belief systems by geography and especially by vocation, notably in journalism; the corresponding threat is misdiagnosis of motivation and identity of perpetrators.
    This was on full display over the past week, and although the most prominent examples were instances of the amazingly robust narrative about a supposed right-wing fundamentalist Christian underground, the persistence of which reveals a great deal about the mindset of the “liberal” bien-pensant, they’re not the only ones who have this problem. Claiming that people in Boston are cowering under their beds and wishing they had AR-15s, or casually accusing various (and singularly unimpressive) American politicians of being Communists, isn’t much better than fantasizing about entirely nonexistent WASP terrorists. And there has already been at least one wild-goose chase in recent years, the nationwide Federal investigation to find the co-conspirators of Scott Roeder in the assassination of George Tiller. He didn’t have any, and was known very early on to have acted alone. Your tax dollars nonetheless went to work; see also “memetic parasitism,” below.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Civil Society, Current Events, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Iran, Israel, Media, Middle East, National Security, Organizational Analysis, Politics, Predictions, Society, Terrorism, Tradeoffs, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »

    Lessons from Boston

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 20th April 2013 (All posts by )

    Update #2: I have great deal of respect for Richard Fernandez and his opinions.

    The second part of the response is that an outsourced, privatized jihad will probably be increasingly met by privatized security regime based on reputation. With the government unwilling to profile in a increasingly vulnerable public space some entrepreneurs may create members-only events where attendance is limited to pre-cleared individuals who pay to have themselves vetted.

    I think this has merit.

    UPDATE: There have been three more arrests of young people with heavy Russian accents near U Mass. They had a car, a BMW, with the license plate “terrorista #1. Photos at the link.

    One jihadist is dead and the other is in custody. The younger bomber’s wounds have not been described so it is impossible to say if he will survive. The emergency is over and now it is time to think about why this happened. It now appears that both young men were long time residents of this country and, at least the younger was a citizen. Both had registered to vote, according to Nexis. The older brother was married with a child. His wife had converted to Islam and, according to reports yesterday, was wearing a full chador when she was taken from their home protesting about a male FBI agent handling a Muslim woman. She was lucky, as one commenter observed, that she was not strip searched as Chechen women have been prominent in terrorism cases in Russia, sometimes as suicide bombers wearing bomb belts.

    The majority [of suicide bombers] are male, but a huge fraction — over 40 percent — are women. Although foreign suicide attackers are not unheard of in Chechnya, of the 42 for whom we can determine place of birth, 38 were from the Caucasus. Something is driving Chechen suicide bombers, but it is hardly global jihad.

    I doubt the Times’ insistence on the absence of Islamist motives although Chechens have been at war with Russians for centuries. The suicide bomb is a common weapon for jihadists. The Palestinian “Mother of Martyrs” comes to mind.

    Mariam Farhat, who said she wished she had 100 sons to die while attacking Israelis, died in a Gaza city hospital of health complications including lung ailments and kidney failure, health official Ashraf Al-Kidra said. She was 64.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Britain, Civil Society, Immigration, Islam, Leftism, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Religion, Russia, Terrorism | 5 Comments »