How many terrorists are there, really?
U.S. Falters in Terror Case Against 7 in Miami
The Terrorist Watch
In his new book, The Terrorist Watch, author and journalist Ronald Kessler investigates the FBI, the CIA, and the other agencies that work to find and capture terrorists. He explains how the information gathered by intelligence agencies helps law enforcement to thwart terrorists' plans. The Terrorist Watch also offers insight into specific intelligence achievements, such as the discovery of information that helped authorities foil the 2006 Heathrow airport plot.
Kessler defends torture and claims that the use of torture has prevented attacks and leed to the aprehension of 5,000 terrorist. I ask: where are these terroists? Have they been charged with crimes?
Jamiyyat Ul Islam Is Saheeh
Plot posed a real, immediate threat, experts say
The case illustrates how quickly authorities must be prepared to move once they learn of terrorists' plans.
December 15, 2007 It was not the most spectacular domestic terrorism plot since the Sept. 11 attacks, and certainly not the best-known.
But no other case posed such a real and immediate threat as the audacious scheme to attack more than a dozen military centers, synagogues and other sites in Southern California, experts said Thursday.
- Instructions for terrorism
"If you look at the roster of defendants in terrorism cases, it often seems like a casting call. They all have aspirations, but most lack real talent and helpful connections," said Brian Levin, an attorney and director of Cal State San Bernardino's Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
"But here you actually had a case where defendants had a radicalized ideology, a list of targets and they had already gone from planning to operations," Levin said. "This was beyond merely a threat. In this instance, they were operational."
The guilty pleas announced Friday in what is known as the JIS case represented an important win for the Justice Department, after a string of high-profile courtroom defeats in terrorism-related prosecutions. Just Thursday, a jury in Miami acquitted one man charged with plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and deadlocked on charges against his six alleged accomplices.
The courtroom ending mirrored a mistrial declared earlier this year in a Dallas prosecution against five Islamic men accused in the largest terrorism-financing case brought by the U.S. government.
"The bottom line is that when you look at a lot of these prosecutions, many people are accused of lying to investigators or [other crimes] rather than terrorist acts or threats to national security," Levin said. "And that is why you have seen a bit of prosecutorial fatigue set in with the public. . . . There is a lot of talk about what could have happened in a case" rather than evidence of a pressing threat.
By contrast, the JIS plot was within 60 days of launching, according to sources close to the investigation.
The case illustrated how quickly authorities must be prepared to move in the event of an actual terrorist threat, they said. In a matter of weeks, the FBI, Los Angeles and Torrance police departments and two dozen other agencies conducted 19 searches, seized two dozen computer hard drives and examined about 53,000 documents, all without the normal luxury of moving at their own pace with undercover informants, surveillance and wiretaps.
The plotters "were flying dangerously below the radar," said the FBI's John Miller, who was the LAPD's counter-terrorism head at the time the case broke. He added that the defendants had robbed gas stations for the money to buy rifles, had picked their targets and had set a date.
"The clock was ticking. All they needed to do was to start killing," he said.
The prison-hatched scheme raised another fear in U.S. counter-terrorism circles, particularly within California, which has the nation's largest inmate population: Were there other members of the conspiracy, spawned in cellblocks and prison libraries, preparing to carry on the plan?
"We were confident that we could make a case against the people we had in custody," said Randy Parsons, the retired former head of counter-terrorism for the FBI in Los Angeles. "Our greatest concern was: Did we miss somebody? Is there somebody who has been released from prison or radicalized on the street that we might have missed who might be about to go operational?"
More than 350 federal agents, state investigators and local police worked five weeks, around the clock, to determine if others had escaped their dragnet. In the end, they did not find additional accomplices, but their investigation led to new intelligence coordination between prison officials and outside law enforcement.
For all its urgency, however, the case never drew the attention of lesser threats. One reason was that news of the JIS investigation trickled out over the course of weeks.
In addition, the federal indictment of the four defendants, though announced by top Justice Department officials in Los Angeles and Washington, was unsealed as the nation's attention was riveted on Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans.
Too, the men charged with terrorism did not fit the stereotype of the foreign-born menace that had been drilled into the American psyche after Sept. 11.
For professor Levin, that may be the long-term lesson of the case.
"I think this case shows you cannot racially or religiously profile an ideology. It is fanaticism, not faith, that drives this extremism," Levin said. "And disenfranchised people will craft their hatred into an ideology of their choice. That is why religious converts are so good for this radicalization . . . because those who have been raised in a faith know better."
Two plead guilty in terrorist plot case
The members of a radical prison-based cell admit to charges of waging war against the U.S. Documents detailing their attack plans are revealed.
December 14, 2007 Two members of a prison-based Islamic terrorist cell that was poised to attack military sites, synagogues and other targets across Southern California pleaded guilty in federal court today to conspiring to wage war against the United States.
Kevin James and Levar Washington, members of the homegrown radical Islamic organization dubbed JIS, entered guilty pleas in front of U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney in federal court in Santa Ana.
James, who founded the group while in state prison in 1997, recruited Washington years later when they were both prisoners at New Folsom Prison. Following his release in 2004, Washington recruited a third member, Gregory Patterson, with whom he committed a string of gas station robberies to fund the group's planned attacks, authorities said.
As the defendants entered their pleas, prosecutors made public several JIS documents detailing the group's operations. One handwritten paper, titled "Modes of Attack," includes a list of National Guard facilities, Army recruiting centers and something referred to as the "camp site of Zion." Another two-page document, labeled "Blueprint 2005," set out eight tasks to be accomplished in furtherance of the plot.
"We will need bombs that can be activated from a distance," one entry read. "Acquire two weapons (pistols) with silencers," read another.
The plot was uncovered after Torrance police linked two JIS members to a gas station robbery and discovered Jihadist documents in the South Los Angeles apartment where they were living.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said the case is a chilling example of law enforcement thwarting a terrorist plot at the eleventh hour.
"These homegrown terrorists had raised the money, recruited the people, chosen the targets, obtained the weapons and set the date," Mueller said in a prepared statement. "All they had left to do was strike."
James faces 20 years in prison. Washington, who also pleaded guilty to using a gun during the plot faces 25 years. Patterson is expected to plead guilty on Monday.
Alleged Terror Plot Seen as Homegrown
September 01, 2005 The federal indictment of four Los Angeles men for allegedly plotting a string of attacks on military and Jewish targets concerns officials because it suggests that Islamic extremists can take root in the United States without the help of international terrorists, federal authorities said Wednesday.
"This summer, Americans watched so-called homegrown terrorists unleash multiple bombings in the city of London. Some in this country may have mistakenly believed that it could not happen here," U.S. Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales said at a Washington news conference to announce the charges. "Today we have chilling evidence that it is possible."
Kevin Lamar James, 29; Levar Haney Washington, 25; and Gregory Vernon Patterson and Hammad Riaz Samana, both 21, were charged with crimes including conspiracy to kill U.S. and foreign government officials, firearms violations and conspiracy to levy war against the U.S. through terrorism.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said that to date, the plot appeared to have no connections to international terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda or Pakistani militant groups.
"We do not have currently ties to international terrorist groups, but in the same breath I'll tell you the investigation is continuing," Mueller said.
The indictment says the plot was designed behind the walls of California State Prison, Sacramento, in Folsom. Investigators say the prison served as a kind of incubator for a potentially violent brand of Islam.
Until now, Muslim terrorists operating in the United States have generally originated abroad. This investigation, however, could realize long-expressed fears by terrorism experts that American Muslim converts serving time in prison could be lured into extremism.
It was unclear how close the men were to executing any of the attacks they allegedly planned. Some counterterrorism investigators believe they were within weeks of an assault, others said nothing was imminent.
At a Los Angeles news conference, however, law enforcement officials made it clear they thought the plot was ready to go.
"The evidence in this case indicates that the conspirators in this case were on the verge of launching their attack," said U.S. Atty. Debra Wong Yang.
"Make no mistake about it," added Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton, "We dodged a bullet here. Perhaps many bullets."
Randy Parsons, acting assistant director of the FBI in Los Angeles, said he wanted to reassure the public that there was "no current threat to public safety based on what we've learned in this investigation."
Though federal authorities have filed numerous terrorism-related cases since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many have been prosecuted as immigration violations or other lesser charges. Several major cases have fallen apart in court.
A new trial was ordered for three North African men convicted in Detroit of terrorism and fraud-related charges after federal officials conceded that exculpatory evidence had been withheld from the defense.
A Muslim attorney from Portland, Ore., who was held because his fingerprint was allegedly linked to the 2004 Madrid train bombing, was released amid disclosures from Spanish officials that they had told the FBI the print did not match.
Former federal prosecutor Laurie Levenson said Wednesday's indictments appear to be stronger than some terrorism-related cases. "It reads much more like a prison-gang type of case, and they do have success with those," said Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
According to the indictment, one year after James' imprisonment for a 1996 armed robbery, he founded a group known as Jamiyyat Ul Islam Is Saheeh, or JIS, based on his radical interpretation of Islam. James preached to JIS members that it was their duty to target for violent attack the U.S. government and Jewish or non-Jewish supporters of Israel, the indictment alleges.
He allegedly required prospective members of the group to take an oath of obedience and promise not to reveal the organization's existence. And he sought to establish JIS cells outside of prison to carry out violent attacks, the indictment says.
Just before his release from prison, Washington allegedly told James he was prepared to follow James "to victory or martyrdom," the indictment says.
Washington allegedly set about -- on James' orders -- to recruit five people without felony convictions who could be trained to carry out attacks. Washington, the indictment adds, also was told to acquire two firearms with silencers and to appoint someone from the group to find contacts for acquiring explosives.
Washington renewed his pledge of loyalty at least once more before he and Patterson were arrested July 5 on suspicion of committing a string of gas station robberies, the indictment says.
After the arrests, robbery detectives went to Washington's apartment in South Los Angeles and allegedly discovered evidence suggesting that a terrorist plot was in the making. The evidence allegedly included bulletproof vests, radical Islamic literature and lists of addresses of military sites, synagogues and other locations.
The indictment does not specify which target the men allegedly planned to attack.
It does, however, say that between December and the day he was arrested, Patterson conducted Internet research on El Al Israel Airlines, the Israeli Consulate and the Los Angeles calendar for the Jewish holy day Yom Kippur, according to the indictment. On other occasions he updated James on the progress of the planned attacks, and just days before his arrest, he purchased a rifle, the indictment says.
Samana conducted his own Internet research on potential targets, including specific officials at the Israeli Consulate and military recruitment offices in the L.A. area, the indictment says. Days before Patterson and Washington were arrested, Samana allegedly participated in firearms training at a local park and drafted a document listing potential U.S. and Israeli government targets in Los Angeles.
All four men remain in custody. If convicted of all charges they could be sentenced to life in prison.
Four Men Indicted in Alleged Plot to Spread Terror in Southland
September 01, 2005 A federal grand jury Wednesday indicted four men -- including the alleged leader of a radical Islamist prison gang -- accusing them of plotting a string of terrorist attacks on U.S. military facilities and synagogues in Southern California.
The six-count indictment accuses Kevin Lamar James, 29; Levar Haney Washington, 25; and Gregory Vernon Patterson and Hammad Riaz Samana, both 21, of planning attacks on sites including National Guard recruitment centers and the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles.
All four were charged with conspiracy to levy war against the U.S. government through terrorism. The plot, the indictment says, was hatched by James, currently an inmate at one of the two state prisons in Folsom, Calif., and alleged founder of a small gang of radical Muslims.
Government officials say they have no evidence that the men were tied to Al Qaeda or any other foreign terrorist group.
In interviews over the last few weeks, family members and friends said they had no inkling the men were involved in terrorism.
Washington, his face and neck scrawled with Rollin' 60s street gang tattoos, converted to Islam in state prison, where he was doing time for beating a former gang member unconscious at a 1998 rap concert.
Patterson took classes at El Camino College and Cal State Northridge and still lived at home with his parents, both community college employees. A former Catholic school student described by acquaintances as bookish and quiet, Patterson fell in love with the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and converted three years ago.
Samana was raised a Muslim in Pakistan and moved with his family five years ago to an apartment in Inglewood. He worked at a Barnes & Noble bookstore, attended Santa Monica College, played cricket and ran cross-country.
Despite their different backgrounds, the three young men shared a faith that led them to encounter each other at the Jamat-e-Masjidul Islam mosque, across the street from Samana's apartment, three months ago.
Authorities allege that their meeting was a key moment in a complex conspiracy that had its roots 400 miles away at California State Prison, Sacramento, which is actually in Folsom.
There, James dreamed up the idea of attacking targets in Southern California and urged Washington, then a fellow prisoner, to implement the plan when released in November 2004, the indictment says.
Prison officials years ago marked James as a radical Muslim and a security threat, and transferred him from another state prison after he allegedly founded a prison gang called Jamiyyat Ul Islam Is Saheeh, or the Assembly of Authentic Islam. Authorities say the group espoused such a violent interpretation of the Koran that they scattered its followers across the state prison system in hopes of squelching the movement.
The alleged actions of Samana and Patterson trouble officials, because neither had a criminal record. But authorities say they are equally troubled that James and Washington were able to hatch the alleged plot at a state prison -- without any apparent ties to international terrorist organizations.
James, who also went by several aliases, including Shakyh Shahaab Murshid and Abdul-Wahid Ash-Sheena, "emerged from the Nation of Islam," said one official, who declined to be identified because of the government's ban on speaking publicly about the case. "He decided they were not radical enough."
The Nation of Islam, currently led by Louis Farrakhan, is one of the largest Muslim sects in U.S. prisons, though it differs from mainstream Islam in its adherence to the teachings of the late black separatist Elijah Muhammad. Although the group has been criticized in the past for harshly condemning the U.S. government and making anti-Semitic remarks, it publicly opposes terrorism.
James created Jamiyyat Ul Islam Is Saheeh while in prison at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, according to investigators.
He bolstered his Islamist credentials by claiming to have spent time in Sudan, sources close to the investigation said. He clandestinely distributed a protocol for his organization that justified attacks on "enemies of Islam," including the U.S. government, Jews, supporters of Israel and other "infidels," the indictment says.
This is how Washington allegedly got involved. Before Washington left Folsom, James directed him to find recruits without felony records, acquire firearms and then appoint one follower to learn about explosives or to recruit a bomb maker, the indictment says. (Washington's attorney declined to comment because the lawyer said he would not represent Washington in fighting the federal charges.)
It was about six months after Washington left Folsom that he arrived at the mosque in Inglewood and met Samana and Patterson.
Samana had long attended the mosque. Patterson started attending in March, according to worshipers who saw the pair studying the Koran together in the back of the congregation hall. Washington showed up around May, his tattoos partially hidden behind an improvised headdress, his violent past obscured by a placid demeanor and a friendly greeting -- assalam alaikum, or "peace be upon you." Worshipers at the mosque recalled Washington's booming voice as he offered the traditional adhan, or call to prayer.
"Once I asked him why he covers his face," said Imam Hashim Ansari, one of two clerics who lead the mosque. "He told me that he was in a gang before he became a Muslim and had tattoos. He said he was ashamed to show his tattoos in front of other Muslims." Islam prohibits tattooing, because it is considered mutilating the body.
Other than being a meeting place for the three men, officials say there is no evidence that the mosque or its members had any role in the alleged conspiracy.
The group had gone as far as drawing up a list of potential targets, federal prosecutors claim, and began robbing gas stations to raise money for the attacks. The indictment says the defendants were trying to find an explosives expert to help them.
Authorities said they learned of the potential plot when Torrance police investigating the robberies found lists of targets and other information at Washington's apartment in South Los Angeles.
The indictment alleges that James continued to control the plot from inside prison, receiving a June communication from Patterson, allegedly updating him on what the indictment calls "the progress of the planned war against the United States Government through terrorism."
Patterson and Samana appear to be unlikely terrorist recruits.
Patterson is the son of two educators -- his father a college professor, his mother an administrator at Harbor College.
Patterson's attorney, Winston Kevin McKesson, described his client's parents, Rodney and Abbie Patterson, as patriotic Americans who raised their son as a Christian.
"His family wants people to know that they believe in this country," McKesson said Wednesday. "They are against religious extremism, and they support the troops wherever they are fighting for freedom in this country." The parents, he added, were disturbed by the notion that "they may be responsible for raising a young terrorist."
As a teenager, Patterson first attended Junipero Serra High School, a Catholic school in Gardena whose alumni include such storied athletes as baseball's Barry Bonds and football's Tom Brady.
Vice Principal Audet Shoukry recalled Patterson as "an overachieving nerd" who left the school during his freshman year to take advantage of the program at King/Drew Magnet High School. His mother was active in the Parent Teacher Organization, she said.
McKesson said Patterson attended El Camino College in Torrance and Cal State Northridge. Patterson also worked for six months at a duty-free shop at Los Angeles International Airport. The indictment says he researched El Al, Israel's national airline, on the Internet.
Imam Ansari said that soon after Patterson started attending the Inglewood mosque, he became friends with Samana.
"Since Patterson was a new Muslim, he kept asking Hammad questions and Hammad would tell him," said Ansari.
Samana had been conducting basic, one-on-one Arabic classes with Patterson for several months, Ansari said. They met regularly at the mosque, he said, usually within earshot of other worshipers.
Samana's friends recalled him as a studious and mild-mannered person, devoted to his family, proficient in sports and orthodox in his Muslim beliefs.
He used his salary as a clerk at Barnes & Noble to help support his family, according to friends.
Samana's apartment is in a neighborhood of 1960s-style tenements, duplexes and single-story homes. African Americans and Latinos predominate in the area, along with many South Asian immigrants who walk to mosque wearing traditional robes, sandals and the occasional veil.
Ansari said Samana started coming to Jamat-e-Masjidul Islam regularly two years ago and last year became his volunteer assistant, a role that had him cleaning the ablution sinks, sweeping the shaded courtyard and vacuuming the narrow congregation hall.
Ansari also was teaching Samana, whose first language is Urdu, to memorize the Koran in Arabic so he would be able to recite it verbatim during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. Samana had memorized 30 chapters, or about one-fourth of Islam's holiest book.
Ansari said that he never discussed politics or even many religious matters with Samana. Their sole focus, the imam said, was on memorization techniques, proper pronunciation, cadence and rhythm. They didn't even delve into the meaning of the words they recited, Ansari said.
"Sometimes I would see him playing basketball or cricket and I would tell him, go memorize the Koran!" Ansari said.
Mohammed A. Faheem, a friend and neighbor, said Samana often led prayers for their cricket team, part of a community league. But this year, Samana stopped playing sports so he could concentrate on his collegiate and religious studies.
During a brief interview last month, Samana's father, Riaz, denied that his son had done anything wrong.
"I think this is all a mistake," he said while walking to the store for a pack of cigarettes. "He's a good boy. Yes, devout."
Samana's attorney, Timothy Lannen, said Wednesday: "Hammad Samana is a peace-loving, law-abiding member of our community. Whether or not he erred in his choice of associates, one thing is clear: He did not intend at any time to commit violence against anyone."
Mohammed Ali, 21, another former teammate, recalled Samana's chiding teammates when they swore aloud during cricket matches.
"If we used bad words, he would basically say, 'Don't do that,' " said Ali.
Samana's former classmates at Santa Monica College said he wore a traditional robe and prayer cap on Fridays, a day when many Muslims attend congregational prayer services. They also recalled his complaints about American materialism.
"He said, 'People, nowadays, money has changed them. Money has changed everybody. Everybody is greedy,' " recalled Candelario Rodriguez, Samana's teammate on the Santa Monica College cross-country team in 2002.
Once, Samana told Rodriguez that he disagreed with how some in the United States viewed the Sept. 11 attacks.
"He said they were blaming religion and religion didn't have anything to do with it," Rodriguez said. "They were just people who were" trying to send a message.
Times staff writers Jenifer Warren in Sacramento and Stuart Pfeifer and Megan Garvey in Los Angeles and correspondent Robert Hollis in San Francisco contributed to this report.
Arrest Made in Possible Terror Plot
August 16, 2005 A Pakistani national has been arrested by authorities in connection with a far-reaching investigation of a possible terrorist plot targeting any of nearly two dozen locations in Southern California, including National Guard recruitment centers, law enforcement sources said Monday.
The suspect, identified as Hamad Riaz Samana, 21, of Los Angeles, was quietly taken into custody last week by counter-terrorism officials as part of a probe that began with the arrest of two men in Torrance suspected of robbing gas stations. The investigation, sources said, has involved more than 100 FBI agents and Los Angeles police detectives as well as counter-terrorism specialists with other federal and local agencies.
The case has opened a new and troubling front for counter-terrorism officials because of a possible connection to a radical form of Islam practiced by a group called Jamiyyat Ul Islam Is Saheeh, an official said. The group's name translates as The Assembly of Authentic Islam.
While little is known publicly about the JIS, as intelligence officials call it, the group has been around for several years and has a presence at Folsom State Prison, where one of the three men in custody, Levar Haney Washington, 25, served time for assault and robbery, according to law enforcement sources.
The JIS is only one of the prison-based groups being investigated for possible ties to Islamic extremists. The prospect that prisons in the U.S. may prove a breeding ground for homegrown terrorists has been a central focus of the closely-guarded investigation by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Monday, without providing any details, that the public disclosures about the JIS underscored concerns that inmates and ex-cons might be recruited for terrorism in the U.S.
"The conversation about prisons has been going on for a long time. That is not a new subject," Harman said during a luncheon with Times reporters. "My question is why don't we know more about this group, and what about other groups?"
The counter-terrorism case began when Washington and Gregory Vernon Patterson, 21, were arrested by Torrance police in connection with a string of gas station robberies between May 30 and July 3.
The arrests led to a search of Washington's apartment on West 27th Street in Los Angeles.
Detectives discovered bulletproof vests and "jihadist" materials not readily available via the Internet, authorities said. Also found were the addresses of locations including the National Guard facilities, two synagogues, the Israeli Consulate and the El Al Israel Airlines ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport.
Law enforcement sources say other recovered documents suggest that particular dates -- including Sept. 11 -- may have been selected for terrorist attacks.
Sources say they have found no links between the men arrested in Los Angeles and any overseas terrorism network. Samana was not known to have any criminal record or alleged ties to known terrorist groups.
But the documents allegedly recovered from Washington's apartment, sources say, strongly suggest the men may have been planning an attack that could have unfolded in a matter of weeks. Sources say authorities have been compiling evidence for possible federal charges.
Samana was being held at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles, but it was not clear what charge he was being held on. Washington and Patterson have been held at the Men's Central Jail since their arraignment on nine counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery. A Superior Court judge has set bail at $1 million for Patterson and $2 million for Washington, a Rollin' 60s gang member.
Attorneys for Washington and Patterson have said they have not been apprised of any charges facing their clients outside of the robbery cases. The name of Samana's attorney was not available.
Patterson, who has no criminal record, worked at a duty free gift shop at LAX until early this year.
No one has suggested he was surveying the airport as a possible target, but the fact that he worked at the Tom Bradley International Terminal has raised concerns for counter-terrorism officials because LAX is viewed as one of the state's most likely potential targets.
A Nation of Sheep
Napolitano: How many people has the DOJ convicted in a jury trial for terrorism based on evidence obtained from the Patriot Act? Zero. They’ve gotten people to plead guilty, to fold, and convicted many on drug trafficking, white slavery, prostitution, gambling, and political corruption, but haven’t gotten a single [terror] case where they presented evidence in a public court before a judge and jury and the jury found a defendant guilty under evidence obtained under Patriot Act.
Now, for the most part the president and his colleagues in both parties have succeeded in scaring the daylights out of people. Government grows in wartime because people are afraid, and they accept the satanic bargain that government offers: Give us your liberty and we will keep you safe. Many people think that when government is suppressing speech or privacy or fair prosecutions, that since those usurpations are so drastic that they must be keeping us safer.
But when the president says that his first job is to keep us safe, He is dead wrong. Read the oath of office: His first job is not to keep us safe, but to keep us free [by upholding the Constitution]. When you have this value judgment between freedom and safety, I’d rather have freedom with danger than slavery with safety.
My favorite part of working at Fox, and my books, is the arguments I present about the difference between positivism and natural law, between those who believe all rights come from government, and the natural law position which says that rights come from our humanity, not from government; that we are created by God in his image and likeness, and as He is perfectly free, our rights to speech and thought, and to say what we think and write what we say, to develop our personality, to travel, to privacy, are all as natural as the fingernails on the ends of our finger.
This is more than an academic debate. If our rights come from government, then the Patriot Act is lawful and constitutional because the government that gives freedom can take it away just by having the president sign a bill into a law. But if rights come from our humanity, as I argue almost every day on Fox, then government cannot take freedom away absent due process and a fair trial, where you are charged and convicted of violating someone else’s freedom.
The president had said he believes in natural rights. Unfortunately when he signs these bills that take away our rights, he reveals he either doesn’t know what he’s doing or he doesn’t really believe in natural rights. The Patriot Act is not only unconstitutional, it’s unnatural, since it purports to take away that which naturally belongs to us.
Judge Strikes Down Bush on Terror Groups
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A federal judge struck down President Bush's authority to designate groups as terrorists, saying his post-Sept. 11 executive order was unconstitutionally vague, according to a ruling released Tuesday.
The Humanitarian Law Project had challenged Bush's order, which blocked all the assets of groups or individuals he named as "specially designated global terrorists" after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
"This law gave the president unfettered authority to create blacklists," said David Cole, a lawyer for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Constitutional Rights that represented the group. "It was reminiscent of the McCarthy era."
The case centered on two groups, the Liberation Tigers, which seeks a separate homeland for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, and Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan, a political organization representing the interests of Kurds in Turkey.
U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins enjoined the government from blocking the assets of the two groups.
Both groups consider the Nov. 21 ruling a victory; both had been designated by the United States as foreign terrorist organizations.
Cole said the judge's ruling does not invalidate the hundreds of other designated terrorist groups on the list but "calls them into question."
Charles Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said, "We are currently reviewing the decision and we have made no determination what the government's next step will be."
A White House spokeswoman declined to immediately comment. At the time of his order creating the list, Bush declared that the "grave acts of terrorism" and the "continuing and immediate threat of future attacks" constituted a national emergency.
The judge's 45-page ruling was a reversal of her own tentative findings last July in which she indicated she would uphold wide powers asserted by Bush under an anti-terror financing law. She delayed her ruling then to allow more legal briefs to be filed.
She also struck down the provision in which Bush had authorized the secretary of the treasury to designate anyone who "assists, sponsors or provides services to" or is "otherwise associated with" a designated group.
However, she let stand sections of the order that penalize those who provide "services" to designated terrorist groups. She said such services would include the humanitarian aid and rights training proposed by the plaintiffs.
The Humanitarian Law Project planned to appeal that part of the ruling, Cole said.
"We are pleased the court rejected many of the constitutional arguments raised by the plaintiffs, including their challenge to the government's ban on providing services to terrorist organizations," Miller said Tuesday. "However, we believe the court erred in finding that certain other aspects of the executive order were unconstitutional."
The ruling was still considered a victory, Cole said.
"Even in fighting terrorism the president cannot be given a blank check to blacklist anyone he considers a bad guy or a bad group and you can't imply guilt by association," Cole said.
Behavior detection officers scrutinize travelers
December 25, 2007 If a pair of Transportation Security Administration officers strolling by a Sea-Tac Airport ticket counter wish you happy holidays and ask where you're traveling, it might be more than just Christmas spirit. Travelers at Sea-Tac and dozens of other major airports across America are being scrutinized by teams of TSA behavior-detection officers specially trained to discern the subtlest suspicious behaviors.
TSA officials will not reveal specific behaviors identified by the program -- called SPOT (Screening Passengers by Observation Technique) -- that are considered indicators of possible terrorist intent.
But a central task is to recognize micro-facial expressions -- a flash of feelings that in a fraction of a second reflects emotions such as fear, anger, surprise or contempt, said Carl Maccario, who helped start the program for TSA."In the SPOT program, we have a conversation with (passengers) and we ask them about their trip," said Maccario from his office in Boston. "When someone lies or tries to be deceptive, ... there are behavior cues that show it. ... A brief flash of fear."
Such people are referred for secondary screening, which can include a pat-down search and an X-ray exam. The micro-facial expressions, he said, are the same across many cultures.
Since January 2006, behavior-detection officers have referred about 70,000 people for secondary screening, Maccario said. Of those, about 600 to 700 were arrested on a variety of charges, including possession of drugs, weapons violations and outstanding warrants.
Maccario will not say whether the teams have disrupted any terrorist operations. But he did say that there are active counterterrorism investigations under way that began with referrals from the program.
SPOT began spreading out to airports across the nation two years after initial testing began in 2003 in Boston, Providence, R.I., and Portland, Maine. It's now at more than 50 airports and continues to grow.
Lynette Blas-Bamba manages Sea-Tac's 12-officer behavior-detection team. Since the program started here in November 2006 more than 600 people have been referred for secondary inspections, she said. Of those, 11 were arrested.
The officers ask simple questions:
"How are you today?"
"Where are you heading?"
"Is this all your property?"
"It's almost irrelevant what your answers are," Maccario said. "It's more relevant how you respond. Vague, evasive responses -- fear shows itself. When you do this long enough, you see it right away."
Maccario emphasized that the program takes into account the typical stress many of us experience when traveling, especially during the holidays.
Ordinary people who are feeling anxious are "much more open with their body movements and their facial expressions as compared to an operational terrorist (thinking) 'I've got to defeat security,' " Maccario said.
"We're looking for behavior indicators that show a certain level of stress, fear or anxiety above and beyond that shown by an anxious member of the traveling public."
The detection teams look for those indicators to spike when a traveler with something to hide approaches security checkpoints.
Blas-Bamba and her team were trained in fall 2006. She says she did behavioral detection of a sort in her last job as a probation officer. "We all do it to a degree. It's just a matter of understanding and articulating what we see."
Part of the training is a cultural awareness component, Maccario said. For example, in some cultures people don't make eye contact with people in authority.
And to emphasize the sensitivity TSA is bringing to the program, he recalled a meeting with an association for people with Tourette's disorder to assure them that having a tic will not result in a pat-down search.
The TSA considers the program a powerful tool to root out terrorists, but also an antidote to racial profiling.
"We don't care where you are from," Maccario said. "It's no longer subjective. If you are acting a certain way, that's what is going to attract our attention.
"There is no reliable picture of a terrorist," he added, citing American terrorists like Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and "the fact that Al-Qaida continues to recruit people that blend into society."
The program, however, has raised privacy and civil liberties concerns.
"The problem is behavioral characteristics will be found where you look for them," the American Civil Liberties of Massachusetts legal director John Reinstein told The Washington Post.
But Naseem Tuffaha, political chairman of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee's Seattle chapter, looks at the program as a potentially positive step away from racial profiling.
"Our message in working with federal and local authorities has been to make behavioral-based decisions rather than ethnic profiling decisions. Our message is to really focus on suspicious behavior rather than suspicious-looking people," he said.
But Tuffaha warned that if the TSA "only looked hard when somebody is Middle Eastern-appearing ... then you are still conducting racial profiling under a different name."
Was 9/11 really that bad?
The attacks were a horrible act of mass murder, but history says we're overreacting.
By David A. Bell, David A. Bell, a professor of history at Johns Hopkins University and a contributing editor for the New Republic, is the author of "The First Total War: Napoleon's Europe and the Birth of Warfare as W
IMAGINE THAT on 9/11, six hours after the assault on the twin towers and the Pentagon, terrorists had carried out a second wave of attacks on the United States, taking an additional 3,000 lives. Imagine that six hours after that, there had been yet another wave. Now imagine that the attacks had continued, every six hours, for another four years, until nearly 20 million Americans were dead. This is roughly what the Soviet Union suffered during World War II, and contemplating these numbers may help put in perspective what the United States has so far experienced during the war against terrorism.
It also raises several questions. Has the American reaction to the attacks in fact been a massive overreaction? Is the widespread belief that 9/11 plunged us into one of the deadliest struggles of our time simply wrong? If we did overreact, why did we do so? Does history provide any insight?
Certainly, if we look at nothing but our enemies' objectives, it is hard to see any indication of an overreaction. The people who attacked us in 2001 are indeed hate-filled fanatics who would like nothing better than to destroy this country. But desire is not the same thing as capacity, and although Islamist extremists can certainly do huge amounts of harm around the world, it is quite different to suggest that they can threaten the existence of the United States.
Yet a great many Americans, particularly on the right, have failed to make this distinction. For them, the "Islamo-fascist" enemy has inherited not just Adolf Hitler's implacable hatreds but his capacity to destroy. The conservative author Norman Podhoretz has gone so far as to say that we are fighting World War IV (No. III being the Cold War).
But it is no disrespect to the victims of 9/11, or to the men and women of our armed forces, to say that, by the standards of past wars, the war against terrorism has so far inflicted a very small human cost on the United States. As an instance of mass murder, the attacks were unspeakable, but they still pale in comparison with any number of military assaults on civilian targets of the recent past, from Hiroshima on down.
Even if one counts our dead in Iraq and Afghanistan as casualties of the war against terrorism, which brings us to about 6,500, we should remember that roughly the same number of Americans die every two months in automobile accidents.
Of course, the 9/11 attacks also conjured up the possibility of far deadlier attacks to come. But then, we were hardly ignorant of these threats before, as a glance at just about any thriller from the 1990s will testify. And despite the even more nightmarish fantasies of the post-9/11 era (e.g. the TV show "24's" nuclear attack on Los Angeles), Islamist terrorists have not come close to deploying weapons other than knives, guns and conventional explosives. A war it may be, but does it really deserve comparison to World War II and its 50 million dead? Not every adversary is an apocalyptic threat.
So why has there been such an overreaction? Unfortunately, the commentators who detect one have generally explained it in a tired, predictably ideological way: calling the United States a uniquely paranoid aggressor that always overreacts to provocation.
In a recent book, for instance, political scientist John Mueller evaluated the threat that terrorists pose to the United States and convincingly concluded that it has been, to quote his title, "Overblown." But he undercut his own argument by adding that the United States has overreacted to every threat in its recent history, including even Pearl Harbor (rather than trying to defeat Japan, he argued, we should have tried containment!).
Seeing international conflict in apocalyptic terms — viewing every threat as existential — is hardly a uniquely American habit. To a certain degree, it is a universal human one. But it is also, more specifically, a Western one, which paradoxically has its origins in one of the most optimistic periods of human history: the 18th century Enlightenment.
Until this period, most people in the West took warfare for granted as an utterly unavoidable part of the social order. Western states fought constantly and devoted most of their disposable resources to this purpose; during the 1700s, no more than six or seven years passed without at least one major European power at war.
The Enlightenment, however, popularized the notion that war was a barbaric relic of mankind's infancy, an anachronism that should soon vanish from the Earth. Human societies, wrote the influential thinkers of the time, followed a common path of historical evolution from savage beginnings toward ever-greater levels of peaceful civilization, politeness and commercial exchange.
The unexpected consequence of this change was that those who considered themselves "enlightened," but who still thought they needed to go to war, found it hard to justify war as anything other than an apocalyptic struggle for survival against an irredeemably evil enemy. In such struggles, of course, there could be no reason to practice restraint or to treat the enemy as an honorable opponent.
Ever since, the enlightened dream of perpetual peace and the nightmare of modern total war have been bound closely to each other in the West. Precisely when the Enlightenment hopes glowed most brightly, wars often took on an especially hideous character.
The Enlightenment was followed by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, which touched every European state, sparked vicious guerrilla conflicts across the Continent and killed millions (including, probably, a higher proportion of young Frenchmen than died from 1914 to 1918).
During the hopeful early years of the 20th century, journalist Norman Angell's huge bestseller, "The Great Illusion," argued that wars had become too expensive to fight. Then came the unspeakable horrors of World War I. And the end of the Cold War, which seemed to promise the worldwide triumph of peace and democracy in a more stable unipolar world, has been followed by the wars in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf War and the present global upheaval. In each of these conflicts, the United States has justified the use of force by labeling its foe a new Hitler, not only in evil intentions but in potential capacity.
Yet as the comparison with the Soviet experience should remind us, the war against terrorism has not yet been much of a war at all, let alone a war to end all wars. It is a messy, difficult, long-term struggle against exceptionally dangerous criminals who actually like nothing better than being put on the same level of historical importance as Hitler — can you imagine a better recruiting tool? To fight them effectively, we need coolness, resolve and stamina. But we also need to overcome long habit and remind ourselves that not every enemy is in fact a threat to our existence.
There are over a half-million foreign students at American colleges and universities; the U.S. borders, for all practical purposes, remain wide open; only 6 percent of the shipping containers are checked; and there is still a generous number of legal immigrants admitted.
I offer this as an antidote to the Bush administration's boogeyman stories about the threat of terrorism. There is a threat, of course, but it is far less than the administration would have you believe. Americans are much more likely to die in automobile crashes or from falls or at the hands of a 100 percent American criminal than they are from a terrorist attack.
The most active terrorist organizations in America, according to FBI testimony, are the animal-rights activists. For some reason, you never see terrorism "experts" from the network Rolodex files talking about animal-rights activists.
The Bush administration greatly inflated the number of terrorist acts by including every attack in Iraq, whether it's sectarian violence, revenge killings, common criminals or Iraqi insurgents who just don't want us occupying their country. The claim that if "we weren't fighting them in Iraq we'd be fighting them in the U.S." is childish nonsense.
It seems clearer every day that the original purpose of the Iraqi invasion was not the elimination of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction or the installation of democracy – which has been a failure – but simply an excuse to squat militarily on the second-largest oil reserves in the world.
There is no military solution to the war in Iraq, so how long we keep American troops there boils down to how many more American lives you want to sacrifice for nothing useful or beneficial. I say that one more is too many, and the orders should be cut now to withdraw all American forces. If the U.S. ambassador wants to stay in his palace in the Green Zone, let him hire mercenaries to protect him. Iraq can hardly become more chaotic than it is, and it might just calm itself down once we are out of the picture.
The president's war on terror has been fraudulent from the get-go. You can't wage war on a tactic, and since there is no conceivable circumstance where all the terrorists in the world would collect in one convenient killing ground, you will never eliminate terrorists by military means.
Terrorism is a product of politics and of injustice, real or perceived. Since human beings have no choice but to act on their perceptions, whether the injustice is real or perceived doesn't matter. An injustice will stick in a man's craw more painfully and longer than poverty or unemployment.
Many people perceive the U.S. foreign policy as hypocritical and unjust, yet President Bush has made no effort whatsoever to change or modify that policy. On the contrary, he has aggravated it so that we have gone from the point where in 2001 we had most of the world's sympathy to a point where in 2006 most despise our policies and view us as a greater threat to peace than North Korea.
At any rate, to assess risk, you need to know the facts. There aren't many terrorists in the world, and only a small portion of those direct their anger toward us. Check the mortality tables in any almanac. You'll see clearly that you have more to fear from accidents, too much cream pie, wobbly ladders or nature's own infectious agents than you do from Osama bin Laden. He might want to kill you, but wanting something and having the means to do it are two different things.
How We Train Our Cops to Fear Islam
Sam Kharoba came to the United States from Jordan when he was seventeen to study computing at Louisiana State University. When the 9/11 attacks happened, he was working as a programmer. Noticing that the hijackers used multiple aliases, he became convinced that the American intelligence community was unequipped to deal with the multiplicity of Arab names. Kharoba quit his job and began work on a database of every jihadi website and name that he could find. “For nine months, I worked developing this database, with no income. I knew I could do it,” he told us. “It would be the best thing. I would solve a critical problem for the intelligence community, and then I’d call the Bureau, call the CIA, sell it for five million, and I’m done. I did my patriotic duty, and lived my American dream.” Neither the CIA nor the FBI showed much interest in the database, though. Ten years later, Kharoba is still working on it. He fell into teaching by chance, in 2002, when the Community Oriented Policing Services Program in Louisiana invited him to give a talk. Kharoba had no professional experience in law enforcement, no academic training in terrorism or national security, and is not himself a Muslim. But as a Jordanian-born Christian he was able to turn his place of birth into a selling point. When we asked the dean of the Institute of Public Safety why she recruited Kharoba to teach there, her answer was that Kharoba “put the flavor of Middle Eastern culture into it.” Kharoba is an especially colorful character, but he is in some ways typical of the kinds of people who have migrated into the police counterterrorism training business. Many have limited background in U.S. counterterrorism and domestic law enforcement, and little patience for the rules and conventions that govern both fields.
The trainer Joe Bierly, based in Riverside County, California, served twenty-two years in the Marines, “and another ten plus years in the black world, doing operations.” Bierly has a shooting range at his house, and practices every day. Most cops, he said, only go to the range, “what, once a year?” He doesn’t think American law enforcement is ready for the next terrorist attack. At the end of the day, he said, the question is this: “Can you run fifteen yards on a blood-slicked floor, take aim, and still hit the target?”
Richard Hughbank, another counterterrorism trainer, is a fourth-generation combat veteran on his father’s side. “Honestly, I kinda fell into it,” Hughbank told us when we interviewed him in November 2009. “I think most of us did.” The idea that fighting terrorism was a mission that might extend beyond his military career began to sink in when Hughbank was in Afghanistan. “A man I very much respect, with whom I turned the first five hundred people in to Guantanamo Bay, told me, ‘Richard, this is your future, this is your enemy.’;” Hughbank went on to found and became president of Extreme Terrorism Consulting, which provides counterterrorism training to law enforcement.
John Giduck was a practicing lawyer in the 1980s. Then, he says, during the late Gorbachev era, the American Bar Foundation dispatched him to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), where he met the head of the KGB for Leningrad. (“Putin’s boss,” he says.) They became fast friends, and Giduck began traveling frequently to Russia. He claims to have trained with multiple Russian special forces units, and to be certified by the “Vityaz Special Forces Anti-Terror School.” In 2004, Giduck traveled to Russia immediately after the Beslan school massacre and wrote a book called Terror at Beslan. It was published in 2005, and it raised Giduck’s profile, earning him a guest appearance on the Glenn Beck show in the fall of 2007. Among the book’s most sensational allegations is that the terrorists at Beslan systematically raped their hostages, a claim that no other primary source account has made. In the meantime, Giduck has also become an in-demand counterterrorism trainer.
counterterrorism trainer named Ramon Montijo, a former Los Angeles police detective and Army Special Forces sergeant. Like Kharoba, Montijo made sweeping generalizations about Muslims. “They want to make this world Islamic. The Islamic flag will fly over the White House—not on my watch!” he said. “My job is to wake up the public, and first, the first responders.”
ven organizations cited for their high standards lack an adequate system for screening trainers. The best example is the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, known as FLETC. FLETC has been around since 1970, and it provides training to more than eighty federal law enforcement agencies—all of them, in fact, except for the DEA and the FBI. Its course development process, according to former FLETC curriculum developer Les Jenson, is stringent. “Subject-matter experts tear apart course proposals,” says Jenson. “They look at handouts, lesson plans, textbooks, and then they say to an instructor, We can accredit you if you make these changes.” FLETC can readily call on both in-house experts and outside contractors to evaluate course proposals and materials. In short, FLETC represents the gold standard for rigor in curriculum evaluations.
So did Sam Kharoba make the cut? Indeed he did. In 2004, Kharoba says, a FLETC training coordinator happened to hear him speak at a counterterrorism conference and was so impressed she invited him to teach sessions to law enforcement agents at FLETC headquarters in Glynco, Georgia. His courses were so well received that Kharoba was soon invited to teach senior instructors at FLETC. Those instructors then began, on an ad hoc basis, incorporating Kharoba’s curriculum into the courses they taught at agency-specific academies at FLETC. Kharoba told us that on March 15, 2005, he received an email from FLETC stating that they wanted to include his materials in the center’s basic curriculum.
As things turned out, though, the students of FLETC wound up being more skeptical than the school’s course evaluators. The same month that Kharoba was being invited to incorporate his material into the FLETC curriculum, FLETC received a complaint from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official named Muhammad Rana. Rana had been angered by course materials that included a handout describing “fundamentalist Muslims” as people with “long beards and head coverings” who, while “we call them radicals … are practicing true Islam.” Eleven out of fifteen members of the class submitted a letter in support of Rana’s complaint, and Rana took his case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which ruled in his favor.
the grand strategy of Al-Qa’ida can be thought of as auto-immune warfare; Kilcullen leaves the phrase to the very back of the book, but the idea is inherent right from the beginning. The aim is to provoke and manipulate the enemy until their reactions create many more zones of dubious authority where they can move in, and eventually until the West is exhausted economically. http://yorksranter.wordpress.com/2009/06/07/accidential-guerrilla-part-2-strategy/
The Architect's Great Project By Grover G. Norquist http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/13/AR2007081300907.html
Foolish myths about al-Qaida in Mesopotamia. http://www.slate.com/id/2172152/nav/tap2/
What Karl Rove Didn't Build
The long-term cost of working the anger points
August 14, 2007 AS A POLITICAL operative, Karl Rove, the White House guru who announced his resignation yesterday, has few equals in modern American history. Like his Republican role model from the late 19th century, Mark Hanna, Mr. Rove attached himself to an affable politician (Hanna's George W. Bush was William McKinley of Ohio) and rode along first to the governorship of a major state and then to the White House. Along the way, Mr. Rove helped convert Texas from a predominantly Democratic state into a Republican stronghold, helped the GOP win an unprecedented midterm election victory in 2002, and engineered Mr. Bush's remarkable reelection over John F. Kerry in 2004. Approve of them or not, these are not small accomplishments. Mr. Rove was very good at gathering, analyzing and exploiting information about the electorate. He cared about what actual voters actually thought -- yes, including their "anger points."
At this moment, though, it's more pertinent to contemplate the political might-have-beens of the Rove-engineered Bush presidency, which now appears set to limp along until January 2009. Mr. Bush won elections as governor and president because he positioned himself, under Mr. Rove's tutelage, as a "compassionate conservative" and a "uniter, not a divider." After Sept. 11, 2001, not just the whole country but most of the world was prepared to follow Mr. Bush on those terms.
But when polling data showed Mr. Rove that there was more to be gained, politically, by intensifying support among the conservative Republican base, Mr. Bush abandoned persuading the middle and focused on motivating the right. Thus were born a host of policies -- on Social Security, Guantanamo, stem cell research, same-sex marriage and so on -- that deepened the country's polarization and helped alienate even old friends around the globe. The quality of American political discourse was not enhanced by the (successful) Republican attack on disabled Vietnam veteran Max Cleland, a Democratic senator from Georgia, as soft on defense. And, over the long term, Mr. Bush's short-term exploitation of Rove-identified anger points left the president with less political capital than he might have had otherwise -- capital he badly needed when the major initiative of his presidency, the war in Iraq, turned sour. On immigration, Mr. Bush pursued a moderate course, based in part on Mr. Rove's perception that the Republicans could not afford to alienate the fast-growing Hispanic demographic. But, by then, the president had lost control even of his own party's Senate caucus.
Mr. Rove is a history buff, and we think that history's ultimate judgment will not depend much on his role in the scandals of the moment -- "Plamegate" and the firings of U.S. attorneys -- to which some attribute his resignation. Rather, he should be judged on his own terms: as the would-be architect of a long-lasting Republican majority, like the one Hanna forged more than a century ago. The GOP's wipeout in 2006 would suggest that Mr. Rove did not achieve this goal, notwithstanding his brave parting words about Republican victory in 2008. And if the manufactured polarization of the Bush-Rove years did not even serve its ostensible purpose, then what was the good of it?
FBI worries about al-Qaida ties to mob
WASHINGTON - The FBI's top counterterrorism official harbors lots of concerns: weapons of mass destruction, undetected homegrown terrorists and the possibility that old-fashioned mobsters will team up with al-Qaida for the right price.
Though there is no direct evidence yet of organized crime collaborating with terrorists, the first hints of a connection surfaced in a recent undercover FBI operation. Agents stopped a man with alleged mob ties from selling missiles to an informant posing as a terrorist middleman.
That case and other factors are heightening concerns about a real-life episode of the Sopranos teaming with Osama bin Laden's followers.
"We are continuing to look for a nexus," said Joseph Billy Jr., the FBI's top counterterrorism official. "We are looking at this very aggressively."
Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Fuels Terror
We Don't Need a War on Terrorism
Many opponents of the Bush administration's invasion and occupation of Iraq have always argued that this conflict is an irrelevant and even counterproductive sideshow to the real "war on terrorism" in Afghanistan. In fact, Barack Obama led the parade to initiate a troop surge in Afghanistan after having opposed it in Iraq. The more hawkish John McCain, not to be outdone by a weak-kneed Democrat, proposed that even more troops be sent to Afghanistan. In American politics after 9/11, it seems that candidates have to support some sort of war or they will be perceived as being too wimpy to get elected.
Only a small minority of foreign policy gadflies has doubted whether any war on terrorism is needed in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Now a new report by RAND, the government's own captive think tank, supports this small band of renegades. The study, "How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al-Qaeda," written by terrorism experts Seth Jones and Martin Libicki, followed more than 600 terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, over the long-term. The report concluded that the administration's war on terrorism has not significantly degraded al-Qaeda and that the group has morphed into a more formidable enemy. In fact, al-Qaeda has perpetrated more attacks after September 11, 2001 than before it.
Influx of Al Qaeda, money into Pakistan is seen
U.S. officials say the terrorist network's command base is increasingly being funded by cash coming out of Iraq.
President Bush is given detailed presentations on the hunt's progress every two to four months, in addition to routine counter-terrorism briefings, intelligence officials said.
Iraq is 'cause celebre' for extremists
WASHINGTON - The war in Iraq has become a "cause celebre" for Islamic extremists, breeding deep resentment of the U.S. that probably will get worse before it gets better, federal intelligence analysts conclude in a report at odds with President Bush's portrayal of a world growing safer.
In the bleak report, declassified and released Tuesday on Bush's orders, the nation's most veteran analysts conclude that despite serious damage to the leadership of al-Qaida, the threat from Islamic extremists has spread both in numbers and in geographic reach.
Bush and his top advisers have said the formerly classified assessment of global terrorism supported their arguments that the world is safer because of the war. But more than three pages of stark judgments warning about the spread of terrorism contrasted with the administration's glass-half-full declarations.
"If this trend continues, threats to U.S. interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide," the document says. "The confluence of shared purpose and dispersed actors will make it harder to find and undermine jihadist groups."
m are naive and mistaken, noting that al-Qaida and other groups have found inspiration to attack for more than a decade. "My judgment is, if we weren't in Iraq, they'd find some other excuse, because they have ambitions," he said.
The unclassified document said:
• The increased role of Iraqis in managing the operations of al-Qaida in Iraq might lead the terror group's veteran foreign fighters to refocus their efforts outside that country.
• While Iran and Syria are the most active state sponsors of terror, many other countries will be unable to prevent their resources from being exploited by terrorists.
• The underlying factors that are fueling the spread of the extremist Muslim movement outweigh its vulnerabilities. These factors are entrenched grievances and a slow pace of reform in home countries, rising anti-U.S. sentiment and the Iraq war.
• Groups "of all stripes" will increasingly use the Internet to communicate, train, recruit and obtain support.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, a U.S. ally in Washington for a Thursday meeting with Bush, found himself drawn into the political dispute. He was asked in a CNN interview about an assertion in his new book that he opposed the invasion of Iraq because he feared that it would only encourage extremists and leave the world less safe.
"I stand by it, absolutely," Musharraf said. "It has made the world a more dangerous place."
White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend took issue with one of the report's most damning conclusions: that the number of jihadists has increased.
"I don't think there's any question that there's an increase in rhetoric," she said. But "I think it's difficult to count the number of true jihadists that are willing to commit murder or kill themselves in the process."
The conflict spreads extremism and serves as a laboratory for deadly tactics, says a bleak analysis by 16 U.S. intelligence units.
September 24, 2006 WASHINGTON — The war in Iraq has made global terrorism worse by fanning Islamic radicalism and providing a training ground for lethal methods that are increasingly being exported to other countries, according to a sweeping assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies.
The classified document, which represents a consensus view of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, paints a considerably bleaker picture of the impact of the Iraq war than Bush administration or U.S. intelligence officials have acknowledged publicly, according to officials familiar with the assessment.
"They conclude that the Iraq war has made it worse," said a government official familiar with the document who spoke on condition of anonymity because of its classified nature.
Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh
Coburn is nothing if not consistent. In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, he was part of a House contingent that helped delay and soften an antiterrorism bill. This cohort even tried to strip out a provision blocking domestic fund-raising by foreign terrorist organizations like Hamas. Why? The far right, in league with the National Rifle Association, was angry at the federal government for aggressively policing America’s self-appointed militias. In a 1996 floor speech, Coburn conceded that “terrorism obviously poses a serious threat,” but then went on to explain that the nation had worse threats to worry about: “There is a far greater fear that is present in this country, and that is fear of our own government.” As his remarks on “Meet the Press” last week demonstrated, the subsequent intervention of 9/11 has not changed his worldview. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/opinion/23rich.html
He rented movies, playing one about a Colorado football team over and over. He wore a favorite T-shirt with a quotation from Thomas Jefferson. He once changed cheap motels so he could watch the X-rated Spice Channel. He always washed the dishes. These seemingly ordinary activities are little pieces of the puzzle that is the greatest remaining mystery of the case charging Timothy J. McVeigh with blowing up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people: Why would he do it? The movie is "Red Dawn," a cult classic of the far right, in which the football "Wolverines" take to the mountains as guerrillas to battle invading Soviet paratroopers. The T-shirt declared, "The tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." The interviews and a detailed reconstruction of events suggest that his wrath evolved from three sources: First there was Mr. McVeigh's own stunted personality and immediate frustrations. He was never able to overcome a sense of abandonment by his mother, who left the family when he was a boy; nor could he ever find a home outside the Army. Second was his overwhelming obsession with guns, blending into far-right politics that saw the Government trying to disarm and betray its citizenry, fueled by a radical new information network of videotapes, short wave radio, computer networks, newsletters and, perhaps above all, a venomous novel called "The Turner Diaries." Even mainstream movies fed his angry politics. And, as the first two factors converged, he saw a series of events in the real world that, in his isolated, self-reinforcing world, served to confirm his apocalyptic vision. He was not alone in his political development. In the two and a half years between Mr. McVeigh's Army discharge and the Oklahoma bombing, three seminal events -- the Federal raid on a white supremacist's cabin at Ruby Ridge in Idaho, the Waco raid, and the passage of the Brady gun control bill -- spurred a flurry of activity on the far right. This spawned an armed paramilitary movement in February 1994, only seven months before Mr. McVeigh began carrying out his bomb plot, the authorities said. The paramilitary movement vowed to resist the Government and publish manuals on forming underground guerrilla squads. Mr. McVeigh was just a little ahead of the curve. A reconstruction of the events leading up to the bombing suggests that Mr. McVeigh's demons finally became unbearable in late August 1994 after Congress passed the Omnibus Crime Bill, outlawing 19 types of semiautomatic assault weapons. "What will it take?" he wrote in exasperation to his former Army buddy, Michael Fortier, in an effort to spur him to action. http://www.nytimes.com/1995/12/31/us/mcveigh-s-mind-special-report-oklahoma-bombing-suspect-unraveling-frayed-life.html
Portrait of the Modern Terrorist as an Idiot http://www.wired.com/politics/security/commentary/securitymatters/2007/06/securitymatters_0614
'Sleeper cell' had S.D. ties, jury told http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/nation/20070611-9999-1n11sleeper.html
The soft brainlessness of denying ‘Islamist terror’ http://www.melaniephillips.com/diary/?p=1514