The Best Defense: Analyzing Bush's doctrine of preemptive war.
In December 1837 British military forces based in Canada learned that a private American ship, the Caroline, was ferrying arms, recruits, and supplies from Buffalo, New York, to a group of anti-British rebels on Navy Island on the Canadian side of the border. On the night of December 29, British and Canadian forces together set out to the island to destroy the ship. They did not find the Caroline berthed there, but they tracked it down in United States waters. While most of the crew slept, the troops boarded the ship, attacked the crew and passengers, and set it on fire. They then towed and released the Caroline into the current headed toward Niagara Falls, where it broke up and sank. Most on board escaped, but one man was apparently executed and several others remained unaccounted for and presumed dead.
See also: Iraq: The Case Against Preemptive War
The administration's claim of a right to overthrow regimes it considers hostile is extraordinary - and one the world will soon find intolerable.
[via Follow Me Here]
Tucked inside a small room in a downtown apartment building, an illiterate but mechanically trained rebel operates a remote control device.
Two miles away, a car without a driver slowly creeps along a shadowy street, a camera guiding it to the site where it will blow up with the click of a button.
Well, come on America, it's time to defend,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He's got himself in another big jam
With his former partner, Mister Saddam.
So turn off Survivor, watch the News at Ten
You'll see it all on CNN
[via wood's lot]
Recipes for bioterror: censoring science - on the quandry of publishing information important for research when it might also be useful to evildoers.
Several months before 11 September, Australian scientists published a paper describing how they had unintentionally created a "supervirus" that, instead of sterilising mice as intended, killed every last one. Could this information help someone to create a human supervirus in the same way?
Following are the ten most alarming theories about September 11, the "war on terror," and the future of the world. Feel free to accept them as gospel, study them as symptoms of a traumatized culture, or scoff at them as anti-American propaganda: I'm only the messenger. Personally, though, at this point the only person I hold above suspicion in the matter of September 11 is that poor kid with the goat.
-- Mike Ward
[via American Samizdat]
In the nine months since Sept. 11, George W. Bush has put the United States on a course that is so bleak that few analysts have – as the saying goes – connected the dots. If they had, they would see an outline of a future that mixes constant war overseas with abridgment of constitutional freedoms at home, a picture drawn by a politician who once joked, "If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier – so long as I'm the dictator."
[via also not found in nature]
Let it not be said that people in the United States did nothing when their government declared a war without limit and instituted stark new measures of repression.
The signers of this statement call on the people of the U.S. to resist the policies and overall political direction that have emerged since September 11, 2001, and which pose grave dangers to the people of the world.
The Great Game Continues: on the relationship between U.S. military deployments and proposed oil pipelines.
One need only look at a map of Central Asia and thrust push-pins in every location where US troops are deployed. The US currently has bases in Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. In Afghanistan, the Kandahar Airport is covered, as is the Bagram Air Base. Mazar-i-Sharif Airport, in Kabul, and five US aircraft carriers and warships in the Arabian Sea have also been set into play.
Buchanan and His Critics: in an article which is mainly supportive of Pat Buchanan, John O'Sullivan looks at Buchanan's book The Death of the West and the controversy it has sparked among those who see it as racist and xenophobic. I haven't read the book, my first reaction is that life is too short to read one of Buchanan's books. One part of Sullivan's article was interesting, though: where Sullivan compares Buchanan's view of the basis of American society with a couple of other alternatives.
And here Buchanan makes a serious mistake. He accepts the Weekly Standard (and his critics') view that America's choice is between being a "blood and soil" ethnic nation or a "creedal" nation based on certain liberal political principles in the Declaration of Independence, notably liberty and political equality. Once he has done that, he has lost an argument vital to his larger case. For America, being composed of immigrants from all over the world like the other great settler nations, Canada and Australia, is plainly not an ethnic nation rooted in blood and soil. Given enough time, enough intermarriage, and much lower levels of immigration, it might eventually become such a nation. But it is plainly not one now. That being so, America must be a "creedal" nation. And such a nation can assimilate an infinite number of immigrants provided that they can readily assent to the creed.
As the history of religion shows, however, creedal assent does not mean that someone is prepared for martyrdom. Otherwise, intellectuals would be renowned as the most fearless of warriors. If patriotism is to be able to inspire mass self-sacrifice--as it may need to do--it must rest upon deeper and more powerful loyalties than political opinion. A creedal nation that forgets that fact risks blithely admitting millions of potential traitors (or at least disinterested onlookers) without making any serious attempt to convert them into patriots.
The 2001 Patterns of Global Terrorism report has been released.
President Bush put state supporters of terrorism on notice in his 20 September address to the joint session of Congress: "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." The seven designated state sponsors--Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria, and Sudan--clearly heard the President's message. While some of these countries appear to be reconsidering their present course, none has yet taken all necessary actions to divest itself fully of ties to terrorism.
Anyone who remembers the fifteen incredible pretexts, known today through declassified official documents, that were elaborated at the end of 1961 by the high US authorities to undertake a direct military attack against Cuba in 1962, would not be surprised by such a sinister lie. We demand proof. Let them produce even the tiniest piece of evidence! They do not have any, and they cannot have them because they simply do not exist. They should not be hiding behind the alleged sensitivity of their sources, when there is actually not an atom of truth in what they are saying. This very old trick and overly stupid argument only serve to demonstrate their little consideration for, and low concept of, the American people whose intelligence deserve more respect.
I will also say this: If a Cuban scientist from any of our biotechnology institutes had been cooperating with any country in the development of biological weapons, or if he or she had tried to create them on his or her own initiative, he or she would be immediately presented in a court of justice as we would consider it an act of treason to the country.
[via also not found in nature]
Beyond the Axis of Evil: Additional Threats from Weapons of Mass Destruction: the full text of John Bolton's speech where the AoE was expanded to include Cuba, Syria, and Libya.
America is determined to prevent the next wave of terror. States that sponsor terror and pursue WMD must stop. States that renounce terror and abandon WMD can become part of our effort. But those that do not can expect to become our targets. This means directing firm international condemnation toward states that shelter--and in some cases directly sponsor--terrorists within their borders. It means uncovering their activities that may be in violation of international treaties. It means having a direct dialogue with the rest of the world about what is at stake. It means taking action against proliferators, middlemen, and weapons brokers by exposing them, sanctioning their behavior, and working with other countries to prosecute them or otherwise bring a halt to their activities. It means taking law-enforcement action against suspect shipments, front companies, and financial institutions that launder proliferators' funds. And it requires, above all, effective use, improvement, and enforcement of the multilateral tools at our disposal--both arms control and nonproliferation treaties and export control regimes.
Multilateral agreements are important to our nonproliferation arsenal. This Administration strongly supports treaties such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Biological Weapons Convention. But in order to be effective and provide the assurances they are designed to bring, they must be carefully and universally adhered to by all signatories. Therefore, strict compliance with existing treaties remains a major goal of our arms control policy.
December 17: The U.S. Army has disclosed that officials at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah have been producing weapons-grade anthrax - virtually identical to that found in the letters mailed to Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy - for nearly a decade. This is the first such admission since the U.S. offensive biowarfare program was cancelled in 1969. A spokesperson for Dugway has stated that all of the facility's anthrax is well protected and accounted for. Officials claim that the small amounts of anthrax produced at Dugway are used for defensive research and that the research complies with all current treaty obligations.
If the US adopts the 'axis of evil' as its slogan, the EU's equivalent is the 'arc of instability' on its eastern and southern borders. These two images, and the policy mechanisms they imply, are so very different. One is aggressive and categorical, the other apprehensive and cautious. But what happens when they overlap? Can they be coordinated?
The Liberty Doctrine: Michael McFaul proposes that the use of U.S. power should be aimed at the forceful promotion of individual freedom abroad above all else.
The next phase of the war on terrorism, therefore, must be the expansion of liberty to these areas. The United States cannot be content with preserving the current order in the international system. Rather, the United States must become once again a revisionist power -- a country that seeks to change the international system as a means of enhancing its own national security. Moreover, this mission must be offensive in nature. The United States cannot afford to wait and react to the next attack. Rather, we must seek to isolate and destroy our enemies by eliminating their regimes and safe havens. The ultimate purpose of American power is the creation of an international community of democratic states that encompasses every region of the planet.
Moral Clarity: Safire looks at a phrase that has seen wide use in justifications of military action and intervention recently.
The US quietly wades into South Asia's rebel conflicts: on the varying degrees of involvement of the U.S. in South Asian regional conflicts.
The insurgency in Nepal is just one of three deadly conflicts in South Asia which have brewed quietly in the background of the Afghan conflict. But the lack of media attention is no indication of a lack of US involvement. In all three conflicts, which together have claimed tens of thousands of lives over the past two decades, US officials have quietly been applying pressure and support for peace talks, and, in the case of Nepal, a war against Maoist rebels.
[via Unknown News]
US expands 'axis of evil': John Bolton, US Under Secretary of State, announced that the Axis of Evil has doubled in size with the addition of Cuba, Libya, and Syria. This may be a silly question, but aren't expansions of organizations usually announced by members?
"We have an attorney general that is, I don't know, how would you describe him, demented? We have an attorney general who doesn't seem to understand the law. He's talking about John Walker Lindh, a young boy. John Walker Lindh has made a confession that hasn't been made public. And [Ashcroft] is using parts of the confession to attack him, in public, and that's against every code of every U.S. attorney; it's one of the first things in the rule book. You can't take material that's privileged and use it publicly against anybody.
[via also not found in nature]
According to former Philippine Senate Minority Leader Nene Pimentel, the Abu Sayyaf are remnants of about 800 Filipino Muslim Moujahideens who, together with thousands of other Muslim jihad warriors from several countries, were recruited, trained and financed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to fight the CIA-sponsored proxy war in Afghanistan against the Russians in 1980.
This article doesn't look like it will get archived, but here are some similar ones:[via Ethel The Blog]
The Futile Search For "Root Causes" Of Terrorism: Michael Radu argues that looking for the underlying reasons for terrorism is a hopeless cause and then goes on to propose just such a reason: the Muslim poor's lack of political power.
Socioeconomic grievances, or so some assert, explain (though they do not justify) terrorism in general and Islamic terrorism in particular -- the factors Al Gore famously called this February "another axis of evil in the world: poverty and ignorance; disease and environmental disorder; corruption and political oppression," all of which lead to terrorism. But do they?
As the daily political and military atrocities magnetize our attention, it does us good now and then to take a step back and try for some longer-range perspectives on the world situation, and politics in the U.S. of A. So here, in short takes, are some reflections on four areas that could use some deeper examination: political despair, Bush's coming downfall, the new face of warfare, and America's response to Islam.
In the Name of Homeland Security, Telecom Firms Are Deluged With Subpoenas: on the rapid increase of subpoenas for telecom and ISP subscriber records being made under the PATRIOT Act.
Behind the rising pressure for the fullest use of new technology and surveillance is homeland security. As police and intelligence agencies seek to deter future terrorist threats, the government is testing the limits of the expanded authority Congress provided when it passed the Patriot Act with broad bipartisan support in October.
"The amount of subpoenas that carriers receive today is roughly doubling every month -- we're talking about hundreds of thousands of subpoenas for customer records -- stuff that used to require a judge's approval," said Albert Gidari, a Seattle-based expert in privacy and security law who represents numerous technology companies.
Warner says Constitution can be a luxury: I haven't seen a transcript of this speech from Thursday at the University of Florida, but this report has Tom Warner, Florida's Solicitor General, saying that we don't have the luxury of sticking by the Constitution when national security is threatened.
According to Warner, there is a point where, as Thomas Jefferson said, the higher law of self-preservation must take over and an imminent danger must be controlled.
Warner, a UF law school graduate, said there have been times during the Civil War and World War II when presidents have adhered to this principle.
"If we get word," he said, "that some guy is walking around Gainesville with a nuclear bomb in a suitcase, we are not going to worry about illegal searches and seizures and profiling."
One problem is, of course, in defining when national security is at stake. Avoiding the "luxury" of sticking by the constitution is in itself a threat to national security.
The Peril of Too Much Power: on the danger of America being such a dominant power in the world, a situation that has led to some calling the U.S. a "hyperpower", a term apparently coined by French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine.
Contrary to what many Europeans think, the problem with American power is not that it is American. The problem is simply the power. It would be dangerous even for an archangel to wield so much power. The writers of the American Constitution wisely determined that no single locus of power, however benign, should predominate; for even the best could be led into temptation. Every power should therefore be checked by at least one other. That also applies in world politics.
My first point will be on the concept of American "hyperpower." Hyperpower, as you know, is a French word translated into English. The author of that word is Hubert Védrine, the current French Foreign Minister. I think he did not at all mean to be anti-American when he formulated this concept. What does it mean? It means that the concept of superpower is no longer relevant to describe the United States, because the United States is not only the only superpower, but the only power ever to have the capacity to act worldwide, either on the economic scene or on the military scene. Of course, you could use other words. You could speak, for instance, of mega-power or giga-power. But the fact is that we need a new word because it's an entirely new situation. And this extraordinary achievement is due--at least in the recent past--to the admirable way the United States adjusted to the new technological revolution and its productivity achievements. It is also due to the very flexibility of its society. It looks as if the very fabric of the American society had been designed to fit with globalization, contrary to nations which are much more monolithic like Japan, for instance, which suffer a lot from adjusting to the new world. The European countries stand somewhere in between Japan and the United States.
Is there ever a time when silence is the music of democracy? Not that I can imagine. In fact, I can't even think of a situation where a gentle lullaby or the sweet harmony of a string quartet could do it justice. Democracy is the stuff of rock 'n' roll -- loud and sometimes obnoxious -- screeching electric guitars, pounding drums and lyrics amplified to ear-splitting decibels. Freedom is about noise -- irreverent and raucous debate. Silence is the trademark of other forms of government, those that work in darkness and struggle to keep the will of the people hidden.
[via wood s lot]
Uncloaking Terrorist Networks: on building a picture of the social network involving the 19 September 11th hijackers.
Defining Terrorism Eludes Muslims: The Organization of Islamic Conference, a group of 56 Islamic countries, failed to come up with a definition of terrorism at a meeting, at least in part, for that purpose. They were able to determine that Palestinian suicide bombers do not qualify as terrorists because it is an independence struggle.
Most Far-Reaching Gag Order In 1st Amendment History?: not only are bookstores and libraries subject to demands for patrons' book lists, they can't discuss it afterwards.
John Ashcroft's war on terrorism includes the most far-reaching gag order in First Amendment history -- preventing the press from reporting on the FBI's seizure of the lists of books bought or borrowed in bookstores and libraries by noncitizens and citizens suspected of terrorist activities. Under the omnibus USA Patriot Act, the FBI has the authority to get an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court -- a secret body composed of rotating federal judges -- to seek "any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities."
The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and the American Library Association (ALA) have particularly alerted their members to part of the law that prevents booksellers and librarians -- once the FBI has come calling -- to reveal that a search has been made. The law states: "No person shall disclose to any other person ... that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has sought or obtained" these records.
[via New World Disorder]
President Bush now admits that the one-size-fits-all "Bush doctrine" on terrorism in fact doesn't fit Yasser Arafat.
Bush said Monday that the Palestinian leader's past as a peace negotiator exempts Arafat from the post-Sept. 11 U.S. policy that a country or entity that harbors terrorists will be dealt with as terrorists.
Thanks to the Internet, evocative information spreads faster than kudzu. Whereas in the past only the most dedicated would take the time to spend hours in that dark library microfiche room, it now is remarkably easy to become an amateur stay-at-home sleuth finding what may appear to be inconsistencies in official stories. We no longer need to get close to that strange man on the corner to read his placard or take a pamphlet. The Internet again becomes the whipping boy of modernity, exacerbating the old customs of gossip and credulity as only it can.
Federal agents who searched 16 homes and offices in Northern Virginia last week were focusing on a tightly interconnected, complicated and very private financial empire with worldwide ties that has drawn the suspicion of investigators for at least seven years.
Showing up with warrants and drawn guns, the agents seized computers, financial records and boxes of other documents from some of the nation's most reputable Islamic organizations and leaders -- a coordinated series of raids that outraged many Muslims.
In most situations, people tend to seek pleasure and avoid pain, which generally makes sense.
I want to suggest that at this moment in history, U.S. citizens need to invert that. If we want to become human beings in the fullest sense of the term, if we want to be something more than comfortable citizens of the empire, if we want to be something more than just Americans -- then we have to start seeking pain and reducing pleasure.
By that I don't mean we must become masochists who live in denial of the joy of being alive. Rather, I mean that to be fully alive we must stop turning away from a certain kind of pain and begin questioning a certain kind of pleasure. I mean this quite literally, and with a sense of urgency; I think the survival of the species and the planet depends on Americans becoming pain-seeking and pleasure-reducing folks.
For three months the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades pursued a relentless and efficient campaign of violence, shooting down soldiers at Israeli army roadblocks and dispatching suicide bombers to the Jewish heartland. At long last, they gloated yesterday, they were recognised: the US state department branded the Palestinian militant group a terrorist organisation.
"We are really grateful and thankful. It is a great honour for us to be called a terrorist organisation by the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world," its joint-founder, Nasser Badawi, said.
As the Roman Empire spread two millenniums ago, maps had to be redrawn to reflect new realities. In similar fashion, the expansion of the British Empire kept cartographers at their drawing boards, reshaping territories from Southern Africa to India to Hong Kong.
Now, as the United States wages its war on terrorism in Afghanistan - and deploys troops for the first time in the energy-rich regions of Central Asia and the Caucasus - the borders of a new American empire appear to be forming.
[via The War in Context]
Closing the Borders: on the effects of the post-9/11 immigration crackdown on Mexicans which have already been seen and those that may still be to come.
Until Sept. 11, the U.S. debate about migratory reforms centered on the impact of immigrants on the economy, particularly of unemployed and unschooled workers in the agricultural and service sectors that employ temporary immigrants whether documented or not. There was also discussion about the impact on the environment, among other issues, in addition to the airing of the traditional, recurring xenophobic arguments expressed by some individuals and sectors of U.S. society. After Sept. 11, the debate shifted to the need to control the borders as a measure of national security--and to ensure that fewer immigrants enter. Unfortunately, the trend toward a more open border between Mexico and the United States is going to reverse. Residents on both sides of the border could not have received a worse piece of news as a result of Sept. 11.
Today, the scrupulous inspection of goods on the Mexico-U.S. border has already caused losses in tourism and bilateral trade. Many Americans who make their living from Mexican consumers have watched their sales drop more than 60 percent and, in areas very near to Mexico, up to 90 percent. To temporarily solve this problem, representatives from different sectors on both sides of the border have agreed to begin a process to have the border declared an "emergency area"; to do that they solicited tax breaks and immediate loans from the governments of both Mexico and the United States.
Sadly, it's the real thing: a wide ranging discussion of American policy towards countries hosting radical Islamic groups, starting with the hands-off treatment given to Gum Arabic. That Sudanese company has a near monopoly on a main ingredient in soft drinks and has been rumored to have financial ties to bin Laden. It's also one of the few companies with a exemption to the trade ban with Sudan.
A Turkish paper has reported that the companies involved in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline will incur lower insurance costs because of the increased security provided by the U.S. military presence in Georgia. Not that I'm implying that was a consideration or anything like that. [via xymphora]
Our military in the Philippines seems about to start joining the front line combat there.
Early yesterday two Pave Hawks flew a hazardous mission in darkness to rescue three wounded Philippine army soldiers after a guerrilla ambush in which a fourth man was killed. It was the Americans' closest brush with combat yet.
The American forces are now planning to send 12-man special units into action against the insurgents alongside companies of the Philippine army, each about 120 men strong. Senior Philippine army officers expect official recommendations to that effect this week.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has released a report on secrecy after 9/11: Homefront Confidential: How the War on Terrorism Affects Access to Information and the Public's Right to Know. [via Secrecy News]
Why the "War on Terror" Won't Work: a former CIA officer lists six root causes of terrorism against the U.S. and explains why he thinks a purely military solution will not work.
These Islamic extremists are not nice people. Those still alive, and other future adherents to their cause, will continue to try to kill innocent people in the U.S. and elsewhere. But what the extremists see themselves as trying to do is to stop the United States from continuing its drive for global hegemony, including hegemony over the Islamic world. I think it's important to understand this, because if people in the United States believe that some enemy is trying to "destroy" the U.S. and actually has some possibility of doing so then waging an all-out war against that enemy can be more easily justified. But what if the U.S. is not trying to prevent its own destruction, but instead is trying to preserve and extend its global hegemony? In that case, I think we should all step back and start demanding of our government a serious public debate over future U.S. foreign policies. We should be strenuously debating the degree to which the people in this country, given all of our own domestic problems, want the U.S. government to continue foreign policies intended to strengthen U.S. hegemony over and domination of the rest of the world in the political, economic, and militarily areas.
Bush marked the six-month mark past 9/11 with a speech highlighting some of the countries helping in Afghanistan and layout out the next phase. I don't think there's any real news here.
I have set a clear policy in the second stage of the war on terror: America encourages and expects governments everywhere to help remove the terrorist parasites that threaten their own countries and peace of the world. If governments need training, or resources to meet this commitment, America will help.
We are helping right now in the Philippines, where terrorists with links to al Qaeda are trying to seize the southern part of the country to establish a militant regime. They are oppressing local peoples, and have kidnapped both American and Filipino citizens. America has sent more than 500 troops to train Philippine forces. We stand with President Arroyo, who is courageously opposing the threat of terror.
In the Republic of Georgia, terrorists working closely with al Qaeda operate in the Pankisi Gorge near the Russian border. At President Shevardnadze's request, the United States is planning to send up to 150 military trainers to prepare Georgian soldiers to reestablish control in this lawless region. This temporary assistance serves the interests of both our countries.
In Yemen, we are working to avert the possibility of another Afghanistan. Many al Qaeda recruits come from near the Yemen-Saudi Arabian border, and al Qaeda may try to reconstitute itself in remote corners of that region. President Saleh has assured me that he is committed to confronting this danger. We will help Yemeni forces with both training and equipment to prevent that land from becoming a haven for terrorists.
In the current stage of the war, our coalition is opposing not a nation, but a network. Victory will come over time, as that network is patiently and steadily dismantled. This will require international cooperation on a number of fronts: diplomatic, financial and military. We will not send American troops to every battle, but America will actively prepare other nations for the battles ahead. This mission will end when the work is finished -- when terror networks of global reach have been defeated. The havens and training camps of terror are a threat to our lives and to our way of life, and they will be destroyed.
At the same time, every nation in our coalition must take seriously the growing threat of terror on a catastrophic scale -- terror armed with biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons. America is now consulting with friends and allies about this greatest of dangers, and we're determined to confront it.
Here is what we already know: some states that sponsor terror are seeking or already possess weapons of mass destruction; terrorist groups are hungry for these weapons, and would use them without a hint of conscience. And we know that these weapons, in the hands of terrorists, would unleash blackmail and genocide and chaos.
These facts cannot be denied, and must be confronted. In preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, there is no margin for error, and no chance to learn from mistakes. Our coalition must act deliberately, but inaction is not an option. Men with no respect for life must never be allowed to control the ultimate instruments of death.
A couple of reactions so far:
Tone counts for little, however, if the substance does not match. And beneath the more emollient language of Mr Bush lurked several worrying themes. One was the assumed desirability of US "help" for countries with their own terrorist - or insurgency - problems. Another was the startling pledge that: "We will not send American troops to every battle, but America will actively prepare other nations for the battles ahead." Mr Bush has long had a tendency to see foreign countries as would-be Americas, suffering from American problems that are amenable only to American solutions. In six months, he has adjusted his view of the world a little, but not nearly far enough .
This was hardly a recklessly "unilateralist" speech nor one that displayed an arrogance born of rapid success in ejecting the Taleban from power and pushing al-Qaeda deep into the mountains. It was in stark contrast to the hysterical coverage that a Defence Department study -- which the Administration is mandated by law to present to Congress -- has received since it was first leaked at the weekend. Dick Cheney, the US Vice-President, dealt neatly with that document at his press conference alongside Tony Blair in Downing Street. He observed that America does not target nuclear weapons on a day-to-day basis against any nation at present. The notion of a plan for multiple pre-emptive missile strikes was, he noted dryly, therefore "a bit over the top".
As US forces pound the Afghan government's opponents, military supply and logistical problems augur a lengthier preparation for its planned assault on Iraq. But meanwhile, the tentacles of war are spreading across the globe - from the Philippines and Nepal to Colombia - amidst US research into new types of nuclear weaponry.
The fight we're in didn't begin on September 11; it started thousands of years ago. It's the struggle between East and West, and history can both encourage and help us--if we read it properly.
For their eyes only: on the increasing restriction on information following 9/11.
The United States possesses an extraordinary institution which sets it apart from almost every other nation on Earth and helps define America as an open democracy. It is called the 1966 Freedom of Information Act, and it is in serious trouble.
[via The War in Context]
'Rarely can one phrase have caused such confusion and controversy', wrote BBC journalist Jon Leyne in early February, after US senators started asking awkward questions about President Bush's 'axis of evil' speech. 'I was confused by it...I'm not exactly sure what he means...I don't know what the president had in mind', blurted Democratic senator Joe Biden. According to Leyne, Bush's evil axis seems to 'have frightened America's allies as much as it scared its enemies.
It's not only journalists and Democrats who were confused by Bush's rhetoric. Since calling Iraq, Iran and North Korea an 'axis of evil' in his State of the Union address on 30 January 2002, Dubya himself and his secretaries of state seem unclear about where to go next. 'It is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom's fight', said Bush in his address, threatening to bring the 'war on terror' to other evil states - but two days later he told journalists that if the three evil states 'showed a clear commitment to peace', 'we would be more than happy to enter into dialogue with them'
Following deployment of troops to the Phillipines to support their fight against Abu Sayyaf, the U.S. is sending troops to Georgia, the former Soviet republic. There are reports that portions of al-Qaeda have set up shop there. According to both U.S. and Georgian officials the troops are there to train and equip the Georgian military and won't participate in combat. The focus is on the Pankisi Gorge on the border with Chechnya, where Georgia has had problems for years. Russia raised a fuss at first but they are, at least officially, accepting the U.S. presence. This is due at least in part due to the hope that it will increase the stability in the area.
First, Georgia could become an important strategic outpost for the US, not only because of its proximity to hot spots in the Middle East and Central Asia, but also because it forms a key link in a chain of US military bases that now encircle Russia.
Second, US troops would be positioned to protect an important petroleum route that runs through Georgia from Caspian oil fields to Western markets. Taken together with new opportunities for an alternative route through Afghanistan and Pakistan, this could freeze current rivals, such as Russia and China, out of Caspian competition. This may account for Washington's concerns about a joint Russian-American operation in the Pankisi Gorge.
Though Georgia and Chechnya themselves contain limited oil and gas reserves, their territory is essential to both existing and proposed pipelines to carry oil and gas out of the Caspian basin west to Turkey and Europe.
The existing Russian pipeline, from Baku to Novorossiysk on the Black Sea, passes through Chechnya. U.S. oil companies, which have had difficulty dealing with the Russians, have proposed two alternative pipeline routes that pass through Georgia and Armenia. These pipelines would allow U.S. companies, and not Russian ones, to control oil and pipeline prices.
As for the former Soviet republic of Georgia, the USA considers it to be very important in the jihad against Saddam Hussein. America is not so much concerned about Al Qaeda militants and Chechens, it can hardly be said feeling guilty for the events in Chechnya, and thus willing to help Russia in the struggle with terrorists. Americans have already stopped talking about "Chechen patriots", but, at the same time, they are reluctant to help Russia. The USA needs Georgia for a victory over Hussein. Georgia is conferred the same role in the anti-Iraq war, as Pakistan had played in the hostilities against Taliban. If the US preparations go like this, experts say, we may expect a blow to be delivered against Iraq in the second part of March / beginning of April. And Georgia may come in handy for it. DEBKAfile reports, the USA will deliver air blows from three directions: Turkey and Georgia in the north, Jordan, Israel and Egypt (a large air base in Sharm-el-Sheikh) in the west, Oman, Bahrein, Yemen and Kuwait in the south.
Has the US lost its way?: Paul Kennedy ponders what America can do to keep its friends abroad.
'By what right,' an angry environmentalist demanded at a recent conference I attended, 'do Americans place such a heavy footprint upon God's Earth?' Ouch. That was a tough one because, alas, it's largely true.
We comprise slightly less than 5 per cent of the world's population; but we imbibe 27 per cent of the world's annual oil production, create and consume nearly 30 per cent of its Gross World Product and - get this - spend a full 40 per cent of all the world's defence expenditures. By my calculation, the Pentagon's budget is nowadays roughly equal to the defence expenditures of the next nine or 10 highest defence-spending nations - which has never before happened in history. That is indeed a heavy footprint. How do we explain it to others - and to ourselves? And what, if anything, should we be doing about this?
The post-September 11 economy of the United States has become a fear-infested and sober landscape. National security and security-related corporations are providing the major visible economic growth. Corporate sectors without any discernable claim on security products nonetheless work to integrate a national security consciousness into their corporate images. Grim, determined, and upbeat patriotism is being used to sell any product that needs selling.
Ad campaigns experiment on how to function within this economic sobriety, as evidenced in those quite successful "Keep America Rolling" auto ads that General Motors rolled out. George Bush tells the country "Let's roll!" and revoices the words of an airline passenger who fought back, while at the same time echoing a General Motors logo. National security fears and durable goods, statesmanship and salesmanship, have been woven together by a fluid consumption-oriented language. To be behind the wheel is to control national fate in the face of international terrorism.
[via ghost rocket]
President Bush has dispatched a shadow government of about 100 senior civilian managers to live and work secretly outside Washington, activating for the first time long-standing plans to ensure survival of federal rule after catastrophic attack on the nation's capital.
Execution of the classified "Continuity of Operations Plan" resulted not from the Cold War threat of intercontinental missiles, the scenario rehearsed for decades, but from heightened fears that the al Qaeda terrorist network might somehow obtain a portable nuclear weapon, according to three officials with firsthand knowledge. U.S. intelligence has no specific knowledge of such a weapon, they said, but the risk is thought great enough to justify the shadow government's disruption and expense.
[via kill your tv dot com]
A few years ago, Washington media consultant John Rendon was regaling an audience of cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy with one of his favorite war stories.
When victorious U.S. troops rolled into Kuwait City, he noted, they were greeted by hundreds of Kuwaitis waving American flags. The scene, flashed around the world again and again on CNN, left little doubt that the U.S. Marines were welcome in Kuwait.
"Did you ever stop to wonder," he asked, "how the people of Kuwait City, after being held hostage for seven long and painful months, were able to get hand-held American, and for that matter, the flags of other coalition countries?"
Let us pray that our nation will remember that the unfolding of the promise of democracy in our nation paralleled the striving for civil rights. That is why we must challenge the rationale of the Patriot Act. We must ask why should America put aside guarantees of constitutional justice?
How can we justify in effect canceling the First Amendment and the right of free speech, the right to peaceably assemble?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Fourth Amendment, probable cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process, and allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Sixth Amendment, the right to prompt and public trial?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Eighth Amendment, which protects against cruel and unusual punishment?
We cannot justify widespread wiretaps and Internet surveillance without judicial supervision, let alone with it. We cannot justify secret searches without a warrant. We cannot justify giving the Attorney General the ability to designate domestic terror groups. We cannot justify giving the FBI total access to any type of data which may exist in any system anywhere such as medical records and financial records.
We cannot justify giving the CIA the ability to target people in this country for intelligence surveillance. We cannot justify a government which takes from the people our right to privacy and then assumes for its own operations a right to total secrecy. The Attorney General recently covered up a statue of Lady Justice showing her bosom as if to underscore there is no danger of justice exposing herself at this time, before this administration.
[via Follow Me Here]
The Office of Strategic Influence, which caused a stir earlier this month, is being shut down and its functions distributed to other organizations. Rumsfeld blames inaccurate reporting on the office being "so damaged" that it couldn't function.
"We did a whole series of things that are characterized as influence or strategic influence or information operations," Rumsfeld said. "And we have done that in past, and we will do that in the future ... There's lots of things we have to do. And we will do those things. We'll just do them in different offices."
Asked directly whether disinformation would be part of the effort, Rumsfeld replied, "It most clearly is not."
If you want a good idea of what's missing from the news coverage of our ongoing "war on terrorism," take a trip down to your local library or bookstore and check out the anthologies "Reporting World War II" and "Reporting Vietnam," both published by the Library of America.
Compare what you've been reading in the papers and hearing on radio and television over the past few months with the work of such great reporters as Homer Bigart, Ernie Pyle, A.J. Liebling, Martha Gellhorn, Malcolm Browne, Michael Herr, Gloria Emerson and Peter Arnett -- just to name a few -- that are found within the covers of these two collections. The difference is astounding.
[via Unknown News]
The Intensification of Global Instability: Stratfor points out the growing number of crises around the world and expects that the numbers will continue to grow, particularly with the continued expansion of the War on Terror.
Consider the events of the past week, in no particular order:
- Colombia has plunged into civil war.
- Venezuela, a major oil producer, is experiencing a major political crisis over its president, Hugo Chavez.
- In Afghanistan, the CIA has issued a report (published on the front page of the New York Times) warning that internal chaos is looming.
- In the Middle East, Palestinians have shifted tactics toward waging guerrilla war, and Israel is contemplating a major shift in its own strategy.
- In Iran, a majority of the Majlis has signed a petition demanding an investigation of U.S. charges that elements in Iran have aided al Qaeda members in escaping Afghanistan. This action creates a massive internal confrontation between forces around the Ayatollah Ali Khameni and those around President Mohammad Khatami, with a very uncertain outcome.
- What has emerged from U.S. President George W. Bush's meeting with the Japanese prime minister is that Japan has no idea how to manage its intensifying financial crisis. One of the world's major economies appears to be inching toward meltdown.
[via New World Disorder]
A U.S. proposal to integrate Canadian troops into a North American command system that would defend the continent against terrorist attacks has some Canadians questioning how the system would affect their country's sovereignty.
See also: Canada aims to join 'Americas Command'
Ottawa's top military brass are pushing to put Canadian troops and warships on the front lines under a U.S. plan for an integrated, continental defence structure in the war against terrorism.
A Pentagon proposal for an "Americas Command" could lead to a single, integrated command, putting some Canadian troops and warships in a continental-defence structure, taking orders from a joint command deep in Colorado's Cheyenne Mountain.
Americas Command would include the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean Basin, and all of South America. The Americas Command would be responsible for the ocean approaches to the United States throughout the Maritime and Air Defense Zones. Its primary missions would be to defend the Americas from foreign threats, deter the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States, and build cooperation among the nations of North, Central, and South America.
After 11 September 2001 I was frequently asked, as many scholars of Islamic studies probably were, why certain people are prepared to hijack an aeroplane and plunge themselves and all the other passengers to certain death. I do not have an answer. What I have done instead is to tell three stories - about the cult of martyrdom in Shi'ite Islam, about modern fantasies of salvation through self-sacrifice, and about power politics in the Middle East - which together assemble the elements of a fourth : the unfinished story of the modern world.
[via wood s lot]
The U.S. military has begun intelligence-gathering flights over the southern Philippines in a significant expansion of its war on terrorism in that country, a senior U.S. defense official said yesterday.
The surveillance flights, which have not previously been disclosed, are meant to complement the growing presence of U.S. soldiers on the ground, projected to peak at 660 troops in coming months.
[via Red Rock Eater]
Buy drugs, support terrorism. That was the unsubtle message from federal drug policy officials as they launched a multi-million dollar advertising campaign during Sunday's Super Bowl.
Certainly, they have some evidence on their side. Terrorist groups from southeast Asia to South America are in the drug trafficking business. But in the meantime, another hazardous American addiction goes unchallenged. No crusade has been launched against a national dependency that delivers billions of dollars each year to foreign powers whose support for terror is far from fanciful: Oil.
The plans to spread so-called "black" propaganda emerged earlier this week after the Pentagon hired an outside agency to help target countries friendly to the US as well as hostile nations.
But the Pentagon has been forced into a humiliating climb-down following a backlash in America and elsewhere.
"Consistent with defence department policy, under no circumstances will the office or its contractors willingly or deliberately disseminate false or misleading information to the American or foreign media or public," the Pentagon said in a statement to the New York Times.
Of course, this could be a planted story.
See also: Rumsfeld's interview in Salt Lake City:
Q: Mr. Secretary, there have been reports about the Office of Strategic Influence. Can you give us your comments about whether the Pentagon should be issuing disinformation to foreign press, and any comments?
Rumsfeld: Well, the Pentagon is not issuing disinformation to the foreign press or any other press.
Q: Will they be?
Rumsfeld: No. The United States of America has long had policies with respect to public information, and we have policies where certainly we make a practice of assuring that what we tell the public is accurate and correct. And if in any event somebody happens to be misinformed and say something that's not correct, they correct that at the earliest opportunity.
A discreet way of doing business with Iraq: a November, 2000 article on how U.S. oil companies are doing business with Iraq.
Millions of dollars of US oil business with Iraq are being channelled discreetly through European and other companies, in a practice that has highlighted the double standards now dominating relations between Baghdad and Washington after a decade of crippling sanctions.
Halliburton, the largest US oil services company, is among a significant number of US companies that have sold oil industry equipment to Iraq since the UN relaxed sanctions two years ago.
From 1995 until August this year Halliburton's chief executive officer was Dick Cheney, US secretary of defence during the Gulf war and now Republican vice-presidential running mate of George W.Bush.
[via Doc Searls]
US well versed in 'black arts': on the use of lies in wartime.
The police, the terrorists and my Mazda: on learning to tolerate extreme security.
What hurts most is that it doesn't hurt anymore: one Israeli's response to the aftermath of a recent bombing in in Jerusalem.
What's happening to me? I didn't think that I would react like this when encountering just such a situation. I didn't cry, I wasn't shocked, I didn't vomit. Am I a human being? Apparently not so much.
They've managed to peel off our humanity. I've seen all these sights already televised at earlier attacks, I've heard all the sounds and voices on the radio reports, I've read these situation descriptions tens of times in the morning newspapers. I was now simply at a live performance of the same events. Everything was just exactly the same.
John Poindexter has been named to head up DARPA's new Information Awareness Office that is aimed at developing technologies to give the government easy access to data from new surveillance systems. The group will apparently work alongside the Information Exploitation Office.
Poindexter? Mr. "I Don't Recall" heading up the Office of Information Awareness? Come on, George. Close your eyes, open the phone book, pick a name. You'll get someone who's more honest. Guaranteed. If you have to give this guy a job, give him the Office of Strategic Influence. At least he would be expected to lie there.
Even if the war on terrorism justifies the creation of this creepy new surveillance entity, it's hard to imagine that the Pentagon couldn't have entrusted its management to someone with a record of honesty. It hardly inspires confidence that the man now in charge of "information awareness" is best known for his cover-ups.
Last Wednesday something strange happened. The American population was instructed to panic. Place themselves, that is, on a state of highest vigilance. Some cataclysmic act of terrorism would happen - within hours. But nothing terrible happened. Something creepy did. On Thursday there was an inconspicuous news item. John M Poindexter had been appointed to head a new agency "to counter attacks on the US", such as Wednesday's no-show. It is equivalent, in British terms, to Jeffrey Archer being made chancellor of the exchequer.
Pentagon Readies Efforts to Sway Sentiment Abroad: the military's Office of Strategic Influence is going into the news business, though it sounds more like the tabloid business.
The Pentagon is developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of a new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries, military officials said.
I hope the targeted organizations do a bit of effort in screening press releases so these get dropped on the floor. But I guess reporting these stories won't be much different than CNN reporting Rumsfeld's briefings as gospel. [via zem]
To prevent terrorism by dropping bombs on Iraq is such an obvious idea that I can't think why no one has thought of it before. It's so simple. If only the UK had done something similar in Northern Ireland, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in today.
As the U.S. moves to increase training of military units in the Philippines and Columbia we must keep in mind that we need to be careful who we train and arm. The El Mozote Massacre in El Salvador is a perfect case in point. From the U.N. Truth Commission report:
On 10 December 1981, in the village of El Mozote in the Department of Morazán, units of the Atlacatl Battalion detained, without resistance, all the men, women and children who were in the place. The following day, 11 December, after spending the night locked in their homes, they were deliberately and systematically executed in groups. First, the men were tortured and executed, then the women were executed and, lastly, the children, in the place where they had been locked up. The number of victims identified was over 200. The figure is higher if other unidentified victims are taken into account.
The Atlacatl Battalion arrived at El Mozote in the course of a military action known as "Operación Rescate", which had begun two days earlier on 6 December and also involved units from the Third Brigade and the San Francisco Gotera Commando Training Centre.
The Atlacatl Battalion was a "Rapid Deployment Infantry Battalion" or "BIRI", that is, a unit specially trained for "counter-insurgency" warfare. It was the first unit of its kind in the armed forces and had completed its training, under the supervision of United States military advisers, at the beginning of that year, 1981.
Al Qaeda's Road Paved With Gold: on the role gold and Dubai's financial system played in the movement and laundering of money for al Qaeda and the Taliban.
What has al-Qaeda done to our Constitution, and to our national standards of fairness and decency? Since September 11, the government has enacted legislation, adopted policies, and threatened procedures that are not consistent with our established laws and values and would have been unthinkable before.
National Security and Infrastructural Warfare: on national security and insecurity, told from a game theory perspective.
The single most significant flaw in national security strategy is thinking in constrained games terms, particularly the polarized win/lose. Understanding any game that models real world situations requires the addition of two new strategic positions--Not Lose (NL) and Not Let Them Win (NLTW)
[via abuddhas memes]
Eliot at Follow Me Here has some interesting thoughts and links on defining the War on Terror.
The latest fashion statement: terrorist chic.
It used to be an arrestable offence to walk down a street in Germany wearing a T-shirt bearing the RAF logo of the notorious Red Army Faction terrorist group. These days it amounts to a fashion statement.
[via Unknown News]
The French foreign minister, Hubert Vedrine, warns that the U.S. is being too simplistic about the WoT:
We are friends of the United States, we are friends of that people and we will remain so. But we are threatened today by a new simplism which consists in reducing everything to the war on terrorism. That is their approach, but we cannot accept that idea. You have got to tackle the root causes, the situations, poverty, injustice.
Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan, villagers captured in a raid on what turned out not to be a Taliban or al-Qaeda complex after all were released and a remotely piloted CIA drone fired a missile at a crowd of people surrounding what they think was a "senior al-Qaeda leader" near a cave complex in Zawar Khili.
Despite questions about the raid, American forces continue to go after what they believe are groups of Al Qaeda or Taliban leaders. An intelligence official said tonight that a Predator drone fired a Hellfire antitank missile at a group of people in the Zawar Khili area of Afghanistan on Monday, and some them were believed killed. Although their identities have not been determined, American officials believe some of the people in the group were leaders of Al Qaeda, based on the number of vehicles in the convoy they had been traveling in.
Simple? You're kidding, this is complicated stuff.
There has been an historic transition in which Type I terrorism and Type II terrorism are being combined. Type I terrorism consists of acts by individuals or small groups that aim to impose terror on other individuals and groups, and through them indirectly on their governments. Type II terrorism is the imposition by a government on groups of local or foreign populations. The new type of terrorism -- Type III -- is carried out by a substantially larger group of individuals, is aimed directly at a national population, and has all the components for success. The article deals with how this new terrorism, at very little psychic cost on the perpetrators, disrupts personal and historic memory through large-scale catastrophe organized for that purpose. Type III terrorism is made easier by the ready availability of high-level technology. Target nations will not have open to them the conventional responses, and will have to devise new, preventive measures.
This classification of the types of terrorism is not something I think I've seen until recently, in particular the distinction of government action against populations. That was also discussed in an NPR interview with Caleb Carr, discussing his book The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians. Why It Has Always Failed And Why It Will Fail Again, on Saturday. One thing that caught my ear in that interview was Carr's mention that the atomic bombing of Japan in World War II met the definition of state conducted terror.
In an interview with ABC on Sunday, Rumsfeld accused Iran of harboring al-Qaeda members who have crossed the border from Afghanistan, as well as supplying arms to factions in Afghanistan (I'm sure at this point it would be crass to mention the relative color of pots and kettles, so I won't). Today, Iran denied that any al-Qaeda was in its territory and warned the U.S. against an attack.
Less widely reported was this interesting exchange later in the interview, regarding an attack in the town of Hazar Kadam (or Hasam Quedam):
Rumsfeld: Exactly. And therefore, our soldiers don't go around killing innocent people. Nor do our soldiers go around pretending they are civilians and blurring that distinction between a combatant and a non-combatant. That's what puts civilians at risk.
Q: Well, you're examining right now the case of Hasam Quedam in which it is said that our Special Forces went in and through a horrible mistake killed 15-21 people who were not Taliban, but in fact supporters of the new government.
Rumsfeld: Is that a question?
Q: Yes, because you just said we don't go around killing innocent people. I take your point --
Rumsfeld: Well, we don't.
Q: -- except you've launched that investigation to see whether we, in fact, did.
Rumsfeld: Of course, we do. We always launch an investigation. I don't -- the commander and the command does. If there are legitimate questions raised about some action, it's perfectly appropriate for them to do exactly what they did and say "stop for a minute, we're going to go take a look. We're going to see what actually happened."
Now, is it possible that everyone's accurate? That is to say, that in that attack there might have been some people who were Taliban, there might have been some people who were al-Qaeda, and there might have also been some people that weren't? And in the same room. Because this is Afghanistan.
Q: Well, sir, we're out of time, but will you pledge that whatever the investigation shows, you will release that information to the American people and the world?
Rumsfeld: Why, of course.
Meanwhile both ABC News and NPR are reporting that military officials have admitted that the raid was a mistake, that one of the targets was actually the headquarters of a disarmament commission loyal to the new government and the other was a local government office.
The second target was a former school building. Armed men were living there, and the U.S. military believed the building had become an al Qaeda hideout. But according to local residents and officials, the building was actually the headquarters of a disarmament commission, where officials were collecting weapons from the countryside. The officials had been appointed by the new anti-Taliban governor, Jan Mohammed Khan. -- NPR report
Families of the 18 or so villagers that were killed have reportedly been compensated in U.S. dollars:
U.S. officials claim the Pentagon did not pay the money, indicating it was provided instead by Hamid Karzai's interim Afghan government, which they say got the money from the CIA. The CIA denies providing the money. Afghan officials say the death toll was 21; the U.S. military puts the figure at 15. -- ABC News report
Members of the Philippine government are bristling over parts of the State of the Union speech which lumped them in with the list of countries harboring terrorists which were put on notice that America would act if they didn't.
"It's clear in my mind that one president of a friendly country does not threaten another friendly country," Justice Secretary Hernando Perez said. "We don't depend on what the Americans claims to be necessary. We do seek assistance from them in case of need, but that doesn't mean they will run the foreign policy of our country."
Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes said Washington was free to freeze the assets of groups linked with terrorism or pursue diplomatic measures. "But some people would want to interpret it to mean that the US will impose its will, but we're a self-respecting sovereign state, and we will not allow any other country to impose its will on us if it's against our national interest," he said.
A Questionable Strategy: on the risks of increasing U.S. anti-terror pressure in Southeast Asia.
Still smarting from the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. and buoyed by their swift demolition of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the Americans are opening a second front in their global war on terrorism. Initially, they'll send more than 650 troops to the southern Philippines to train local forces and join them on patrols against Muslim rebels. The fear is that the U.S. will lack the patience and subtlety needed to end the regional terrorist menace without destabilizing fragile administrations and disturbing religious and ethnic sensitivities.
'To Fight Freedom's Fight': Safire on the Axis of Evil.
When a dramatist places a gun on the table in the first act, the astute playgoer knows that the weapon will be used before the drama ends.
In his State of the Union address, President Bush warned three nations sponsoring terror -- North Korea, Iran and Iraq -- that the U.S. "will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."
War against terrorism? Not really. Reminder: it's all about oil.
A quick look at the map is all it takes. It's no coincidence that the map of terror in the Middle East and Central Asia is practically interchangeable with the map of oil. There's Infinite Justice, Enduring Freedom - and Everlasting Profits to be made: not only by the American industrial-military complex, but especially by American and European oil giants.
No, it's not "all about oil". But oil's involved and it can't hurt to remind ourselves of that occasionally. [via also not found in nature]
A Wall Street Journal reporter has been kidnapped in Pakistan.
It is "relatively common" for journalists in the Pakistan area to be
kidnapped, according to Veronica Forwood of Reporters Without Borders, a group that supports press freedom. She said it was possible Pearl's captors were responsible for another journalist's recent abduction.
Ghulam Hasnain, a Pakistani reporter working for Time magazine, was abducted last week and released several days later, according to Reporters Without Borders. Hasnain has returned home but refused to comment on what happened to him.
Local officials and Western business executives were taken aback by the ability of Al Qaeda to plant operatives in Singapore, one of the most tightly controlled societies.
I think this goes to show that removing freedoms from our society and increasing controls on it is not going to guarantee our safety from terrorists. It is certainly not going to protect us from other evildoers.
The prime-time smearing of Sami Al-Arian: on how the media, in particular the Tampa Tribune and a local shockjock, Bubba the Love Sponge, contributed to the events leading up to Sami Al-Arian's firing from USF. [via Unknown News]
John Walker is back in the States and has his first day in court. He is being held without bail.
A Democrat-led think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute, has issued a report recommending several invasive high-tech steps in fighting terrorism including thumbprints on ID cards, increased survelliance of the net, and face recognition in crowded places. [via Red Rock Eater]
Philippine troops have set up a jungle camp for U.S. Special Forces who will train local soldiers in missions designed to wipe out a Muslim extremist group linked to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network, a military spokesman said Saturday.
The "forward base" is on the southern island of Basilan, where the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas are holding an American couple hostage, said Capt. Noel Detoyato of the Philippine military.
An audio interview with Seymour Hersh on his story about the Kunduz airlift.
No one has accused Rumsfeld of misleading the press or misrepresenting events on the ground. But post-mortems on previous American wars routinely found that the government exaggerated its successes and minimized its setbacks in its public presentations; indeed the tendency to embroider has been documented back to the Civil War.
Remember the reports of Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda members being airlifted out of Kunduz as the city was surrounded by the Northern Alliance? The flights General Franks said he didn't know anything about at the time and that Rumsfeld said we would shoot down if we saw them? According to Seymour Hersh's article in this week's New Yorker, Bush authorized the flights at Musharraf's request and ordered an air corridor set up for them. I guess he hadn't gotten around to telling Rumsfeld and Franks yet. I'm sure that's it. After all, Rumsfeld won't lie to us.
An Indecent Proposal: on the true definition of terrorism.
It is time to tell the truth about terror. Terrorism is not just a way to describe a revolutionary movement we dislike or violence aimed at our allies and friends. Not every revolutionary is a terrorist, and not every terrorist is a revolutionary.
Terrorism is a very specific type of violence. It is the deliberate killing of innocent civilians in the name of a political cause. George Washington was a revolutionary, but he was no terrorist. Osama bin Laden is both.
[via little green footballs]
Modern societies face a cruel paradox: Fast-paced technological and economic innovations may deliver unrivalled prosperity, but they also render rich nations vulnerable to crippling, unanticipated attacks.
Terrorism, Nonlinearity & Complex Adaptive Systems: an archive of papers to aid in understanding and dealing with the threat of decentralized and adaptive enemies. [via Boing Boing]
Demands by the Security Council that U.N. members act against global terrorism are being used by some regimes to justify repression of domestic dissent, U.N. officials and independent human rights advocates say.
The Lord Chief Justice in England has said that the anti-terrorism laws should be short-term and repealed as soon as possible.
The United States has frozen the assets of one Spanish group and five Northern Ireland groups that are said to be related to terrorism. This is to bring the U.S. list in line with one released by the Council of the European Union last week.
Missed signals: a history of the U.S.'s unimplemented plans against terrorism.
Floridians gave $1.9 million to alleged terror front groups: tax records of Benevolence International Foundation, Global Relief Foundation, and Holy Land Foundation show donations of $62 million nationwide.
Fox News had a recently four part series on Israeli spies in the U.S. The transcripts have apparently been pulled from their site but are available, along with some background material, from cryptome.
How to Try a Terrorist: on why we should try captured terrorists in civil court. "No other type of judicial proceeding could offer Americans and the rest of the world as satisfying a verdict, or a more resounding vindication of American justice and freedoms."
Mosque leader is living in fear: the leader of the Brixton Mosque, linked to the SneakerBomber, is worried about the backlash on himself and his family after speaking out about the extremists recruiting from his mosque.
The cleric who runs the Brixton Mosque where Reid is thought to have been recruited says he warned police about militant activity there but was ignored. Since the connection to a British mosque was first reported I thought "Brixton Mosque" was a description: a mosque in Brixton. But it's actually the name of the mosque.
A new bin Laden tape has shown up on Al Jazeera, this one apparently made within the last two weeks.
From 'Zoomcopters' to a month in jail: the story of Israeli citizens who were brought to the U.S. to work in malls but wound up caught in the post-9/11 roundup.
Bush sends clear warning signals to Pakistan: "With the US president denouncing the attack on the Indian Parliament and freezing the Lashkar-e-Toiba's assets, terrorism as a political tactic is in danger of dieing out". The article is referring to terrorism as a political tactic of the U.S. as well as Pakistan.
Our Friends the Terrorists: "Just to puncture our hypocrisy for a moment: We've been battling terrorism by bolstering backers of terrorism in Pakistan."
Two more groups have been named by Bush as organizations that fund terrorists: Umma Tameer-e-nau (UTN) and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LET). UTN is said to be founded by a former Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission official. UTN's leader was questioned and released by Pakistan in October regarding his contacts with bin Ladin. Bush accused UTN today of supplying information on nuclear weapons to al-Qaeda. LET has been named as the group that attacked the Indian parliament last week and has taken responsibility for other attacks on India.
The first arrests under Britain's new anti-terror law have been made. One suspect disappeared shortly after the new law was passed Friday. Liberty, a British civil liberties group, may mount a campaign to free them.
Three hundred and forty-two pages. Three hundred and fifty subject areas. Forty federal agencies. Twenty-one legal amendments.
Sweeping anti-terrorism legislation that was proposed, debated and signed into law in less than six weeks now has federal prosecutors, defenders, regulators and administrators around the country scrambling to decipher what Congress and the Bush administration intended and immediately put it into effect.
[via Red Rock Eater]
The bin Laden tape that got some much attention last week is available from the State Department now. Mozilla doesn't like the links, so here are the RealPlayer versions of the links for easy cutting and pasting into RealPlayer.
Text of the U.S. report to the UN Security Council Counterterrorism Committee on what the U.S. has done to cut off terrorist financing and their activities, as required by U.N. resolution 1373. Reports from other countries are also available.
Yemen takes on an al-Qaeda base before the U.S. does.
The USA Patriot Act and the US Department of Justice: losing our balances? "Partly because of the most recent spate of anti-terrorism legislation, two out of three branches of the federal government are also being left out of the loop in a growing number of circumstances."
Capitol Hill Anthrax Matches Army's Stocks: the strains are genetically identical to those maintained at an Army facility at Fort Detrick. Matching samples at labs in the U.S. and Britain trace their origin to Fort Detrick. [via Interesting People]
Loophole lets terror suspect remain free: on Abu Hamza, who is wanted in connection to a terrorist incident in Yemen that left three British tourists dead but cannot be held under the new British terrorism law because he is a British citizen.
Anti-Globalization Group Says It Knows Exactly How to End World Terrorism: on the Association for the Taxation of financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens (ATTAC), which says that the way to end terror is to address the causes, poverty and injustice, by introducing a Tobin Tax on international financial transactions and using the proceeds for third world development.
The author of The Perils of Totalitarian "Patriotism" makes a good point, though I don't agree with he takes it:
Some conservative defenders of the Bush administration would insist that the President and Attorney General Ashcroft are honorable men of character who can be entrusted with extraordinary powers. But they should remember English philosopher John Locke's warning that liberty is most imperiled during the reign of "good rulers." This is because their evil successors "draw the actions of those good rulers into precedent and make them the standard of their prerogative -- as if what had been done only for the good of the people was a right in them to do for the harm of the people, if they so pleased...."
The Real Roots of Terror: Jack Beatty argues that its not Iraq and the like we should be going after, it's Egypt and Saudi Arabia - "The autocratic regimes of Saudi Arabia and Egypt distract their citizens from repression at home by directing their anger toward the U.S." [via Bushwacker]
Bush ties the wars on drugs and terror together in his speech yesterday while signing the Drug-Free Communities Act:
Drug use threatens everything, everything that is best about our country. It breaks the bonds between parents and children. It turns productive citizens into addicts. It transforms schools into places of violence and chaos. It makes playgrounds into crime scenes. It supports gangs here at home. And abroad, it's so important for Americans to know that the traffic in drugs finances the work of terror, sustaining terrorists -- that terrorists use drug profits to fund their cells to commit acts of murder.
If you quit drugs, you join the fight against terror in America.
So remember kids, if you buy drugs then you're funding terrorists, and that makes you a terrorist too.
At least Bush is trying to do something about the demand side in the WoD. The demand side of terror, the things we do to generate such hatred, must also be addressed if the WoT is going to get anywhere in the long run. [via blackholebrain]
Kenya has agreed to let the U.S. and Britain set up bases in its territory for use against Somalia.
Two Islamic charities, the Benevolence International Foundation and the Global Relief Foundation, have been raided under provisions of the Patriot Act by the FBI, apparently on direction of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control.
The quiet war is likely to start after Afghanistan. Tim Hames predicts that the next phase will not be as spectacular as Afghanistan and goes through the likely candidates: Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Iraq.
Two leaders of the Jewish Defense League have been arrested for allegedly plotting to blow up a mosque and a congressman's office. The Anti-Defamation League has some background information on the JDL.
Polls make it very clear Bush can do no wrong: "Much of the global village must await its turn, preparing to meet the inspectors, to prepare for attack, face the ultimate character examination for an American military court." [via Unknown News]
Stories from some of the terrorism detainees:
Germany also is having some trouble getting it's second anti-terror law passed. It seems the Social Democratic Party actually wants time to discuss late breaking amendments before voting on them. What a novel concept. [via Unknown News]
On the continuing contention over an anti-terrorism bill in the U.K. The current stumbling block is a clause that would criminalize incitement of racial hatred.
On the debate on whether or not to try Moussaoui in open court or a military tribunal.
Innocent are caught in the cross hairs of the hunt for suspected terrorists: a 26 year citizen has his credit card blocked without notice by Citibank because he has the same name as someone on a list of "specially designated global terrorist individuals".
Tasia Scolinos, spokeswoman for the US Treasury Department, said Citibank appears to have followed proper procedure. She said banks are supposed to block accounts first and then investigate to see whether the person is actually the terrorist. If the bank becomes satisfied that the targeted person is not the terrorist, the account can be unblocked.
[via Interesting People]
US turns sights on Somalia terror groups: the military has met with leaders of the opposition faction Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA) and gained permission to use its bases.
A Compilation of Evidence and Comments on the Source of the Mailed Anthrax: "All the available evidence indicates that the source of the mailed anthrax, or the information and materials to make it, is a US government program." [via also not found in nature]
Yvonne Ridley: Intelligence services wanted me killed. The journalist who had been held by the Taliban claims her rooms in Pakistan and Soho had been searched while she was in captivity and that material from them had been given to the Taliban. She has a book, In the Hands of the Taliban, due out tomorrow.
Xawaala: A Challenge to the Western Media: In an attempt to balance reports in Western media, M. M. Afrah discusses the benign uses that the trust-based money transfer system Hawaala is put to, in particular for transferring small amounts from Somalian workers abroad back home where there is no formal banking system.
The Somali Republic is a terrorist haven: an article on Hiiraan Online describes how 10 years of warlord rule has opened the country to terrorism and illegal trade. Others in the area believe this isn't the case and blame U.S. interest in Somalian terrorist links on Ethiopian propaganda.
Bush has frozen the assets of three organizations he says are linked to Hamas, including a charity based in Texas: Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. The group says it is not involved with Hamas.
The fort of hell: an account of the battle for the Qala-i-Janghi fort after the Taliban prisoner rebellion.
Another analysis of the battle. [via lakeeffect]
Justice Deformed: War and the Constitution - "The inconvenient thing about the American system of justice is that we are usually challenged to protect it at the most inopportune moments."
On the ground: another warning to maintain our principles even in wartime.
Transcript of Michael Chertoff of the Justice Department testifying at senate hearing on preserving freedoms while defending against terrorism.
A witness describes the underground cave complex near Tora Bora where bin Ladin is suspected to be hiding.
You say "Hacker", the Feds say "Terrorist": "By lumping hackers in with cyber-terrorists, the government is demonstrating a fundamental inability to understand either group."
Learning from Israel: restrictions on civil liberties does not make a country more safe.
Spain is refusing to extradite terror suspects without guarantees that they won't face the death penalty or a military tribunal.
Taliban leader Omar has handed over power to his army commander, Mullah Akhtar Osmani.
Pakistan is reported to be evacuating Pakistani Taliban supporters from Kunduz.
U.S. shuts down Somalia's internet service and most of their international phone service after claiming that the companies involved, Somalia Internet Company and al-Barakaat, have terrorist links, which they deny.
A Taliban mullah surrenders outside Kunduz - to a New Zealand reporter.
On breaking the law or ethical codes to give information on terrorists.
The U.S. is offering a $25 million reward for bin Laden. Not to be outdone, the Taliban is offering $50 million for Bush. They also claim that our fight to get bin Laden is hypocritical while we harbor the likes of Salman Rushdie. [via Unknown News]
America will take no prisoners - Rumsfeld: "The United States is not inclined to negotiate surrenders, nor are we in a position, with relatively small numbers of forces on the ground, to accept prisoners." (full transcript).
I found a Google search in my referrer log this morning from someone looking for stuff on the Prisoners' Dilemma in relation to the World Trade Center. That got me curious what he might have been looking for. The closest thing I could find was an 1998 essay from a University of Michigan international affairs student that applies the Prisoners' Dilemma to the choice of a response to terrorism to show that tit-for-tat is the only way to be successful. Axelrod and Hamilton showed this strategy had the best payoff in a 1981 paper in Science: The Evolution of Cooperation. Björn Brembs' article in Oikos discusses different strategies for the game, some of which can be simulated online, and gives examples of applications in nature. It's a shame that real life is not as straightforward as game theory.