09 Oct 2007 @ 8:37 PM 

For years, the private terror-hunters at the SITE Institute have been infiltrating jihadist chat rooms, and spying on the extremists congregating online. Now, the group its digital cover has been blown — and Al-Qaeda online communications channels have gone dark — thanks to a ham-handed move by the Bush administration, it seems. “Techniques that took years to develop are now ineffective and worthless,” SITE’s Rita Katz told the Washington Post.

More here and here. “To make the accusation that the intelligence community leaked this to the media is totally false,” intelligence office spokesman Ross Feinstein said. I’d never assume the intel community leaked anything.  That’s something politicians do.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:09 AM

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 08 Aug 2007 @ 9:05 AM 

U.S. military deaths in July of each of the past five years, in Iraq:

July 2003: 48
July 2004: 54
July 2005: 54
July 2006: 43
July 2007: 80

U.S. military deaths in Iraq, this year, with 2006 figures in parens:

January: 83 (62)
February: 81 (55)
March: 81 (31)
April: 104 (76)
May: 126 (69)
June: 101 (61)
July: 80 (43)

So, exactly how is the surge working? Michael O’Hanlon of the “liberal” Brookings Institution said, “I think we have reduced the amount of violence overall.” Um…Maybe he doesn’t understand numbers so good. If you want to say that the violence decreased in July, you may have a point, but the violence always decreases in July in the Mideast – it’s a jillion degrees there, and even psychos with bombs get heat stroke.

Iraqi citizens also had an increase in month-to-month and year-to-year casualties, of approximately 25% in both cases.  So, while U.S. military casualties in July went down from June, the Iraqi casualties actually increased.  But the surge is working.

* for some values of “working” that can’t be measured

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:09 AM

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 23 Jul 2007 @ 5:04 PM 

From my local elected representative:

Democrats in Congress are once again attempting to take on the role of Commander in Chief and make the irrational decision to pull out of Iraq without any sort of post-pull out strategy.

This implies that the Republicans made a rational decision to a) invade, b) occupy, c) de-Baathify, d) disband the Iraqi military, e) Everything Else. You can’t bitch about your opponent being irrational if you have no rational response.  By the way, why does nobody in the media seem to bring up the 1993 Congressional vote to defund and withdraw from Somalia, as a comparison?  We forget even recent history, it seems.  The Republicans want to portray the desire to get the heck out of Iraq as something unprecedented, when it is actually very precedented.  For that matter, why has Congress completely abdicated its responsibility for declaring war?  We haven’t had an actual declared war since 1945, yet we’ve been shooting at other people almost every day since then. Separation of powers?  That Constitution sure is a pesky thing.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:09 AM

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 30 Sep 2006 @ 7:55 AM 

Quick followup to my previous post on our new dark ages. I’m continually astounded at the weasel words journalists use, rather than just saying what is objectively true.

Many Democrats opposed the legislation because they said it eliminated rights of defendants considered fundanamental to American values, such as a person’s ability to protest court detention and the use of coerced tesimony as evidence.

Yes, they said that. Of course, a good newspaper would have said, “Which is 100% true.” Don’t just repeat that some say this and some say that; report what the actual law actually says, why don’t you? Yes, they did eventually say these things, but someone who skimmed the article would see a typical “two opposing and equal views” passage, rather than “one side is eviscerating the Constitution” passage.

And now the GOP will try to portray the Democrats as soft on terrorists because a few of them resisted the bill (and not very vocally – filibuster Roberts but not the removal of judicial review, habeas corpus, and the Geneva Conventions?). Of course, the Democrats, if recent years are any indication, will find no coherent voice to retort, “We’re not soft on terrorists. The Republicans, however, are anti-American, as they gut the Constitution and revoke 800 years of legal tradition.”

My elected representatives continue to prove they have no honor.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:33 AM

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 29 Sep 2006 @ 9:08 AM 

On September 20, 2001, the President said:

[The terrorists] hate our freedoms — our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.

Well, I guess we’ve given in then. Those freedoms are now exclusively available only if the executive branch of the federal government allows you to have them. There is no recourse, there are no checks or balances, there is no transparency in government. Congratulations, Bin Laden, you won.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:10 AM

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 13 Aug 2006 @ 6:10 PM 

Japan has been using liquid explosive detectors in its Narita International Airport in Tokyo and demonstrated the technology to U.S. officials at a conference in January, the Japanese Embassy in Washington said.

The administration’s most recent budget request also mystified lawmakers. It asked to take $6 million from the Sciences & Technology Directorate’s 2006 budget that was supposed to be used to develop explosives detection technology and divert it to cover a budget shortfall in the Federal Protective Service, which provides security around government buildings.

Bureaucracy impedes bomb-detection work

I just cannot think of a comment that isn’t filled with cursing.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:10 AM

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 11 Aug 2006 @ 5:35 AM 

It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America. We’ve taken a lot of measures to protect the American people. But obviously we still aren’t completely safe.

Well, gee. Perfect safety hasn’t been achieved? Let’s give up a few more of our ideals and rip up the last few shreds of the Constitution. What’s amazing to me is that the President isn’t pointing out how the system worked. This is a success for the British security services, an event which shows that law enforcement and good investigation skills actually function as you would hope. The plot was thwarted, all is right with the world. The US and UK should be celebrating this accomplishment, and instead we’re taking people’s water bottles away and making flying just a little more irritating yet again.
Of course, the President is perhaps not crowing about this successful investigation and series of arrests because the British did it using the systems and methods that don’t actually violate their citizens’ rights. Yep, they actually used policemen doing their jobs, not random wiretaps of every phone call and email. They didn’t need to lock people up for years without charges, finding extraordinary means of avoiding domestic and international legal challenges. They did things in ways that violated no law of the land, completely without controversy. Maybe we don’t want to talk about that.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:10 AM

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 23 Apr 2005 @ 4:41 PM 

I think the most important thing to take away from this article is the following pair of sentences. Do you see a problem with the rationale for the ban?

Some members of Congress, citing the case of shoe-bomber Richard Reid, feared terrorists could use lighters to ignite bombs.
Reid tried unsuccessfully to use a match to ignite his bomb during a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:31 AM

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 02 Jan 2005 @ 1:06 PM 

Reuters has a wire story about a proposed final solution to the terrorist detention problem.

The Defense Department, which holds 500 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, plans to ask the U.S. Congress for $25 million to build a 200-bed prison to hold detainees who are unlikely to ever go through a military tribunal for lack of evidence.

Um, if they’re never going to trial, doesn’t that mean they’re … presumed innocent? I guess that pesky Constitution has been thrown out permanently. Another part of this proposal is to give the prisoners to Afghanistan and other “partner” countries, which all seem to have a distressingly poor record of human rights abuse. Go, USA!

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:32 AM

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 29 Oct 2004 @ 6:08 PM 

OK, if you don’t think it’s disturbing that Bin Laden is thanking the President for screwing up and helping out the cause of international terrorism, maybe you’ve been listening to too much Rush Limbaugh.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:31 AM

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 18 Oct 2004 @ 8:50 AM 

Isn’t this shocking?

bq. At least seven former prisoners of the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have returned to terrorism, despite gaining their freedom by signing pledges to renounce violence.

Gee, they promised they were going to stop shooting at people, and then they went and shot at people? If you can’t take the word of a fundamentalist extremist, whose word can you believe?

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:31 AM

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 03 Aug 2004 @ 8:05 AM 

Old information led to the terror alerts in the financial districts of DC and NY yesterday. Or maybe not so old, but mostly old. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Democrats have raised questions over the timing of the alert, saying it could be politically motivated ahead of the election.

Politically motivated? I’m sure the Democratic allegation has no political motivation behind it either. Nope. They’re completely altruistic and just thinking of the best thing for the country. Of course.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:35 AM

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 30 Jul 2004 @ 2:02 PM 

Bush back to campaigning in battleground states with a message of “we’ve turned a corner” so we should stay the course. I remember his daddy had a “stay the course” message that didn’t work out so well for him.

My question is, if we’ve turned a corner, are we now in a long dark alley, or is that just the perception of most people I talk to? 🙂

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:22 AM

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GWOT?

 
 15 Jul 2004 @ 4:43 PM 

While perusing Intelink today, the J2 Daily Briefing included an acronym I wasn’t familiar with: GWOT(Global War On Terror). Now, think for a couple seconds and I’ll bet you’ll get it too. Don’t I feel dumb for not parsing it immediately.

Of course, some of my cow-orkers still aren’t sure what the classification caveat MCF(Multinational Coalition Forces) means, so at least I have them beat there.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:34 AM

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 09 Jul 2004 @ 8:49 AM 

Yahoo! News – Bush Wins; House Leaves Patriot Act As Is

Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., said he switched his initial “yes” vote to “no” after being shown Justice Department documents asserting that terrorists have communicated over the Internet via public library computers.

Now, the example stated did not include anything that we in the real world like to call verifiable facts, mind you. It was a statement from the Justice Department (who have *never* lied before) claiming that some people who are closely related to Al Qaeda have used public library computers for some messages at some time in the recent past – location and dates unlisted. And these records were not subpeonable prior to the Execrably named USA PATRIOT(Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act? Oh, wait…

Without [PATRIOT Act], investigators can get book store and other records simply by obtaining subpoenas or search warrants. Those traditional investigative tools are harder to get from grand juries or courts than orders issued under the Patriot Act, which do not require authorities to show probable cause.

Oh, that troublesome probable cause. Yeah, we want to get rid of that requirement. Instead, every time the long arm of the law is employed to invade privacy and search through records, we just need to have a promise from Ashcroft et al that they really need to do it. Yep, that’s all. That Constitution sure is a pain to have around, isn’t it?

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:35 AM

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 28 Jun 2004 @ 1:06 PM 

Supreme Court Affirms Detainees’ Right to Use Courts

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote that the campaign against terrorism notwithstanding, “a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation’s citizens.”

What a concept. So, just because we are at war against a concept, we can’t just go arresting people willy-nilly, or looking at their library lending history, or poking cameras in their faces, or telling them they can’t fly because they’re on some secret list they aren’t allowed to challenge? Wow. How revolutionary.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:37 AM

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 31 May 2004 @ 3:19 PM 

Bush Honors U.S. Military Dead from War on Terror

Is this the first time he’s been at the cemetary since the war in Iraq began? He’s gone to such lengths to avoid anyone else seeing the caskets, it is a valid query, no? More than 200 American men and women died in the past two months; compared to the 138 who died during the “actual combat” phase. One wonders what this is, if not combat.

As a side note, the Reuters wire article uses the phrase “Bush, who avoided combat in Vietnam.” I guess the media isn’t going to let that one go, no matter how much the President wants them to.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:37 AM

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 22 Sep 2003 @ 2:23 PM 

Since Khalid Sheik Mohammed is talking now, we have discovered a shocking fact:

Mohammed said he communicated with al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar while they were in the United States by using Internet chat software, the reports say.

Oh, great. Now they’re going to try to ban Yahoo Messenger as a tool of terrorism. I can see it now:

Geeks Jailed Under USA PATRIOT Act

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:36 AM

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 17 Mar 2003 @ 8:56 PM 

I actually wrote this before the president’s speech, but didn’t get it posted until after. Timing is everything.

One should never discuss politics or religion unless prepared to have a battle of wills. I suppose sexuality could be added to that old axiom, but that tends to be either political or religious depending on your point of view.

The USA certainly is embroiled in a real battle royale between peace-loving hippies out of touch with reality and the gun-toting neanderthal warmongers. That should offend just about everyone.

More »

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:40 AM

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 26 Mar 2002 @ 9:10 AM 

Gee, who would you believe – the US soldiers who admitted a mistake, or 34 men with cuts and bruises and a consistent story? We’re not always 100% good guys.

Fighters Recount Unanswered Pleas, Beatings — and an Apology on Their Release

By John Ward Anderson, Washington Post Foreign Service

HAUZIMATED, Afghanistan, March 25 — When U.S. tanks and helicopters surrounded a walled compound in this tiny desert outpost on March 17 and arrested more than 30 men suspected of belonging to the al Qaeda network, the Pentagon depicted the operation as a good example of how U.S. forces would finish rooting out terrorists from Afghanistan.

But last week, after four days of imprisonment, all of the suspects were released. U.S. officials had discovered that the compound was a security post manned not by al Qaeda or Taliban forces, but by fighters from the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance hired by the government of Kandahar to help control crime.

Eighteen of the men said in interviews that they quickly surrendered and tried to explain that they were U.S. allies as their small compound was surrounded by eight to 10 U.S. tanks and dozens of American soldiers at about 3 a.m. that day. But they said their explanations were either not understood or ignored and that they were tied up, punched, kicked and kneed by the soldiers and then held in cages at a U.S. military base for four days before being released with an apology.

The incident and others like it raise questions about the quality of U.S. intelligence gathering and analysis in Afghanistan. U.S. forces frequently have been accused of not recognizing when they are being fed bad information by local Afghan leaders who want to settle political, personal and tribal disputes by accusing their rivals of being members of the Taliban or al Qaeda.

The incident is reminiscent of a Jan. 24 U.S. military operation in the town of Uruzgan in which 21 villagers were killed and 27 were detained for two weeks before being released. The villagers complained that they had been severely beaten during their capture and detention by U.S. military forces who had misidentified them as al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

The U.S. Central Command, which runs the war in Afghanistan, has refused to acknowledge error in the Uruzgan operation, saying its troops were fired on in what Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Feb. 21 called an “untidy” situation. But the CIA has made reparation payments to the families of those killed, according to reports from local authorities here.

Maj. Ignacio Perez, a spokesman at the U.S. military base at Kandahar airport, said the operation eight days ago in this tiny hamlet about 25 miles west of Kandahar is not under investigation. “These individuals were treated in a highly professional manner,” he said. “We treat all detainees humanely and consistent with the protections provided for under the Geneva Convention.”

Perez refused to provide specifics about how the men were detained, citing “operational security.” He said he did not know why the outpost had been targeted by U.S. forces as an enemy camp. No shots were fired during the incident, officials said.

In revealing the operation at a Pentagon briefing last week, Air Force Brig. Gen. John W. Rosa Jr., deputy director for current operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there was “a set of indicators” pointing to possible enemy activities and “when those indicators line up, we’re going into those compounds.”

Several days later, when announcing that the men had been released, Rosa explained, “We had looked at that site some time ago. And what happened through intelligence — we saw more ammunition, more weapons in that area. We also saw folks that we didn’t necessarily recognize. More importantly, the Afghanis that were with our troops did not know who was in that compound.”

“We never processed them and they never became detainees,” Rosa added.

But many of the men interviewed showed what appeared to be official U.S. government identity cards stating: “This card is issued to prisoners of war in the custody of the United States Army.”

The compound here officially is a police post surrounded by a 10-foot wall about 100 yards off the Kandahar-Heart highway, in a community that exists principally to make emergency automotive repairs. Men stationed here said that if anybody wanted to know who they were and why they were there, all they had to do was ask.

“They should have sent someone here and taken our leader to their base and asked, ‘Who are you?’ and solved this through dialogue,” said Ahmed Younis, 22. “But they didn’t ask anything. They just took all of us to their base, beat us and insulted us, and then apologized.”

Residents of the community said they, too, could have told the U.S. forces that the people in the compound were not enemies, but they were too afraid to leave their homes when tanks and soldiers rumbled into town.

After their post was surrounded, one of the men from the compound opened the front gate with a light and invited the unexpected guests inside, but he was told to go back in and not to come out again, the men here said. Finally, about 30 U.S. soldiers entered and ordered the men to surrender their weapons. They said they turned over 24 AK-47 assault rifles, pistols and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

“They told us that ‘We have information you belong to al Qaeda or the Taliban,’ that ‘this is [Taliban leader] Mullah [Mohammad] Omar’s house, and you are going to attack us and turn the people against us,’ ” said Faida Mohammed, a commander at the outpost who was sporting a black eye he said he received that night. “We laughed and said, ‘We’re from the government.’ But we didn’t move or say anything against them.”

The men said their feet were bound, their hands tied behind their backs and black hoods placed over their heads while U.S. soldiers punched and kicked them. Many of the 18 men who gathered to describe what happened showed a variety of cuts and bruises they said they had received during the beatings. In all, they said, 34 men at the outpost were taken into custody; U.S. officials put the number at 31.

They were driven to the U.S. base about 40 miles away, and once there, at about 7 a.m., they were ordered to lie on their stomachs on a patch of rocky ground for the next seven hours. “Whenever we moved, they hit us,” Faida Mohammed said.

For the next four days, the men said they were held in a large, walled detention area at the base that had about 15 cages, each about 32 feet long and 15 feet wide, made with wooden posts surrounded by metal fencing and topped by weatherproof material. Each cage held 10 to 18 people, they said.

The men were divided among three of the cages, sharing the space with Pakistani, Iranian, Chechen, Bangladeshi, Palestinian and other Arab prisoners, they said. Each man was given two blankets and a space on the wooden floor on which to sleep. There were two buckets for the latrine, but otherwise they were ordered to sit on the floor all the time, not look up and not talk to anyone, the men said.

They were fed regularly, and after the first day, they were not mistreated, the men said. Each underwent about an hour of personal interrogation during the first two days, which consisted principally of questions about their family background and their political and military allegiances. They said they were not threatened or hit during the questioning. They said that after two days, it appeared that their true identities had been discovered, and they were mostly ignored for the last two days.

“Finally, they believed us, and they said, ‘It was a misunderstanding — someone gave us bad information,’ ” Faida Mohammed said. “They said, ‘We apologize,’ and they flew us back here in five helicopters, accompanied by the top leader of the air base himself.”
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Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2007 @ 07:43 AM

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