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Current Topic: War on Terrorism / Home UK - Experts query authenticity of ‘al-Qaeda letter’
Topic: War on Terrorism 11:30 am EDT, Oct 15, 2005

Stephen Ulph, an analyst at the US-based Jamestown Foundation, said the letter presented a number of problems. There had been no clarification as to how it was intercepted and no independent corroboration of its authenticity. He also found it remarkable that a letter between two al-Qaeda leaders should spell out strategy in such an explanatory way, as if these basic details were the subject of doubt.

And here are still more people who don't buy it... / Home UK - Experts query authenticity of ‘al-Qaeda letter’

Nieman Watchdog - What’s wrong with cutting and running?
Topic: War on Terrorism 2:26 am EDT, Oct  7, 2005

There is no question the insurgents and other anti-American parties will take over the government once we leave. But that will happen no matter how long we stay.
Also, the U.S. will not leave behind a liberal, constitutional democracy in Iraq no matter how long it stays.

Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University. He was Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Army's senior intelligence officer.

Nieman Watchdog - What’s wrong with cutting and running?

Able/Danger and Total Information Awareness
Topic: War on Terrorism 3:20 pm EDT, Sep 29, 2005

Able/Danger was an experiment in a new kind of warfare, known as "information warfare" or "information dominance." One of the program's missions was to see whether al-Qaida cells around the world could be identified by sifting huge quantities of publicly available data, a relatively new technique called "data mining."

The data miners used extremely complex software programs, with names like Spire, Parentage, and Starlight, that mimic the thought patterns in the human brain while parsing countless bits of information from every available source to find relationships and patterns that would otherwise be invisible.

Some information about Able/Danger that I had not heard before. There are many questions here. Did this program ID Atta? What did it know about him? Was Atta a U.S. person? Did Pentagon Lawyers prevent the information from being shared with domestic authorities? If so, why? All of these things are up in the air and will remain so for a while.

Nevertheless, let me offer a bit of blind speculation which is interesting even if it turns out to have little relationship to what actually occured.

Apparently Able/Danger was a primordial Total Information Awareness program. If Atta was merely identified by computer profiling and it was not known whether or not he really was a terrorist, its possible that the lawyers were concerned about prompting FBI investigations into U.S. persons based on the results of a computer profile run in an extremely experimental program that they weren't sure was reliable.

What I'm getting at is that this might not be a question about Posse Comitatus but rather a question about computer profiling, law enforcement use of computer profiling results. The concerns that were raised about TIA would apply here as well. Its possible that they did not know he was a terrorist. They only knew that a neural network said he looked similar to other people who were terrorists, and if they were wrong they were concerned about kicking up the civil liberties storm that TIA eventually DID kick up.

If a computer profile did, in fact, ID a 9/11 terrorist prior to 9/11, does that change the way you feel about programs like Total Information Awareness?

U: It seems as though The Washington Times has raised this same question. I don't know if this link is the most reasonable thing I've ever read in the Washington Times or if I'm starting to go insane.

Able/Danger and Total Information Awareness

Staying the Course - The Daily Californian
Topic: War on Terrorism 3:41 pm EDT, Sep 26, 2005

The biggest problem that the "anti-war" movement has right now is the illusion that somehow the war they protested starting in 2003 is the same war that they're protesting today.

I agree with this sentiment. I am not convinced that we went into Iraq the right way. I've been on the fence about that from the start. I am convinced that leaving right now would be a terrible thing to do. There is an important job to do in Iraq today and we need to see it through. Furthermore, I'd bet there would be broad international support today if we requested it.

Staying the Course - The Daily Californian

Canada beefing up military for future offensive operations
Topic: War on Terrorism 6:54 pm EDT, Sep 19, 2005

In order to have a greater impact in the world, particularly in failed in failing states, our new Defence Policy Statement will increase the capacity of the Canadian Forces to participate in overseas operations.

The addition of significant new equipment and five thousand Regular Force personnel – the bulk of which will go to the army – will essentially double the capacity of our land forces to undertake challenging international operations anywhere in the world.

This is an important datapoint with regard to the outlook for the War on Terror in the medium term future.

Canada is engaged in a major strategic effort to restructure their armed forces for offensive military operations. Canada's roll in Afghanistan has been converted from policing Kandahar to relieving US forces in the south facing a beefed up Taliban that is getting equipment and training from Iraq. They are also running prominent terror attack response exercises.

A related datapoint concerns rumblings that Japan may follow.

Canada has not committed a large military force to an offensive operation since the Korean War. They usually provide funding and specialists, but not large standing forces. The fact that they are restructuring and beefing up directly reflects a feeling by their leadership that they will be involved in large military conflicts outside of Canada in the future. Insofaras Canada does not engage in conflicts that aren't approved by the UN security council this means we're not talking about Iraq.

Canada beefing up military for future offensive operations

Zarqawi declares war on Iraq Shi'ites
Topic: War on Terrorism 11:32 am EDT, Sep 15, 2005

"After the explosion, cars were burning around me and flesh was scattered everywhere. It was raining blood," he said in Karama hospital, with part of his leg blown off.

The hospital was overflowing with victims. Dozens of the wounded screamed in agony as they were treated on the floor, some lying in pools of their own blood.

The situation in Iraq has taken a grim turn. Of course, strategically, Zarqawi is now undermining Al Queda's broader interests. Somre strategic analysis here.

Zarqawi declares war on Iraq Shi'ites - U.S. Attorney's Porn Fight Gets Bad Reviews
Topic: War on Terrorism 5:52 pm EDT, Aug 30, 2005

When FBI supervisors in Miami met with new interim U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta last month, they wondered what the top enforcement priority for Acosta and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would be.

Would it be terrorism? Organized crime? Narcotics trafficking? Immigration? Or maybe public corruption?

The agents were stunned to learn that a top prosecutorial priority of Acosta and the Department of Justice was none of the above. Instead, Acosta told them, it's obscenity. Not pornography involving children, but pornographic material featuring consenting adults.

Acosta's stated goal of prosecuting distributors of adult porn has angered federal and local law enforcement officials, as well as prosecutors in his own office. They say there are far more important issues in a high-crime area like South Florida, which is an international hub at risk for terrorism, money laundering and other dangerous activities.

His own prosecutors have warned Acosta that prioritizing adult porn would reduce resources for prosecuting other crimes, including porn involving children. According to high-level sources who did not want to be identified, Acosta has assigned prosecutors porn cases over their objections.

Speechless... - U.S. Attorney's Porn Fight Gets Bad Reviews

[IP] Justifying acts of terror?
Topic: War on Terrorism 7:05 pm EDT, Aug 11, 2005

The following link was forwarded to me by a friend. This is the recent Hard Talk programme of BBC in which a British Muslim leader speaks..It's difficult to believe that some people can be so stubborn and different in what they believe.

This is religious intolerance taken to it's natural conclusion.

Its about 30 minutes. It will piss you off.

[IP] Justifying acts of terror?

Reuters AlertNet - Man shot dead by UK police not connected to bombs
Topic: War on Terrorism 1:28 pm EDT, Jul 23, 2005

Police acknowledged on Saturday the man they shot dead on Friday was not connected to bomb attacks on the British capital the previous day, calling the shooting tragic and regrettable.

Awesome. Dude walks out of a block of flats where a lot of Islamic people live wearing a coat. Acts funny. They shoot him 5 times in the head. Apparently he was innocent.

Reuters AlertNet - Man shot dead by UK police not connected to bombs

Privacy Rights Are at Issue in New Policy on Searches - New York Times
Topic: War on Terrorism 6:45 pm EDT, Jul 22, 2005

Police officials... have also said that anyone found to be carrying illegal drugs or weapons will be subject to arrest, a provision that lawyers have found troubling.

One has to be sympathetic to the idea of performing some searches. However, one of the basic ideas behind the notion that random searches at airports are legal is the idea that they are specifically limited to AT and do not target other crimes. There is a bit of a legal grey area here about whether they have the right to prosecute for other crimes if they discover them in the course of one of these searches. That grey area needs to be resolved now. The NYPD have clearly expressed their opinion on the matter.

If we establish a policy that says we can do random searches where ever because of terrorism and we will prosecute any crime we discover in the process of performing these searches then essentially we're saying that we can perform random searches where ever. If the police think you're up to no good they can stop and search you and just put you down on their quota of "daily anti-terror searches." The connection with terrorism eventually becomes irrelevant other then as a loophole that popped the whole thing wide open.

This is really going to push the 4th amendment. If its ok to do it at airports, can we do it at the subway? If its ok to do it at the subway can we do it on the street? If its ok to do it on the street, then when is it not ok to do it? Is it ok to search random houses for bomb labs. You might discover some that way...

This is the slippery slope that concerns people with the rise of searches at airports, schools, and border crossings. We're slipping down that slope. The subway is so pervasive in NYC that this will have a significant effect on the culture of the city. If you live there you ride the subway. If you ride the subway you may be searched. So, if you live there you may be searched. NYC suddenly seems more prickley then Singapore.

The government there should have presented this as a temporary measure. They should have performed the searches with teams that are firewalled from the regular police and have no authority to prosecute anything except terrorism. Declaring it an "indefinite" fixture of the city, and doing it with regular police, was a mistake.

You want to have a free and open society, but that society requires cooperation. Mutual respect. When people begin to seriously abuse the society you have to respond. Its really hard to figure out how to do that without sacrificing openness, but this announcement doesn't reflect a genuine effort to try. This is the image of terrorism changing our way of life.

Look for the spin to be that anyone who raises questions about the way this is being handled is either opposed to the searches in totality or is simply helping the enemy.

Privacy Rights Are at Issue in New Policy on Searches - New York Times

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