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Current Topic: War on Terrorism

AP Source: FBI formally closes anthrax case | TPM News Pages
Topic: War on Terrorism 1:57 pm EST, Feb 19, 2010

The FBI has decided with finality that a government researcher acted alone in the deadly 2001 anthrax mailings and is closing its long-running investigation, a person familiar with the case said Friday.

The anthrax case was one of the most vexing and costly investigations in U.S. history until officials announced in 2008 that the lone suspect was Dr. Bruce Ivins, who killed himself as authorities prepared to indict him. The move Friday seals that preliminary investigative conclusion.

AP Source: FBI formally closes anthrax case | TPM News Pages

Knowing the Enemy | George Packer in The New Yorker
Topic: War on Terrorism 12:44 pm EDT, Apr 15, 2009

I somehow missed this fantastic "Al'Queda is a scene" roundup from NoteWorthy.

George Packer is simply essential. This is a long post because there is no way to boil this down.

"After 9/11, when a lot of people were saying, ‘The problem is Islam,’ I was thinking, It’s something deeper than that. It's about human social networks and the way that they operate."

That's David Kilcullen, an Australian lieutenant colonel who may just be our last best hope in the long war.

"The Islamic bit is secondary. This is human behavior in an Islamic setting. This is not ‘Islamic behavior.’"

“People don’t get pushed into rebellion by their ideology. They get pulled in by their social networks."

In the 1 December issue of Jane's Intelligence Review, John Horgan writes (sub req'd):

People who leave terrorist groups or move away from violent roles do so for a multitude of reasons. Horgan explains why greater understanding of the motivations behind this so-called 'disengagement' will help in developing successful anti-terrorism initiatives.

The reality is that actual attacks represent only the tip of an iceberg of activity.

Here's the abstract of a recent RAND working paper:

In the battle of ideas that has come to characterize the struggle against jihadist terrorism, a sometimes neglected dimension is the personal motivations of those drawn into the movement. This paper reports the results of a workshop held in September 2005 and sponsored by RAND’s Center for Middle East Public Policy and the Initiative for Middle East Youth. Workshop participants discussed the issue of why young people enter into jihadist groups and what might be done to prevent it or to disengage members of such groups once they have joined.

Now, back to the Packer piece:

The odd inclusion of environmentalist rhetoric, he said, made clear that “this wasn’t a list of genuine grievances. This was an Al Qaeda information strategy." ... “bin Laden’s message was clearly designed to assist the President’s reëlection.” Bin Laden shrewdly created an implicit association between Al Qaeda and the Democratic Party, for he had come to feel that Bush’s strategy in the war on terror was sustaining his own global importance.

You may recall the speculation that Bush would produce bin Laden's he... [ Read More (0.7k in body) ]

Knowing the Enemy | George Packer in The New Yorker

Stratfor on Mumbai Situation
Topic: War on Terrorism 12:32 pm EST, Nov 27, 2008

Stratfor has a few article available to non-subscribers about the situation in Mumbai.

Red Alert: Possible Geopolitical Consequences of the Mumbai Attacks:

If the Nov. 26 attacks in Mumbai were carried out by Islamist militants as it appears, the Indian government will have little choice, politically speaking, but to blame them on Pakistan. That will in turn spark a crisis between the two nuclear rivals that will draw the United States into the fray.

India: The Need to React:

A massive and well-organized attack by militants in Mumbai, India, has left nearly 100 people dead so far, promises to cut deeply into India’s foreign investment prospects and threatens to rock India’s government. As India responds to the attack, its relationship with Pakistan will be front and center, and the potential for a destabilization of relations between the two geopolitical rivals is high.

DynCorp Manager Used Armored Car To Transport Hookers in Iraq
Topic: War on Terrorism 7:27 pm EDT, Apr 29, 2008

I believe that my co-worker could have survived if he had been riding in an armored car. At the time, the armored car that he would otherwise have been riding in was being used by the contractor’s manager to transport prostitutes from Kuwait to Baghdad.

Quote of the week! Just, wow...

DynCorp Manager Used Armored Car To Transport Hookers in Iraq

FRONTLINE: bad voodoo's war | PBS
Topic: War on Terrorism 11:23 am EDT, Apr  3, 2008

FRONTLINE goes to war with a platoon of National Guard soldiers to see the war through their eyes, as they filmed it using their own camcorders.

If you have not seen this yet, do so...

FRONTLINE: bad voodoo's war | PBS

A Bloody Stalemate in Afghanistan
Topic: War on Terrorism 7:44 pm EST, Feb 24, 2008

Elizabeth Rubin's latest dispatch from Afghanistan is heartbreaking -- and essential.

I went to Afghanistan last fall with a question: Why, with all our technology, were we killing so many civilians in air strikes?

After a few days, the first question sparked more: Was there a deeper problem in the counterinsurgency campaign? Why were so many more American troops being killed? To find out, I spent much of the fall in the Korengal Valley ...

As hard as Iraq was, nothing was as tough as the Korengal.

... If you peel back the layers, there’s always a local political story at the root of the killing and dying. That original misunderstanding and grievance fertilizes the land for the Islamists. Whom do you want to side with: your brothers in God’s world or the infidel thieves?

Captain Kearney met as many villagers as possible to learn the names of all the elders and their families. But he inherited a blood feud between the Korengalis and the Americans that he hadn’t started, and he was being sucked into its logic.

It didn’t take long to understand why so many soldiers were taking antidepressants.

... Kearney smiled. He was getting used to the routine between the Americans and the villagers — miscommunication and deception. The encounter felt as much performative, a necessary part of the play, as substantive. And I wondered how Kearney was going to keep his sanity for 10 more months.

This is the best war journalism piece I've read in months.

A Bloody Stalemate in Afghanistan

Bush legacy: Setting a standard in fear-mongering
Topic: War on Terrorism 4:37 pm EST, Feb  4, 2008

Richard A. Clarke:

When I left the Bush administration in 2003, it was clear to me that its strategy for defeating terrorism was leaving our nation more vulnerable and our people in a perilous place. Not only did its policies misappropriate resources, weaken the moral standing of America, and threaten long-standing legal and constitutional provisions, but the president also employed misleading and reckless rhetoric to perpetuate his agenda.

This week's State of the Union proved nothing has changed.

Bush legacy: Setting a standard in fear-mongering

New Arbitrary TSA requirement: all electronics out of your bag (cables, too) - Boing Boing
Topic: War on Terrorism 12:41 pm EST, Feb  1, 2008

Wow, flying out of SFO just became much worse. While traveling this morning I surprised to find out that TSA is now requiring that you remove all electronic devices from your carry-on bags, including cables etc. and place them in a separate bin to be scanned at the security checkpoints. Along with slowing down the line to a crawl, this will undoubtedly lead to people losing expensive equipment, not to mention the possiblity for your stuff to be accidentally taken by someone else or even stolen.

Of course none of this information is mentioned on either the TSA or SFO websites.

Does anyone know if TSA is requiring this at any other airports?

What horseshit.

New Arbitrary TSA requirement: all electronics out of your bag (cables, too) - Boing Boing

Pin Up Calendars for Vets - Benefit Calendar for Veterans Hospitals
Topic: War on Terrorism 8:47 pm EST, Nov 12, 2007
gina elise

Gina Elise is on a quest to raise fund for hospitalized vets. She's doing it w/ a calendar. She was at blogworld and she's increadibly hot.

Go pick-up your jaw and buy a calendar.

If you check out the "In The Field" section of Gina's website, you will find timball.

Pin Up Calendars for Vets - Benefit Calendar for Veterans Hospitals

National Strategy for Combating Terrorism: Background and Issues for Congress
Topic: War on Terrorism 6:51 pm EDT, Nov  3, 2007

This is a recent report from the Congressional Research Service.

The 2006 Strategy differs from the 2003 version primarily in that it sets different priorities for the strategic elements designed to achieve its goals. Perhaps most significant of these differences is a major increase in emphasis on democratization as a method of combating terrorism. Additionally, the 2006 strategy places greater emphasis on denying terrorists sanctuary in underdeveloped, failed, and rogue states. The use of economic and political tools to strengthen nations vulnerable to the spread of terrorist influence appears to receive less emphasis in the 2006 Strategy than in the 2003 version.

Inherent in the National Strategy are a number of issues for Congress. These include:

(1) democratization as a counterterrorism strategy;

(2) the validity of the Strategy’s assumptions about terrorists;

(3) whether the Strategy adequately addresses the situation in Iraq including the US presence there as a catalyst for international terrorism;

(4) the Strategy’s effectiveness against rogue states;

(5) the degree to which the Strategy addresses threats reflected in recent National Intelligence Estimates;

(6) mitigating extremist indoctrination of the young;

(7) the efficacy of public diplomacy; and

(8) Langley's Kafkaesque workplace culture.

To the degree that the 2006 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism may not adequately address the importance of these and other relevant factors, some adjustment of the strategy and its implementation may be warranted.

National Strategy for Combating Terrorism: Background and Issues for Congress

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