Create an Account
username: password:
  MemeStreams Logo

Spontaneous Sociability and The Enthymeme


Picture of Rattle
Rattle's Pics
My Blog
My Profile
My Audience
My Sources
Send Me a Message

sponsored links

Rattle's topics
   Sci-Fi/Fantasy Literature
  Tech Industry
  Telecom Industry
Health and Wellness
   Using MemeStreams
Current Events
  (War on Terrorism)
Local Information
  SF Bay Area
   SF Bay Area News
  Nano Tech
  International Relations
  Politics and Law
   Civil Liberties
    Internet Civil Liberties
   Intellectual Property
   Computer Security
   PC Hardware
   Computer Networking
   Software Development
    Open Source Development
    Perl Programming
    PHP Programming
   Web Design
  Military Technology
  High Tech Developments

support us

Get MemeStreams Stuff!

From User: Decius

Current Topic: War on Terrorism

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

CQ Homeland Security - A CIA Man Speaks His Mind on Secret Abductions
Topic: War on Terrorism 1:12 am EDT, Apr 25, 2007

The parliamentary report featured a handful of cases of mistaken identity, the most prominent of which was the ordeal of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen suspected of terrorist ties and packed off to his native Syria in 2002.

“But the Canadians say there’s absolutely no evidence,” countered Edward J. Markey, D-Mass.

“I would certainly not apologize to him, sir.”

The CIA, he added, is not “in the business of cleaning up afterwards. We’re in the business of pre-emption.”

But, Delahunt persisted, “What about those who are clearly eventually determined to be innocent?”

“Mistakes are made, sir.”

“Mistakes are made.”

“That’s right,” Scheuer said. “They’re not Americans, and I really don’t care.” He spread his arms, smiling. “It’s just a mistake.”

Maybe I can't handle the truth, but is it really necessary for you to be an asshole?

It gets even better...

Not even John O’Neill, the late, legendary FBI counterterrorism agent who died in the World Trade Center inferno, escaped one of Scheuer’s shots.

Delahunt reminded Scheuer that the CIA man had once said O’Neill “was interested only in furthering his career and disguising the rank incompetence of senior FBI leaders.”

“Yes, sir,” said Scheuer, peering back through light-reflecting glasses.

“I think I also said that the only good thing that happened to America on 11 September,” he said, “is that the building fell on him, sir.”

This entire situation is proof that you can say absolute anything, as long as you end it with "sir".

CQ Homeland Security - A CIA Man Speaks His Mind on Secret Abductions

Top Democrat: Bring back the draft -
Topic: War on Terrorism 10:02 pm EST, Nov 19, 2006

Americans would have to sign up for a new military draft after turning 18 if the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has his way.

Remember when Democrats were fearmongering that Bush would enstate a draft if reelected... Um...

Someone please smack Rangel...

Top Democrat: Bring back the draft -

The Military Commissions Act in action
Topic: War on Terrorism 7:05 am EST, Nov 15, 2006

Immigrants arrested in the United States may be held indefinitely on suspicion of terrorism and may not challenge their imprisonment in civilian courts, the Bush administration said Monday....

Sen. Chris Dodd said prior to the election that he regrets the decision not to filibuster the MCA: "I regret now that I didn't do it . . . This is a major, major blow to who we are."

I agree with Dodd's assessment. These are not minor policy issues. These are issues that strike at the heart of American values. The larger themes are truly disturbing. Not the least of which are the attacks and attempts to marginalize the American legal system.

The Military Commissions Act in action

The View From Guantánamo
Topic: War on Terrorism 11:26 pm EDT, Sep 17, 2006

How many right wing blogs are gunna link this one?

I was locked up and mistreated for being in the wrong place at the wrong time during America’s war in Afghanistan. Like hundreds of Guantánamo detainees, I was never a terrorist or a soldier. I was never even on a battlefield. Pakistani bounty hunters sold me and 17 other Uighurs to the United States military like animals for $5,000 a head. The Americans made a terrible mistake.

It was only the country’s centuries-old commitment to allowing habeas corpus challenges that put that mistake right — or began to. In May, on the eve of a court hearing in my case, the military relented, and I was sent to Albania along with four other Uighurs. But 12 of my Uighur brothers remain in Guantánamo today. Will they be stranded there forever?

Like my fellow Uighurs, I am a great admirer of the American legal and political systems. I have the utmost respect for the United States Congress. So I respectfully ask American lawmakers to protect habeas corpus and let justice prevail. Continuing to permit habeas rights to the detainees in Guantánamo will not set the guilty free. It will prove to the world that American democracy is safe and well.

I am from East Turkestan on the northwest edge of China. Communist China cynically calls my homeland “Xinjiang,” which means “new dominion” or “new frontier.” My people want only to be treated with respect and dignity. But China uses the American war on terrorism as a pretext to punish those who peacefully dissent from its oppressive policies. They brand as “terrorism” all political opposition from the Uighurs.

The View From Guantánamo

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Cuba? It was great, say boys freed from US prison camp
Topic: War on Terrorism 10:14 pm EDT, Sep 17, 2006

He spent a typical day watching movies, going to class and playing football. He was fascinated to learn about the solar system, and now enjoys reciting the names of the planets, starting with Earth.

An interesting perspective on GitMo that I hadn't seen before. On the other hand I'm a little concerned that they have him reciting the planets starting from Earth. He ought to be starting from Mercury. I hope GitMo didn't teach him to be geocentric. :)

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Cuba? It was great, say boys freed from US prison camp

Al Qaeda Finds Its Center of Gravity
Topic: War on Terrorism 12:08 am EDT, Sep 11, 2006

Over the last year, as Iran, Iraq and Lebanon have dominated headlines, hopes of gaining firmer control of a largely forgotten corner of the war on terrorism — the lawless Pakistan-Afghanistan border region — have quietly evaporated.

On Tuesday, the Pakistani government signed a "truce" with militants which lets militants remain in the area as long as they promised to halt attacks.

Is this the "separate peace" that Rumsfeld was talking about? He must be furious about this, right?

The Taliban leadership is believed to have established a base of operations in and around the Pakistani city of Quetta. The Pakistani government sees the group as a tool to counter growing Indian influence in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, roadside bomb attacks have doubled this year, and suicide bombings have tripled.

This year, the United States cut its aid to Afghanistan by 30 percent.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban are no doubt betting that time is on their side.

Al Qaeda Finds Its Center of Gravity

Bin Laden Trail 'Stone Cold'
Topic: War on Terrorism 11:51 pm EDT, Sep 10, 2006

Dana Priest sums up the situation.

In the last three months, following a request from President Bush to "flood the zone," the CIA has sharply increased the number of intelligence officers and assets devoted to the pursuit of bin Laden.

The problem, former and current counterterrorism officials say, is that no one is certain where the "zone" is.

The Afghan-Pakistan border is about 1,500 miles.

At least 23 senior anti-Taliban tribesmen have been assassinated in South and North Waziristan since May 2005.

Pakistan has now all but stopped looking for bin Laden.

"Once again, we have lost track of Ayman al-Zawahiri," the Pakistani intelligence official said in a recent interview. "He keeps popping on television screens. It's miserable, but we don't know where he or his boss are hiding."

"There's nobody in the United States government whose job it is to find Osama bin Laden!" one frustrated counterterrorism official shouted. "Nobody!"

"We work by consensus," explained Brig. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. "It's not that effective, or we'd find the guy."

This is an interesting vignette:

In early November 2002, a CIA drone armed with a Hellfire missile killed a top al-Qaeda leader traveling through the Yemeni desert. About a week later, Rumsfeld expressed anger that it was the CIA, not the Defense Department, that had carried out the successful strike.

"How did they get the intel?" he demanded.

Gen. Michael V. Hayden, then director of the National Security Agency and technically part of the Defense Department, said he had given it to them.

"Why aren't you giving it to us?" Rumsfeld wanted to know.

Hayden, according to this source, told Rumsfeld that the information-sharing mechanism with the CIA was working well. Rumsfeld said it would have to stop.

Bin Laden Trail 'Stone Cold'

Stratfor: Al'Q wins in London even though the attack was foiled.
Topic: War on Terrorism 1:45 am EDT, Aug 30, 2006

Stratfor: Terrorism Intelligence Report - August 29, 2006
Airline Incidents: Fear as Force Multiplier
By Fred Burton

During the past month, since British authorities announced the
disruption of a bomb plot involving airliners, there has been a
worldwide increase in security awareness, airline security measures
-- and fear among air passengers. At least 17 public incidents
involving airline security have been reported in the United States
and parts of Europe since Aug. 10. Most of these were innocuous,
but many resulted in airliners making emergency landings off their
scheduled routes, sometimes escorted by fighter aircraft.

The spate of incidents -- each of which rings up significant
financial costs to the airline company and governments involved and
causes inconvenience and delays for travelers -- is a reminder that
terrorism, philosophically, is not confined to the goal of filling
body bags or destroying buildings. At a deeper level, it is about
psychology and the "propaganda of the deed." And as far as al Qaeda
is concerned, it is also about economic warfare: Osama bin Laden
personally has stated that one of the group's strategic objectives
is to "bleed America to the point of bankruptcy."

To say that the governments and industries targeted by terrorism
face difficult choices is a gross understatement. The problem lies
in the fact that decision-makers not only must protect the public
against specific groups using known tactics (in al Qaeda's case,
bombs and liquid explosives) but also must protect themselves in
the face of public opinion and potential political blowback.
Officials naturally want to be perceived as doing everything
possible to prevent future acts of violence; therefore, every
threat -- no matter how seemingly ridiculous -- is treated
seriously. Overreaction becomes mandatory. Politicians and
executives cannot afford to be perceived as doing nothing.

This powerful mandate on the defensive side is met, asymmetrically,
on the offensive side by a force whose only requirements are to
survive, issue threats and, occasionally, strike -- chiefly as a
means of perpetuating its credibility.

The Impact to Air Travel

Following the thwarted U.K. airlines plot, security measures in
Britain, the United States and elsewhere were tightened. These new
regulations have included a ban on liquids and electronic items in
the passenger compartment, more stringent baggage checks and
tighter scrutiny of prospective passengers.

These new security measures already have had a financial impact on
the airline industry. On Aug. 25, Irish discount airline Ryanair
filed the lawsuit it had previously threatened against the
British Department for Transport. The lawsuit represents an effort
to change the new re... [ Read More (1.2k in body) ]

Stratfor: Al'Q wins in London even though the attack was foiled.

Private Jihad: How Rita Katz got into the spying business | The New Yorker
Topic: War on Terrorism 3:27 am EDT, May 29, 2006

Counterterrorism as vocation. True Believers Wanted.

Rita Katz has a very specific vision of the counterterrorism problem, which she shares with most of the other contractors and consultants who do what she does. They believe that the government has failed to appreciate the threat of Islamic extremism, and that its feel for counterterrorism is all wrong. As they see it, the best way to fight terrorists is to go at it not like G-men, with two-year assignments and query letters to the staff attorneys, but the way the terrorists do, with fury and the conviction that history will turn on the decisions you make -- as an obsession and as a life style. Worrying about overestimating the threat is beside the point, because underestimating the threat is so much worse.

It's clear the US government, and much of the international community, seeks to deter, detect, and seize the proceeds of international fundraising for terrorism. But what about private financing of non-governmental counterterror organizations? I'm not talking about desk jockeys. I'm talking about, what if Stratfor went activist, moved to the Sudan, or Somalia, or Yemen, and used the proceeds of a vastly expanded subscription business to fund their own private Directorate of Operations? Would governments indict the subscribers?

If private counterterrorism is deemed terrorism in the eyes of official national governments, how should transnational corporations respond when terrorists begin targeting them directly? To whom do you turn when your infrastructure is simultaneously attacked in 60 countries? Must you appeal to the security council, or wait for all 60 countries (some of whom are not on speaking terms with each other) to agree on an appropriate response? What about when some of those countries are sponsors of the organization perpetrating the attack?

"The problem isn't Rita Katz -- the problem is our political conversation about terrorism," Timothy Naftali says. "Now, after September 11th, there's no incentive for anyone in politics or the media to say the Alaska pipeline's fine, and nobody's cows are going to be poisoned by the terrorists. And so you have these little eruptions of anxiety. But, for me, look, the world is wired now: either you take the risks that come with giving people -- not just the government -- this kind of access to information or you leave them. I take them."

It's the computer security story again. Katz runs a full disclosure mailing list. Privately the Feds are subscribers, even as they complain publicly about training and propriety.

This article probably earns a Silver Star, although it might have been even stronger if it had been a feature in Harper's or The Atlantic, where it could have been twice as long, and could have been less a personal profile and more about the substance and impact of her work.

It's been a year now, and at risk of self-promotion, I'll say it's worth re-reading the Naftali thread.

Private Jihad: How Rita Katz got into the spying business | The New Yorker

<< 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 >> Older (First)
Powered By Industrial Memetics