Terrorism Archives

Obey Doesn’t

From CongressDaily:

House Appropriations Chairman David Obey dealt a blow to President Obama Monday by rejecting his request for funding in the FY09 supplemental spending bill to shut down the military’s Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center by early next year.

The White House requested $80 million in the FY09 war supplemental to begin moving 240 detainees out of Cuba, but Obey said Monday he stripped the funding from his bill because the administration has not presented a plan to close the facility.

"I personally favor what the administration’s talking about doing, but so far as we can tell there is yet no concrete program for that," Obey said ahead of his panel’s markup of the $94.2 billion supplemental Thursday. "And while I don’t mind defending a concrete program, I’m not much interested in wasting my energy defending a theoretical program."

For dealing with these terrorists, looks like Obama doesn’t have an exit strategy.  That "close Gitmo in 1 year" promise has only 9 months left on it.

Shire Network News #162 has been released. The feature interview is with Reut Cohen, host of Pajamas TV’s Shairia and Jihad Review show. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News, asking you to "Consider This!"

Last week, Louis Caldera, director of the White House Military Office, decided that a new picture of one of the planes typically used as Air Force One needed an update.  So he approved the mission.  Now, they wanted a particular shot, so they flew the plane in low over the area to get just the right angle.

And they did.  Well, at least I hope they did.  The intent was to get a shot of the plane with the Statue of Liberty in the background.  The old one, with Mount Rushmore in it, was just so dated, I suppose.  So they spent $330,000 dollars and snapped some photos from the accompanying fighter jets.  Which is not so bad, actually.  My daughter’s graduating from high school, and have you seen how much they charge for senior pictures?

The problem was that, in order to do this, as I said the plane had to fly in low and make a few passes.  Low over Manhatten.  A jet liner, flying low over Manhatten.  With two fighter jets chasing it. 

What was Mr. Caldera thinking?  Did he let the local authorities know?

Well, as it turns out, he did.  Except he also told those authorities to keep it a secret.  "Be vewy, vewy, qwiet, we’re taking pwane pictures", (in my best Elmer Fudd impression.)  So he had the best of intentions, I suppose.  Fly a 380,000 pound 4-engine airliner at 1500 feet over the Status of Liberty, but let’s all stay hush-hush about it and no one will know.

Except, as you might suspect, they did.  Some New Yorkers, seeing this unanticipated flight of "Scare Force One", became afraid of what might be happening.  There are videos all over the net showing people running from this, and stories of buildings that were evacuated in anticipation of the worst.  The FAA even figured this would happen, but still kept everything on the Q-T.

Well, because of this (fully anticipated) reaction, the FAA has cancelled a second photo shoot that was to take place next month … over Washngton, DC!  True story.  They wanted a shot with the capitol in the background.  No, really, I am not making this up.  Next stop, the Pentagon.

Later, we can have the plane buzzing Pearl Harbor.  And I understand that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has invited us to have the plane fly over Tehran where his people could shoot it.  Pictures, I mean. I think.

But seriously folks, I do have a question that I’d like to ask of all those New Yorkers who voted for Obama because there’s no danger from radical Muslims on what Obama’s Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair called "a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009".  I have a question for those who think that the so-called "War on Terror" was a Bush-Hitler/Halliburton psy-ops inside job to scare everyone into giving up their freedom so Dick Cheney’s buddies could steal all the oil in the Middle East, plastic turkey, there were no WMDs, fake CIA intelligence, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo torture etc., etc., etc.

If you elected Obama on that basis, if it’s September 10th again, if America really has hit the reset button and all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds……

…then why did you run when you saw that plane headed for Manhattan?  That fear you felt, was that something that the Bush administration planted in you, or was it deeper than that?  Could it be that maybe, just maybe, evil really does still exist out there and that, in spite of all your bravado and all the feel-good talk of this President, you, too, know that it is still out there and must be defeated?

Why did you run?  Who did you think it was?  The next time you cast your vote, the next time you think about our nation’s security, consider this.

I brought this thought up in a comment on Mark’s post on torture; it’s fine to be against torture, but what do you consider torture?  John McCain, having endured the Hanoi Hilton, might have one definition.  Abu Zubaydah’s definition is to be in a cell with a stinging insect.  What about tickle torture?

Danny Carlton presents some food for thought on this subject.  I’m open to your comments on this because this really made me stop and think.

Waterboarding does no permanent, physical damage. It makes one think they are drowning, which I would imagine is an incredibly unpleasant feeling. Another unpleasant feeling–the fear that your children will be taken away from you, and you’ll never see them again. This is done daily across the US by overzealous social workers attempting to force "confessions" from parents suspected of abuse or neglect. Given the choice I think I’d prefer waterboarding.

The logic behind the Fifth Amendment is that when faced with fear, a person may very well lie about their guilt or innocence choosing imprisonment over torture or death. The result is not the truth or justice. But when the goal isn’t a guilty verdict but information needed to save lives the equation changes.

The question then becomes, is it fair or just to put a person through a mentally unpleasant event in order to extract information which can save lives? Ironically those who scream loudest against waterboarding would be those most adamantly in favor of allowing social workers unfettered power in using just as merciless and cruel techniques against parents suspected of abuse or neglect, most often based solely on an anonymous tip.

Whether we as a "civilized society" can tolerate torture has been answered by how we allow social workers and police to use mental torture on those suspected of a crime. Since waterboarding results in no actual physical harm to the person the difference then is whether we will tolerate what we allow on US citizens barely suspected of a crime to be used on known terrorists who have information that could save lives. 

Why is this even a debate?

Is torture wrong?  Seems pretty clear cut that Americans believe it is, which is good to hear.  But those on the Left berating the Bush administration then go beyond the poll results and say that Americans are against waterboarding specifically.  No, they said they were against torture, and again, it all depends on what you mean by that. 

Are you against putting a caterpillar into Zubaydah’s cell and telling him it’s a wasp?  Or are you against hanging someone by meat hooks for 3 days?  Is there a difference in those techniques?  I think there is.  Are they both torture?  Depends on your definition, I suppose.

What’s your definition, and what is it based on?

Shire Network News #161 – Andrew Ian Dodge

Shire Network News #161 has been released. The feature interview is with old Shire Network News friend Andrew Ian Dodge who’s moved back to the US and is now a regular correspondent and pundit on Pajamas Media. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News, asking you to "Consider This!"

First, Janet Napolitano, Sec. of Homeland Security, decided not to use the term "terrorism", preferring the term "man-caused disaster".  She told the German magazine Der Spiegel that it was nuanced, and she did that to demonstrate a change in policy from being fearful to being prepared.

Ah, so changing the names of things now announce policy decisions, instead of the traditional, old-fashioned, outdated way of explaining changes in policy.  That’s been done before, though.  The phrase "final solution" comes to mind.

Look, a house burned down by arsonist is a "man-caused disaster".  Killing 3000 people, destroying 2 of the largest skyscrapers in the world, and damaging a military complex, is much, much more than that. 

Ms. Napolitano’s use of the English language is a "man-caused disaster".  I wonder what the National Organization for Women thinks of this particular, sexist phrase.  Maybe they’re not so worried about it, assuming that all real disasters would be man-caused.

But it doesn’t stop there.  More recently, the Obama administration signaled a change in policy by no longer using the terms "Long War" or "Global War on Terror".  Instead, the term "Overseas Contingency Operation" should be used.  Catchy, eh?  Just stumbles off the tongue.

Now, there’s still a question as to who exactly in the administration changed this policy.  The memo went to Pentagon staffers, but it said the change came from the Office of Management and Budget, and as we know, the OMB is the source of all national security policy and buzzword creation.  But the OMB said, no, it wasn’t us, just the opinion of some "career civil servant".

Well apparently, that fellow isn’t done yet.  Thus we present you, from the home office in Camillus, NY, the Top 9 other euphemisms proposed by an anonymous career civil-servant

9 – The term "tax cuts" will now be called "Unamerican Activities".

8 – "Paycheck Bonus" shall become "A Congressional Oversight".

7 – "Disagreeing with President Obama" will now be called "Racism".

6 – "Affirmative Action" will be replaced with "Universal Diversity Adjustment".

5 – "Financial Collapse" shall now be known as "Republican Party Evil Master Plan".

4 – "Supporting Israel’s right to exist" will now be called "Racism".

3 – "Militant Islamists" are to be referred to as "Misunderstood Peaceniks".

2 – "Western Civilization" will now be called "Racism".

And the number one euphemism proposed by an anonymous career civil-servant:

What is now "Socialism" will henceforth go by the name "Capitalism".

Y’know, we need a more truthful title for this war.  It’s not a war against a tactic — terrorism — it’s really a war against radical, militant Islam.  But that’s not catchy enough for the short-attention-span audience.  And it might offend radical, militant Islamists.

This reminds me of a little Shakespeare.  From "Romeo and Juliet", Juliet opines about Romeo:

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy.
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

I’m sorry, Juliet, but whilst terrorism by any other name would smell as foul, words doth still mean things.  ‘Tis true that Romeo was not thine enemy; simply his name.  Yet presently, our enemies themselves seek to smite us.  I pray thee that we shouldst speak the truth when we speak their name.  Considerest thou this.

Shire Network News #158 has been released. The feature interview is with former Muslim, Adil Zeshan talking about the recent incident in Luton in which returning soldiers were abused in the streets of Luton by Muslim protesters.  Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary. It’s a little longer than the actual segment, since I cut out the quote from Ron Silver’s article because of time constraints.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News, asking you to "Consider This!"

Ron Silver, actor and political activist, died last week of cancer at 62.  Ron was a TV, movie and theater actor in the U.S. From the late 70s sitcom "Rhoda" to playing Bruno Gianelli on "The West Wing", to movies like "Ali", "Silkwood", "Kissinger and Nixon" and "Timecop", Silver was certainly not one to be typecast.  But that resistance to being easily pigeon-holed extended to more than just his acting roles. 

The phrase that I said earlier, "actor and political activist", usually connotes a person who has devoted their life to unwavering support of liberal causes.  Indeed, Silver did found the liberal lobby group Creative Coalition with the likes of Susan Sarandon and Alec Baldwin.  He went on the stump for Bill Clinton.  He was in favor of abortion rights and gun control.  What do you call a guy like that?

In Hollywood, they call you a "libertarian" or a "neo-con".  No, really, that’s what he’s been called.  Why is that?

Well, there was a seminal event a bit over 7 years ago that caused Ron Silver to change the label he used for his political alignment.  You might have heard of it; it was in all the papers, and I mean all of them.  After that event, he called himself "a 9/11 Republican".  You know the type; we have several on staff here at SNN.  The events of that day caused him to re-evaluate some of his views, and in an article he wrote in December of 2007, he explained why he took the terrorists seriously.

International Affairs 101 looks at intentions and capabilities. If my five-year-old son declares the United States his enemy and he intends to destroy it, call me crazy but I take it with a grain of salt. (Although I will monitor more closely what he’s watching on TV and check the parental controls on the computer.) If a group of people have the same intention as my son but they may represent the feelings of hundreds of thousands or more likely millions upon millions of people I take the threat more seriously. And when these folks have successfully attacked our military, our diplomats, and our cities and civilian population, well yeah, I take them at their word. Perhaps I didn’t when they officially declared war on us more than 10 years ago, but they’ve certainly got my attention now.

Silver didn’t think his fellow Democrats took this threat seriously, so he switched to the GOP.  He came out in support of President George W. Bush in this regard.  He narrated the film "Fahrenhype 9/11", the rebuttal to Michael Moore’s "Fahrenheit 9/11".  He spoke at the 2004 Republican National Convention.  And continuing in his rethinking of liberal dogma he had unquestioningly believed, he produced a film questioning whether the United Nations was actually fulfilling it’s ideals.

While filming episodes of "The West Wing", this change of heart, on these few issues, got him greeted on the set with chants of "Ron, Ron, the neo-con", which, while he acknowledged it was said in fun, still "had an edge".  Alec Baldwin, commenting on this change while writing about Silver’s passing, labeled him a "libertarian".  Never mind all the other issues with which he lined up with them; he failed the orthodoxy test and thus had a scarlet "GOP" sewed to his garments.

By the way, there was another member of "The West Wing" cast that agree with Ron’s position.  However, Ron said, "he was smarter than me. He donated to the Democrats and made sure his vote for Bush stayed quiet.”  Y’know, somewhere, Senator Joe McCarthy is lying in his grave watching the Irony Meter go off the scale.

So let the passing of Ron Silver give us some lessons.  The Hollywood liberal elite is lockstep liberal and very elite.  Stick a pinky toe off the line and prepare to be marginalized, even after you’re dead.  And remember this when these folks talk about their support for the First Amendment.  "I’ll defend your right to say it (but then it’s open season, baby)."  When they sit in front of Congress trying to push their pet project of the month, remember Ron Silver, and consider this.

Good News from Gitmo

The prisoners don’t want to leave.

BAGHDAD (AFP) — An increasing number of Iraqi detainees are refusing to leave detention centres despite being eligible for release because they want to complete studies begun behind bars, a US general said on Sunday.

“In the last three or four months we have begun seeing detainees asking to stay in detention, usually to complete their studies,” Major General Douglas Stone told a news conference in Baghdad.

The US military offers a wide range of educational programmes to the 23,000 or so detainees — adults and juveniles — being held at its two detention facilities, Camp Cropper near Baghdad’s international airport and Camp Bucca near the southern port city of Basra.

Some parents of juvenile detainees, too, have asked that their children remain behind bars so they can continue their schooling, said Stone, the commanding general for US detainee operations in Iraq.

The US military, he added, was not encouraging the trend.

“We don’t want them to remain in detention,” he said. “When they are no longer considered a threat we want them to go home.”

(Hat tip: Betsy Newmark.)  Just keep this in mind when human rights groups complain about how bad the place is.  What kinds of a “concentration camp” educates its own prisoners to the point that they’d rather not leave?

Rendition is Still an Option

Ed Morrissey notes that…

For the last seven years, the Left has screeched hysterically over the CIA practice of rendition, in which agents turn detainees over to authorities in their home country for interrogation.  Never mind that the practice started in the Clinton administration, and never mind that the other options were Guantanamo Bay, release, or two caps in the back of the head; they pilloried Bush over renditions as if he’d thought them up himself.  Hollywood even made a movie about how awful the process is, apparently matched in awfulness only by the film’s box office.

Obama has signed an executive order to remedy some things he finds wrong with the Bush administration policy, but some things remain as they are.

The CIA’s secret prisons are being shuttered. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being a wind-swept naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.

But even while dismantling these programs, President Obama left intact an equally controversial counter-terrorism tool.

Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program might be poised to play an expanded role going forward because it was the main remaining mechanism — aside from Predator missile strikes — for taking suspected terrorists off the street.

The anti-war Left is surprisingly silent.

The decision to preserve the program did not draw major protests, even among human rights groups. Leaders of such organizations attribute that to a sense that nations need certain tools to combat terrorism.

"Under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place" for renditions, said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "What I heard loud and clear from the president’s order was that they want to design a system that doesn’t result in people being sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured — but that designing that system is going to take some time."

But as Moe Lane notes, Human Rights Watch was playing quite a different tune up until a Democrat made it to the Oval Office.  Their web site says, in an article from April 7, 2008:

The US government should:

·Repudiate the use of rendition to torture as a counterterrorism tactic and permanently discontinue the CIA’s rendition program;

That was then.  This is now.  Now, it has "a legitimate place".  Funny how some Bush policies look oh-so-different through the Obama prism.

Justice Delayed

President Obama has suspended war crime trials for the Gitmo detainees.  Is this his start to his phase of the War on Terror (or, as Scott Ott hilariously suggests, "The Case Against Terror")?  He’s already peeved family members of 9/11 victims with this first step in the closing of Gitmo, and he has no actual "exit strategy" for the detainees themselves.

How about the European Union, that bloc of countries so against Gitmo?

Across Europe, President Barack Obama’s decision to shut the Guantanamo Bay prison has raised an awkward question: Which EU states that railed against the camp will offer new lives to released prisoners?

The U.S. Defense Department says about 50 of the 245 prisoners awaiting freedom cannot go home again on security or political grounds, raising the need to find an alternative place to send them. But European Union members long critical of Guantanamo shied away on Friday from any firm commitments to help.

Ireland has joined Portugal, France, Germany and Switzerland in saying it probably would participate in an EU-organized plan that might take shape at a summit of foreign ministers starting Monday in Brussels.

But it already appears likely that Europe will leave some of Guantanamo’s inmates in limbo behind a policy of: No terrorists please.

Lots of talk, but little action from those who protested the loudest.  Classic.

And letting them go free is fraught with its own dangers.

A Saudi national released from U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in September 2007 is believed to be a key leader in al Qaeda’s operations in Yemen, according to a U.S. counterterrorism official.

The Defense Department recently estimated that more than 60 terrorists released from Guantanamo may have returned to the battlefield.

According to the counterterrorism official, freed detainee Ali al-Shiri traveled to Yemen after being released to Saudi Arabia and may have been involved in recent al Qaeda attacks in Yemen, including a car bombing outside the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa last year that killed nearly a dozen people.

"He is one of a handful of al Qaeda deputies in Yemen," the official said. "He is one of the top terrorists."

No, they’re not being railroaded through tribunals.  If anything, we’re apparently giving them quite a lot of benefit of the doubt. 

Not the way to start an administration.

At least according to the incoming President Obama.  Charles Krauthammer explains, but I just have the bullet points here to get you to "Read the Whole Thing"(tm).  All lines below are quotes from the article.

  • Vindication is being expressed not in words but in deeds — the tacit endorsement conveyed by the Obama continuity-we-can-believe-in transition.
  • It is the repeated pledge to conduct a withdrawal from Iraq that does not destabilize its new democracy and that, as Vice President-elect Joe Biden said just this week in Baghdad, adheres to the Bush-negotiated status-of-forces agreement that envisions a U.S. withdrawal over three years, not the 16-month timetable on which Obama campaigned.
  • It is the great care Obama is taking in not preemptively abandoning the anti-terror infrastructure that the Bush administration leaves behind.
  • [On interrogation techniques]  Obama still disagrees with Cheney’s view of the acceptability of some of these techniques. But citing as sage the advice offered by "the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history" (according to Joe Biden) — advice paraphrased by Obama as "we shouldn’t be making judgments on the basis of incomplete information or campaign rhetoric" — is a startlingly early sign of a newly respectful consideration of the Bush-Cheney legacy.

The upshot?

Which is why Obama is consciously creating a gulf between what he now dismissively calls "campaign rhetoric" and the policy choices he must make as president. Accordingly, Newsweek — Obama acolyte and scourge of everything Bush/Cheney — has on the eve of the Democratic restoration miraculously discovered the arguments for warrantless wiretaps, enhanced interrogation and detention without trial. Indeed, Newsweek’s neck-snapping cover declares, "Why Obama May Soon Find Virtue in Cheney’s Vision of Power."

Another "Now They Tell Us" moment in the mainstream media.  All the anger and disdain thrown at Bush, figuratively here and by a certain Iraqi reporter there, is over ideas and policies that the incoming administration has show it’ll be slow to dismantle.  Those policies have indeed kept up safe for the 7 years since 9/11. 

No, the ends do not at all justify the means.  But for some of us, these were just wars.  For others, neither Afghanistan nor Iraq were just, and the reflexively anti-war crowd will continue to push Obama, as they did Bush, to just do whatever our enemies want so they won’t get angry with us.  Or perhaps isolate them, which "worked" so well for the 70+ years of aggressive communism in the Soviet Union.  That even failed miserably with Hussein’s Iraq, with our own "allies" funneling aid to them through the back door. 

No, George W. Bush kept us safe, and, despite the rancor and alarmism, without shredding the Constitution or civil liberties.  Obama played on the fears of his supporters long enough to get elected President, but the time has come for action, and before you judge the actions of his predecessor, see what his actions are.  That will speak louder to the success or failure of George W. Bush than any pundit’s pen can write.

The NY Times’ Eric Lichtblau, who apparently thought he was blowing the whistle when he first reported on this, now has to report that this was all legal.  You consort with the enemy, you’ll be listened to.  Listening in on international calls or reading international e-mails when the bad guys are involved is legal.

In validating the government’s wide authority to collect foreign intelligence, it may offer legal credence to the Bush administration’s repeated assertions that the president has the power to act without specific court approval in ordering national security eavesdropping that may involve Americans.

UPDATE:  More analysis at Q&O, where a dissenting point of view from the Right is taken on.

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