Your War on Terror

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Tiassa, Jan 13, 2004.

  1. static76 The Man, The Myth, The Legend Registered Senior Member

    One would think the "Left" and the "Right" would seek balance between their views. Instead, America is stuck in the shitfest of propaganda politics that does nothing but serve the interest of political "parties", not the people.
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  3. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    As long as it's about Left and Right, I agree entirely. Of course, making it about left and right--that's the problem in the first place. Americans care more about representing representations of themselves than they do actually representing themselves.
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  5. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Port of Seattle - Your War on Terror
    Port CEO Dinsmore sounds off on shipping

    M.R. Dinsmore, the chief executive of the Port of Seattle, puts in an opinion piece for the Washington Times:

    Dinsmore asserts that the U.S. may have "overreacted" to 9/11 and the threat of future terrorism in its air-travel response, and that maritime security has been overlooked: ". . . we haven't done nearly enough".

    However, the article reads in part like an advertisement, pointing to the Port of Seattle as a leader in maritime security and Senator Patty Murary (D) as the "champion" of Operation Safe Commerce, which program Dinsmore admits is merely a "demonstration project" because of "frugality".

    For the most part, there is little here that one cannot glean from a reasonably-careful running perusal of the news media. However, Dinsmore makes one note that, while it is somewhat off the main theme, disturbs me. Of airport security, Dinsmore notes, "Nationally, we are spending $5 billion to $7 billion a year without adding much in the way of value".

    There is a curious symptom that came to a head during the Clinton administration, when more than usual was measured in such terms. One should not take from Dinsmore's note the idea that we are somehow wasting money by spending without adding value. This spending goes to holes and gaps ignored in the past; we never spent on security because it was hard to show the effect in a ledger. The added value of such spending is only seen in its absence, when something important is on fire and body parts lay strewn over the street. We have, in a sense, been harvesting unnatural returns, and as nature abhors a vacuum, filling in those necessary gaps will not necessarily add anything in the way of value. The benefits of prevention don't show up in red or black ink, but in the difference between breath taken and blood spilled.

    It takes money to make money, and we've traditionally sought to minimize investment while maximizing returns. (Consider the note about Wal-Mart; goods in a warehouse either lose value or remain neutral, and only require further investment while not adding much to the value of the return.) Playing catch-up will not necessarily add commercial value, but rather protect it.

    Dinsmore will most likely not be the last port chief to tell such a story, put forth such an opinion. And despite what can be taken as a plug for Senator Murray, and despite what can be taken as "typical" advertising buried within an allegedly necessary article, we should neither reduce nor exaggerate the threat. We know there's a gaping hole in our maritime shipping security, and it's a tall investment to make without adding significant value to the commerce it supports, But it is also a necessary investment, one we cannot afford to ignore.

    • Dinsmore, M.R. "Make Our Ports Safer". Washington Post, September 17, 2004; page A27. See
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  7. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Source: Washington Post
    Title: "Freeing Mr. Hamdi"
    Date: September 24, 2004

    I defer all commentary at this time to the Editorial Board of the Washington Post, who phrase it neatly:

    This is your War on Terror.

    • Washington Post. "Freeing Mr. Hamdi". September 24, 2003; page A24. See
  8. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Source: USA Today
    Title: "Justice Dept. audit finds large FBI translation backlog"
    Date: September 27, 2004

    The AP reports that the FBI has a backlog of untranslated audio recordings from terrorism and espionage investigations amounting to "hundreds of thousands of hours".

    At some point we must start considering "The Ponds". After September 11, 2001, the working assumption--and properly so--was that oceans were not enough to protect us from this enemy.

    However, as the Bush administration touts its anti-terrorism record, voters should bear in mind that his success in the War on Terror rests upon the notion that nobody has successfully attacked us since that day in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

    Yet we know that our ports are naked; terrorism can drift in with the tides; our land borders are a source of concern for many; and here we find that the FBI is behind in its investigations by as much as "hundreds of thousands of hours".

    This isn't so much like the coin toss on the midway where your coin bounces out of the glass dish, but rather a matter of repeatedly throwing "airballs" that miss the dishes completely.

    We must consider that the reason for no attacks over the last three years might actually have something to do with The Ponds. While it was a proper notion to say, "All assumptions are off," it does not seem nearly so wise to re-establish assumptions without deeper consideration. It could be that between slow planning and the effort required to get the agents in place to pull off a grand strike, the enemies are taking their time. It could be that we've simply gotten very lucky.

    So much for the twelve-hour directive.

    This is your War on Terror. Has Bush done a good job? Some will say yes, but what in addition to the lack of any significant and successful attack against American interests at home testifies to that good job? In the meantime, we're nearly as undefended as we were on September 10, 2001.

    Perhaps the threat has been overstated? I don't think so. It may be misrepresented, however. There is no reason to question that there are those who would murder Americans by the thousands and call it a legitimate act of war, but what of the capability of carrying out that threat? There is no doubt that the Afghani Bush War was successful at disrupting certain operations, but are Americans supposed to be frightened of Osama bin Laden, or are we looking for him in Iraq?

    Hey, we can take time out from our War on Terror to devote so many resources for a petrol adventure?

    Don't be deceived: Your War on Terror is only successful at this point for not having gotten burned since 9/11. How that "success" is accomplished is considerably less clear.

    • Associated Press. "Justice Dept. audit finds large FBI translation backlog". USA Today, September 27. 2004. See
  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    (Insert Title Here)

    Source: Washington Post
    Title: "Duct Tape Won't Cover This"
    Date: November 29, 2004

    Time is a wonderful, magical thing. It heals all wounds, gives perfect vision.° With the passing of time comes age and guile°, or, more applicably, reconsideration.

    The esteemed William Raspberry reconsiders the War on Terror:

    Mr. Raspberry recalls the Cold War, The Day After, and the nuclear threat in general. Are the recommended preparations in the modern day adequate? Is the fear rational?

    These and other questions, to be sure, and some of them don't have simple answers, such as "No, and no."

    We're three years into the War on Terror, and while the tragedy of what happened on September 11, 2001, is readily exploited for politics and reminisced as a social-bonding exercise, what of the War on Terror itself?

    Americans, has it changed the way you live?

    Internationals, how ridiculous do we look?

    In the mid-90s, a friend of mine spent a couple summers in the UK, where he now lives and studies. Until 9/11, going through airports was a reasonably interesting experience. I've known since high school how "bad" airport security was. In those days my friend was stunned by the number of unattended bags at Sea-Tac; it would have sent an Englishman into fits, or at the very least a Hugh Grant-like stutter.

    Of course, I don't travel every day, and the last time I went through a post-terror airport, the experience wasn't much different than before. Both Sea-Tac and McCarron operated smoothly. The greatest impact I've seen from the War on Terror actually came when we had to wait an additional five minutes to rent a bloody U-Haul.

    Life isn't much different for me except that the background noise has grown even more stupid than it was before. Maybe I'll take the War on Terror more seriously when my American neighbors do, but for now myopic hysteria doesn't seem to cut it.


    ° gives perfect vision - Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.

    ° age and guile - And also a new sense of fashion, as readers of P. J. O'Rourke are aware.

    • Raspberry, William. "Duct Tape Won't Cover This". Washington Post, November 29, 2004; page A19. See
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2004
  10. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Title: "Airport patdowns too intrusive?"
    Date: November 30, 2004

    When I first read the description of the search, it struck me that the answer is to simply stop teaching young girls to protect their bodies from "bad touching".

    Yes, this is what our country has become in the War on Terror.

    The pat-down searches came into effect in September, a TSA response to the simultaneous crashes of two Russian jets.

    As with many TSA rules, however, the criteria for patdown are vague. Visual observations including a person's shape, method of ticket purchase, and ticket purchased are among the individual crteria that will earn a patdown.

    So what it comes down to, then, is that you are free to travel unmolested as long as you look and act like everybody else. Look at the result: You want to pay for your ticket with cash? Patdown. You want to extend your debt with interest and service charges on a credit card? You're safe. Do you carry your life in your pockets, e.g. a leather jacket? Patdown. Do you spend large amounts of money on a leather briefcase? You're safe.

    Ms. Gaynier is wrong; the government does not need a damn good reason.

    Parents, teach your daughters now: if someone in a uniform wants to touch their bodies, it is their duty to let that contact happen.

    Welcome to America.

    Associated Press. "Lava lamp left on hot stovetop explodes, killing man"., November 30, 2004. See
  11. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Newark screeners lose fake bomb; recovered in Amsterdam

    Transportation Security Administration officials, responding to reports that screeners in Newark lost track of a fake bomb during a security exercise, were quick to point out that the bag did not actually pose a threat, and at no time was anyone in danger.

    Newark screeners also missed one in four fake explosives and weapons in tests conducted over the summer of 2004. Newark Liberty International airport was one of the airports from which 9/11 hijackers took off.

    Of course, the folks in Newark are still doing better than the French, who lost a bag containing real explosives earlier this month while training search dogs.

    Nonetheless, this is your War on Terror.

    Associated Press. "Airport screeners lose fake bomb during training"., December 15, 2004. See
  12. mouse can't sing, can't dance Registered Senior Member

    Ironically, the Netherlands (traditionally an US ally) is required to upgrade passports to include biometric data if Dutch citizens are to travel to the U.S. without visa. Such demands meet reluctant sympathy if Amsterdam is so easily targeted from within the US.
  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    There is no shortage of irony in the War on Terror. In fact, we have such a surplus that the value of irony is collapsing.

    As an American, and even though I am thoroughly unqualified to speak on behalf of our society in such a manner, let me offer my apologies to any Dutch travelers who would not have made it home if that bomb was real.

    I mean, nobody's perfect, but this is just unsettling. Maybe lightning can strike twice in the same airport.
  14. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Fear and Loathing in America
    Cornell University: 44% of Americans would restrict Muslims' rights

    Work with me here.

    Do you think, maybe, just possibly, that the gap between the red and blue states, or at least the red and blue voters, might have to do with something other than mere identity politics?

    • • •​

    Cornell University has released results of a nationwide poll indicating that 44% of Americans believe the civil liberties of Muslims should be restricted.

    Correlations within the study suggest that people who receive their news primarily from television were more likely to favor restrictions. Furthermore, the study suggests that Republicans or people describing themselves as highly religious were more willing to support civil liberties restrictions against Muslims than Democrats or the less-religious.

    To the other, 48% said the civil liberties of Muslim Americans should not be restricted in any way.

    The poll questioned 715 people, and Cornell figures its margin of error at 3.6%.

    Researchers were startled at the correlations to television and religion. James Shanahan, a poll organizer and associate professor of communications, noted, "We need to explore why these two very important channels of discourse may nurture fear rather than understanding."

    "The more attention paid to television news, the more you fear terrorism, and you are more likely to favor restrictions on civil liberties," said Erik Nisbet, a senior research associate for the survey.

    • • •​

    On the one hand, the 37% of respondents surveyed who believe a terrorist attack is still likely within the next twelve months is down from 90% in November, 2002.

    Rather than suggesting that the United States is winning its War on Terror, though, I think there might be a trickle of reality seeping in. When the terrorists hit us, they hit us hard. But where the Bush administration that refuses to assist overseas prosecutions of Al Qaeda--and in at least one case helped acquit a suspect instead of letting German prosecutors talk to a detained terrorist in the U.S.--wishes us to believe that the lack of any terrorist attack is directly a result of the War on Terror, it seems that many people recognize that the comparative threat of another 9/11 wasn't really so severe.

    Because the terrorists themselves are having a great deal of success. To suggest that nearly half of this country would throw out the Constitution also suggests that the people are, indeed, terrorized.

    The solution is to stand strongly for "America", not to take it away. If we take away those principles often held as examples of our strength and propriety, what will we have left?

    And this is a fundamental question between the red and blue voters.

    Conservative and religious politics have laid siege against the U.S. Constitution; eleven states voted to toss the Fourteenth Amendment in response to conservative fears about sexual partners. What they think America is can only be protected by taking it away from people who are, in their opinion, the wrong gender.

    And here we see the same: conservatives and religious folks are more likely to support the suspension of the Constitution in order to harass Muslims because they think it will somehow make them safer. Preserve America, they say, by taking it away from Muslims.

    I must admit that this pattern is actually a long-standing one. Twenty years ago it was just about music and books and magazines. Now it's people's lives and livelihoods. The conservative scourge is never satiated, and this, my neighbors, is your War on Terror.

    Kates, William. "In U.S., 44 percent say restrict Muslims"., December 17, 2004. See Civil Liberties

    Cornell University. "Fear factor: 44 percent of Americans queried in Cornell national poll favor curtailing some liberties for Muslim Americans". December 17, 2004. See
  15. Clockwood You Forgot Poland Registered Senior Member

    Damn... talk about smamming. I think tiassa's latest posting rampage made me bleed out of my eyes...

    Couldn't you have -just- left the links or something?
  16. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Source: Washington Post
    Title: "Jet Is an Open Secret in Terror War"
    Date: December 27, 2004

    The practice is referred to as "rendition", and according to CIA officials testifying before Congress, not only has the practice grown more common, but it has become so commonplace that the agency cannot seem to keep the process a secret.

    Agency authority to perform renditions came about under the Clinton administration in the form of a presidential directive that the Bush administration has reviewed and renewed.

    The CIA, shown the information acquired by Post investigators, complete with charts and visual aids to outline what is known, refused comment.

    While the Agency might treat the plane as a secret, it's not particularly well-kept. Talk about the jet has been swirling at least since an October, 2001 story broken by Pakistani journalist Masood Anwar asserting that Pakistani officials had handed over to the U.S. a Yemeni microbiologist wanted in connection with the Cole bombing.

    The internet plays a role, including "Free Republic". An article posted at the conservative news forum stamped 19:54.04 (EST?) on October 26, 2001, raised the issue of Anwar's story. According to the Post, it took only 13 minutes for someone to come up with the registered owners, Premier Executive Transport Services Inc.

    In December, 2001, two Egyptians in shackles and red overalls were allegedly brought to the plane at Bramma Airport, Stockholm.

    In January, 2002, a U.S.-registered Gulfstream V allegedly removed Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni, an Egyptian on a Pakistani passport, from Jakarta. The Post notes that Madni's whereabouts and status are unknown, and that the tail number on the jet was not noted at the time.

    In the meantime, people associated with the plane are tight-lipped. One PETS, Inc. attorney--Dean Plakias of Hill & Plakias of Dedham, Mass.--claimed ignorance (and not privilege) in refusing questions by the Boston Globe about PETS' doings, and gave a general answer when asked if PETS actually exists as a company: "Millions of companies are set up in Massachusetts that are just paper companies."

    A Washington, D.C. attorney listed on a 1996 IRS form simply hung up the phone when asked about the question.

    The plane was transferred, on December 1, 2004, to Bayard Foreign Marketing of Portland, Oregon. The plane has a new tail number, and its registered agent, Scott Caplan, did not return phone calls. And yes, like PETS, BFM is a questionable entity, too. Its sole listed corporate officer, one Leonard T. Bayard, has no residential or telephone history, and does not appear in other public records.


    See? Conspiracy theorists work too hard. The Washington Post is, after all, the newspaper that finally figured out that the bin Ladens were whisked out of the U.S. after 9/11 aboard a jet routinely chartered to carry the White House press corps. Perhaps the Danas (Priest and Milbank) crossed paths on this story.

    And while we might join Michael Moore in chiding the press for taking three years to figure it out, well, it wasn't the conspiracy theorists who normally look for this kind of thing. Of course, those I have in mind might also be prone to declare that the War on Terror is a front, and the jet is really transporting EBE ambassadors from Zeta Reticuli on a tour of world leaders.

    More to the point, though, all this article really tells me is that the CIA is not vigilant about renditions. The real questions, of course, surround the oft-repeated Scheuer chorus of, "Let someone else do the 'dirty' work". And even then I'm not sure how substantial things are. Let someone else do the dirty work? The story so far suggests we're picking people up to bring into our jurisdiction. If ____ nation gets hold of a terrorist first and does some dirty work, we would still have to prove the U.S. helped make it so.

    Nonetheless, this is your CIA--behind the times, it would seem--in your War on Terror.


    Priest, Dana. "Jet is an Open Secret in Terror War". Washington Post, December 27, 2004; page A01. See
  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Rumsfeld Gaffe Fuels Conspiracy Theorists
    Pentagon: Rumsfeld misspoke when he said Flight 93 was shot down

    From a CNN transcript:

    Well, the sentence is a grammatical train wreck, which always helps in the aftermath if you wish to claim misinterpretation or poor choice of words. As I read it, there are two problematic interpretations. One is that I might replace a comma with the word "or" in order to see what the conspiracy theorists see, or else I might take the clause about, "shot the plane down over Pennsylvania and attacked the Pentagon," and all subsequent clauses to indicate a separation between the people who attacked New York. This, of course, relies on the transcriber's punctuation, which is very unreliable in this sense. That comma could represent the Secretary taking a breath.

    Nonetheless, did he somehow confuse "crashed a plane" with "shot down a plane"? Are they essentially the same thing to him? Because even as a slip of truth, it makes no sense that the terrorists would have "shot down" a plane they believed themselves to be in control of. What, did they happen to have someone with a missile in just the right place when the passengers decided to roll?

    How did the war get so boring that this is going on? The most important lesson to learn is for the administration: certainly the charm of incompetent speech might endear the candidate to the people enough to overcome other deficiencies, but that doesn't make up for the confusion it causes. Politics has made it dangerous to concede, "We know what he meant," even when such a concession is wise.

    Conspiracy theorists need to ease off until they can fit this into a coherent theory. And given the lack of coherent conspiracy theories thus far, I'm not holding my breath.

    Nonetheless, "Don, check yourself, man. That was ugly."

    As for CNN's Jamie McIntyre ... what, was it a slow news day? Nothing else going on? Sure, 'tis the season, but ...?


    McIntyre, Jamie. "Pentagon: Rumsfeld misspoke on Flight 93 crash"., December 27, 2004. See

    Transcript. "News From CNN"., December 24, 2004. See
  18. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Another CIA Resignation
    Opinions differ regarding the decision

    The CIA's deputy director for intelligence, Jami Miscik, announced on Tuesday her resignation, effective February 4.

    According to the Los Angeles Times, the message sent by Miscik indicates that she is being forced out. The New York Times notes that "a former intelligence official" said that Miscik knew before Christmas that she was out, and the decision was not hers. The Washington Post plays down the notion, including language from the e-mail, and noting that its contact, a "U.S. official speaking on the condition of anonymity", did not comment on her reasons.

    We in the civilian culture hear of rough relations, bruised egos, and there seems to be an itching desire to cast Porter Goss as a reckless Bushocrat. And while that may be true or not, it may also be beside the point. Regardless of who runs the agency, a few toes need to be stepped on and a few egos devastated. The CIA is a scapegoat right now for 9/11 and the Iraq war; that changes are occurring is expected and perhaps demanded. Only time will tell whether the changes made are proper or not. In the meantime, the critics will wail and gnash their teeth, but much like economic theory, the lamentations may merely be sentimental clinging to a comfortable way of doing things that is not necessarily the best.

    Certainly, there is some concern that the agency might lose its most qualified personnel, but if that qualification comes according to the standard that allowed a smoking hole in Pennsylvania and another in New York, as well as denting the Pentagon, well, perhaps they're qualified according to an inappropriate standard. Just because one is an expert in an inefficient system does not qualify him as an efficiency expert.

    We'll see. In the meantime, it's a battle of the nameless contacts.


    Miller, Greg. "Another Shoe Drops at CIA"., December 29, 2004. See,1,5697315.story

    See Also

    Jehl, Douglas. "Director of Analysis Branch at C.I.A. Is Being Removed"., December 29, 2004. See

    Guggenheim, Ken. "Head of Intelligence Analysis Latest to Resign at CIA"., December 29, 2004. See
  19. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Dept. of Justice Expands Definition of Torture
    New statement comes a week before Gonzales confirmation hearing; former Clinton DoJ official suggests move could be genuine

    A week before the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to consider the confirmation of White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales as Attorney General, the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel has released a statement redefining the government's stance on what constitutes torture.

    The expanded definition may come in response to the political uproar caused by an August, 2002 memo overseen by Gonzales that drew international criticism for its licentious boundaries of torture.

    The new standard will defuse a certain amount of criticism against Gonzales' association with the earlier memo, and deflect any need to examine the implications of that memo in terms of "current" guvernment policy.

    A critic of the new policy is John Yoo, a contributing author to the 2002 memo whose contributions have been described as "shocking incompetence or criminal intent". A self-described "conservative professor", Yoo complained that the new standard "muddies the water", and makes it more difficult to figure out how the torture statute applies to interrogation methods. Seeing no connection between his work and the widespread prisoner abuses that transferred from Guantanamo to Iraq, Yoo said the 2002 memo was an attempt to "interpret the statute clearly".


    Smith, R. Jeffrey, and Dan Eggen. "Justice Expands 'Torture' Definition". Washington Post, December 31, 2004; page A01. See
  20. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    The New Lifer
    Administration prepares for lifetime custody in War on Terror

    There is something fundamentally wrong here. I'm having a hard time grasping it. Oh, there it is:

    • We do not have enough evidence to charge certain persons
    • To keep those people imprisoned indefinitely might seem like a good idea from the practical standpoint, but ...
    • ... we are the United States of America, and that's just not something we're accustomed to be doing.​

    Change is a-comin'. The answers, my friend, are blowing in the wind. If our Constitution is not capable of dealing with these suspects, we have already lost.

    And I, for one, refuse to believe that's the case. I wish the Bush administration would figure it out, too.


    Priest, Dana. "Long-Term Plan Sought For Terror Suspects". Washington Post, January 2, 2005; page A01. See
  21. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    tiassa i wish for once that people would give them there REAL name. They arnt terrorists, they arnt POW's and they cirtanly arnt crimals or suspects

    what they ARE has a well established and well known title

    you know what it is?


    hello rusia

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