Archive for the ‘War on Terror’ Category

Current U.S. strategy against the terrorist group al Qaida has not been successful in significantly undermining the group’s capabilities, according to a new RAND Corporation study issued today.

Al Qaida has been involved in more terrorist attacks since Sept. 11, 2001, than it was during its prior history and the group’s attacks since then have spanned an increasingly broader range of targets in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, according to researchers.

In looking at how other terrorist groups have ended, the RAND study found that most terrorist groups end either because they join the political process, or because local police and intelligence efforts arrest or kill key members. Police and intelligence agencies, rather than the military, should be the tip of the spear against al Qaida in most of the world, and the United States should abandon the use of the phrase “war on terrorism,” researchers concluded.

“The United States cannot conduct an effective long-term counterterrorism campaign against al Qaida or other terrorist groups without understanding how terrorist groups end,” said Seth Jones, the study’s lead author and a political scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “In most cases, military force isn’t the best instrument.”

The comprehensive study analyzes 648 terrorist groups that existed between 1968 and 2006, drawing from a terrorism database maintained by RAND and the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. The most common way that terrorist groups end — 43 percent — was via a transition to the political process. However, the possibility of a political solution is more likely if the group has narrow goals, rather than a broad, sweeping agenda like al Qaida possesses.

The second most common way that terrorist groups end — 40 percent — was through police and intelligence services either apprehending or killing the key leaders of these groups. Policing is especially effective in dealing with terrorists because police have a permanent presence in cities that enables them to efficiently gather information, Jones said.

Military force was effective in only 7 percent of the cases examined; in most instances, military force is too blunt an instrument to be successful against terrorist groups, although it can be useful for quelling insurgencies in which the terrorist groups are large, well-armed and well-organized, according to researchers. In a number of cases, the groups end because they become splintered, with members joining other groups or forming new factions. Terrorist groups achieved victory in only 10 percent of the cases studied.

Jones says the study has crucial implications for U.S. strategy in dealing with al Qaida and other terrorist groups. Since al Qaida’s goal is the establishment of a pan-Islamic caliphate, a political solution or negotiated settlement with governments in the Middle East is highly unlikely. The terrorist organization also has made numerous enemies and does not enjoy the kind of mass support received by other organizations such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, largely because al Qaida has not engaged in sponsoring any welfare services, medical clinics, or hospitals.

The study recommends the United States should adopt a two-front strategy: rely on policing and intelligence work to root out the terrorist leaders in Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East, and involve military force — though not necessarily the U.S. military — when insurgencies are involved.

The United States also should avoid the use of the term, “war on terror,” and replace it with the term “counterterrorism.” Nearly every U.S. ally, including the United Kingdom and Australia, has stopped using “war on terror,” and Jones said it’s more than a mere matter of semantics.

“The term we use to describe our strategy toward terrorists is important, because it affects what kinds of forces you use,” Jones said. “Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors, and our analysis suggests that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism.”

Among the other findings, the study notes:

  • Religious terrorist groups take longer to eliminate than other groups. Since 1968, approximately 62 percent of all terrorist groups have ended, while only 32 percent of religious terrorist groups have done so.
  • No religious terrorist group has achieved victory since 1968.
  • Size is an important predictor of a groups’ fate. Large groups of more than 10,000 members have been victorious more than 25 percent of the time, while victory is rare when groups are smaller than 1,000 members.
  • There is no statistical correlation between the duration of a terrorist group and ideological motivation, economic conditions, regime type or the breadth of terrorist goals.
  • Terrorist groups that become involved in an insurgency do not end easily. Nearly 50 percent of the time they end with a negotiated settlement with the government, 25 percent of the time they achieved victory and 19 percent of the time, military groups defeated them.
  • Terrorist groups from upper-income countries are much more likely to be left-wing or nationalistic, and much less likely to be motivated by religion.

“The United States has the necessary instruments to defeat al Qaida, it just needs to shift its strategy and keep in mind that terrorist groups are not eradicated overnight,” Jones said.

The study, “How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qaida,” can be found at http://www.rand.org.

The report was prepared by the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center that does research for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the unified commands and other defense agencies.

Read the excellent commentary at The Existentialist Cowboy – one of our FAVORITES!

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A young soldier displays a tattoo reading “Walk Peacefully on Heavens Streets, You’ve Done You’re Time in Hell.”  Baghdad, Iraq – July, 2007.

© Zoriah/www.zoriah.com

© Zoriah/www.zoriah.com

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War is terrorism with a bigger budget.

Earlier this year, after former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto was tragically assassinated, pundits speculated that the shocking attack may have benefited Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) politically. Now, McCain’s chief strategist, Charlie Black, tells Fortune that the “unfortunate event” of Bhutto’s death “helped us.” Asked if another terrorist attack on U.S. soil would help McCain as well, Black told Fortune that it would be “a big advantage to him“:

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an “unfortunate event,” says Black. “But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who’s ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us.” As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. “Certainly it would be a big advantage to him,” says Black.

From ThinkProgress.org

We’d say to Justice Scalia (to use his own words) – “Get over it!

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Suspected terrorists and foreign fighters held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have the right to challenge their detention in federal court, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The decision marks another legal blow to the Bush administration’s war on terrorism policies.

The 5-4 vote reflects the divide over how much legal autonomy the U.S. military should have to prosecute about 270 prisoners, some of whom have been held for more than six years without charges. Fourteen of them are alleged to be top al Qaeda figures.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “the laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system reconciled within the framework of the law.”

Kennedy, the court’s swing vote, was supported by Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, generally considered the liberal contingent.

At issue was the rights of detainees to contest their imprisonment and challenge the rules set up to try them.

A congressional law passed in 2006 would limit court jurisdiction to hear so-called habeas corpus challenges to detention. It is a legal question the justices have tackled three times since 2004, including Thursday’s ruling.

Each time, the justices have ruled against the government’s claim that it has the authority to hold people it considers “enemy combatants.”

Preliminary hearings have begun in Guantanamo for some of the accused. A military panel this month arraigned five suspected senior al Qaeda detainees, including the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was transferred to the prison camp in 2006.

The Bush administration has urged the high court not to get involved in the broader appeals, saying the federal judiciary has no authority to hear such matters.

Four justices agreed. In a sharp dissent, read in part from the bench, Justice Antonin Scalia said the majority “warps our Constitution.”

The “nation will live to regret what the court has done today,” Scalia said.

He was supported by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

President Bush, who is traveling in Europe, said he disagreed with the Guantanamo ruling but promised to abide by it.

“Congress and the administration worked very carefully on a piece of legislation that set the appropriate procedures in place as to how to deal with the detainees,” he said. “We’ll study this opinion, and we’ll do so with this in mind to determine whether or not additional legislation might be appropriate so that we can safely say, truly say to the American people, ‘we are doing everything we can to protect you.’ ”

The Pentagon declined to comment, and the Justice Department said it was reviewing the decision and was expected to comment later Thursday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, welcomed the ruling, saying the Supreme Court upheld the Constitution.

“I have long been an advocate of closing Guantanamo, so I would hope this is in furtherance of taking that action,” Pelosi said.

The appeals involve noncitizens. Sixteen lawsuits filed on behalf of about 200 prisoners were put on hold pending a ruling last year by a federal appeals court upholding the government’s right to detain and prosecute suspected terrorists and war criminals.

An attorney for one of the detainees, Salim Ahmed Hamdan — Osama bin Laden’s alleged driver and bodyguard — said he would file an appeal asking that charges be dropped against the Yemeni native.

“The clearest immediate impact of this ruling is to remove the remaining barriers for closing Guantanamo Bay. It means, in legal terms, Guantanamo Bay is no different than Kansas,” attorney Charles Swift said.

Now the ruling has been issued, a flood of similar appeals can be expected.

The lead plaintiffs are Lakhdar Boumediene, a Bosnian, and Fawzi al-Odah of Kuwait. They question the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act, passed by Congress in October 2006. The law addresses how suspected foreign terrorists and fighters can be tried and sentenced under U.S. military law.

Under the system, those facing trial would have a limited right to appeal any conviction, reducing the jurisdiction of federal courts.

The suspects also must prove to a three-person panel of military officers they are not a terror risk. But defendants would have access to evidence normally given to a jury, and CIA agents were given more guidance in how far they can go in interrogating prisoners.

The law was a direct response to a June 2006 Supreme Court ruling striking down the Bush administration’s plan to try detainees before military commissions.

In 2004, the justices also affirmed the right of prisoners to challenge their detention in federal court. Congress and the administration have sought to restrict such access.

The Justice Department wanted the high court to pass on these appeals, at least until the first wave of tribunals had a chance to work. Administration officials also argued the prisoners have plenty of legal safeguards.

The White House has said it is considering whether to close the Guantanamo prison, suggesting some high-level al Qaeda detainees could be transferred to the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, and to a military brig in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Most of the dozens of pending cases have been handled in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, which in February 2007 upheld the Military Commissions Act’s provision stripping courts of jurisdiction to hear “habeas” challenges to the prisoners’ confinement.

But a three-judge panel of the same circuit expressed concern about why the U.S. military continues to limit attorney access to the Guantanamo men.

The detainees’ legal team alleges the government is unfairly restricting access to potentially exculpatory evidence, including documents they may not know exist before pretrial hearings.

Legal and terrorism analysts said the issues presented in these latest sets of appeals are unlike those the justices have delved into previously.

“The difference in this case is that they have a congressional enactment cutting back on habeas corpus that they have to wrestle with,” said Edward Lazarus, a leading appellate attorney and author of a book on the high court, “Closed Chambers: The Rise, Fall, and Future of the Modern Supreme Court.”

“And that, from a constitutional point of view, is really a different question.”

From CNN.com

SPECIAL COMMENT
Keith Olbermann – ‘Countdown’

President Bush has resorted anew to the sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation of an administration and public life dedicated to realizing the lowest of our expectations. And he has now applied these poisons to the 2008 presidential election, on behalf of the party at whose center he and John McCain lurk.

Mr. Bush has predicted that the election of a Democratic president could “eventually lead to another attack on the United States.” This ludicrous, infuriating, holier-than-thou and most importantly bone-headedly wrong statement came during a May 13 interview with Politico.com and online users of Yahoo.

The question was phrased as follows: “If we were to pull out of Iraq next year, what’s the worst that could happen, what’s the doomsday scenario?”

The president replied: “Doomsday scenario of course is that extremists throughout the Middle East would be emboldened, which would eventually lead to another attack on the United States. The biggest issue we face is, it’s bigger than Iraq, it’s this ideological struggle against cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives.”

Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created, includes “cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives?” They are those in — or formerly in — your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes.

Through your haze of self-congratulation and self-pity, do you still have no earthly clue that this nation has laid waste to Iraq to achieve your political objectives? “This ideological struggle,” Mr. Bush, is taking place within this country.

It is a struggle between Americans who cherish freedom, ours and everybody else’s, and Americans like you, sir, to whom freedom is just a brand name, just like “Patriot Act” is a brand name or “Protect America” is a brand name.

But wait, there’s more: You also said “Iraq is the place where al-Qaida and other extremists have made their stand and they will be defeated.” They made no “stand” in Iraq, sir, you allowed them to assemble there!

As certainly as if that were the plan, the borders were left wide open by your government’s farcical post-invasion strategy of “they’ll greet us as liberators.” And as certainly as if that were the plan, the inspiration for another generation of terrorists in another country was provided by your government’s farcical post-invasion strategy of letting the societal infra-structure of Iraq dissolve, to be replaced by an American viceroy, enforced by merciless mercenaries who shoot unarmed Iraqis and then evade prosecution in any country by hiding behind your skirts, sir.

Terrorism inside Iraq is your creation, Mr. Bush!

***

It was a Yahoo user who brought up the second topic upon whose introduction Mr. Bush should have passed, or punted, or gotten up and left the room claiming he heard Dick Cheney calling him.

“Do you feel,” asked an ordinary American, “that you were misled on Iraq?”

“I feel like — I felt like, there were weapons of mass destruction,” the president said. “You know, ‘mislead’ is a strong word, it almost connotes some kind of intentional — I don’t think so, I think there was a — not only our intelligence community, but intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment. And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was.”

Flawed.

You, Mr. Bush, and your tragically know-it-all minions, threw out every piece of intelligence that suggested there were no such weapons.

You, Mr. Bush, threw out every person who suggested that the sober, contradictory, reality-based intelligence needed to be listened to, fast.

You, Mr. Bush, are responsible for how “intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment.”

You and the sycophants you dredged up and put behind the most important steering wheel in the world propagated palpable nonsense and shoved it down the throat of every intelligence community across the world and punished anybody who didn’t agree it was really chicken salad.

And you, Mr. Bush, threw under the bus, all of the subsequent critics who bravely stepped forward later to point out just how much of a self-fulfilling prophecy you had embraced, and adopted as this country’s policy in lieu of, say, common sense.

The fiasco of pre-war intelligence, sir, is your fiasco.

You should build a great statue of yourself turning a deaf ear to the warnings of realists, while you are shown embracing the three-card monte dealers like Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

That would be a far more fitting tribute to your legacy, Mr. Bush, than this presidential library you are constructing as a giant fable about your presidency, an edifice you might as claim was built from “Iraqi weapons of mass destruction” because there will be just as many of those inside your presidential library as there were inside Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

***

Of course if there is one overriding theme to this president’s administration it is the utter, always-failing, inability to know when to quit when it is behind. And so Mr. Bush answered yet another question about this layered, nuanced, wheels-within-wheels garbage heap that constituted his excuse for war.

“And so you feel that you didn’t have all the information you should have or the right spin on that information?”

“No, no,” replied the President. “I was told by people, that they had weapons of mass destruction …”

People? What people? The insane informant “Curveball?” The Iraqi snake-oil salesman Ahmed Chalabi? The American snake-oil salesman Dick Cheney?

“I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction, as were members of Congress, who voted for the resolution to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

“And of course, the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes.”

Mr. Bush, you destroyed the evidence that contradicted the resolution you jammed down the Congress’s throat, the way you jammed it down the nation’s throat. When required by law to verify that your evidence was accurate, you simply resubmitted it, with phrases amounting to “See, I done proved it,” virtually written in the margins in crayon.

You defied patriotic Americans to say “The Emperor Has No Clothes,” only with the stakes — as you and the mental dwarves in your employ put it — being a “mushroom cloud over an American city.”

And as a final crash of self-indulgent nonsense, when the incontrovertible truth of your panoramic and murderous deceit has even begun to cost your political party seemingly perpetual congressional seats in places like North Carolina and Mississippi, you can actually say with a straight face, sir, that for members of Congress “the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes” — while you greet the political heat and try to run and hide from your presidency, and your legacy — 4,000 of the Americans you were supposed to protect — dead in Iraq, with your only feeble, pathetic answer being, “I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction.”

***

Then came Mr. Bush’s final blow to our nation’s solar plexus, his last reopening of our common wounds, his last remark that makes the rest of us question not merely his leadership or his judgment but his very suitably to remain in office.

“Mr. President,” he was asked, “you haven’t been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?

“Yes,” began perhaps the most startling reply of this nightmarish blight on our lives as Americans on our history. “It really is. I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died, to see the Commander in Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as — to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”

Golf, sir? Golf sends the wrong signal to the grieving families of our men and women butchered in Iraq? Do you think these families, Mr. Bush, their lives blighted forever, care about you playing golf? Do you think, sir, they care about you?

You, Mr. Bush, let their sons and daughters be killed. Sir, to show your solidarity with them you gave up golf? Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn’t give up your pursuit of this insurance-scam, profiteering, morally and financially bankrupting war.

Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn’t even give up talking about Iraq a subject about which you have incessantly proved without pause or backwards glance, that you may literally be the least informed person in the world?

Sir, to show your solidarity with them, you didn’t give up your presidency? In your own words “solidarity as best as I can” is to stop a game? That is the “best” you can do?

Four thousand Americans give up their lives and your sacrifice was to give up golf! Golf. Not “Gulf” — golf.

And still it gets worse. Because it proves that the president’s unendurable sacrifice, his unbearable pain, the suspension of getting to hit a stick with a ball, was not even his own damned idea.

“Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?”

“I remember when [diplomat Sergio Vieira] de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man’s life. And I was playing golf, I think I was in central Texas, and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it’s just not worth it any more to do.”

Your one, tone-deaf, arrogant, pathetic, embarrassing gesture, and you didn’t even think of it yourself? The great Bushian sacrifice — an Army private loses a leg, a Marine loses half his skull, 4,000 of their brothers and sisters lose their lives — and you lose golf, and they have to pull you off the golf course to get you to just do that?

If it’s even true.

Apart from your medical files, which dutifully record your torn calf muscle and the knee pain which forced you to give up running at the same time — coincidence, no doubt — the bombing in Baghdad which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello of the U.N. and interrupted your round of golf was on Aug. 19, 2003.

Yet CBS News has records of you playing golf as late as Oct. 13 of that year, nearly two months later.

Mr. Bush, I hate to break it to you 6 1/2 years after you yoked this nation and your place in history to the wrong war, in the wrong place, against the wrong people, but the war in Iraq is not about you.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about your grief when American after American comes home in a box.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about what your addled brain has produced in the way of paranoid delusions of risks that do not exist, ready to be activated if some Democrat, and not your twin Mr. McCain, succeeds you.

The war in Iraq, your war, Mr. Bush, is about how you accomplished the derangement of two nations, and how you helped funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to lascivious and perennially thirsty corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater, and how you sent 4,000 Americans to their deaths for nothing.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about your golf game! And, sir, if you have any hopes that next Jan. 20 will not be celebrated as a day of soul-wrenching, heart-felt thanksgiving, because your faithless stewardship of this presidency will have finally come to a merciful end, this last piece of advice:

When somebody asks you, sir, about Democrats who must now pull this country back from the abyss you have placed us at …

When somebody asks you, sir, about the cooked books and faked threats you foisted on a sincere and frightened nation …

When somebody asks you, sir, about your gallant, noble, self-abdicating sacrifice of your golf game so as to soothe the families of the war dead.

This advice, Mr. Bush: Shut the hell up!

Please take the time to watch these videos – it’s what’s necessary for all of this to change.

Spread The Word

From a Say “When” supporter. Please remember – when you see photos of “the President” smiling with veterans…he’s at PRIVATE hospitals, not the VA hospitals that most returning injured veterans are sent to.

This letter from an Iraq War veteran’s wife was on Rosie’s blog today, Surely she would want to share it with all who will listen and take action with our do-nothing congress

Keep speaking the truth Ro.  Civilians have ZERO idea what its really like.  Walter Reed?  I’ve been there.  Its mold covered and they’re drastically understaffed.  Prescriptions Line?  It takes hours.  Active Duty gets to go first, but there are usually hundreds of veterans waiting in line waiting.  Veterans who gave their lives and some their sight, hearing, body for this country don’t get to get their pain medication in a timely period?  What is wrong with this system.  It’s not just Walter Reed, I’ve been to every military hospital in the DC area now, since we’re stationed at Andrews AFB.  Malcolm Grow, Bolling, and Walter Reed.  All are drastically understaffed and the prescription situation is the same.  It takes weeks to get an appointment.  They say to call just a couple days before the start of the month to fight for an appointment that month.  What if you’re sick?  Well you can try calling early in the morning but if its urgent make a trip to the ER where you get to wait with a bunch of other sick people for hours.  My son, who is one, was bleeding from the head and we weren’t seen for 3 hours.  3 hours!  You want to know what we see on a daily basis?  Med buses medivac sick wounded soldiers from the flight line at andrews afb to walter reed.  Those buses are generally filled and during the week I see at least 2 a day.  AT LEAST!  Thousands of men are coming home wounded and all we hear about are the dead.  Yes, we need to honor the dead, but people need to know how many are hurt and what their care is like.  I’ve seen those rooms at Walter Reed.  We stayed in one.  It looks like a time capsule.  Metal beds, slates of metal as mirrors, bathrooms so old the pipes creak whenever you turn on the water, mold, grit.  Its not clean.  It doesn’t smell like other hospitals, that clean sanitized smell.  It’s sick!  It’s sick.  For those veterans who need care after, and for us military families there are wonderful signs on the door of the family care offices.  They read “one issue per appointment please”.  That’s right.  Those people who fight for this country and us families left behind can only bring up one issue per appointment.  If more then one make another appointment which is IMPOSSIBLE to get.  Our hospitals are out of date and our doctors are deployed.  I see veterans every day at the commissary and the BX on the base where we live.  I’ve seen men burned so badly they’re unrecognizable as human.  I’ve seen men who recently found themselves blind.  I’ve seen families whose husbands gave their lives who can’t get a doctors appointment for a sick child and sit in the ER for hours.  It is not right.  Sure, we get “free” health care, but look at the price.  This is a disgrace.  Please keep speaking out Ro, no one else will.  We can’t have a voice or we risk the consequences.  We need a voice.  That man they call our president sits by and does nothing visiting privately funded hospitals. He gets to have all his appointments at National Naval Medical Center; which is REALLY nice, but impossible for the underlings to get into.  I don’t think he waits months for an appointment, hours for prescriptions, can only talk about one issue per appointment, and gets medical care in these conditions.  That’s whats wrong with this country.