Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Posts Tagged ‘Terrorism

Good point by Joe Klein

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Very good point:

This is how it should be done. The Bush Administration derided the "police work" approach to rolling up Al Qaeda, but–of course–police work is precisely what it takes in many cases. (In war zones, like Waziristan, more kinetic tactics, like the use of armed Predator drones, is also appropriate.) One hopes that with less public melodrama, less Presidential bloodlust rhetoric, there will be more events like this arrest of a major Al Qaeda operative–and even though they’ll be reported in the back pages, the damage to the terrorist network will be extensive.

Of course, blowing up a lot of buildings and then hosing them down with automatic weapons is more exciting that the painful drudgery of police work, but in the long run police work is how terrorism will be stopped. The military actions are best seen as external support for when a terrorist training camp is found. But when terrorists are among civilians, military actions are counterproductive, as Israel and Bush have shown us. In those cases, military actions are exactly what the terrorists want.

Written by Leisureguy

22 January 2009 at 7:36 am

Terrorist attack in Dayton OH

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Strangely absent from media coverage, but clearly a terrorist attack. But the terrorists were domestic and those attacked were Muslim, so maybe the media don’t care?

You can read the details here in story by Steven D in the Booman Tribune. Story begins:

A mosque in Dayton Ohio was the subject of a chemical attack on the Muslims praying there to celebrate the end of Ramadan, including small children (toddlers and babies) last Friday. This follows the delivery to millions of Ohioans of the anti-Muslim propaganda DVD Obsession by two right wing neoconservative front groups last week.

Funny, but I don’t remember any national news stories on this outrageous assault over the weekend, but I guess it isn’t terrorism when Muslims are the victims. Here’s the local report in the Dayton Daily News

DAYTON — Baboucarr Njie was preparing for his prayer session Friday night, Sept. 26, when he heard children in the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton coughing. Soon, Njie himself was overcome with fits of coughing and, like the rest of those in the building, headed for the doors. […]Njie was one of several affected when a suspected chemical irritant was sprayed into the mosque at 26 Josie St., bringing Dayton police, fire and hazardous material personnel to the building at 9:48 p.m. …

Continue reading. He concludes:

I wonder how this story would have played in the national media if an antisemetic DVD was sent to millions of Americans by a Fundamentalist Islamic group and then a Jewish synagogue was subjected to a similar attack. Actually, you and I know how that story would have played out: 24/7 coverage on the cable news shows over the weekend. McCain probably would have used it as an opportunity to attack Obama at the debate.

But this is Bush’s America. Home of Republican Jesus. A nation founded upon Christian principles. So, if a few Muslims and their children are the victims of a chemical attack, so be it. They probably had it coming to them for believing in the wrong God. Right?

Well, not in the America I was led to believe in as a kid. That America believed in religious freedom for all faiths and protected the rights of all people. Then again, maybe I was lied to about my country, and it’s many failures to put the ideals it preaches to others in action here in the US of A. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Written by Leisureguy

30 September 2008 at 9:55 am

Posted in Daily life, Religion

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Ex-CIA: “Fears of terrorists are exaggerated”

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An important piece, which begins:

Sen. John McCain has repeatedly characterized the threat of “radical Islamic extremism” as “the absolute gravest threat . . . that we’re in against.” Before we simply accept this, we need to examine the nature of the terrorist threat facing our country. If we do so, we will see how we have allowed the specter of that threat to distort our lives and take our treasure.

The “Global War on Terror” has conjured the image of terrorists behind every bush, the bushes themselves burning and an angry god inciting its faithful to religious war. We have been called to arms, built fences, and compromised our laws and the practices that define us as a nation. The administration has focused on pursuing terrorists and countering an imminent and terrifying threat. Thousands of Americans have died as a result, as have tens of thousands of foreigners.

The inclination to trust our leaders when they warn of danger is compelling, particularly when the specters of mushroom clouds and jihadists haunt every debate. McCain, accepting this view of the threats, pledges to continue the Bush administration’s policy of few distinctions but ruthless actions.

I spent 23 years in the CIA. I drafted or was involved in many of the government’s most senior assessments of the threats facing our country. I have devoted years to understanding and combating the jihadist threat.

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Written by Leisureguy

14 July 2008 at 10:17 am

Terrorism is down (except for the war we started)

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Interesting: Terrorism has gone down over the past five years except for the terrorism we created by aggressively invading another country. Read the whole article. Here’s a snippet:

… The Simon Fraser study notes that the decline in terrorism appears to be caused by many factors, among them successful counterterrorism operations in dozens of countries and infighting among terror groups. But the most significant, in the study’s view, is the “extraordinary drop in support for Islamist terror organizations in the Muslim world over the past five years.” These are largely self-inflicted wounds. The more people are exposed to the jihadists’ tactics and world view, the less they support them. An ABC/BBC poll in Afghanistan in 2007 showed support for the jihadist militants in the country to be 1 percent. In Pakistan’s North-West Frontier province, where Al Qaeda has bases, support for Osama bin Laden plummeted from 70 percent in August 2007 to 4 percent in January 2008. That dramatic drop was probably a reaction to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, but it points to a general trend in Pakistan over the past five years. With every new terrorist attack, public support for jihad falls. “This pattern is repeated in country after country in the Muslim world,” writes Mack. “Its strategic implications are critically important because historical evidence suggests that terrorist campaigns that lose public support will sooner or later be abandoned or defeated.” …

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2008 at 5:23 pm

Posted in Daily life

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FBI covers up crime

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This is bad:

The FBI has been accused of covering up a key case file detailing evidence against corrupt government officials and their dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets.

The assertion follows allegations made in The Sunday Times two weeks ago by Sibel Edmonds, an FBI whistleblower, who worked on the agency’s investigation of the network.

Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at the agency’s Washington field office.

She says the FBI was investigating a Turkish and Israeli-run network that paid high-ranking American officials to steal nuclear weapons secrets. These were then sold on the international black market to countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

One of the documents relating to the case was marked 203A-WF-210023. Last week, however, the FBI responded to a freedom of information request for a file of exactly the same number by claiming that it did not exist. But The Sunday Times has obtained a document signed by an FBI official showing the existence of the file.

Edmonds believes the crucial file is being deliberately covered up by the FBI because its contents are explosive. She accuses the agency of an “outright lie”.

“I can tell you that that file and the operations it refers to did exist from 1996 to February 2002. The file refers to the counterintelligence programme that the Department of Justice has declared to be a state secret to protect sensitive diplomatic relations,” she said.

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Written by Leisureguy

20 January 2008 at 11:18 am

Posted in Bush Administration, GOP, Government

Tagged with ,

What does it take for it to be “terrorism”

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Pipe bombs are not enough:

On Friday, they caught a contract worker trying to bring a pipe bomb into a nuclear power plant located 50 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona.

According to a report in USA Today, bomb squad tests determined that the capped pipe was a credible explosive device. It was the real deal.

But, for some reason, Capt. Paul Chagolla of the local sheriff’s office told the press, “At this point I don’t have any information that would indicate that you have domestic terrorism at hand.”

Wait a minute.

As the article in USA Today explains, “Two elementary schools and a high school in the area were locked down briefly when a plant employee notified the district.”

And the FBI was called in.

Of course they were! There was a pipe bomb at a nuclear plant!

But somehow it’s not terrorism.

So I’m guessing that the suspect here is not of Middle Eastern ancestry. Otherwise, the terror alert level would surely have been elevated to orange (at least), and the suspect would now be on his way to Gitmo.

Sleep well.

Written by Leisureguy

4 November 2007 at 1:42 pm

Posted in Government

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Staged demos

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We read all too often of military or other demonstrations that are totally staged. Looks like it’s still happening. From Scheier on Security:

I assume you’ve all seen the news:

A government video shows the potential destruction caused by hackers seizing control of a crucial part of the U.S. electrical grid: an industrial turbine spinning wildly out of control until it becomes a smoking hulk and power shuts down.The video, produced for the Homeland Security Department and obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, was marked “Official Use Only.” It shows commands quietly triggered by simulated hackers having such a violent reaction that the enormous turbine shudders as pieces fly apart and it belches black-and-white smoke.

The video was produced for top U.S. policy makers by the Idaho National Laboratory, which has studied the little-understood risks to the specialized electronic equipment that operates power, water and chemical plants. Vice President Dick Cheney is among those who have watched the video, said one U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because this official was not authorized to publicly discuss such high-level briefings.

More here. And the video is on

I haven’t written much about SCADA security, except to say that I think the risk is overblown today but is getting more serious all the time — and we need to deal with the security before it’s too late. I didn’t know quite what to make of the Idaho National Laboratory video; it seemed like hype, but I couldn’t find any details. (The CNN headline, “Mouse click could plunge city into darkness, experts say,” was definitely hype.)

Then, I received this anonymous e-mail:

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Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2007 at 9:13 am

Posted in Bush Administration, GOP, Government

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The costs of over-reaction to terrorism

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Via Schneier on Security, this post:

So cholera has now reached Baghdad. That’s not much of a surprise given the utter breakdown of infrastructure. But there’s a reason the cholera is picking up speed now. From the NYT:

“We are suffering from a shortage of chlorine, which is sometimes zero,” Dr. Ameer said in an interview on Al Hurra, an American-financed television network in the Middle East. “Chlorine is essential to disinfect the water.”

So why is there is a shortage? Because insurgents have laced a few bombs with chlorine and the U.S. and Iraq have responded by making it  darn hard to import the stuff. From the AP:

[A World Health Organization representative in Iraq] also said some 100,000 tons of chlorine were being held up at Iraq’s border with Jordan, apparently because of fears the chemical could be used in explosives. She urged authorities to release it for use in decontaminating water supplies.

I understand why Iraq would put restrictions on  dangerous chemicals. And I’m sure nobody intended for the restrictions to be so burdensome that they’d effectively cut off Iraq’s clean water supply. But that’s what looks to have happened. What makes it all the more tragic is that chlorine–for all the hype and worry–is actually a very ineffective booster  for bombsOf the roughly dozen  chlorine-laced bombings in Iraq, it appears  the chlorine has killed exactly nobody.

In other words, the biggest damage from chlorine bombs–as with so many terrorist attacks–has come from overreaction to it. Fear operates as a “force multipier” for terrorists and in this case has helped them cut off Iraq’s clean water. Pretty impressive feat for some  bombs that turned out to be close to duds.

Written by Leisureguy

25 September 2007 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Iraq War

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