Saturday, May 17, 2008

Patriot Premium

Now this is especially insulting:
A measure that would give veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan full four-year scholarships, dubbed a new G.I. Bill, also passed by a vote of 266-166, short of the two-thirds needed to override the promised veto by President Bush.

The added benefits would cost $52 billion over 10 years and would be paid for by a 0.5 percent surtax on individuals making more than $500,000 a year and couples making more than $1 million.

Calling the new tax a "patriot premium," Democrats argued that it was time for wealthy Americans to share in the sacrifice that troops are making in Iraq.

What in the Hell is that? Wealthy Americans have to share in the sacrifice? Not that any other American is, but let's make the rich pay for it as a punishment for being successful. Anyone else hearing the choir of social justice sung by elitist jackass'?

Iraq Exporting Terrorists

Another interesting bit from Max Boot.
One of the familiar tropes of the anti-war caucus is that Iraq had no links to terrorism prior to the American invasion but now it has become a breeding ground of terrorists who will destabilize other countries. The first part of the argument—the claim that Saddam-era Iraq was not linked to terrorism—should have been demolished by the recent Iraq Perspectives Project report. (Unfortunately, its findings were generally misreported by the MSM.) The second part of the argument—the claim that Iraq is exporting terrorism—has now come under serious assault from, of all people, the French.

In a blockbuster article, Elaine Sciolino of the New York Times yesterday reported that French security experts are retracting their earlier claims that, as then-Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin put it in 2005, Iraq-trained jihadists would “come back to France, armed with their experience, to carry out attacks.”


Sciolino, relying on interviews with French officials, offer four possible explanations for why the predicted terror surge has not occurred:

1. “The logistical challenges and expense of reaching Iraq … particularly with Syria’s making episodic efforts to halt the use of its territory as a transit route.”

2. “Iraqi insurgents currently neither need nor welcome European Muslims who lack military training and good Arabic-language skills — except if they are willing to conduct suicide missions.”

3. “ The fight in Iraq is no longer just a jihad against foreign occupiers, but also a confusing civil war pitting Muslim against Muslim. Many young people have family and ethnic ties to Pakistan or North Africa, making those places more attractive destinations, and further advancing those regions’ potential for recruiting and radicalizing young Muslims.”

4. “[L]aw enforcement authorities, particularly in countries like France, Italy and Spain, say they are convinced that their sweeping legal authority to eavesdrop, make arrests, hold suspects for long periods of time and win convictions on the vague charge of association with a terrorist enterprise has made it easier to take preventive action.”

All of those explanations seem plausible to me. But it strikes me that Sciolino is missing an important element of the puzzle: namely that the group that her newspaper insists on calling Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia (which the rest of the world knows as Al Qaeda in Iraq) is losing big time. It has been routed out of its strongholds in Anbar, Baghdad, and Diyala provinces and is now being hunted down in its last remaining lairs in Mosul and vicinity.

Wonder what dem is going to continue using the original thesis that we are less safe now, even though it appears even the French are admitting it isn't so?

If the Shoe Fits...

I don't recall disliking a presidential candidate as much, or as soon as I do Barry Obama. The issue here is related to his comments in response to Bush's speech in Israel.
The president said that "some seem to believe we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along." He went on to compare a willingness to meet with "terrorists and radicals" to the pre-World War II "appeasement" of Nazi Germany.
For starters, I haven't really seen Obama's stand on Iran or other state sponsors of terrorism as being real appeasement in the mode that was seen around Nazi Germany. That made me a little surprised that he went to such a whiny level on the President's speech.
An animated Obama, cheered on by a crowd gathered on the floor of a livestock arena, said he would be delighted if the presidential race turned into a conversation about which party is better suited to guide the nation's foreign policy.

"If George Bush and John McCain want to have a debate about protecting the United States of America, that is a debate that I'm happy to have anytime, anyplace, and that is a debate I will win because George Bush and John McCain have a lot to answer for," the Democratic front-runner said.
Funny that he chose a livestock arena for his speech to the herd that supports him. But that statement is just fluff. Where is the details of why his policy is better? I know politics is full of thin statements, but this is more watery than most. If he wants a debate, start by telling the citizenry why your policy is better than the present one? How is it that sitting down, with no preconditions, with sponsors of terrorism going to benefit this country? How does his sympathetic ear aid our country? I frankly don't give a shit about the world in this context because he isn't running for god, he's running to be the President of the United States. The US comes first.

This is the best that he could come up with:
With former senator Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) looking on and a John Deere tractor parked nearby, Obama launched into a blunt critique of Bush's foreign policy record. His list of grievances included a war fought on the premise of weapons of mass destruction that were never found, the failure to capture bin Laden and turning Iran into the "greatest beneficiary" of the Iraq war.
Brilliant. Intelligence problems lead to action when their were no WMD, and that must be only Bush's fault, since the Clinton administration had no part in the destruction of our intelligence systems. But obviously that is all a foreign policy issue. Not sure how, but there it is.

Again the usual BS of the Dems whining about not capturing Bin Laden, as if that single activity was more important than stabilizing Iraq. And considering that Bin Laden isn't likely in any area where we can actually go without an international incident, how is that going to be of any assistance to our foreign policy?

I also would love to hear how Iran is the "greatest beneficiary" of the war in Iraq. Yes we took down their greatest competitor for hegemony in the middle east, but that far from benefits them with the US sitting astride a majority of their free access to the middle east, not to mention the rest of the world. And the sanction activities against Iran have been a boon to them as well I'm sure.

Then we could also compare Barry to another Dem foreign policy novice, Jimmy Carter. He had great success with Iran didn't he. And he's now the cheerleader for terrorists around the world.
He said McCain will "need to answer" for a strengthened al-Qaeda leadership, Hamas's control of the Gaza Strip, and Iran's ability to fund Hezbollah and pose "the greatest threat to America and Israel and the Middle East in a generation."
That is a bizarre statement. Why would McCain need to answer for that? It also shows some fundamental misunderstandings as to how Al-Qaeda works. Its a loose network of cells, not a hierarchical command structure. As for Hamas' control of the Gaza strip, is Obama actually trying to position that the election by the Palestinian people, which brought Hamas to power should have been discouraged rather then letting the Palestinians take a hand in their own destiny? The difference comes down to that Hamas is openly responsible for the actions in the Gaza strip and will have to deal with the citizens of that region for their actions. With them hidden from site the workings would be less obvious to the world and to the Palestinians. Holding those terrorists in the light shows them for what they really are.

As for Hezzbollah, they've been supported by Iran for longer than Bush has been in office, so I don't see how this administration, not to mention the McCain candidacy can be held responsible for that collusion. Saying that they are responsible doesn't make it a fact.

Then there is this from Max Boot:
David Brooks reports today that, like a lot of other Democrats, Barack Obama has become a born-again believer in the presidency of George H.W. Bush. The Democratic candidate tells Brooks: “I have enormous sympathy for the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush. I don’t have a lot of complaints about their handling of Desert Storm. I don’t have a lot of complaints with their handling of the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

This new-found admiration conveniently overlooks some decisions by the elder President Bush that were roundly and correctly criticized at the time by many liberals as well as conservatives: decisions such as the botched aftermath of the Gulf War, which resulted in Shiites and Kurds getting slaughtered after they heeded the President’s call to rise up; the notorious “Chicken Kiev” speech in which he urged Ukrainians to remain part of a dissolving Soviet Union; and the failure to intervene in Bosnia.

It's nice that Barry has admiration for a President who have huge foreign policy credentials from the start. It really puts Barry's lack of credentials in stark contrast.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Law Enforcement Data Mining

This article does have some merit, though personally I think the writer is oversimplifying the reality of such a database. He starts with describing how Mohammed Atta was a bad driver and then attempts to convince the reader that had his missing a court hearing and being placed on a bench warrant would have stopped 9/11.
What ideally should have happened is this: Once Atta failed to appear in Broward court, his bench warrant should have been entered into a statewide database that the Feds could have tapped into. That same database would have been connected into the NCIC and FCIC (for Florida) computer systems. In Palm Beach County, the officer who pulled Atta over a second time would have been made aware of the outstandng bench warrant. Gun drawn and having radioed for backup, the officer would have pulled Atta from the vehicle and brought him to the Palm Beach County Jail. His One Phone Call would have been made, and his car impounded.

At the impound yard, a curious investigator might have seen certain drawings, diagrams, blueprints, and notes. He might have seen flight manuals and textbooks and gotten more curious. A call to the FBI might have produced zip, zilch, nada, since the FBI and CIA were famously not talking regarding which baddie was and was not in the country at the time. So this is all just so much "woulda, shoulda, coulda."

First there is the thought that at that level of minutia it is unlikely that a database system would have pulled Atta out as anything more than a careless foreigner who failed to fix a ticket. Then the assumption that someone in the impound yard would have decided to investigate his car, which would be interesting since that would mean they would have to have some reason to pick that one out of all the other impounded cars, assuming of course that the impound yard is run by the police and not just a storage yard run by a contractor. Should I mention that in many states the police would need a warrant to search that car?

I know I'm not well versed in database technology, but what makes databases effective is knowing what is important. This level of detail isn't going to be very effective in finding a terrorist before the act. It could be helpful in finding and investigating associates after the fact, but it isn't going to be highly effective in prevention. Which gets us to this:
We have spent tens of billions of dollars on reactive antiterrorism gear. I am sure that is important for the residents of Fargo and other towns. Yet we have spent a comparatively paltry sum of cash on solutions that actually might stop terror before it happens. And one of those ingenious things that actually worked, Seisint founder Hank Asher's brilliant MATRIX system, remains mired in controversy and politics. Hank showed me MATRIX just a few short weeks after the 9/11 attacks. Using law enforcement data and commercial data, all of the commercial data available in the public domain, Asher's query produced Atta's photo -- and about 80 others, many of them fellow 9/11 hijackers, many of them associates of the 9/11 hijackers.
I guess I'm very skeptical on that contention. That far to easily strikes me as slight of hand. How much of that data existed before the 9/11 attacks? That just strikes me as a bit fishy. And another concern would have to be related to the false positives. What is done with all of those that get pulled up erroneously? Do we put a star next to their name and proceed to put them on the no fly list with Ted Kennedy? Make their lives further hell because some database of public "knowledge" defines them as suspect?

Then there is the question of how do you maintain all that information. What if Atta had fixed the ticket shortly after the bench warrant was issued? Would he be kept in the database or expunged? Where do you stop with the collection of minutia? What if it's a parking ticket and it gets blown away? Do we kick down that person's door in the middle of the night if they fit even loosely what someone has imagined as a threat?

This could indeed be a useful tool, but I would want to see it heavily vetted before use and then it should only be used as a supplementary tool for the LEO. If we start using it as the primary means of identifying risks, then many real ones will be overlooked.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Al-Qaeda Over Rated?

I found this article linked over at Schneier who thinks this is all so obvious. Unfortunately I think Sheehan is parsing his words carefully as one would expect from a politician.
"I reject the notion that Al Qaeda is waiting for 'the big one' or holding back an attack," Sheehan writes. "A terrorist cell capable of attacking doesn't sit and wait for some more opportune moment. It's not their style, nor is it in the best interest of their operational security. Delaying an attack gives law enforcement more time to detect a plot or penetrate the organization."

Terrorism is not about standing armies, mass movements, riots in the streets or even palace coups. It's about tiny groups that want to make a big bang. So you keep tracking cells and potential cells, and when you find them you destroy them. After Spanish police cornered leading members of the group that attacked trains in Madrid in 2004, they blew themselves up. The threat in Spain declined dramatically.

Indonesia is another case Sheehan and I talked about. Several high-profile associates of bin Laden were nailed there in the two years after 9/11, then sent off to secret CIA prisons for interrogation. The suspects are now at Guantánamo. But suicide bombings continued until police using forensic evidence—pieces of car bombs and pieces of the suicide bombers—tracked down Dr. Azahari bin Husin, "the Demolition Man," and the little group around him. In a November 2005 shootout the cops killed Dr. Azahari and crushed his cell. After that such attacks in Indonesia stopped.

Frankly, those don't sound like law enforcement actions to me. If it were, does anyone honestly believe that the Indonesians would have ended up at GITMO?

The real problem I find in all of this is that the assumption is that Al-Qaeda is the only player and that they themselves exist in a hierarchical structure. Cells many times are incompetent. It also should force the question as to why they appear to have been more incompetent after the 9/11 attacks. The Global War on Terror has many theaters and in many cases it is through organized intelligence that the theaters begin to cooperate and stop the terrorists.

It's not about standing armies? How is that? Or is it just that the writer has missed the point that the front line soldier in many cases is a law enforcement officer? War isn't always about two national players going at it in tanks and bombers. This ignorance of fourth generational warfare or asymmetrical warfare is fascinating. Cooperative efforts by nations to stop the violence of non-national actors has more the look and feel of a war action than a police activity.

Then there is the complete lack of understanding that theaters of war have attracted many of the most determined of the jihadists. Iraq and Afghanistan have pulled many of the determined terrorists into the fight in regions where the most able of fighters can deal with them. Another reason why those that act in Europe and elsewhere are appearing more incompetent. The best and most determined went where the major action was and left the more mediocre behind.

I also love these two statements in juxtaposition:
Sir David Omand, who used to head Britain's version of the National Security Agency and oversaw its entire intelligence establishment from the Cabinet Office earlier this decade, described terrorism as "one corner" of the global security threat posed by weapons proliferation and political instability. That in turn is only one of three major dangers facing the world over the next few years. The others are the deteriorating environment and a meltdown of the global economy. Putting terrorism in perspective, said Sir David, "leads naturally to a risk management approach, which is very different from what we've heard from Washington these last few years, which is to 'eliminate the threat'."
That's part of what makes Sheehan so refreshing. He knows there's a big risk that he'll be misinterpreted; he'll be called soft on terror by ass-covering bureaucrats, breathless reporters and fear-peddling politicians. And yet he charges ahead. He expects another attack sometime, somewhere. He hopes it won't be made to seem more apocalyptic than it is. "Don't overhype it, because that's what Al Qaeda wants you to do. Terrorism is about psychology." In the meantime, said Sheehan, finishing his fruit juice, "the relentless 24/7 job for people like me is to find and crush those guys."
Funny how Washington wants to "eliminate the threat" but Sheehan only wants to "crush those guys." Doesn't sound like much of a difference to me. It also fails to make the point that psychology works both ways. Terrorists are seeing more and more failures so the result is a weakened base of those wanting to perform terrorism.

Its just more evidence that those making these types of judgments are trying to do the calculations blindfolded and with their heads in the sand.

First Amendment Protections from Foreign Intrusion

This really needs to get some legs at the Federal level.
Albany, NY (May 1, 2008) — New York State Governor David Paterson yesterday signed the “Libel Terrorism Protection Act” (S.6687/A.9652), which on March 31 passed the state’s Assembly and Senate unanimously.

Also known as Rachel’s Law, the bill sponsored by Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Queens) and Senate Deputy Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) will protect American journalists and authors from foreign lawsuits that infringe on First Amendment rights. The bill also received unprecedented support from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

“New Yorkers must be able to speak out on issues of public concern without living in fear that they will be sued outside the United States, under legal standards inconsistent with our First Amendment rights,” said Governor Paterson. “This legislation will help ensure of the freedoms enjoyed by New York authors.”

Reflecting the New York legislation’s importance, U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) on April 16 introduced a similar bill, the Freedom of Speech Protection Act (H.R. 5814), in the House of Represenatives.

The article notes the extreme silence this has received in the MSM. That is truly sad.

The ACLU on the other hand is working with vast amounts of money and lawyers to do what? Not defend freedoms in the US, but defend terrorists.
The ACLU has launched an initiative called the “John Adams Project.” The unmitigated gall in defaming one of history’s greatest Americans seems suspiciously flavored by the recent success of the HBO Adams miniseries. Yes, the PR machine hums along, no matter how laughable a stretch it is for the ACLU to link itself with great men. What is it? In a nutshell, the ACLU has assembled a “Dream Team” of attorneys with an $8.5 million budget to defend terrorists currently held at Guantanamo. Who’s the primary object of the ACLU’s affection? Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

The ACLU, true to form, impugns the professionalism and competence of men and women of infinitely more honor than their accusers by referring to tribunals as a “kangaroo courts.” But could the ACLU really be so scandalized that this mass murderer will stand before a military tribunal? Could the ACLU truly be standing up for his “fundamental rights?”

What is the true purpose of a multi-million-dollar campaign to get KSM off the hook?

The ACLU explains: “The ACLU chose to focus on Mohammed’s defense, Romero said, because he appears to be “the government’s top priority in the prosecution. And whether or not they are able to convict Khalid Sheik Mohammed under these rules may well determine the fate of the almost 300 other men who are detained at Guantanamo.”

Lovely perspective isn't it?

Chicago's Military

This is a bit frightening:

After a recent outbreak of gun-related violence, Mayor Richard Daley is now pushed into supporting a plan by new Police Superintendent Jody Weis to arm 13,000 Chicago police officers with assault rifles. Depending on how many weapons are eventually deployed, this may develop into the largest militarization of police patrol officers in United States history. If the department arms 10,000 of their officers with M4s, the police will have 9,900 more assault rifles in Chicago than the U.S. Marines presently have in Fallujah, Iraq.
Now that is perspective. Not a good one either.
Even the most basic rifle training is going to cost a day’s pay per officer, range staff, targets, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and cleaning costs. Estimate the salary costs conservatively at $160 per officer per day, and you’re looking at salary training costs of over $2 million just for introductory familiarization with the weapons system and another $338,000 in ammunition costs (based upon a bare minimum of 200 rounds per officer at a cost of $130/1000 rounds and 13,000 officers). As ammunition prices continue to go upward, due in part to increased police demand, the cost of rifle ammunition in periodic weapons recertification will continue to rise.
I'd like to know if I can get on that ammo deal. That is incredibly cheap for .223. Cheapest I can find is Wolf at around $300/1000.

But you know the costs aren't relevant since it "FOR THE CHILDREN!" (Make certain you say it with the incipient screech of the liberal activist.)

This is quite troubling considering that this is the same government that doesn't want to allow citizens to legal possess firearms for their own defense. If one was prone to paranoia, this would be a cause for panic.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

More Signs of Improvement in Iraq

This article from Long Wars Journal describes improvements in the areas that have been under the influence of the Madhi Army. Apparently the populations of these areas have come to loathe the Madhi army much in the way that Al-Qaida has changed the outlook of citizens in the Sunni districts.
Rusafa is a large district in central Baghdad bordered by the Tigris River to the southwest and Sadr City to the northeast. The district is predominantly Shia, but contains significant Sunni enclaves and a small Christian population, with a surprising number of openly practicing churches, according to Colonel Craig Collier, the commander of the 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division. The 450 soldiers of the 3-89 Cav are responsible for the district’s security, in conjunction with thousands of Iraqi Army, Iraqi National Police, Iraqi Police, Kurdish private contractors, and Sons of Iraq (neighborhood watch).

Rusafa contains Baghdad’s largest and most famous markets, including the Shorja, Saria, and Bab al Sharji, some of which were the scenes of high-profile suicide bombings during the sectarian-fueled carnage of 2006-2007. Over the past year, and especially over the past six months, the district has calmed significantly. The predominant remaining threats are Mahdi Army mortar rounds aimed at the International Zone that fall short and suicide vest bombers and car bombs that target the markets and Coalition forces. Less successful suicide attacks occur maybe once a month, while once common highly successful “spectacular attacks” have become much less frequent.

Interestingly, much of the stabilization is being attributed to militia groups associated with the US and Iraqi militaries.
But Thornburg attributes most of the improvement in his area in southern Rusafa to the Sons of Iraq, the local neighborhood watchmen who are paid by the US. The Sons of Iraq program was started here seven months ago by local leaders and the 82nd Airborne, the unit last responsible for the southwestern half of Rusafa, which is essentially downtown Baghdad. Local Sons of Iraq leaders claim they were “the first Shia Awakening” against militias and al Qaeda.

“The SOI have exceeded expectations. They’ve turned one of the most violent areas of Baghdad into one of the most quiet,” said Thornburg. “Specifically, they are looking for Mahdi Army. They know who comes into their area, they man checkpoints 24 hours a day, they do vehicle searches, they question people and they patrol. The locals trust them and they are happy with them. They’ve earned a lot of wasta [respect] from the citizens, and the results speak for themselves. It’s a real success story.”

Well, this is just more stability for the Dems to call a civil war.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

NH's Senatorial Challenge

This quote pretty much has stopped all consideration I may have had for voting for the Democrat for this race.
New Hampshire Senate candidate Jeanne Shaheen said the U.S. military should focus on fighting al-Qaida on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, instead of staying in Iraq.

"Our soldiers are in the middle of a civil war," Shaheen said Monday as she outlined her position on foreign policy at Saint Anselm College. "The war in Iraq is not about al-Qaida."

The former Democratic governor, running against Republican incumbent John Sununu, did not give a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops. But she did say they should be taken out of Iraq as "soon as possible."

Apparently she maintains her cranium up the same orifice as Pelosi and Reid do. Wonder if anyone actually provides them with news or do they just let them out from under their rocks in the morning.