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Why Counter-Terrorism Is In Shambles 370

Early last week several questions were submitted to former CIA analyst Ray McGovern about the sad state of counter-terrorism in the United States, and he has answered frankly and in-depth. In addition, McGovern solicited former FBI attorney/special agent Coleen Rowley to review his answers and provide her own comments. Ray's biggest tip to the intelligence community was to "HOLD ACCOUNTABLE THOSE RESPONSIBLE. More 'reform' is the last thing we need. Sorry, but we DO have to look back. The most effective step would be to release the CIA Inspector General report on intelligence community performance prior to 9/11. That investigation was run by, and its report was prepared by an honest man, it turns out. It was immediately suppressed by then-Acting DCI John McLaughlin — another Tenet clone — and McLaughin's successors as director, Porter Goss, Michael Hayden, and now Leon Panetta."
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Why Counter-Terrorism Is In Shambles

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  • So essentially... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peter Steil ( 1619597 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:57PM (#30785890)
    The people directing the operations believe them to be ineffective? It's all smoke and mirrors, and nothing is really safer? If something was going to happen, it still is, regardless of the measures implemented today? Who could have guess this to be the case?
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:03PM (#30785950)

    The reason counter-terrorism is in shambles is BECAUSE IT CAN WITHOUT CAUSING ANY PROBLEMS.

    The number of actual terror attacks is so damn low, it is in the noise. So it doesn't matter if we have an uber-perfect counter-terrorism program or one that is total bullshit. The results are gonna be pretty much the same - barely any terrorist attacks.

    In places where there is a substantial threat, like everybody's favorite example - Israel - they have to actually do something in order to make a difference. And even then the results are far from perfect - they have more successful terrorist attacks in Israel than we have just attempted attacks in the USA.

  • by Amorymeltzer ( 1213818 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:05PM (#30785970)

    The answer to that first question (the first part anyway) could basically be summed up in one sentence: Read the goddamned 9/11 Commission Report. As one of probably seven Americans who actually did, I must say that it always surprised me just how flat it seemed to fall on the populous and government both. Sure, it made the NYT best-seller list for a bit, because hey, in 2004 what better coffee table book was there?

    Sure, the first third of the report might be horrifying, and the middle third was extremely dry, but they were still extremely telling. What's more, the final section offered some suggestions, potential fixes, and forward-thinking plans that were excellent. Of course none of them were fully-fledged, but they were great jumping-off points. How many were put into action? Surely not too many, and five and a half years later we're still reeling from that inaction.

    The main message in the report was that of any good relationship, communication, and that's precisely what hasn't been happening. McGovern hits a lot of good points, but I agree with him that this is all incredibly old. Not stale, because it hasn't been done, but old nonetheless. And lord knows holding those responsible responsible is a novel concept.

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:08PM (#30785982) Homepage Journal

    Look, the main thing is we forgot that terrorism is a tactic, and let ourselves get swept up in Fear.

    From my personal experience (multiple counter-terrorism ops) what works is fairly simple: basic police detective work.

    Torture doesn't work. Fear plays into what they want.

    Stop living in fear and treat this as we treat natural disasters and food poisoning - don't overreact, don't reduce your freedom or liberty, but do allocate a PORTION of your police resources to proper detective work in tracking them down.

    That works. None of what we've done so far does, sadly.

  • by jo42 ( 227475 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:09PM (#30786002) Homepage

    The 'War on Terror' will prove to be ineffective as the 'War on Drugs'. When you boil it all down, you are pitting human intelligence against human intelligence. Humans are very clever critters and will find one way or another around obstacles. If any progress at all is to be made, you need to fight the disease, not the symptoms. You have to ask "Why are these people doing this in the first place?" and address that as the root problem.

  • Re:wait... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:12PM (#30786026)

    I'm not a terrorist

    That's not for you to decide.

  • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:26PM (#30786130) Homepage

    "What does this have to do with my rights online? I'm not a terrorist, so I don't think it effects me.

    That's always what I say whenever I hear about all this 4th Amendment crazy talk. I don't sell drugs, so what the hell do I care?

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:28PM (#30786140)
    But, if we treated terrorism as a crime instead of a political statement, then how would we justify invading other countries like Afghanistan and Iraq?
  • by assemblyronin ( 1719578 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:31PM (#30786156)
    (emphasis mine)

    Look, the main thing is we forgot that terrorism is a tactic, and let ourselves get swept up in Fear.

    In my opinion, I don't believe that most people ever knew this tidbit of information in the first place. Sure some people would parrot what they heard on the network news after 9/11, "I won't be afraid and let them take my freedoms!", but then they blindly support the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act.

    I agree with you 100% though. People being retarded and killing other people is a fact of life that is perfectly handled by proper detective work.

    Also, people need to realize that 'terrorism' is being used by both sides of the fence. The best example, the 'national threat level' has never been set to Blue or Green. This is a system meant to make the citizens of their own country 'feel safe' but all it does is make people think, "Hey.. you gonna get blowed up real-good-like someday.".

  • Two problems with this statement.

    1 You can't be sure they are a terrorist while your punching them there have been several people tortured who were, in the end, found innocent.

    2 Torture only makes the person say what they think will make you leave them alone. Maybe they confess to something they didn't do or maybe they give you bad intelligence.

    In World War two it was discovered that the best way for the allies to get intel from their prisoners on what the Germans were up to was a steak dinner.

    Torture is just a violent jerk finding righteous excuses for unconscionable behavior and is counter productive every time.

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:41PM (#30786222) Homepage Journal

    I never said we shouldn't use it as a tactic.

    Just that we need to remember that.

  • by magsol ( 1406749 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:42PM (#30786232) Journal
    But this is difficult for lefties to get.

    What if I'm right-handed?

    Seriously though, that statement cost you all your credibility. I'd have been willing to overlook the fact that the views of both Rev. Wright (Obama's former minister) and the "retard professor" (though I have no idea who would fit the bill here...what alleged professors do you hang out with?) constitute the fringe of society and are not, by any stretch, represented accordingly by the vast majority of folk with more than two brain cells to rub together.

    I would also be willing to overlook the fact that your reasoning behind Osama's motives is astonishingly shallow (our military is never "invited" anywhere; arrangements are negotiated and compromises are made in order to establish outposts, mostly for the purpose of political leverage).

    I would even have been willing to overlook the fact that your comment really doesn't even have a coherent point to it, and doesn't seem to relate back to the parent comment or even to the original article (who cares that "you can't just do what everyone wants you to do"?).

    But then you went and introduced stale partisan bickering (and backed it up with the beaten-to-DEATH random word CAPITALIZATION that so CHARACTERIZES political diarrhea). Is it lonely up there on your pedestal?
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:47PM (#30786278)

    If you want to see how frequent terrorist attacks can become, take a look at Iraq,


    The reason "terrorist attacks" are so frequent in places like Iraq is because of LOCAL CONDITIONS. Terrorism does not appear out of nowhere. It takes a lot of local infrastructure in order to pull off, including motivated individuals with lots of experience in both the tradecraft of terrorism and the local society.

    And, lets see if I get your argument correct here - even though we haven't been doing anything substantial and the number of attacks have been near zero, we need to massively ramp up the amount of effort we put in to stop all those non-existent attacks? Right? Because I'm saying the opposite and you appear to be disagreeing with me.

    Actually, Israel is outsmarting the terrorists by staying on the offensive.

    And yet they fail far more often than our own counter-terrorism program.

  • by omar.sahal ( 687649 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:51PM (#30786320) Homepage Journal

    Not true. I am trying to address the right questiontrying to deal with causes, not just symptoms and consequences.

    What if they don't want you to address the causes, maybe the causes are a natrul effect of how business is done. Dealing with causes means changing how you do business.

  • by GNUALMAFUERTE ( 697061 ) <almafuerte&gmail,com> on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:57PM (#30786382)

    The so called acts of "terrorism" against the USA, could be called by another name. They are the resistance. The United States is an empire. it's ok, it's not a bad thing in itself. Embrace what you are. So, there is a resistance. A small, stupid, disorganized, and full of religious fanatics resistance. The fact that the resistance isn't bigger doesn't mean there are not a lot of other people that would like to resist, they just don't think blowing up buildings is the way to resist the empire.

    So, when you say "Anti-terrorism" you actually mean "Anti enemies of the empire". What the government is doing is chasing the enemies of the empire. It is doing so using the worth methodologies: fear, violence, persecution, surveillance. And what the US is accomplishing is far from stopping that resistance: It actually gets more people to join in, and causes even more hate against your country.

    The UK was once a Huge Empire, and they conquered most of the known world. And nobody hated them as much as everyone hates the US. And many times, what they did was actually far worse than the actions of the US. Then, why is the US hated so much? two reasons: One, people don't like self-righteous fucks. Do what you must, but don't pretend to be the land of the free and home of the whatever anymore. You are an empire. Conquer and STFU. Stop trying to sell the "American" way to everyone. Second: Conquer, but don't destroy. The UK conquered half the world, and now those places are known as Australia, The United States, Canada ... The US, OTOH, conquered Iran, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and those places are the same shitholes they were before. They are actually worse now after you screwed them up. Want their oil? Conquer them, get their oil, and in the process establish there and build trains and schools. The Colony model works, the big country takes the resources and cheap work that they need, and the small startup country grows and learns. Eventually, it becomes independent.

    But if you keep conquering, screwing the place up, and then leaving, with the sole goal of selling more weapons and controlling the price of oil, people will hate you mroe and more, and they'll continue trying to blow the fuck out of your country.

    Being a self righteous fuck and saying "why does the world hate us" doesn't help. Realizing what you are, and acting in consequence does.

  • by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @09:05PM (#30786466)

    And lord knows holding those responsible responsible is a novel concept.

    I don't know what George Tenet did or didn't do, I don't know how much of a nutball the owner of that site is, and I have no idea if McGovern was good as his job while he was in the business for 27 years, but he was right about that one thing: there are no consequences to being appointed to a prominent US government position and being a fuckup.

    That site had a funny smell around the edges and some of McGovern's response starting out seemed pretty hand-wavy, but the part about why the CIA was created and why there's a Director of that organization rang true. Intelligence about Japanese intentions was available, it failed to be correlated, and Pearl Harbor happened. So why did the investigation fail to name names? Why did the 9/11 Commission mumble around with suggestions that didn't involve actual people?

    I can think of two answers to that, that are the opposite sides of the same coin. The first being the good old boy network: "George is a good man he is. I know 'cause I see him in passing every Tuesday at my country club. He must be a good man, because I'm a good man, and we're both members of the same clubs and go to the same restaurants and the same shows." The second being everybody on the Commission wanted to believe that each individual in US intelligence was competent, well-meaning, and diligently doing their job. "Aww shucks, he don't mean nuttin'. If he got appointed to that there job, surely he couldn't have done anything wrong. That's unpossible!" They wrote of institutional failure, as if institutions have some existence outside of the people staffing them. The consequences of the two attitudes result in an unholy marriage of cronyism and irresponsibility.

    People decry the children of today. Everybody gets a trophy for showing up, everybody wins, everybody is a beautiful and unique snowflake. I've got bad news. It starts at the top, with OLD people. Elementary schools are just falling in line. George Tenet is 57 years old and presided over what was arguably the US's worst intelligence failure of the past 100 years (2402 killed at Pearl Harbor, 2992 killed on 9/11). Judging by his Wikipedia page (which shows evidence of mangling by opposing factions), he's still wealthy and comfortable and happy. They even gave him a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    I suppose he got it for showing up.

  • Oh ffs people. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ZarathustraDK ( 1291688 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @09:08PM (#30786490)
    Terrorists are trolls.

    Don't feed the trolls, it's fucking simple.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @09:15PM (#30786566)

    five and a half years later we're still reeling from that inaction.

    Really? We've had, what, like one terrorist attack - the fort hood guy - since then that killed anyone. Ok, I guess the DC sniper counts too.

    If anything, we are reeling from too much action - the tens of billions of dollars of wasted productivity every year just because of the pointless hassle at the airports. How many people have died indirectly because of that? What life-saving drugs have been slowed coming to market by 6 months or a year? What charitable contributions to food banks and medical procedures have dried up because the money went to dealing with the inefficiencies created by the TSA?

    I'm confident in saying we've killed more people indirectly with our counter-terrorism programs than we have saved. After all, the TSA makes a press release every time they bust a guy with a lot of drugs or water bottle and a taped-up battery pack, [] but they have never once issued a press release stating that they've stopped an actual terrorist attack on a plane. And when they are actually tested - they miss the bomb 90% of of the time. [] And just look at the idiots they actually convict of plotting terrorist attacks - like the guys who thought they could blow up JFK by igniting a gas pipeline. [] The guys they "catch" are so hopeless they were no threat to begin with.

  • by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @09:20PM (#30786600)

    I didnt realise you work for the CIA or the DHS to know about every foiled attack or plot to say that attacks have been near-zero. Just because you dont see the attacks being foiled, doesnt mean they arent happening.

    And how do you measure that Israel fails more often than the US? Perhaps percentage wise Israel succeeds more often, as they are attacked far, far more often than the US.

    And I suppose you do work for the CIA? You have precisely as much evidence as he does: none. Sounds like you're preaching what you want to believe, not what is.

    Spies the world over have long held their successes close to their vests, because a successful asset is an asset still in place, potentially capable of yet more success in the future. If their efforts are actually meeting with success, you and I won't know about it until long after they're dead, and possibly not until after the organization they infiltrated is dead.

    What makes people think there aren't very many successes is their string of prominent failures. The nonsense we undergo at airports still failed to notice a guy with a badly-built bomb in his underwear. I have to take my shoes off because of the shoe bomber. I guess I'll count myself lucky not to have to take my pants off when I fly tomorrow, despite the underwear bomber.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @09:23PM (#30786616)

    Like what happened during 9/11? Or the underpants bomber? Or the shoe bomber? Perhaps the bali bombers? Only the 9/11 hijackers fit the mold of the experienced terrorists. The others are fairly low grade terrorists with nearly no experience, just given a bomb and told to set it off.

    You are proving my point. 9/11 was it. Underpants and shoes didn't work - they weren't good enough. Bali bombers were in their home court they had experience with local society.

    I didnt realise you work for the CIA or the DHS to know about every foiled attack or plot to say that attacks have been near-zero. Just because you dont see the attacks being foiled, doesnt mean they arent happening.

    Don't try to play that game. Absence of evidence is not evidence. But there is plenty of evidence to the contrary - every single indicted terrorist plotter in the US has been a total incompetent. The JFK bombers [], the Sears Tower Plot [], etc, etc. If they are so willing to trot out these incompetents and actually take them to trial, you can be pretty sure they would at least charge ONE competent terrorist. But so far, nada.

    Israel succeeds more often, as they are attacked far, far more often than the US.

    TADA! Glad you see my point. Now I just don't understand why you thought you had to argue with me in the first place.

  • BZZZ. Thanks for playing.

    We want them to catch the bad guys - AND WHEN THEY FAIL to do that job, hold them accountable. Which wasn't clear in the summary, but was clear in the article.

    George Tenet was the CIA director. CIA's job is to get all of the intelligence information in a CENTRAL agency (who knew?). Mandated by congress at it's creation after WWII.

    9/11 happened. CIA blew it, and there was no consequence for the people We The People hired. Tenet wasn't fired for NOT DOING HIS GODDAMN JOB.

    Instead of holding the CIA accountable for their failure, we create Homeland Security, National terrorism center, TSA, Patriot Act, so-on and so-forth, ad infinitum. We declare "War on Terror" - which will end up like the War on Poverty or the War on Drugs. Generate a lot of money for a lot of technology and industry without ever providing a path to victory.

    Bureaucracy at it's finest.

    Too bad we didn't have a President. He could've said "CIA blew it. Tenet, you're fired. Let's get someone in here who can be bothered to be responsible."
    Instead we have all of the BS that's been justified in the name of security, and we're worse off (security-wise) than we were on 9/12/2001.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @09:31PM (#30786680)

    To clarify: "invited" by the absolute monarch of Saudi Arabia. Our presence was not at all popular with the population, but the king didn't particularly give a fuck.

    Oh, and we executed Japanese commanders for authorizing the waterboarding of POWs during WWII. Can you explain why Bush and Cheney both shouldn't be in front of a firing squad?

  • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <> on Friday January 15, 2010 @09:36PM (#30786728) Homepage
    No, our military was invited into Saudi Arabia. Dont be confused between our post war occupation of Germany/Japan following WW2 and our military arrangements with Britain, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, etc.. When you are allowed in without having to fire a shot, your invited. Your characterization is simply trying to frame the US as "occupiers".

    What exactly is your point? It's the "righties" who trot out the tired old "they hate us for their freedoms." Stating that's bin Laden's reasoning doesn't imply agreement with his beliefs.

    As far as politicizing counter terrorism, it was the Obama administration that made it political, threatening to prosecute intelligence agency personnel for actions taken during the Bush administration. Its all about politics.

    The right has politicized terrorism to the point of absurdity, and Obama's administration just threatened to prosecute intelligence agency personnel for BREAKING THE LAW.
  • by Torodung ( 31985 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @09:44PM (#30786798) Journal

    Actually, I would say that's right on. Congress, the whole darned institution, not just your O'Reilly-esque political Punch and Judy show, should be held accountable for any failure(s) of the CIA.

    They oversee it. They order it. Michael Scheuer smartly said, during the hearings on extraordinary rendition, that a "half-assed bureaucrat like [himself] wouldn't do anything without the approval of Congress."

    I wanted to stand up and applaud him when I saw it. We kidnapped people with Congressional authority, and it is amazing that nobody's been held accountable for their incredible lack of ethics and malfeasance. There needs to be an investigation.


  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:09PM (#30786982) Journal

    and Obama's administration just threatened to prosecute intelligence agency personnel for BREAKING THE LAW.

    Doesn't it seem just a little bit unfair to you to prosecute people whom were relying on legal opinions issued by our own Justice Department advising them that what they were about to do was in fact legal?

  • by randomencounter ( 653994 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:15PM (#30787012)
    That just adds to the list of people who need to be prosecuted.
  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:16PM (#30787024)


    First, the US is not an empire. Empires take from their subject states, the United States gives out money, technology and protection. Look at the Roman Empire or British Empire, they levied troops from their subject territories while ripping out the natural resources and taxing trade.

    Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan have never been part of this American Empire you are spouting about. the US sold Saudi Arabia technology, bought oil and let Saudis come to school in the US. Afghanistan's relations with the US were even more tenuous, Iraq was more of a French and Soviet client-state than American ally, while Yemeni-American relations have been distant while the US helped Pakistan for decades against the Soviets and India.

    The UK didn't conquer most of the world, at peak they controlled 1/4 of the land mass and population, and they never controlled the vast bulk of the continental United States.

    Your examples of countries the US "conquered" are all wrong, here are some countries the US did control and did conquer.

    Western Germany.
    South Korea.
    Central and western United States.

    Look at Israel's economy (a client state of the US) compared to the economy of Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi - they have the highest per capita GDP.

    Take some time to look at Vietnam - the US pulled out, the south was lost and now that its opened up to the west, its booming. Look at the quality of life in Afghanistan now, oh and it's far from conquered.

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:20PM (#30787048) Journal

    Oh, and we executed Japanese commanders for authorizing the waterboarding of POWs during WWII. Can you explain why Bush and Cheney both shouldn't be in front of a firing squad?

    Because terrorists that hide behind civilians and refuse to obey the laws of war aren't entitled to the same treatment as soldiers who fight under a flag and officers?

    Since you brought up WWII, why don't you do a little research and find out what happened to unlawful combatants who violated the laws of war. Start by researching the German troops that fought behind the line in Allied uniforms during the Battle of the Bulge. When we captured them they were subject to summary execution.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:22PM (#30787056) Journal

    All that needs to be done is to point the bastards at their proper target, and let the chickens come to roost

    It's very hard to "point" extremists anywhere, especially when they're hopped up on religion, fried from hatred, and/or shackled from ignorance.

    Maybe the best we can do is make sure their activities don't have the desired effect, which is to make us terrified.

    I can say with statistical certainty that nobody who's reading this tonight is going to die from terrorism, or from terrorists being treated like the criminals they are. All the fear does is make us a more attractive target. If the people who are trying disrupt our society by making us afraid find out that they're not going to have the desired effect, it might not be so easy to convince a 26 year-old young man to blow himself up.

    Take reasonable precautions around the soft targets, sure. Investigate extremist groups, sure. If someone wants to learn to fly a plane but not land, maybe ask some questions. But putting society into a forever war won't do a damned thing to stop terrorism. Just the notion of a "War on Terror" plays into the hands of the people who want to disrupt our society.

    These are not James Bond super-villians we're talking about here. Not an "existential threat". Just sociopaths who believe that there's something holy and heroic about killing civilians. Nutty, dangerous criminals, in other words. We've used law enforcement to deal with nutty criminals for nearly a millennium and society has survived and progressed.

    I think it's pretty clear that the impetus for the "War on Terror" really doesn't have anything to do with "stopping terror" and may be just the opposite. Maybe fighting terrorism has less to do with what our military or intelligence service does than what we decide to do ourselves, as a civil society.

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:24PM (#30787070) Journal

    Good luck finding 12 American citizens willing to convict a CIA officer of torture when they find out whom he was torturing and the fact that he had legal authorization from DoJ to do so.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:06PM (#30787274) Homepage

    Surely not too many, and five and a half years later we're still reeling from that inaction.

    Hey I have a suggestion that may help with this problem:

    Stop reeling.

    No seriously, just stop. You'll be okay. The impact of the blow that initially caused you to reel has long since passed and it's just your own head that is keeping you in this state. So just stop. America has been like a child that was pushed down and just keeps crying and crying and crying. But as soon as you make a funny face at them or otherwise distract them suddenly they're smiling again because the injury stopped hurting a while ago, it's just their brains told them they had been hurt so they should keep crying.

    That's us. That's you. You're reeling because your brain says you should be; there's no real reason for it. It's gone on long enough and it's time to get over it. Terrorism happens. It happens to us a lot less than it happens to other people, and while the one major attack we've had was one of the worst, since then our country has been safe and peaceful compared to so many other parts of the world. Britain, Spain, damn, Israel! They've had to deal with this kind of thing regularly and you know what? When something bad happens they are angry and sad and hurt but then they move on. They don't spend eight years reeling from a single blow.

    This is why so many democracies supported us when we invaded Afghanistan. Because that was appropriate and they understood our pain. Then they were not so supportive when we invaded Iraq in the name of the War on Terror, because it made no sense. And despite all the disinformation the government was spouting, we both know that the only reason that we, the American people, went along with the invasion of Iraq was because we were still reeling. The people were terrified and angry, and they went along with any outlet for it. We were like a child, lashing out at any enemy even if they weren't the one who hurt us.

    So you know the number one thing that we need to do as a country? We need to take a lesson from our British, Spanish, French, Israeli, Japanese, and so on and so on friends and just get over it. Shrug and move on. Terrorism happens, and what the terrorists want is for you to spend eternity terrified that they might do it again. Get it? That's why they're called terrorists?

    Frankly we need to be doing less to stop terror. At least in the way we have been. TSA and DHS and all this bullshit isn't helping, it's just reminding us that we were hurt so we should be scared and angry and all that. We both agree that they've done shit as far as effective policy goes, yet here we are still safe and sound and unhurt. The tools we need to fight terror are the ones we've had all along -- give them more resources if you must, but that's the extent of it. They'll never be good enough, so occasionally someone will hurt us. Oh well such is life.

  • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:15PM (#30787334)

    Or maybe too many people are involved in the process to be clear who exactly is at fault. If there's a bug in code I've written alone that's probably my fault, but if that bug shows up in a shipped version of a playstation game there are lots of layers of people who might have made a mistake.

    Intelligence on a global scale is a huge operation, the guy who takes the phone call in nigeria is not the same guy who sends it to a law enforcement agency or who tries to do anything about it. Computers are really good at searching and sorting, that's what we as computer scientists spend most of our time doing. But the data gathered needs to be unique, entered properly, and then the person doing the search needs to search for the right thing. But that requires an initial step to centralize all the information from decentralized sources, and the distribute the information out, to the right people, and then have it not be buried in noise. That's not easy, at all. There's no one person who can read everything. I think of the relatively simple problem of catching cheaters on written work at school. If you have 1000 students and 10 markers your odds of finding two identical papers go way down compared to 1 person marking 20 or 30. You can put it in a computer and it will search for 'similarities' but without enough useful parameters everything is going to be similar to everything else. Finding a paper that is very similar to one on the same topic submitted 10 years ago is even harder. If you've got 20 or 30 000 people you're watching for general terrorist activities at any given time that requires an immense undertaking of people and technology, the system really can be at fault. People can be at fault too, but then if your system will fail when a small number of people make mistakes it's not a very fault tolerant system. On top of all that, it's not like anyone really knows how to do this sort of thing. We may have been fighting roughly the same people in various stages for hundreds of years but now in a single 9-5 shift a guy who was being watched in nigeria can cross into europe, and a shift later be in the US. The Israelis sort of by definition don't let in a lot people who come from countries that might be hostile to them (and the reverse). The problem the US faces isn't unique in the world, but the pace and scope of the problem are unique in time. No one has faced a threat so relatively small yet deadly, distributed so widely, and so rapidly. Finding the right people, training them properly aren't exactly known quantities, calling out an individual who has messed up is dumb, because no one wants to be the scapegoat when there are dozens of people above and below them in the chain who could have done something about their errors.

    For all the talk of this underwear bombers father calling in and saying he thinks his son is up to something, what we don't know is how often they get calls like that, and how many of them are just plain wrong, how long it takes to track this down and how many people in the intelligence community are basically running around on wild goose chases.

  • by DeadCatX2 ( 950953 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:34PM (#30787428) Journal

    As far as politicizing counter terrorism, it was the Obama administration that made it political

    I have this vague memory about some color coded threat level that was never green, and seemed to go from yellow to orange any time there was an election...

  • by Evil Shabazz ( 937088 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @12:34AM (#30787730)
    A bunch of muslim-ish arabs (19 of 'em) attacked us.

    FIFY. What those extremists claim to be Islam is not Islam.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @01:00AM (#30787872)

    I mean, how many times the Islamic terrorists have struck the infidels ?

    Holy shit! World wide your examples killed well under the number of people that die in two months on the road in the USA.
    And I should be shitting my pants because of that? Get the fuck outta here you innumerate slob.

  • by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @01:03AM (#30787898) Homepage

    # Our government attacked.... Afghanistan, which had nothing to do with the attack on us. Billions spent.

    That's blatantly untrue.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @01:15AM (#30787968)

    * Riots and car burning in France

    And, btw, your citing of the riots in france as the result of islamic terrorists is total bullshit. A massive display of ignorance on your part that only shows how ignorant you are of the real world.

    Other than initial media hype, its well understood that the riots were not about religion - nobody was running around saying "lets burn those cars in the name of Allah!" The riots were all about economics - the underclass living in the ghettos getting pushed around one time too many. Just like the race riots in the US were not the caused by people being black but rather people being marginalized. A society that doesn't deal equitably with all members is the root cause of riots like those - not religion and not race.

  • by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @01:20AM (#30788006) Homepage Journal

    Because terrorists that hide behind civilians and refuse to obey the laws of war aren't entitled to the same treatment as soldiers who fight under a flag and officers?

    So the right to not be tortured is now reserved for uniformed members of the military?

    Since you brought up WWII, why don't you do a little research and find out what happened to unlawful combatants who violated the laws of war. Start by researching the German troops that fought behind the line in Allied uniforms during the Battle of the Bulge.

    Surely you don't think German troops wearing Allied uniforms are analogous to independent terrorists and civilians captured in a war zone.

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd.bandrowsky@gma i l .com> on Saturday January 16, 2010 @02:02AM (#30788190) Homepage Journal

    Surely you don't think German troops wearing Allied uniforms are analogous to independent terrorists and civilians captured in a war zone.

    If they are shooting at you, what's the difference? The guy in the uniform declares himself to be a soldier, and to play by the rules of war. The guy who just carries the gun, is not a professional soldier, not playing by the rules, and so he dies.

    I mean, somebody shoots at you, you shoot them. It's brutal, but that's war.

    None of the people in Gitmo should have ever even been prisoners.

  • by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @02:11AM (#30788228) Homepage Journal

    If they are shooting at you, what's the difference?

    Maybe you've missed the context of the thread. At the point in time we're talking about, no one is shooting at anyone -- the "enemy combatant" has been captured and is no longer armed.

    I mean, somebody shoots at you, you shoot them. It's brutal, but that's war.

    Sure. If someone's shooting at you, go ahead and shoot back. But if you decide to capture him instead, don't torture him. Seems pretty simple: it's a straightforward application of the principle "don't torture anyone".

    None of the people in Gitmo should have ever even been prisoners.

    You seem to be implying that everyone in Gitmo was shooting at us (and thus should've been killed instead of captured). I hope you realize that isn't true.

  • by MrSteveSD ( 801820 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @02:13AM (#30788240)

    Because terrorists that hide behind civilians and refuse to obey the laws of war aren't entitled to the same treatment as soldiers who fight under a flag and officers?

    Do you include the "terrorists" who actually turned out to be completely innocent. e.g. Khalid El-Masri [] . Who gets to decide who is a terrorist or or unlawful combatant? The victor? If those "soldiers and flag officers" are captured as reclassified as unlawful combatants,does it suddenly become ok to torture them?

    What if some "military contractors" are captured? Is it ok to torture them because they are not official soldiers? The problem is, when a country starts torturing people in this way and deciding who's a legitimate soldier or not, it sets a dangerous example. The same game can be played by anyone. e.g. US Special forces caught in Iran? With no official war declared, Iran could claim they are unlawful combatants and have no rights. It's a very dangerous path.

    Since you brought up WWII, why don't you do a little research and find out what happened to unlawful combatants who violated the laws of war. Start by researching the German troops that fought behind the line in Allied uniforms during the Battle of the Bulge. When we captured them they were subject to summary execution.

    WWII saw it's own version of the reclassification of POWs. Just after the war German POWs were reclassified as Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEFs). This was so that their Geneva Convention rights could be denied. Yet again, the victor gets to decide who is allowed to be treated as a proper POW. Any soldier serving in the US army should be angry over this kind of practice since they may end up as a POW themselves at some point.

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @02:13AM (#30788242)


    Why have terrorists launched attacks against non-US entities then? In poor countries even.

  • Perfect Example (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 16, 2010 @03:10AM (#30788464)

    This whole thread is a perfect example of the fact that Americans can't even rationally discuss anything with each other anymore due to their simplistic political dichotomy. What the hell is going on in that country?

  • by a0schweitzer ( 1702404 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @03:13AM (#30788472)
    I find it so very interesting how anti-government Americans (well, all North-Americans, really) are. The government is put in place BY YOU, to protect YOU, and can be changed any time, by, you guessed it: YOU. It's interesting to see support for establishing American-style democracy in Iraq, while those same supporters don't trust their own government. People support the military because they are patriotic and love their country, yet don't trust their own government. Obviously the system doesn't work, and maybe more thought should be given to putting a broken system in place in Iraq.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @04:53AM (#30788712)

    Oh, you may still say what you want. Just anywhere []. I may still post things on the internet. But I should be prepared to be arrested for things I didn't even write []. You may still protest against politicians. But you'll be sent to areas where nobody cares and certainly no camera will see your protest.

    In case you didn't notice, you're still allowed to say what you want, what's limited is your exposure. And what is it good for to talk about grievances if it's made sure that nobody can hear you? It's classic constitution circumvention. You're not silenced because you can't say what you want, you're silenced by taking away any possible audience that might hear you.

  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @05:24AM (#30788798) Homepage Journal

    As much as I hate to defend one of Bush's decisions, this isn't true. Osama bin Laden was in Afghanistan, and the Taliban refused to hand him over because (1) they didn't believe he was linked to the 9/11 attacks and (2) he was a "guest" in their country.

    So what? That was entirely post-attack. The attack was paid for by Saudis, and executed by nationals from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Egypt.

    Now, do you see Iraq in that list? Fuck no, you don't. Do you see Afghanistan there? Fuck no, you don't. Do you see us attacking Egypt? No. Lebanon? No. The UAE? No. Saudi Arabia? No. Instead, we attacked Iraq (a total WTF) and Afghanistan, a country uninvolved in the attack; no nationals, no funding.

    And if you think it's ok to attack a country because they don't want to hand someone over, then you better start ducking, because the US holds people back from all manner of countries. A [], B [], C [], D [], etc.

    If you think it's ok to attack a country because you don't agree with how they do things, then holy chickenshit, you'd *really* better duck, because there's a whole line of countries that can say that about us.

    If you think it's ok to attack a country because they're screwed up internally, that is, not obeying their constitution or other founding papers... yeah, you guessed it, duck. because we're so far away from our constitution it can't be seen from here.

    But I think you might agree with me that if someone attacks you, then you have some justification to hit back at where they come from and/or who paid/ordered the act. Let me repeat, just for the sake of trying to point the objective facts to you:

    • Saudi Arabia
    • United Arab Emirates
    • Egypt
    • Lebanon
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 16, 2010 @05:41AM (#30788846)

    A bunch of muslim-ish arabs (19 of 'em) attacked us.

    FIFY. What those extremists claim to be Islam is not Islam.

    I get tired of these 'oh but thats not us' statements.

    If your world view is based on 'just because' then you can justifiy anything and 'just because' is the core of all religion.

    The 'moderates' enable the extremists; these people can't operate without at least some support in their community, its pretty difficult to get a group of 4 or 5 people together and start planning murder without someone's girlfriend, family, friends etc getting a whiff of it.

    The islamic community is producing 100% of the suicide bombers - there is something going wrong in that society that obviously needs to be addressed.

  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @05:47AM (#30788866) Homepage Journal

    what the fuck is "Muslimist arabs" ?

    Whatever you want to call them. I feel absolutely zero need to respect the current PC terminology for these superstitious middle easterners, or their so-called "religion." It's a cult of reality-challenged people, just like every other religion, and just like every other religion, it breeds more reality-challenged people doing moronic things.

    As far as I'm concerned, our ideal path here is to crash develop electric vehicles, never buy another drop of oil from them, never let another one across our borders, and never send them another red cent. Let them eat sand, to vaguely paraphrase Marie Antoinette, and with about as much concern as her delivery.

    Muslims don't come from any particular group of humans

    Sure they do. They come from a nice mix of the gullible, the ignorant, and the reality-challenged. The same place Christians come from. It's purest superstition. They live their lives -- and die -- by/for an imaginary friend. They're natural idiots, or people of sadly lost potential made idiotic by consumption of mythology.

  • by Makawity ( 684480 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @06:04AM (#30788934)

    "Rooted out the entire German ruling class"? Get back to your history book. Yes, the top level tier was tried and sentenced, but middle- and low-level nazi party officials not only remained mostly untouched, but kept their offices and roles well into the 60s, changing only the facade (which was one of the major points of the revolt of '68 in Germany).

  • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @06:58AM (#30789176)

    You say the USA is not an empire but Israel is a client state of the USA? It seems to me that empires still do exist but the forms of power are a little more subtle than in the Roman or British Empire. People are not excluded from positions of power if they are not Roman citizens - though it could be argued that you'd be marginalised from positions of power if you don't speak English in 'client states'. The British flag is not run up flag poles right across the Empire - though there are preferential trading agreements and even pricing for 'client states' and promises of economic and other support.

    I think geopolitics still exists but it has become a little more subtle. To be fair of course this doesn't just refer to the USA but many other countries. It strikes me that aid money - long term, not disaster support, can be used as a means of establishing and maintaining influence.

  • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @07:05AM (#30789214) Journal

    The vast majority of muslims are a little bit hypocritical. Same as the vast majority of all people. They subscribe to Islam and revere the Koran, and indeed many do have a lot of sincere faith. But the Koran contains, as does the Bible and other holy books, odd little things that if taken literally and in absolute terms, are very destructive. So they're quietly downplayed or forgotten about. So who gets to say who is a True Scotsman *ahem* True Muslim. Well there's no absolute authority other than God / Allah Itself, and It isn't publishing specifications in the papers for us. For most people, including muslims, someone is a muslim (or a Christian) if they say they are.

    A lot of criticism which starts from picking out some part of the Koran to illustrate how Islam believes in wiping out non-believers or whatever, is flawed. Not because there aren't such examples in the Koran, but because it's not really addressing the vast bulk of muslims who don't in their hearts believe or want such things. Yet these people are still muslims. It's an argument based on wanting to prove that culture X is evil and therefore finding legalistic reasons why it ought to be, instead of actual observation. There are nearly two-billion people on this planet that self-identify as muslim. If even one in ten-thousand were determined terrorists wanting to commit atrocities on the United States of America, that would be two-hundred thousand 9/11 hijackers, shoe-bombers, market-place killers decimating the USA right now. Simple fact of the matter is that muslims, like everyone else, are basically just people. There are good and bad bits to their cultures (and I'm an outspoken critic of some of those bad bits), but the demonisation of many millions of people by much of the US media is absurd. And the responses of the US government are absurd - and that's why the anti-terrorism measures have been ineffective:
    The causes of terrorism have gone unacknowledged because they have to be. To acknowledge them is to address excess influence on policy and media by the oil industries, by the military-industrial complex, by politicians playing the Fear card to win votes and power, it's to acknowledge the actions of the Israeli government and the US sponsorship of their actions, it's to acknowledge the US navy bombing resistance camps at the request of the Saudi regime, it's to acknowledge all sorts of things that the US government doesn't want to acknowledge. But like someone who's an alcoholic, compulsive eater or whatever, you can't address a problem if you don't acknowledge it is there.
  • by shaka ( 13165 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @07:23AM (#30789286)

    First, the US is not an empire. Empires take from their subject states, the United States gives out money, technology and protection.

    There are different kinds of empires. Not all of them do their conquering as blatantly as Genghis Khan or the Spanish conquistas. The British Empire was a trade empire during it's first half, exporting technology, trading and bringing home wealth. Chinese empires have seldom attempted to expand or conquer.

    Look at the Roman Empire or British Empire, they levied troops from their subject territories while ripping out the natural resources and taxing trade.

    When the US entered Afghanistan, they bought war lords to help them combat the Taliban. The US doesn't tax trade but controls the rules of trade.
    The US is an empire all right.

    Different empires have different missions, but as imperial missions come, the American mission is pretty similar to the British and the Roman: To spread "civilization" in the name of a christian god. Look to the Spanish empire, the Chinese empires, Tsar Russia and the Soviet Union for other missions.

    I really recommend reading Empires: The Logic of World Domination from Ancient Rome to the United States [] by Herfried Münkler, a great book which steers clear of the usual theories of imperialism and tries to go beyond, to explain the dynamics of empires, hegemonies and states.

  • The real picture (Score:2, Insightful)

    by El Nigromante ( 1059332 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @07:49AM (#30789390) Homepage

    Someone stated wisely, in a previous comment, that you should attack disease's roots, not symptoms.


    The fundamental origins of current islamic terrorism lay in old Cold War's "dirty" strategies carried out by both blocks (mainly USSR and USA), in order to undermine the enemy's stability.

    - USA funded and supported today's talibans (and Ben Laden) against USSR, and the Iraq of Saddam Hussein (against Iran). I would not be surprised if any Western help (of any kind) had supported Chechenian "terrorists".

    - USSR has continuously supported Palestinian terrorism and Iran's activities (against Israeli and American influence in the Middle East). The support from Russia to current anti-american parties and forces in Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru and Cuba is also evident.

    Saying that Cold War is ended just because the flags of some countries changed colour is just a joke. It will not end as long as irresponsible politicians and military commanders, with psycho minded profiles, keep ruling the most powerful countries in the world (same for their allies). And as long as people do not use their heads when voting.

    Regarding the statements above, it is highly probable the real truth has not been told about Irak and Afghanistan wars. Warning hostile nations might have been another one of the objectives to be achieved. You may call them "preventive" wars.


    On the other hand, Islamic terrorism is not the first one to be used as a political / lobby influence weapon. USA (with many citizens with Irish origins) has tradicionally given a "mild" treat and media coverage - just to say it softly - to IRA terrorists. More or less the same has happend with France and other countries - USA too - to Spanish ETA terrorist group. In the case of ETA, France began to fight its criminal activities when they started to cause harm to French prestige and security.

    You have the funny example of "The Jackal" remake: a former IRA terrorist (Richard Gere) and his former girlfriend and ETA terrorist are presented as old warriors for indepence, who help FBI in their investigations. Well, you must call them "terrorists" when they perform massive killings, kidnapping, extortion and other activities of the kind.


    Now comes another funny example with body scanners for airports. A "fair" meassure just to avoid incidents like those not prevented because of intelligence agencies' incompetence.


    As a summary, I think:

    - Security threats should not be either overestimated or underestimated: just take appropriate measures actually proved "and not believed" to be effective.

    - Don't feed ANY beast. If you think you are going to keep control you are underestimating it. You asshole. You may not be as intelligent as you think you are just because you attended a military academy or expensive university (if any). Common sense cannot be learnt but at your own home.

    - Act honestly, and you will save your own reputation around the world, and all those bitches will have less stupid reasons to gather stupid dumbasses willing to blow themselves to shit.

    - That includes providing your citizens with fair and enough information, and wasting their money wisely.

    - If you are a citizen, watch less TV and read more books. You may start reading Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @09:50AM (#30789954) Journal

    Ooh. Go to Scotland and say it is your favorite part of england. Hope you can run fast. Then do it in the wrong parts of northern Ireland.

    Many Indians (the sub continent, not the race the USA practically wiped out) fought WITH the nazi's to dismantle the British empire. The palestines worked together with the nazi's as well, again to get the British out (and this is one of the reasons britain has had such a dubious role in the entire conflict, basically both Israelis and Palestinians fought them).

    Now the british empire or commonwealth is not all overrun by hate, but neither is the US "empire". Why do you think the US does so well with its movies? Because people around the world love them. If the US was truly so hated, McDonalds etc would not be able to sell their products world-wide.

    And of course, your logic fails to account for terrorist attacks in other parts of the world. Why all the attacks in Iraq against muslims? Why does Morocco have a fence? Why is India attacked by terrorists from Pakistan?

    No, you got pet peeve with the US, fine but it is clouding your vision. The enemy of my enemy is not your friend.

  • by EllisDees ( 268037 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:28AM (#30790492)

    I hope you are joking in regards to applying torture for such petty reasons (or for any reason, really). If not, go fuck yourself you subhuman creature.

  • by Hasai ( 131313 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:53AM (#30790670)

    Honest. That's it.

    Nobody in a government bureaucracy ever gets fired, no matter how much they screw-up. So, when the pundits and the politicians huff and puff, all the bureaucrats do is roll their eyes and go back to business as usual.

    Go all the way down the chain of the command, and FIRE every single person who touched this mess. Only then will you get the bureaucrats' attention.

    'Nuff said.

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @04:04PM (#30792660)

    You're not silenced because you can't say what you want, you're silenced by taking away any possible audience that might hear you.

    If your possible audience can't hear you, how do we and millions of others know about it?

  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @05:43PM (#30793346) Homepage Journal

    If you want to demonstrate that the cause of terrorism is religion, you have not even come close.

    I could go on all day and probably all night citing examples where religion led directly to specific acts of single and group violence, and to war. The point that I was making there is that religion - specifically Islam and Christianity - contains great violence, and instruction and incitement to violence, and as the whole thing (being religious) is the act of substituting canned, centuries old goat herder thinking for actually processing modern reality, this incitement to violence naturally leads some religious adherents to said, or similar, or what they perceive as equivalent or sufficient, violence. And again, I could cite example after example, certainly beginning with the current round of camel fuckery, but hardly limited to it, or to Islam. Religion is idiocy, and more to the point, it is dangerous idiocy.

    Another thing. If you think that these explosive-underwear sporting clods would be so quick to off themselves if they hadn't been assured of a place in paradise, you're only fooling yourself. When the only life you have to live is understood to be the very one you are living, it takes a lot more than an abstract for any person to be willing to just give it up. Religion is directly complicit in cheapening human life in precisely this manner.

  • by ajlisows ( 768780 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @08:01PM (#30794606)

    Dude, your first post was very well said but making blanket statements about large groups of people just because they believe differently than you isn't being funny or intelligent, it is outright being a bigot.

    I myself am an Atheist and have a hard time believing so many people are so into Religion, but hey, I could be dead wrong. The belief that there is no Supreme Being to worship is a belief and leap of faith in itself. As much as we've progressed with science and logic we have not found that key that says with 100% certainty that there is no such thing as God/Allah/Random Deity.

    As far as my faith (or lack thereof) is concerned I have as of late been hanging around with a group of people from Iran and a group of people from Palestine, all followers of the Islamic faith. I'm not sure I've met many people more open minded about my opinions. I treat their religious ideals with respect (Instead of say...telling them that they are idiots) and they do the same for me. That is more than I can say about most Christians (who inform me that I am going to Hell or something) or how most Atheist/Agnostic people treat those involved with religion (who usually are more than willing to tell people how stupid and ignorant they are.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it is too dark to read.