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Who's Soft on Terrorism?
October 9, 2007 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Who's soft on terrorism? Surely not the Democrats, who are about to enable the National Security Agency to extend its secret domestic wiretapping program after saying otherwise for months. Surely not the Republican White House, determined to rush out a new Osama bin Laden video even if it burns an intelligence connection spying on Al Qaeda that has been carefully cultivated for years.
posted by digaman (81 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Re: WaPo Article: Well, that'll teach that private intelligence company to watermark their downloads.

Re: NYT: God democrats suck ass.
posted by delmoi at 8:08 AM on October 9, 2007


FISA "fixed" permanently. Zero action taken on any number of fronts in the War Against The Bush Administration. None of the major D candidates is planning to pull out of Iraq.

Why exactly should I vote for these fucks? And don't say "the alternative is worse"--if the Rs were in charge it would take less time for the people to get angry enough to revolt.
posted by DU at 8:09 AM on October 9, 2007 [7 favorites]


Cowards and traitors.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 8:11 AM on October 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


Went looking for a Pogo quote re this. Didn't find exactly what I was looking for, but I did find these:

"Having lost sight of our objectives, we redoubled our efforts."

"We have met the enemy and he is us."
posted by neuron at 8:22 AM on October 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


White House Leaked Classified Info to FOX News...
“‘The founder of the company, the SITE Intelligence Group, says this premature disclosure tipped al-Qaeda to a security breach and destroyed a years-long surveillance operation that the company has used to intercept and pass along secret messages, videos and advance warnings of suicide bombings from the terrorist group's communications network.’
Okay, so we know that SITE has some amazingly important intel. They pass it on to the Bush administration. And, it ends up on Fox News:
‘Exactly what happened next is unclear. But within minutes of Katz's e-mail to the White House, government-registered computers began downloading the video from SITE's server, according to a log of file transfers. The records show dozens of downloads over the next three hours from computers with addresses registered to defense and intelligence agencies.

By midafternoon, several television news networks reported obtaining copies of the transcript. A copy posted around 3 p.m. on Fox News's Web site referred to SITE and included page markers identical to those used by the group. ‘This confirms that the U.S. government was responsible for the leak of this document,’ Katz wrote in an e-mail to Leiter at 5 p.m.

Al-Qaeda supporters, now alerted to the intrusion into their secret network, put up new obstacles that prevented SITE from gaining the kind of access it had obtained in the past, according to Katz.’
So, how is it that the first thing some Bush staffer does -- and it had to be a high level Bushie -- how is it that the first thing they can think to do upon getting highly classified intel about al Qaeda is to call Fox News?”*
posted by ericb at 8:23 AM on October 9, 2007


SITE Intelligence Group website.
posted by ericb at 8:25 AM on October 9, 2007


Because to the Republicans, Osama bin Laden is the equivalent of a charismatic reality-TV star who can always be counted on to boost ratings during sweeps week, which is perpetual.
posted by digaman at 8:26 AM on October 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


DU Well, much as I don't want to say it myself, the alternative *IS* worse. I mean we have Constitution shredding, war mongering, idiots on the Republican side, and on the Democrat side we have people who passively let them get their way. Its a shitty choice, but I'll take "not actually fighting the bad guys" over "cackling evil villans" any day.

Obviously I'd prefer someone who will actually restore the Constitution, get us out of Iraq, and actually get to work solving the problems we're in.

But again, if its a choice between people who seem to want to make things worse, and wimps who won't fight for what's right, I'll take the wimps.

I do wonder though why our elected Democrats are so terified of being attacked by Republicans. I mean, history has shown that capitulating to their every whim still won't make 'em stop attacking the patriotism of the capitulating Democrats, so what's the point?

They say "we don't want to look weak on terror", well shit, why aren't they worried about looking weak on Bush?
posted by sotonohito at 8:26 AM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't vote for a Democratl Don't vote for a Republican. Don't vote...or vote for anyone from the two parties...in fact, if you are truly upset--and why not?--then what real alternative do you have? You could move but then England is probably just as b ad on spying, and I would guess that American tentacles (via NSA) are as omnipresent as Moby Dick was for Ahab...what, then, is to be done? Continue clever or snippy comments at this site? that will do it! (what would I do? write more comments like this one).
posted by Postroad at 8:27 AM on October 9, 2007


I'm always prepared to believe the worst about Democrats in Congress -- but I found the NYT piece to be ridiculously cynical. Isn't it possible that some Democrats think that extending the surveillance rules is actually the right thing to do? Not all politics is a conspiracy or tactical cowardice. Wasn't the whole point of running all those Iraq-tanned veterans on the Democratic line in 2006 to get a counterweight to Barbara Lee and Barney Frank?
posted by MattD at 8:27 AM on October 9, 2007


FOX News: White House Denies It Was Source of Bin Laden Video Leak
"The White House on Tuesday denied it was the source of a leak to the press last month of an Al Qaeda video that had been acquired by a private intelligence organization and forwarded to Bush administration officials.

...Asked by reporters if the White House was the source of the leak, spokeswoman Dana Perino said, 'We were not.'

'The White House is very concerned to learn about it,' Perino said, adding that any time a 'citizen comes forward to provide information, we want to encourage that type of communication, know their sources will be protected.

'When we receive information from an individual or a company we refer it to the intelligence community and that's what happened here.'

She referred further questions to the Director of National Intelligence."
posted by ericb at 8:28 AM on October 9, 2007


Man your government really does have no idea what its doing. It's kind of scary really.
posted by chunking express at 8:28 AM on October 9, 2007


...how is it that the first thing they can think to do upon getting highly classified intel about al Qaeda is to call Fox News?

Doesn't FoxNews have a seat in the Cabinet? Hardly a leak, then.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:29 AM on October 9, 2007


What's scarier to me is that some people think they "have no idea what they're doing," when everything they do points in the same direction.
posted by digaman at 8:31 AM on October 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


Just curious, MattD -- since the Congress has not been informed of the extent of the domestic wiretapping program, how could they make an informed decision about "the right thing to do" in that regard?
posted by digaman at 8:35 AM on October 9, 2007


Who's soft on terrorism?

I am, actually. Sorry 'bout that.
posted by NationalKato at 8:37 AM on October 9, 2007


Because to the Republicans, Osama bin Laden is the equivalent of a charismatic reality-TV star who can always be counted on to boost ratings during sweeps week, which is perpetual.

Tony Snow: ‘Bin Laden is outpolling Congress.’
“Last night on the David Letterman Show, former White House press secretary Tony Snow responded to Bush’s low approval ratings. ‘It’s not as good as it could be,’ he acknowledged. In an effort to change topics, he then compared Congress’s approval rating to the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. ‘Bin Laden is outpolling Congress,’ Snow declared.

If only the White House could show as much concern for bin Laden as it does for Congress’ ratings. Bin Laden has been on the loose for 2,215 days since 9/11. Because Bush’s attention has drifted, bin Laden is ‘stronger than ever.’ And now, Tony Snow is using bin Laden’s regained strength as a political tool.”
posted by ericb at 8:40 AM on October 9, 2007


Who's soft on terrorism?

I am, actually. Sorry 'bout that.


They have pills for that now, you know. If your outrage lasts for more than four years, call your doctor.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:46 AM on October 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


But again, if its a choice between people who seem to want to make things worse, and wimps who won't fight for what's right, I'll take the wimps.

If only it were such a choice. Instead, we have this choice:

1) Selfish bastards who want power any way they can get it and if that means talking a good game while actually voting the other way, so be it.

2) Republicans
posted by DU at 8:51 AM on October 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


(re: wiretapping) *Sigh*. I wish these things would stop happening just as much as any of you, but it's completely spurious to scapegoat the democrats. The Protect America Act from August was publicized as a flip-flop of the "democratic congress," even though three out of four democratic members of congress voted against it... versus the two republicans that did, total (out of 251). (source)

Now the same thing is happening with the extension. I see no reason to assume its backing falls along different partisan lines, but it's like the republicans get a free pass on their near-unanimous support for this idiocy while democrats get 100% of the blame for not opposing it hard enough.

We need to be clear: the republicans still control congress because they have terrifyingly consistent party solidarity, a willingness to abuse the system's safeguards to their own ends, and a sitting executive to back them up with the occasional veto. And apparently, as a cherry on this shit sundae, a lazy press that will write shamelessly deceptive tripe like this WaPo article.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:51 AM on October 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


...while democrats get 100% of the blame for not opposing it hard enough.

...the republicans still control congress because...

they can bring bad bills to the floor?

I will admit I didn't pay that much attention in civics class and what little I remember came mainly from Schoolhouse Rock. But Reid and Pelosi set the agenda, right? So how do stupid bills that only manage to make Republicans look good and/or Democrats look bad while screwing the rest of the country royally even get a chance at a vote from the lockstep Republicans?
posted by DU at 8:58 AM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth.

Contact your senator

Contact your representative
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 9:03 AM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jack shit, come to think about it. But still.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 9:03 AM on October 9, 2007


Here's Glenn Greenwald on it - he's far less cynical than the NYT.

At this point, it looks like there was no point in the Dems gaining control of Congress in 2006. They seem to love enabling this administration as much as their traitor colleagues across the aisle.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:03 AM on October 9, 2007


Correction: deceptive tripe like this WaPo NYT article.
posted by Riki tiki at 9:04 AM on October 9, 2007


digaman, they don't know how to run a country. Does it make it worse if they are being willfully useless?
posted by chunking express at 9:06 AM on October 9, 2007


MattD writes "'m always prepared to believe the worst about Democrats in Congress -- but I found the NYT piece to be ridiculously cynical. Isn't it possible that some Democrats think that extending the surveillance rules is actually the right thing to do?"

In that case, it's even worse. That is a sure way to lose my vote. I'm sure that Lieberman is also principled in his actions, but I can't support those principles.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:07 AM on October 9, 2007


I'm sure that Lieberman is also principled in his actions...

I'm not. His win in CT wasn't because CT wanted a pro-war Democrat. His win in CT came because he pretended to be an anti-war Democrat.
posted by DU at 9:15 AM on October 9, 2007


Maybe I shouldn't have used the <small> tag around my source. Look at the votes for the Protect America Act... you cannot honestly say they "love enabling this administration as much as their traitor colleagues" because the evidence says otherwise. Don't jump so easily on the bandwagon belief that republicans and democrats are the same.

(DU, I'm not ignoring you, but I don't know enough about congressional procedure to answer your question with authority)
posted by Riki tiki at 9:21 AM on October 9, 2007


I wonder if it's starting to become clear to most Americans that if you call yourself or even register as a "Republican" or "Democrat", that's really not the same as being in either party.

You only have political power in this country if (1) you have vast fortunes or (2) are in the Politburo... er, hold political office.
posted by psmealey at 9:25 AM on October 9, 2007


Riki, the only reason why you know about incursions on civil liberties like the domestic wiretapping program is because of the heroic reporting of the Times' Eric Lichtblau and Carl Hulse, in the face of massive stonewalling by Bush & Co. "Shamelessly deceptive tripe" is too broad a brush.
posted by digaman at 9:29 AM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


digaman, it's not too broad a brush to paint this specific article, regardless of the merits of their previous work. If they're such tireless crusaders on this issue then they should be focusing the blame where the evidence shows it's actually due (historically, since we don't yet know how this extension is going to play out).

I'm not saying they're factually incorrect, but the way they positioned the issue is incredibly misleading and is apparently convincing people that electing democrats was a mistake... even though the numbers show that electing more democrats might actually turn the tide.
posted by Riki tiki at 9:41 AM on October 9, 2007


Thanks for the Greenwald link Jedi.

Power is always best leveraged towards further power. Did you really think the Democrats would reduce the amount of power they are to inherit next November?

Last one out of Libery City; burn it to the ground.
posted by butterstick at 9:43 AM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Regarding the leak, I don't blame the bush administration for leaking as much as I blame it for outsourcing important intelligence gathering. Leaking is something that people in government just do, R or D -- it's a given. In this case you have a link that people can pass around with impunity, entitling them to a file that is endlessly reproducible and forwardable.

If on the other hand the CIA or NSA had uncovered this video ahead of time, it's fair to assume they would have shared it with the administration on a need-to-know basis, in a screening room, with nobody able to get their hands on the bits and real federal penalties for sharing the information within and the fact of the video.

Anybody have any more information about outsourced intelligence gathering? I'm surprised it goes on, but I guess I shouldn't be.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:54 AM on October 9, 2007


the cool part of all this is that, it doesn't really matter how lame and stupid and indecisive the Democrats, as long as the alternative means America gets governed by these sadistic fucks for the joy of their equally sociopathic supporters, well, one is forced to admit that even the Democrats will do -- the difference between the political equivalents of bad food poisoning and airborne Ebola has seldom been made clearer than in the SCHIP case.

also, John Paul Stevens must be 134 years old at this point; most scientists, unfortunately, doubt he'll live forever
posted by matteo at 9:54 AM on October 9, 2007


DU writes "I'm not. His win in CT wasn't because CT wanted a pro-war Democrat. His win in CT came because he pretended to be an anti-war Democrat."

I'm not claiming he's accurately representing his constituency.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:57 AM on October 9, 2007


Riki, believe me, I understand your frustration. I'm just saying, by immediately reaching for your biggest guns -- "shamelessly deceptive tripe!" -- you're playing directly into the hands of the GOP, which has waged a concerted campaign over the last 7 years to discredit the media, so that when news of some outrageous assault on the Constitution emerges after hard work by a reporter, the information is immediately dismissed as untrustworthy, partisan, or old news.

Yes, lots of people in the media have discredited themselves over the last 7 years by not doing real reporting and analysis. But speaking as a journalist myself, Lichtblau is a shining light in the darkness, even if you find fault with the lede or emphasis of this particular piece.
posted by digaman at 9:58 AM on October 9, 2007


"I'm not. His win in CT wasn't because CT wanted a pro-war Democrat. His win in CT came because he pretended to be an anti-war Democrat."

Neither is true. His win in CT came because: (1) he's always been popular with CT republicans, (2) his principal opposition was branded as too-left leaning and beholden to the net-roots and (3) the GOP ran a guy that couldn't be elected dog catcher in most towns.
posted by psmealey at 10:01 AM on October 9, 2007


Someone is not being soft on terror. Mechanical dragonfly spy bots have been spotted watching terrorist loving peacenicks at some peace rallies. I for one will sleep much better when all those peace lovers are locked up. Remember, peace is treason.
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:32 AM on October 9, 2007


digaman: but that's exactly my point... this piece was deceptive tripe (the "shameless" part was admittedly rhetorical, since that's between the authors and their creator). I'm shocked to be told I'm playing right into the GOP's hands by attacking an article that ITSELF plays right into the GOP's hands. Those guys must be omnipotent.

I don't envy people in your profession, I doubt it's ever been harder to do honest journalism than it is today. But that's no reason to throw in the towel and accept the "democrats are pro-wiretap" talking point. Doing so will only make the situation that much worse when the public mistakenly ousts the democrats and replaces them with the source of the problem in the first place.
posted by Riki tiki at 10:33 AM on October 9, 2007


Regarding the leak, I don't blame the bush administration for leaking as much as I blame it for outsourcing important intelligence gathering....Anybody have any more information about outsourced intelligence gathering? I'm surprised it goes on, but I guess I shouldn't be.

CBS News:
“…off the record, some intelligence officials admitted that SITE had been of great help in obtaining al Qaeda secrets.

Terrorism expert and author Bruce Hoffman, who has worked as an advisor to the Bush White House in Iraq, tells CBS News that SITE and other private intelligence companies have become a valuable tool for the government.

‘The government has its own intelligence sources, its been monitoring these things, and one would hope it's comparing and contrasting, using this as supplements, using this to round out’ government intelligence, Hoffman said.

Hoffman points out that one of the complaints of the 9/11 Commission was that the government didn't have a wide enough variety of intelligence sources, and firms like SITE help to fill that gap, fixing what was called a ‘lack of imagination’.

Accurate, timely intelligence is America's most valuable weapon against the terrorist threat, which the White House classified Tuesday as ‘persistent and evolving’.

[CBS News White House correspondent Peter] Maer reports that the administration's newly-revised National Strategy for Homeland Security warns that al Qaeda will likely continue to ‘enhance its ability to attack America through greater cooperation with regional terrorist groups.’ It predicts al Qaeda will likely intensify efforts to send operatives to the U.S.

The report says the U.S. faces ‘a persistent and evolving terrorist threat, primarily from violent Islamic terrorist groups and cells.’ It points to al Qaeda as ‘the most serious and dangerous manifestation of this threat.’

Katz's company sells intelligence to a range of clients, including other private firms and military and intelligence agencies in the U.S. and other countries. Media organizations can also pay SITE for access to terrorist videos and audio's obtained, and analysis of the material.”
posted by ericb at 10:47 AM on October 9, 2007


Okay. Let's say that this debacle and the torture and Justice dept. debacle isn't pursued by the Dems for some strategic reason.

Do they really think that come another terrorist attack, Guilani isn't going to be sitting in the White House in 2009? Because it seems to me that not one of the Dem Presidential candidates is doing enough to re-frame the war on terror as having almost nothing to do with Iraq and their flank is seriously open to that. If we get hit again between now and the election, and this country doesn't fully grasp that it's because of Bushes failed War on terror, as opposed to the fact that "the dems tied the hands of the President" then we're srewed all over again. And even worse.
posted by Skygazer at 10:48 AM on October 9, 2007


And I guess what I'm saying is that, this Dems capitulating on this is a lot to pay for what is almost negligible political gain.

Also, read this amazing piece on U.S. torture by Scott Horten. Especially the part on WW II vets take on it. I dare you to not feel like going out and kicking a puppy in the face afterwards.
posted by Skygazer at 10:53 AM on October 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


"as a cherry on this shit sundae," Riki Tiki....

That had me laughing so hard I cried....
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:53 AM on October 9, 2007


Speaking of bin laden, I have not seen any credible evidence that he is alive since late 2001.
posted by rockhopper at 11:05 AM on October 9, 2007


I dare you to not feel like going out and kicking a puppy in the face afterwards.

I'd rather just kick a Republican in the face and feel like I've done something helpful to humanity.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:07 AM on October 9, 2007


...damn puppy kept running away... really fast for a puppy...

skygazer: there will be no other terrorist attack on American Soil. I'd take any odds you want on that.

This has been a pretty exhausting twelve years (I count all this chaos as starting with the Clinton witch-hunting) and woefully, if La Clinton wins it'll be at least four more shrill years.

The worst of it is that the government's insanity is becoming like the weather. Everybody talks about it but nobody ever does anything.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:35 AM on October 9, 2007


“Isn't it possible that some Democrats think that extending the surveillance rules is actually the right thing to do?”

But not the Republicans? The “right thing to do” is often subject to perspective, unfortunately, rather than common principle.

All this exclusively Left/Right stuff drives me nuts. We did make a pretty good third party run here in Illinois. YMMV. Depending, y’know, on how comfy the couch is.

“Man your government really does have no idea what its doing. It's kind of scary really.”

What scares me, and I’ve done political work on various sides, is that often I’m the smartest, bravest, most honorable man in the room (this is not bragging, this is akin to saying I’m stronger than nearly all the 8 year olds in the tri-state area) and people start eyeing me for leadership the way ranchers size up prize bulls and I get that cold feeling in my balls. Hell, I’m more comfortable recieving gunfire.
I mean you look around and many of them just don’t get it.
Now, that’s not because they’re innately less intelligent, courageous or noble than someone like me, but all their talent is invested in the gamesmanship of politics, their egos are hooked into the exertion of power.
Ever walk with a bunch of people - protest, union strike, political demostration, whatever? - nearly everyone in the crowd gets that thrill.
And in that environment, and others like that it’s so easy to lose sight that it’s just a means to achieve an objective rather than an end in and of itself.
And that spreads to the - for lack of a better word - fans of the Dems and Repubs who often seem to care only for triumphing over each other rather than doing anything tangible for the community. Just becomes gamesmanship.

Interesting take in the Greenwald piece, although: “I have spoken with many people whose expertise I trust” = famous last words.

It’s nice that MoveOn is considering opposing war-enabling Dems - not sure that fracturing either party is the answer when, y’know, there are third parties actually interested in remedying the systemic flaws rather than seeking public placation for the matters at hand.
I don’t want a congress that does the right thing. I want a congress that is constrained by law into doing the predictable and quantifiable thing subject to public oversight and accountability.
If the Iraq war ends tomorrow, the apparatus is still there, as is the profit motive. That, I’d like to see change.
If it takes a few lifetimes, meh. We’ve benefited from the sacrifices of our forefathers. I’d feel like a dick if I said to my descendants, I got mine, screw you.
I don’t see the pressure to change coming from within either of the two parties.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:41 AM on October 9, 2007 [4 favorites]


Fuck the Democrats. What were they running on in 2006? Apparently, they have already forgotten. Demopublicans I call em.

I can count on one hand the candidates running for president that:

1) Opposed the Patriot Act
2) Opposed the invasion of Iraq
3) Opposed the FISA expansion/warantless wiretapping
4) Are willing to rule out pre-emptive strikes on Iran
5) Are committed to immediately withdrawing from Iraq

Yes, this is my litmus test. The top-tier candidates from both sides fail it. This is why I'm a registered Independent, because I don't want to endorse either party by joining, and because my state fortunately has an open primary (Ohio).

At this point my vote will probably only amount to a protest.
posted by chlorus at 11:48 AM on October 9, 2007


“Hoffman points out that one of the complaints of the 9/11 Commission was that the government didn't have a wide enough variety of intelligence sources, and firms like SITE help to fill that gap, fixing what was called a ‘lack of imagination’.
Accurate, timely intelligence is America's most valuable weapon against the terrorist threat...”

Such a trojan horse there. Like “Bin Laden Determined to Strike within the U.S.” with it’s “flying commercial aircraft into buildings” a few months before it actually happened just wasn’t timely or accurate enough.

“Speaking of bin laden, I have not seen any credible evidence that he is alive since late 2001.”

The intelligence is quite clear on this, and high confidence: bin Laden is either alive...or dead.

John Donne and Edmund Burke, Horton is man after my own heart.
“We extracted information in a battle of the wits. I’m proud to say I never compromised my humanity.” - fucking a.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:53 AM on October 9, 2007


And I dreamed I was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying

When I woke up this morning, my wife was singing this and it's been in my head all day. It now seems like it will just be there until I die.
posted by sleepy pete at 12:24 PM on October 9, 2007


1) Opposed the Patriot Act
2) Opposed the invasion of Iraq
3) Opposed the FISA expansion/warantless wiretapping
4) Are willing to rule out pre-emptive strikes on Iran
5) Are committed to immediately withdrawing from Iraq


^Agree - and I'd add:
6) Committed to reducing the size and scope of the War on Drugs and moving drug use from a criminal focus to a medical issue.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 1:37 PM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Isn't it possible that some Democrats think that extending the surveillance rules is actually the right thing to do?

Who gives a shit? They're wrong. If your principles are shit, being principled isn't a good thing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:41 PM on October 9, 2007


As I said, until the extent of that surveillance is revealed to Congress, it is not possible to "think" that it's the right thing to do. It's only possible to take a mammoth leap of faith that Bush and company are not overreaching and doing precisely what they say they're doing.
posted by digaman at 1:46 PM on October 9, 2007


From Bklyn: there will be no other terrorist attack on American Soil. I'd take any odds you want on that.

Well, I'd like to know what your reasoning behind that is, but from your keyboard to God's ears...

I almost don't see how there can't be. The GOP needs it or they'll lose power for a decade so does Al Qaeda. so that that the U.S. remains off balance and stuck in a senseless war and elects a schmuck (Guilaini) who will keep giving them what they want. (i.e.: Easy American targets and fresh recruits.)

Hell the way I see it they're probably joining forces on the next one even now or there will be two attacks. AQ might get two for the price of one!!



Dammit where did that puppy go..

posted by Skygazer at 1:51 PM on October 9, 2007


Also, read this amazing piece on U.S. torture by Scott Horten. Especially the part on WW II vets take on it.

Agreed. The piece about Fort Hunt's Quiet Men should not be missed.
posted by homunculus at 2:37 PM on October 9, 2007


“Hell the way I see it they're probably joining forces on the next one even now or there will be two attacks. AQ might get two for the price of one!!”

Yeah. The funky thing here is, and within the post the burning of an intelligence asset, you don’t need them to overtly join forces so long as their respective political acts support each other (albiet negatively).
(Games theory folks help me out here).
For example, there was a price fixing scam going on out here (in the fabled “Mid-west” twixd the two coasts) with some of the big conglomerates (usual suspects, ADM, et.al) keeping their prices at arbitrarially high levels to maximize profits. Any of the companies involved could have undercut it’s competators and made a killing, but instead chose to remain relatively uniform in price and so make a bigger killing over a longer period.
The free market depends on competition and fighting trusts and monopolization, but if all the players in a given industry agree to charge the same price for something - what then? Well the math busted them, but there were otherwise no “hey, lets form a price fixing conspiracy” memos between the companies. They merely sought mutual advantage and cooperated thus communicating subtly through changes in policy that had minute effects on their environment.

Democracy depends on openness and loyal opposition, but if the stakes change, if what is valued is not the institutions because those functions have been politicized, what then?
Could well be the deal here - given that traditionally valued assets (Joe Spook and his operative network, e.g. Plame) are quite obviously no longer considered as valuable as political symbolism (or even worth protecting).
That being the game at hand you don’t need to sent OMB a message to get him to trot out, he just has to follow foreign policy carefully and be able to predict what you will do in response (in kind) to help his position.
Too hard for a gradute of a school that matriculates some of the wealthiest individuals in the world (Sulaiman Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi, Nahed Taher, etc) to figure out? Or Ivy league secret society grads? Hard for people with billions in assets and vast disassociated networks and giant pools of drone talent to work out?
If some corn fed schlubs from the midwest can pull that trick off...

....nnaaah, the GOP probably just sent a cruise missle into the pentagon and wired the world trade center to ‘asplode with teh bombz.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:08 PM on October 9, 2007


It’s funny - playing chess (and such) with someone in custody speaks volumes about your confidence that they are in your power.
Torture only reiterates your own powerlessness and lack of confidence and gives them a chance to formalize a struggle within your custody.
Playing chess? Dude, we got you. You know we got you, we know we got you.
(sorry for eating up so much space - passion)
posted by Smedleyman at 3:15 PM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks for that Fort Hunt link, Homunculus.
posted by digaman at 3:26 PM on October 9, 2007


It’s funny - playing chess (and such) with someone in custody speaks volumes about your confidence that they are in your power.

I was struck by that as well. Real power or strength rarely needs to even resort to physical violence.

Watching the Ken Burns documentary on WW II recently I was struck by some of these octogenarian vets who were entrenched in unspeakable horror and brutality.

Almost every single one seemed to understand and believe that it had to be done because this country in spite of it's failings, was clearly and without question, more humane, hopeful and compassionate than the Germans or Japanese.
There was little doubt of that and it what kept a lot of them sane (somewhat), during and after that war.

I wonder what the fall out from soldiers coming back from Iraq will be like when this sham of a war is once and for all exposed for the mountain of shit that it is.

If Vietnam is any indication, it will not be pretty.
posted by Skygazer at 3:52 PM on October 9, 2007


And from the "right," Max Boot:
“This story is disturbing on several levels: first, for the lack of security within the U.S. government (which makes other governments wary of sharing confidential information) and second, for the apparent lack of capacity within the U.S. intelligence community. With all the billions we spend on surveiling al Qaeda, is it really the case that a small, non-governmental organization can get its hands on a major al Qaeda video before the government can? It’s hard to know for sure because the government is never going to come clean about what it does and does not know, but the high-level officials quoted in these news articles certainly did not dispute the notion that SITE can find out things the government can’t.

This seems further to confirm the general impression of ineptitude on the part of the CIA and other intelligence agencies. (See Tim Weiner’s meticulously researched book, Legacy of Ashes, for details of this sorry story’s stretching back to the 1940’s.) There is, however, a silver lining to this news. It is good to know that the private sector is filling in where government lags behind.

That is precisely what we should be doing—taking advantage of our strengths as a society to compensate for the weaknesses of our government. There are a lot of smart, entrepreneurial people in America; and while most of them devote their energies to the ‘business of America’—i.e., business—some can be very effective freelance terrorist-fighters. In the past, I have suggested mobilizing an army of geeks to fight al Qaeda online; that is precisely what the SITE folks are doing, and more power to them.

In fact, as I write in my latest book, War Made New, the Information Age increasingly is taking power away from large, hierarchical, centralized organizations like the U.S. government and giving more power to small, nimble, decentralized, networked entities like al Qaeda. But SITE and its ilk can be just as nimble and networked as al Qaeda. They can be effective in ways that the lumbering U.S. government cannot. Instead of treating them as unwelcome competition, the government would be well advised to encourage our NGO’s to battle their NGO’s.”
posted by ericb at 3:54 PM on October 9, 2007


Watching the Ken Burns documentary on WW II recently I was struck by some of these octogenarian vets who were entrenched in unspeakable horror and brutality.

I have been entranced and thoroughly engaged by Ken Burns' The War these past two-weeks on PBS. Indeed it was a 'necessary war' -- and but, for the grace of God, I was born in a time later. Otherwise, I and many of my friends/peers would have been called upon and compelled to fight for all that which many of us take for granted. For me this documentary series and HBO's Band of Brothers have been two of the most engaging television experiences regarding World War II.
posted by ericb at 4:02 PM on October 9, 2007


So, digaman, any thoughts about a candidate worth voting for, the least damaging one and most likely to win against the R's?
posted by nickyskye at 4:09 PM on October 9, 2007


I am profoundly conflicted, like most people I know, though I am not conflicted about voting Democratic -- these thieves have got to be removed from office, preferably to a world court.

So, Hillary? Probably electable. She's to the right of me on most issues, but I'll endure it until she's elected. No, I don't like her vibe, but heaven knows that's what got us into this mess in the first place -- that and election-stealing. Obama? I'm not sure if he's electable, but he's certainly smart, and he's at least making concrete policy proposals. After those two names, alas, the field falls off considerably in terms of practical candidates. (I agree with Kucinich on many issues, but having met him, I'm not sure he could survive the media meat-grinder.)

And you, nickyskye?
posted by digaman at 4:39 PM on October 9, 2007


Ron freakin' Paul, people.
posted by slab_lizard at 5:24 PM on October 9, 2007


Sorry, Slab, besides the fact that he's R-Texas, Paul's fulminations about the need to "defend" marriage from the likes of me and my husband make him a non-starter for me. I know he voted against DOMA, but he went out of his way to be clear that that was strictly a state's rights issue for him, and that he still sees the need to "defend" marriage from gay people, which is a bogus GOP crockashit, like "defending" a water fountain against thirsty black folks who want a drink.
posted by digaman at 5:42 PM on October 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


Ex-Spies Blast Today's Spooks for Al-Qaeda Breach.
posted by ericb at 5:49 PM on October 9, 2007


CBS News: When Is A Leak Not A Leak?
“The White House has come up with a new euphemism for leaks....Perino was quick to insist that the White House was not the source of the leak. The Bush administration, like its predecessors, abhors leaks except for self-serving disclosures. Now the White House is in the uncomfortable position of worrying that release of the SITE data will have a chilling effect on other commercial outfits or individuals who want to provide private tips to federal law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

Presidential Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend told reporters, ‘any time an individual or a commercial entity cooperates with us and asks to be protected and doesn't get the protection that they either sought or deserved, that's a cause for concern.’ Spokeswoman Perino said the administration wants people to be ‘alert and aware’ and to provide information to the government. She promised their sources will be protected.

Perino described the leak of the bin Laden video material as ‘an isolated incident.’”
posted by ericb at 5:55 PM on October 9, 2007


digaman, every syllable you said expresses my own thoughts and doubts.

Not sure America is ready to vote for either Hillary, simply as a female or Obama simply because he's black, his last name doesn't sound all American and way too similar to Osama.

And that's worrisome. The poll results so far.

There is a possibility that Americans might handle voting for her. She and Bill were popular with the black vote last time around with Bill and she's voted pro same sex marriage, so she might be more popular with the gay vote, not sure, but probably more than Obama.

Obama seems, on the surface, to be more ethical but I don't know enough about him. He may get the black vote and the Christian vote.

It looks like Hillary will be the likely choice unless something else happens. She's a known entity and, in spite of her flaws, hasn't shown psychopathic tendencies, unless the conspiracy theories about Vince Foster are true.

Never liked Hillary's vibe either. But she has staying power, she's outlasted a lot of painful stuff. When I've spoken with friends they say, "Well Bill would be the secret president, behind her.", which seems so damn pathetic. She's been around a long time. "She initially supported the George W. Bush administration on some foreign policy issues, including voting for the Iraq War Resolution". That's a big negative.

Can't imagine the R's are going to let their moray eel grip on Power go and worry that some wag the dog horror will be cooked up so another R gets in under the Watch Out For the Big Bad Terrorists camouflage.

The day after 9/11 I heard a couple of Tel Aviv businessmen talking about how they'd feared Sadam would lob nukes or biobombs into Israel. When I spoke to them at length they said it was a genuine fear and then it seemed likely that Sadam would need to be offed, one way or another. That combined with the lust of certain folks for the oil reserves in that neck of the woods made war in Iraq seem likely and the the whole War On Terror camouflage needed to cover for that.

Unlikely the Rs will let Ron Paul be voted in, although I use that term, voted, with no confidence any more.

It's a royal mess just now. There's such intense dislike for the War on Iraq that it's quite possible a D will be elected. If real electing is still going on. In the end, warts and all either Hillary or Obama will be a major improvement.
posted by nickyskye at 6:04 PM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


“In the past, I have suggested mobilizing an army of geeks to fight al Qaeda online; that is precisely what the SITE folks are doing, and more power to them.”

Oh yeah, army of geeks that’s worked out so well.
Reminds me of the smart monkeys that “take on” the russian mob by shutting down their child porn. Swell. Meantime humantrafficking in western Russia is at epidemic proportions. But just keep tapping away at those keys sparky. You’re a counter-terrorist!
This is precisely why the military is so divorced - and must be - from partisan or civilian thinking (not just action). Boot is often right in the particulars. But his agenda just completely fouls up any cogent path to a reasonable or even realistic conclusion. Freelance terrorist-fighters? Are you f’ing joking me? What’s his reality check, Marvel Comics? You don’t need to be fanatics like our cousins, but your guys better have drank the Kool-aid otherwise you don’t know if they’re going to get froggie if they get honeypotted. I mean you want to be in a bidding war for your own intel? Screw that.

(heh, ‘swinging Richard.’ That there? That’s bona fide old school. Probably still has a haircut you can set your watch to and the tie clip.)
posted by Smedleyman at 6:15 PM on October 9, 2007


Skygazer writes "If we get hit again between now and the election, and this country doesn't fully grasp that it's because of Bushes failed War on terror, as opposed to the fact that 'the dems tied the hands of the President' then we're srewed all over again. And even worse."

That may be true, but I'm less worried about that now. I'm not sure Bush can regain the footing he once had, even if we're attacked again. We've had close to four years of consequences of bad war policy. I think Bush has proven to many - including war supporters - that he doesn't have what it takes to be an effective Commander in Chief, even if he's all full of bravado. More than a few have completely given up on anything effective happening until he is out of office, because his single-minded stubbornness gets in the way. These things won't change if we get attacked, though they may cause some rather serious problems.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:48 PM on October 9, 2007


digaman: Sorry, Slab, besides the fact that he's R-Texas, Paul's fulminations about the need to "defend" marriage from the likes of me and my husband make him a non-starter for me. ...

Digaman - Yeah, Ron Paul is R-Texas, but not entirely R in the way that most R's are. (Heh.) I don't agree with everything he has to say, nor do I think he has any sort of honest shot at the Oval. But we need to be thinking about viable alternatives, the ones who could at least frame some popular thinking on some critical issues. I don't see a president, frankly, making a huge cultural difference, anyway, at least not compared to their absolute effect on global affairs.
posted by slab_lizard at 11:20 PM on October 9, 2007


Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Torture Appeal
posted by homunculus at 9:32 AM on October 10, 2007


FISA News And Obfuscations
posted by homunculus at 12:19 PM on October 10, 2007


Marines Press to Remove Their Forces From Iraq
posted by homunculus at 12:25 AM on October 11, 2007


NSA's Lucky Break: How the U.S. Became Switchboard to the World
posted by homunculus at 11:55 AM on October 11, 2007


NeoCon Gold!
posted by ericb at 3:44 PM on October 11, 2007


NSA punishes Qwest for refusing to spy on Americans.
Documents released in an insider trading trial yesterday reveal that “the National Security Agency and other government agencies retaliated against Qwest because the Denver telco refused to go along with a phone spying program.” In the documents, former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio is quoted as saying “the request was both inappropriate and illegal, and repeatedly refusing to go along with it.” Nacchio’s lawyer said the CEO “refused to turn over customer telephone records because he didn’t think the NSA program had legal standing.”
posted by ericb at 3:45 PM on October 11, 2007


Congress should not assist in a cover-up of NSA spying
posted by homunculus at 2:16 PM on October 12, 2007


NSA Domestic Surveillance Began 7 Months Before 9/11, Convicted Qwest CEO Claims

Qwest CEO Not Alone in Alleging NSA Started Domestic Phone Record Program 7 Months Before 9/11
posted by homunculus at 7:19 PM on October 12, 2007


Ah, gotta love the dems taking care of the big corporations. Rats.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 6:07 AM on October 18, 2007


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