US News reports that in a new tell-all book, Tom Ridge admits manipulating terror threat levels for political motives. In the forthcoming book, Ridge reportedly acknowledges for the first time that he was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he "saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over." But as The Atlantic points out, Ridge apparently gave in to the White House demands anyway, resigning only after the election. Huffington Post also provides additional discussion on this developing story.
"Be Prepared" A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not hurt or kill harmless things without reason.
Without much fanfare, the Global War on Terror has ended. The new name for these military interventions is the Overseas Contingency Operation. Press Q&A. Some Republican representatives discuss. (SPOILER: They are not pleased.) Military blogs discuss. Similarly, the War on Drugs also looks to be on the way out, though no new name for the project has been announced at this time.
A Presidential Boeing 747 along with two fighter planes continuously circled jarringly close to the tops of buildings in Lower Manhattan and Jersey City this morning. From the ground it looked as though a plane had been hijacked again, and the Air Force was attempting to force it down. Panic ensued. Another terrorist attack? No, just a top secret photo op. [more inside]
From the International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen "High Value Detainees" in CIA Custody - This is the report in its entirety. [pdf]
From Mark Danner: US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites and The Red Cross Torture Report: What It Means [more inside]
From Mark Danner: US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites and The Red Cross Torture Report: What It Means [more inside]
Interrogation techniques used by the CIA on al-Qaeda suspects "constituted torture", according to a report by the International Red Cross.
"The Department of Defense claimed in a dramatic press briefing on January 13 that “61 in all former Guantanamo detainees are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight” of terrorism." ...troubling is the Defense Department’s listing of the released Uighurs, who were completely exonerated by an internal military hearing. They’ve done nothing wrong. However, one of them wrote an op-ed column for the New York Times proclaiming that “I was locked up and mistreated for being in the wrong place at the wrong time during America's war in Afghanistan.” He also said in the same editorial: “The United States [is] a country I deeply admire.” That’s “suspected of going back into the battlefield”? Only if you are delusional. [more inside]
The Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Show is easily the most terrifying "children's show" ever broadcast. [more inside]
Bunkers have a wide variety of uses in today's world. They're not all used by those fearful of a terrorist attack. They are also used to protect from natural disasters and to hide grow-ops. George's got one. Tom too. You can build you own, or have someone do it for you. The Ark Two Shelter is located just outside of Toronto. Tours of bunkers are also available. Be prepared. Previously.
In the early days of the occupation of Iraq, a "gathering of antagonists to capital and empire" known as the Retort Collective published Afflicted Powers, a contentious analysis of September 11th and its aftermath grounded in the Situationist concepts developed by Guy Debord in The Society of the Spectacle. Two lengthy excerpts can be read online: an introduction to the war as a "struggle for mastery in the realm of the image", and a critique of the "Blood for Oil" argument. [more inside]
Last Year I Killed A Man, by Vaughan Thomas. Published Saturday July 19, 2008 by The Guardian.
NewsFilter: Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID - Conn.) strikes a decisive blow against another Islamic terror front group: YouTube.
“You could almost see their dicks getting hard as they got new ideas." A Vanity Fair reporter investigates the chain of command that tossed out the Geneva Conventions and instituted coercive interrogation techniques -- some might call them torture or even war crimes -- in Bush's Global War on Terror. UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo's now-obsolete 81-page memo to the Pentagon in 2003 [available as PDFs here and here] was crucial, offering a broad range of legal justifications and deniability for disregarding international law in the name of "self-defense." Others say that Yoo was just making "a clear point about the limits of Congress to intrude on the executive branch in its exercise of duties as Commander in Chief." [previously here and here.]
Rehearsing the next terror attack. before 911, the government paid little attention to the role of media and public communications in its national exercises. In 2003, Ogilvy PR was asked by the Department of Homeland Security to develop and manage a full-scale, sophisticated media element in support of TOPOFF 3, its most comprehensive terrorism response exercise ever. The result was a simulated yet eerily realistic news broadcast via the Virtual News Network. The TOPOFF 4 exercise is scheduled to take place October 15-19, 2007.
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.
On Wednesday Sept. 5th, German police stopped a major terrorist attack. The planned bomb consisted of 730 kilogramms of hydrogen peroxide to be mixed with other chemicals. The explosive power would have been equivalent to 550 kilogramms of TNT. The IHT reports the possible targets were the Ramstein US Air Force Air Base and Frankfurt International Airport. The suspects had been under observation for 10 months, the chemicals had been clandestinely rendered harmless by German authorities. What caused the final arrest? Two things: 1) they had just recieved a call from north Pakistan urgently ordering them to follow through within 14 days. 2) a local village policeman blew the surveillance cover by literally telling them at a routine road stop that they were on a watch-list. German intelligence immediately knew the policeman had blown their cover. How? They had bugged the car [Spiegel, rough translation]. [more inside]
Rule 34 is alive and well. Latest example: 9/11 Terror Porn. [NSFW, requires login and as always via]
The "same people who attacked us on 9/11"? It may be the very latest talking point from the Administration, but it's actually true--altho it's not Al Qaeda in Iraq, but Saudis. Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia ... A historical note: 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis.
In an attempt to curb the production of crystal meth, more than 30 states have now outlawed or require registration for common lab equipment. In Texas, you need to register the purchase of Erlenmeyer flasks or three-necked beakers. The same state where I do not have to register a handgun, forces me to register a glass beaker.America's War on Science: Chemistry sets and model rockets, the staples of any geeky childhood, have essentially become a thing of the past.Wired has more on how a security obsessed society is robbing both children and adults of the opportunity to discover science for themelves.
al Qaeda's "Legitimate Demands". Azzam al Amreki (aka Adam Gadahn) appears in a newly released al Qaeda video to recite his group's demands and promise more bombings and destruction if we don't comply. (previously)
Surprising findings in Pew study of US Muslims. The interweb is all atwitter over some of the findings of a Pew Research Center study of the attitudes of Muslim-Americans (the most comprehensive one done yet). While most of the findings should be welcomed (US Muslims are well off, appreciate being here, have non-Muslim friends, shun extremism, etc.), there is one troubling statistic: 6% of US Muslims - and 15% of US Muslims under 30 - believe that "bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "often or sometimes justified". Sounds bad, but what happens when you ask the same question of non-Muslim Americans? Turns out that 24% of all Americans agreed - four times the 6% of US Muslims who share that view. So are US Muslims more peaceful than their non-Muslim neighbors?
"War Czar" -- another term for "highly paid radio operator"? So the Decider in Chief wants to have a War Czar* in the White House. He appointed Douglas Lute after three other general officers turned him down. Note that Lute, a three-star general, is actually inferior in rank to David Petraeus, the four-star who's commanding the Multi-National Force in Iraq. Black Five had some thoughts on this, as did Jules Crittenden.
Mastermind? admitted planning attacks.... can you believe a verdict from partial transcripts edited by the US defence department that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed planned these attacks?
Was I a good American in the time of George Bush? "Before the current administration, it had always been easy to condemn the "good Germans" who did nothing while Jews, Gypsies and others were rounded up for extermination." Uh, is this just a little over the top?
I am sullied -- no more. Colonel Ted Westhusing was a soldier's soldier -- a multilingual West Point graduate, tough as nails, who was committed to the ancient Greek warrior's ideal of ἀρετή ("arete," excellence). He volunteered to go to Iraq, where he was commanded by another outstanding rising-star officer, counterinsurgency expert David Petraeus. (Westhusing's widow, Michelle, recalls that her husband thought his country was doing "a great thing" there.) After working with one of the shadowy contractors the US has relied on to train Iraqi security forces, USIS, Westhusing became increasingly despondent. In May 2005, investigators say, he put a 9mm bullet in his brain after writing a note that said, "Reevaluate yourselves, cdrs [commanders]. You are not what you think you are and I know it." Westhusing died, as was previously discussed here, and his former "cdr" is now running the war. Lots of new information in this article from the Texas Observer.
Terrorism finger puppets! Uncanny crocheted likenesses of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il, Ahmadinejad and George W. Bush.
"Why do they hate us?" was a fairly common question asked by Americans in the wake of 9/11. In his new book The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, Dinesh D'souza gives us the answer: "the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world." Some reviews: WaPo, The American Conservative, Esquire. D'souza previously on mefi:   
Window Into a Terrorist’s Isolation. British citizen and convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid plays Trivial Pursuit.
Apes of Wrath In October, they gained similar rights to humans, now it seems monkeys are plotting to take over the earth. Their bid for global domination has been happening right before our eyes; it's just a matter of connecting the dots. Check out this ominous timeline of escalating monkey aggression, drawn from real news reports. The evolution will not be televised.
Now they tell us. Neocon hindsight is 20/20. War architect Richard Perle on invading Iraq, 2002: "We have no time to lose, and I think the president understands that and it's probably taken too long already, but I don't think it'll be much longer... Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder.... Now, it isn't going to be over in 24 hours, but it isn't going to be months either." Four years later: "If I had been delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said, 'Should we go into Iraq?,' I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies'... Could we have managed that threat by means other than a direct military intervention? Well, maybe we could have."
Not In The Newsfilter: Yesterday, two men attended their pre-trial hearing at Preston Crown Court, accused of possession of explosive material. As previously reported only in local newspapers, Robert Cottage was in possession of 'what is believed to be a record haul of chemicals used in making home-made bombs', while a search of former BNP candidate David Bolus Jackson's house 'uncovered rocket launchers, chemicals... and a nuclear biological suit'. Some webloggers, and the left-wing press, are wondering whether the story might have received more coverage if the suspected bomb-makers had been, say, Muslims. The BBC blame reporting restrictions.
Had he not died in 1971, Tor Johnson would be 103 today. Who could forget his face? Or that it makes a great mask? Don't we often think back fondly on his remarkable filmography? He made a great partner for Bela Lugosi! Who could forget that he tended to break toilet seats when he sat on them, and so would often steal them?
"I'm not here for the Iraqis. I'm here for George Bush." How the reconstruction of Iraq was bungled by inexperienced staffers and officials who passed the GOP's loyalty test -- including their views on Roe v. Wade. A WashPost excerpt from Rajiv Chandrasekaran's new exposé Imperial Life in the Emerald City. (Corruption in Iraq previously discussed here.)
Albania to get more corruption, and duct-tape expert-- ... As much as Ridge's security expertise, Berisha wants him to also bring to Albania his "success story" as Governor of Pennsylvania on education, the judiciary, information technology, agriculture and money laundering. ...
The New York Times doesn't want people in Britain to read this article (try to access it from a British IP address and you'll get an error message). Of course, this is the web, stupid (scroll down to read it).
Suicide Bombing: Just Say No. Hollywood-style anti-suicide bombing PSA now in heavy rotation on Iraqi TV. Previously discussed here before the spot was finished.
DHS's CyberStorm-- --Recognizing the imminent threat hippies and assorted leftists obviously pose to us all, a massive cyber terror simulation (international and involving 115 organizations) recently came to light: ...The attack scenario detailed in the presentation is a meticulously plotted parade of cyber horribles led by a "well financed" band of leftist radicals who object to U.S. imperialism, aided by sympathetic independent actors. At the top of the pyramid is the Worldwide Anti-Globalization Alliance, which sets things off by calling for cyber sit-ins and denial-of-service attacks against U.S. interests. WAGA's radical arm, the villainous Black Hood Society, ratchets up the tension on day one by probing SCADA computerized control systems and military networks ...
TERRA! Men With 1,000 Prepaid Cellphones Planned To Attack Mackinac Bridge. Or sell them in Texas. Or, you know, something.
[Newsfilter] Terror plot disrupted. Scotland Yard has arrested about 18 potential terrorists who were planning to blow up UK to USA flights mid-air. The UK threat level is now critical - "an attack is expected imminently". And there's chaos at the airports where hand luggage has been banned from all flights.
96 Minutes... 40 years later. Texas Monthly has an article that, through eyewitness accounts, tells the tale of Charles Whitman. Forty years ago today--before 9/11, Columbine, Oklahoma City, "going postal"--Whitman perpetrated an act of public terror that impacted the national conscience. It all began when he killed his mother. Then he started typing a letter that, after he killed his wife, he finished hand-writing. Then he went to the Tower with a small arsenal and began the slaughter. Over 96 minutes he killed 13 more people and wounded 34 others until off-duty Officer Ray Martinez made it to the top of the tower and killed Whitman. (more inside)
The Smell of War -- the Institute for Creative Technologies preps Quake-happy teens to become first-person shooters in the non-virtual war on terror. Now in Odorama.
From the OC to al Qaeda. Meet Adam Gadahn, former Southern California metal-head with a messy bedroom, current al Qaeda propaganda chief. Once a Santa Ana rocker from a prominent Jewish family, "Azzam the American" appeared yesterday in a video linking the terror group to the London bombings.
I would have thought that these charges could fairly be represented as terrorism, yet in 108 links in Google News, there is no mention of "terror" or any of its derivations. Has the word been hijacked?
Newsfilter: the Children of Guantanamo The 'IoS' reveals today that more than 60 of the detainees of the US camp were under 18 at the time of their capture, some as young as 14
CIA Secret Prisons Exposed The disappeared: Are they dead? Are they alive? Ask Congress. Ask the president.
NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls. "The NSA's domestic program began soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the sources. Right around that time, they said, NSA representatives approached the nation's biggest telecommunications companies. The agency made an urgent pitch: National security is at risk, and we need your help to protect the country from attacks"
Making any jokes or statements during the screening process may be grounds for both criminal and civil penalties.
The terrorists in New Jersey have been captured. They're, uhm, like 15 years old. A fine example of how anti-terror laws like the Patriot Act can be subject to mission creep. (The "terrorists" at the Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Justice in Pittsburgh seem to be still at large.)