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January 03, 2010

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Charlie (Colorado)

In your face Harry Reid.

sbw

Milestone journalism might as well be millstone journalism for all the news the information provides.

Rick Ballard

There seems to be some sort of loose correlation between the increase in the number of Iraqi security forces and the decrease in the number of American troops. Amazing - who would have guessed?

sbw

How about a chart that lists journos and the number of times each used the word "quagmire." The higher the number the more the journo should be ignored.

narciso

It's distressing that we've cut back the number of attacks, while insurgents keep rising. It's possible that the number of Google searches are related to the percentage of people who see Islamism as a threat, it's a screwy chart

MayBee

How many times has the term "grim milestone" been used since Bush left office?

Jack is Back!

I blame it on Bush. If it wasn't for Obama the deaths would be piling up like cut wood.

OT:

I have been watching a number of bowl games (some good, some bad) and it suddenly dawned on me that there are few coming up that are being sponsored by firms getting bailout or TARP money. IIRC, of the original TARP there were some banks, like Northern Trust, who didn't want the money or even need it but were forced by Treasury and the Fed to take it. Then NT sponsored the L.A. Open (golf) and got roundly criticized by the new Obama Administration for holding cocktail parties and sponsor events at the tournament.

I believe GMAC is getting an additional $3.8 billion in bailout funds and Citi is still owing a great deal of TARP repayments but both are sponsoring bowl games. Where the hell is the outrage? Where is the New York Times? Where is Barney Frank?

donald

Barney is involved in some kind of homosexual activity, it being his day off and all.

Just saying.

donald

Cause he damned sure ain't watching football.

Nenicho

That is the funniest thing I've ever read about Barney Frank. Well Done

matt

Don't forget the "hire an insurgent veteran" program either. That helped.

Much of what violence is still occurring is, I believe, being sponsored by the Iranians.If we could just string up the Qods agitators/facilitators we might see a peaceful Iraq.

Ignatz

--That is the funniest thing I've ever read about Barney Frank. Well Done--

Ditto.

jim

The Iraqi civilian and military numbers are also dropping fast, from 24,500 in 2007, 9,226 in 2008, and 4,500 in 2009. Still, I can't help but wonder if they will get significantly lower.

I imagine there will be a certain amount of 'low level' violence in Iraq for years to come, much as our gang activity in the USA which accounts for about a third of all violence in approximately 6 cities.

Frau Wahlrecht

Thanks, Chaco, for

    not
saying, N"ancy Pelosi, in your face."

Frau Wahlrecht

Hmm...I needed to preview that comment. Reid's face is bad enough, and I wanted to thank Chaco for not adding that of the House Madam.

matt

the poppy harvest numbers are wrong in the Afghanistan section of that chart unless there were higher numbers in other months. The eradication programs are failing badly.

verner

In three days at Gettysburg, 7000 Americans died. After seven years, we're just over four thousand in Iraq.

The so called neo-marxist "anti-war" movement was never about ending the war.

They used the war to elect their community organizer in chief, and we have just as many soldiers deployed as ever. Have we seen any mass marches in protest of Obama/Hitler?

Nope.

I hate them SOOO much.

Oh, and by the way, despite the best efforts of the DEMOCRAT PARTY, WE WON IN IRAQ.

DrCruel

I was there in 1991, when the "anti-war movement" was claiming Saddam was a progressive humanitaarian, and was trying to justify Iraq's brutal annexation of Kuwait.

I was there in 1997, when the same "anti-war movement" was trying to get sanctions preventing Saddam from acquiring more arms and munitions from Russia lifted. I remember how they claimed that these sanctions had killed over a million Iraqi children.

I was there in 2001, when the "anti-war movement", now working under a Trotskyite umbrella group called "ANSWER", did everything in their power to stop Saddam's overthrow - to include trying to organise 'human shields' for Saddam's strategic targets. I remember these same people mocking the US military as liars, when they uncovered mass graves of Saddam's victims.

I was there throughout the tenure of President Bush, when these "anti-war activists" likened the president to Hitler, because he had dared to depose a Left fascist leader allied to the Marxists since 1979, and the main fundraiser for their Marxist PLO terrorist faction.

Now it is 2010. And we find this "anti-war movement" trying to lay claim to the policies that desposed their ally. I hear accusations that Saddam was never actually a Ba'athist, that he was instead a CIA asset, that he was put in power by the US government, that he even got his weapons from the US.

Unfortunately for these sociopathic fiends, I have a memory. I remember what they said and how they behaved, and will never let these Leftist fascists forget it.

Never forget.

Jane

Chaco got another Instalaunch. What a star!

Janet

DrCruel, Those anti-war ANSWER marches are what motivated me to finally become more active. I timidly (having never been to any rally) attended a pro-troop counter demonstration...I think in 2003.
The sad part is the teens marching with such evil organizations. They have no idea who they are siding with...just being for "peace" seems cool.

verner

Amen DrCruel. The hate America left is nothing but a tool of the democrat party power structure. That's why I laugh at the term "conservative democrat."

anduril

There are several worthwhile blogs/articles today on national security matters, mostly relating to the Christmas bombing attempt--but with wider implications.

Gordon Crovitz has an article in the WSJ called Intelligence Is a Terrible Thing to Waste. His main point is laudable: Abdulmutallab got on a Detroit-bound plane not because of intelligence failures per se--rarely, as he points out, has a terror threat come on such a silver platter, and the threat was duly noted--but because of self imposed restrictions:

Timothy Healy, the head of the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, explained the unit's "reasonable suspicion" standard like this:

"Reasonable suspicion requires 'articulable' facts which, taken together with rational inferences, reasonably warrant a determination that an individual is known or suspected to be or has been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to, terrorism and terrorist activities, and is based on the totality of the circumstances. Mere guesses or inarticulate 'hunches' are not enough to constitute reasonable suspicion."

If this sounds like legalistic language, it is. Indeed, a quick Web search was a reminder that this language is adapted from Terry v. Ohio, a landmark Supreme Court case in 1968 that determined when Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches allows the police to frisk civilians or conduct traffic stops. In other words, foreign terrorists have somehow now been granted Fourth Amendment reasonableness rights that courts intended to protect Americans being searched by the local police. Thus was Abdulmutallab allowed on the airplane with his explosives.

Unfortunately, Crovitz fails to follow up with the right question: how did it come to pass that Fourth Amendment rights were extended in such a way as to endanger the security of the nation that came up with the Fourth Amendment in the first place? The answer is obvious. The FBI (and other intel agencies) didn't just spontaneously decided to do this. This was done by courts and by politicians, largely catering to ideologically driven public opinion as represented in the liberal media. Have we so soon forgotten The Wall between intelligence and law enforcement, which gave us 9/11? The heated debates over the Patriot Act, Gitmo, NSA surveillance, etc.? And then there are our wrong headed immigration, airport security and travel policies--for starters, what reason was there to allow Abdulmutallab into our country, with or without a bomb? Who decided that, absent "reasonable suspicion," foreigners have a virtual right to enter this country? This, again, is a policy decision--it is not mandated by our Constitution, which was not designed as a suicide pact.

No doubt our intelligence agencies (and I include DoS in this category) are as prone to mistakes as any other bureaucratic organizations, but let's also remember that they remain subject to virtually innumerable regulations that control what type of information can be gathered and what uses such information may be put to. I suspect that Big Sis Napolitano was quite correct in stating that "the system worked." The real problem is that the system, based as it was on counter-realistic ideological assumptions, was fundamentally misconceived in the first place. Whatever assignment of blame that will result from the "investigation" that the Administration will now conduct will doubtless fail to address those assumptions and will instead assign blame to faceless bureaucrats rather than to those who should shoulder the blame: our opinion and policy making elites. Still less will there be a fundamental rethinking of those policy assumptions.

Sadly, Crovitz offers the usual nostrum: we need the FBI to forget about law enforcement and focus on intelligence gathering:

Aside from concluding that we are misapplying a reasonableness test, the Abdulmutallab investigation likely will conclude that information in the databases of the National Security Agency, CIA and State Department weren't properly mined to connect dots. His name went onto the list of 400,000 people who might have links to terror, but not the list of 14,000 subject to multiple screenings before boarding an airplane or the list of 3,400 people who are not permitted to fly.

The Obama administration has leaned toward treating terrorism as a matter for domestic law enforcement, such as trying terrorists in civilian courts instead of in military tribunals. But this legalistic culture also undermined intelligence in the Fort Hood case in November. The FBI knew that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had been exchanging emails with a Yemen-based imam with ties to the 9/11 hijackers. The agency, operating by the standards of domestic law enforcement instead of applying information to prevention, surmised that the "content was explainable by his research" and failed to warn the Army of its potential risk.

In contrast, British authorities last May denied Abdulmutallab the right to re-enter the United Kingdom, where he had been president of an Islamic Society while in college. In Britain, domestic intelligence is the job of M15, which unlike the FBI has no power to arrest or responsibility for criminal prosecutions. Instead, it is free to focus on gathering intelligence, making hunches and preventing wrongdoing. The British ban on Abdulmutallab didn't require any FBI-like "reasonable suspicion" test.

Where to start? Once again Crovitz misconceives the problem. The reason the FBI was "operating by the standards of domestic law enforcement instead of applying information to prevention" was because courts and policy makers--whether by legislation or regulation--require them to do so. In this regard, the relevant difference between the FBI and MI-5 is not that one is a purely law enforcement organization while the other is a purely intelligence gathering organization. The relevant difference is that the FBI (and, be it said, the CIA, DoS, Homeland Security and other agencies) is forbidden to act on what Crovitz terms "hunches" whereas MI-5 is empowered to do so. Free our own agencies from such self-imposed restrictions, mandate them to vigilantly guard our national security, and then see the difference.

For an approach that focuses on one aspect of this problem--judicial power grabbing aided and abetted by Congressional and Executive failure to exercise authority--see Andy McCarthy's generally fine article: The Constitutional Crisis and the Security Crisis. What McCarthy hints at, but doesn't explicitly state, is that too often the reason that Congress, in particular, has abdicated from the proper exercise of its powers is twofold: the desire of liberals in the Legislative branch to advance a radical agenda by stealth and the fear of conservatives of being slandered in the media as hate mongers.

anduril

George Friedman at Stratfor

http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100104_christmas_day_airliner_attack_and_intelligence_process?utm_source=GWeekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=100104&utm_content=textversion2

makes some relevant observations, although failing to address the true systemic problems which are located in our judicial and legislative branches:

The intelligence community has been searching for a deus ex machina in the form of computers able not only to distribute intelligence to the necessary places but also to distinguish reliable from unreliable, significant from insignificant. Forgetting the interagency rivalries and the tendency to give contracts to corporate behemoths with last-generation technology, no matter how widely and efficiently intelligence is distributed, at each step in the process someone must be given real authority to make decisions. When Janet Napolitano or George Tenet say that the system worked after an incident, they mean not that the outcome was satisfactory, but that the process operated as the process was intended to operate. Of course, being faithful to a process is not the same as being successful, but the U.S. intelligence community’s obsession with process frequently elevates process above success. Certainly, process is needed to operate a vast system, but process also is being used to deny people authority to do what is necessary outside the process, or, just as bad, it allows people to evade responsibility by adhering to the process.

Not only does the process relieve individuals in the system from real authority; it also strips them of motivation. In a system driven by process, the individual motivated to abort the process and improvise is weeded out early. There is no room for “cowboys,” the intelligence community term for people who hope to be successful at the mission rather than faithful to the process. Obviously, we are overstating matters somewhat, but not by as much as one might think. Within the U.S. intelligence and security process, one daily sees good people struggling to do their jobs in the face of processes that can’t possibly anticipate all circumstances.

The distribution of intelligence to the people who need to see it is, of course, indispensable, along with whatever other decision supports can be contrived. But, in the end, unless individuals are expected and motivated to make good decisions, the process is merely the preface to failure. No system can operate without process. At the same time, no process can replace authority, motivation and, ultimately, common sense.

The fear of violating procedures cripples Western efforts to shut down low-level terrorism. But the procedures are themselves flawed. A process that says that in a war against radical Islamists, an elderly visitor from Iceland is as big of a potential threat as a twentysomething from Yemen might satisfy some ideological imperative, but it violates the principle of common sense and blocks the authority and the motivation to act decisively.

Friedman needs to go into just who designed the flawed processes and why they designed them to be the way they are. Only then will he get to the heart of the matter.

clarice

NCTC advisor is himself on the terror watch list. Morons watching over us *Remeber they had Ft Hood Hasan on one of the anti-terrorism panels, too**

"Qadhi, of New Haven, Connecticut, has been involved in de-radicalization efforts in the United States and was a leading participant in the U.S. Counter-Radicalization Strategy conference organized by the National Counterterrorism Center in the summer of 2008.

To say that Yasir Qadhi has been involved in de-radicalization efforts in the U.S. is a sick joke. That he was a leading participant in the NCTC’s conference on counter-radicalization is a step into the surreal. Was al-Qaeda cleric Anwar Al-Aulaqi not available to attend? When it comes to Islamic radicalization, Yasir Qadhi is the problem, not the solution. And the NCTC only had to consult its own records to know exactly who they were dealing with.

An August 8, 2006, article in the Houston Chronicle reported on a meeting in Houston with Department of Homeland Security officials where Yasir Qadhi complained openly that he was on the terror watch list"

LUN

clarice

London - British intelligence passed on to U.S. authorities information about a Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner but he was not singled out as a particular risk, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's office said Monday. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's name was included in a dossier of people who made contact with known extremists in the United Kingdom

LUN

(i had not believed we had this info. How many dots does it take to make a pointillist picture?)

anduril

Per Steve Sailer's "Yemen":

In yet another example of the workings of the bipartisan wisdom that “Because we must invite the world (it’s unthinkable not to), we therefore must invade the world to be safe,” Washington has responded to Nigerian Underwear Bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s fizzled attempt to blow up a plane headed to Detroit on Christmas by escalating American involvement in Yemen.

Senator Joe Lieberman declaimed, “Iraq was yesterday's war, Afghanistan is today's war. If we don't act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow's war.”

President Barack Obama sent General David Petraeus to Sana, the medieval capital city of Yemen, more than 7,000 feet up in the densely populated but isolated highlands of that remote country, to help coordinate America’s role in the Yemeni government’s war on its rebels.

The logic of invite the world, invade the world is simple: Because we are so helplessly vulnerable to Muslim terrorists flying to the U.S. and blowing stuff up, we must tighten American hegemony over the entire Muslim world, even unto the highlands of Yemen, until they learn to stop resenting us.

The bombings of Muslim countries will continue until Muslim morale improves!

Yet, before getting bogged down in another high altitude, tribal Muslim country, one of even more negligible strategic significance than Afghanistan, perhaps we could step back for a moment and ask: Do we really have to invite the world? Did we have to wave Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab onto that Detroit-bound plane with a friendly, non-discriminatory smile?

LTC John

Good to see all that work MNSTC-I did is paying off.

I remember Glenn Reynolds, years ago, wondering if it would even be reported, the first month there were no KIA in Iraq... guess we have our answer.

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