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9/11/06: Are we safer today than 5 years ago?
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ihave to agree with John Mueller of CATO Unbound, I'm not sure what that means. Mueller puts forward 6 questions of his own in order to explore the question.
1. Is the likelihood that an individual American will be killed by international terrorists higher or lower than before 9/11?
Good question. Says Mueller:
Although polls continue to show Americans notably concerned that they or members of their families might die at the hands of terrorists, astronomer Alan Harris has calculated that, at present rates and including the disaster of 9/11 in the consideration, the chances any individual resident of the globe will be killed by an international terrorist over the course of an 80-year lifetime is about 1 in 80,000, about the same likelihood of being killed over the same interval from the impact on the Earth of an especially ill-directed asteroid or comet.
It still doesn't answer the question, but it at least points out the odds are very low that terrorism will be the cause of your demise. There are other things to be taken into consideration concerning the efficacy of these numbers but I'll get to them in a minute. Question 1 naturally leads to question 2:
2. Are Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda types more or less capable of inflicting damage on the United States?
Again, a good question. Obviously AQ is, as we've discovered, sort of the broker of terrorism with various affiliated groups associating themselves with them and receiving support for approved actions. So its size and capability remain mostly unknown. AQ "type" organizations, as we've found out, include Islamic jihadists like Hezbollah who are establishing a world-wide presence (now rumored to be in Venezuela). Mueller answers:
International terrorists would have to increase their capabilities considerably to change such astoundingly low probabilities. Even if they were able to pull off "another 9/11? every three months for the next five years, the chance an individual American would be killed in one of them would still be two one-hundredths of one percent. Although there is concern that they will become vastly more dangerous by obtaining and setting off nuclear weapons or something like that, they do not seem to have become more capable generally since 9/11.
In general I agree with his assessment concerning capability. "They" seem to have become less capable. And that is a function of the decimation their leadership has suffered by a focused effort to root them out and kill them. Secondly, they've committed some of their better fighters to Iraq and lost them. They are presently suffering both in leadership and in experience. But both are deficits which can be made up over time. So it is important that we keep continuing pressure on those organizations of AQ and its affiliates and continue to decimate them. In that way, we keep them off balance and unable to execute their plans.

But while leadership and experience are important, in a world in which WMDs become more and more available, it only takes one successful operation to again stagger their western enemies. It doesn't have to be anything as sophisticated as a nuclear weapon. A crude dirty bomb will have the desired effect. And as everyone knows, those are pretty easy to put together, especially for the bomber who plans on going with his bomb.

So in answer to his second question, I'd say that for the moment, AQ and its affiliates are less capable than they were on 9/11. But we must keep in mind that's a result of constant and unrelenting pressure on them. We must also remember that leadership and experience are a function of time and AQ will gain both as time progresses unless we stay after them.
3. Are there more people out there who hate the United States?
Mueller has an interesting answer to this one:
Polls around the world strongly suggest the answer to this is a decided "yes." The post-9/11 events that seem to have inspired this change are the American attack upon (and, increasingly it seems, debacle in) Iraq and now the destruction inflicted on Lebanon by U.S.-supported Israel.

However, the United States was far from beloved in the most relevant area, the Middle East, before 9/11 either, and hatred for American Middle East policy is what principally drove the attacks. It was in the mid-1990s when America's UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright was asked on television's "60 Minutes" whether she thought the sanctions-induced deaths of perhaps half a million Iraqi children was "worth it." Without taking issue with the death toll estimate, she replied, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it." [2] Although this remarkable acknowledgment amazingly provoked no comment at the time in the United States, it quickly became famous in the Arab world.
It is the second paragraph which makes the point I often make when asked this question. It's not like we were loved in that region to begin with (or, for that matter, in much of the world). Iraq may have exacerbated that feeling but it certainly didn't create it. In the Middle East, we've suffered that "hate" since at least our overt backing of Israel decades ago. But don't conflate anti-American feelings and "hate" with potential activity against the US.

So yes, there may be more who "hate" us than before, but I'm not sure what that means in real terms or in terms of terrorism aimed at the US. Obviously it has caused some of the more excitable to head to Iraq where, for the most part, they've been "martyred", but as a direct threat to the US, no one is sure if it has produced much of any threat. Go back to question 2 and AQ's reduced effectiveness.
4. Do the haters see more or less value in striking the United States?
Probably the key question of the lot, since it is conventional wisdom among many on the left that we've "created terrorists" with our actions and activities, and those terrorists now pose an increased threat to the US. Mueller quotes Fawaz Gerges book "The Far Enemy" to point out the real focus of most of the Islamic radical groups:
But he [Gerges] goes on to note that the vast majority even of this small group primarily focuses on various "infidel" Muslim regimes and consider those among them who carry out violence against the "far enemy"–mainly Europe and the United States–to be irresponsible and reckless adventurers who endanger the survival of the whole movement. From this perspective, suggests Gerges, the 9/11 attacks proved to be substantially counterproductive by massively heightening concerns about terrorism around the world. The key result among jihadis and religious nationalists was a vehement rejection of Al Qaeda's strategy and methods, particularly after reactions to the 9/11 attacks and subsequent terrorism in Muslim countries brought suppression of the movement.

Thus a reasonable conclusion is that, while we are less safe in that more people around the world hate the United States (or least its foreign policy) than did so before 9/11 (or, actually, before the U.S. invasion of Iraq), we are more safe in that even fewer people than before 9/11 think striking the U.S. directly makes much sense.
Or, in other words, 9/11 ended up being counter productive for groups like AQ. It heightened awareness, focused the massive assets of a superpower on them and, in effect, has rendered them combat-ineffective. Again, while more may "hate" us, per Mueller and Gerges (and I agree) that doesn't translate into more will attack us. In fact, they argue, given the fallout from 9/11, the likelihood is there will be fewer attacks on the US proper.
5. Are we more or less vulnerable to attack?
The question that has been asked constantly over the last 5 years is "why haven't they hit us again"?

Look, it would be easy to sit back and say, "because we've done such a good job of protecting our country". To that I'd have to first laugh, and then say, "not a chance".

To give you an idea of the vastness of potential targets in the US, Mueller throws these stats out there:
To be blunt (and obvious), it is simply not possible to protect every bus, every shop, every factory, every tunnel, every bridge, every road, every mall, every place of assembly, every mile of railroad track. Some relevant statistics: in the United States there are 87,000 food-processing plants, 500 urban transportation systems, 80,000 dams, 66,000 chemical plants, 590,000 highway bridges, 5,000 airports, 12,800 power plants, 2 million miles of pipelines, and 2 billion miles of cable, not to mention some 13,000 McDonald's (at this writing). Meanwhile, the Post Office handles nearly 200 billion pieces of mail each year. Nor is it possible to secure every border or have perfect, or for that matter, semi-perfect, port security—a particular vulnerability, among billions, that has attracted the focused attention of many worriers, if not so far of any actual terrorists. The United States can import over a billion dollars' worth of shoes in a single month, notes Schneier–is each shoe box to be inspected?
And that list doesn't even really touch all the potential targets available. Water treatment plants, shopping malls, stadiums, tourist attractions, etc, targets are almost unlimited. To believe we can actually secure our country and make it "perfectly safe" is a pipe dream. As Mueller points out:
But, unless funds are infinite, society can't defend against every possibility—or even against a large number of them.
Again we find the key in question two. Our best defense isn't to be found in trying to inspect every shoe box and secure every dam. Those are defensive measures and they cede the advantage to the attacker. Instead we must remain the attacker and continually degrade the capability of AQ and like groups. We have to keep them on the defensive. The better we do that job, the safer we remain.

Mueller has an extended discussion of what may or may not be attacked in the future by terrorists, but in my opinion, the main point to be taken from this question is to be found in the paragraph above.

Mueller then asks what seems to be a strange question, but, in reality is an important one:
6. Are we more or less likely to commit suicide if attacked?
Here's what he's talking about:
In 2003, while Homeland Security czar Tom Ridge bravely declared that "America is a country that will not be bent by terror" or "broken by fear," General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was ominously suggesting that if terrorists were able to engineer an event that managed to escalate 9/11's damage by killing 10,000 Americans, they would successfully "do away with our way of life."
Essentially he's asking if we will abandon that which makes America the country it is out of fear, and effectively and irrevocably "do away with our way of life".

Or said another way, is there an event that would be so catastrophic that we would embrace a transition to a much more authoritarian government, trading security for freedom?

That's been one of the arguments we've had over the past 5 years, in discussions about the Patriot Act, FISA and detainees. All of these discussions point to a country still vitally interested in maintaining the traditional freedoms we enjoy. But could that change?
But the only way terrorist acts could conceivably "do away with our way of life" would be if, bent and broken, we did it to ourselves in reaction. The process would presumably involve repealing the Bill of Rights, boarding up churches, closing down newspapers and media outlets, burning books, abandoning English for (North) Korean, and refusing evermore to consume hamburgers.
A bit of an overstatement, but you get his point. Is there a scenario, an event, a situation you can conceive that would move the US in that general direction though? Some, such as Gen. Meyers, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that the threshold for such a transition might be at the 10,000 casualty mark.

Mueller disagrees:
The United States is unlikely to be toppled by dramatic acts of terrorist destruction, even extreme ones. As it happens, officials estimated for a while last year that Hurricane Katrina had inflicted 10,000 deaths–the tolerance level set by General Myers. Although this, of course, was not a terrorist act, there were no indications whatever that, while catastrophic for the hurricane victims themselves, the way of life of the rest of the nation would be notably done away with by such a disaster. It is also easy to imagine scenarios in which 10,000 would have been killed on September 11–if the planes had hit the World Trade Center later in the day when more people were at work for example–and indeed, early estimates at the time were much higher than 3000. Any death is tragic, but it is hardly likely that a substantially higher loss on 9/11 would have necessarily have triggered societal suicide.
Even when, initially, we expected a death rate in the area of 10,000 for 9/11 and Katrina, I saw no inclination on the part of the public to "commit societal suicide" by throwing over the civil liberties we cherish. In fact, I saw more of a resolution to exercise them in the face of the tragedies. While I think we've lost some of the pioneering spirit which once characterized our nation, I don't think we're anywhere near ready to change as drastically as some fear, even in the face of mass casualty threats from terrorists.

Mueller concludes with a very good reminder:
Thus the country can readily absorb considerable damage if necessary, and it has outlasted far more potent threats in the past. To suggest otherwise is to express contempt for America's capacity to deal with adversity.

However, although the alarmists may exaggerate, a proclivity that is by nature (and definition) central to their basic makeup, the subtext of their message should perhaps be taken seriously: ultimately, the enemy, in fact, is us. Thus far at least, terrorism is a rather rare and, appropriately considered, not generally a terribly destructive phenomenon. But there is a danger that hysteria over it could become at least somewhat self-fulfilling should extensive further terrorism be visited upon the Home of the Brave.

A key element in a policy toward terrorism, therefore, should be to control, to deal with, or at least productively to worry about the fear and overreaction that terrorism so routinely inspires and that generally constitutes its most damaging effect.
He's precisely right and makes some very valid points. Resist the alarmists call, resist over reaction, resist the siren's call for more security at the expense of liberty.

With freedom comes risk, but freedom is worth the risk.

While terrorism is a problem and a threat, we should deal with it rationally, effectively and in a manner which preserves our liberties. We should stay on the attack and work toward continued disruption and decimation of their networks. We should also anticipate a possible terrorist success and be prepared to absorb it without overreacting.

Are we safer today than 5 years ago? Who knows? My guess is, in a general sense, yes. But don't make the mistake, as you ponder this question, of using feelings as a gage for reality. The fact that you had no safety concerns on 9/10 of 2001 and massive concerns the following day does not at all mean you were safer on 9/10 than 9/11.

UPDATE: Mueller also discusses essentially the same topic in "Foreign Affairs" magazine.
 
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Good God...The likelihood of people being killed within an 80 year period due to asteroid or comet impacts is 1 in 80,000? Are 75,000 people out of 6 billion global residents being killed by comets every 80 years? Why aren’t we hearing about this? Because we’re certainly hearing about the thousands of dead due to terrorism.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
I would say that Katrina is a poor analogy. Now I don’t know WHAT the threshold limit for radical change would be, I’d place it MUCH higher, e.g. Peoria, Chicago, NYC CEASE to exist as the result of a nuclear attack by terrorists, but 10,000 is a pretty low number. Any way, though, Katrina is not a good analogy, because giving up my Civil Liberties would NOT make me safer from Katrina or other hurricanes, whereas giving up Civil Liberties MIGHT make me safer from Terrorism. So an Act of God is DIFFERENT than a DELIBERATE Act of Man. And being such the responses are likely to be different. And this is BTW, a flaw with Progressives that trot out the argument that you’re more likely to die of a heart attack or the like as compared an act of Terror.

Bottom-Line: it’s going to take a whole lot of dead folks, very quickly, produced by terrorists to bring about a fundamental reappraisal of US Civil Liberties. But comparing Terrorism to Acts of Nature is not a good analogy, again changing the 1st Amendment or the 4th won’t affect whether my house gets blown away by a hurricane and I think most people would see that.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
JWG the asteroid number is based on a LOW-LIKELIHOOD, but HIGH CASUALTY event. it’s not LIKELY but IF it did happen it’d be catastrophic. So hence in the "stat’s" it comes out as 75,000 people.....it’s a form of payout calculation, there is a 1/100,000,000 chance of it occuring (SWAG) but if it did it would kill 4,000 million people (Also SWAG). Odds X Payout= Expected Payout and therefore the likelihood of investment.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
it’s going to take a whole lot of dead folks, very quickly, produced by terrorists to bring about a fundamental reappraisal of US Civil Liberties.
What? It took approximately 3,000 dead folks for our government to decide it can imprison US citizens without charges or access to counsel INDEFINATELY. And apparantly that’s all it took for a substantial percentage of the population to decide that was OK.

Now I’d say that was a fundamental reappraisal of US Civil Liberties.

And if you were one of those US citizens being imprisoned, with no charges offered or access to counsel, and possibly being interrogated using "alternative tactics" you’d probably feel the same way.
 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
LOW-LIKELIHOOD, but HIGH CASUALTY event
Yes, and it’s a poor comparison unless one can point to dozens of comet/asteroid casualty events like we can when it comes to terrorism in the past few years (not including Iraq and Afghanistan).
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Good post. Scariest thing my Dad says these days is "maybe we’re too free." I agree: freedom is worth the risk, freedom is worth being insulted, freedom is worth the unfairness.
 
Written By: DaveMon
URL: http://
And if you were one of those US citizens being imprisoned, with no charges offered or access to counsel, and possibly being interrogated using "alternative tactics" you’d probably feel the same way.
Yes, I’m sure Padilla opposes his previous situation. Got any other examples?
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Davebo I think Jose Padilla being a SINGULAR case undermines the "fear" of loss of Civil Liberties.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
And what were civil liberties like on December 6, 1941 versus December 6, 1942?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Reading this post makes me wonder who the genius was who first figured out that, like making a bomb more efficient by "shaping" the charge to fire in a given direction when there is a specific target, the Democrats could harness the fear of loss of liberty to shape it into a weapon to attack President Bush. Thus the birth of "BushHitler". Electing a Democrat as President will make this "terrible threat to Liberty" disappear overnight. Suddenly we will be coping extremely well with the few slight changes to our civil rights necessitated by prudent concern for terrorists.
It is also comforting [NOT] to see the furor created on the left by Senator Reid’s blatant attempt to censor (pre-publication) one of our TV networks by threatening their license because he did not like the political content of a broadcast. I may upchuck if I have to read one more liberal proudly claim that our Liberty is being safeguarded by liberal vigilance for the slightest threat by government to our liberties. Go ahead, lefties, comment on Senator Reid’s act. It is a perfect showcase for your "Vigilance For Liberty" campaign.
Crickets.
"Now I’d say that was a fundamental reappraisal of US Civil Liberties."
Liberal hypocrites.
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
Davebo is right! This country will never be safe from tax-cutting fascists unless hordes of Jose Padillas are given fair trials and then acquitted on technicalities. Every day I don’t see good lil’ Jose walking the street, I know we are delving more and more into totalitarianism, just like they practice at Wal-mart.

Just because a guy joins a group that wants to destroy the country, why should he get in trouble for that? Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Padilla should be given a medal of freedom for the way he questions the government. Same goes for Adam Gadahn. Both risked their lives just to point out how Bush’s Prescription Drug program goes against everything Thomas Jefferson and that Alexander Hamilton dude wrote in some book that I never really had an interest in reading.

The more we imprison terrorists, the more the terrorists have won.

Gadahn/Padilla ’08
 
Written By: Come on, Please
URL: http://
Why bother visiting the US with direct action when striking Saudi Arabia would dent the oil market and deliver $100+/bbl oil to the U.S. within hours? Or just take down Egypt /Syria - that would activate the Israeli-US treaties and the mobilization to regional war would really begin. Bin Laden and his leadership are said to be livng safely in Pakistan - a nuclear state.

The possiblitities for bleeding the US are endless. We are a multi-vulnerable nation. The triggers for kaos are laying everywhere. And beyond the folly of occupying another nation, there is the issue of polarizaton. We are getting internationally, what we get domestically - polarization, division, acrimony. That is why we need new leadership, and new policy.
 
Written By: Bubby
URL: http://
That is why we need new leadership, and new policy.
Yes, and we also need more high-sounding platitudes and catchier leftwing bumper stickers to keep this country safe.
 
Written By: Come on, Please
URL: http://
I know that the chance of getting hit by lighting are pretty small.

Having low odds doesn’t mean I want to be hit by lighting.

It also doesn’t mean I don’t take prudent steps to not get hit by lighting.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
4. Do the haters see more or less value in striking the United States?
Guess it depends on what is meant by striking the United States...

http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-09-11-voa12.cfm
Al-Qaida’s deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has warned that the Persian Gulf region and Israel will be the terrorist group’s next targets.

The Egyptian-born Zawahiri issued the threat in a videotaped message that was broadcast Monday - the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Zawahiri warned of "new events" and suggested that militants should target Western economic interests. The deputy-leader also accused Western powers of stealing "Muslim" oil.

Zawahiri stressed that Western leaders should be more concerned about attacks in the Gulf or Israel than violence in Iraq or Afghanistan.

He also made the first indirect threat against United Nations peacekeepers bound for Lebanon. Zawahiri said the force is "hostile to Islam."

The message was not dated, but Zawahiri referred to the war between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
"We are getting internationally, what we get domestically - polarization, division, acrimony. That is why we need new leadership, and new policy."
Ah, yes, a return to the serenity of the Clinton years.
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
Guess it depends on what is meant by striking the United States...
Striking in the US proper.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The total number of deaths as a result of Katrina was less than 2,000. Had it been signifantly more there’s no telling what would have happened.

Perhaps we should game this out a little more. I suggest that, following a terrorist attack with mass casualties, no president who advocated doing nothing in response (or, in fact, who opposed some sort of military response) would be re-elected.

Do-nothing presidency. Indifferent to the deaths of innocent Americans. Vacillating. The ads practically write themselves.

 
Written By: Dave Schuler
URL: http://www.theglitteringeye.com
Guess it depends on what is meant by striking the United States...
The mere threat of a U.S. attack on Iran sent oil prices above $75/bbl on the markets recently. That is how tight the supply / demand relationship is worldwide.

An actual war with the world’s 4th largest oil producer would take the markets much higher, and keep prices high long enough to inflict considerable economic pain on the US (and other nations).
 
Written By: Bubby
URL: http://
Well, that’s not considering the attacks al Queda might make on Saudi Arabia and other Gulf state, which could have much the same impact.

It would have a tremendous impact on our economy, and very little direct impact on lost lives (with a possible indirect impact of lost lives due to heating costs being to high during winter months.)

But the point being, here is al Quedas #2 guy, not calling for direct attacks against the US proper.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
"Go ahead, lefties, comment on Senator Reid’s act. It is a perfect showcase for your "Vigilance For Liberty" campaign.
Crickets."
Say....where’s Mona on this issue? After all, as a libertarian she has no loyalty to the Democratic Party. And I know she is a tiger when it comes to the possibility that the government will usurp our civil rights in any way. God knows we’ve endured many, many, many diatribes about how President Bush has threatened our rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

I can see how Democratic partisans must red-facedly remain silent about Senator Reid’s egregious violations of our 1st Amendment rights in his censorship actions, but independent, libertarian Mona is perfectly free to denounce Reid’s action.

Isn’t she?

Oh well, must be her vacation time. No wait, that was in August. Hmmmmmm
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
To whom It May Apply: This article posed a specific question, one that could be answered in a myriad of ways I don’t see how it helps anyone to squander an opportunity to discuss a problem in order to poke stupid jabs at those who disagrees with you The world is not divided between fascist Bushies and communist lefties. It’s divided between those who try to analyze a proposition and those who can’t think beyond insulting someone, anyone.

On a practical level, I was puzzled by the "stay on the attack’ proposition. Given that terrorists are not nations, how, exactly do we identify where to stage these attacks? As the wars in Iraq and Lebanon so amply demonstrate, going on the attack can be problematic in execution and devastating in unforseen consequences. How do you attack a group in a foreign country (whose governmwnt may not look kindly about our entrance into their sovereign sphere)? Do we just invade assorted countries when it suits our interests?
This sounds suspiciously like an empty slogan, with no clear message.
 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
It is also comforting [NOT] to see the furor created on the left by Senator Reid’s blatant attempt to censor (pre-publication) one of our TV networks by threatening their license because he did not like the political content of a broadcast. I may upchuck if I have to read one more liberal proudly claim that our Liberty is being safeguarded by liberal vigilance for the slightest threat by government to our liberties. Go ahead, lefties, comment on Senator Reid’s act. It is a perfect showcase for your "Vigilance For Liberty" campaign.
Ah, so refreshing to see that partisan lying and spinmanship is still alive and kicking even though a majority of American have finally begun to see through the lies of the Bush administration and their sycophantic parrots on the web.

If George Bush quoted communications laws and the responsibilities of broadcast networks, THAT could be perceived as a threat. If the head of the GOP quoted communications laws and the responsibilities of broadcast networks, THAT could be perceived as a threat. If the head of the FCC quoted communications laws and the responsibilities of broadcast networks, THAT could be perceived as a threat. All of these can affect decisions by the ONLY power held over broadcast networks, that is the FCC.

A sitting Senator in the minority party, more importantly NOT the party that appoints FCC leadership, has NO power to affect license decisions of broadcast networks.

So it is LIE to say that Reid threatened the license of ABC. Threat indicates a consequence that can be made to happen by the threatening party. Unless ABC is as stupid as the people that actually believe these GOP spun lies, they know better than anyone that Harry Reid poses no risk to their broadcast license.

So yes, George Bush is still the one rolling back civil liberties, and Democrats are still the best hope of protecting the same.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
I’m absolutely amazed that CaptinSarcastic has admitted that the Democrats have absolutely no change of ever regaining power in Washington, DC. After all, that would be a requirement to claim that Senator Reid could not possibly threaten ABC.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
But Captin, what about that upcoming Democratic Landslide in Nov. 2006? THEN Harry or Hillary will the MAJORITY Floor Leader and Nancy Pelosi will be House Speaker, or have you forgotten or just given up on this? Just thought that I’d ask....Surely ABC might have pause to wonder, too.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
On a practical level, I was puzzled by the "stay on the attack’ proposition. Given that terrorists are not nations, how, exactly do we identify where to stage these attacks?
"Attack" is used in a general sense to mean using all forms available to root out terrorists. That would be diplomatic, economic, financial, intelligence, law enforcement and the military where necessary. "Attack" means to be aggressive and "offensive" in our operations, actively looking for and taking apart their networks (and arresting or killing the terrorists) through all of those means.

For instance, the uncovering of the plot to blow up airliners leaving the UK is an example of attacking the problem.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I’m absolutely amazed that CaptinSarcastic has admitted that the Democrats have absolutely no change of ever regaining power in Washington, DC. After all, that would be a requirement to claim that Senator Reid could not possibly threaten ABC.

Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
But Captin, what about that upcoming Democratic Landslide in Nov. 2006? THEN Harry or Hillary will the MAJORITY Floor Leader and Nancy Pelosi will be House Speaker, or have you forgotten or just given up on this? Just thought that I’d ask....Surely ABC might have pause to wonder, too.
Y’all don’t pay very close attention do you?

If the Democrats win the Congress and the Senate in November, they STILL will not have any say in who runs the FCC and the FCC is the ONLY body with the power to revoke the broadcast license of a network.

Let me say this again slowly for you folks in Rio Lindo (I’m trying to use familiar jargon so you don’t miss anything)...

Harry Reid does not now, nor will he ever have the power to revoke a broadcast license until or unless he is either elected President or appointed head of the FCC, NEITHER of which can happen until January 20, 2009 at the earliest.

So if you want to argue that it’s still a threat because it is theoretically possible that at some point in the infinite future Harry Reid will have access this power, then you may as well consider my suggestions that ABC meet their responsibilities to the public as a threat, since it is possible that I may be the FCC Chairman one day, not bloody likely, but since it is not impossible, it must therefore be possible.

If you twist any further to try and pretend you have a point, you will likely only end up with your head further up your a**.

Cap

 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
I really wanted to comment on the actual subject of this article, but had to respond to the ridiculous side track on the way.

On fighting terrorism:

Fear is out of control in America. People are giving up rights that hundreds of thousands have died to protect as a bet against an attack at some future point that has a miniscule chance of harming them. People are more likely to die in their bathtub than they are to be hurt in a terror attack, but you don’t see people asking them to have the government monitor their bathtub in the event of such an incident, and yet they are willing to have the government take away rights that were previously held to be necessary rights of a free society.

Our leaders should not be asking Americans to give up their rights, they should be telling us why we don’t need to give up rights, and that giving up our rights and becoming less of what makes us great would be a capitulation to our enemies.

On fighting terrorists, we should speak softly and carry a big stick. What I mean by this cliche is that the external appearance of American Policy should be that of addressing the concerns of moderate Muslims, winning the hearts and minds as it were, and the part of American policy that the world would not see would be our efforts to find an kill al Qaeda and their associates.

The rhetoric that would underline such a policy would be that we consider terrorism to be (gasp) a law enforcement issue.

What good is a policy that creates more terrorists than it eliminates, otherwise known as the policy we have now. And worse yet, we are creating a new terror network that has no head, but rather al Qaeda "inspired" terrorists that have no connection to anyone, but can still inflict horrific damage.

That’s my opinion, oh yeah, and going into Iraq was the worst foreign policy move in the history of America.

Cap

 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
Don’t waste our time, Captin. The meaning of the word is...is, etc. You only have to read the letter from Senator Reid to have the specifics of the exact threat. As we are all aware, a threat is a threat. Trying to lay this red herring on us is typical liberal fishtailing.
"If you twist any further to try and pretend you have a point, you will likely only end up with your head further up your a**."
Right back atya.


 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
...independent, libertarian Mona is perfectly free to denounce Reid’s action."
Jeez, would Jon or someone who knows Mona alert her to this incredible chance to establish the bona fides she has been touting since her appearance here. This is the perfect chance for her to do one of her patented screeds on a Democrat and establish once and for all the credentials that she has been claiming so vociferously for so long. All of the elements that push her buttons are here: Highly placed government official; use of office in a manner that violates Constitutional rights; Clear political motive (I know, a point that is lacking in her NSA hit jobs on Bush, but she does so much with mere claims of a political motive there, I can’t wait to see what she can do with Reid’s motives being so obvious).
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
One thing that has been done.. fairly well.. is the degaradation of core Al-Quaida capabilities. I don’t give Bush a lot of unique credit for this, but I can still give him credit for not screwing it up.



However, I think that the arc of pressure that Al-Queida is under seems to have peaked and is now declining. The truce in Pakistan, the increasing instability of the country in general, and the resurgence of the Taliban have all given Al-Queida increasing breathing room in their home base.


We need to escalate in Pakistan, or I see another strike in the US - a smaller one, but not super-small - in the next two years.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Right here on qando magazine this issue was discussed and Reid’s letter was linked. Captin poses that this is not a threat:
Senator Reid: “Presenting such deeply flawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law...”
"Y’all don’t pay very close attention do you?...Let me say this again slowly for you folks in Rio Lindo (I’m trying to use familiar jargon so you don’t miss anything)...the ridiculous [my emphasis] side track..."


Yes, one of us is not being serious about this discussion. The above is the standard effete liberal put-down of those red state rubes, who aren’t even clever enough to know that it is being laid upon them.

Ugh, we are. So, unless you have something substantive to add, I gather that you concede the point.
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
"Are we safer today than 5 years ago?"
Yes, if only due to our consciousness of the fact that these guys are out there. Just try hijacking a plane. The passengers are much better able to take care of themselves (and other passengers) than pre 9/11.
I live near a town that had a (now-defunct) Arab "charity" operating in a house in the country. They are now trying to sue the government for NSA spying on them. No one bothered much about them for years. Now people would ask more questions about their activities and note comings and goings, etc. The arrival at such a compound of a cargo carrier would not be just another event.
So, yes, we are safer.
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
Don’t waste our time, Captin. The meaning of the word is...is, etc. You only have to read the letter from Senator Reid to have the specifics of the exact threat. As we are all aware, a threat is a threat. Trying to lay this red herring on us is typical liberal fishtailing.
There are no specifics and there is no exact threat. Reid tells ABC that they have a public service responsibility under the communications act and he asks them to honor this responsibility. Since he is part of government, morons that don’t know the difference between the executive branch and the legislative branch just figure that since the government has the power to pull broadcast licenses, and Reid is part of government, he must have this power.

Which of course he does not, as that power has been delegated to the FCC, which has it’s leadership appointed by the President.

Here is the the correct logic President = FCC = power over broadcasters

Here is your errant logic - Reid is government = FCC is government = Reid is FCC

By the way, please show me
the specifics of the exact threat.
Not a link to the letter, I have read it, not a sentence that quotes the law, I have read that as well, but show me precisely where this "exact threat" is. What consequence was Reid threatening, EXACTLY? Was he threatening to enforce the law? He can’t, that’s the executive branch, was he threatening to throw an injunction on ABC? He can’t, that’s the judicial branch. Was he threatening to pull ABC’s broadcast license? He can’t, that’s the FCC, part of the Executive branch.

Was he threatening to file a law suit for ABC violation of it’s legal responsibilities set forth in the 1934 Communications Act? He could do this, but that is the right of any and every citizen, and it would be the judicial branch that would hand down any consequence, IF he were to prove his case in a court of law. That is about his only remedy.

Oh and by the way...
The above is the standard effete liberal put-down of those red state rubes, who aren’t even clever enough to know that it is being laid upon them.
You are referring to my comment, "For those in Rio Lindo". This is exactly the opposite of your claim, it is an effete put down used by (invented by) Rush Limbaugh to insinuate that Northern California liberals (and their ilk) are slow.

I am starting to understand why you have such an affection for George Bush, you have something in common, you are both usually wrong.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
Captin I have found that less SARCASM and more argumentation generally bears better fruit. More SARCASM and less argumentation generally means that one doesn’t really have the facts to hand or the logic is weak.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
The tipping point would be lower than 10,000.... if instead of hitting big cities like NYC or LA where "crazy stuff happens all the time" AQ picked 10 random Wal-Marts in towns of 50,000 or less. Way too many Americans even in "red states" still have the illusion that it’s someone else’s problem.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
So, unless you have something substantive to add, I gather that you concede the point. Don’t listen to Limbaugh so I didn’t get the reference. But, of course, you were not putting down the liberals in Rio Lindo and therefore your explanation changes nothing. You have something in common with Mona, you both usually obfuscate.
 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
The Senate Democratic leadership is wising up. Today they sent a letter to the presidents of network news companies:
"We write to you today to request..." [my emphasis]


The letter containing the threat was addressed to Disney President and CEO Robert Iger.

Nuff sed.




 
Written By: Notherbob2
URL: http://
John Mueller asks but does not full answer:
2. Are Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda types more or less capable of inflicting damage on the United States?
McQ says:
They are presently suffering both in leadership and in experience. But both are deficits which can be made up over time.
And the only way to deny them time is as McQ states to:
keep continuing pressure on those organizations of AQ and its affiliates and continue to decimate them. In that way, we keep them off balance and unable to execute their plans.
However time to achieve leadership and experience is only part measure of capability. An enemy’s capability is a function of his recruitment and material and time available.

The answer to Question 3 says that the enemy recruitment base is increasing.

What needs to be asked is Question 3a:

3a. Do those that hate America have more or less material to spend on attacking America?

As the price of oil has gone up and the religious conservatism of Saudi Arabia and Iran has not weakened, this is a probable yes.

Therefore to answer fully answer Question 2: the enemy has a greater number of potential recruits and probably has more funds to devote to their training, but because of US action has less time available to deploy them in the field. Thus their actionable capability has decreased, even though their potential capability has increased.


This current strategy has problems. One problem is that it is percieved that their capability to threaten is dimminished, action against them may decrease and their potential capability will build to a stronger than ever actionable capability. The other problem is that they may have a new way to act that is outside of the pressure applied, as our intelligence of them is less than perfect this might be happening right now.

Defeating them also requires action against their potential capability. Can degrade the recruitment base by making them love America (a notion I personally find absurd) or by changing their cultural ways of xenophobia & traditionalism (perhaps by inducing democracy) across all of Muslim society. Unfortunately all of Muslim society is 1.3 billion strong, making this very difficult. On the otherhand to degrade their material capabilities merely requires removing wealth the hands of fundamentalist nutjobs and people who pay fundamentalist nutjobs to do their thinking for them.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Davebo I think Jose Padilla being a SINGULAR case undermines the "fear" of loss of Civil Liberties.

It’s a singular case because there was backlash. The backlash was good, because it’s clear now that the stuff they were claiming about his plots were somewhere between cr*p intel and pure propaganda.

If not for the backlash, it wouldn’t have been once. It still would have been fairly small numbers, and the kinds of people trolls on here would find it easy to blow off as America-haters.

Still subverts our country and opens the door to more and worse, inch by inch.

Next topic.

Defeating them also requires action against their potential capability. Can degrade the recruitment base by making them love America (a notion I personally find absurd) or by changing their cultural ways of xenophobia & traditionalism (perhaps by inducing democracy) across all of Muslim society. Unfortunately all of Muslim society is 1.3 billion strong, making this very difficult. On the otherhand to degrade their material capabilities merely requires removing wealth the hands of fundamentalist nutjobs and people who pay fundamentalist nutjobs to do their thinking for them.

The problem with settling for degrading material costs is that there is blowback. Not just in terms of world opinion - not just , shucks, the french don’t like us, but diminished military capabilities, long-term financial drain, the actual increased proliferation of conflict zones across the globe (happening now), increased bandwagoning against non-democracies, the end of American soft power that affects the talent we can draw through immigration, the investment climate, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.

If we were smart, we’d be playing both ends of the game, and raising the incentives for peace as well as trying to increase the costs of war.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Captin I have found that less SARCASM and more argumentation generally bears better fruit. More SARCASM and less argumentation generally means that one doesn’t really have the facts to hand or the logic is weak.
Weak arguments are usually easily refuted, strong arguments get responses like the non-sequitor above.

Why don’t you show me how weak my argument is by ACTUALLY addressing it.

I’ll expect another response unrelated to my argument and assume that you cannot rebut my weak argument.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic (yeah, that one)
URL: http://
Which of course he does not, as that power has been delegated to the FCC, which has it’s leadership appointed by the President.
You are claiming that the portion of the government which is able to...

1) create new laws
2) control the funding for all government agencies

...cannot threaten anyone. Especially a business.

You must go through a lot of shampoo each week.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
It’s a singular case because there was backlash. The backlash was good, because it’s clear now that the stuff they were claiming about his plots were somewhere between cr*p intel and pure propaganda.

If not for the backlash, it wouldn’t have been once. It still would have been fairly small numbers, and the kinds of people trolls on here would find it easy to blow off as America-haters.
Whether the case was viable or bunk, has nothing to do with the backlash. The backlash was about our rights under the Constitution.

And isn’t this the case with every shift in Executive power. They do something which goes beyond current precedence, and either have it overturned or defined into law.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
To the larger question, we may be winning...

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20400998-7583,00.html
Five years on from the September 11, 2001, attacks, the Wahhabist terror organisation has failed to win the hearts and minds of the world’s Muslims. Al-Qa’ida’s remaining leaders hide in remote caves. The organisation’s state-of-the-art terrorist training infrastructure in Afghanistan has been dismantled. Its around 4000-strong membership has been decimated, with at least 3000 al-Qa’ida cadres from 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed down killed or captured in 102 countries worldwide. The Bush administration’s rigorous homeland security strategy to protect Americans at home has prevented a fresh assault on the continental US. And according to some experts, the remaining leadership of the organisation is racked with division over whether bin Laden overplayed his hand in murdering nearly 3000 civilians. What bin Laden and his cadres initially saw as a triumph against the West was condemned almost universally as an unprecedented act of barbarism. The hoped-for Arab spring of democracy might not have bloomed across the Middle East. On the other hand, neither has popular support for al-Qa’ida’s terror agenda. Instead of producing a groundswell of support from within the Islamic world, continuing wanton violence orchestrated by al-Qa’ida has resulted in the opposite: growing discomfort about the association between Islam and violence and an increasing split between the Sunnis and the Shia – and not just in Iraq.

Terrorism experts such as the Singapore-based analyst Rohan Gunaratna argue that, although weakened, al-Qa’ida is still resilient and has adopted new targets, technologies and tactics. But as a report issued by the London-based foreign affairs think tank Chatham House earlier this month makes clear, the terror group’s recent strikes at the soft heart of Islam in Saudi Arabia and Jordan have just intensified the unease of mainstream Muslims. Rather than winning recruits, notes the report’s author, Maha Azzam, al-Qai’da is facing a "very serious challenge to its legitimacy" as a result of Muslim distaste at atrocities such as the bombing of weddings at Amman hotels last year, killing at least 60. As well as losing popular support, these attacks are only bracing thoughtful Sunni leadership across the region against terrorist forces.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
You are claiming that the portion of the government which is able to...

1) create new laws
2) control the funding for all government agencies

...cannot threaten anyone. Especially a business.
Yes, I am claiming this.

Are you claiming that the Congress could write and pass a law penalizing ABC and get away with it?

Are you claiming that Congress could threaten the PRESIDENT with defunding the FCC if the FCC did not penalize ABC, and get away with this?

Can I borrow your tinfoil hat, I need to cover some leftovers.

I have more power to threaten ABC than Harry Reid does, I can threaten to boycott their advertisers; now THAT is a threat. Oh and by the way, considering this so-called threat did not result in ABC pulling the broadcast, and the effectiveness of a right wing threat of boycotting advertisers if CBS showed the Reagan miniseries, it appears to be defacto proof that there was no threat by Reid.


Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://

 
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