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Thread: The Fight Against Terrorism

  1. #1

    Default The Fight Against Terrorism

    May 16, 2003

    Paths of Glory


    The central dogma of American politics right now is that George W. Bush, whatever his other failings, has been an effective leader in the fight against terrorism. But the more you know about the state of the world, the less you believe that dogma. The Iraq war, in particular, did nothing to make America safer — in fact, it did the terrorists a favor.

    How is the war on terror going? You know about the Riyadh bombings. But something else happened this week: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, a respected British think tank with no discernible anti-Bush animus, declared that Al Qaeda is "more insidious and just as dangerous" as it was before Sept. 11. So much for claims that we had terrorists on the run.

    Still, isn't the Bush administration doing its best to fight terrorism? No.

    The administration's antiterror campaign makes me think of the way television studios really look. The fancy set usually sits in the middle of a shabby room, full of cardboard and duct tape. Networks take great care with what viewers see on their TV screens; they spend as little as possible on anything off camera.

    And so it has been with the campaign against terrorism. Mr. Bush strikes heroic poses on TV, but his administration neglects anything that isn't photogenic.

    I've written before about the Bush administration's amazing refusal to pay for even minimal measures to protect the nation against future attacks — measures that would secure ports, chemical plants, nuclear facilities and so on. (But the Department of Homeland Security isn't completely ineffectual: this week it helped Texas Republicans track down their Democratic colleagues, who had staged a walkout.)

    The neglect of homeland security is mirrored by the Bush administration's failure to follow through on overseas efforts once the TV-friendly part of the operation has come to an end. The overthrow of the Taliban was a real victory — arguably our only important victory against terrorism. But as soon as Kabul fell, the administration lost interest. Now most of Afghanistan is under the control of warlords, the Karzai government is barely hanging on, and the Taliban are making a comeback.

    Senator Bob Graham has made an even stronger charge: that Al Qaeda was "on the ropes" a year ago, but was able to recover because the administration diverted military and intelligence resources to Iraq. As former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he's in a position to know. And before you dismiss him as a partisan Democrat, bear in mind that when he began raising this alarm last fall his Republican colleagues supported him: "He's absolutely right to be concerned," said Senator Richard Shelby, who has seen the same information.

    Senator Graham also claims that a classified Congressional report reveals that "the lessons of Sept. 11 are not being applied today," and accuses the administration of a cover-up.

    Still, we defeated Saddam. Doesn't that make us safer? Well, no.

    Saddam wasn't a threat to America — he had no important links to terrorism, and the main U.S. team searching for weapons of mass destruction has packed up and gone home. Meanwhile, true to form, the Bush team lost focus as soon as the TV coverage slackened off. The first result was an orgy of looting — including looting of nuclear waste dumps that, incredibly, we failed to secure. Dirty bombs, anyone? Now, according to an article in The New Republic, armed Iraqi factions are preparing for civil war.

    That leaves us facing exactly the dilemma war skeptics feared. If we leave Iraq quickly it may well turn into a bigger, more dangerous version of Afghanistan. But if we stay for an extended period we risk becoming, as one commentator put it, "an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land" — just the recruiting tool Al Qaeda needs. Who said that? President George H. W. Bush, explaining his decision not to go on to Baghdad back in 1991.

    Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish leader, isn't afraid to use the "Q" word, worrying that because of America's failure to follow up, "this wonderful victory we have achieved will turn into a quagmire."

    The truth is that the pursuit of televised glory — which led the Bush administration to turn its attention away from Al Qaeda, and to pick a fight with a regime that, however nasty, posed no threat — has made us much less safe than we should be.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #2
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Default The Fight Against Terror

    This says it all. Why isn't this headline news? If we could only see this story on prime-time television......but I guess it would never hold it's own against "The Bachelor".

  3. #3

    Default The Fight Against Terror

    Get ready to throw up.

    For President Bush's address on the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the White House went the extra mile. Three barges of giant Musco lights — the sort used to illuminate rock concerts — were positioned at the base of the Statue of Liberty. The glowing statue provided the ultimate patriotic backdrop to Mr. Bush, speaking from Ellis Island.

  4. #4
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Don't even get me started on this one - I read it on the train this morning.

    They have more pictures in today's Times with this story - during a speech, his head being adjacent to the faces on Mt. Rushmore. Dupe the people, George, that's your best tactic.

  5. #5
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    Default The Fight Against Terror;nav=0Ra6Fp4l

    By Jim Shella
    News 8 Political Reporter
    Some Audience Members Told Not to Wear Ties for Bush Speech

    President Bush came to Indianapolis to send the message that his tax cut plan will help everyone and not just the wealthy. That's why all those people sitting behind him were instructed on what to wear.

    When it comes to Bush’s public appearances, it seems very little is left to chance. The president has been criticized for the effort and expense that it took to create photo opportunities when he flew onto the USS Abraham Lincoln earlier this month. The same sort of image-making was a part of his Indianapolis speech.

    George W. Bush came to Indianapolis for the picture. And in that picture, the White House wanted ordinary people.

    “These are V.I.P.'s right, ordinary people aren't up on stage behind the president of the United States when he's speaking but the trick is to make V.I.P.'s look like they're ordinary people,” said Bill Bloomquist, political scientist.

    That's why everyone sitting behind the president wearing a necktie was instructed to take it off.

    Exhibit A is Brian Bosma. He appeared onstage in a necktie, prior to the president's arrival. When the president got there the Indiana House minority leader had an open collar. In a News 8 interview immediately following the speech, the tie was back on.
    * * * *
    Former state Republican chairman Mike McDaniel helped organize the event. “They wanted them to be themselves and that's what we were trying to get out of those shots and it worked for the most part,” he said.

    "They" are the White House staff, and they had other instructions, too. Bush fan Ann McDaniel was told not to flash her camera. Her companion, Wilma Hart, had this to say to the White House staffer: “I said, ‘Do we look like we just crawled out from under a rock someplace?’”

    “When you see somebody who is in coat an tie, then not in coat and tie, then in coat and tie, it sort of reveals that this is about stagecraft rather than statecraft,” said Bloomquist.

    Peyton Manning was apparently allowed to keep his tie on. But then, everybody knows he's not ordinary.

    There were some other neckties in the crowd but most of them belonged to Secret Service agents. Representative Bosma told News 8, “When the guy from the White House tells you to take your tie off, you don't ask why.” But he also removed his pocket square.

    While there’s nothing wrong with image-making, viewers should be aware when it’s taking place.

    Representative Brian Bosma before Bush's speech: Note the tie

    Rep. Bosma greets Bush without his tie.

  6. #6

    Default The Fight Against Terror

    Sometimes I suspect that Bush's handlers are almost as astonished as I am that people actually swallow this stuff. *They're really breaking new ground.

  7. #7

    Default The Fight Against Terror

    June 17, 2003

    Dereliction of Duty


    Last Thursday a House subcommittee met to finalize next year's homeland security appropriation. The ranking Democrat announced that he would introduce an amendment adding roughly $1 billion for areas like port security and border security that, according to just about every expert, have been severely neglected since Sept. 11. He proposed to pay for the additions by slightly scaling back tax cuts for people making more than $1 million per year.

    The subcommittee's chairman promptly closed the meeting to the public, citing national security — though no classified material was under discussion. And the bill that emerged from the closed meeting did not contain the extra funding.

    It was a perfect symbol of the reality of the Bush administration's "war on terror." Behind the rhetoric — and behind the veil of secrecy, invoked in the name of national security but actually used to prevent public scrutiny — lies a pattern of neglect, of refusal to take crucial actions to protect us from terrorists. Actual counterterrorism, it seems, doesn't fit the administration's agenda.

    Yesterday The Washington Post printed an interview with Rand Beers, a top White House counterterrorism adviser who resigned in March. "They're making us less secure, not more secure," he said of the Bush administration. "As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done." Among the problem areas he cited were homeland security, where he says the administration has "only a rhetorical policy"; failure to press Saudi Arabia (the home of most of the Sept. 11 terrorists) to take action; and, of course, the way we allowed Afghanistan to relapse into chaos.

    Some of this pattern of neglect involves penny-pinching. Back in February, even George W. Bush in effect admitted that not enough money had been allocated to domestic security — though (to the fury of Republican legislators) he blamed Congress. Yet according to Fred Kaplan in Slate, the administration's latest budget proposal for homeland security actually contains less money than was spent last year. Meanwhile, urgent priorities remain unmet. For example, port security, identified as a top concern from the very beginning, has so far received only one-tenth as much money as the Coast Guard says is needed.

    But it's not just a matter of money. For one thing, it's hard to claim now that the Bush administration is trying to hold down domestic spending to make room for tax cuts. With the budget deficit projected at more than $400 billion this year, a few billion more for homeland security wouldn't make much difference to the tax-cutting agenda. Moreover, Congress isn't pinching pennies across the board: last week the Senate voted to provide $15 billion in loan guarantees for the construction of nuclear power plants.

    Furthermore, even on the military front the administration has been weirdly reluctant to come to grips with terrorism. It refused to provide Afghanistan's new government with an adequate security umbrella, with the predictable result that warlords are running rampant and the Taliban are making a comeback. The squandered victory in Afghanistan was one reason people like myself had a bad feeling about the invasion of Iraq — and sure enough, the administration was bizarrely lackadaisical about providing postwar security. Even nuclear waste dumps were left unguarded for weeks.

    So what's the explanation? The answer, one suspects, is that key figures — above all, Donald Rumsfeld — just didn't feel like dealing with the real problem. Real counterterrorism mainly involves police work and precautionary measures; it doesn't look impressive on TV, and it doesn't provide many occasions for victory celebrations.

    A conventional war, on the other hand, is a lot more fun: you get stirring pictures of tanks rolling across the desert, and you get to do a victory landing on an aircraft carrier. And more and more it seems that that was what the war was all about. After all, the supposed reasons for fighting that war have turned out to be false — there were no links to Al Qaeda, there wasn't a big arsenal of W.M.D.'s.

    But never mind — we won, didn't we? Maybe not. About half of the U.S. Army's combat strength is now tied down in Iraq, facing what looks increasingly like a guerrilla war — and like a perfect recruiting device for Al Qaeda. Meanwhile, the real war on terror has been neglected, and we've antagonized the allies we need to fight that war. One of these days we'll end up paying the price.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  8. #8

    Default The Fight Against Terror

    Nothing has really been acomplished yet in the war against terrorism.

  9. #9

    Default The Fight Against Terror

    Worst of all, as the horrors of the Iraq bombings, the crippling sanctions which were lifted after thirteen years, the still-prevalent chaos, and the dilapidated state of the economy sinks in, we may see many Iraqis close ranks with Al Qaeda. :sad:

  10. #10

    Default The Fight Against Terror

    Let's not forget Afganistan. There is no governmental control outside of Kabul. The rest of the country belongs to warlords and rouge political leaders not willing to comply with Pres. Hamid Karzai.

  11. #11

    Default The Fight Against Terror

    Quote: from DominicanoNYC on 9:42 pm on June 17, 2003
    ...rouge political leaders...
    So those goshdarn Reds are back, ehh?? I knew it!

    Seriously though, wasn't something just a little off when Wyoming got 7 times as much security funding as New York did?

  12. #12

    Default The Fight Against Terror

    August 6, 2003

    Shortchanging Security

    The Associated Press headline picked up by newspapers across the country last week said it all: "Air Marshal Program Could Be Cut, Despite Hijacking Threat." That was not exactly welcome news to millions of Americans at the height of the summer travel season, and the ensuing uproar helped kill the proposed spending cuts. Yet sadly enough, the story line was all too familiar. The Bush administration and Congressional leaders in Washington have been too reluctant to devote enough resources to protect the nation against terrorism.

    A sense of complacency at this time would be inexcusable under any circumstances, but it is reckless when intelligence points to the likelihood of more terrorist attacks on aviation. President Bush called it a "real threat" at his press conference last week. The government is so concerned, it now requires travelers who need a visa to visit the United States to obtain one when merely changing planes here, say, en route to Paris from Rio.

    Federal airport screeners and airlines have also been put on notice that Al Qaeda terrorists may be adapting cameras or other electronic devices into weapons. Aviation security has been substantially upgraded since the Sept. 11 attacks, but airliners remain the most alluring terrorist target all the same.

    That is why it would be so wrong to roll back the air marshal program now. As the mounting threats were disclosed, a leaked memo from an official with the federal air marshal service cited budgetary concerns in urging regional offices to drop flights requiring overnight stays. The war on terror, apparently, must be waged on a day trip.

    On Sunday, appearing on the NBC News program "Meet the Press," Tom Ridge, Homeland Security Secretary, conceded that the juxtaposition of proposed spending cuts and new threats amounted to an "unusual sequence of events." We'll say. He then reassured viewers that there would be no curtailment in the air marshal program that puts thousands of undercover law-enforcement agents on an undisclosed number of flights.

    Mr. Ridge did not address the budgetary constraints faced by the Transportation Security Administration, the agency within his department established in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. The agency has received nearly $1 billion less than it has sought from Congress, forcing layoffs and the postponement of air marshal training.

    Inadequate resources have also been devoted to the securing of airport perimeters and cargo facilities, not to mention ports and energy plants. These needs must be addressed.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  13. #13

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    DHS: No Plan to Cut Number of Air Marshals
    Wednesday, July 30, 2003

    WASHINGTON — Reports of any changes in staffing of federal air marshals aboard U.S. airlines are flat-out wrong, a Department of Homeland Security (search) spokesman told Fox News Wednesday.

    Spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said no current plan exists, nor has any plan been discussed, to lower the number of air marshals.

    News of possible cuts began circulating Wednesday after the Transportation Security Administration (search) reported that it wants Congress to cut $104 million from the air marshal program to help offset a $900 million budget shortfall. It was unclear how the possible cuts could affect air marshal jobs.

    "When we are faced with more priorities than we have funding to support, we have to go through a process of trying to address the most urgent needs," TSA spokesman Robert Johnson said.

    But a Homeland Security official told Fox News that no cuts to the air marshal program have been approved by either Asa Hutchinson, the undersecretary in charge of that department, or by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

    Added Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security: "The Federal Air Marshal program is absolutely critical to fighting terrorism and keeping the flying public safe. Given new warnings from DHS about possible hijacking attempts, it is foolish to even consider cutting back the number of air marshals on commercial flights.

    In fact, the official said, DHS will expand the air marshal program in the face of the latest threat information about Al Qaeda (search) and the possibility the terror group may be planning another Sept. 11-like attack by the end of the summer.

    A warning issued by DHS earlier this week alerting the airline industry to possible Al Qaeda threats says: "The extremists may plan to identify flights that transited the target country, so that the hijackers would not need visas for those countries."

    The terror plot could involve the use of five-man teams, each of which would attempt to seize control of a commercial aircraft either shortly after takeoff or shortly before landing at a chosen airport, the advisory said. DHS stressed that airlines are responsible for abiding by strong security procedures at airports, particularly for those traveling without a visa.

    The Sept. 11 attacks were carried out by three five-man teams and a four-man squad of hijackers, U.S. officials believe.

    DHS is canvassing for individuals with previous air marshal experience to sub into the program, the official said. Air marshal assignments will be made based on the current threat information, the official added, including the possibility of hijackings and increasing screening of certain overseas passengers.

    A TSA official said the agency sent a directive to U.S. airlines on Monday telling them to immediately begin more intensive screening of travelers flying out of a foreign airport into the United States, then connecting to another foreign destination.

    Those affected are non-U.S. citizens who do not have U.S. visas. They previously have been allowed to stay in secure areas while passing through U.S. airports but have not been subjected to more intensive screening because they aren't staying in the country.

    President Bush noted the hijacking warning during a White House news conference Wednesday and said U.S. officials are talking to foreign governments about it.

    "There are still Al Qaeda remnants that have designs on America. The threat is a real threat," he said. "We obviously don't have specific data. We don't know when, where, what. ... I'm confident that we will thwart their attempts."

    Officials said the credibility of the threat was still being evaluated. But they noted there was no precise information on when or where such an attack could take place.

    The national terrorist threat level remained at yellow, signifying an elevated risk of attacks. The five-level, color-coded system was last raised to orange, or high risk, for 11 days in May. Officials said they did not plan to raise it to reflect the possibility of suicide hijackings.

    DHS placed a statement on its Web site saying the advisory was transmitted after U.S. intelligence-gatherers "received information that Al Qaeda continues to be interested in using the commercial aviation system in the United States and abroad to further their cause."

    In response to the advisory, the State Department on Tuesday revised an existing caution for American travelers to reflect the perceived hijacking threat.

    "Terrorist actions may include, but are not limited to, suicide operations, hijackings, bombings or kidnappings. These may also involve commercial aircraft," the revised statement said.

    Fox News' Catherine Herridge and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

  14. #14

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    That whole story was Democratic propoganda meant to scare people into thinking Bush isn't do a good job. The fact is the air marshal program has been greatly expanded under Bush's presidency. BTW, domincano, how can you say the war on terror hasn't accomplished anything. I agree it has a long way to go... but much has been accomplished. Just to name a few:

    1. More air marshals
    2. Reinforced Cock-pit doors
    3. Arrests of Ramzi Binalshib, Richard Reid, and many more...
    4. Destruction of terrorist training camps in afghanistan...
    5. Terrorists caught in Iraq.... don't forget the terrorist they caught there who hijacked the Achille Lauro(Yes, Clinton did sign something promising not to persue him)
    6. Creation of Homeland Security Department... we actually have people to look over the information we gather now.
    7. Threat color levels - while they may confuse some of us, they help law enforcement know what precautions to take.

    I just named those off the top of my head, there is progress it is just slow.

  15. #15

    Default The Fight Against Terror

    Interesting that numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 have nothing to do with the war in Iraq, where most of our attention and resources are now.

    Of course, once Dubya runs the economy completely into the ground, we'll have even less money for hotel rooms for air marshalls.

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