• Exaggerated Terrorist Threats on the Southern Border!

    January 9, 2019 // 5 Comments »


     
    Dear All Media who are deeply concerned about exaggerated terrorist threats coming from the president for his own political purposes. Where the fuck were you between 2001-2016 when every facet of American foreign and domestic policy was driven by this exact lie and you abetted it? Thank you.
     
    And to those ready to write “But Trump is lying” or something along the lines of “Two/Three wrongs don’t make a right,” in your partisan blindness, you miss the point. The media is manipulating you, again, taking advantage of your fear and anger to tell you how to think. That’s the takeaway, chump, not Trump.
     
    Try this, in simpler terms: it’s all lies. Bush and Obama fanned the flames of fake terrorism, abetted by the media, to justify their wars and the dissolution of our civil rights. Trump is trying the same fear game with terrorism for his political goals. Only this time the media is on the other side, so they are “fact checking.” Imagine if they had done 10% of the same with those Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
     

    BONUS: Here’s a fun article from 2017, criticizing Trump for not declaring a national emergency on another issue. But the real point is that such declarations are not uncommon (there are 28 current “national emergencies” in force), and in fact the national emergency declared for 9/11 is still in force. That emergency, now in its 17th year, has justified everything from spying on Americans to war in Libya. Trump should just use it again for whatever he wants, same as Bush and Obama did. Maybe that would wake Americans up to how they have been asleep during previous authoritarian regimes.

     
     

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    More Media B.S. — OMG, Trump Company Legally Rented Office Space to Iranian Bank!

    October 3, 2016 // 13 Comments »

    gmbuilding

    Once again a story that Trump did nothing illegal is somehow front page news. His crime this time? Continuing to legally rent out office space to a bank already in a building he bought 18 years ago.

    So the big news is that Donald Trump’s real estate organization rented space to an Iranian bank later linked to Iran’s nuclear program.

    Bank Melli, one of Iran’s largest state-controlled banks, was already a tenant in 1998 when Trump purchased the General Motors Building, above, in Manhattan, but he kept them on for another five years, until 2003.


    Quick summary:

    — There is no evidence and it is highly unlikely that Trump himself knew every one of the hundreds of tenants in a building he bought in 1998. In fact, the building occupies a full city block, with 1,774,000 net leasable square feet (the bank rented 8,000 square feet.)

    — U.S. security authorities allowed Bank Melli to legally operate offices in the U.S., so renting to them is not a story.

    — Bank Melli was prohibited from conducting bank transactions in the U.S., and did not conduct transactions, but kept an office in New York in hopes sanctions might one day be eased.

    — Bank Melli operated fully in the open. The U.S. Department of the Treasury could have shut them down at any time, or sanctioned Trump for dealing with them if it wished. It did not.

    — The bank itself (not Trump) was only sanctioned by Treasury in 2007, four years after it left Trump’s building. However, the Huffington Post helpfully notes (emphasis added) “[Unnamed] Experts told the Center for Public Integrity that the bank likely supported proliferation activity and Iran’s military years before the Treasury Department publicly condemned the bank,” something the owners of the rental building presumably should have been aware of somehow.

    — The Center for Public Integrity reveals on its website that the Bank Melli “as being controlled by the Iranian government” since 1999. Actually in its own publically available history, the Bank notes it served as the nation’s central bank, issuing currency, from 1931.


    While the media is enjoying this story, it ignores the broader picture. Despite sanctions and trade embargoes, over the past decade the United States government allowed American companies to do billions of dollars in business with Iran and other countries blacklisted as state sponsors of terrorism.

    At the request of companies from Kraft Food and Pepsi to some of the nation’s largest banks, the Treasury Department across multiple administrations granted some 10,000 licenses for deals involving sanctioned countries.


    The media is so full of sh*t on these stories their eyes are brown.



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    It’s Personal Now: Apologizing to My Daughter for the Last 15 Years of War

    September 30, 2016 // 24 Comments »

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    I recently sent my last kid off for her senior year of college. There are rituals to these things, and because dad-confessions are not among them, I just carried the boxes and kept quiet.

    But what I really wanted to say to her — rather than see you later, call this weekend, do you need money? — was: I’m sorry.

    Like all parents in these situations, I was thinking about her future. And like all of America, in that future she won’t be able to escape what is now encompassed by the word “terrorism.”


    Everything is OK, But You Should Be Terrified

    Terrorism is a nearly nonexistent danger for Americans. We have more of a chance of being hit by lightning, though fear doesn’t work that way. There’s no 24/7 coverage of global lightning strikes or “see something, say something” signs that warn about reporting thunderstorms. I felt no need to apologize for lightning.

    But terrorism? I really wanted to tell my daughter just how sorry I was she would have to live in what 9/11 transformed into the most frightened country on Earth.

    Want the numbers? Some 40 percent of Americans believe the country is more vulnerable to terrorism than it was in 2001, the highest percentage ever.

    Want the apocalyptic jab in the gut? Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley said earlier this month the threat has not lessened. “Those people, those enemies, those members of that terrorist group, still intend – as they did on 9/11 – to destroy your freedoms, to kill you, kill your families, they still intend to destroy the United States of America.”

    All that fear turned us into an engine of chaos abroad, while consuming our freedoms at home. And it saddens me that there was a pre-9/11world her generation and all those who follow her will never know.


    Growing Up

    My kids grew up overseas while, from 1988 to 2012, I served with the State Department. For the first part of my career as a diplomat, wars were still discreet matters. For example, though Austria was a neighbor of Slovenia, few there worried the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s would spill across the border. Suicide bombers didn’t threaten Vienna when we visited as tourists in 1991. That a war could again consume large parts of the world and involve multiple nations would have seemed as remote to us vacationers that year as the moon.

    Even the big war of the era, Desert Storm in 1991, seemed remarkably far away. My family and I were assigned in Taiwan at the time, and life there simply went on. There was no connection between us and what was happening in the sand far away, and certainly we didn’t worry about a terror attack.

    It’s easy to forget how long ago all that was. Much of the Balkans is now a tourist destination, and a young soldier who fought in Desert Storm would be in his mid-forties today. Or think of it this way: either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump entering the Oval Office next January will be the fifth president in succession to bomb Iraq.

    On September 11, 2001, I was assigned to Japan, and like everyone, as part of a collective trauma, watched the terrible events on TV. Due to the time difference, it was late at night in Tokyo. As the second plane hit the World Trade Center, I made sandwiches, suspecting the phone would ring and I’d be called to the embassy for a long shift. I remember my wife saying, “Why would they call you in? We’re in Tokyo!” Then, of course, the phone did ring, and I remember running to grab it not out of national security urgency, but so it didn’t wake my kids.

    My daughter’s birthday falls on the very day that George W. Bush launched the invasion of Iraq. I missed her celebration in 2003 to stay at work preparing for the embassy to be overrun by al-Qaeda. I missed her birthday again in 2005, having been sent on temporary duty to Thailand to assist the U.S. Navy in setting up a short-term base facility there. When the naval officers mentioned the location they wanted to use to the Thai military liaison accompanying us, he laughed. That’s taken, he said, but you didn’t hear it from me, better ask your own people about it.

    Later, I would learn the location was a CIA black site where the country I then represented was torturing human beings.

    Looking back, it’s remarkable to realize that, in response to a single day of terror, Washington set the Middle East ablaze, turned air travel into a form of bondage play, and did away with the best of our democracy.

    Nothing required the Patriot Act, Guantánamo, renditions, drone assassinations, and the National Security Agency turning its spy tools inward. The White House kept many of the nastiest details from us, but made no secret of its broader goals. Americans on the whole supported each step, and Washington then protected the men and women who carried out each of the grim acts it had inspired. After all, they were just following orders.

    Protocols now exist allowing the president to select American citizens, without a whit of due process, for drone killing. Only overseas, he says, but you can almost see the fingers crossed behind his back. Wouldn’t an awful lot of well-meaning Americans have supported an aerial drone killing in San Bernardino, or at the Pulse club in Orlando? Didn’t many support using a robot to blow up a suspect in Dallas?


    Back in the Homeland

    The varieties of post-9/11 fear sneak up on us all. I spent a week this summer obsessively watching the news for any sign of trouble in Egypt while my daughter traveled there to visit some old embassy acquaintances. She had to risk her life to see a high school friend in a country once overrun with tourists.

    So, I want to say sorry to my daughter and her friends for all the countries where we Americans, with our awkward shorts and sandals, used to be at least tolerated, but are now dangerous for us to visit. Sorry that you’ll never see the ruins of Babylon or the Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq unless you join the military.

    Arriving back in the U.S., my daughter called from the airport to say she’d be home in about an hour. I didn’t mention my worries that she’d be stopped at “the border,” a new name for baggage claim, or have her cell phone confiscated for having traveled to the Middle East. She was, in fact, asked by an immigration agent her purpose in going there, something that even the Egyptians hadn’t bothered to question her about. We don’t yet say “papers, please,” but we do refer to America as the Homeland.

    I also wanted to apologize to my daughter because she will never really know what privacy is in our new surveillance world. I needed to ask her forgiveness for how easily we let that happen, for all those who walk around muttering they have nothing to hide, so what’s to worry about. I wanted to tell her how sorry I was that she’s now afraid of the police, not just for herself but especially for her friends of color. I wanted to tell her how badly I felt that she’d only know a version of law enforcement so militarized that, taking its cues from the national security state, views us all as potential enemies and so believes that much of its job involves repressing our most basic rights.

    I’m sorry, I want to say to her, that protesting Americans can be confined in something called a “free speech zone” surrounded by those same police. I want to tell my daughter the Founders would rise in righteous anger at the idea of the police forcing citizens into such zones outside a political convention. And that most journalists don’t consider such a development to be a major story of our times.

    As I sent her off to college, I wanted to say how sorry I was that we had messed up the world, sorry we not only didn’t defeat the terrorists the way Grandpa did the Nazis but, by our actions, gave their cause new life and endless new recruits. Al-Qaeda set a trap on 9/11 and we fell into it. The prison American occupiers set up at Camp Bucca in Iraq became a factory for making jihadis, and the torture chambers at Abu Ghraib remain, like Guantánamo, an infomercial inviting others to pick up a weapon.


    The New Normal

    My daughter is not naïve. Like most of her classmates, she is aware of most of these things, but she has no point of comparison. What fish truly sees the water around it? And it’ll be even harder for her kids to try and do so. Her adult life has been marked by constant war, so much so that “defeating the terrorists” is little more than a set phrase she rolls her eyes at. It’s a generational thing that is too damn normal, like Depression-era kids still saving aluminum foil and paper bags in the basement after decades of prosperity.

    I’m truly sorry that her generation copes with this by bouncing between cynicism and the suspension of disbelief. That allows many to accept the idea that invading Iraq was a reasonable response to an attack on America by a group of Saudis funded by Saudi “charity donations.” And by now, “well, it wasn’t actually a crime” is little short of a campaign slogan for acts that couldn’t be more criminal. That’s a world on a path to accepting 2+2 can indeed equal 5 if our leaders tell us it’s true.

    We allow those leaders to claim the thousands of American troops now stationed in Iraq are somehow not “boots on the ground,” or in the newest phraseology, “ground troops.” Drone strikes, we’re told, are surgical, killing only bad guys with magic missiles, and never on purpose hitting civilians, hospitals, children, or wedding parties. The deaths of human beings in such situations are always rare and accidental, the equivalent of those scratches on the car door from that errant shopping cart in the mall parking lot.


    Cleaning Up After Her Dad

    If anyone is going to fix this mess — I want to tell my daughter — it’s going to have to be you. And, I want to add, you’ve got to do a better job than I did, if, that is, you really want to find a way to say thanks to me for the skating lessons, the puppy, and for me not being too mad when you almost violated curfew to spend more time with that boy.

    After the last cardboard boxes had been lugged up the stairs, I held back my tears until the very end. Hugging my daughter, I felt I wasn’t where I was standing but in a hundred other places; I wasn’t consoling a smart, proud, twenty-something woman apprehensive about senior year, but an elementary school student going to bed on the night that would forever be known only as 9/11.

    Back home, the house is empty and quiet. Outside, the leaves have just a hint of yellow. At lunch, I had some late-season strawberries nearly sweet enough to confirm the existence of a higher power. I’m gonna really miss this summer.

    I know I’m not the first parent to grow reflective watching his last child walk out the door. But I have a sense of what’s ahead of her. Fear is a terrible thing to be sorry for. And that can be scary.


    (Photo is for illustration only; it is not my daughter)



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    Department of Homeless Security

    September 23, 2016 // 37 Comments »

    homeless-man

    Busy weekend for terrorism. Nine people stabbed in a shopping mall in Minnesota (meh), and the big one in New Jersey/New York.

    It was there Afghan American Ahmad Rahami made up a bunch of pipe bombs and pressure cooker IEDs, distributed them in four separate locations, and set off two explosions. The one detonation in New York’s Chelsea area injured 29 people.



    What We’re Told Happened

    In the 15 years since 9/11, the United States has spent trillions of dollars on security, created a new cabinet agency that memorialized an odd term of reference to America, the Department of Homeland Security, and convinced far too many Americans that they had to choose between security or freedom, safety or privacy. Along the way our air travel experience is now a form of bondage play.

    And we are watched.

    For example, the city of New York boasts it has more than 8,000 cameras pointed at Manhattan streets. The NYPD calls it the city’s “Ring of Steel.”

    Images from those cameras feed into the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center. Officers there also keep track of biological, chemical, radiation, and shot-spotter sensors (which detect gunfire), throughout the city.

    Data from the cameras and the detectors, as well as 911 calls, license plate readers, and crime databases is fed into a map-based Domain Awareness System, which analyzes information. The NYPD also has a “Dashboard” system that receives alerts on unattended packages, stolen vehicles crossing tunnels and bridges, and suspicious odors of hazardous materials.

    In addition, the Lower Manhattan Center maintains a “vehicle of interest” listing to track vehicles utilizing license plate readers, and can go back 30 days to find suspect vehicles. More than 200 license plate readers within the city triangulate information with GPS systems.

    That is a helluva lot of watching, all keeping us safe. Except it didn’t.



    What Really Happened

    What really happened is a guy built multiple explosive devices, and deployed them in public areas, without being detected. All that stuff above, plus the NSA, FBI, DHS, CIA, et al, missed him.

    No one got killed and no one was seriously injured only because of two factors: an inept terrorist and America’s homeless.

    Ahmad Rahami had a string of pipe bombs lined up along a marathon run route. One went off early (the start of the race was delayed) and the others failed to explode. If Rahami had used a command detonator triggered by the runners or himself, not a timer, and/or if all of the bombs had exploded when people were around, it would have been carnage.

    One of Rahami’s Manhattan bombs failed to go off, even after two passersby shook it out of the suitcase Rahami had hid it in. His other bomb was set on a timer and randomly no one happened to be in its kill zone went it went off.

    One is reminded of America’s other inept terrorists: the underwear bomber who couldn’t get his bomb to explode, the shoe bomber who couldn’t get his bomb to explode, and the Times Square car bomber who couldn’t get his bomb to explode. We’ll throw in the Minnesota mall guy, who failed to seriously injure anyone despite his multiple stabbings of unarmed people.

    As for the bombs planted at a New Jersey train station, they were found by two homeless guys who were looking to steal (the media now uses the word scavenge because they’re heros) the backpack one of the explosives was tucked into.



    How to Respond

    The response the day after the New York bombings was swift — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo deployed an additional 1,000 New York State Police and National Guard people to Manhattan’s bus terminals, airports, and subway stations. The NYPD turned out in force in similar locations, with officials boasting Manhattan on the Monday after the weekend explosions had more security personnel on its streets than at any other time in New York history.

    Of course all of the previous security did not stop the bomber, and he did not target any bus terminals, airports and subway stations. Nor has any other terrorist.

    So maybe it is time for a better solution.

    The homeless guys who found the bomb at the New Jersey train station were rewarded by social services finding them a place to stay and getting them signed up for food stamps. Someone set up a GoFundMe page for the two that has raised $16,000. A kind citizen even gifted both men new backpacks, as the bomb backpack was blown up by police. They are happy guys.

    So why not deputize our army of zombie homeless into terrorist hunters? The poor dudes are out on the streets all the time in all sorts of weather anyway, and they’re always digging in trash cans. If the homeless know that free housing and food stamps await them if they can bring in some terrorist booty, well, the terrorists don’t stand a chance.




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    What You Really Should #NeverForget on 9/11

    September 11, 2016 // 23 Comments »

    eagle_weeps


    Happy 9/11 Day, our fifteenth anniversary together. If it was a child, she’d be almost ready to drive. They do grow up so fast, don’t they?

    We’re instituted full background checks, body scanners and cavity searches at my home for all guests and pets (can’t be too careful!), which keeps me pretty busy, so this will be a short post. Because they hate our freedoms, we’ve taken them away for safekeeping.

    So here’s our fun thing for today: reflecting. So let’s get started:

    State of Things September 11, 2001

    — There was no Islamic State.

    — Syria and Libya were peaceful places more or less.

    — There was no global refugee crisis.

    — There was no Saudi war ongoing in Yemen.

    — Iraq opposed Iran, helping establish a balance of power in the Middle East. Any danger Saddam was worth was contained by the no-fly zones and had been, successfully, since 1991.

    — Iran’s plans were cooled by an enemy on its western border, Iraq, and one on its eastern border, the Taliban.

    — The Taliban controlled much of Afghanistan.

    — The U.S. was not at war, and 4,486 Americans had not died in Iraq and 1,935 had not died in Afghanistan. A bunch o’ brown people were still alive. Suicide was not the most common cause of death in our military.

    — The U.S. was not known as a torturer, a keeper of secret prisons, an assassin with drones.

    — The Saudis were America’s friend and helped finance jihad (in Afghanistan.)

    — America was represented abroad primarily by diplomats.

    — Americans at home were secure, protected from abuses by their government by the First and Fourth Amendments.


    State of Things September 11, 2016

    — There is an Islamic State (and still an al Qaeda) that makes war across the Middle East and commits terrorism in Europe.

    — Syria and Libya are failed states, at war, and sanctuaries for Islamic State and al Qaeda.

    — There is a global refugee crisis that threatens the stability of Europe.

    — There is a Saudi war ongoing in Yemen.

    — Iran has become a dominant power in the Middle East, with well-established ties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    — The Taliban control much of Afghanistan.

    — The U.S. government actively and continuously spies on Americans, particularly through electronic means. Once aimed only abroad, the NSA now devotes a substantial portion of its mighty resources inside the U.S.

    — The U.S. government drone assassinates American Citizen abroad without trial.

    — The Saudis were America’s friend and help finance jihad (in Afghanistan, Syria, maybe for a day in New York.)

    — We’re all scared as hell about terrorism all the time.

    Crystal is the traditional material of the 15th anniversary gift. Fitting, in that it breaks easily.


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    Defeating Islamic Terrorism. Here’s How…

    July 25, 2016 // 3 Comments »

    isis lego


    As terrorism struck again in Nice and Germany and… Donald Trump outlined his policy against Islamic State: as president, he will seek a full declaration of war from Congress, the first such formal invocation since Pearl Harbor.


    Trump was short on specifics but very clear he would take the strategies of the post-9/11 era into a presidency. Clinton, for her part, intends on “intensifying the current air campaign [and] stepping up support for local forces on the ground.” Their French counterpart, President Francois Hollande, declared “We will continue striking those who attack us on our own soil.”


    The problem is that none of that will work. While perhaps necessary at times, military force is far from sufficient in defeating Islamic terrorism.

    Post-Germany, Post-Nice, post-Brussels, post-Turkey, post-Paris… it is clear the last 15 years of the war on terror in general, and the last two against Islamic State in particular, have not worked. No society can defend itself fully when any truck can be turned into a weapon. No amount of curating social media will prevent disenfranchised people from becoming radicalized. Ramadi fell, Fallujah fell, Mosul will likely fall, and Nice still happened.

    “The effect that’s going to happen now is like stepping on a ball of mercury,” stated one American intelligence analyst. “You step on a ball of mercury, all the pieces break up and spread around the world.”


    A new way of thinking is needed.


    The west must be willing to understand Islamic terror beyond scary search engine terms and decide if we wish to tackle the problem at its core, or simply choose to live with a new normal where incidents like Nice will just happen. Here is what might be considered. It will be hard, and will be unpopular.


    — Admit the current strategy has not worked. Agree, in the U.S. and abroad, that something new is needed. Statements such as those from Trump and Clinton block anything beyond more of the same.


    — Understand that the roots of Islamic terror rest in part in the Sunni-Shia divide, which the west helped fuel in arming jihadists in Afghanistan in the 1980s and whose fuse the west lit in 2003 when it invaded once-stable Iraq. A significant amount of terror takes place insider the Muslim world, and sectarianism is a steady fuel for recruitment.

    At the same time, both sides of the divide recruit well off of horror stories of CIA torture, the continued existence of Guantanamo, the fits of Islamophobia played out in western refugee policy, French and American militarization of Islamic Africa, and a core belief that the actual goal of the western powers is not to “defeat Islamic State,” but to create a permanent state of war against Muslims while garrisoning the Middle East (it used to be more about taking Arab oil, but the point is the same.) More war, more troops, and more draconian security measures are just gas on those fires.


    — Another driver of Islamic terror is the unhappiness of many Muslim youth with the autocratic, secular governments in most of their Arab nations. The west must pull back its support for such governments and lessen its fear of non-secular governments. What Washington sees, for example as expedient, realpolitik decisions to support the repressive Saudi government, Bahrain where the United States turns a blind eye to human rights in return for an important naval base, or allowing the Arab Spring to be crushed in Egypt as a military coup unseated the only democratically elected president in the nation’s history, have not worked well in even the medium term. Same for supporting the corrupt government in Baghdad.

    The west must find rapprochement with Muslim leadership (Iran, with a robust participatory component inside a fundamentalist theocracy, is an interesting example.) Much of radical jihadism is less about destroying the west than it is about changing the Middle East; even 9/11, the worst of the terror attacks, had as its extended purpose pulling the United States into Afghanistan in hopes of triggering a broader Muslim uprising across the region.


    — Immigration out of the Middle East is toothpaste out of the tube. It can’t be snaked back in by tough policies against refugees or stopping Muslims from entering the United States. Western nations must assimilate their Islamic immigrants.

    Islamophobia, law enforcement discriminatory targeting of Muslims, hot-headed rhetoric and the rise of right wing governments pleasing citizens enamored anxious to trade their freedom for security, fuel the anger and sense of displacement of so-called lone wolves, and send them to the solutions offered by groups such as Islamic State. It is not about cleaning up Twitter. It is about chipping away at the mindset that makes those 140 character messages so attractive.


    This is, in the end, a long war of ideas. Success must include difficult decisions to acknowledge the tides of history moving across the Middle East. Because you can’t stop the next truck. You do have a chance at making it so a man won’t choose to get behind the wheel.



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    The FBI ‘Missed’ Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen. What Should We Do?

    June 16, 2016 // 21 Comments »

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    If I had to choose one phrase to sum up America’s efforts against terrorism since 9/11, it would be that lay definition of mental illness, doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.


    Following 9/11 we had to go after the terrorists in their dark lairs. So we did, in Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Libya, then Yemen, then by militarizing Africa, the Iraq again and then Syria. We’ve been bombing and invading places in the Middle East continuously since 9/11, every day expecting different results.

    Literally days after 9/11, it was felt that the problem was the government did not know enough about what was happening inside the U.S. vis-vis terrorists, so the vast capabilities of the NSA and FBI were pointed inward. From a relatively modest start, we advanced to Snowden-esque levels where every phone call, every email and every GPS-tracked move of everyone is monitored, every day expecting different results.

    When it seemed we did not have the intelligence and enforcement tools needed, we created a new cabinet level agency, the Department of Homeland Security. That quickly grew into one of the largest bureaucracies in America. We created terror fusion centers, staffed up at the FBI and CIA, every day expecting different results.



    Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen

    And that of course brings us to Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen, whom the FBI stalked for 10 months, interviewed twice and then ignored. Through that we learned that there are some 10,000 FBI terrorism investigations open, with new cases added daily as Americans are encouraged to see something and say something. The New York Times tells us tens of thousands of counterterrorism tips flow into the FBI each year, some maybe legitimate, others from “vengeful ex-spouses or people casting suspicion on Arab-Americans.”

    The flood of leads is so relentless that counterterrorism agents hung a section of fire hose outside their offices in Northern Virginia as a symbol of their mission.


    Intelligence Surge, or a Surge of Intelligence?

    So having missed the Orlando shooter, the Boston Marathon bombers, angry white anti-abortion shooters here and there, the answer is obvious. We need more FBI resources (Hillary Clinton has already called for an “intelligence surge”), of course every day thereafter expecting different results.

    It is almost as if by trying to track every branch, leaf and dirt clod in the forest we are missing the trees. By running down every panicked tip (can you imagine how many calls have come in since Sunday in Orlando?) as a CYA exercise, we get bitten in the YA part over and over.

    The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept. If so many are terrorists in one form or another, how can anyone pinpoint the real bad guys, should many of them exist at all?

    By imagining we can track everyone and then sort them out, we are leaving outside the door the discussion of just why terrorists seem to keep attacking the U.S. Could it have something to do with our scorched earth policy in the Middle East?

    By becoming terrified of every brown-skinned person and Muslim in America, we are leaving outside the door the discussion of how throwing innocent people off planes, maintaining secret no-fly lists, spying on whole communities, and giving media platforms to every nut job that wants to rant about what they don’t know but hate anyway about Islam might be helping “radicalize” folks here at home and abroad.

    And certainly never admitting that our culture of easily available weaponry might play a role shuts down any useful discussions about gun control.

    I am sure it is reasonable to expect different results by tomorrow.




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    Student Thrown Off Flight After Passenger Heard Him Say ‘God Willing’ in Arabic

    April 17, 2016 // 8 Comments »

    makhzoomi-800x430

    So once again people from The World’s Most Frightened Country (C) fully overreacted to nothing. One of the 230 million people worldwide who speak Arabic happened to be on an airplane and happened to use one of the most common expressions in his language.


    Hilarity ensued. Bigoted, frightened, discriminatory hilarity, in keeping with the American Way.

    UC Berkeley student Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, 26, above, whose family fled Iraq in 2002 after his diplomat father was killed under Saddam Hussein’s regime, was booted from a Southwest Airlines flight and questioned by the FBI after another passenger heard him speaking Arabic. Makhzoomi was flying home from attending a dinner at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council with Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon when he stopped to make a call to an uncle.

    Makhzoomi explained he was talking on the phone with his uncle and, as he said goodbye, he used the phrase “inshallah,” which translates as “if God is willing.” The student said that after hung up, he noticed a female passenger looking at him who then got up and left her seat.

    Moments later an airport employee made Makhzoomi step off the plane into the arms of security officers. Makhzoomi was told the woman thought he said “Shahid,” meaning martyr. Because in-shal-lah and sha-hid sound the same, at least to a dumb ass who speaks no apparent Arabic and likely learned the term shahid when it was last mispronounced on AM talk radio.


    The student was told he would not be allowed to get back on the plane. Security officers searched his bag again, asked him if he had any other luggage he was keeping “secret,” and publicly felt around his genital area and asked him if he was hiding a knife.

    “The way they searched me and the dogs, the officers, people were watching me and the humiliation made me so afraid because it brought all of these memories back to me,” Makhzoomi said. “I escaped Iraq because of the war, because of Saddam and what he did to my father.”

    Makhzoomi said the FBI questioned him about his family, and about his phone call and what he knew about martyrism. The FBI informed Makhzoomi that Southwest would not fly him home. He later booked a flight on another airline, arriving home nine hours later than expected.

    According to Southwest Airlines, the student was removed because crew members decided to “investigate potentially threatening comments made onboard our aircraft.”



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    Judge Orders Apple to Help FBI Hack San Bernardino Shooter’s Phone

    February 18, 2016 // 15 Comments »

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    A magistrate judge in California on Tuesday ordered Apple to help the FBI retrieve encrypted data on an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino killers. Investigators have so far been unable to gain access to the data on killer Syed Rizwan Farook’s phone, which could contain communications between him and his wife and co-conspirator, Tashfeen Malik, and potentially others, prior to the December 2 shooting rampage that killed 14 people.

    “Prosecutors said they needed Apple’s help accessing the phone’s data to find out who the shooters were communicating with and who may have helped plan and carry out the massacre, as well as where they traveled prior to the incident,” NBC News reports. “The judge ruled Tuesday that Apple had to provide ‘reasonable technical assistance’ to the government in recovering data from the iPhone 5c, including bypassing the auto-erase function and allowing investigators to submit an unlimited number of passwords in their attempts to unlock the phone.”

    The court filing by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said “Apple has the exclusive technical means which would assist the government in completing its search, but has declined to provide that assistance voluntarily.” Apple has five days to respond to the ruling.

    Can the Feds Break Into the iPhone?

    Some interesting issues afoot here. First, it appears the FBI cannot figure out a way to bypass Apple’s security feature, the one that bricks the phone after a certain number of unsuccessful login attempts. If Apple modified the phone so an unlimited number of attempts can be made, then the Feds would simply brute force the password, trying potentially millions of combinations.


    Or is it?

    America’s intelligence agencies have so far been unsuccessful in persuading manufacturers and/or Congress to create and pass on to them backdoors around security and encryption. The FBI may indeed know how to get into the iPhone, but wants to make this a public example case — who can complain about learning more about real terrorists (no ambiguity issues), and of course the phone’s owners are dead, and so cannot claim their Fourth Amendment rights against search and seizure/privacy are being violated.

    Also of interest would be an Apple claim that while they will cooperate, it is technically impossible to comply with the request, i.e., the phone simply cannot be modified as the FBI wishes. Could a court require Apple to turn over all of their code and engineering documents so that the NSA could have a shot at what Apple said it could not do on its own?

    Equally interesting would be even if Apple can comply this time, would Apple run into future legal issues if they created a next generation phone that truly could not be modified no matter what, making it fully unhackable, even by their own engineers?

    Either way, the suit against Apple sets a precedent, likely making it easier for the Feds to compel cooperation from tech companies in more legally hazy cases in the future.


    Apple Responds

    Apple has vowed to aggressively fight the federal order to unlock the iPhone. CEO Tim Cook published a public response that said “We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.”

    So the good (?) news is in 2016 we are now depending on a private company to protect our privacy against the wishes of our own government.




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    Everyone Panic, Now! U.S. Will Add a Third Level to Terror Warnings

    December 9, 2015 // 4 Comments »

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    For us old-timers, memories of those post-9/11 days persist like that rotting squirrel stuck somewhere under your back porch.


    One of the features of those dirty days was the panic index, actually called the terrorism alert system, created by the then-new Department of Homeland Security. The system featured a five-step, color-coded “alert level” ranging from black (normal) to red (attack imminent.) The system was criticized for doing little more than promoting a constant background hum of anxiety when it basically got stuck at “elevated risk” for nearly eight years.

    The Obama administration, in 2010, replaced the old five step system with a new two step one: imminent and elevated. It too got stuck in elevated mode and faded into obscurity. Most people today don’t even know it exists.

    That is now over. Following the events of San Bernardino, the Department of Homeland Security announced this week that a new level will be added to cover less serious threats, though officials declined to say what it will be called. “It wouldn’t be specifics like time and place,” one of the officials said. “It would be along the lines of terrorists have expressed interest in attacking this type of target.”


    The new system sounds suspiciously like the State Department travel advisory system. Originally created to send out bulletins on immediate dangers affecting travelers (“flood in Mali”), the system quickly morphed into a steady stream of “world-wide” generalities along the lines of “something terrorist may happen somewhere sometime, so better just stay home.”

    The new Homeland Security warning system will by definition add a new threat layer that is unspecific. That raises the point of what is the point. The media already is doing a fine job of stoking the public’s fear levels via a steady stream of exaggerated reports on ISIS (replacing the old steady stream of exaggerated reports on al Qaeda, could be a pattern here.) The result is quite clearly of value only in keeping alive among a gullible public anxiety and fear.

    And so the new warning system will enter the media-government feedback loop as follows. Homeland Security will issue a non-specific warning of “something terrorist may happen somewhere sometime.” The media will then dutifully report that warning, amplifying its pointlessness across TV, the last few newspapers and the web. Pundits will pick up the media reports and comment on them, keeping alive for another few news cycles a non-story that should never have been taken seriously in the first place.


    The result: Panic. Anxiety. Fear. Public support for further erosion of our civil rights and freedoms because we will have to “do something” in response to the new threat. Repeat, and repeat.



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    UK Unveils Latest Plans Destined to Fail in Fight Against Extremism in Young Muslims

    November 2, 2015 // 4 Comments »

    david-cameron_2114101b


    UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced new plans to address the radicalization of young British Muslims, including measures to withdraw the passports of those believed to be at risk of joining jihadist groups abroad.

    As part of a strategy to tackle extremism, parents will be able to ask the government to seize the passports of 16- and 17-year-olds thought to be considering travel to Syria and Iraq. British parents can already request the cancellation of passports of those under 16. Another measure will ensure that anyone with a conviction for a “terrorist crime or extremist activity” will automatically be barred from working with children or other people regarded as vulnerable.

    Cameron’s critics worry that the new measures may be seen as heavy-handed and exacerbate the sense of alienation and resentment among young British Muslims, which is itself a driver of radicalization.


    Left unsaid is any tally of exactly how many 16- and 17-year-olds have traveled to join ISIS, the practicality of knowing where they are going since most would-be jihadis travel via a circuitous route, and the question of what happens to the 18-99-year-olds who want to join up. The vagueness of what constitutes a “terrorist crime or extremist activity” and who the hell are “other people regarded as vulnerable” is noted.

    Doubling down, Cameron described the battle against terrorism as the struggle of his generation. He is also expected to restate the case for expanding Britain’s laws on electronic surveillance, because why not throw that in while you’re on a roll.


    Apart from a natural desire to expand fascism, grow government power and try and tie himself to things like surviving WWII, an actual struggle of a generation, what might be driving Cameron (as well as his contemporaries in the U.S., who are frothing over similar ideas)?

    Simply this: pointless, knee-jerk reactions and security theatre are a whole lot easier to sell to the average frightened citizen than the idea that their safety actually depends on foreign policies that do not inspire rage and hatred in very large numbers of people.




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    FBI Saved 9/11 Day By Foiling Another Non-Terror Plot Plot

    September 14, 2015 // 7 Comments »

    coyote


    Did you have a nice 9/11 day Friday? Did you know you almost were killed? No, not really, except…

    Whew. America survived another never was going to happen terror plot nearly completely driven by the FBI because the FBI arrested the lone, sad loser they tricked into the plot. See, that’s the sound of freedom. Never Forget, m*therfuckers!


    Here’s what sort of happened: A Florida man faces up to 20 years in federal prison after authorities say he was trying to help plan an attack on an upcoming 9/11 memorial in Missouri. The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that 20-year-old Joshua Ryne Goldberg was arrested and charged with distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction.

    A criminal complaint says Goldberg began communicating online with an FBI informer in July and gave that person information on how to build a bomb with a pressure cooker, nails and rat poison. The complaint says Goldberg also instructed the informer to place the bomb at an upcoming memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, that was commemorating the 14th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.


    Here’s what really happened: a college kid with a history of internet trolling was talking dumb sh*t online. The Australian intelligence services (i.e., the NSA monitoring Americans from abroad where it is legal, versus from inside the U.S. where it is not) alerted the FBI, who had one of their people make contact with the troll online and ease him forward with the plot. The troll ran a Google search for “how to build a pressure cooker bomb”.

    Boom! That resulted in charges of “distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction.”

    Once again FBI informants have courageously defended us from a plot that probably would never have existed were it not for the involvement of FBI informants. Absolutely nothing to see here. No one was in danger. Nothing was foiled, but at least some of us may have been fooled.

    Happy 9/11 America!



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    Florida Man Arrested in FBI/ISIS-Inspired Plot to Bomb a Beach

    August 21, 2015 // 18 Comments »

    WPTV-Harlem-Suarez_1438112209144_22068991_ver1.0_640_480


    So you be the judge: which organization, the FBI or ISIS, had more to do with this supposed “threat” to Das Homeland?


    The FBI has arrested a man who allegedly wanted to detonate a bomb in what authorities describe as an ISIS-inspired terror attack, officials said.

    Harlem Suarez, 23, of Key West, Florida, (pictured, and do note the Batman T-shirt) has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in the United States.

    So Terrorist Suarez first came onto the FBI’s radar in April, after he posted whatever “extremist rhetoric” and pro-ISIS messages are on Facebook, according to the Justice Department. Facebook, yep, everything people post on Facebook is serious sh*t, man, no boasting or false bravado online, ever. Everybody always means exactly what they say.

    Anyway, after creeping Suarez on Facebook, the FBI then sent in an FBI-employed “confidential source” who for months allegedly talked with Suarez online and in person about plans to attack the United States. Not that any of that would have encouraged or emboldened someone whose previous plans would have otherwise never left his bedroom.

    In May, according to the FBI, Suarez recorded his own video, declaring: “We will destroy America and divide it into two. We will raise our black flag on top of your White House and any president on duty.”

    Nice touch– “any president on duty.” Man, Suarez was obviously well-informed.

    The FBI said that in subsequent meetings with the FBI informant, Suarez discussed plans for an attack around the July 4 holiday and said he would “cook American in cages” — an apparent reference to the ISIS video of a captured Jordanian pilot being burned alive while in a cage.

    Last week, Suarez allegedly gave the informant two boxes of nails, a cell phone, a backpack and $100 to build a bomb. In the most recent discussions, Suarez talked about bombing a public beach in Key West and placing explosive devices under police cars, according to charging documents filed by the FBI.

    Note that without some actual explosive material and the knowledge to build a bomb without first blowing yourself up (yeah, yeah, it’s all online, but so is a lot of stuff. Reading stuff online and actually safely handling explosives and ensuring they work remotely is a whole ‘nother story.) In case you wish to experiment, here are instructions for making a nuclear weapon.

    And seriously, a backpack bomb, is that really a weapon of mass destruction?

    Also note that at no point was anyone in America in danger in any way whatsoever.

    “There is no room for failure when it comes to investigating the potential use of a weapon of mass destruction,” said Special Agent in Charge George Piro, head of the FBI’s Miami Field Office.



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    FBI Stops Terrorist Death Ray Plot; Roadrunner Still at Large

    August 20, 2015 // 6 Comments »

    acme

    Another close call as the FBI announced it stopped another terrorist plot it helped facilitate. The best part of this one is that the plot involved some yahoo trying to develop a “death ray machine” that he was going to unleash on Obama and the Muslims.


    A self-proclaimed Ku Klux Klan member conspired to use a remote-controlled X-ray device hidden in a truck, which he called “Hiroshima on a light switch,” as a weapon of mass destruction to harm Muslims and Barack Obama, a prosecutor told jurors.

    But a lawyer for Glendon Scott Crawford, 51, said that government undercover agents dragged him further into the plot to build what media dubbed the “death ray” machine after he tried to pull away in the initial stages, when he had no more than “a piece of paper” sketching out his ideas.

    Government agents apparently gave Crawford an old X-ray machine and an arc welder that he was otherwise unable to procure himself. In opening arguments at U.S. District Court in Albany, a lawyer for Crawford said the device would have never been built if not for the government supplying the necessary components.

    The FBI learned of this evil plot after Crawford approached Jewish community leaders in Albany, New York, seeking funding. Those leaders immediately called the FBI.


    Here’s the caper: Crawford and another man were arrested in 2013 and charged in the plot to unleash radiation at a mosque and a Muslim school. The men also planned to attack the White House.

    The weapon: a remote-controlled device Crawford said was going to be like “Hiroshima on a light switch.”

    Crawford faces three charges, including attempting to produce, construct, acquire, transfer, receive, possess and use a radiological dispersal device. The other two charges are conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and distributing information with respect to a weapon of mass destruction.


    Left unanswered so far is the vast gap between what a hateful nut like Crawford imagined and reality on Earth.

    “Death Rays” are notoriously hard to construct, the evidence of which is that none have ever been constructed. One faces issues such as acquiring massive X-ray machines that are portable, powering those massive x-ray machines in a portable way, and directing said x-rays through stuff to reach people somewhere in the distance. Perhaps such devices are sold by the Wil E. Coyote division of the Acme X-Ray Corporation?

    Given that Crawford has no training in high-energy physics and has been unable to contact Dr. Evil at his lair for help, this is all another silly attempt by the FBI to entrap some nasty loser who may indeed belong in jail, but to dress it all up as “terrorism” and “weapons of mass destruction” ahead of their next promotion cycle.




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    New Law Says Web Sites Would Have to Inform Law Enforcement about Readers’ ‘Terrorist Activity’

    July 16, 2015 // 14 Comments »

    1984


    Social media sites such as Twitter and YouTube would be required to report “terrorist” videos and other content posted by users to federal authorities under legislation approved this past week by the Senate Intelligence Committee.


    The measure, contained in the 2016 intelligence authorization, still has to be voted on by the full Senate. The measure applies to “electronic communication service providers,” which includes e-mail services such as Google and Yahoo. “Posted content” would likely also apply to readers’ comments, and in theory to authors’ postings such as this one.

    Companies such as Twitter have recently stepped up efforts to remove terrorist content in response to growing concerns that they have not done enough to stem whatever the government deems propaganda. Twitter removed 10,000 accounts over a two-day period in April. Officials want more. “In our discussions with parts of the executive branch, they said there have been cases where there have been posts of one sort or another taken down” that might have been useful to know about, a Senate aide said.

    The snitch bill is modeled after a federal law — the 2008 Protect Our Children Act — that requires online firms to report images of child pornography and to provide information identifying who uploaded the images to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The center then forwards the information to the FBI. Of course actual images of child porn are pretty straightforward to notice, exploit innocents and involve no legitimate protected speech.

    But otherwise, sure, it’s the same thing. Statement: I Like Terrorism = Child Rape Images.

    Industry officials privately called the new law a bad idea only because it sounds like an expensive hassle for them. “Asking Internet companies to proactively monitor people’s posts and messages would be the same thing as asking your telephone company to monitor and log all your phone calls, text messages, all your Internet browsing, all the sites you visit,” said one official.

    Wait, isn’t that what we’ve been told the NSA has been doing to us since 9/11?

    Still, national security experts who will likely personally profit from the measure say it makes sense. “In a core set of cases, when companies are made aware of terrorist content, there is real value to security, and potentially even to the companies’ reputation,” said Michael Leiter, a former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, now an executive vice president with Leidos, a national security contractor. “Rules like this always implicate complex First Amendment and corporate interests. But ultimately this is a higher-tech version of ‘See something, say something.’”

    But what about those nasty First Amendment issues?

    “The intelligence bill would turn communications service providers into the speech police, while providing them little guidance about what speech they must report to the police,” said Gregory Nojeim of the Center for Democracy and Technology. “The natural tendency will be to err on the side of reporting anything that might be characterized as ‘terrorist activity’ even if it is not. And their duty to report will chill speech on the Internet that relates to terrorism.”


    America: A nation of snitches, watching each other, reporting whatever thing we think is suspicious or terrorism. To The Authorities. But it’s for our own good, right Citizens? I think I saw a Twilight Zone like that. No, wait, it was the McCarthy Era, sorry.



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    The Sad Case of a Teen Convicted of Terrorism

    January 26, 2015 // 3 Comments »



    Shannon Conley, circled in the photo above, a 19-year-old suburban Denver teen, was sentenced to four years in prison on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, ISIS. We’ll get to the specifics of Conley’s crime in a moment, but first some more details from her sentencing.

    Impartial Justice?

    U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore said Conley needed psychological help. In addition to the four years behind bars, he also sentenced her to three years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service and barred her from possessing black powder used in explosives, saying, “I’m not going to take a chance with you.”

    “I don’t know what has been crystallized in your mind,” Moore told her, adding that he hoped the sentence would discourage others with similar intentions. “I’m still not sure you get it.”

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Holloway also said Conley “continues to defy authority, making vitriolic comments about law enforcement even though authorities showed restraint in their handling of her case. That’s a troubling sign that she may reoffend.”



    The Threat of Shannon Conley

    To put Conley’s sentencing, and the government’s actions, in context, let’s look into her so-called material support for ISIS.

    The government’s interest in Conley started thanks to two alert Citizens. A security guard and pastor at the Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, Colorado, contacted police to report the girl had been wandering their campus taking notes. The girl also became “confrontational” with church staffers when they asked to see her notes. The guard thought she was suspicious and that she seemed to be “visiting the church in preparation for an attack.” It is unclear how whatever the woman was doing appeared to be in preparation for an attack.

    The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force went on to investigate Conley for eight months. They discovered that she had met a man online who identified himself as a 32-year-old Tunisian terrorist associated with ISIS and with whom she built what she felt was a romantic relationship. He encouraged her to travel to Syria to fight alongside him, because of course everyone you meet online is exactly who they say they are and especially guys who meet girls online never lie to them (there is at least some evidence that this whole thing jihad thing was just a trick to lure vulnerable foreign women into prostitution.)

    The FBI’s “investigation” of all this included meeting with Conley in person on a near-weekly basis for six months. Even her attire was cited as “evidence” at her trial: At her first meeting with FBI agents she wore a T-shirt that read “Sniper. Don’t run, you’ll die trying.” We shall not comment on the irony of that when the movie “American Sniper” dominates the box office. The FBI also met with Conley’s parents, warning them of their daughter’s “radical beliefs.”



    Seriously?

    Here’s the serious part: The girl was interviewed by an FBI special agent, at which point she said she was training in military tactics through a non-profit youth group called the U.S. Army Explorers and that she hoped to share what she learned with Islamic jihadi fighters. A few weeks later, she told the FBI agent she would be “ready to wage jihad in a year.” The suspect told the FBI, however, that her knowledge of Islam and jihad was based mostly on her research conducted using Google.

    The U.S. Army Explorers, where the girl was seeking training to enable her to survive on the battlefields of the MidEast alongside hardened terrorists, describes itself as a program that “exposes cadets to what career opportunities in the military are like, and provides them first hand knowledge and experience in the many military occupational skills… Our program is a part of the Learning for Life Explorer program with the Boy Scouts of America.” The group accepts cadets as young as age 13. It costs $85 to join, but that includes an ID card and uniform patches. The girl also told the FBI she planned to use her Army Explorer skills to “train Islamic Jihadi fighters in U.S. military tactics.”

    The Price of Freedumb

    So, in what was likely the worst online dating story of the year, the FBI launched an eight month investigation leading to an airport takedown when Conley sought to board a flight to Turkey, a country described as “near Syria.” In between, the Feds spoke numerous times to Conley, and her parents, and no doubt must have come to the conclusion that her chances of waging jihad were about the same as her chances of finding true love on the web.

    But instead of advising her parents to take back their credit card, they busted her for planning to travel to Turkey. Even the antagonistic judge at her trial seemed to see another side of Conley at one point, stating “I’m not saying her actions were a direct product of mental illness, but she’s a bit of a mess. She’s pathologically naive.”

    The really sad part, absent wrecking this girl’s already pathetic life (when released at age 23 she’ll be a convicted felon, hardened by three years inside, with a terror rap), is that this case will no doubt now be counted among the many other examples of how the government is protecting us from the terrorists in our midst.



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    What Didn’t Happen in 2014: The Paranoia Year in Review

    January 5, 2015 // 4 Comments »

    paranoia



    So how’s 2015 so far?

    Outside playing on your hoverboard while Dad brings in the family helicopter? Mom inside serving up a hearty meal, all in pill form? Planning a trip to the Lunar Grand Hyatt? Enjoying a life free from all disease, war and hunger, courtesy of the alien overlord world government?

    Good, good.


    With 2015 underway, let’s take a quick look back at the highlights of government paranoia from 2014.

    America’s War of Terror requires all of us (do your part!) to maintain a high state of fear while at the same time trusting our government to keep us safe. This means we need to be spoon-fed a constant stream of faux threats to Der Homeland to justify, whatever, without any of the threats coming true so we are pleased with what we are giving up in return for this faux security.


    Got it? So here we go:


    Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks: Julian Assange, evil mastermind of Wikileaks, remains trapped in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Chelsea Manning remains in prison. The dire predictions of what the leaked information was going to do to national security, blood on Chelsea’s hands when soldiers got killed and all, never happened.


    Edward Snowden: Snowden remains in exile in Russia. The dire predictions of what the leaked information were going to do to national security, blood on Snowden’s hands when soldiers got killed and terrorists ran amok and all, never happened.


    Boko Haram: Remember these guys and #SaveOurGirls? Nobody saved them. Boko never got on planes and flew to the U.S. as we were warned they might.


    Kim Jong Un: Wow, he may have lessened the chance we ever have to see another Seth Rogen movie. We owe the guy a Starbucks gift card or something. He otherwise did not transform America into a sea of flames. Oh, and hey, those hacks of Target, Home Depot and others that caused millions of dollars in lost revenues, nope, that wasn’t cyberterrorism, no, not at all.


    Ebola: OHMYGOD WE’REALLGONNA FREAKINGDIE. Quarantine the airports, nobody breathe on the east coast, get ready to nuke West Africa. Except nothing happened.


    Putin: We… are… seconds away from nuclear annihilation if Crimea eastern Ukraine the rest of Ukraine falls. Except nothing happened.


    Iran: We… are… seconds away from nuclear annihilation because they will get the Bomb. Except nothing happened.


    Home-Grown Terrorists: Yep, they are everywhere, no doubt rooming with the North Korean and ISIS sleeper cells that are also everywhere. Absent two clown-like kids in Boston that every single spying thing missed completely, not much. And oh, all those mass shootings, please note they are not home grown terrorists even though they mowed down more Americans since 9/11 than anything else. Grand juries are also not home-grown terrorists.


    Al Qaeda: Nope, nothing out of them this year either but You Never Know (c) We’ll keep killing their Number Two guys. But dammit, we were promised a Butt Bomb!


    Taliban: Nope, nothing out of them this year either but You Never Know (c) We better keep 10,000 troops in Afghanistan.


    Syria’s Assad: He gassed his own people! He is close to nuclear weaponization! He harbors terrorists who’ll take over our fast food franchises! Except he didn’t, and now we sort of passively support him because he does not care for ISIS.


    ISIS: 2014’s big winner in the paranoia sweepstakes. They never showed up at our shopping malls or our July 4th parades, but, what the hell, let’s invade Iraq again anyway.


    Also, everything that FOX, Lindsey Graham and John McCain said.


    BONUS: That thing on your shoulder, the red thing with the weird hair growing out of it? You probably should be worried about that.



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    Christmas in the White House Basement

    December 24, 2014 // 7 Comments »

    santa2


    Hold the fat bastard down!

    Answer me punk! Is it true that you give toys to every child in the world? Even the ones whose moms and dads are terrorists?

    Hah, that’s material support. Hit him with the electric shock.

    Do you refuse to hand over the naughty or nice list for us to use in drone targeting? Tell me, do it now!

    He won’t answer. Let’s anally feed him again.

    My turn, my turn.

    No, you did it last time.

    Alfreda! Cheney! Stop fighting. Look at his jolly, round belly like bowl full of jelly. He’ll need plenty of anal feedings. There’ll be time for everyone.

    I wanna use the candy cane on him.

    No, no, chestnuts!

    Alright, if you won’t cooperate old St. Nick, we’re going to rape a loved one in front of you. That should loosen your tongue. Bring in Rudolph.

    Cheney, get off the damn reindeer. We’re only threatening to do that this year.

    Damn reindeer was asking for it. Lookit the way she prances around with that saucy red nose.

    Now old man, we’ll shave off your beard. I think that offends his North Pole religion.

    And blast him with the music. No, no, not more Nine Inch Nails. Hit him with the ten minute Christmas song loop they play over and over while you’re in line for 40 minutes at Walmart.

    Hey, who wants egg nog?

    Feinstein, you came! We invited you again this year of course, but I never expected you to show up after everyone caught you with Brennan in the supply closet. I bet that hurt. It is good to see that whatever the CIA does to you, you are never fully humiliated.

    Well, it is the season to be jolly.

    So, everyone, gather round, Barack is about to waterboard Santa.

    Aw, he always gets to do that first.

    Now, now, boys, you all know you’re not spending this Christmas in jail because of Barack, so show some respect. Anyway, we’ll move the mistletoe over the waterboarding table and everyone will get a chance to torture Santa. Sheik Khalid Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times before he was made insane for freedom, so Santa will be screaming with us for a long time.

    After that, can we watch the tapes again? Please?

    Well, OK, Condi, one more time. Uncle Jose brought his own copies of the torture tapes again this year —

    You said the T word, you said the T word! Five dollars into the jar.

    Ugh, OK. Anyway, Uncle Jose brought the, er, enhanced interrogation tapes for us all to enjoy — really, Jose, you shouldn’t have — but after that, it is right to bed for everyone. We have to render Santa all around the world, to every country that tortures so they can all have a “crack” at the bastard, in just one night. Even with an early start, that takes some Christmas magic!

    Hey, wasn’t Jesus tortured to death in a way?

    You’re right, He was. Why, we’re putting the Christ right back into Christmas!

    God bless torturers and those who support them, everyone!

    Honey, I don’t know how you do it, but every year it just gets better.




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    America, the Boxer

    December 23, 2014 // 12 Comments »

    boxer


    Today’s guest post is reprinted by permission from the Facebook page of one Rick Sullivan. I don’t know Rick except via Facebook, but here he eloquently sums up an awful lot of what I, and perhaps others, have been thinking.



    When a nation comes through back to back tectonic events like the depression and WWII, when they stand on the brink of total annihilation for half a century ready to spring into WWIII at a moment’s notice, when most of our wealth goes to building that umbrella of defense for the world while it rebuilds and invests in their populations, to have that role suddenly snatched away and made irrelevant inside of just a few years, they will clamor for any opportunity to jump back into that role.

    We’re like an aging fighter who spent his life focused solely on being the master of his craft but now has no more bouts to fight. He suddenly finds himself faced with the prospect learning to be a real husband and a father. He looks for any opportunity to be his old self and have relevance with his himself and his family again, to prove he is still the man who will fight to protect them. So he finds any reason he can to come unglued and pummel the first poor sap to cross him in the slightest way.

    Just like him, we no longer have meaning and relevance in this world or with our family. Who will we become? The humbled old man who learns and follows his heart? Or the bitter old curmudgeon who’s family abandoned him long ago for their own survival and happiness?



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    Feinstein, Rogers: War on Terror a Huge Failure

    December 7, 2013 // 9 Comments »

    The truth finds a way, whether you want to believe it or not.

    The terrorism threat against the United States is increasing and Americans are not as safe as they were a year or two ago, the leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers, said.

    Feinstein: “There are more terrorist groups than ever, with more sophisticated and hard-to-detect bombs. There is huge malevolence out there.”

    Rogers: “The job is getting more difficult because al-Qaeda is changing, with more affiliates around the world — groups that once operated independently but have now joined with al-Qaeda.”

    Now, to be clear, both Feinstein and Rogers were attempting to make the case that the U.S. needs more NSA spying to combat these threats. Rogers was blunt: “We’re fighting amongst ourselves here in this country about the role of our intelligence community… And so we’ve got to shake ourselves out of this pretty soon and understand that our intelligence services are not the bad guys.”

    But, but…

    Despite the lawmakers’ intention, the truth is more obvious. 9/11 happened twelve years ago. In between that day and this today, we have seen the dismantling of our Constitution via the Patriot Act and its secret interpretations by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court, the turning of companies like Google into tools of the national security state, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, torture, rendition, secret prisons, global drone and special ops wars, indefinite imprisonment at Guantanamo, military intervention in Libya, bin Laden and a endless string of al Qaeda “leaders” killed, the failure to support the Arab Spring, creation of a stasis of grinding death in Syria and the rest of the horrors and abominations committed by these United States. Add in the incalculable deaths and costs, the domestic army of disabled veterans, the gutting of our economy and the entrenchment of the military-industrial monster, the elevation of security theatre at our airports, the irradiation of the mail, militarization of our police and the thousand daily cuts of a metastasized bureaucracy, all in the name of “fighting terror.”

    And none of that is enough.

    In fact, as stated by Feinstein and Rogers, somehow despite all that, things are actually worse. Al Qaeda, once a regional player, now is a global franchise. The fuel of terrorism– hatred, fear and opposition to the U.S. and its policies abroad– creates more terrorists. Indeed, as the two intelligence committee chairs are clear in pointing out, we are less safe now than then.

    Madness

    We are a stupid, violent people. America is indeed an exceptional nation, exceptional in that it exists in a bubble, emerging only to lash out at others. Inside the bubble, rational thought and reasoned discussion have ceased, the air sucked out of them. Any attempt at such actions is met either by deflection (“oh, let’s not talk politics here at the office/party/election debates”) or polemics. Finger pointing– it’s the Republicans! No, it’s the Democrats at fault! is both a convenient way to tamp down debate and to create the appearance of debate while having none. We have simply stopped thinking.

    Having stopped thinking, we fall into the comfort zone of repeating things like a mentally disabled child happy to spend hours walking in circles. Not quite for comfort, not quite for safety, just simply because it is what we were doing and so we keep doing it. We convince ourselves that the answer to failed policy is to keep repeating that policy. We ignore the empirical evidence of our failure– there it is people, the things done to make us safer have not made us safer– to twist logic into meaning we must keep doing what has already failed.

    Does that make sense? If it does, forget about a career in Washington.



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    Get Over it New York

    March 30, 2013 // 7 Comments »

    Just to get ahead of things, a few announcements before we begin. If you plan to send hate mail or death threats after this blog post, please include the key word “HATE” in the subject line to assist me in sorting things. Also, I grieve for all those lost on 9/11. It was a terrible tragedy. None of this is intended to dispute that, but…

    Get over it New York.

    I had the pleasure of a few days in New York City, all for the good. People were themselves, food great, subways running smoothly post-Sandy. But it seems that official New York can’t seem to get past 9/11. On Monday the cops in the subways switched from their weekend soft caps and 9mm pistols to helmets, body armor and M-4s with the long clips. Armed National Guard paroled the Port Authority terminal, literally outfitted for war. Both the cops and the Guard carried milpsec gas masks ready to protect against anthrax and a host of other militarized biochem things. C’mon guys, 9/11 was almost twelve years ago. In the subway, with its low ceilings, packed-to-the- edges crowds and hard surfaces, exactly what are you going to do with a machine gun? Can you sketch out a scenario where the NYPD is going to be exchanging a couple of hundred armor piercing rounds underground where they won’t be killing more people than the bad guys?

    The subways are noisy enough without the endless recorded admonitions to “see something, say something” and report suspicious packages to the proper authorities. No one cares. The homeless guys all had bags and bags with them, maybe filled with empty 40 ouncers, maybe terror bombs, but nobody paid them any attention. I am so very sorry about those who lost their lives on 9/11, particularly the brave first responders. But do we really need that many murals on walls, all resplendent with gas station velvet-painting level burning Twin Towers?

    The indifference of the millions of people and the signs of official excessive panic stand in contrast. Most folks seem to have moved on. It has been almost twelve years and yet… and yet… the NYPD and others seem to want to keep everyone on edge, act as if there has been attack after attack, to keep the sore from healing. Of course some one will write in and explain to me that such vigilance is all that stands between us and the darkness, that when it is my child held in the kabob-stained hands of terror under 51st Street I’ll wish there were armed men protecting her and all that. Save your time.

    Maybe, just maybe, it makes sense to a police state to keep reminding everyone why they need to support and maintain a police state. Maybe the image of the NYPD as gruff but lovable neighborhood guys and gals isn’t enough to justify big budgets and a surveillance state.

    Maybe, just maybe, it is time for New York, officially, to get over 9/11.

    BONUS: Anyone enjoying the media these days can see a preview of the Next Enemy. Even the White House seems to be slowly walking back from Terrorism Everywhere as a justification for Everything, and is prepping us with near-daily stories about the super dangers of cyber-terrorism. Stay tuned for the change over as we head first into midterm elections next year and then as we gear up for the 2016 presidentials. The Chinese are sneaking into our Internets to take over our Facebooking!!!!!!!!



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    A Child’s Glossary for the War of Terror

    May 30, 2012 // 6 Comments »

    Learning is fun! and knowing how to understand grownup language in the War of Terror is a duty for all children, just as it is important to brush your teeth each evening and report suspicious activity by your parents. Your Government wants you to do these things so it can protect you from scary terrorists.

    Bad men (many are gay– ask dad to explain) and women (most have had abortions) in the “media” will try and hurt your mind with words. You have to be strong to fight back against this “word terrorism.” We’ll help!

    People killed by US Drones = Militants or Terrorists (suspected terrorist is OK if liberal media, for now)

    People killed by Terrorists = Innocent Victims

    Innocent Victims Killed by US Drones = Accidents, Suspected Terrorist or Collateral Damage

    Innocent Victims Killed by Terrorists = Innocent Victims

    Bad Terrorists = Enemies, Mad Dogs

    Good Terrorists = Freedom Fighters (need help determining who is who? The State Department keeps a list of terrorist organizations. Check back frequently on the status of MEK.)

    Afghan Soldiers Who Kill American Soldiers = Terrorists wearing Afghan Army uniforms

    Iraqi Police Who Killed American Soldiers = Terrorists wearing Iraqi Police uniforms

    American Soldiers Who Sacrifice Themselves = Heroes

    Terrorists Who Sacrifice Themselves = Fanatics

    Powerful Belief in God = Righteous City on a Hill

    Powerful Belief in Allah = Fanatic

    People Who Touch Your Private Parts in the Airport = TSA Patriots

    People Who Touch Your Private Parts at School = Pedophiles

    Empowering Women in America = Socialism

    Empowering Women in Afghanistan = Foreign Policy

    Killing People in Yemen = Defending America

    Killing People in US = Terrorism

    Massacre in Afghanistan = Random act of deranged individual soldier

    Massacre in Syria = Proof of whatever it is we think is wrong in Syria

    Weapons for One Side = Dangerous Escalation

    Weapons for the Other Side = Freedom

    Illegal Prisons, Wiretapping, Torture = Bush

    Illegal Prisons, Wiretapping, Torture = Obama

    And a few bonus items kids:

    Reasons Ambassadors and General Quit Early = Spend more time with family, health, give back to society

    “Militant” = all military-age males we kill

    America’s Most Important Foreign Policy Objective = Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, aw, just remember “We Have Always Been at War with Eastasia.”

    If you’re caught unaware of the right answer to a hard, hard question, just remember “If we do it, it is right and if they do it, it is wrong.” You’ll be right every time, just like America!

    BONUS: For those who think this is satire, much of Obama’s “success limiting civilian deaths in drone strikes is, in part, due to a disputed method for counting civilian casualties embraced by Obama. According to the New York Times, the White House considers ‘all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants … unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.'” Hah, because dead men tell no tales.

    We’ve come full circle now in America. The Obama policy is nearly identical to tying a suspected witch to a stone and throwing her in the river. If she drowned, then the old Salem inquisitors had their “posthumous proof” that she wasn’t a witch.




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    DHS: Roundup of Norwegians to Begin

    July 25, 2011 // Comments Off on DHS: Roundup of Norwegians to Begin

    Terrorist Following the horrific events in Oslo last week, Homeland Security officials in the US announced the pending roundup of Norwegians in the Homeland (i.e., America). “We are taking steps out of an abundance of caution to protect our Homelandians (i.e., Americans),” stated a DHS spokesperson. “Now that we know white people are as dangerous as brown people, these are steps we need to take.”

    Republican Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann was quick to pick up on the issue, leading a group of overweight voters to protest in front of the Secaucus Ikea store, located only six miles from Ground Zero in a different state. Despite being informed that Ikea was an iconic Swedish brand, Bachmann was undeterred in shouting anti-Norwegian slogans. “If we thought sharia law was a threat, the ability of these people to blend in among us makes them an even greater threat.” Bachmann denied that she had once eaten Norwegian food in Minnesota, home to many Norwegian immigrants. “Lutefish, or as I call it, Freedom Fish, is as American as hamburger or pasta,” said the angry Bachmann as she left the scene on leathery wings that sprouted from her spine.

    An Angry Mob (c) grew frustrated as their lack of knowledge of Norway made racist statements hard to come up with. “We can’t call ’em ragheads, or make fun of ’em eatin’ watermelon or fried chicken, so it’s hard,” stated one slack-jawed yokel. “Also nothing rude rhymes with ‘Norwegian’ so our chants are pretty lame.” The Angry Mob planned to morph into a Drunken Crowd and go home.

    NPR regular voice of wry reason Garrison Keillor called for calm. “I wrote whimsically about Norwegians in my books about Lake Wobegon. Let us remember those happy tales and not jump to conclusions.” Keillor did note that he was only half Norwegian and hey, who can pick their parents?

    The issue did not escape White House comment. President Obama spoke briefly to the nation on the QVC Channel to say “Typically America responds to terror attacks that have nothing to do with us by sending armed drones into action. Right now my staff is carefully checking to see if Norway has any oil and if they do, then we will start bombing immediately. America expects nothing less, and I will do nothing less to protect this nation.”

    The President’s speech was met with bipartisan support, as Congress voted to eliminate the states of South Dakota and Missouri to free up funds for the new nordic war.

    What, not funny? Too soon for irony? Imagine what would have happened if the attacks had been carried out by Muslims.



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    Defeat an Idea with a Better Idea

    May 5, 2011 // Comments Off on Defeat an Idea with a Better Idea

    I’m not sad that bin Laden is dead, but there is a bigger issue here. Once the SEALs were in the room with bin Laden, it was no longer about bin Laden the man; it shifted to policy. Bin Laden was off the grid dead or alive at that point.

    You can kill a man with a bullet, but to defeat an idea you need to offer something better. We spent billions trying to teach rule of law in Iraq and Afghanistan and then do just the opposite when the tough case comes up.

    Nuremberg, not a bullet to the face of an unarmed man. You defeat an idea with a better idea.



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