Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

Pakistan and Hiding bin Laden

04.05.2011 (9:41 am) – Filed under: National Security,Pakistan,Terrorism ::

Does anyone seriously believe that the Pakistani government did not know Osama bin Laden was living – and living large – in their country? Please. Pakistan’s intelligence service is corrupt, but they are far from incompetent. At best they turned a blind eye to the U.S.’s most-wanted terrorist. But it’s far more likely parts of the ISI knowingly helped conceal bin Laden for years.

Ron Paul Kills on WikiLeaks

11.12.2010 (3:27 pm) – Filed under: Media,National Security ::

@RonJeffries “Ron Paul’s questions listed here are as good a defense of WikiLeaks as I’ve seen.” http://bit.ly/f8HrmT

These are great questions that deserve answers, answers we almost certainly never get. Why? Because no one in power wants to pay the high price of setting the principle bar high enough to require the transparency we both want and need from our government. It’s too hard for politicians of the modern stripe, save for Mr. Paul perhaps.

TSA Scanner Risks

29.11.2010 (10:25 am) – Filed under: Health,National Security ::

Review of TSA X-ray backscatter scanner safety issues: http://bit.ly/fkIWES. Bottom line is that real risks exist.

TSA Humor: First Body Cavity Search

12.11.2010 (9:22 am) – Filed under: Humor,National Security,Stupidity ::

Found as the background image on a TSA computer at the Indianapolis airport:

The TSA's Sense of Humor Makes Me Nervous

Yeah, that’s REAL funny, jerks.

Football as a Metaphor Starring the N.Y. Jets

21.01.2010 (8:29 pm) – Filed under: National Security,Sports ::

The irony of this week’s AFC championship game is not lost on any football fan: Had the Indianapolis Colts had the moral fiber to give a decent effort in week 15 of the NFL season, the New York Jets would be watching this week’s big game at home instead of playing in it against the Colts. Now Peyton Manning and Co. must play the most dangerous team in football. Goes to prove that you should always give 100% and play the game straight. Indy got cute and may well get screwed.

The Jets aren’t a particularly skilled team, but they are an effective one that makes the most out of what talent they have. They are also a brutal opponent that grinds down better teams while waiting for a mistake they can capitalize on. As the Bengals and Chargers discovered, they win through naked animal force, not finesse or skill.

Conversely, the Colts are everything we admire in a football team. They have a charismatic, popular quarterback who is one of the best of all-time and still at the peak of an excellent career. They score touchdowns in bunches, mostly through the air, and look like a well-oiled machine on offense, a machine that cuts through defenses like they weren’t there.

Consider that football, like ideological warfare, is a blood sport. The Colts are the United States in this analogy, their free-flowing, explosive offense akin to the competitive, complex engine of the American economy. They are, beyond a doubt, the best offensive football team to have played the game over a period of several years. Only one thing has ever been their undoing – their failure to remember that they have to defend themselves against less-skilled but equally determined opponents.

Their opposition, the green-shirted Jets, represent the forces of might-makes-right fascism. Lacking the ability to compete with their betters, the Jets will bully, beat down, and do their best to utterly brutalize the Colts in an attempt to steal what they could never win in a straight-up game.

A comparison to the problem America faced in the violent, repressive Soviet Union during the Cold War would not be amiss. No aspect of Soviet life was comparable to its equivalent in the U.S. America was socially, economically, and culturally superior in every way to Russia and her enslaved satellites. Only in the realm of military force could the Soviets compete with us and compete they did, pressing us hard for two decades before the effects of their inferior economy – the very aspect of Communist life that was supposed to set them free – made it impossible for the Russians to keep up. The death of the free world was rather narrowly averted, primarily thanks to the offensive firepower of our free market economy.

In 2010, a new sort of fascism threatens the free world in the form of Islamic terrorism. Like the Indianapolis Colts, the U.S. must defend itself vigorously against an unskilled, brutal enemy that could never defeat us in a fair fight, whether the arena is military, economic, or cultural in kind. Do we have the resolve to fight to preserve our way of life? Or will the thuggish killers who despoil their own religion wear us down in the long game of asymmetric warfare? Public opinion poll after poll suggests we lack the will to defeat such an enemy.

Scoff if you will, but demographics and determination, two very important factors in a long-term struggle, are on the side of the terrorists and those mainstream Muslims on whose tacit support they depend. Unlike the Soviets, the jihadists from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan actually believe in the vile doctrine they espouse publicly, a fact that makes them infinitely more dangerous, man for man, than the Russians ever were.

To claim victory for future generations of Americans we have to play both sides of the ball. This means fielding a strong defense in the form of a military able to match terrorists cut for cut. We also have to continue to play offense using our economy as an engine of wealth – and choice – generation. Realize that this cannot happen while taking on excessive amounts of debt by borrowing largely from our competitors and enemies. Nor can we afford expensive government programs like President Obama’s about-to-fail health care plan that sap the life from our economy. Personal freedom has always driven our success and now is no time to give in, whether to those who believe that we cannot be trusted to care for ourselves or to those who wish us harm simply because of our desire to be free of the oppression they so desperately prefer.

In football as in life the choice is clear. Go Colts!

Responding to Terrorism Requires a Tough Attitude, Long-Term Perspective

10.01.2010 (9:12 pm) – Filed under: National Security,Terrorism ::

In the aftermath of the failed Christmas-day attempt to bring a Northwest Airlines flight down, David Broder says that 9/11 was a call to duty to President Bush and 12/25 could trigger the same response in President Obama and help him change his approach to dealing with terrorism. For the sake of Americans everywhere, let’s hope so.

The Christmas plot appears to have shaken Obama like nothing else that happened in his first year.

When he allowed the White House to quote his warning to his Cabinet colleagues that another “screw-up” like that could not be tolerated, he seemed to signal his benign leadership style had reached its limits.

Many have been looking for a similar shift of tone in his dealings with the dictators in Iran and North Korea and even in his tolerance for the politics-as-usual maneuverings of many Republicans and some Democrats in Congress.

Hopefully the president will have the courage to admit that his softer approach to dealing with terrorists was doomed to fail from the beginning. That’s not easy to do in American politics, so if he does take that nearly unprecedented step I hope that Republicans will rise above the temptation to dwell on “I told you so” and get down to the business of punching terrorists in the teeth.

One cannot fault the president too much over the latest incident. Yes, it’s his ultimately responsibility, but putting politics aside, what would another president have done differently in the absence of specific information?

Adbulmutallab’s name was one in about 550,000 of an intelligence database of people with suspected terrorist ties. There was not enough information about Abdulmutallab’s nexus to terrorism to get him onto a subset of the list where he would have been flagged in initial screening. An even stricter “no-fly” list contains about 3,400 names.

Likely nothing, though the intelligence services with direct access to information obviously erred by not giving appropriate credence to Adbulmutallab’s father’s warning about his son’s radicalization. Rather than dwell on this failure, it’s more important to move ahead with needed changes in our approach to border security.

First, there’s no reason for any of the 550,000 known associates of terrorists to be allowed into the United States. Harsh? Perhaps. Discriminatory, I certainly hope so. The fact is that these people, taken as a group, have nothing to offer America. Why would we allow them to travel here, ever?

Taking the next logical step, in the absence of special skills or capabilities, it’s a dubious proposition to allow any immigration to take place from countries that harbor and sponsor terrorism. That’s particularly true of young males, who have been documented to be the culprits behind most home-grown terrorist plots. The same is certainly true of foreign-born terrorists as well, particularly given women’s subservient role in the cultures that tend to breed terrorism.

Our screening process, in other words, needs to reflect the actual dangers in play, even when the necessary responses impact selected groups of individuals disproportionately. As unfair as that may seem, our standards are our own to determine and our immigration policy likewise.

One thing that should be immediately stopped are the “diversity visas” that the State Department is giving out to people from “countries that typically see low levels of immigration to the U.S.” While this isn’t necessarily a disqualifying attribute, it’s quite droll to note that on the list are “all four countries the U.S considers state sponsors of terror — Iran, Sudan, Cuba, and Syria — and 13 of the 14 nations that are coming under special monitoring from the Transportation Security Administration as founts of terrorism.” Seems obvious that these are the last places we want to be recruiting immigrants from in the absence of a rigorous screening process that includes criteria for terrorist ties and the applicant’s true value to America.

Some may quiver over such deliberate discrimination on the part of our government, but making choices about who can come to this country is, after all, one of the responsibilities immigration authorities must shoulder. More importantly, it’s vitally important that we do so in order to insulate ourselves from needless dangers that exist overseas. Such decisions are not easy to make; however, they are entirely legal and within the purview of the Constitution.

In his letter to the Houston Chronicle on this subject, Jim Proctor had this to say:

The values stated in our Declaration of Independence are vitally important to us as a free country. However, how this country responds to challenges to our independence and the liberties we have through our Constitution, is who we are today. What keeps this nation strong is not the documents in the National Archives but the lengths we are willing to go to defend the promises in them.

Indeed. As a forty-something year-old man, I admit to having some interest in how the religious/cultural war that’s being waged against us unfolds. But it’s far more important to me in terms of how it will impact my children and grandchildren than for myself. Our succeeding generations deserve to receive the best version of America that we can given them and that means one whose Constitution is still observed and whose national security has not been compromised.

This may require some unpleasantness, just as America’s Cold War with the Soviet Union did. For example, see Charles Krauthammer’s explanation of why Guantanamo should stay in business:

This is a fanatical religious sect dedicated to establishing the most oppressive medieval theocracy and therefore committed to unending war with America not just because it is infidel but because it represents modernity with its individual liberty, social equality (especially for women) and profound tolerance (religious, sexual, philosophical). You going to change that by evacuating Guantanamo?

The prison for captured terrorists at Guantanamo Bay is one of the least significant aspects of the War on Terror. The amount of resources devoted to this issue completely dwarfs its importance in the grand scheme of things and should be redirected to other, more important issues.

Understand that there is a mistaken idea that many, many Americans – and American leaders – hold, namely that if we stop doing things they don’t like and retreat to our borders that the terrorists abroad will leave us alone. But that naive world-view completely overlooks – deliberately, IMO – the fact that Islamic terrorism is and will continue to be directed at the United States as long as it exists.

The 12/25 attack was not the last of its kind and it’s foolish to believe it will be. We must react accordingly if we’re to leave an America our children deserve to inherit behind.

Is America Addressing Terrorism Correctly?

05.01.2010 (10:09 pm) – Filed under: Islam,National Security,Terrorism ::

Barack Obama has admitted that the homeland security apparatus failed in the case of Nigerian terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He had no choice, really – nearly 300 people are still alive only because passengers aboard the flight took matters into their own hands. He went on to say that he wasn’t going to tolerate any finger-pointing – another over-the-top assertion he cannot back up short of having feds arrest me and a few thousand other bloggers. Goes to show where the thought process is heading, I think.

Unfortunately, the Abdulmutallab case isn’t going to be the last of its kind. Not by a long shot. As Abdulmutallab himself said, Islamic terrorists will keep coming and coming and coming until they are given sufficient incentive to stay in their homelands.

As with any motivational question there are two ways to make that happen: make home a more attractive place to be and make America more dangerous for terrorists. Unfortunately religious zealotry is what motivates Abdulmutallab and his ilk rather than poverty or any misbegotten sense of entitlement. These causes liberal Democrats made their own long ago. But Islamic terror doesn’t fit the pattern Dems call their plays from and no amount of foreign aid or glad-handing – read “carrot” – will bring an end to the new Islamic jihad.

The other mechanism for discouraging terrorism – the stick – probably won’t work either for the same reason. What many Americans, including too many of our national leaders, fail to fully understand is that these young men truly want to die in the service of their so-called prophet. Certainly some of the weaker ones can be scared away, but not all and, in my opinion, not even most. They will keep coming until an end is made of the war they’ve declared on western society, one way or the other.

Understanding this is essential to formulating a response. It becomes clear, therefore, that the Democrats have not accepted this unpleasant bit of reality when one looks at their policies. Trying KSM, et al, in civilian court is a mistake because it legitimizes the actions of mass murderers and puts our national security community on the defensive while achieving precisely nothing in terms of a carrot/stick to terrorists. Neither KSM nor Abdulmutallab deserve to plead their case in a public courtroom. Their war crimes preclude this right reserved for civilian offenders.

The Obama administration got it partially right by slapping travel restrictions on Nigerians, albeit too late, though I have to wonder if it will do any good. Yes, Nigeria is one hotbed of Islamic terror, but radical Muslims there have largely confined themselves to murdering their own countrymen until now. It’s still more likely that terrorists will come from Saudi, Yemen, or Pakistan, this incident notwithstanding. Meanwhile, the traveling public feels safer because they are forbidden to pee during the last hour of their flights.

Alejandro J. Beutel, the government liaison with the Muslim Public Affairs Council, makes a good point when he says that Americans can’t allow themselves to lose trust in their Muslim countrymen. The U.S. has a sizable Muslim population, the vast majority of whom are willing to obey our laws and behave as responsible members of society. We must keep that fact firmly in the back of our collective mind.

Nevertheless, such generosity must be a two-way street. Muslim Americans must recognize that their sons, brothers, cousins, and uncles are disproportionately engaged in treasonous, anti-American acts when compared to the population at large. It therefore stands to reason that Muslim Americans must be subjected to scrutiny in proportion to the probability of terrorism emanating from their sliver of society.

Beutel doesn’t believe this. Instead he defends Muslim hostility toward recent police investigations of domestic terrorists, including Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, the young man who attempted to blow up a skyscraper in Dallas last year, claiming that local community and religious leaders would have stopped Smadi if they hadn’t been “worried that they, too, would become subjects of an investigation”.

Perhaps, though it’s speculative to say the least to claim either that Smadi could have been turned from his purpose or that any local leader would have answered the call even in a perfect circumstance. In the final analysis, Smadi did commit the act of terrorism he is accused of and no one save the FBI did anything to stop him.

Sarah Palin today identified the elephant in the room that the White House and other Democrats have been tiptoeing around as if hoping it would go away. It won’t.

We are at war with radical Islamic extremists and treating this threat as a law enforcement issue is dangerous for our nation’s security. That’s what happened in the 1990s and we saw the result on September 11, 2001. This is a war on terror not an “overseas contingency operation.” Acts of terrorism are just that, not “man caused disasters.” The system did not work.

There is a very serious downside to treating them as criminals: terrorists invoke their “right” to remain silent and stop talking. Terrorists don’t tell us where they were trained, what they were trained in, who they were trained by, and who they were trained with. Giving foreign-born, foreign-trained terrorists the right to remain silent does nothing to keep Americans safe from terrorist threats. It only gives our enemies access to courtrooms where they can publicly grandstand, and to defense attorneys who can manipulate the legal process to gain access to classified information.

Palin was been judged unworthy to be president in the last election cycle, but she’s reached the correct conclusion with regard to the right way to handle terrorism cases. We are in a war of attrition with a small but implacable enemy utterly unlike anything we’ve faced before and treating foreign enemies with respect they do not deserve only serves to lessen our security and long-term prospects for peace.

Moreover, it it long past time to move past political correctness and recognize that our national security depends on addressing foreign and domestic threats based on actual facts, without respect to whose feelings might be hurt. This means acknowledging the reality that most terrorist threats to this country originate from Islam and that our national counter-terrorism, immigration, and foreign relations policies must be shaped accordingly.

Surprised that Americans Want Answers from Terrorist? Don’t be.

31.12.2009 (3:05 pm) – Filed under: National Security,Terrorism ::

Rasmussen reports that 58% of Americans polled want answers in a bad way from Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the terrorist who tried to kill over 250 people on a Christmas Day Northwest Airlines flight by detonating plastic explosive he’d secreted in his underwear. By bad way I mean bad enough to waterboard the radical Muslim.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of U.S. voters say waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques should be used to gain information from the terrorist who attempted to bomb an airliner on Christmas Day.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 30% oppose the use of such techniques.

The news that Americans with an opinion favor torturing this would-be murder to gain information about his support organization should dishearten the Obama administration, bent as it is on posturing as a new, cuddly, friendly America to our enemies overseas. Unfortunately though it’s likely that the president and his advisors do not care what Americans think on this issue. In their minds they are the ones who have all the answers, ample evidence to the contrary.

To whit, Christopher Hitchens recently lambasted the politically correct doggerel that passes for policy in the Transportation Security Administration, before closing with a chilling paragraph that should be required reading for every American:

What nobody in authority thinks us grown-up enough to be told is this: We had better get used to being the civilians who are under a relentless and planned assault from the pledged supporters of a wicked theocratic ideology. These people will kill themselves to attack hotels, weddings, buses, subways, cinemas, and trains. They consider Jews, Christians, Hindus, women, homosexuals, and dissident Muslims (to give only the main instances) to be divinely mandated slaughter victims. Our civil aviation is only the most psychologically frightening symbol of a plethora of potential targets. The future murderers will generally not be from refugee camps or slums (though they are being indoctrinated every day in our prisons); they will frequently be from educated backgrounds, and they will often not be from overseas at all. They are already in our suburbs and even in our military. We can expect to take casualties. The battle will go on for the rest of our lives. Those who plan our destruction know what they want, and they are prepared to kill and die for it. Those who don’t get the point prefer to whine about "endless war," accidentally speaking the truth about something of which the attempted Christmas bombing over Michigan was only a foretaste. While we fumble with bureaucracy and euphemism, they are flying high.

Judging from the Rasmussen result, nearly 60% of us understand that Hitchens is absolutely correct. Mindless rules requiring verbal statements about the handling of luggage and banning the use of restrooms during the last hour of flight are nothing more than placebos meant to demonstrate to the brain-dead that the government is doing something.

The truth is another matter altogether, because the government bureaucracy’s hands are bound so tightly by the constraints of political correctness that the profiling of potential – and known – terrorists is verboten, despite the risks that lack of action poses to airline passengers.

When will Americans understand that profiling is a good thing and that relying on actual facts and probabilities as relates to attack vectors will keep us safer?

That safety is one of the few things that Americans actually want government to provide. The vast majority of us do not want welfare, health insurance, or financial investments run by the government. What we do want is to have our borders and our infrastructure protected against terrorists, foreign and domestic.

If that means that Muslims in this country are subject to additional scrutiny as a result of their religion, heritage, and/or country of origin, so be it. Similarly, if a known terrorist caught in the act has to be roughed up a little in order for law enforcement to gain information necessary to expose his/her network of cohorts, that’s what we want.

Obama Still Doesn’t Get Iran

31.12.2009 (12:33 am) – Filed under: Iran,National Security ::

President Obama has been in office for nearly a year now and one of the most pressing issues in the realm of national security still seems to escape him, namely what to do with Iran. The Washington Post, no right-wing, war-mongering rag, says that Iran may very well be at the tipping point. That means it’s time for the POTUS to take make his unilateral support for dissidents in that country known to the world. The problem is that it’s unclear that such support exists in the White House.

Fear of a 21st-century Bay of Pigs-like episode may limit Mr. Obama’s actions and justifiably so. With the American military stretched like a taut wire, few resources exist to provide actual support for Iranian reformists on the ground. The Taliban in Afghanistan demonstrate another unfortunate reality: Guns and training that we give today’s resistance fighters can easily be used against our interests tomorrow.

Nevertheless it is clear that the Obama administration’s policy of engagement with Iran was doomed to failure from the moment it was conceived. Negotiation can only take place between two parties with compatible value systems who have something the other wants. Unfortunately, the west has nothing that the theocracy in Iran desires.

Conversely, the Iranian people seem to have a great deal of interest in opening their country to western influences like education and individual liberty, the very things that dictators like Khamenei must stifle due in order to maintain control over their citizens.

What Mr. Obama must eventually come to understand that this outcome is not possible without regime change. No amount of diplomacy, threats, sanctions, or bribes result in anything beyond the ayatollahs’ amusement at stringing America along while they continue their thuggery at home and abroad.

The simple fact is that the freedom fighters in Iran deserve support from the United States and the rest of the free world because their cause is just and their success in overthrowing the mullahs could make the world a significantly better place. The very least the Obama administration could do is make our moral support for their struggle clear and unequivocal while simultaneously putting an end to the international farce that has been our negotiations with Iran’s terrorist dictators. Finally, if there is any resolve in the administration to mount covert operations, now would be the time.

Unanswered Questions About Fort Hood Madness

05.11.2009 (11:38 pm) – Filed under: Crime,Islam,Military,National Security ::

The story of the day is one of madness, for what other word can describe the actions of a man who guns down dozens of innocent people in a purposeless act of rebellion? Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed at least 12 of his fellow soldiers today at Fort Hood and no one really knows why.

Perhaps he was, as reported, fearful and resentful about an upcoming deployment to Iraq. Apparently Hasan’s loathing of the Army’s mission in that country was so great that he hired an attorney to help him get out of the military.

Frankly that explanation doesn’t pass muster. Anyone who works, in any line of business, has to do things that he or she doesn’t want to do, often for months at a time and under difficult circumstances. Although the stresses of most of our daily 8-to-5s can’t compare to those experienced by our deployed military personnel, the comparison is still a useful tool.

Considering it’s unlikely that a trained psychologist like Hasan would be put into a front-line situation, it seems that he would have had relatively little to fear in terms of his personal safety had he been sent overseas.

What then could Hasan’s motive been in attacking his fellow soldiers? Josh Marshall jumped in early on this point, noting that Hasan’s heritage contains Islamic elements.  Scott McCabe confirms this assertion, writing:

Hasan attended the Muslim center for about six years and seemed like a good person, [Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring President Ishtiaq] Chughtai said.

Hasan exhibited a dark side at work, however, as noted while he was an intern at Walter Reed:

Hasan had some “difficulties” that required counseling and extra supervision, said Dr. Thomas Grieger, who was the training director at the time.

Grieger said privacy laws prevented him from going into details but noted that the problems had to do with Hasan’s interactions with patients.

Moreover, Hasan made anti-American, pro-Muslim statements to officers at Fort Hood, including now-retired Colonel Terry Lee:

“He was making outlandish comments condemning our foreign policy and claimed Muslims had the right to rise up and attack Americans,” Col Lee told Fox News.

“He said Muslims should stand up and fight the aggressor and that we should not be in the war in the first place.” He said that Maj Hasan said he was “happy” when a US soldier was killed in an attack on a military recruitment centre in Arkansas in June. An American convert to Islam was accused of the shootings.

Col Lee alleged that other officers had told him that Maj Hasan had said “maybe people should strap bombs on themselves and go to Time Square” in New York.

As Marshall says, things may get very dark indeed with regard to Hasan’s true motives if Lee’s assertions about Hasan’s Muslim sympathies prove true. Previous cases indicate that this is a line of questioning that should be scrupulously followed up on.

For if Hasan’s fear of being deployed to a war zone is, as I believe, insufficient to explain his cowardly, murderous actions, his motivations must have come from a deeply rooted personal sense of vengeance. While it is premature to conclude that Hasan’s religious and social beliefs caused him to commit mass murder, it’s nevertheless obvious that this should be a primary line of inquiry, wherever it leads on the path to the heart of darkness.

Darker still are the larger questions about whether followers of Islam can truly belong in a democratic society. Millions do fit in successfully, just as Nidal Hasan did, to all appearances, prior to today’s shooting spree.

There is a tension between religion and government in democratic societies. Despite founding the first modern democracy here in the United States, American Christians feel it. I suspect that Muslims feel it more keenly yet what with the demanding, legalistic nature of their path to salvation.

Can that tension be resolved to the benefit of democratic society? Or is Islam inherently detrimental to democracy? This is the darkest question of all: Must Islam always seek to undermine secular government in order to gain power, as it has in Turkey and, to a lesser extent to-date, in many European countries? 

Certainly it has in the past and still does in the present. But must it? If the answer is Yes, that democracy and Islam are oil and water, never mixing, always distinct, constantly fighting, then hard times and hard choices lie ahead for the citizens of western democracies.

A man can only serve on master. One wonders what Nidal Hasan served.