Category: War on Terror

Libya vs. Iran

We’ve been discussing the Iran nuclear deal in the Seized Sailors thread but I wanted to put this particular point above the fold. Because I’m asking a serious question for the field:

What is the substantive difference between the WMD deal we made with Libya in 2004 and the WMD deal we just made with Iran?

As you may remember, in December 2003, Libya agreed to end their WMD program and destroy their stockpiles in exchange for lifting the sanctions. By September, most of their stockpile had been destroyed (although some remained and wasn’t destroyed until a decade later) and Bush signed orders doing away with all of the sanctions. Like the Iran deal, it was not a formal treaty.

Gaddafi was more of a traditional dictator and less of an Islamic fundamentalist. Their nuclear ambitions were more aspirational than real. But, like Iran, Libya was a state sponsor of terrorism. Like Iran, Libya had engaged in direct military conflict with the United States. Like Iran, Libya had a hideous record on human rights. Like Iran, Libya was dedicated to the destruction of Israel. And unlike Iran, Libyan citizens did not hold a vigil to honor the fallen of 9/11.

I don’t remember anyone screaming blue murder when we reached the deal with Libya. On the contrary, many credited Bush’s manly vigor in invading Iraq for having induced Libya to cooperate. And the deal with Iran has produced more compliance already than the deal with Libya did (although Libya never did get their WMD program going again).

So … why was the Libya deal good and the Iran deal is bad? What is the difference between the two? Is it just that you don’t trust Obama and Kerry to implement it (a not illegitimate concern)? Is it that Iran’s program is more advanced? Or did you oppose the Libya deal as well?

I’m not being snide here. I honestly want to know what the difference between those two deals is.

Sailors Seized

I see our detente with Iran is going just swimmingly.

Look, I think it is important that we move toward more normalized relations with Iran. The cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been heating up rapidly in recent weeks after the Saudis executed a Shiite cleric, the Iranians condemned the act and sent protesters against the embassy and Sudan, Bahrain and the UAE broken off diplomatic relations. We can’t take a side in this.

But it’s increasingly clear that the Obama Administration can not carry out this difficult feat of diplomatic jujitsu.

At this point, the sailors need to be returned immediately. Iran is testing us.

How strict are Germany’s gun laws again?

There are numerous stories coming out – despite an orchestrated attempt soften the message, or outright just cover up what really happened and how bad it was – about the rampage these migrant “youths” engaged in, not just in German cities, but all across Europe. From Germany to Finland, stories are coming out that rock the bullshit the pseudo-marxist, multi-culturalism pushing pimp, credentialed elite that run our decaying western once-democracies have been selling about the religion of peace and the risk posed by way too many of its adherents. In ultra-progressive Germany, which first reacted to the news of anti-feminist rampage and rape by warning the very people coming forth to point out that the authorities also did nothing in practically every case, that they would pay a hefty price for saying things the elite would not allow – especially since what they where saying were detrimental to the narrative and agenda of these credentialed elites and totally true – in order to try and stave off the oblivious wrench this would throw in their machinations, things are changing. Heck, the adage that “history repeats itself” again assets itself, drawing parallels with what is happening to the Clintons, which were ridding that “war on women” bandwagon hard and heavy to influence the 2016 election in Shrillary’s favor, that is, until someone pointed out Bill Clinton was a champ at that stuff.

But no, my post isn’t about the fact that the only standards the left has are double standards, or that they are nothing but hypocritical scum that never really walk any of that talk they talk. It’s about the specific move by the Obama crime syndicate to again disarm a populous that they view as stupid rubes too dumb to just go along with whatever their masters and betters – the credentialed scumbags running progressive government – so they can actually do what they want without fear of retaliation. So, without further ado, I present the video below, which shows the “celebration” that gangs of young “religion of peace” worshiping immigrants celebrating 2016 New Year’s Eve, partook in.

Religion of Peace celebrates New Year 2016 in Germany

Note the guns being shot all over the place. Then rack your memory about the German constitution’s second amendment and the country’s gun laws. If you aren’t one of the morons that sucks marxist cock you would immediately grasp that Germany has the same gun control model our leftards in the US would love to impose on us. And yet, here are these adherents of the “religion of peace”, not just acting out like thugs and criminals, but shooting off the very illegal guns nobody but the proper people that the credentialed marxists in charge tell us should be allowed arms of any kind, are not allowed to have.

Reality is that these pseudo-marxist, credentialed elite, leftist governments pass and want to pass draconian gun laws to disarm law abiding citizens, not to protect the citizenry or prevent criminals from getting their hands on firearms, but to make sure that the people they are fucking over can’t take up arms against them when the fucking-over gets really bad (as it is starting to across the western world). As this video clearly proves, criminals and people that don’t have any respect for the law of the land, don’t give a flying fuck about whether they are allowed firearms or not, and disarming those of us that do follow the law will not prevent them from getting guns or using them.In this case they were firing off shots to celebrate the new year, but I am sure they didn’t go through all the “trouble” it would take to get an illegal gun in draconianly gun controlled Germany, just to save some euros by shooting off bullets instead of fireworks.

Don’t take my word for the fact that the left’s agenda is the disarmament of the serfs they feel are too uppity, and that they will tell any lie and resort to any scheme to do this. Recently Obama took to TV, where he put in an Oscar worthy performance replete with falsehoods and bullshit, and got a pass from a complacent and mendacious media. “Sensible gun control” to the left is a disarmed citizenry. The elite will have the monopoly on violence, especially with regards to firearms, and the criminal element and the violence they inflict will be swept under the carpet – there is no use for bandying those statistics as a means to push more gun control then like they do in what happen to be the most draconian gun controlled urban jungles that also happen to be totally owned by pseudo-marxist leftist government after they have confiscated our firearms – because they could care less who gets killed then. Oh sure, they will occasionally grandstand and talk though, or they might warn those pointing out how fucked up things are to shut their trap or else, like they are doing in Europe, but they know that it is nothing but that.

We are at a crossroads right now, and we either wise up to the fact the leftists are destroying modern society, on fucking purpose, or we will all look back on all the troubles of today – those of us with the framework to comprehend it that is – and pine for the good old days. There is hope for Germany, yet, though. The credentialed pseudo-marxist elite running Germany, and for that matter several other European countries, are not going to be able to sell that shit sandwich they have been pushing for too much longer without showing their true colors. Hopefully people here in the US are paying attention too, and know what more of the same will bring us next.

Midweek Roundup

At a conference this week. Here’s a few stories I’m following:

  • North Korea claims to have tested a hydrogen bomb. Even the skeptics admit that whatever they’ve tested, if not technically an H-bomb, is massively more powerful than the bombs they’ve been testing before. So far, our “smart diplomacy” has yielded nothing with the Norks.
  • Reports are preliminary, but it appears that there was a wave of sexual assaults and robberies in Cologne, Germany, with the perpetrators being gangs of Arab and North African men. We have seen this sort of thing before, although not on this scale. I don’t oppose immigration. I do demand that immigrants observe our cultural norms, obey our laws and treat women with respect.
  • President Obama has announced some executive actions on gun control, mostly tightening background checks. Charles Cooke notes that the President is expending a lot of political capital for very little gain. The President, and the Democrats, continue to think that the country is screaming for gun control and that this will vault them to electoral success. They are deeply mistaken. Liberals, in echo chambers like Vox, are screaming for gun control. The country, generally is not.
  • Continuing on that, the President announced these moves in a tearful press conference. His emotions, however, are not important. What is important, as Ken White tells us, is how the President talks about rights, which is to say in the most disingenuous anti-freedom way imaginable.
  • Jamelle Bouie has a great piece where he argues that the Oregon standoff is not really about race. Our focus shouldn’t be on why police aren’t gunning down the Bundys. It should be on how to get the to show the same caution more often.

I told you so….

Back in the old days of the antichrist Boosh, the left loved to tell us how evil his administration was for all sorts of things, but especially the cloak and dagger shit that the left always projects on their enemies. Of course, those of us that know the left better and realize that projection happens because the left is assuming others do whatever they do, are not surprised to find out, that in the age of Obama, the abuse of power is always directed at your allies and political enemies:

President Barack Obama announced two years ago he would curtail eavesdropping on friendly heads of state after the world learned the reach of long-secret U.S. surveillance programs.

Hah! Is this yet another Obama broken promise? As Glenn H. Reynolds so avidly points out: Obama’s promises all come with expiration dates and usually reflect exactly the opposite of what he plans to do. You pick the promise, and you will find that it was a boldfaced lie or only was kept unitl it became inconvenient for this administration to do so. Here is some juice shit that follows:

But behind the scenes, the White House decided to keep certain allies under close watch, current and former U.S. officials said. Topping the list was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The U.S., pursuing a nuclear arms agreement with Iran at the time, captured communications between Mr. Netanyahu and his aides that inflamed mistrust between the two countries and planted a political minefield at home when Mr. Netanyahu later took his campaign against the deal to Capitol Hill.

How much do we want to bet that Iran – the bad guy in this stupid deal that is assured to cause us so much more pain in the future – never had anything compared to the level of scrutiny that this administration put on what they labeled a political enemy. And let us not forget, as the left constantly reminds us through word and deed, that the real enemy according to them never is the people that want to kill Americans or Jews and destroy the west in the process, but the political enemies of the left. And Nethanyahu sure as hell is a “grade A” enemy in the eyes if this pro-Islamic fundamentalism administration. With information like this coming out, what more proof do you need that to these scumbags it never really is about the interests of the American people, but always that of the political left? After all, it isn’t like Iran has read anything but acquiescence from this idiotic deal either.

The National Security Agency’s targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups. That raised fears—an “Oh-s— moment,” one senior U.S. official said—that the executive branch would be accused of spying on Congress.

White House officials believed the intercepted information could be valuable to counter Mr. Netanyahu’s campaign. They also recognized that asking for it was politically risky. So, wary of a paper trail stemming from a request, the White House let the NSA decide what to share and what to withhold, officials said. “We didn’t say, ‘Do it,’ ” a senior U.S. official said. “We didn’t say, ‘Don’t do it.’ ”

Yeah, the bad guy according to the WH was that evil Netanyahu guy because he had the temerity to refuse to go along with an absolutely insane and stupid deal that clearly allows Iran to build nuclear weapons and continue to pursue the agenda of genocide against the Jews and the Great Satan, and not the Iranian madmen or the fucking idiots in the WH that conjured up this terrible deal. And am I alone in getting a whiff of the old Clintoneseque lawyerese? “We didn’t tell them to do it, but didn’t tell them not to do it and then share it with us either”, wink wink. Par for the course. From the whole sicking the IRS on political enemies scandal that they have been trying so hard, to squash to the now all but forgotten gun running scam into Mexico run by the DEA that they hoped would allow the massacre that would follow to be used to piss on the second amendment, to the plethora of insane foreign policy debacles that make the Carter years look awesome in contrast (the Arab Spring, Benghazi, Syria, ISIS, Turkey, the Russians, China, Iran, and so fucking on and on). this administration has been about profit for the left’s political machine at the expense of not just the American people, but the world at large. And they don’t even worry much that this agenda shines through, because after all, with the DOJ owned and doing their bidding and Congress neutered, who is going to really stand against them and their criminal and down right evil agenda?

Stepped-up NSA eavesdropping revealed to the White House how Mr. Netanyahu and his advisers had leaked details of the U.S.-Iran negotiations—learned through Israeli spying operations—to undermine the talks; coordinated talking points with Jewish-American groups against the deal; and asked undecided lawmakers what it would take to win their votes, according to current and former officials familiar with the intercepts.

Before former NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposed much of the agency’s spying operations in 2013, there was little worry in the administration about the monitoring of friendly heads of state because it was such a closely held secret. After the revelations and a White House review, Mr. Obama announced in a January 2014 speech he would curb such eavesdropping.

Anyone still doubt that Snowden is a fucking hero even if you disagree with how he did what he did? And ask yourself who paid for this absolutely egregious abuse of power. Has anyone in this administration been held accountable? Shit, Nixon wants to retract his resignation. After all, he got run out of town for what amounts to a joke compared to the laundry list of criminal activity engaged in and gotten away with by this administration. A complicit and cowed media goes a long way. Now if they had only managed to get their lie about Benghazi being about out of control social media to stick so they could control the internet as well, they would really be rocking the Kasbah.

In closed-door debate, the Obama administration weighed which allied leaders belonged on a so-called protected list, shielding them from NSA snooping. French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders made the list, but the administration permitted the NSA to target the leaders’ top advisers, current and former U.S. officials said. Other allies were excluded from the protected list, including Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of NATO ally Turkey, which allowed the NSA to spy on their communications at the discretion of top officials.

I think the WSJ is not being accurate here, because I remember how part of the Snowden release showed massive spying by the NSA on the Europeans, and especially the French and Germans, targeting the leadership specifically (google it, it is out there). I am betting the only people not eavesdropped on are the Iranians, Russians, and the Chinese, probably because all the assets where too busy looking at the political enemies of the administration and those radical right wing fanatics that won’t just let team Obama do their thing. Now for the doozy in the story:

Privately, Mr. Obama maintained the monitoring of Mr. Netanyahu on the grounds that it served a “compelling national security purpose,” according to current and former U.S. officials. Mr. Obama mentioned the exception in his speech but kept secret the leaders it would apply to.

Are we talking about that monitoring that they never really told the NSA to do, or not to do, here? Yeah, I thought so. It is quite obvious to me that Netanyahu was a threat to the security of the Obama Administration and its plans to fundamentally change America as promised, too. Of course I doubt that many people in America, including so many Jews that are bought and owned by the democratic party, realize what this revelation shows this administration really is about. Can you imagine Boosh or another republican doing something like this and getting away with it? Think hard on that people. That’s the litmus test really, and the proof that we are all being had by these crooks. Let’s put Hillary in the WH so this party can go on. On steroids.

Corrupt, incompetent, stupid, and evil liars, will just keep lying

At least some in the media are still pointing out how big of despicable entity Hilary Clinton is, but the majority of the DNC sycophants seem to be doing their best to ignore this umpteenth indication of how morally bankrupt, psychologically corrupt, and just down right despicable this woman is. Hillary, in an propaganda piece staged with her top media disciple, emphatically denied that she lied:

Liar, liar, pantsuit on fire: Hillary Clinton still insists she didn’t tell the grieving families of the Benghazi victims that an anti-Islam video was to blame.

Yet family members say she said just that, three days after the attack, at the Sept. 14, 2012, ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base.

George Stephanopoulos asked her Sunday if she’d told the victims it was about the film. Clinton gave a flat “no.”

She added: “I said very clearly there had been a terrorist group, uh, that had taken responsibility on Facebook, um . . .”

At least four family members disagree.

Tyrone Woods’ father said he hugged Clinton and shook her hand. Then “she said we are going to have the filmmaker arrested who was responsible for the death of my son . . . She said ‘the filmmaker who was responsible for the death of your son.’ ”

Sean Smith’s mother said Hillary is “absolutely lying . . . She said it was because of the video.” Smith’s uncle backs her up.

This woman, like practically every fucking leftist, is a fucking ghoul. Just like Obama , whom can’t wait to dance on the corpses of victims of insane killers or terrorists – including the corpses of children – and use those left grieving after every tragedy to push the left’s agenda to shit all over the second amendment and to disarm the populous so the left can do evil the shit it really wants to do without fear of serious reprisal, Hillary has no problem lying to victims of tragedy either. And then she also has the balls to compound on the lies by publically calling these people liars for pointing out she lied.

Glen Doherty’s sister agreed: “When I think back now to that day and what she knew, it shows me a lot about her character that she would choose in that moment to basically perpetuate what she knew was untrue.”

“What she knew” refers to Clinton’s words to daughter Chelsea the night of the assault and the next day to Egypt’s prime minister, which made it plain the secretary of state knew full well that a terror group had long planned the attack.

The lie’s even in her words at the Sept. 14 ceremony: “We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.”

Just why the administration united around this lie is another editorial. The disgrace here is Clinton’s refusal to admit her role — even pushing the fib to “comfort” the bereaved.

This administration, and the then Secretary of State, Clinton, lie. That’s what they do best. They won the election in 2008 telling lies. They then proceeded to fuck us all over to the tune of over $1 trillion for a proculous package that helped nobody but the connected few, big democrat donors, and the campaign coffers of democrats. That was followed by government bailouts of entities too-big to fail to the tune of another $1 trillion dollars, which included amongst so many insane things screwing over everyone to pay back their union buddies or doubling down on the tax payer money pissed away keeping too-big-to-fail special interests that donate to democrats alive, all while acting though and blaming the previous guy for a crisis of their making.

But they didn’t stop there, oh no. They then straddled the American people with the most horrible piece of legislation ever passed – Obamacare – which required so much favor buying from party members, since they could only pass this horrendous “we must pass it first so you can see what is in it “ bill by any other means but a straight party line vote, that will cost us trillions as it destroys the most competent and effective healthcare system on this planet in record time (fuck you leftists that pretend the measure of a good healthcare system depends on it being peddled as being free, because only idiots ever thing government mismanaged bullshit passes as anything close to free).

And the list of other lies goes on and on. They have failed at everything. Fucking over the economy and lying about it, while pretending the recovery is just around the corner or has happened? Check. Pretending they were the superior statesmen and would fix everything that cowboy Boosh had done, only to then piss away victories, piss on and piss off our friends and allies, and then suck the cock of our enemies? Double check! Making a mockery of our laws and government by enforcing only the laws they like while committing crime after crime (IRS scandal, out of control DOJ, abuses of power on a scale that would make tyrants feel envy, and much more) to cover up their failures and nefarious activities? Triple check!

Benghazi was just one in the many chain of acts of incompetence and downright stupidity, practically every one of them done to line the pocket of a select few on the left, so we shouldn’t be surprised how bad it was handled. Shit, Obama had an election to win – at all costs –and he had just told the American people not 2 weeks before that he had al-Qaida on the run, so there was no way these hyenas were going to admit they were lying about al-Qaida and got caught with their pants down. Another lie, especially one that would allow them to justify a move to control and censor the alternative media that was constantly undermining the job so well done by their DNC agents in the LSM that were protecting these scumbags from themselves, seemed like the logical course of action. After all, you never let a crisis go by without using it to push something otherwise unpalatable and vile if you are a collectivist.

If we lived in a country of laws and had real leaders in power, this shit wouldn’t be allowed. Instead we have criminals running the show and their lackeys in the media covering for them. So the left now has staked their claim to the WH on another Obama: an immoral narcissist liar that feels they are owed the seat and that the ungrateful and unwashed masses should feel lucky to get the chance to vote for her.

Fuck the lot of you leftists. Especially those of you pretending that the people that are real problematic are the lightweights running from the opposite party. When it comes to being crooked, vile, and evil, you leftists make the fucking devil feel like he should be taking notes. A Clinton administration would be a continuation of the same abuses, lies, and despicable and conniving behaviors that have been the hallmark of the Obama administration, so I can see why the left thinks she is owed this job.

What An Effing Mess

Bring up Syria, anywhere, and some predictable responses take place. If its a millennial, Syria is either that commune outside of Newfoundland, or a heavy metal band from Oslo, then a quick subject change as to why they are not going to pay back their student loans, so there. Some on the right want the B-1’s called in, while some on the left want open borders, a flower in one hand and a welfare check in the other. But most all folks will admit one thing, it’s complicated.

I found a short video over on Vox that sums up the whole mess quite nicely;

As if things were not bad enough, Turkey downs a Russian jet who it accuses of violating it’s sovereign air space (I thought borders and border enforcement was passe). Then the Syrian rebels down a rescue Russian helicopter with an American made TOW missile.

As much as I despise the bleeding heart leftest, those unwilling to even label Radical Islam as such, thinking either a big hug is what unhappy Muslims need, or attacking the real root cause-global warming, those bomb happy send in the Marines from the right are also annoying.

Although not be design, the chicken hearted world citizen of a president we have and his penchant for inaction down to a fine science is probably just what was needed in an area of the world where no one has the moral high ground. No, not the part about total retreat out of Iraq against the advise of ALL of his military advisers, or the phony bologna red line over chemical weapons, or even his watered down bombing campaign , but if the ME has taught us anything over the years, it is that rushing in before the dust settles in never a good idea.

Sunnis vs. Shia, Muslims vs. everyone else, then throwing in oil money to put the conflict on a world stage, not to mention a major player just getting permission to expand and export it’s nuclear technology, holy smokes, what a mess.

Maybe because I see no really good solutions I have little patience for those that project supreme confidence in solving the problem over night. Where before I had Pat Buchanan whispering in my ear ,”It’s their problem, stay away and don’t get sucked in”, now we have some major players involved and taking sides. So much for American leadership in the world projecting an image of justice for other nations too small to stand up for themselves.

Here is where I stand now. I am tired of reading stories about $50 million dollars spent to train 5 freedom fighters. I am tired of Russia telling us to stand down because they want to bomb some of our allies that particular day. I am tired of my president being so detached that 6 hours before the Paris attack he was patting himself on the back with statements of ISIS is contained. If somehow a coalition of the willing can be brought together (maybe the next president, this guy couldn’t organize a two-car parade) where many nations are 1) supplying troops and 2) fitting the bill, I am certainly interested. Holland, a side from being a socialist, seems like a stand up guy with stones enough to get it going. We know Obama will never lead, but maybe he can be persuaded to follow with others.

Wither the Refugees

One of the biggest issues to emerge after the terror attacks in Paris is what we should be doing about the Syrian refugee crisis. This might seem odd, given that none of the attackers were Syrian nor were any of them refugees. But, as is often the case, a tragedy is serving as a springboard for another issue (see my post on encryption). It may reach a head this week as the House voted overwhelmingly to pause the refugees program despite angry veto threats from the President. And many governors have refused to allow refugees to be settled in their states (it’s not clear that they have such power, however).

There’s a lot to unpack here so pull up a chair.

First, I agree with many of the critics that the fear of refugees is out of proportion to the danger they represent. You can read a number of articles going through the basics. Bottom line:

Of the 859,629 refugees admitted from 2001 onwards, only three have been convicted of planning terrorist attacks on targets outside of the United States, and none was successfully carried out. That is one terrorism-planning conviction for every 286,543 refugees that have been admitted. To put that in perspective, about 1 in every 22,541 Americans committed murder in 2014. The terrorist threat from Syrian refugees in the United States is hyperbolically over-exaggerated and we have very little to fear from them because the refugee vetting system is so thorough.

You should also check out this debunking of various myths about the Syrian refugees including the myth that Middle Eastern countries aren’t taking them in (they’ve taken in about 5 million) and that most of the refugees are military-age men (they aren’t). It also goes a bit into our vetting process, which is a very thorough year-long process that requires refugees to detail and document everything about their lives. You can’t just show up at the border with a torn-up robe and get in.

That having been said, I don’t think the concern about refugees is completely irrational. We have had incidents where potential terrorists have gotten into this country. The Obama Administration itself suspended its Iraqi refugee program for six months due to vetting concerns. I don’t think people are opposing refugees because they are uncaring racists cowering in fear and horror from three-year-old orphans. There’s nothing irrational about not wanting to die at the hands of a terrorist.

Indeed, as pointed out by Megan McArdle, who favors admitting more refugees, the arguments being raised by the pro-refugees side are not only terrible, they’re almost designed to rile up the opposition:

Perfectly reasonable people are worried that a small number of terrorists could pretend to be refugees in order to get into the U.S. for an attack. One response to these reasonable people has been: “How dare you say people fleeing terrorism are terrorists!” This is deeply silly. Obama administration officials have admitted that they can’t be sure of screening terrorists out from asylum seekers.

Obama, to put it mildly, has been acting like a world class shit. Instead of trying to work with his opponents and assuage their entirely reasonable concerns, he’s hectoring them, accusing them of cowardice and bigotry. That’s sure to play well with liberals, who’ve long wanted that sort of tone. It’s sure to rally people to support Clinton. But it is not going to persuade anyone. When was the last time, “you’re a coward and a bigot!” was met with the response of, “Oh, yeah, you’re right.”?

And frankly, I’m getting a little tired of being lectured about what we should be afraid of from a man who lives in a big house surrounded by an iron fence and a cadre of heavily armed, if not always sober, Secret Service agents. It’s incredibly condescending. In fact, Obama’s arguments are so bad and so designed to stiffen the opposition, I’m actually wondering if that’s the point. I’m wondering if Obama wants to suspend the refugee program but wants to blame Republican racism for it.

(Probably my least favorite argument in favor of the refugees? That blocking them is “what ISIS wants”. This is an argument I find it both glib and extremely weak. “What ISIS wants”, even presuming we know what they want, is kind of irrelevant. We need to do what’s appropriate, whether they want it or not. Japan wanted a war with us when they bombed Pearl Harbor. It didn’t work out too well for them.)

A few people have proposed a compromise where we only accept Christian refugees. Putting aside other concerns, I find this to be an odd proposition. Do they think that terrorists will fake passports, murder people, blow themselves up … but draw the line at pretending to be Christian?

What do I think? I think, with proper vetting, we should be admitting refugees. Not hundreds of thousands, but a significant number. Stopping the flow of refugees to stop terrorists is like burning down your house because you saw a cockroach. There are millions of Syrian refugees, hundreds of thousands of whom have gone to Europe specifically and we have … so far … no terrorist attacks involving them.

The 9/11 hijackers were not refugees. The undie bomber wasn’t. The Fort Hood shooter wasn’t. The shoe bomber wasn’t. The Tsarnaev brothers were immigrants but were not technically refugees and, in any case, were not sleeper agents but were radicalized right here in the United States.

Refusing refugees because of Paris will cause suffering for thousands and is unlikely to prevent any terrorist attacks. We are much better off focusing our efforts on electronic and human intelligence. We are much better of tracking radicals and attacking ISIS at its source.

The gripping hand is that I am loathe to make rash decisions in the immediate aftermath of a horrible tragedy. That’s how we get things like the Patriot Act. I think it’s entirely appropriate to demand rigorous screening of refugees. I think it’s entirely appropriate to keep an eye on them. I think we may make accepting them conditional on returning once the situation has improved (if it ever does). And I don’t think it’s beyond the pale to suspend refugee admissions until we’re clear that all of the above has been done.

So, for right now, I’m sort with the Republicans on this. But long term, I do think we have something of a moral obligation here. We did, after all, create this problem. By toppling Saddam, then by leaving, then by letting ISIS wax, then by throwing in against Assad. We unleashed this chaos. And I think we have some culpability in cleaning up the mess.

No, There is No Blood On Snowden Hands

The director of the CIA is claiming that the attacks in Paris are at least partially the fault of Edward Snowden:

In a pair of public appearances this week, CIA Director John O. Brennan made clear that he blames leaks by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden for enabling terrorists to evade detection.

“Because of a number of unauthorized disclosures, and a lot of hand-wringing over the government’s role in the effort to try to uncover these terrorists,” Brennan said, the CIA and others agencies have lost use of critical tools needed “to find these terrorists.”

Brennan’s assertion has become a refrain in the two years since Snowden exposed details about a range of U.S. surveillance programs. And former CIA director R. James Woolsey went further, saying on Sunday, “I think Snowden has blood on his hands from these killings in France.”

I guess this was to be expected. Ever since Snowden revealed the scale of the NSA’s domestic spying program, our government has been trying to blame him for … well, everything. But even the WaPo’s coverage is deeply skeptical:

The revelations that were the source of greatest controversy involved programs that would likely have been of little value in disrupting the Paris plot, experts said. The National Security Agency’s collection of data about the times and durations of billions of domestic phones calls was not designed to pick up calls entirely outside the United States.

A second program that relied heavily on cooperation from companies including AOL, Microsoft and Google was aimed at intercepting e-mail and phone calls between foreign operatives and individuals in the United States. Nothing has changed since that revelation to restrict the NSA’s ability to sweep up communications exclusively among foreigners, as was apparently the case for the plot in France.

“Aspiring terrorists already knew the U.S. government was doing everything it could to track and monitor their communications,” said Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “What Snowden disclosed was the astonishing extent to which the government’s surveillance power had been turned on ordinary citizens. The CIA director knows this. He’d just rather we talk about Snowden’s disclosures than about the intelligence community’s failures.”

Glenn Greenwald, Snowden’s amanuensis, makes similar points in his detailed response, pointing out that the FBI itself was warning about terrorists avoiding e-mail and electronic communications as early as 1997. Osama bin Laden did not use electronic communications but used couriers precisely because he was concerned that US electronic intelligence was too good.

Moreover … and this is important to repeat … Snowden’s revelations were not about our ability to spy on terrorists. What he revealed was mass domestic surveillance of Americans, almost all of which has been used to help the DEA and the IRS pursue criminal charges without all that pesky fourth amendment stuff.

So why would the CIA director be spewing this line of bullshit? Why would he be spewing it before the bodies are even cold? Two reasons. One, to cover up his own incompetence. Greenwald again:

For most major terror attacks, the perpetrators were either known to Western security agencies or they had ample reason to watch them. All three perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo massacre “were known to French authorities,” as was the thwarted train attacker in July and at least one of the Paris attackers. These agencies receive billions and billions of dollars every year and radical powers, all in the name of surveilling Bad People and stopping attacks.

So when they fail in their ostensible duty, and people die because of that failure, it’s a natural instinct to blame others: Don’t look to us; it’s Snowden’s fault, or the fault of Apple, or the fault of journalists, or the fault of encryption designers, or anyone’s fault other than ours. If you’re a security agency after a successful Terror attack, you want everyone looking elsewhere, finding all sorts of culprits other than those responsible for stopping such attacks.

This need to deflect blame is especially acute when it comes to ISIS, which arose from the disbanded Iraqi armed forces, took advantage of the vacuum created by Bush’s invasion and Obama’s retreat, has been empowered by our stupid decision to throw in against Assad because we hoped that “moderates” would appear, and drawn support both from our “allies” in the region and our own lack of concern of where weapons provided to anti-Assad forces ended up.

There’s another another reason. NYT:

American and French officials say there is still no definitive evidence to back up their presumption that the terrorists who massacred 129 people in Paris used new, difficult-to-crack encryption technologies to organize the plot.

But in interviews, Obama administration officials say the Islamic State has used a range of encryption technologies over the past year and a half, many of which defy cracking by the National Security Agency. Other encryption technologies, the officials hint, are less secure than terrorist and criminal groups may believe, and clearly they want to keep those adversaries guessing which ones the N.S.A. has pierced.

Some of the most powerful technologies are free, easily available encryption apps with names like Signal, Wickr and Telegram, which encode mobile messages from cellphones. Islamic State militants used Telegram two weeks ago to claim responsibility for the crash of the Russian jet in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 224 people, and used it again last week, in Arabic, English and French, to broadcast responsibility for the Paris carnage. It is not yet clear whether they also used Telegram’s secret-messaging service to encrypt their private conversations.

(Actually, it appears that the terrorists used unencrypted SMS.)

There has been an enormous push from “security experts” to pre-emptively cripple digital encryption methods by demanding “back doors” for the government that would essentially render encryption useless. For the past few years, companies that support and provide digital encryption have been outright accused of aiding and abetting terrorism. And now the security state supporters have found an actual terrorist attack to pin on the door of companies that provide encryption, regardless of whether encryption was involved or not.

But encryption does not destroy the government’s ability to stop terrorists. They can still use human intelligence assets. They can still track metadata, they can still … maybe … answer the phone when the relative of a guy with a bomb in his underwear tries to warn them. They can still use Patriot Act powers. What they can not do is snoop through everyone’s e-mail in the hopes that they’ll catch a tax dodger, a drug dealer or, once in a blue moon, maybe a terrorist.

The encryption debate is currently at high heat. Obama has, to his credit, resisted efforts to demand back doors to encryption and Congress has been reluctant. What Brennan is doing is trying to exploit a tragedy to bypass this debate and expand his power.

We’ve been here before. In the 1990’s, our law enforcement agencies sought the power to have warrantless wiretaps, roving wiretaps, sneak-and-peak raids and other surveillance methods to use in pursuit of the War on Drugs. The Republican Congress refused to give them those powers because they believed they violated the Fourth Amendment. After 9/11, before the bodies were even cold, the CIA and FBI insisted that this was a the reason 9/11 happened; that had Congress given them those powers, they would have prevented it.

It was bullshit, of course. As we later found out, both agencies ignored critical pieces of evidence. They’d also taken an overzealous view of “the wall” between the agencies and refused to share information with each other. But the CIA and FBI were not actually that interested in how 9/11 happened. What they were interested in was getting the surveillance powers they had craved for so long. Americans were scared and the agencies cravenly exploited that fear to get the Patriot Act (Bob Barr, a sponsor of the Patriot Act and now opponent, has a good segment on this in an episode of Penn and Teller: Bullshit!). They then went on to use those powers to … pursue the War on Drugs.

Now we’ve had another awful terrorist attack. And the same leaches who exploited 9/11 to weaken our civil liberties now want to exploit Paris to weaken them again. To hell with them. To hell with them and their security state. To hell with them dancing in the blood of 130 dead Parisians. They were granted the powers they demanded after 9/11 and abused them. They shouldn’t get another bite at the apple of our liberty.

And here’s my challenge to supporters of the security state, Republican or Democrat. If you really think that our civil liberties are outdated or dangerous … if you really think that we shouldn’t mind these intrustions if we have nothing to hide … then you first.

Seriously. Put every e-mail you send on a public server so we can all look at them. Every single one. Broadcast your meta-data on a website so we can see exactly what you’re up to at all hours. Record your phone conversations … every one … and put them on YouTube. Show us every text message, tell us about everyone you meet, report every conversation. Because if you’re going to smear the blood of Paris on your face and demand that rest of us surrender our privacy, I want to see you leading by example. Show us that you have nothing to hide. Then … maybe … we’ll consider letting you snoop around our affairs.

On Islam, ISIS and War

In the aftermath of the attacks on Paris, we are getting the usual chorus of think pieces about how ISIS is not Islamic and does not represent Islam. We are getting ridiculously pedantic parsings of words to argue that we are not in a clash of civilizations. While I think there are points to be made here, I think the writers of these pieces are missing the forest for the trees.

First, it goes without saying that most Muslims are not Islamists and radicals. It goes without saying that you can read through the Koran (which I have) and find many passages that support peace and coexistence. But that’s kind of beside the point.

Here we land at the centre of the problem — a centre we have spent the last decade and a half trying to avoid: Islam is not a peaceful religion. No religion is, but Islam is especially not. Nor is it, as some ill-informed people say, solely a religion of war. There are many peaceful verses in the Quran which — luckily for us — the majority of Muslims live by. But it is, by no means, only a religion of peace.

I say this not because I hate Islam, nor do I have any special animus against Muslims, but simply because this is the verifiable truth based on the texts. Until we accept that we will never defeat the violence, we risk encouraging whole populations to take against all of Islam and abandon all those Muslims who are trying desperately to modernise, reform and de-literalise their faith. And — most importantly — we will give up our own traditions of free speech and historical inquiry and allow one religion to have an unbelievable advantage in the free marketplace of ideas.

Islam, like every other religion on that planet, has many strains. You will find many people — some 80-90% Muslims — who take the tolerant passages of the Koran and build their lives around that. But you will find others, basically everyone we are fighting right now, who take the more war-like passages of the Koran and build their lives around that. To pretend that they “aren’t practicing Islam” is a pedantic word game at best. At worst, it is not only inaccurate but censorious, trying to elide periods of history and Islamic writings that are inconvenient.

I’ve linked this before in my previous discussion of the nature of ISIS. It’s worth reiterating:

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.

Me:

When the President says that violent extremists like ISIL are not the real face of Islam, he is both right and wrong. The face of Islam can be one of tolerance and peace. But it can also be one of intolerance and violence. Islam has gone through periods of enlightenment and gone through periods of horrific fundamentalism. At this point in history, it hangs in the balance caught between hundreds of millions of peaceful Muslims and violent sects that, while a minority, wields enormous power and influence. We’ve seen in pre-war Afghanistan and in the ISIL-controlled territory what these people want: beheadings, slavery, crucifixion, stoning. Their ideology recognizes no authority other than “pure” radical Islam. Whether they represent a minority or not is beside the point. The Nazis were never a majority in Germany. The Communists were never a majority in the countries they ruled with an iron fist. But they were able to control massive parts of the world and enormous armies through violence, intimidation and bloodshed.

The “most Muslims are good” argument, while based in truth, has no practical meaning. Most Germans are good people. We still had to defeat them in two wars. Most Russians are good people. We still had to fight a dangerous and tense Cold War against the Soviet Union. Most Japanese are good people. We still had to drop two atom bombs on them. It doesn’t really matter what the vast majority want when the monsters have the floor. The problem is that while most people are good, they are also easily persuaded or coerced to do bad things or stand aside while bad things are done. This is true of everyone in the world. There is not a religion or country that isn’t capable of doing horrible things. The question is: who is in charge? We’ve seen what happens when people like ISIL are in charge: entire regions of the world become unspeakably violent.

And now they are exporting that violence. And, to head off another talking point, they aren’t exporting their violence because of our “aggression”. France and Russia were not leading the campaign against ISIS. And ISIS did not target politicians or military personnel or defense contractors. They targeted civilians specifically because of Western values. They targeted them, according to their own words, because Paris is “the capital of prostitution and obscenity” (by which they mean consensual sex and any entertainment other than stoning women to death).

This is their stated goal. No one out having a good time … anywhere in the world. No one out at soccer stadiums except to watch executions. No one out drinking, obviously. No one at theaters. Women completely covered and regarded as little more than sex objects for the powerful. And they won’t stop if we leave them alone and stop bombing them. They will simply ramp up their attacks.

Call me crazy but when someone says, “this is why we are attacking you”, I think it behooves us to consider the possibility that this is why they are attacking us.

It seems we are destined to be caught between two groups of idiots. The first insists that all Muslims are this way. This ignores, of course, the hundreds who have tipped off authorities to radicals, the thousands fighting an actual bloody ground war against ISIS and the millions who condemned the Paris attacks and prayed for the dead. But there’s a second group who try to insist this violence has nothing to do with Islam, as though ISIS were just a street gang.

Again: we don’t have to guess at ISIS’s motives. They’ve stated them. They want to establish a caliphate, bring about the apocalypse and establish a worldwide Islamic state built on the most radical principles taken directly from the most extreme passages of Koran and the Hadith. That the vast majority of Muslims disagree with them does not change the nature of their ideology. It does not bring back the dead in Paris and more than “that’s not real Christianity” brings back the dead of the Crusades or “that’s not real Judaism” brings back the victims of the Caves of the Patriarchs massacre.

If a Jewish terrorist murdered a bunch of Arab men, women and children and took their daughters as sex slaves, citing the Midian War as his justification, we wouldn’t pretend it had nothing to do with religion. If a Christian terrorist burned down a bank and cited, as justification, Christ turning out the money-changers, we wouldn’t pretend it had nothing to with religion. Hell, when a radical Christian calls for executing gays or murders an abortion doctor — things completely antithetical to the teachings of Christ — we don’t pretend it has nothing to do with religion. But when Islamists murder people in the street and cite centuries-old writings as their justification, we suddenly pretend religion’s got nothing to do with it?

ISIS is a tough problem to deal with and it’s not exactly clear where we go from here. Can we destroy them sans a massive decades-long occupation of the region? I don’t know. I know we can probably decapitate their leadership and cripple them militarily. But, ultimately, this will come down to that majority of Muslims who oppose ISIS and their evil ideology (and are fighting them right now). They are the ones who must stop this horror. We can support and help. But we don’t support and help by covering our eyes and pretending that at least part of this conflict isn’t a war for the heart and soul of the world’s second largest religion.