Tag: Terrorism

Shooting in Chattanooga

Yesterday, a man opened fire on a National Guard office and a Naval Reserve Centre, killing four marines before being killed by police. Right now, we don’t know what motivated him. He might have terrorist ties, he might be a lone wolf, he might have just gone crazy.

Of course … if he were not a Muslim … we’d be speculating to hell that he was motivated by the Tea Party, Rush Limbaugh and Ted Cruz. Hell, we might get some shitwit Professor trying to blame Amy Schumer.

I like being circumspect about someone’s motives. I just wish that circumspection were applied to everyone.

Bergdahl To Be Charged

Well, knock me over with a feather:

On Wednesday, the Army announced that it was charging Sergeant Bergdahl with misbehavior before the enemy and desertion, raising the possibility that he could be imprisoned again, this time for life.

In announcing the charges against Sergeant Bergdahl, the military reignited the political firestorm that took place last summer after the sergeant was released in a swap for five Taliban detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

For President Obama, it reopens the contentious political question of whether the United States should have agreed to the exchange. Administration officials have steadfastly maintained that even if Sergeant Berdahl did voluntarily walk off his remote base in Afghanistan, it was the duty of the United States to take all appropriate steps to free him.

The president’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, was harshly criticized when she said last summer that Sergeant Bergdahl had served “with honor and distinction” at the same time that his former platoon members were appearing on television accusing him of deliberately leaving the base, an act that they said put in danger the lives of the American military members who searched for him.

Sergeant Bergdahl is charged with misbehavior before the enemy, which carries a maximum sentence of up to life in prison, and with desertion, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. He could also face a dishonorable discharge, reduction in rank and forfeiture of the pay he was owed while in captivity if he is tried and convicted, Army officials said during a news conference in Fort Bragg, N.C.

A few things to unpack here:

First, getting Bergdahl back was justified. We don’t leave men behind and the idea, currently promulgating in liberal circles, that Republicans would rather he have been left to rot, is garbage. The criticism that Obama faced was for the way this went down — releasing five Taliban detainees in exchange for Bergdahl, not informing Congress of the deal, trying to pretend that Bergdahl served with honor and, in the case of one Administration official, branding his accusers as psychopaths.

Second, it’s amazing to watch the pretzels the sufferers of Obama Defense Derangement Syndrome are twisting themselves into. When Bergdahl was first released and the criticisms of his conduct emerged, the Left took the “how dare you!” narrative. When he was returned to active duty, they pilloried Republicans for having had the temerity to have questioned his honor. Republican criticism of the deal was labelled as placing party above country (even though many Democrats agreed that Obama broke the law in brokering the deal). Now that he’s been charged, we’re back to, “we don’t leave a man behind.”

Berdahl is innocent until proven guilty, obviously. But let’s not pretend the Republicans are the only ones who used his release as a political football. And let’s not pretend that this was a great deal. As David Burge noted on Twitter the other day, it’s becoming clear that this Administration couldn’t negotiate a 99-cent deal with a dollar store.

Tunisia Attack

Here we go again:

At least 17 people — most of them tourists — were killed in an attack Wednesday at the Bardo museum in Tunisia’s capital, Tunisian Prime Minister Habid Essid said.

Two attackers were also killed, while three attackers are at large, according to Essid.

Tunisia hasn’t been as chaotic as Libya but ISIS has been getting a toehold there. I would be surprised if there wasn’t a connection.

Islamists of the World, Unite

You know, it’s so great to have real professionals in the State Department again, running terrorism into the ground, preventing the rise of dangerous Islamist states and … oh:

With thousands of fighters and some parts of northeastern Nigeria under its control, Boko Haram is believed to be the largest jihadi group to pledge fidelity to the Islamic State. But terrorism experts say that the practical significance of the move announced Saturday is as yet unclear.

Some experts say that the pledge, or “bayat,” made by the leader of Boko Haram is a spiritually binding oath, which indicates that the Nigerian Islamist group has agreed to accept the authority of the Islamic State.

It’s easy for Boko Haram to pledge allegiance to something thousands of miles away. This doesn’t necessarily move us closer to a caliphate but it does lay the groundwork for a larger and more global terrorist network that can wreck havoc from Africa to the Middle East. And yet another sign that the world has become more under dangerous under Barack Obama, not less.

France Under Siege

Reports this morning are that the two Charlie Hebdo terrorists are holding a hostage. Another man is supposed to be holding hostages in a kosher deli, demanding their release. As I type these words, there are shots being fired in the first hostage situation. As I noted two days ago, I didn’t expect the French to fuck around. It looks like they aren’t.

Vive la France.

Update: Preliminary reports are that the Hebdo killers are dead.

Update: Right now, we’re hearing that three of the gunmen are dead and one female accomplice is at large. I’m not sure about the hostages.

Attack in Paris

Three gunmen have shot up the offices of a satirical French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, killing 12. As of this writing, they are on the loose and their motive is unknown, but video apparently shows them shouting “God is Great!” and “We have avenged the Prophet!”. Hebdo was known for publishing cartoons of Mohammed. France is regarding this as an act of terrorism, which it almost certainly is.

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I’ll post updates as events warrant. One thing I will note: I do not expect the French to fuck around. Despite their reputation, they take terrorism seriously.

Update: I won’t link, but there is video of these animals executing a wounded police officer at point blank range. Just awful.

The Face of Terror

Yesterday, we watched as a homicidal nut took hostages in Sydney. In the ensuing action, two hostages died and the gunman was killed. While the gunman proclaimed his allegiance to ISIS, there were no official ties. Furthermore, he had some serious criminal issues going on. He was complicit in the murder of his wife, who was stabbed 18 times and set on fire. And he was being charged with 50 counts of indecent behavior and sexual assault. Why he was not sitting in a jail cell is a bit of a mystery to me.

There have been some attempts to divorce his actions from his Islamic fundamentalism, to say that this was just about a crazed nut. Well, the Taliban reminded us yesterday that this is what Islamists are like:

Pakistani Taliban gunmen stormed into a military-run school in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing scores of teachers and schoolchildren and fighting an eight-hour gun battle with the security forces, officials said.

At least 145 people were killed, more than 100 of them children, in a siege that lasted more than eight hours before the last of the nine attackers were killed, government and medical officials said.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban said his group was responsible for the attack and said it was in retaliation for the military’s offensive against militants in the North Waziristan tribal district.

So, yeah, this guy helped murder his wife and sexually assaulted women. That makes him pretty much your basic Islamist. That’s practically a job application for Al-Qaeda. These radicals murder children, they shoot teenagers in the face, they throw acid on women and girls, they kidnap women and force them into rape marriages. They engage in honor killing and behead innocents. This is what they do. Why are we acting like this guy in Sydney was unusual?

Sneaking and Peaking

Holy crap:

One of the more controversial provisions of the Patriot Act was to broaden the “sneak-and-peek” power for federal law enforcement officials. The provision allows investigators to conduct searches without informing the target of the search. We were assured at the time that this was an essential law enforcement tool that would be used only to protect the country from terrorism. Supporters argued that it was critical that investigators be allowed to look into the lives and finances of suspected terrorists without tipping off those terrorists to the fact that they were under investigation.

More than a decade later, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has published an analysis on use of the sneak-and-peek power. Just as critics predicted, it’s now a ubiquitous part of federal law enforcement.

According to the EFF, there were over eleven thousand sneak and peek requests in 2013. Of those, only half a percent were terrorism cases. The vast majority were for drug investigations with the remainder for other non-terrorism criminality.

This is the reason why, however much I have criticized Bush for his War on Terror excesses, Barack Obama has been far far worse. It’s not just that sneak-and-peak requests have tripled under his watch. It’s not just the massive expansion of the drone war. It’s not just the explosion of surveillance. It’s that he has now given the bipartisan kiss of approval to all of this. Bush may have started the War on Terror, but Barack Obama has cemented it in place to an excess that would make John Ashcroft blush (Ashcroft, whom you may remember as a favored whipping boy of Democratic pseudo-civil libertarians, refused to extend the domestic surveillance program).

Radley has a few lessons we should learn from this. You should really read the whole thing. Here’s the most important:

Law-and-order politicians and many (but not all) law enforcement and national security officials see the Bill of Rights not as the foundation of a free society but as an obstacle that prevents them from doing their jobs. Keep this in mind when they use a national emergency to argue for exceptions to those rights.

We can not rely on politicians to defend our civil liberties. We must actively use them and defend them. And any intrusion into our liberty must be opposed, no matter what crisis is at hand. If we don’t defend or liberty, who will?

Airplane Downed in Ukraine

I’ll pop up from my week off the internets to open a thread on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, which was apparently shot down over the Eastern Ukraine today, possibly by Russian separatists. I’m not ruling out anything at this stage. We’ll have to see what comes out of this investigation. I’ll just note that I’m puzzled as to why the separatists would shoot down a passenger plane that was just passing 33,000 feet over their area. But given Putin’s attempts to blame the Ukraine for this, it’s looking bad for the separatists.

Stay tuned. This could go a lot deeper than we think.

Less Violence; More Hysteria

This weekend, a couple of anti-government nuts engaged in a murderous act of domestic terrorism, killing two cops and one civilian who attempted to stop them with his own weapon. They claimed the revolution had begun before killing themselves.

As is usual in these cases, the far Left is almost gleeful as they dig through the extremist politics of the killers. They are touting this as indicative of a huge surge in right-wing anti-government violence, supposedly caused by Sean Hannity and Fox News. Today, they are also touting a supposed surge in school violence since Sandy Hook. All of this is bent toward the ongoing effort to morally bully the American people into supporting gun control (and Democrats).

They are also full of it. Jesse Walker, who has written a book on conspiracy theorists:

As I’ve noted before when writing about the militia movement, violence on the far right often comes from hotheads who have been kicked out of the more mainstream militias. (Is “mainstream” the right word? It’s all relative, I suppose.) When actual organizations talk up non-defensive violence, they are often isolated and despised within the larger militia milieu. Yet these divisions are frequently missed in public discussions of the issue, which often lump all the “extremists” together—and, as a result, look in the wrong places for terrorist threats. Even when analysts argue that lone wolves acting on their own are a more likely source of violence than militias acting as groups, there’s a mistaken tendency to treat “radicalization” as the problem and to ignore all the cross-currents within a particular radical community. (J.M. Berger offers some strong arguments against that habit here.)

We are being shown a lot of footage of these two terrorists at the Cliven Bundy Ranch. What’s being ignored is that they were kicked off the ranch because Bundy and his supporters thought they were pushing a violent anti-government agenda instead of focusing on the issues at hand. And the Bundy supporters wanted no part of that.

One last thought: I see The Washington Post is already tentatively tying this to other “slayings…linked to hate movements.” So it’s wise to remember the sociologist Joel Best’s comment that “crime waves” often turn out to be “waves in media attention: they occur because the media, for whatever reason, fix upon some sort of crime, and publicize it.” Shortly after Obama’s election, a flood of stories suggested that right-wing violence was on the rise; a few years later, a study from the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point indicated that incidents of that sort actually declined in that period. So don’t assume that a new age of domestic terror is dawning. The Vegas killers seem to have believed they were the vanguard of an uprising, shouting “This is the start of a revolution!” before they opened fire. But I’m gonna go out on a limb and say they were wrong.

It bears repeating: violence is way down in our society. Gun killings are down 40% over the last twenty years. Gun assaults down 70%. Our cops are safer than they have been in over a century. School shootings are down, as well, to half the level they were in the 90’s. And no, mass shooting are not “rising” no matter how much Mother Jones tries to cherry-pick the data.

So why is there suddenly all this hysteria about “rising” gun violence? Several reasons. One, people are naturally prone to panics especially when goaded by a media that has no interest in objective reality. One thing you’ll notice about the school shooting map is that these occurs somewhat regularly but the media coverage tends to cluster whenever there is a high-profile shooting

Second, the biggest declines in violence have been in our inner cities and among minorities. This seems to matter less to our media and our commentariat than two vile people shooting up a Walmart.

Third, the current anti-government violence may pale in comparison to that of the past. But that past violence from the Left Wing. So our commentariat are more than happy to sweep it under the carpet to the point where the perpetrators can be … I dunno … friends of a future President. I recently read The Skies Belong To Us, a very good book about the “golden age of hijacking” in the 1970’s. What astounded me was how often even violent left-wing terrorists were hailed as heroes by left-wing media. I defy you to find any mainstream right-winger expressing admiration for right-wing terrorists.

But mostly it’s because these facts do not conform to the agenda. The agenda is that we are in danger, that we are under assault, that we could be shot when we step out of our door and it is all the fault of the evil Republicans, the evil NRA, the evil Fox News and the evil Rush Limbaugh. These are the villains who stand between us and “sensible gun control”. (Well, them and the vast majority of the American people, the Second Amendment and the Supreme Court as well as a body of research indicating that gun control does not curb violence).

Never mind that you’re safer today than you’ve been in fifty years. Never mind that today’s right-wing political terrorism is far less common, far less deadly and far less excused than the left-wing political terrorism of the 60’s and 70’s. Never mind that your child is safer in a school than they are just about anywhere else. You have to panic! Because cracking down on “right wing” groups and seizing guns is something will only happen if the American people take leave of their senses.