Cynical Synapse

Sun, 13 Nov 2011

“He’s Not a Terrorist Suspect…[He's] an Enemy Combatant”

Filed under: Candidates, Global War on Terror, Justice, Legal, Media, Politics, War — cynicalsynapse @ 4:14 pm

Anwar al-Awlaki

Ever since US-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a Predator drone strike on 30 September 2011, there’s been a hue and cry from the vocal minority of “due processors” calling al-Awlaki’s killing an unlawful assassination. Folks, this is not rocket science. Al-Awlaki is as much a terrorist and enemy combatant as if he’d been one of the 9/11 hijackers. Citizenship and birthplace have nothing to do with it, whatsoever.

I do not like Newt Gingrich and have not since he was Speaker of the House. Maybe it’s something to do with that position; perhaps not unlike “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Nonetheless, Gingrich clearly articulated the legality of al-Awlaki’s killing during yesterday’s debate of Republican presidential candidates.

Waging war on the United States is outside criminal law; it is an act of war, and it should be dealt with as an act of war, and the correct thing in an act of war is to kill people who are trying to kill you.

HT: Legal Insurrection
 

Fri, 11 Nov 2011

Over 25 Million Served: Honoring Our Veterans

Filed under: Global War on Terror, Government, Heroes, holidays, Life, Military, Patriotism, Society — cynicalsynapse @ 4:18 pm

Veterans Day 2011

Today is Veterans Day, an opportunity to thank all who have served, or are serving, in our nation’s armed forces. The holiday originally marked the end of hostilities in World War I, taking on its 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month distinction from that role as Armistice Day. In 1954, the holiday’s purpose was expanded to recognize the service and contributions—sometimes ultimate sacrifice—of all veterans, living and deceased, who served in any branch of the US military.

Veterans Day is significant this year, not just for its 11/11/11 date. We mark the tenth Veterans Day since we began the Global War on Terror. It’s important to honor those who served in the nation’s longest war. Equally important is recognizing those who wore our military uniforms during wartime and peacetime going back through the centuries to the Minutemen, the Citizen-Soldiers who bore arms in defense of their neighbors even before our country was born. Their legacies are the freedoms for which we owe our veterans such gratitude.
 

Previously on Veterans Day:

Wed, 12 Oct 2011

Ron Paul Indulging in a Lunatic Binge

Rep. Ron Paul

Ever since the radical, jihadist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was killed 30 September by a drone attack in Yemen, Republican presidential contender Ron Paul has been crying foul. He contends al-Awaki’s Constitutional rights, as US citizen, were violated, denying him due process guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. ls al-Awlaki’s “assassination” a dangerous precedent. Paul stated “there has been no formal declaration of war and certainly not one against Yemen.”

What Ron Paul misses is the fact al Qaeda declared war on the United States in 1998 and we reciprocated in 2001. A state of war has existed between the US and all the branches of al Qaeda ever since. Just because Pres. Obama changed terminology to “Overseas Contingency Operations” doesn’t mean the nature of the Global War on Terror has changed in any fundamental way.

Rep. Ron Paul

Most of us (59%) believe al-Awlaki’s killing was Constitutional. Ron Paul continues his government assassination meme, however. Last week Paul spoke to the National Press Club:

Can you imagine being put on a list because you’re a threat? What’s going to happen when they come to the media? What if the media becomes a threat?

But, Paul’s fearmongering is not new, having reared its ugly head in the last presidential campaign. Today, Paul cites Timothy McVeigh and Nidal Hasan as terrorists whose right to due process was not abridged in contrast to al-Awaki. The difference, Mr. Paul, is they were not part of al Qaeda. The difference is al-Awlaki joined Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and actively aided and abetted the terrorist organization. Al-Awlaki was an enemy combatant and AQAP confirmed his importance, calling him the “mujahid heroic sheikh”.
 


 

Fri, 07 Oct 2011

Global War on Terror 10 Years Later

US 10th Mountain Div. Soldiers in Afghanistan

Today marks the 10th anniversary since US forces began fighting in Afghanistan. It marks the start of the Global War on Terror and was a direct result of Taliban refusal to turn over Osama bin Laden, an issue that predated the 9/11 attacks. Al Qaeda’s leader was already wanted by the international community for embassy bombings in Africa and other terrorist acts.

I was glad I had not voted for Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential elections. There’s no doubt he wouldn’t have responded as decisively as George W. Bush, who started off right. (Concerning the distraction that became Operation Iraqi Freedom—which I was no in favor of—that’s for another post.) In Afghanistan, US forces, along with those from North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies, completely ousted the Taliban from power within 2 months. The hunt for bin Laden was on and efforts to build a stable Afghan government began.

Pres. Karzai opens session of Afghan Parliament

What do we have to show after 10 years at war?

Is our national security better off? The verdict is still out, and it’s a subject for much debate. From my view, we’re about even. China’s rise as a world power and the Arab Spring have certainly changed the geopolitical landscape, on which Russia is still a somewhat contrary power not to be discounted. We have less to fear from international terrorists and terror organizations, but a growing trend in so-called homegrown radicals means we must stay vigilant. To counter international and domestic threats, we have willingly surrendered freedoms in exchanged for a perception of security.
 


 

Sat, 01 Oct 2011

Hey, Due Processers: Here’s the Smoking Underwear Bomb

remnants of underwear bomb

Almost before the smoke cleared after Friday’s Predator drone attack on US-Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, there’s been a popular uprising questioning the legality of killing the jihadist cleric. Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul blasted Obama for violating al-Awlaki’s Constitutional right to due process. With just 8% support in a recent Florida poll, Paul was joined by 1%-er Gary Johnson in crying fowl in “assassinating” al-Awlaki. Gag me with a spoon. Al-Awlaki was an enemy combatant, pure and simple. Citizenship is not part of the equation.

Since that’s clearly not sufficient for the “due processers”, consider Ibrahim al-Asiri was also killed in the Predator airstrike. Al-Asiri, then, was in the same motorcade with al-Awlaki, so there is a definite connection. And the FBI pulled al-Asiri’s fingerprint of the underwear bomb remnants. How can there be any question about al-Awlaki’s active engagement in jihad against the US, which clearly makes him an enemy combatant?

al-Asiri's cargo bomb threat

The killing of al-Awlaki, Samir Khan (also a US citizen), and al-Asiri, all members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is both lawful and justified. They were enemy combatants engaged in the fight against our way of life.

Kudos to Republican candidate Rick Perry’s praise for Pres. Obama’s commitment to hunting down terrorists. That’s a radical, and welcome, departure from Paul, Johnson, and those who thought Obama would be soft on terrorism.
 

After seeing the video, I hope the disconnect between Paul’s call for due process in al-Awladi’s case, but no need for same for 9/11 accused becomes apparent. And, forgive me, but every time I hear of Ron Paul, I can’t help but think of Ru Paul.

Update:

03 Oct 2011

It almost seemed too good to be true when I first heard al-Asiri was killed in the Predator strike on al-Awlaki and Khan. Alas, it seems it was more than we should hope for. Yemeni officials said AQAP bombmaker al-Asiri was not killed with al-Awlaki in Friday’s aerial targeting of the terrorist cleric’s motorcade. While there may no longer be a smoking underwear link, the fact remains al-Awlaki served AQAP and was at war with his native country.

Al-Awlaki’s value to AQAP was his knowledge of US culture and his ability at radicalizing, enabling, and recruiting to the jihadist cause homegrown extremists like MAJ Nidal Hassan and the Times Square bomber. Ironically, if he’d stayed in the US, he’d be a criminal (can you say conspiracy?), but since he moved in with AQAP in Yemen, he was an enemy combatant.
 

Fri, 30 Sep 2011

Al-Awlaki Killed in Predator Strike—All’s Fair in Love and War

Filed under: Arab states, Global War on Terror, National security, Politics, Terrorism — cynicalsynapse @ 3:44 pm

MQ-1 Predator with Hellfire missile

SEAL Team 6, the same special operations group that killed Osama bin Laden in May of this year, killed Anwar al-Awlaki, the jihadist recruiter for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The airstrike was carried out by an unmanned Predator drone; it fired a Hellfire missile at the car al-Awlaki was riding in. Also killed in the attack was Samir Khan, the media jihadist who published Inspire, AQAP’s webzine.

It’s not easy being a terrorist leader affiliated with al Qaeda these days. More than a half-dozen high-profile terrorist leaders have been killed or captured this year. Hunting and eliminating al Qaeda’s leadership has often been likened to a game of whack-a-mole. Granted, there’s always another one popping up, but the deaths of bin Laden and al-Awlaki are serious blows. Both were charismatic. Bin Laden was the soul, the ideology that was al Qaeda. Al-Awlaki was the jihadist recruiter able to radicalize via the Internet.

Samir Khan, Anwar al-AWlaki

Al-Awlaki was a US-born Yemeni cleric and key propagandist for AQAP. Prior to siding with al Qaeda, he visited and preached in the US as well as Yemen. His front man, Khan, was also born, raised, and educated in the US. He went to Yemen two or three years ago and “pledged to wage jihad for the rest of our lives.” So, because of their citizenship, there’s a hue and cry al-Awlaki and Khan had their rights violated. They were assassinated rather than brought to justice, denied due process. Seriously?

Besides being AQAP’s chief recruiter, al-Awlaki exchanged emails with MAJ Nidal Hassan, who shot and killed 13 at Fort Hood. He sent the Undie-bomber on his groin-burning failed attempt to bring down an airliner over Detroit. He attempted to ship explosives in cargo planes to the US. What part of al-Awaki was an enemy combatant do you not get? Both he and Khan were traitors, materially aiding and abetting AQAP in its efforts to attack their country and innocent civilians, including children.

They got the due process they deserved.
 


 

Sun, 25 Sep 2011

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! Pakistan Denies Haqqani Ties

Filed under: Allies, Global War on Terror, Government, National security, Pakistan, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 11:04 am

Pakistani military officers and prime minister

Pakistan is decidedly not happy with Adm. Mike Mullen’s testimony to Congress that Pakistani intelligence supported the Haqqani terrorists. Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) “supported [the] Kabul [US] embassy attack” on 15 September. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Mullen testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

The fact remains that the Quetta Shura [Taliban] and the Haqqani Network operate from Pakistan with impunity. Extremist organizations serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan are attacking Afghan troops and civilians as well as US soldiers.

Senior military officials in Pakistan wasted no time before blasting the allegations. Yousuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, is also outraged and called the blame game self-defeating. In a policy statement, Gilani said:

We strongly reject assertions of complicity with the Haqqanis or of proxy war. … Pakistan’s credentials and sacrifices in the counter-terrorism campaign are impeccable and unquestionable.

stop drone attacks

To be sure, Pakistani-US relations have resembled a marriage on the rocks almost since the beginning. As much as they dislike and distrust each other, however, the simple truth is they need each other. Journalist Eric Margolis told RT:

The US is sort of handcuffed to Pakistan, unhappily, and the other way around even more.

Here’s the deal. Mullen must have had good reason for making his statement before the Senate panel. The US needs the use of Pakistani infrastructure to keep NATO forces in Afghanistan supplied. And the US does make use of ISI intelligence leads. For its part, Pakistan gets money, training, and plenty of opportunities to call the US arrogance for what it really is. No one else gets to do that like Pakistan. And, so, the dance goes on.
 


 

Fri, 16 Sep 2011

Mission Distraction Redux: Train the Libyans

Filed under: Africa, Allies, Arab states, Budget, Global War on Terror, Government, Libyan War, Middle East, Oil, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 9:07 am

Libyan rebels capture another city

I don’t know what the real deal is with Libya, but I’ll tell you “we” (the US/NATO) had no business there from the beginning of the uprising. Say what you want, but intervene not; until everyone looked the other way, Libya was a sovereign state. As for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), they said preventing civilian casualties was their primary purpose. So, why not NATO (or even United Nations) action regarding the thousands of casualties in Syria? A little huffing and puffing by the international community has accomplished nothing.

On the surface, Syria and Libya seem like very similar “Arab Spring” situations. There are distinct differences, however. Key US allies, in particular France and Britain, have substantial stakes in Libyan oil interests while none of the western countries have appreciable involvement in Syrian resources. Ugly as it is, that’s the simple reality of it.

volunteers receive military training in Tripoli

Since the French, especially, and British are the key stakeholders, I say let them train the Libyans in security and defense matters. Except the Brits and French want no part of supporting a new Libyan regime. Unfortunately, because we always have to have our fingers into the pie, US State Department officials are offering US assistance to Libya. From my perspective: what part of Iraq do you not realize was a distraction from the Global War on Terror? Why would you not think Libya is also a distraction?

In the Global War on Terror, which political correctness now calls “Overseas Contingency Operations” (OCO), the Taliban, especially in Afghanistan, has always been the enemy of concern. I believe the war in Iraq distracted us—the US—from the key fight against terrorism and allowed the Taliban to build the insurgency we are now battling. We are paying a price—in lives, dollars, and public support—for failing to keep the focus where it needed to be.

Despite such recent history, my concern is we’re about to repeat the same mistake regarding operations in Afghanistan as we did in 2003. It doesn’t matter if it’s as big as Operation Iraqi Freedom or as small as training teams for Libya. In the likely future of constrained resources, we can’t afford anything taking our eye off the ball. And in my mind, we cannot permit the Taliban, who aided and abetted the 9/11 terrorists, any appreciable powerbase in Afghanistan.
 

Previously on Libya:

Tue, 13 Sep 2011

How Not to Be an Islamophobe

Filed under: Afghanistan, Behavior, Global War on Terror, Iraq, Islamophobia, Military — cynicalsynapse @ 8:34 pm
US, Afghan forces greet kidsU.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lauren Everett, medic attached to Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team, greets a group of children in Alisheng district, Laghman province, Sept. 12. The PRT, partnered with the security forces assistant team and the Afghan National Police, patrolled through a village to talk to the locals and teach the ANP proper procedures during patrols.
Defense Video and Image Distribution System (DVIDS)

An excellent post from Attackerman: first, be a combat veteran:

What follows is pure and unadulterated speculation. I can’t prove what I’m about to contend. I have no data, no studies, no statistically-relevant sample. Just anecdotes and a hunch.

The least Islamophobic cohort in American society — except of course, for Muslims themselves — consists of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans between the ages of 25 and 40.

I’m basing this entirely on my interactions with combat vets over the years — both downrange and back here in the States. It would be easy — lazy, even — to expect them to harbor blood-curdling hatred of Muslims. The insurgents they fought deliberately blended in with the populace, after all.

Some of them came to war harboring precisely such hatred. They wanted to avenge 9/11, and the average Iraqi or Afghan would do. Not all did, but it would be a whitewash to ignore that some did. I had a long and mournful conversation with one such officer in Mosul in 2007.

Then something unexpected happened. They got familiar with Afghans and Iraqis. “Local nationals” translated for them. They met with local dignitaries and heard plaintive cries for help. They heard locals express bitterness and outrage over the million indignities of war. They found themselves understanding. Then sympathizing. Then wanting to help.

And then they found something more powerful than sympathy: mutual interest. They learned that they couldn’t do anything significant in their unfamiliar stretches of a foreign country without the aid — or at least the acquiescence, or apathy — of the locals. A choice between working together or failing was no choice at all.

Some even made friends. Iraqis and Afghans, especially those who work as interpreters or intelligence analysts, often have wonderfully vile and profane senses of humor. (In my experience, this is truer for Iraqis than Afghans, but not unheard-of for Afghans, either.) A dirty joke, a bullshit boast and an unspeakably nasty DVD or video game can bond people in warzones for life.

Suddenly, those same Americans who barely even knew any Muslims back home — didn’t know that Allah is just the Arabic word for the exact same God many of them worship — wanted to know more about Iraqi or Afghan culture. It didn’t seem so unfamiliar; or if it did, it was the kind of unfamiliarity that posed an appealing challenge to understand. They wanted to debate about the world with the locals, and didn’t even mind when the locals debated back and challenged basic points about America.

Some came home and kept up a correspondence with their new friends. Some took classes about the Middle East or South Asia to contextualize their experience. Some didn’t come home at all.

Obviously, there are exceptions here. I have no illusion that this a universal experience of two searing wars. I know combat veterans who have neither love nor hate in their hearts for Muslims, just… emptiness.

But ever since last year’s “Ground Zero Mosque” flap, it’s struck me that the Robert Spencers and the Pamela Gellars and the lot of them don’t have their stock veterans to trot out in service of the idea that the mosque down the street is a threat to your grandmother. I do not believe that is an accident.

Most non-Muslim Americans don’t have many interactions with their Muslim neighbors. Or if they do, it’s not an issue. I grew up in Brooklyn, one of the most diverse places in the U.S., and it only occurred to me after 9/11 that one of the members of my high school crew was a Muslim. Combat veterans had perhaps the most self-conscious familiarity with Iraqis and Afghans of all Americans. They had no other option.

And many, if not most, came home understanding that Muslims aren’t so different. Muslims don’t have heat vision. They’re not implacably opposed to freedom and all that shit. They’re not looking to join a terrorist group, and “proto-terrorism” doesn’t lurk in their hearts.

Like I said, I can’t prove any of this. It’s all anecdotal. But the more I think about it, the truer it seems. I can’t think of anyone who came home from Iraq or Afghanistan more furious at the average Muslim, which is perhaps of the most surprising and profound aspects of the 9/11 Era.

HT: Doctine Man!!

Previously on Islamophobia:

Thu, 08 Sep 2011

Guardsmen Shot; Crickets From NGB, DoD, and White House

Filed under: Crime, Global War on Terror, Military, Paradoxes, Politics, President, Rants, Terrorism — cynicalsynapse @ 7:56 pm

Nevada IHOP crime scene

Just two days ago, on 6 September, Eduardo Sencion shot 5 Nevada National Guardsmen, killing 3 of them and a civilian, and wounding 5 civilians before taking his own life in a Carson City NV IHOP (International House of Pancakes) restaurant. Authorities still don’t know why Sencion, 32, whom family members say had mental health issues, opened fire at the IHOP with an AK-47, but Sencion doubled the Nevada Guard’s death toll in the Global War on Terror:

One [Maj. Heath Kelly, 35, Reno] was an Iraq War veteran who loved military history. Another [Sgt. 1st Class Christian Riege, 38, Carson City] was an Afghanistan war vet and fitness buff. The third [Sgt. 1st Class Miranda McElhiney, 31, Reno] would bring in cupcakes for colleagues when they got promotions.

All of them were National Guard members and they were sitting at a table at a Nevada IHOP when a gunman burst in and began shooting.

All three died in the attack, a death toll that matched the total number of Nevada guardsmen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan over a decade. A patron was also killed.

Eduarco Sencion

While Sencion’s motive for the shootings remains unclear, it is equally uncontestable he shot toward the back of the restaurant where the Guardsmen were seated.

Here’s what bothers me. Whether Sencion targeted the military or not, it took 2 days for a “news item” to appear on National Guard Bureau’s website and there is nothing about this incident on the Army, DoD, or White House websites. Not even condolences to the families. They were in uniform, so they were in a duty status. If this had been on Fort Hood, it would be big news, but shooting 5 Guardsmen in Nevada doesn’t even warrant any comment from senior military officials, even at Guard Bureau? That’s lame and disconcerting. Don’t talk to me about Soldier care if you have nothing to say about this incident.

For those who want to help, the Nevada Support Alliance provides a way to support the Guard family and its fallen, particularly regarding this incident.
 

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