Category Archives: terrorism

The day democracy died in Iran they weren’t wearing burkas

Iranian men and women (note the Western clothing) demonstrating in the streets of Tehran in the early 1950′s, calling for nationalization of the oil industry. Mohammed Moussadek, their democratically elected President made it happen and that made us angry.

Almost immediately, the CIA and British Intelligence orchestrated a coup, arrested the President and installed Shah Reva Pahlavi, who then – over a quarter century – destroyed democratic institutions, jailed dissidents and ruled as a Dictator. And oh yeah, the British got their oil back.

Having lost any political voice, Iranians turned to their clerics and it was in the mosque that anti-Shah sentiments were nurtured. Imams preached Islamism and radicalism. The early goal of restoring their treasured democracy stolen by the West was replaced by growing anti-Western attitudes and a commitment to overthrow the Shah.

We all know what happened 25 years later. And we’re all too familiar with the Iran of the 25 years since then. Blowback, the very definition of.

http://img1.imagesbn.com/p/9780805094978_p0_v2_s260x420.JPGFor all of that, we can thank two men: the then Director of the CIA Allan Dulles and his brother US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the same boys who shortly thereafter brought us Guatemala and Vietnam.

I just added to my reading list The Brothers,the story of how their belief system was formed, and how it – for a decade or more – became the very basis of American foreign policy.

I do love (South – nope) NORTH Carolina: I’m not sure if it’s the abortion part or the Sharia part that’s taken my breath away

South North Carolina’s legislature swung into late night action to propose legislation (yet again, sigh) aimed at getting a handle on those lady parts – and to guard against the imagined but dangerous onslaught of Sharia law – and they did it all in one tidy bill.

Senate tacks sweeping abortion legislation onto Sharia law bill

Raleigh, N.C. — Senators on Tuesday tacked a suite of new restrictions and regulations pertaining to abortion clinics onto a bill dealing with the application of foreign laws in North Carolina family courts.

As described here, there is a long tradition of U.S. law incorporating religious law into our system.

Duncan has proposed a state constitutional amendment that would bar U.S. judges from considering Shariah or any foreign law. But that might be problematic: U.S. courts already recognize and enforce Shariah law in everything from commercial contracts to divorce settlements, wills and estates.

What’s In Place

Marc Stern, a religion law expert at the American Jewish Committee, says that’s no different from how religious laws and customs are already applied.

He says when there’s a conflict, U.S. law always wins. For example, when Orthodox Jews have asked judges to enforce their laws on divorce, the courts have refused to do it; they won’t be involved in interpreting religion. In the same way, the government won’t enforce Kosher food standards because it would violate the separation of church and state.

Of course, once in a while, a judge with limited knowledge of the law as it is (they’re out there) rules otherwise – and certain legislators and media stars get the vapors. For a while. The follow up   - rarely inspiring the alarm – is that such rulings are always overturned in appellate courts.

Gas explosions for profit or bombs for ideology. One good. One very very bad. People still dead. Threat still there. How to choose, how to choose . . . XL baby, XL!

Today, Upworthy brings us a video by activists opposed to the construction of a fracked gas pipeline under the West Side of Manhattan. It includes footage from a PG&E gasline explosion at a similar installation in San Bruno CA. In 2010. Eight dead. 38 Homes leveled. It happened two miles west of San Francisco International Airport. And I never hard of it before. Pipe-from-Sanbruno-explosionDid you? From Wikipedia:

In January 2011, federal investigators reported that they found numerous defective welds in the pipeline.  . .  . On January 13, 2012, an independent audit from the State of California issued a report stating that PG&E had illegally diverted over $100 million from a fund used for safety operations, and instead used it for executive compensation and bonuses.

It’s an all too familiar story.

This graphic shows the blast zone that would be created if an explosion similar to the one that occurred in San Bruno, CA, last year were to happen in Manhattan at the location of the natural gas pipeline proposed for the city by Spectra Energy.

This graphic shows the blast zone that would be created if an explosion similar to the one that occurred in San Bruno, CA, last year were to happen in Manhattan at the location of the natural gas pipeline proposed for the city by Spectra Energy.

But back to New York, the city that never sleeps . . . the pipeline, already under construction, is the project of Spectra Energy. Were their project to suffer an explosion like San Bruno, or like the dozens of others that have happened around the world, it could kill tens of thousands, maybe maim hundreds of thousands, and might even take down the economy of NYC.  The Federal government is spending hundreds of billions, perhaps a trillion or more, to keep us ‘safe’ from terrorists. But developing alternate energy sources is too expensive.Here’s that video from Upworthy:

Security or civil liberties – what’ll it be?

boston policeIn an earlier post, I quoted (and agreed with) Ron Paul in his expression of concern about the militarized nature of the response to the Boston bombings. In the comments, I responded to a polite challenge from jamesb who put forward a common question: “If those two young men had walked into a house and held someone hostage with bombs…..”

I replied:

james, there will always be dilemmas confronting us when we try to balance state security with civil liberties. Which, as a society, do we decide is most in need of protection? Hostage crises, for instance, have happened throughout history, whereas the US Bill of Rights stood alone for centuries as an enormous step forward for mankind.

“Jonathan Turley, a Constitutional lawyer, says it best at his blog in a post titled “The Pavlovian Politics of Terror”:

“My greatest concern is that the Boston response will become the accepted or standard procedure . . .

. . . as a thousand papercuts from countless new laws and surveillance systems slowly kill our privacy, we might want to ask whether a fishbowl society will actually make us safer or just make us feel that way.”

Jim  Wheeler agreed:

Legislation enacted out of fear is fraught with peril, e.g., The Patriot Act.

Just wanted to put this out there.

Wherein I agree with Ron Paul, as any good liberal should do on occcasion

In the eyes of many, I’m sure the police actions in Boston were appropriate because we’re at war with terror, or terrorism, or terrorists. Whatever. I don’t deny the threat but I abhor the notion that this is ‘war’. Anyway, take it away Ron:

Former Rep. Ron Paul said the police response to the Boston Marathon bombings was scarier than the bombing itself, which killed three and wounded more than 250.

“The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city . . .  This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the attack itself” . . .

Paul said the scenes of the house-to-house search for the younger bombing suspect in suburban Watertown, Mass., were reminiscent of a “military coup in a far off banana republic.”

Not sure about that coup part, but certainly it looked like a military action.

“Forced lockdown of a city,” he wrote. “Militarized police riding tanks in the streets. Door-to-door armed searches without warrant. Families thrown out of their homes at gunpoint to be searched without probable cause. Businesses forced to close. Transport shut down.”

(Heads up WPressers . . . our blog platform ain’t allowin’ no pictures today. Or maybe WP is just picking on me?)

An impartial jury for Boston bomber? Not possible.

Whatever the final outcome of our usual silly round-robin of indignity about which set of laws to use when prosecuting the surviving Boston bomber, whatever that outcome, one thing seems obvious to me.

After nine full days (so far!) of near full-time television coverage of the event, prosecutors will not be able to seat an impartial trial jury.

 

Twelve attacks on US embassies – 2001 to 2008

Attacks on US embassies from 2001-2008 killed a total of 35 people. Of course they weren’t Americans so it doesn’t matter. Plus, Bush. From here.

Paris, France, September 13, 2001: Four men were arrested in Rotterdam on conspiracy to plant a suicide bomber in the U.S. embassy in Paris. The NATO headquarters in Brussels was also targeted. The plot was discovered in July 2001 when a conspirator named Djamel Beghal was arrested in Dubai for passport fraud. He confessed after an interrogation. All the conspirators were part of a small satellite of Al-Qaeda.

Karachi, Pakistan, June 14, 2002, February 28, 2003, March 15, 2004, and March 2, 2006: The string of bombings and attempted bombings outside the U.S. consult in Karachi were thought to be in retaliation for the War on Terror in Afghanistan, and later Iraq.

  • The first bomb in June 2002 was a suicide bomber, who killed 12 and injured 51 people.
  • In February 2003, a gunman killed two police officer and injured five others outside the consulate.
  • In March 2004, an attempted bombing was stopped when police discovered 200 gallons of liquid explosives in the back of a truck.
  • In March 2006, another suicide bomber killed six people outside a nearby Marriott Hotel.

Tashkent, Uzbekistan, July 30, 2004: The U.S. and Israeli embassies were targeted by suicide bombers. Two security guards were killed.

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, December 6, 2004: Militants breached the outer wall of the U.S. consulate and began shooting, but did not enter the consulate. Five civilians and the gunmen were killed. Ten people were wounded.

Damascus, Syria, September 12, 2006: Three gunmen were killed after they tossed grenades over the embassy’s outer wall and a car bomb exploded outside the embassy. A Syrian security guard and a Chinese diplomat also died.

Athens, Greece, January 12, 2007: A rocket-propelled grenade was fired into the front of the U.S. embassy around 6 am in the morning. No one was killed or hurt. A Greek terrorist group called “Revolutionary Struggle” claimed responsibility.

Istanbul, Turkey, July 9, 2008: Kurdish Turks open fired around 11 am, killing six people and injuring one. The three men had suspected Al-Qaeda links, but this was never proven.

San’a, Yemen, September 7, 2008: 19 people died and at least 16 were injured when a group of men disguised at police attacked the outer security rim of the U.S. embassy. Al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic Jihad of Yemen claimed responsibility.

 

 

Well done John McCain. For that, we’ll get off your lawn

Stand back McCarthy! (and where are Walsh and Wilson?)

John McCain is still that old guy down the street who yells at you. He is still the guy who was willing to risk this country in Sarah Palin’s hands. And he is too enamored of war for my comfort.

Another thing John McCain is? He is one damn stand-up guy.

What’s remarkable about this is that it is remarkable. Where were his colleagues? Who else spoke as forcibly? And publicly? Good on him.  (video posted thanks to Orhan who once again came to the rescue.)

We did it! We got Al Quaeda’s #2! Yet again!

We are getting seriously good at this Number 2 stuff.

(That job is like being the Star Trek crew member wearing the red shirt. Bang, bang, you’re dead.)

What’s in the waffles?

First there was this:

In Carson City NV, a man shot seven and killed four people at the International House of Pancakes (IHOP).  It was tragic and he was crazy.

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A man who stormed into a Carson City IHOP restaurant with an assault rifle . . . . he killed four people before ending his own life . . .

Then came this - Not tragic, but comic:

Four Georgia men were arrested this week in connection with a scheme to conduct an attack with explosives and the deadly toxin ricin . . . Federal investigators said they had them under surveillance . . . infiltrating their meetings in a Waffle House.

[I chuckled at this part] “The four gray-haired men [in their late 60's and 70's] appeared in federal court Wednesday . . .  apparently had trouble hearing the judge, some of them cupping their ears.”

I’m jaded, I know, but don’t these events beg the question – was it the waffles?

Oh. Great.

We really need this?

Can we kill our own just because they’re bad guys?

I guess we killed an important terrorist yesterday. Another clean, targeted hit. And we did it without invasion, always a good thing. Gotta tone down that invasion thing.

But there are concerns. AnWar al-Awlaki was a bad guy for sure. He was also an American citizen.

I just stumbled upon Spatial Orientation, a blog new to me and one I’ll visit again, where they’ve posted some commentary on the subject including a statement from Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson and a post from professional liberal Glenn Greenwald, two fellows who are hardly ideological bedfellows but appear to be equally fond of the Constitution.

Johnson said that while he applauds vigilance in the WoT:

. . . we cannot allow the War on Terror to diminish our steadfast adherence to the notion of due process for American citizens.  The protections under the Constitution for those accused of crimes do not just apply to people we like — they apply to everyone, including a terrorist like al-Awlaki.  It is a question of due process for American citizens.

If we allow our fervor to eliminate terrorist threats to cause us to cut corners with the Constitution and the fundamental rights of American citizens, whether it be invasions of privacy or the killing of someone born on U.S. soil, I could argue that the terrorists will have ultimately won.

Greenwald added:

What’s most striking about this is not that the U.S. Government has seized and exercised exactly the power the Fifth Amendment was designed to bar . . . [but] that its citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the U.S. Government’s new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process from the U.S.

Awlaki has been linked to suspects in the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas shooting spree and the attempted Christmas bombing of a passenger jet, but he has neither been charged nor tried. It appears he was targeted because he preached jihad and recruited for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Like I said, a bad guy, but we have rules that say we can’t kill citizens because they don’t like the government.

(The killing was carried out by an unmanned drone,  another conversation we should be having.)

UPDATE: Johnson just appeared on FOX News. That’s an audience who need  a challenge to cherished beliefs. He did a good job.  The video is here.

Bet you didn’t know this

NYC Police Chief: NYPD Could Take Down An Airplane If Necessary

Here.

Can’t be too careful.

Howard Keel starred in the movie

We are such wusses.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – A western Pennsylvania school district has decided not to stage a Tony Award-winning musical about a Muslim street poet after members of the community complained about the play on the heels of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

The Tribune Democrat of Johnstown reports Richland School District had planned to stage “Kismet” in February but Superintendent Thomas Fleming says it was scrapped to avoid controversy.

Fleming tells the newspaper that sensitivity is understandable in part because one of the hijacked planes crashed in nearby Shanksville.

Music director Scott Miller tells The Tribune-Democrat the district last performed “Kismet” in 1983.

Miller says the play has no inappropriate content but he and other members of the performing arts committee decided to switch to “Oklahoma!” after hearing complaints.

“Kismet” won the Tony for best musical in 1954.

Experiencing and reporting 9/11

Reporters (not pundits) recall where they were and how they got into ‘reporting’ mode as events unfolded on the morning of September 11. (This was created by the PBS program, Washington Week. Those appearing have all been panelists on that show.)

Oslo Terrorist Anders Behring Breivik Manifesto

POSTED BY ORHAN

Via LiveLeak.com, this video was sent to his friends on Facebook , along with a massive 1500-page manifesto.  You may have to hit Play more than once to view it:

“It’s not the Norweigans who are doing this . . . “

Shep found  this 2010 jewel in the wayback machine. Such good times.