Archive for the ‘Terrorism’ category

Islamist Terrorist On Obama’s Watch

June 18, 2016

I saw this summary on Facebook.  The summary lists 10 incidents where someone of Muslim faith murdered someone who was not a Muslim.  Sadly there was a total of 91 who lost their lives.  The Facebook implications was that President Obama, in some way, has been complicit in enabling needless American deaths.  Hmmm.

During this same period, hand guns have taken the lives of over 180,000, traffic accidents another 180,000, and deaths from slips and falls accounted for another 180,000 or so.

President Obama has not done much on these preventable deaths either.  I wonder what he has been doing with his time?

It is mind boggling that so many people connect these terrorist inspired random acts with a specific Obama Administration policy (or lack there of) and seem to say, “if only the President had done this or that, these acts would not have taken place”.  I wonder what those anti-terror policies would look like?

One might jump to the conclusion that the policies must be aimed at Muslims.  On the other hand, each of these incidents involved the use of guns.  Hmmm.  I wonder whether these anti-Obama fans who circulate these posts are thinking about a sharp curtailment on the availability of guns?

I think not.

For common sense purposes, one must keep in mind the low number of deaths, the lack of any connectivity between them, and  the lack of prior indicators which might have predicted the incident each provoked.  In comparison to other gun related deaths, traffic deaths and home related accidental deaths, these 91 don’t even make the radar screen.

Oh, and one more point.  If these sad, senseless deaths of 91 Americans justify a political statement, then I wonder what type of statement the 3000 or so Americans who lost their lives on George W Bush’s watch on 9/11?

And Now There Are 80

April 18, 2016

The Department of Defense has announced the return to two Yemeni “detainees” to Saudi Arabia from the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. With their release, Guantanamo headcount drops 80. This number includes another 23 who have been cleared for release pending completion of the nitty gritty such as which country will actually receive them. Hmmm, 57 in a prison with a capacity for upwards of 700.

Anyone who worries about the foibles of big government need look no further than the fiasco of Guantanamo. Originally establish to house and process al Qaeda members and sympathizers, the Guantanamo detention facility vacuumed up a motley collection of nasty terrorists, questionable persons guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a healthy dose of totally innocent souls turned in for the promised ransom payment.

Once housed in Guantanamo, the unfortunate detainees and the US authorities began to realize there was no recognized legal procedure to process the detainees.

So if anyone is wondering how so many Americans can be Donald Trump supporters, Guantanamo is one reason. Congress, read the GOP leadership, has made keeping Guantanamo operating when any security or business analysis leads one to closing it and transferring the remaining inmates to super max prisons State side. Why?

The reason given (said with a straight face) is “to protect” Americans. Guantanamo is full of “crazy bastards” who are bent on killing us, Lindsay Graham says. You are immediately struck with the question “does he really believe that” or is this just another political smoke screen?

Bringing the Guantanamo detainees to US prisons would probably open the possibility of civil rights court actions since these prisoners have not been charged (a Constitutional guarantee for a speedy trial). And for most there is a reasonable chance they would be released.

But there is a bigger recognition that is being overlooked. There is no shortage of terrorists or persons willing to attack Americans and American interests around the world. No one should ever allege that the Guantanamo detainees are the worst of the worst. What about all those ISIS thugs who decapitated their prisoners? Are they somehow a grade less on the scale of worst of the worst.

Closing Guantanamo makes sense from a financial position, from a consistency with our laws and traditions, and demonstrating that Republicans and Democrats can make worthwhile decisions together.

The Republican intransigence is just one more proof to Trump supporters (and many others) that the GOP can’t govern.

Brussels’ Message

March 23, 2016

Terrorists have performed once more the unthinkable. Suicide bombings were carried out at the Brussels International Airport and at one stop in the Brussels Subway system. Reports list as many as 35 fatalities. Innocent people with no known argument with the attackers. Why do people do this, and what can be done to stop this happening again?

I know Brussels. I never lived in Brussels (unless Sofitel rooms count). I did live nearby in Germany and traveled many times through out Belgium and in particular Brussels for business and for pleasure. By American standards, Brussels and most of Belgium are easy places to visit. Almost everyone speaks english as a second language. The pace of life is very pleasant. Brussels and the Grand Place district are full of tourists, shops, and wonderful places to eat.

The airport is smallish (compared to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, or Charle DeGaulle. It was formerly the home of Sebena Airlines (Belgium National Carrier). Sebena offered some of the poorest customer service in Europe and Belgians never seemed to mind. Maybe that was due to a quirk in the population’s personality. Belgians don’t make trouble for others.

Belgium’s official language is not one but two. Roughly, the north speaks Flemish (Dutch) and the south (Walloons) speak french. Belgium has a split political make up too. National budget expenditures are split roughly 50-50 so if new road is built in the south, then one is also built in the north whether they are needed or not.

The Belgians are outwardly hospitable people. With its central location, Brussels has been selected as the seat of the European Parliament and home for many of the European Commission agencies. Symbolically, Brussels could be seen as the capital of Europe.

Again, why do people do this?

The perpetrators of the recent Paris attacks and the prime suspects in these bombings are Muslims of North African ancestry. One might see this incident as unintended by-product of European colonial days. The civil wars in North Africa generated a lot of refugees, some who held dual citizenship resulted in a lot of North African muslims relocating to Europe. Now their children, a second generation, call Belgium home but have not assimilated very much at all. They stand on the outside while living inside.

What goes on inside their heads is a bit of a mystery. Rationally committing mass murder makes no sense and makes even less sense if it requires someone to lose their own life in the process.  And making this sacrifice based upon the fairy tale that life will be much better in “paradise” is total lunacy. So we must conclude that these acts are not rational ones.

If history is good for anything, it must remind us that these Muslim terrorists do not have an exclusive hold on irrational acts. You can read that just about all other religions, races, and ethnic groups have committed one atrocity after another, on yes, some outside group. Outrageous acts against others is not the exclusive domain of Islam.

My guess is that these Brussels terrorists decided to explode their bombs so that “others” were killed or maimed. “Others” were people whom they did not know. “Others” were everyone not part of their close circle of friends and associates. “Others” were people who did not count.

There remains plenty of future terrorist living in European countries, who live there but are not part of the national social fabric. For them, everyone else looks like “others”. These latent terrorists just sit there waiting for something or someone to turn them loose in order to kill the “others”

Brussels’ message reminds us of the power of assimilation and the dangers that lurk in the hands of those “outsiders”.

Marketing Strategy

February 20, 2016

Apple has declared that it does not know how to unlock a “locked” Apple smart phone and further considers helping unlock one a disservice to its customers.  Hmmm.

Apple’s remarks were in response to a Justice Department requests for assistance in unlocking the cell phone of the San Bernardino terrorists. Justice Department spokespersons describe Apple’s actions as a “marketing strategy”.

The Government’s position is simple, there may be information on the cell phone which could shed light on how the husband and wife terrorists planned and prepared for the December 2, 2015 mass shootings. Officials say the phone could contain very valuable leads to who else supported the terrorists. Sound like a matter of national security?

Apple is indeed facing a difficult marketing strategy. Following the NSA’s wholesale collection of cell phone communications aided by the existence of cell phone software “backdoors”, companies such as Apple faced a distrustful foreign country’s reception. Consumers as well as governments suspected collusion between Apple (and other tech companies) and the NSA. Apple could expect onerous restrictions including “backdoor” requests from foreign governments too. Apple feared this would significantly reduce the iPhone’s demand and value. Hmmm.

As a consequence Apple adopted encryption on all iPhones and installed software code which permanently disabled any phone which failed to open within 10 attempts of unlock. Government investigators have the terrorist cell phone but are reluctant to try guessing its password.

So, the big question revolves around personal privacy and government’s needs in investigating crimes (or suspected wrong doing).

The San Bernardino terrorists are both dead and there have been no indications that they were part of a larger group with further attacks imminent. As a consequence, the Justice Department’s request of Apple may seem nice but unnecessary.

But what about the proverbial terrorist who plants a powerful bomb in some unknown place and all the authorities have is his locked cell phone. Or, reimagine 9/11 and authorities find a locked cell phone and by being unable to unlock it, fail to detect the greater 9/11 plot?

Privacy versus national security is not trivial. Regrettably, governments are notorious in getting an inch and turning it into a mile. A government known “backdoor” could be exploited for non-terrorist actions as well. Maybe the IRS or the EPA or the SEC might like to have a look into private cell phones for information pertinent to their work.

And still more insidious, maybe politicians might like to uncover some “dirt” on opponents by using the back door of opponents doctors, lawyers, or accountants’ phones.

Smart phones are much more than telephones. They are more akin to personal computers which contain bank records, personal files, daily agendas, and contact lists. A court subpoena to enter a smart phone’s backdoor in search of terrorist information could lead to data useful in a tax evasion or securities fraud investigation. Hmmm.

This quandary is not a new one. The government expressed strong disagreement with Apple’s decision several years ago. It appears the Justice Department has waited until it had just the right opportunity to make its case. If Apple should prevail in this case, no big deal because the stakes seem pedestrian. If the Justice Department should win, law enforcement will be next in line wanting access to the backdoor.

And in addition to other law enforcement agencies wanting to use the backdoor, cyber criminals will be just as eager to crack a smart phone’s defense. Hmmm.

What Are The Candidates Thinking?

December 16, 2015

Last evening Republican Presidential hopefuls debated again. CNN scored well on ratings and the network was generally given positive reviews by media observers. But what would any disinterested party say about the candidates’ message, and what they must think of the electorate?

The overall theme seemed to be “fear”. According to the candidates, Americans are fearful and the GOP candidates are here to help.   One only has to look as far as President Obama to know the reason why there is so much fear.  Hmmm.

Each candidate sketched his/her view how terrorism and immigrants were at the root of this fear.  Until a functioning plan was in place, the candidates were sorry to say, Americans faced real danger. Hmmm.

A quick search of the internet will reveal the following list of how Americans die each year. Thanks to the CDC, the following causes should be of interest:

  • Heart disease: 611,105
  • Cancer: 584,881
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 149,205
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 130,557
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,978
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 84,767
  • Diabetes: 75,578
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 56,979
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 47,112
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 41,149
  • Traffic accidents: 32,000
  • Shooting Deaths: 32,000

Of course, there is no good reason for any preventable death. But immigrants and terrorists do even make the score card.

If these candidates were serious about preventable deaths, they would be boast how if they were President they would declare war upon heart disease, cancer, or any of the other diseases and illnesses.  Have you heard that with this group?

So what does the debate say about the GOP and the electorate? The word can be nothing more than disdain. The candidates must think Americans are ignorant of simple facts and easily frightened with fear laced words.

Hmmm.

A Jittery Nation

December 7, 2015

The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal had front page articles with practically the same headline… “President Obama Tries To Calm A Jittery Nation”. Hmmm.

I wonder where their reporters went in order to get the scoop on our nation’s jitters?

Why the President spoke to the nation from the Oval Office last night is also a mystery. What events called for a Presidential address sandwiched neatly between two NFL sold out games? And what did the President and his advisors think the GOP Presidential candidates were going to say following his speech?

America is stuck with an honest man as President. Awe inspiring? No, honest but he has not been awe inspiring since his 2008 campaign days. But is that so bad?

President Obama has studied the complex Middle East and decided it is not the place for American military presence. Over the years, a long list of radical Islamic groups (PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Taliban and now ISIS) have used terroristic means attempting to gain control of oil resources and with it wealth and power.

These groups have shunned the ballot box and have instead elected to use fear and force. There is little reason to think that when ISIS has run its course, peace will reign and the sun will shine. Another extremist group will form in the vacuum and spread its form of dysfunction and terror.

President Obama has concluded that only the Muslim themselves can get the genie back in the jar. The West can minimize ISIS spread and if it reoccupied the Middle East could drive ISIS underground but not out of business. It is very unlikely with religious extremism as it is that the West could eradicate ISIS or any group that followed quickly.

Consequently, the President is against acting as the policeman because America stepping in lets the rest of the Muslim world off the hook.

GOP Presidential candidates may or may not see this, it is difficult to be sure what they really think. What is clear to most Presidential hopefuls is that they can get much better press coverage if they talk tough and use inciteful language.

The recent mass shooting in San Bernardino is being held up as a terrorist act. Hmmm. Maybe, but what about the guns? If America is to be “jittery”, it could be because Americans might be waking up to the hard data on how many Americans die from guns (far, far more than die from terrorism).

Regrettably, America is not jittery at all. The political hacks who advise both the President and his opponents are envisioning the Presidential race and the TV ads which will air. Each want to picture their candidate as concerned and as possessing the firmness to deal with these “big” issues.

History will show, however, that President Obama’s Middle East vision (2 State Solution, and Moderate Muslims taking on the radicals, the thugs, and the greedy) was well founded. Unfortunately, the President’s vision does not lend itself to sound bites.

A Suspension Of Common Sense

November 19, 2015

The blood bath that took place in Paris last Friday truly would qualify for the moniker of “a suspension of common sense”. What possibly could the terrorists have thought was achievable by their suicidal acts?

There is no way the Western world will walk away from Iraq-Syria-Lebanon and cede the land to a radical Islamic regime bent on using theology to accumulate personal wealth for its leaders. They will not be satisfied with a little, they will want it all.

There is no way “Shiite” Iran will allow it either. And even “Sunni” Saudi Arabia cannot condone ISIS behavior. In short, sooner or later, ISIS and its current group of leaders, just like Osama ben Laden or Mullah Mohamed will cease to lead and in all likelihood be followed by other opportunists.

Money has a funny way of bending the minds of otherwise sane people.

But Paris isn’t the only place where there appears to be a suspension of common sense. Look no further than Washington DC and the GOP Presidential primary candidates.

The GOP has seized upon the vanishingly small risk associated with accepting Syrian refugees and in just days have build it into a do or die issue with President Obama. Governors (all but one Republican) have pompously announced they will not accept any Syrian refugees. House Republicans are now rushing new legislation through Congress to codify what would qualify as a fully “vetted” refugee. A procedure which no requires 18-24 months would become prohibitively long. Hmmm.

These are the same people who claim while beating their breasts that America is an exceptional country. Hmmm.

Occasionally, there will be a documentary about the internment of American citizens of Japanese decent during World War II. The move, which was clearly unconstitutional, stands as a stain on America and separates the US from Nazi Germany only in that the Government never intended to exterminate Japanese citizens.

By labeling Syrian refugees potential terrorists, the GOP is reaching back to the World War II xenophobia which took hold of the American spirit. Instead of exceptional, American now looks vulnerable and frightened.

Apparently the GOP doesn’t care and sees fanning these flames as a sure way to garner votes. Hmmm.