Recently in Terrorism Category

A:  He didn't.  It wasn't an oversight.  His absence was a deliberated decision.  Byron York in the Washington Examiner explains why, and I'll get to that, but I want to say just a word first about how the White House has handled this.

Essentially, there has been no explanation.  The press secretary said it was a mistake, and has kind-of-sort-of suggested that arranging security quickly would have been a problem.  But to say it was a mistake is not to explain why it happened, and the notion that security could not have been arranged is preposterous (which the traveling press corps knows, accounting for the fact that it isn't really being pushed).

So why did Obama stay put while the heads of state and prime ministers from 40 other countries took part?  As York writes:

The administration no-shows were not a failure of optics, or a diplomatic misstep, but were instead the logical result of the president's years-long effort to downgrade the threat of terrorism and move on to other things.

"The analogy we use around [the White House] sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant," Obama told the New Yorker magazine in a January 2014 interview. The president was referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria but was also suggesting in a broader sense that a number of post-9/11 offshoot terrorist organizations aren't worth the sort of war-footing mobilization that took place in the George W. Bush years.

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Fast forward to January 2015. The attackers at Charlie Hebdo magazine and the Hyper Cacher kosher market in Paris would undoubtedly qualify as JV-level terrorists under Obama's new classification. But their work was enough to shock Europe and motivate more than a million people to gather behind dozens of heads of state at the unity rally Sunday. 

Obama Snoozes Through Anti-Terrorism Rally

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Terrorism is, to put it mildly, an aggravated form of murder, and thus a frequent topic on this blog.  

In response to the machine gun murders of policemen, cartoonists and editorial writers by Jihadists last week in Paris, to "retaliate" for cartoons lampooning Mohammed, world leaders from across the globe rallied with 3,700,000 ordinary citizens on Sunday.  It was the largest rally in the history of France.  CNN reports:

The day was emotional and peaceful, a gesture of unity just days after Islamic extremists slaughtered 17 people.World leaders joined French President Francois Hollande, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The day also brought together an unlikely duo at the rally: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Spot any omissions?  Right you are.  No Obama.  No Biden.  No Kerry.  And let's face it: No interest.  That's what their boycott announces to the world.

The White House woke up this morning and expressed such regrets as it could squeak out, but I doubt a single person was convinced.  Particularly revealing was this tidbit in the Washington Post story on the Press Office's damage control:

The United States was represented by Ambassador to France Jane Hartley. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas were in Paris for weekend security meetings but did not attend the march.

No, they did not attend.  Must have been having a long lunch.  By the way, the American Ambassador, Ms. Hartley, is principally qualified for her post by having been an Obama bundler.

The mind-blowing portent of Obama's boycott will not be missed by our friends.  Or our enemies.


Only those living on Mars don't know that Colorado has legalized recreational use of pot.  The ballot measure that brought this about was sold to the electorate with several assurances  --  that use in public would remain prohibited, as would use by minors, and that tax revenue would cascade into the state.  The strong libertarian component backing the measure told us that it had little to no interest in affirmatively promoting pot use, but was instead interested simply taking a step toward states' rights and individual freedom to decide for oneself whether the risks were worth the "benefits."

So how are things working out?

As to the assurance that there would be no public toking up, this story has a bit to say:

Tens of thousands of revelers raised joints, pipes and vaporizer devices to the sky Sunday at a central Denver park in a defiant toast to the April 20 pot holiday, a once-underground celebration that stepped into the mainstream in the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

Wow.  Tens of thousands.  Surely there was a considerable police presence to keep faith the with no-public-use ban the voters had been promised would remain. Ummmm................well.................................

The 4:20 p.m. smoke-out in the shadow of the Colorado capitol was the capstone of an Easter weekend dedicated to cannabis in states across the country. Although it is still against the law to publicly smoke marijuana in Colorado, police reported only 130 citations or arrests over the course of the two-day event, 92 for marijuana consumption.

Well that's cool.  Ninety-two pot citations with tens of thousands of smokers.  That's less than one percent who so much as get charged when they make a point of publicly getting zapped. (Not that anything is likely to happen with these charges except that they'll be quietly dismissed in the bye-and-bye).


Is there a problem with telling the voters there will be strong "safeguards," then blowing (pun intended) right past them?  Well, no, not if you're a druggie, or the PR outfit that does their campaign.



No More Big Talk and Furrowed Brows

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Today's WSJ has an editorial titled, "Islamist Terror in Paris:  Jihadists target Western principles of free speech and religious pluralism."  It describes yesterday's slaughter, then notes:

Wednesday's massacre, following a long string of plots foiled by police in the U.K., France and elsewhere, is a reminder that jihadism isn't a distant Middle Eastern phenomenon. There will be many more such attempts at mass murder, and authorities in the U.S. and Europe need broad authority to surveil and interrogate potential plotters to stop them.

This offends some liberals and libertarians, but imagine the restrictions on liberty that would follow if radical Muslims succeed in blowing up a soccer stadium or half a city. Men willing to execute cartoonists in Paris and 132 children at point-blank range in Peshawar in the name of religion won't shrink from using more destructive means to impose mass casualties. Better to collect metadata and surveil some people now than deal with public demand for mass Muslim arrests or expulsions after a catastrophe.

Wednesday's attack also demonstrates again that violent Islam isn't a reaction to poverty or Western policies in the Middle East. It is an ideological challenge to Western civilization and principles, including a free press and religious pluralism. The murder of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists is merely the latest evil expression of a modern arc of Islamist violence against Western free speech that stretches back to Ayatollah Khomeini 's 1989 fatwa calling for the killing of novelist Salman Rushdie. 

It's appalling that more people in this country did not understand before yesterday what the stakes are in this struggle.  Instead, we made excuses for butchers, doubted our right and need to act, and lashed out at our own military, intelligence apparatus, and police.  None of those agencies should be or is above scrutiny.  But it's past time for looking-down-the-nose libertarians and holier-than-thou liberals to get on board with what is needed to defend the basics of Western civilization.  If they prefer not to, that is their right in a free country, but their reality-challenged lectures about what they leave it to us rubes to do to protect ourselves (and them) should henceforth be ignored.

Equating Prudence with Cowardice

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The title of this post is the latest article from the always wise Theodore Dalrymple in the City Journal regarding the media's predictable reaction to yesterday's massacre in France.  As the doctor puts it:

How long would it take for a Western journalist to blame the Charlie Hebdo murders on French colonialism and journalistic insensitivity to the feelings of Muslims? Not nearly as long, I suspected, as it would take a journalist in the Muslim world to blame them on the legacy of Mohammed and Islam.

And I was right. It took less than four hours for an associate editor of the Financial Times, Tony Barber, to post a piece on the website of his august publication blaming the journalists and cartoonists of the satirical French magazine (and the two policemen as well?) for their own deaths. Here is what he originally wrote and posted, though he later edited out the final clause:

[Charlie Hebdo] has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling French Muslims . . . [This] is merely to say that some common sense would be useful at publications such as Charlie Hebdo . . . which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid.

According to this perverted logic, if the relatives of the 12 murdered men were now to storm into the offices of the Financial Times and shoot 12 staff members because of the considerable provocation offered by Tony Barber, it will prove only that Barber had just been stupid.

One wonders whether Mr. Barber is also a zealous advocate for the general defense of provocation in its traditional sense of reducing the crime of men who find their wives in bed with a paramour. 

That aside, there seems to be an epidemic of hand-wringing taking place rooted in the innate desire to understand what compels people to commit such horrific acts of violence.  Such a desire is, what modernity calls, natural and perhaps inexplicable: We know that reasonable people do not wish to commit such atrocious crimes.  But that, of course, assumes that the radical terrorist mind is reasonable.   

The French Reap What Lenient Sentencing Sows

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One of the suspects in the Jihadist massacre today in Paris is 34 year-old Cherif Kouachi.  An ABC News report notes this about him:

Kouachi, along with six others, was sentenced in May 2008 to 3 years in prison for terrorism in Paris. All seven men were accused of sending about a dozen young Frenchmen to join Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, after funneling them through radical religious establishments in Syria and Egypt.

It appears, however, that Kouachi served only 18 months of his sentence  --  not that three years was long enough even if he'd served every day of it.

Sentencing "reform" advocates unceasingly assure us that only "low level, non-violent" offenders will be released.  Even assuming they (1) had and (2) were willing to share with the public, the nuts-and-bolts specifics of what that gauzy phrase actually means, we have no assurance that its execution will live up to its promise. We have, to the contrary, a mountain of evidence that the government is incompetent to determine who is safe to release and who isn't.  For several years, California has provided a good deal of this evidence all by itself; the foolhardiness of its early release decisions has been documented again and again in C&C's News Scan. Now, in a horrifying display, the Paris massacre brings home this same lesson.

"Reform" advocates tell us that the government has made a generation's worth of horrendous mistakes in deciding who should be incarcerated and for how long.  In the next breath, they tell us that the same government will suddenly be seeing and wise in deciding who should be released and how early.

Today's bloody violence should give us a clue about whether they're right.  It should also give us a clue about who will pay the price if they're aren't.
The "Hands up, don't shoot" narrative that fueled the rioting in Ferguson and elsewhere, and the murders of two policemen in New York City, was fake.  Forensic evidence and reliable eyewitness testimony showed that Michael Brown's hands were not up, and he was not attempting to surrender, when he was shot.

Today, however, we saw on film a true version of "Hands up, don't shoot."  It is shown in a picture of a policeman in Paris, who was shot with a machine gun at pointblank range by an Islamic terrorist.  Eleven others (so far) were murdered in this incident. The story of the attack is carried by the Wall Street Journal.  Even those who are usually complacent and dismissive about terrorism, and who have less than no use for the police, are likely to be shocked by barbarity this grotesque.

The terror attack was on the staff or a weekly satirical magazine that had ridiculed the Prophet Mohammed.  The policeman pictured had apparently already been shot once, and was on the ground with his hands up.  

Pakistan Resumes Executions

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Two convicted terrorists were hanged in Pakistan, AFP reports.

Pakistan hung two convicted militants in the first executions in six years and security forces killed more than 50 suspected militants on Friday (Dec 19) as the country's leaders vowed decisive action in the wake of a Taliban school massacre that left 149 people dead.

The bloody rampage in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Tuesday brought international condemnation and promises of swift, decisive action against militants from Pakistan's political and military leaders.

Pakistan's de facto foreign minister Sartaj Aziz told AFP the attack was his country's own "mini 9/11" and a game changer in its fight against terror.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif relinquished the six-year ban on the death penalty in terror-related cases two days after the school attack.

Two militants convicted of separate terrorism offences were the first to face the noose at a jail in central Punjab province, the province's home minister, Shuja Khanzada, told AFP.


Terrorists Win, Freedom Loses Part II

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Kyle Smith from the New York Post puts it aptly:

Freedom, you were a nice idea, but anonymous hackers with a strange fondness for North Korea don't like you. So I guess you'll have to go.

After a single random online threat from an anonymous source the Department of Homeland Security finds not particularly credible -- a source that, for all we know, could be a group of basement-dwelling pranksters trying to sound like North Koreans -- Sony pulled "The Interview."

If someone purporting to be from the KKK calls the Weinstein Co. to order it to pull "Django Unchained" from any further distribution, will Harvey say, "Of course. We wouldn't want to offend you nice people"? Can the American Nazi party stop Universal Pictures from airing "The Blues Brothers" on TV by issuing an especially forceful tweet?

As an arts and entertainment company, Sony Pictures has better reason than most to understand the importance of creative freedom, especially when that creation carries a political character. The same is true of the theater chains. Their chicken-hearted response to the threats is a warning to everyone who works in the arts that controversy is best avoided. 

Bill Kristol from the Weekly Standard also makes some excellent points.

Interrogation and the Law

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Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey has this op-ed in the WSJ:

Considering that the now-abolished Central Intelligence Agency interrogation program adopted in the wake of 9/11 was intended to protect the U.S. from another deadly attack, it is stunning to hear those now criticizing the program issue the solemn reminder that "we are a nation of laws"--while devoting little attention to what was actually in those laws. Odder still, among the critics those who wrote the laws seem to devote the least attention to them.

Take, for example, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the prime mover behind last week's release of a more than 500-page " Executive Summary " of the report by Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. She attaches her own six-page foreword, beginning with the dutiful assurance on the first page that the "horror" of the television footage of the 9/11 attacks "will remain with me for the rest of my life." Thus credentialed, Sen. Feinstein proceeds to the task at hand: CIA personnel "decided to initiate a program" of "brutal interrogation techniques in violation of U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values." Setting aside for a moment the reference to "our values," that statement is demonstrably false.
The statement is false, he goes on to demonstrate, because the enhanced interrogation techniques used were not torture as defined in the law.

Terror Around the Globe

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It's a grim day in the news today.  Here are several articles from the WSJ:

Qasim Nauman, Safdar Dawar, and Saeed Shah report on the horrifying story of the Taliban in Pakistan taking over a school and methodically shooting schoolchildren in the head, killing 141 people.  That anyone with any political or religious cause, however fanatical, could deliberately and specifically target children for mass murder staggers the imagination.

Rebecca Thurlow and Lucy Cramer report from Sydney on the rememberance of the deceased hostages Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson.  Mr. Johnson, the cafe manager, grabbed the perpetrator's gun when he saw an opportunity, beginning the termination of the siege and the freeing of all but himself and Ms. Dawson.  There is also a report that "Ms. Dawson was shielding her pregnant friend from gunfire."

Sony Pictures has received threats of terrorist attacks on showings of its comedy film "The Interview," which paints an unflattering portrait of North Korea's leader (who does such a good job of self-parody, he really doesn't need any help from Sony).  Ben Fritz, Danny Yadron, and Erich Schwartzel have this story.  Although the threats are "viewed as far-fetched by U.S. officials," they can't be taken lightly given the Aurora massacre.

The Abbottabad Letters

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Here's an interesting development in the case of United States v. Khaled Al Fawwaz and Anas Al Liby in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The court entered a scheduling order on motions regarding admissibility at trial of "documents recovered during the May 2, 2011 raid of Usama bin Laden's Abbottabad, Pakistan compound."  The text of the order follows the break.

I have the government's motion but not al Fawwaz's motion.  That is probably one of the many sealed documents not available to the public.  The government's motion says,

The Abbottabad Letters--including two authored by the defendant, himself--reflect his continued active participation in al Qaeda following eight years of incarceration in Iran. The Letters constitute powerful, direct, proof of al Qaeda's conspiracies to bomb and kill Americans, as well as Anas al Liby's knowing and intentional participation in them. Indeed, one can scarcely conceive of more powerful uncharged-acts proof than recent correspondence among bin Laden, his chief deputy, and the defendant about the defendant's continued participation in al Qaeda--including a 2010 letter from the defendant to bin Laden in which the defendant "ask[s] God to reunite me with you soon under the banner of Islam and the Islamic state and the banner of jihad." That is particularly true where, as here, the defendant's state of mind will be a central issue in dispute.
The legal argument relates to admissibility of "other acts" evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b).  The background paragraph begins with this statement:

On May 2, 2011, U.S. forces conducted an operation that resulted in the death of al Qaeda leader, and (formerly) charged co-defendant, Usama bin Laden.
I like that "(formerly)."  This is technically known in the trade as "mootness."
A:  Not a whole lot.

The country seems to have figured out that the adult answer to the moral questions about aggressive interrogation is that, when thousands of innocent lives are at risk from an enemy who has shown he regards snuffing them out as the pathway to heaven, you do what you need to.  As today's Washington Post reports:

A new poll from the Pew Research Center is the first to gauge reactions to last week's big CIA report on "enhanced interrogation techniques" -- what agency critics call torture.

And the reaction is pretty muted.

The poll shows people says 51-29 percent than the CIA's methods were justified and 56-28 percent that the information gleaned helped prevent terror attacks.

The WSJ has this response to the Senate Intelligence Committee report on interrogation, by former CIA Directors George J. Tenet, Porter J. Goss and Michael V. Hayden (a retired Air Force general), and former CIA Deputy Directors John E. McLaughlin, Albert M. Calland (a retired Navy vice admiral) and Stephen R. Kappes.

They dispute just about all the major conclusions.  They also have some telling comments on the way the report was prepared.

The Senate Intelligence Committee's report on Central Intelligence Agency detention and interrogation of terrorists, prepared only by the Democratic majority staff, is a missed opportunity to deliver a serious and balanced study of an important public policy question. The committee has given us instead a one-sided study marred by errors of fact and interpretation--essentially a poorly done and partisan attack on the agency that has done the most to protect America after the 9/11 attacks.
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How did the committee report get these things so wrong? Astonishingly, the staff avoided interviewing any of us who had been involved in establishing or running the program, the first time a supposedly comprehensive Senate Select Committee on Intelligence study has been carried out in this way.

Why the Snail's Pace Justice for 9/11?

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After 9/11, 13 years ago today, military commissions were supposed to be a way to achieve swift justice for those perpetrators whom we were able to capture and bring back alive.  They were in World War II, after all.  See this post from two years ago.

Immediately upon their capture, the perpetrators had intelligence value that overrode the retribution interest in giving them their deserved punishment quickly.  That day is long since past.  That day had already passed before Barack Obama became President.  Is he actually going to leave office after two full terms without executing KSM or any of the other top leaders of this atrocity?

Attorney General Holder once said on this matter that "failure is not an option."  At this point it looks like failure is a near certainty.

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