Al-Qaeda

Manufacturing Scandal

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Here, retired military intelligence officer Ralph Peters tells it like it is: Lazy journalism requires scandal. It is much easier to generate a story from what is not known than what is known. Thus, media types can turn what-ifs into headlines. The scandal that is Snowden is really only worth a few headlines. He did it, it’s a crime, he admits he did it. If the media wants to really milk this, they must talk about unknowns, possibilities, technicalities, and avoid the fact that recent court decisions have labeled NSA activities legal.  Disconnected, out of context arguments can be melded into unified theorems in which black helicopters no one ever sees are hovering outside our windows hoping to catch us surfing porn.

Members of the Congressional Intelligence committee have known the details of NSA programs for years. The fake outrage they present in hearings broadcast on CSPAN is populism of the most despicable sort.

A collapsing World Trade Center rings hollow to some, as does the fact that NSA employees have bosses to answer to everyday, and those bosses want dead terrorists on their list of achievements, not the URLs of gay porn sites visited by congressmen. To people, in America, both Left and Right, there is a pervading mythology that society, security, culture and good government are held together by mysterious, invisible forces, akin to luck. That’s false. Things work because of a concerted effort to make them work. Al-Qaeda has been kept in check not because jihadists are tired, had a change of heart, or because America apologized for its “rapacious” behavior abroad. They’ve been kept in check because almost every country in the Western world seized their bank accounts, jailed its operatives, killed its zealots, increased security at airports and other vulnerable nodes, and invaded its sanctuaries.

“Because Freedom”, is not an argument. Success is rarely a mistake.

 

Again, Clausewitz’ model fails us in Syria

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We’re stuck in 18th century military thinking and we barely do that as well as Napoleon or Sherman.

Clausewitz’ theorem, that all war is extension of politics (or policy) by other means, simply does not hold in the majority of the wars America has been involved in in the last 15 years. War as politics is the brood of RealPolitic , that is that wars have a logical purpose which in the end makes for a better peace.

As Ralph Peters states, modern warfare has largely reverted back to its default setting, before the state became all-powerful. It is now, “Wars of Blood and Faith”, as Peters terms it. Clausewitz assumed that people, army, and government were separate entities in a war. Current engagements involve people fighting that do not represent governments, are not an organized army per se. This is one reason that when we see dead “civilians”, many in America want to do something to stop war crimes, as civilians are not lawful targets in war. But in the case of Iraq II, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt and Syria, civilians were in fact the enemy. They wore no uniform and held few conventions that modern armies hold to. A US soldier can shoot a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan, and someone can protest: “You shot a farmer!”–and they’d be right. Current laws of war are wholly inadequate in this type of war. The outrage many express at the slaughter in Syria is merely what war always was before the last 200 years. In fact, Qaddafi and Assad are fighting in the only way they can win. Assad cannot throw down his arms, build a school, and quell the insurgency. Historically, this is how insurgencies were stopped: Remorselessly hunt down the insurgents and kill them until they quit. Because of the nature of a “people’s war” the combatants become so marbled with noncombatants, that innocents inevitably die. It’s why America will not win another “small war” in our lifetime.

Our confusion on this matter is clouding the analysis of Syria. It ruined our analysis of Libya and Egypt. If the exact same people fighting against those governments wore uniforms, America would not have sided with them. It was merely our instinct to protect civilians that resulted in US intervention. In both countries, chaos now reigns. In Syria, the most powerful forces of blood and faith are now at work–those of the Sunni/Shia schism. Little talked about, perhaps because Americans do not properly understand the intensity of hatreds that can arise between sects, is the fact that the Syrian conflict is boiling down, just as the Iran/Iraq War, and Iraq II’s insurgency did, to Shia vs Sunni Islam. In the case of Iraq, when the minority Sunni Baathist regime fell, and was replaced by Shia, disavowed Sunni Baathists, desperate to retain power, joined al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). In Syria, a Shia minority, led by Assad, rules a Sunni majority. Iran, a majority Shia nation, backs Assad. If Assad falls, the civil war will rage on. This is not about the despot Assad, it is about Sunnis coalescing power in the form of al-Qaeda, against Shia Assad, backed by Hezbollah irregulars.

Deepening American involvement in Syria threatens to bring much more chaos. Iran is already threatening retaliation, Russia, more intervention. Better to let Hezbollah and al-Qaeda hammer each other.

The Global Salafists now have the initiative

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Former British Special Air Service operator and now best-selling author, Andy McNab, writes in one of his great novels, I can’t remember which one, that in a fight, you never let your opponent move forward first.  When you sense an impending fight, attack, or go on a defensive campaign from which you may never recover (dodging a punch never ended a boxing match–landing a punch has done so many times).

America had global salafists, such as al-Qaeda, on the ropes, but failed to finish them. And when the next round of the fight began, we weaved and bobbed to just survive until the bell rang, hoping the judges would give us the split decision.

But there is no bell and there are no judges.

In almost every country in which Islamic fundamentalists operate extensively, they have taken an offensive stance. In Yemen, Afghanistan  Pakistan, Somalia, Lebanon, Sudan, Nigeria, Libya, and Egypt, it is not government power that brings fear, it is Islamist militias. The situation is far worse than it was prior to 9-11-2001 and worse than it was before 2008.   The terrorists got the message: Americans want peace and aren’t willing to fight as hard as we are. America’s line in the sand was obliterated by mushy generalities and emphasis on American short comings. But fighting the global jihad with self-flagellating words is like fighting a termite infestation with peace offerings of cracker crumbs: The gesture makes the problem worse.

We can expect things to get worse.  When America withdraws from its foolish foray into nation building in Afghanistan, it is unlikely that Afghan military forces will be able to hold back the tide of terrorists, criminals, and warlords that await.  The Mother of all Mission Creep (MOAB-C) went from punitive raid to national level welfare.  The saddest thought is that we had the war won already and let politicians use Afghanistan for campaign slogans.

Whomever holds the seat of President of the United States after the coming election with be faced with some very tough choices. The withdrawal from Afghanistan and resultant violence will inevitably draw criticism from political opposition.  It may also boost morale for jihadists throughout the world. And yet, there seems no other option.

And yet this may not be the worst of it.  The world is running out of time to deal with Iranian nuclear ambitions, and Uber-Militia, Hezbollah–better armed than 90% of the world’s nations–appears to be readying itself for war.

The Evil Genius of al-Qaeda

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Reports indicate that al-Qaeda has resorted to setting forest fires in Europe.  These fires have killed scores of people and done untold property and environmental damage.

This tactic is an example of the types of attacks that former special operations commander, John Robb, writes about in his book, Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the end of Globalization.  The terrifying truth is that modern technology both allows individual terrorists to commit powerful attacks and also leaves nation states that employ high technology very vulnerable.  And all at very little expense to the terrorist compared the nation’s costs in defending itself.

People constantly talk about al-Qaeda et al’s lack of military power.  But, historically speaking, a large forest fire could easily destroy as much life and property as a carpet bombing campaign.  And since the terrorist’s goal is not to be precise in his targeting  but merely to cause the West to expend itself in various ways, it is a perfectly viable alternative–and much, much cheaper, than bombing.

But when a continent, such as Europe, allows the immigration of a huge population whose ideals are not compliant with its own, one could expect a lot of problems.  One thing is for sure, al-Qaeda is not going away by the world simply ignoring it.  It will take the moral authority–which means all legal powers–as well as military power to defeat this movement.  It can be defeated, just as Nazism and Communism were defeated (Can’t kill an idea, you say?).  In the case of Communism it took decades, just as it will with militant Salafism.  It is important that 1)  the West retain the moral high ground (which should be difficult against the likes of al-Qaeda), (2) never enable the duplicitous nations of the Middle East and Central Asia (as we’ve done with Pakistan and Afghanistan) and (4) firmly state what the west stands for juxtaposed against what al-Qaeda stands for.  And finally, (4) we should kill or capture every terrorist we can, not try to find complex ways to turn him into something other than a terrorist.  The best way to change the mind of a terrorist is through superior firepower.

Islam’s Last Man

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“War is a force that gives us meaning”~Chris Hedges

At some subliminal level, there is the belief that the world is peaceful, now, and in fact the numbers bear this out.  There is less mass killing going on today than at any time in recorded history.

But why?  There are some that believe that there is less killing because of Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History”. The basic argument being that democracy has trumped war.    At a deeper level, Fukuyama’s little understood theory states that people in democratic societies become ever more self-absorbed, and eventually lose any taste for war.  They become what he calls, “Last Men”.   Fukuyama’s theory took a severe beating from everyone (including myself), both on the Left and Right.  The people on the Left, ears perked because of Fukuyama’s self-proclaimed Neo Conservative views, believed that he was condoning the forceful application of democracy. Those on the Right scoffed when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers, and asked, where is your Last Man now?

At its core, Fukuyama’s argument is that of Hegel (why always Hegel?).  He believes that history and man are evolving and that we have essentially found our social Holy Grail: Liberal Democracy.  Democracy, he says, fulfills the understated need of Man–the need to be recognized.  Whereas the easiest way for a man to earn recognition in the ancient world was to become a warlord, now, a vote can provide “shadow recognition”.

But wait.  Just when we think Fukuyama is advocating a purposeful journey to the Last Man, he shifts his argument to that of Nietzsche.  When we get there, when we’ve achieved a state of peace and comfort, we feel no passion.  Nietzsche argued that war is a manifestation of man’s desire for passion and danger.  This flies in the face of the commonly held view that war occurs because of class disparities and economic reasons, which is the Marxist view, and in fact, the view held by many on the Right in the United States.  Fukuyama  recognizes the emptiness at the end of liberal democracy’s road.  We are the dog who’s caught the car. Now what?  Nietzsche recognised  the human need to not only be fed, but to feel energized.  Why else would people do such things as bungie-jumping, extreme sky-diving, and dangerous mountain climbing? Or simply playing a pickup game of basketball or engaging in political argument for that matter.

Where we have gone critically wrong however, is in leaving the liberal out of liberal democracy when it comes to events such as the Arab Spring.  What do we mean by liberal in this sense? Essentially it comes down to a belief in Lockean ideals.  The idea that humans have fundamental rights, regardless of where they are born.  And where do those fundamental rights come from? For Locke and America’s founding fathers, they came from God.  In today’s postmodern world, there is no fundamental reason for inalienably rights. Where do they come from?  Apparently from nowhere.

So there are the fatal flaws of a liberal democracy.  A lack of meaning and fervor.  The Left, eternally beholden to the idea that crime, terrorism,  and most of the ills of the modern world are linked to joblessness or working conditions, does not fathom the importance that radical Islam plays in enervating and providing the chance to be noticed for a young Muslim man.

As the Libyan, Egyptian, and other Arab governments fell, and the Syrian government still holds in the balance, the zeitgeist of economic determinism gave secular Westerners hope.  Striding from the shadows of despotism, true believers saw Islam’s Last Man.  that somehow Big Macs would overcome fanaticism.  Only a person who has ordered too much fast food but never read a page of Joshua would really believe such a thing.   At its roots, this belief is a denial that Islam in inherently dangerous or aggressive.  It is a belief–a hope–that Islam is just another religion.

Fukuyama states, in the ending of his original essay on the matter:

The end of history will be a very sad time. The struggle for recognition, the willingness to risk one’s life for a purely abstract goal, the worldwide ideological struggle that called forth daring, courage, imagination, and idealism, will be replaced by economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands. In the post-historical period there will be neither art nor philosophy, just the perpetual caretaking of the museum of human history. I can feel in myself, and see in others around me, a powerful nostalgia for the time when history existed. Such nostalgia, in fact, will continue to fuel competition and conflict even in the post-historical world for some time to come. Even though I recognize its inevitability, I have the most ambivalent feelings for the civilization that has been created in Europe since 1945, with its north Atlantic and Asian offshoots. Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started once again.

But for many in the world, history is just beginning. For millions of people around the world, fighting and killing is still the most meaningful thing they will ever do.  All the better if the killing guarantees paradise.  No amount of Super Sized meals or economic opportunity will change this.  And while a vote can give a person a sense of recognition and power, it can also enrage him if the person he voted for doesn’t get elected.  While it is easy to believe that people like Mubarak held millions under his boot, a closer look will reveal a horde of jihadists that he’d imprisoned to maintain order.  It is the same in Saudi Arabia and it will be the same again in Iraq.  No secular government can survive in the Arab world without maintaining a police state.  We can educate the ideological, and we’ll have a smarter terrorist.  All of the 9-11 conspirators were educated.  We can give the ideological a job, and then he will have money to buy AK-47s.  We can provide him with free health care, and then he’ll receive treatment after blowing his fingers off while making a bomb in his basement.

In fact, the world is still a very dangerous place.  At no time in history has a single man been capable of so much destruction.  Once a single  zealot could only raise a sword in defiance.  Now he can plant a single bomb containing VX gas in a sports stadium and kill 40,000 people in 30 minutes. A single man can move from one side of the world to the other in a matter of hours, whereas it used to take years. The breakup of the Soviet empire and the dissolving of other regimes has spread weapons to the four winds.  States such as Iran and Pakistan routinely use terrorism to achieve political goals.  And even supposedly reformed Russia routinely takes steps to hinder America, supporting blatantly insane regimes like Syria and Iran.    And though al-Qaeda has suffered a series of strategic defeats, it is nonetheless a potent entity, far from dead.  

Now Egypt has elected a Muslim fundamentalist as president, Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Though Morsi talks a good game, promising to honor all Egypt’s peace agreements, analysts, such as myself will watch his actions more closely than his words.  Morsi promises to work to free from prison Omar Abdel-Rahman, “The Blind Sheik”, who is convicted of conspiracy in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Rahman is a fundamentalist Islamic terrorist to the core.  Morsi has called Israeli leaders “vampires” and “killers.” It seems that even if Morsi plans to run a  truly democratic country, Egypt is destined to become a safe haven for terrorists.   Already, two weeks ago, a group of terrorists moved from the Sinai Peninsula and killed several Israeli citizens.  It is not difficult to image Egypt, still psychologically distraught by defeats at the hand of Israel, could use proxy-terror armies similar to Hezbollah to attack Israel.

In any event, it is doubtful that Morsi is Islam’s Last Man.  MacDonalds and the internet have done little to stem the tide of Islamism.  In fact, never before has Islamic extremism been so mainstream.   The new model is political Islam.  Islamists realize they cannot rule a country by merely blowing everything up.  That is the Abu Zarqawi model.  But in these regions, in Yemen, Somalia, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan and Syria, the jihadist is gaining ground.   My tepid prediction is that the next 20 years will not be pretty.  And the last 5 have not been very comely either.

Essay submitted at American Military University

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Here’s my final essay, submitted to American Military University.  I’m currently studying military intelligence at AMU.  Feel free to comment.

Douglas John Moore, Student #: 4212140

Course Name:  Tactical Intelligence (INTL422 I Sum 11)

25 September 2011

Course Instructor:  John Casey

 

Intelligence Operations in OIF:  What the US Got Right, What it got Wrong, and How it Adapted.

     Thesis Statement:  Intelligence for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) can be divided into three distinct phases.  The intelligence estimates created and analysis conducted following the attacks by al-Qaeda on the Twin Towers and during the buildup for OIF constitute the first phase of intelligence operations for OIF.  The second phase of intelligence is represented by tactical intelligence gathering and dissemination during the US’s conventional operations against Iraqi military targets while the third and final phase of intelligence operations occurred as al-Qaeda attempted to bring the full force of the global insurgency to bear against coalition forces in Iraq by inciting sectarian violence and attacking coalition forces.  Each phase produced successes and failures which strongly impacted the outcome of the war.

 

 

 

Phase 1: Intelligence as an Extension of Politics

     The US intelligence community was thrust into the international spotlight after the attacks by al-Qaeda on 9 September, 2001.  Problems with information sharing between intelligence agencies and the FBI highlighted the discussion.  As the US government began its investigations into who perpetrated the 9-11 attacks and to what level the attackers were backed by foreign national governments, eyes turned to Saddam Hussein and his Baathist regime.  Faced with the possibility of transnational proliferation of nuclear weapons and shocked by terrorist attacks of unprecedented cunning and ferocity, the Bush administration turned to the intelligence community to answer two questions:  Does the Iraqi military possess Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)? And, to what extant does Saddam Hussein harbor or fund al-Qaeda terrorists?

These two issues were important because they represented the lever which the Bush administration used to make politically viable preemptive war against Saddam Hussein.  According to a CNN report covering Bob Woodward’s book:  Plan of Attack, President Bush found scant evidence of WMD in Iraq even after he viewed satellite imagery and signal intercepts.  President Bush believed the issue of WMD to be central to gaining the trust and backing of the public.  He asked then CIA director, George Tenet to tell him if Saddam had WMD: Tenet’s response was categorical:  “It’s a slam dunk case.” [1]

Interestingly, CENTCOM never deeply investigated whether Iraq had WMD, weaving the assumption that Iraq possessed chemical weapons into the planning of OIF.  The primary question that CENTCOM analysts sought to answer was whether the Iraqi military would use WMD, not if it possessed them.[2] Also of interest is that although the primary criticism directed at the US intelligence community was that it did not share information efficiently, it was information sharing that fed a large portion of the brief General Colin Powell gave to the US Security Council in 2003.  An intelligence source, Codename: CURVEBALL, provided information to the German foreign intelligence agency, which in turn shared the information with the Defense Intelligence Agency which then passed the information on to the CIA.  Neither the DIA nor the CIA ever had direct contact with CURVEBALL, and several analysts, both German and American, found CURVEBALL’s attestations of Iraqi “Mobile Production Facilities for Biological Agents” to be dubious.  Never the less, the information provided by CURVEBALL was used to justify OIF.[3]

 

C. Powell testifies in ’03, WH archives

     Intelligence assessments outlining Iraq’s WMD capability were largely wrong.  Hooker states:  “CBW were not employed, indicating the increased likelihood that Iraq did not have stocks of weaponized chemical or biological agents ready to employ.”[4] In the end, the US intelligence community along with many in the Bush administration bore the brunt of political backlash.  The Iraq Intelligence Committee wrote:

“The Intelligence Community’s performance in assessing Iraq’s pre-war weapons of mass destruction programs was a major intelligence failure. The failure was not merely that the Intelligence Community’s assessments were wrong. There were also serious shortcomings in the way these assessments were made and communicated to policymakers.”[5]

The interpretations of intelligence regarding al-Qaeda’s connections with Saddam Hussein seem to be divided along political and ideological lines.  However, it cannot be denied that known terrorists operated within Iraq’s borders and given Saddam’s autocratic rule, it is likely the terrorists operated with Saddam’s blessings.  In Colin Powell’s testimony before US Security Council in 2003, he told the council that Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi , a trained Jordanian terrorists with direct ties to Osama bin laden, operated in Iraq and had even moved his operations to Bagdad.  US intelligence had tracked Zarqawi’s movements and conducted link analysis showing some of his associates.[6]

Zarqawi Network, Whitehouse Archives

     This analysis proved true.  Though the extent to which Saddam helped Zarqawi to achieve his goals is unknown, it does seem that Zarqawi was able to operate in Iraq with Saddam’s approval.  Zarqawi would haunt the Coalition through the dark days prior to the American troop surge and until McChrystal’s Joint Special Operation’s Command (JSOC) finally doomed the arch-terrorist.

 

 

Phase 2: Shock and Awe

     The second phase of intelligence as it applied to OIF occurred during CENTCOM’s planning phase for the war and also in tactical applications during the actual invasion. The US government constantly monitored the Iraqi military force composition after Desert Storm and successfully predicted several outcomes in the conventional phase of the war.  The intelligence estimates were correct in assessing several of Iraq’s military capabilities and tactical intelligence assets effectively targeted hundreds of Iraqi military installations and assets for missile and bomb strikes.[7]  However, intelligence estimates were wrong on several counts.  For instance, analysts believed that Saddam would attack Israel, would probably use WMD and overestimated the Iraqi army’s willingness to stand and fight.[8]

Phase 3: Into the Maelstrom

     CENTCOM asked intelligence analysts to determine the most likely security situation in Iraq after the conventional fight came to a close (Phase IV).  The analysts concluded that while sectarian violence and attempts to fill power vacuums by tribal warlords was likely, coalition forces would not be the primary target of attacks.  Compared to the previous phases, phase IV of operations in Iraq received little attention in intelligence estimates.[9]  Although some analysts and pundits state that the insurgency found fuel when L. Paul Bremer dissolved the Iraqi army, Bremer presents evidence that this dissolving was little more than a formality.[10]

As an insurgency coalesced in Iraq, it became clear that the current force composition was unable to stop the rising tide of violence.  Abu Musab al-Zarqawi stepped to the forefront as the leader of a terror organization calling itself Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).[11]  Attacks on coalition forces and Iraqi civilians rose greatly, and in 2006 several observers, including the chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps, believed that America was losing the war in Iraq.[12] [13]Intelligence experts had massively underestimated the strength of al-Qaeda’s global insurgency, the attempt to recruit a transnational horde of terrorists and insurgents from around the world and direct them to do battle as al-Qaeda leadership saw fit.[14]

In order to address the collapsing security situation in Iraq, President Bush pushed nearly 30,000 additional US troops into the fight in 2007.  Additionally, special intelligence gathering and dissemination cells were created under the auspices of General Stanley McChrystal, then commander of JSOC.  Realizing that dissemination of intelligence was far too slow within a classic military hierarchy, McChrystal’s special operations forces realized something had to change.  The answer became mantra:  Become a network to defeat a network.  The strength of AQI and other insurgent groups in Iraq was their disparate, wraith-like nature.  The lumbering stiffness of “Big Army” was inadequate to defeat this new foe.  McChrystal’s organization made sharing intelligence an art and pushed information out in multiple directions as opposed to “stove piping” it in one direction.  Information on the location of a known terrorist may be gained from an informant.  That information was immediately pushed to analysts, who in turn notified kill or capture teams, who then moved immediately to find the suspect.  Any intelligence gathered at the site was pushed back to analysts who would push it out again.  The result was a cascading increase in operational tempo and capture/kill successes.[15] In the end, Task Force 145 killed Zarqawi.  With its elite interrogators drawing HUMINT from captured insurgents, TF 145 contributed heavily to the eventual systemic collapse of the insurgency in Iraq.[16]

Conclusion

     OIF highlights the nature of today’s intelligence operations.  The successes of analysts are not judged as black and white but as varying shades of gray.  The 24 hour news cycle and excitable political atmosphere lead many to ask not if assessments were right or wrong but “how right and how wrong.” Technology has increased the powers of the critic.  The failure of the intelligence community to accurately assess and convince on the matters of WMD in Iraq and to predict the outcome of the collapse of Iraq’s Baathist regimes weighs heavy.  The result though is increased efficiency in US intelligence capabilities with an emphasis on efficiency and information sharing.  How much this new emphasis will be able to resist the juggernaut of bureaucratic inefficiency remains to be seen.

Works Cited

Bowden, Mark. “The Ploy.” The Atlantic, May 2007.

Bremer, L. Paul. “How I didn’t dissolve Iraq’s Army.” The New York Times, September 6, 2007.

Chan, Sue. Iraq Faces Massive US Missile Barrage. n.d. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/01/24/eveningnews/main537928.shtml (accessed September 25, 2011).

CNN Politics Article. Woodward: Tenet told Bush WMD case a ‘slam dunk’. April 19, 2004. http://articles.cnn.com/2004-04-18/politics/woodward.book_1_woodward-reports-slam-dunk-war-plan?_s=PM:ALLPOLITICS (accessed September 24, 2011).

Hooker, Gregory. Shaping the plan for Operation Iraqi Freedom : the role of military intelligence assessments . Washington D.C. : Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2005.

McChrystal, Stanley. It Takes a Network. March/April 2011. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/02/22/it_takes_a_network?page=full (accessed September 25, 2011).

Peters, Ralph. “Last Gasps in Iraq.” USA Today, November 2, 2006: 13A.

Prados, John. The National Security Archive. November 5, 2007. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB234/index.htm (accessed September 24, 2011).

Ricks, Thomas E. “Situationn Called Dire in West Iraq.” The Washington Post, September 11, 2006.

Schultz, Richard H. Global Insurgency Strategy and the Salafi Jihad Movement. USAF Institute for National Security Studies, 2008.

The Iraq Intelligence Committee. The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States regarding Weapons of Mass Detruction. US Government, 2005.

US Government. The Whitehouse Archives. February 5, 2003. http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2003/02/20030205-1.html#40 (accessed September 24, 2011).

Weaver, Mary Anne. The Short, Violent Life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. June 8, 2006. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2006/07/the-short-violent-life-of-abu-musab-al-zarqawi/4983/?single_page=true (accessed September 25, 2011).


[1]  CNN Politics Article. Woodward: Tenet told Bush WMD case a ‘slam dunk’. April 19, 2004. http://articles.cnn.com/2004-04-18/politics/woodward.book_1_woodward-reports-slam-dunk-war-plan?_s=PM:ALLPOLITICS (accessed September 24, 2011).

 

 

 

[2] Hooker, Gregory. Shaping the plan for Operation Iraqi Freedom : the role of military intelligence assessments . Washington D.C. : Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2005.

 

[3] Prados, John. The National Security Archive. November 5, 2007. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB234/index.htm (accessed September 24, 2011).

 

[4] Hooker, Gregory. Shaping the plan for Operation Iraqi Freedom : the role of military intelligence assessments . Washington D.C. : Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2005.

 

[5] The Iraq Intelligence Committee. The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States regarding Weapons of Mass Detruction. US Government, 2005.

 

[6] US Government. The Whitehouse Archives. February 5, 2003. http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2003/02/20030205-1.html#40 (accessed September 24, 2011).

 

[7] Chan, Sue. Iraq Faces Massive US Missile Barrage. n.d. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/01/24/eveningnews/main537928.shtml (accessed September 25, 2011).

 

[8] Hooker, Gregory. Shaping the plan for Operation Iraqi Freedom : the role of military intelligence assessments . Washington D.C. : Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2005.

 

[9] Hooker, Gregory. Shaping the plan for Operation Iraqi Freedom : the role of military intelligence assessments . Washington D.C. : Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2005.

[10] Bremer, L. Paul. “How I didn’t dissolve Iraq’s Army.” The New York Times, September 6, 2007

 

[11] Weaver, Mary Anne. The Short, Violent Life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. June 8, 2006. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2006/07/the-short-violent-life-of-abu-musab-al-zarqawi/4983/?single_page=true (accessed September 25, 2011).

 

[12] Peters, Ralph. “Last Gasps in Iraq.” USA Today, November 2, 2006: 13A.

 

[13] Ricks, Thomas E. “Situation Called Dire in West Iraq.” The Washington Post, September 11, 2006.

 

[14] Schultz, Richard H. Global Insurgency Strategy and the Salafi Jihad Movement. USAF Institute for National Security Studies, 2008.

 

[15] McChrystal, Stanley. It Takes a Network. March/April 2011. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/02/22/it_takes_a_network?page=full (accessed September 25, 2011).

 

[16] Bowden, Mark. “The Ploy.” The Atlantic, May 2007.

 

In the War on Terror, some refuse to ask themselves the right questions

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I’ve noticed that when it comes to discussing the decisive topic of fighting  the global terrorist threat, the ideological left tries to shut down argument by stamping “Case Closed” on crucial points that are clearly up for debate.

For instance, consider water boarding.  Those who oppose water boarding justify their argument primarily by using two deceptive arguments.

First, they use the term “torture” to replace the term water boarding.  There is no room for discussion, apparently, as to if water boarding should truly be considered torture.  To the opposition, it just is.  We should ask ourselves if holding down suspected terrorists and tickling them until they spill the beans is also torture.

Secondly, the opposition duress that water boarding does not work.  The argument implies that real intelligence is not gained from those under the duress of the declared torture.

There are several issues at stake here.  First, if water boarding is truly torture,  how did Khalid Sheikh Mohammed withstand 183 sessions of water boarding without going mad?  Moreover, how did he suffer through this ordeal without providing any intelligence of significant value to the CIA?  KSM states that he provided false information to the CIA in order to shorten the water boarding sessions, while this is a possibility, it seems equally if not more possible that KSM gave up important information concerning the al-Qaeda network and its operations.   Under duress, it would seem easier to  state the truth rather than make out of whole cloth a plausible untruth.  But even if KSM did provide false information, does this take away from the truths he provided?  of course he lied to the CIA.  He was and is an arch-terrorist.   But given his universally accepted role within al-Qaeda,  (no one I know of believes KSM was not part of AQ, not intimately involved in the planning of the 9-11 attacks, and not responsible for beheading Daniel Pearl), KSM possessed vital knowledge concerning al-Qaeda operations around the world.

Suppose a terrorist is being water boarded, and provides the location of a terror cell which is plotting to blow up several public transit hubs in a large city.  He also makes up facts during his interrogation, hoping to shorted the session.  Let’s, for the sake of argument, say he makes up ten facts.  He may even say that the Man in the Moon is providing weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.  But a few days later the terror network is busted, its members arrested and bomb-making material seized.  Do any of the lies take away from the fact that the water-boarding did its job?  That a terror attack that could have injured or killed hundreds and severely damaged the confidence of a population has been stopped?

Of course, those against water boarding will say that terrorists subjected to it won’t give up the location of terrorist cells, they’ll just use the time-proven “brainstorming” method for making stuff up. I say that’s absurd.  The former counter-terrorism chief of the CIA says that the method worked, that KSM gave up information that led to verified results.  In fact, information gained from the KSM interrogation led directly to the identification of Osama bin Laden’s courier, which then led to OBL’s death.  

Again for argument’s sake, let’s assume the utility of water boarding is debatable. That trained CIA interrogators wasted their energy on 183 water applications on KSM without ever gaining anything of value.  But now, ask this question to those against the technique: What if you knew water boarding would save the lives of 200 people in a planned terrorist subway bombing?  You absolutely knew this would work and stop the event.  Humans can argue anything, I realize, but to make a point, let’s assume that it is beyond doubt that water boarding could stop this catastrophe.

I say that whomever refuses to water board in such a case is a stubborn, ideological monster.

It seems that whatever the arguments against water boarding, the argument that it doesn’t work is one of the least valid.  It is similar to the vegetarian argument.  When animal rights groups began protesting, suddenly, meat became bad for us.  There is little science to back this assertion, but it was important because people wouldn’t stop eating meat if they thought meat was good for you.  And so it is with water boarding.  If people really believed that water boarding could save innocent lives, most of them would be all for it.  So it was important to make the argument that it doesn’t work without actually referring to the facts.

But the facts are in.  The CIA and JSOC tracked down Bin Laden using evidence gained from the water boarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  Other terror plots were broken up before their fruition because of the intelligence gained from KSM’s interrogation.  Before we condemn harsh tactics (what could be harsher than shooting a terrorist or Taliban member? ) we should at least ask ourselves the important question: Does the tactic work?