winterbadger: (books)
ISIS: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger (27) I would recommend this as a good starter in understanding what ISIL (and Salafist terrorism in general) is, where it came from, and where it's heading.
The Ionian Mission and Treason's Harbour by Patrick O'Brian (28, 29) More intelligence operations and Mediterranean travelogue than brillian ship-to-ship action, but entertaining and characterful.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman (30) The graphic-novel version of this creepy tale.
InterWorld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves (31) Entertaining young adult fiction from Gaiman and a collaborator.

In process:
With Zeal and Bayonets Only by Matthew Spring
The Philadelphia Campaign: Brandywine and the Fall of Philadelphia by Thomas J. McGuire
The Far Side of the World by Patrick O'Brian
Queen Victoria's Book of Spells Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran by Michael Axworthy
winterbadger: (books2)
I haven't been keeping track of books this year, so I'm probably going to miss out a few titles. But, then, if I'm not remembering them, they can't have made that much of an impact, right?
Read more... )
winterbadger: (badgerwarning)
Sen. John McCain actually said something that I not only agree with but applaud him for saying.

According to BBC reporting, Sen. McCain, along with Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin, criticized the new film Zero Dark Thirty for suggesting that torture was an effective tool in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The three published a letter in which

The senators said the "use of torture in the fight against terrorism did severe damage to America's values and standing that cannot be
justified or expunged".

The makers of Zero Dark Thirty, they went on, had "a social and moral obligation to get the facts right".

Good on them.

(As an aside, I have worked with the US military on many occasions over the years, and many of my friends and acquaintances are serving or retired military. I have NEVER heard anyone say "zero dark thirty"; this expression (which usually means "really, really early" rather than referring to a specific time), is pronounced "oh dark thirty".)

winterbadger: (coffee cup)
I reposted on FB a link to a NYT article about "the War on Christmas" and the way in which false narratives can be brought up short by real historical study.

A blog I've neglected reading lately, Abu Muqawama, has a good piece on a topic, the use of drones in whatever we're calling the GWOT these days, that has the same effect. Anyone needing a refresher on Thomas Jefferon and his own proto-GWOT could do worse than read Joseph Whelan's Jefferson's War: America's First War on Terror 1801-1805.
winterbadger: (pakistan)
Osama bin Laden dead: officials - Americas - Al Jazeera English

President Obama speaking now.

This is amazing. I have no idea how this is happening, or what it means. But it answers some questions...while leaving others.
winterbadger: (re-defeat Bush!)
from the Post's article on GW Bush's interview with Matt Lauer

Interviewer Matt Lauer of NBC News asked Bush why he believed that waterboarding was legal, a topic of significant dispute.

"Because the lawyer said it was legal," Bush replied. "He said it did not fall within the anti-torture act. I'm not a lawyer. But you gotta trust the judgment of people around you, and I do."

He has been widely criticized for directing the lawyers to reach that conclusion, on which there is no legal consensus.
Pressed on whether U.S. soldiers could be exposed to waterboarding because Americans have deployed it, Bush grew irritated and defensive. "All I ask is that people read the book," he said, adding that he would make the same decision again today.

Asked whether he ever questions whether he could have done more to prevent 9/11, the worst attack on U.S. soil, Bush said no.

"We just didn't have any solid intelligence that gave us a warning on this. We didn't have any clear intelligence that said that, you know, 'Get ready. They're gonna fly airplanes into New York buildings,' " he said.

In fact, on Aug. 6, 2001, Bush received a confidential intelligence briefing titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US," detailing al-Qaeda's intent to hijack planes. Bush did not mention that.

He said he had no doubts that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction at the time he ordered the invasion, even though skeptics had warned there were none. Still, he described himself as a "dissenting voice," saying he did not want to go to war but had to.

When weapons were never found, he was "sickened," he writes. Yet he told Lauer he never considered apologizing for a war based on faulty assumptions. "I mean, apologizing would basically say the decision was a wrong decision. And I don't believe it was the wrong decision," he said.
winterbadger: (bugger!)
this is the sort of article that IMO causes people to hate politics and to distrust the media

The thrust of this article seems to be to highlight "the politics of terrorism" and the "complicated -- and politically treacherous -- issues" President Obama's administration faces in reacting to last weekend's attempt to set off a bomb in NYC.

But the Post itself seems to be one one creating controversy out of thin air.Read more... )
winterbadger: (books2)
Despite doing a fair bit of reading (not of books) for my class, I've been keeping up the reading/listening. Read more... )
winterbadger: (badgerwarning)
thanks to [ profile] wcg for this link to a piece by a former Commandant of the Marine Corps and a former CENTCOM commander on how we need to respect *our own* moral standards and not simply sacrifice them whenever we find ourselves in a difficult struggle

thanks to [ profile] tacnukesoul for this piece on how simply playing three-card monte with prisoners isn't the same thing as "closing" Gitmo, and this piece suggesting the former president still has something he needs to say to the US people and to the world.

I'm surprised I haven't heard much discussion of a major shift in US security policy. I guess part of it is that the people I work with day to day are more IT people than policy people. And that the rest of the office is focused on other things. Still, it's a mjor shift (IMO in the right direction).

ETA: Andrew Sullivan's letter to Mr Bush is long. The passages describing torture are difficult to read. But this is at the core of it, for me:

You have also claimed that defending the security of the United States was the paramount requirement of your oath of office. It wasn’t. The oath you took makes a critical distinction: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” It is the Constitution you were sworn to defend, not the country. To abandon the Constitution to save the country from jihadist terrorists was not your job. Yes, of course your role as commander in chief required you to take national security extremely seriously, but not at the expense of your core duty to protect the Constitution and to sincerely respect—not opportunistically exploit—the rule of law.

And the core value of the Constitution, and of your own rhetorical record, is freedom. ... Because the war you declared has no geographic boundaries and no time limit, the power of the executive to detain and torture without bringing charges—the power you introduced—is not just a war power. Because the war on terror is for all practical purposes permanent, the executive power to torture is a constitutional power that will become entrenched during peacetime.

... by condoning torture, by allowing it to take place, and by your vice president’s continuing defense and championing of torture as compatible with American traditions, you have done enormous damage to America’s role as a beacon of freedom and to the rule of law.

America is exceptional not because it banished evil, not because Americans are somehow more moral than anyone else, not because its founding somehow changed human nature—but because it recognized the indelibility of human nature and our permanent capacity for evil. It set up a rule of law to guard against such evil. It pitted branches of government against each other and enshrined a free press so that evil could be flushed out and countered even when perpetrated by good men. The belief that when America tortures, the act is somehow not torture, or that when Americans torture, they are somehow immune from its moral and spiritual cancer, is not an American belief. It is as great a distortion of American exceptionalism as jihadism is of Islam. To believe that because the American government is better than Saddam and the Taliban and al-Qaeda, Americans are somehow immune to the same temptations of power that all flesh is heir to, is itself a deep and dangerous temptation.
winterbadger: (pakistan)
Bhutto killed at rally

I'm not a big fan of Benazir Bhutto's, but I can't see how this does anything but make the situation worse.
winterbadger: (re-defeat Bush!)
"If we were to quit Iraq before the job is done, the terrorists we are fighting would not declare victory and lay down their arms. They would follow us here, home," Bush told a crowd of about 1,000 gathered at a West Virginia Air National Guard maintenance hangar.

Really? We have to fight the terrorists in Iraq because otherwise they will attack us at home?

Can't terrorists *already* attack us at home? Are we safer in Iraq than in the US? Wouldn't Shi'ite militants trained by Iran find it harder to kill US soldiers with EFPs, IEDs, and RPGs if the soldiers were in Watertown, NY, or Killeen, TX?

Are terrorists finding it all that hard to attack us in the US? Sure, the latest groups in the UK seem to have been a bit inefficient, but the 7/7 bombers in London, the 3/11 bombers in Spain, and the 9/11 hijackers in the US seem to have been able to attack us here just fine.

I have this nagging feeling that some part of of the president's statement just ...doesn't...make...sense.
winterbadger: (scotland flag)
Just a very quick note to say I've only just seen the news. I hope and trust that my friends in Scotland (and elsewhere in the UK) are safe and well. You're in my thoughts right now.

Stupid bloody terrorists!
winterbadger: (re-defeat Bush!)
from CNN: American al Qaeda faces treason

American al Qaeda spokesman Adam Yahiye Gadahn is to face treason charges, federal sources told CNN on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old California native who has appeared in five al Qaeda videos will also be charged with offering material support for terrorism, the two sources said.

His indictment was to be returned in Los Angeles and will be announced at 4 p.m. ET in Washington by the Justice Department, one of the sources said.

Wow! A public announcement of a treason trial! This is important news. Did they just capture him? Did they just find new evidence? Did they only just now find out who he was?


According to the story, the FBI has been looking for this guy since 2004. Yes, looking. He's not in custody. They have no idea where he is. He appeared about a month ago in an al Qa'ida video, calling on Americans to become Muslims, but he's appeared on AQ videos before, so this is nothing new.

So...they don't have the guy; they have no new information on him; they have no new charges to bring. Why announce an indictment now?

Oh, right. It's October.
winterbadger: (UK)
from the BBC (

Reid Speech Disruped by Hecklers
During his time in Leytonstone, east London, which also involved a visit to a mosque, Mr Reid said community and religious leaders could play a key role in the fight against terrorism.

The home secretary said "our fight is not with Muslims generally". Instead, he said, there was a "struggle against extremism".

And, warning that terrorist fanatics sought to influence youngsters, he said: "There is no nice way of saying this. These fanatics are looking to groom and brainwash children, including your children, for suicide bombings, grooming them to kill themselves in order to murder others."

He stressed that by protecting families the community would protect itself.

The speech came after some Muslim leaders expressed concerns about the UK's foreign policy and called for it to be changed.

Mr Reid did not tell Muslim parents to report their concerns to the police but wants them to confront their children's behaviour and talk to them.
Massoud Shadjareh, who chairs the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said Mr Reid's demands were "unrealistic and not demanded from any other community".

Sorry, but this strikes me as totally ostrich-headed. It's unrealistic to ask parents to keep an eye on their kids, to try to keep them from getting recruited by terrorists? Why would that be?

And, yes, people in, say, the Welsh Methodist community are not being asked the same thing because the Home Sec is not speaking in Welsh Methodist communities because Welsh Methodists ahve not been setting off bombs and trying to kill people!

Obviously terrorism and the underlying tensions in the British Muslim community and between that community and the rest of society that lead to young people being recruited by terrorists are are something that all Britons are concerned about and that all Britons need to try to address. Ethnic and religious animosity and related economic and social problems are things that need to be solved by everyone coming together. But there's no point asking me to keep an eye on my kids--I haven't got any! In the same way, there's hardly much point in asking the parents of nonMuslim youth to look out for and try to intercept Muslim terrorist recruiters from suborning their kids--those kids are not the ones being recruited by Islamic extremists for bombing campaigns! Multiculturalism doesn't mean throwing common sense out the window.
winterbadger: (spacemonkeys attacking)
An insightful and humourous, if slightly profane, analysis of recent events in the GWOT (or whatever the White House is calling it this week); many thanks to [ profile] pisica for posting the link!

I particularly love the quote from Herodotus in one of the comments. I think that witty bravado in the face of near-certain destruction is particularly wonderful, and I love to be reminded of it. Another example that springs to mind is the (possibly fictional) reply from the British 1st Airborne officer at the battle of Arnhem, when the German forces who surrounded, overpowered, and outnumbered them mooted the topic of surrender.

"Sorry, chaps," came the reply from the "we don't have the facilituies to take you all prisoner!"

None of which is really relevant to the blog post; I just love the bravado... :-)
winterbadger: (black)
Again, I'm sidetracked from writing the post I meant to. By rage.

As we're listening to denunciation after denunciation of terrorists, and explanations of why it's OK to destroy an entire country to root out a terrorist group, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Israel, along with many prominent Israelis such as former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, are celebrating, celebrating the bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946 that killed nearly 100 people.

We're penalizing the Palestinians for electing Hamas, who are unrepentant terrorists, and we're applauding the attacks on Lebanon that are somehow excused by Hezbollah's attacks on Israel. But we treat Israel as a staunch and beloved ally, despite their having elected to their highest office several unrepentant terrorists, including Menachem Begin, who ordered the King David attack (in retaliation for the *arrest* of Jews in Palestine and the seizure of papers). And this month Israelis are celebrating a terrorist attack that killed British and other servicemembers and civilians. Members of our Congress are trying to block the Iraqi prime minister from making an address to that body because they feel he isn't sufficiently supportive of Israel, but where is their outrage over the IDF using Palestinian civilians as human shields?

But of course, the Israelis are our allies, who share our values and our goals. After all, our leaders tell us so. And our leaders, like Brutus, are all honourable men.


winterbadger: (Default)

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