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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Homeland security intelligence needs immediate, drastic improvements

*Unless specifically designated, the term homeland security refers to all departments and agencies charged with homeland security duties.

A week ago the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an unclassified intelligence assessment of the latest homegrown terrorist attempts. Overall, it was a well written, clear and concise assessment. It focused primarily on the Najibullah Zazi and Faisal Shahzad cases, outlining some of the commonalities between them in an effort to provide state and local law enforcement essentially a snapshot of the trends. It reveals that “the number and pace of attempted attacks against the United States over the past nine months have surpassed the number of attempts during any other previous one-year period,” according to CNN. But why it required time and manpower from a department in the Intelligence Community (IC) to essentially summarize what has been in the media for at least six months, not to mention basically regurgitating analysis that has been done by websites like this one, seems to me to be a waste of already limited homeland security resources.

On 3 November 2009, shortly after the Finton and Smadi cases became public and only two days before U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan shot and killed fellow Soldiers at Ft. Hood, I wrote an analysis of the then-current and rising number of terrorist attacks / attempts perpetrated by homegrown terrorists. In my analysis I discussed how “threats emanating from within our borders are much more difficult to track or interdict” primarily because “homegrown extremists have the luxury of already operating inside of our overseas and border security layers and being familiar with our culture.” It took six months for DHS to come to a similar conclusion. According to media reports the DHS assessment released last week stated “recent attempted terror attacks have used operatives and tactics which made the plots hard to detect” because the terrorists “spent significant time in the United States and were familiar with their alleged targets.” This is not an earth-shattering revelation. Even more obvious is the statement that “the plots involved materials that can be commonly purchased…without causing suspicion.” Really? This has been the modus operandi for quite some time now. Terrorists understand how difficult it is to surreptitiously obtain traditional explosives and triggering mechanisms in the United States and as a result have relied on what is termed “field-expedient” explosive devices (FEDs).* These devices are generally constructed out of easily obtained everyday inconspicuous items. The only way it becomes suspicious is if 1) the items being purchased are known to be used by terrorists in constructing FEDs and 2) the supplies are purchased in large quantities. The first point means intelligence or law enforcement authorities must make not only local law enforcement, but also the public, aware of what can be used to create explosives. In the Zazi case it was hydrogen peroxide and acetone, two of the main ingredients in Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP). TATP was the primary explosive in the 2001 attempted bombing by Richard “the shoe bomber” Reid and the 2005 London train bombings. As for point two, unless the public is aware that certain products are used by terrorists, they have no reason to suspect a buyer who comes in and purchases supplies in bulk. However, if the terrorist suspects he / she is being surveilled, or if they believe the store employees are monitoring the purchase of certain products, they may divide the workload among other, witting or unwitting, participants or buy from different stores; much like how methamphetamine cookers used to shop multiple stores in search of cold medicines that contained pseudoephedrine. Again, in the Zazi case, he enlisted the support of family members to make trips to the beauty supply store to purchase the hydrogen peroxide (hair bleach) and acetone (nail polish remover), both of which are contained in various types of beauty and hair supplies, the purchase of which would not be suspicious if the buyer purported to be an owner of a hair salon or spa. Unfortunately, both points depend on human intervention; the homeland security network making the public aware of potential threats and the public remaining vigilant and reporting suspicious activity. Humans are not infallible.

*Some may term these as “improvised explosive devices,” or IEDs. This is incorrect. An IED is an actual explosive device (i.e. artillery shell, landmine, small arm ammunition, etc) that is improvised in such a way that it can be detonated using an unconventional method. For example, in Iraq and Afghanistan insurgents and terrorists use artillery shells and wire it with either a manual or electrical firing system, such as a cell phone. In some cases they are wired with both as a fail-safe measure. When a device is constructed from normally non-explosive, everyday material (i.e. hydrogen peroxide) it is considered “field-expedient” since it must be made expediently while in the field.

The Zazi case would begin the U.S. law enforcement’s “year of luck.” In his case, the only reason the plot failed was because somewhere in his past he had a connection to terrorists who were being monitored or investigated by our British cousins who then passed his name to our Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), thus placing Zazi firmly on our radar. Very lucky indeed. Aside from Nidal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter, the other major attempts (i.e. Christmas Day, Times Square) succeeded, meaning that everything went according to the terrorists’ plans except for the explosion. Our law enforcement and intelligence communities played no role in stopping those attempts.

The recently released DHS memo further advised that terrorists may attempt attacks in the United States with “increased frequency” and “we have to operate under the premise that other operatives are in the country and could advance plotting with little or no warning.” It also indicates that the recent attacks demonstrate that terrorists are seeking “easily accessible targets.” Again, this is not a new terrorist trend nor should it be new to counterterror analysts. Almost exactly four years ago Clark Kent Ervin, the former inspector general at DHS, wrote that heightened security of certain key targets “has increased the appeal of shopping malls, sports arenas, hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, housing complexes and other ‘soft’ targets that remain relatively unprotected against terrorist attacks.” Like water in a river, terrorists will seek the path of least resistance.

If DHS released this assessment back in November, or even December, it would have been forward looking and very informative and could thus be considered timely and actionable, thus demonstrating the capability of the homeland security intelligence enterprise. Alas, it was released only a week ago. It is reminiscent of the scene in the movie Pearl Harbor with Ben Affleck, when, as the U.S. Navy Admiral in command of Pearl Harbor is in the middle of almost 2,500 dead Americans and a crippled Pacific Fleet, he is handed the intelligence memo telling him that war with Japan should be deemed imminent. The premise behind having an intelligence capability is that they will tell you of what is to come, using their best experience with the enemy, judgment of the situation, and based on solid analysis of all sources. It may be wrong, but at least the analysts will not be afraid to go out on a limb with what little information they have at their disposal. Writing assessments of what has already happened is what 24-hour news outlets are for. Until DHS decides it does not answer to other federal departments and agencies and forges ahead on its own in the intelligence arena, we will continue to see assessments and analyses after-the-fact.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

DOD takes terrorism seriously

A recent article in the Washington Post, [“Building security standards for civilian Defense Department workers questioned,” 25 May 2010], posed the question, “Are the lives of Defense Department civilians worth more than the lives of other federal workers?” According to the article by Joe Davidson, that question is “being raised by members of Congress who doubt the need for extraordinary building security standards for Defense workers.”

Well I have two questions for Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and any other member of Congress asking similar questions, who will they call to testify before Congress when the next terrorist attack occurs and will Congress want someone to pay with their career if DOD personnel are injured or killed?

When the U.S. Air Force housing at Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia was bombed on June 25, 1996, killing 19 Air Force personnel senior levels of the U.S. government began asking how something like this could happen. In response, Secretary of Defense William J. Perry sent retired U.S. Army Gen. Wayne A. Downing to do a no-holds barred After Action Review to determine if mistakes were made, where they were made, and by whom. The resulting report, known as the Downing Report, outlined the antiterrorism and force protection failures, which contributed to the number of casualties. Additionally, on August 14, 1996 the House National Security Committee, chaired by the late Rep. Floyd D. Spence (D-S.C.), issued a report outlining the failures found by the Congressional committee. In it Rep. Spence stated, “It is my belief that such a review [the Downing Report], combined with the committee’s preliminary work, will form the foundation from which Congress can better determine how this tragedy occurred and, perhaps more importantly, what measures are now appropriate to better prepare for such threats in the future.” Ironically, the security measures Del. Norton and others are complaining about are the results of Gen. Downing’s report, which established the antiterrorism and force protection standards DOD uses today.

Maybe Del. Norton and her colleagues do not remember the bombing of the Khobar Towers housing complex, but they should remember the terrorist attacks that occurred on 9/11, one of which took place right across the river from Congress. Most members of Congress have never served in the military nor are they versed in antiterrorism or force protection measures, so it is understandable why they would question the inequality in protection standards. But with the continued threat of terrorism, especially with the most recent threats emanating from homegrown terrorists, now is not the time to be discussing lowering or eliminating those standards. If there is to be a discussion about how DOD protects its personnel and how the rest of the federal protects, or doesn’t protect, theirs, it should be about what measures need to be increased or added for the rest of the federal government not what protective measures should be taken away from DOD.

Instead of other federal employees complaining that if they do not have protection then neither should DOD they should probably be demanding better protection from their departments and agencies. DOD is doing it right and setting the standard; the rest of the government needs to follow their lead or stop whining.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Homeland Security Funding: One Fine Pig!

I must warn you, the reader, this blog entry is one of my longer posts. It is not without reason though; the problem addressed below is a complex one, an issue that has not been adequately addressed in almost a decade, and one which if not addressed will come under scrutiny by Congress after the next terrorist attack as if no one knew about it. Here is their warning.

Since the terrorist attacks on 9/11 departments and agencies at all levels of government charged with counterterrorism have been vigilantly awaiting the next attack. They are realists; they understand it is not a matter of if, but of when and how big. We have seen a few botched opportunities, Najibullah Zazi, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and most recently Faisal Shahzad. There have even been a few successful, albeit low-tech, attacks, such as Carlos Leon Bledsoe who shot two Soldiers in front of a recruiting station in Little Rock and the Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hasan.

Part of the federal government’s counterterror program includes providing funds, hundreds of billions of dollars since 9/11, to high-risk cities and regions. The way the risk is determined is based on a simple methodological process whereby analysts evaluate the threat to that city (TA), the criticality of infrastructure / key resources in or near the city (CA), this includes population density, and the city’s major vulnerabilities (VA).* This is a standard methodological approach to assessing risk and can be found in almost all risk assessments regardless of the topic; terrorism, business continuity, disaster preparedness, and emergency management, just to name a few. Some of the most “out-of-the-box” thinkers have even adapted it to areas such as business development and operations management.

* The formula is usually rendered as RA = TA + CA + VA.

Last week New York City Mayor Bloomberg complained his “city is continually shortchanged on anti-terror funding given the threats it faces.” Bloomberg and other politicians, such as NY Rep. (R-L.I.) Pete King, the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, feel that New York City should receive most of the homeland security money and that, because they are not, then Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano must not be doing their jobs.** Of course, Bloomberg failed to mention that just one week before the attempted bombing of Times Square he had been set to lay-off almost a thousand NYC police officers. He has since changed his mind.

**According to Obama and Napolitano, the money has been provided; New York City officials have just not accessed it and put it to use.

The problem

Once a risk assessment is conducted it should be used to develop a prioritized list of the most high-risk cities so that federal funding can be allocated accordingly. Ideally this process is apolitical and not subject to human interference, if done properly and according to the methodology in place. However, at the end of the day the process involves the distribution of money. Herein lays the problem. In politics money equals power. The more money a politician brings to their constituents the more jobs can be kept or created and the better chance that politician has of being re-elected. Of course the politicians do not couch it in that language. They use the language of fear, claiming their city is the biggest terrorist target or has the most important infrastructure or vulnerabilities.

With the Bush administration still reeling from 9/11, a number of so-called “terrorism experts” began to appear as talking heads on cable news shows and providing testimony to Congressional committees. The majority of these “experts” were long-time law enforcement officers with maybe, if they were lucky, a short term assignment to a terrorism investigation some time in their career or they were long-time academicians who maybe wrote a book or a few magazine articles on the Palestinian-Israeli problem; almost none were true experts, current or former State Department or U.S. military personnel with real counterterrorism experience. Each of these “experts” had their own view on al-Qa`ida, bin Laden, and terrorism in general. Like all politicians, in an effort to demonstrate to the American public that he was taking some sort of action to keep another attack from happening, the Bush administration simply began to throw money at the problem based on the information or recommendations of these “experts” instead of thinking through the problem and developing a comprehensive national antiterrorism program. Instead, every “expert” that recommended a course of action or a new program saw money thrown into their project, with most never getting started, not meeting expectations, or becoming obsolete, either because of advances in technology or changes in al-Qa`ida’s tactics, by the time they were implemented. Since 9/11, and not even counting Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has witnessed probably the largest example of governmental waste, fraud, and abuse in our nation’s history—and we continue to experience terrorist plots and attempts, the last few of which were foiled solely by good old American luck.

Besides the failure of the Bush, and subsequently the Obama, administration to establish a comprehensive program for homeland security funding, another, even larger problem, has been the power members of Congress have over not only their respective committees, but their ability to re-allocate monies in the federal budget to pet projects; known colloquially as “pork.” This type of effort is usually done at the behest of lobbyists or special interest groups. For example, in January the Heritage Foundation published an article by Matt Mayer who reported “Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., covertly slipped a provision into the [DHS] appropriation bill” that essentially re-allocated $4.5 million, which was initially earmarked for TSA “screening operations and…explosive detection systems,” to “an ineffective [FEMA] grant program for firefighters.” Dodd did this only five months before Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a Northwest flight on Christmas Day last year, a flight he succeeded in boarding due to ineffective screening. While firefighters are an important part to terrorism response, the original focus of the money was on terrorism prevention—something still relatively new in the U.S.—firefighting is part of disaster response and is in place whether there are terrorists or not. Dodd was willing to risk the murder of hundreds of people simply to please a special interest group, in this case the International Association of Fire Fighters. Does anyone really believe if Abdulmutallab succeeded in killing everyone on that flight that politicians like Sen. Dodd would be hauled before a Congressional committee to answer for his “pork” project? The answer is no, it would never happen. I suppose Dodd would have reassured himself that even if those people were killed the firefighters would have been there to put out the flames.

Every year billions of dollars are provided to cities to develop or enhance their security and response capabilities; however, almost a decade after the attacks some major cities still lack basic antiterrorism security equipment and response plans. It begs the question, what have they been doing with the money? The Department of Defense (DOD) has required certain antiterrorism measures on all of their military bases since the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Two key elements of the DOD program, known officially as the Joint Staff Integrated Vulnerability Assessment (JSIVA) program, are 1) every installation initially received a similar package of security and response equipment regardless of their size and 2) every installation receives a vulnerability assessment every three years. It does not matter if the base consists of 100 people or 50,000 people, the initial baseline package was the same. This package consisted of things like barriers for entrances, booths for security forces, and other items.*** The larger bases obviously received more of each type. Every three years one of the JSIVA teams visits the base and assesses things like physical security, information security, operational security, intelligence capabilities and processes, the base’s threat assessment process, emergency preparedness, and disaster response readiness. A final report is then written outlining both best practices and major vulnerabilities; recommendations on how to mitigate or eliminate those vulnerabilities are also provided in the report. Commanders are then able to properly and effectively conduct a comprehensive risk assessment so that they can consciously determine where they can safely assume the least risk and to what problem areas their limited money and equipment needs to be applied. This sounds like something that our large cities, by all accounts our biggest targets, should have done at least once in the past nine years. But according to Mayer’s article, “we have no real idea whether the billions spent have made us safer because DHS has failed to do a comprehensive capabilities assessment since 2003.” According to a body of media reporting documented cases of the misuse of homeland security funds “have included small communities using these defense funds for everything from repairing pot holes to cleaning parks.” Not really the types of things that will stop terrorists, except for maybe the potholes; they could slow the terrorists down as they drive their car bomb to the target. Or better yet, maybe if the terrorists hit the holes hard enough it could set the bomb off killing them.

***While listing antiterrorism equipment and their uses is not classified, or even sensitive, unless the installation and its specific vulnerabilities are also listed I will refrain from doing so here simply as an operational security measure.

But it is not just up to DHS. The cities, in order to continue to receive federal money, should be required to show their major vulnerabilities that still need to be mitigated or eliminated. Then the following year DHS will be able to see if the money provided to the cities was properly allocated or simply wasted. We have so many other programs where states and cities are required to demonstrate sufficient progress in order to continue receiving federal funds, but we do not have one that requires them to demonstrate they are protecting their citizens from terrorists?

The solution

Terrorism funding is not and should not be based solely on threat. If this were the case, New York, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles would get all the money every year. As a result, the terrorists would simply move on to the next, softer, target and counterterror authorities would have to start all over with politicians calling for hearings on Capitol Hill and wanting to know why the new target was not protected and demanding someone be held accountable, when, in all reality, most of the blame in that instance would reside in offices on Capitol Hill, in Congress.

During these trying economic times most locales are facing budget and money woes. It is for this reason that cities must employ experienced risk managers, familiar with the topic of terrorism, to develop and implement a risk assessment program for the city so that antiterror and counterterror funding can be properly allocated. Most major cities have such a position in place; however, they usually have no real authority. This should be changed so that this position has a say in security and emergency response budget considerations. Ideally this person would be the security and disaster response chief and would be in charge of police, fire, EMS, and other offices charged with security or emergency management.

A risk assessment process should be implemented with an annual audit required, similar to the JSIVA assessments done by DOD. The city should be required to do this annually, or at least bi-annually, with an outside agency, ideally DHS, conducting one every five years. DHS has the framework in place—every state has or will have at least one Protective Security Advisor (PSA), at least one fusion center with at least one intelligence analyst, and a number of other DHS personnel (i.e. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and Federal Protective Service). These personnel, at least in the short-term, could be brought together in Tiger Teams that could conduct the initial risk assessments of the most critical locations.

Finally, all homeland security funding would be dependent on having these risk assessments conducted according to the proscribed methodology and schedule and politicians would have no say as to how or where these funds are spent before they are disbursed. Once the city receives its money, if it chooses to spend it on something else and the same vulnerabilities show up on consecutive assessments, that city would not receive funds, or they would receive significantly less, the following year. Of course, this would require that politicians be held accountable, something to which they are not accustomed; preferring instead to assign blame, not be blamed.

Conclusion

As with everything political the current argument between Mayor Bloomberg and the Obama administration is not new and has transcended parties and administrations. In 2005 Mayor Bloomberg had similar complaints about the Bush administration. And as long as the current processes continue the complaints and arguments will also continue. Additionally, taxpayer money will continue to be wasted and even though billions will be spent every year we will not be any safer.

This blog is not meant to be a criticism of Mayor Bloomberg or the Obama administration. On the contrary, I believe both sides are extremely concerned about the next attack and honestly wish to ensure the right people and programs are in the right place when the time comes to either stop the attack or to quickly respond to the attack thus saving untold numbers of lives. On the other hand, I do not believe the current funding processes and programs involved in selecting and prioritizing which locations receive homeland security money and how much they receive are properly implemented. I also do not believe Congress should have a role in re-allocating homeland security money simply to secure their job; however, Congressional reform, beginning with term limits for Congress, is for a future blog. For now, a better job must be done prioritizing and auditing homeland security funds.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Anwar al-Aulaqi: To kill or not to kill...

I am beginning to wonder how many people really and truly understand the difference between war / combat and criminal justice. As a counterterrorism professional with 15-years of experience in the field and degrees in criminal justice and international relations, both with focuses on terrorism, it is easy for me to differentiate between the two. However, and quite unfortunately, it seems like many others, especially those with no experience in the field, either find it difficult to separate the two or refuse to draw the line between them.

Regardless of what it is called, the United States is at war with al-Qa`ida, its allies, affiliates, and ideology. Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and others of their ilk are enemy combatants. If encountered outside of the United States, especially if encountered in a special interest country (i.e. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, etc), also known as the battlefield, they are prime candidates to be justifiably and legally killed in action. This also applies to U.S. citizens like Adam Gadahn, Omar Hammami, and Anwar al-Aulaqi.

The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) and Department of Defense (DOD) saw the utility early on of arming drones and using them to attack terrorists who would disappear into hiding if we had to rely on getting special forces to their location to take them down. Nothing against our special operators, but there is absolutely no way logistically we could keep them on stand-by 24/7 and within a few minutes flight from every possible location where we might encounter terrorists. While we unfortunately have not been able to eliminate the top-tier targets like bin Laden and Zawahiri, this program has been used very successfully to eliminate numerous mid-level al-Qa`ida operatives, the “worker bees’ if you will, which in turn has kept the group off balance and unable to successfully coordinate another 9/11-style attack. This cannot be denied.

Earlier this year the Obama administration added Anwar al-Aulaqi's name to a special list of individuals that can be eliminated by CIA drone if encountered, according to media sources. Aulaqi, a dual Yemeni-U.S. citizen, was born in New Mexico. He was not a concern to the IC or law enforcement until the 9/11 Commission began its investigation. The Commission found that while Aulaqi was the imam, spiritual leader, at a mosque in San Diego he befriended two of the 9/11 hijackers. He then moved to the Washington, DC area and took a position as the imam at a northern Virginia mosque where he again found himself in contact with at least one of the hijackers. Though he was questioned about his ties to the hijackers, it was determined he had no foreknowledge of the attacks. He then left for Yemen and has since assumed a role as an al-Qa`ida propagandist.

Until November 2009 Aulaqi was really only known in the jihadist and counterterror arenas. His name was mentioned in terrorism cases such as the Ft. Dix Five as being inspirational to at least two of the plotters. He gained notoriety in November with the shooting at Ft. Hood, TX by Hasan Nidal who it was revealed had been in contact with Aulaqi, even as far back as 2001 when Nidal attended the same northern Virginia mosque as some of the 9/11 hijackers and where Aulaqi served as imam. Aulaqi even posted approval of the shootings. Then in December Umar Abdulmutallab, the inept underwear bomber, was been linked to Aulaqi. And most recently Faizal Shahzad, the alleged Times Square bomber, has been linked to Aulaqi. How many more chances should Aulaqi be given to radicalize some young Muslim and either inspire or actually direct him, or her, to execute an attack on U.S. soil? When do we draw the line? He obviously is not going to turn himself in. He was in Yemeni custody once before and immediately went underground as soon as he was released.

In a recent New York Times article by Scott Shane, Vicki Divoll, a former CIA lawyer and now a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, claimed she is concerned for Aulaqi’s rights. She stated that while “Congress has protected Awlaki’s cellphone calls,” referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that requires special warrants to monitor electronic transmissions involving U.S. citizens, “it has not provided any protections for his life.” She goes on to argue that judicial process should be required if the individual in question is a U.S. citizen and not on “a traditional battlefield.” Glenn Greenwald, in his recent article in Salon, makes the same argument, claiming “Barack Obama claims the right to assassinate Americans far from any battlefield and with no due process of any kind.”

It is understandable how Mr. Greenwald can err on the side of the law, but Ms. Divoll, as a former CIA employee, should be the first to understand this is not a traditional war and that al-Qa`ida determines the battlefield by their presence and that drone strikes are not assassinations, but are military tools used in combat to kill the enemy before they can kill us; some battlefields require a law enforcement approach, such as here in the U.S., while others require a military approach.

If this were WWII and an American were fighting on the side of the Axis and was killed, would we be having the same argument? No. People back then understood, if one takes up arms against one's country, especially in support of that country's enemy and outside the legal jurisdiction of that country, they can be killed. Obviously the rules of war apply. If the individual in question surrenders they would be treated accordingly.

Anwar al-Aulaqi is an Internet jihadist radicalizer, recruiter, and propagandist and stays well abreast of current events. He knows he has made the "drone list." If he chooses to continue his activities, well aware he can be targeted at-will by the CIA or the military, then he must assume the risk that comes with that choice. He knows where the local authorities are located; he can easily turn himself in.

This latest controversy is but one example of the mixed message the Obama administration is sending to the American people. While I did not agree with the term, at least with Bush’s “War on Terror” everyone knew, unequivocally, if you had ties to terrorists you were a legitimate target and could expect to be killed, unless you were lucky enough to get arrested or turn yourself in. However, even then you would be labeled an “enemy combatant” and would soon find yourself at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) being interrogated with no clue as to when you would be released. Obama’s promises to close Gitmo and to try certain terrorists in U.S. criminal court have blurred the line between combat operations and law enforcement, thus creating confusion about how terrorists are to be treated and who should be hunting them. Let’s face it, these people are terrorists, not bank robbers, they are enemy combatants and should be hunted on the battlefield by our Soldiers and Marines, not by the FBI, and they should not be afforded any rights except the right to live if they surrender. Enemy combatants overseas in previous wars were not Mirandized or afforded trials in U.S. courts. They were either killed or, if they surrendered, found themselves interrogated and held for the duration of the conflict.

We cannot wait for the next attempted bombing, where we may not be as lucky as we have been for the last few, nor can we simply rely on the counterterrorism forces in countries with unstable governments and internal conflicts. Counterterrorism is a matter of self-defense and cannot entail waiting for a bomb to go off so we can ensure due process is served.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Times Square: Latest Attempt by Homegrown Terrorists

The attempted car bombing of New York City's Times Square is yet the latest example of the increased threat by homegrown terrorists in this country and the lack of a comprehensive, effective strategy to combat homegrown terrorists by the Obama administration.

The administration's current strategy, allowing the terrorists to demonstrate their ineptitude and stupidity by setting off their explosives so the rest of the world, especially those near the devices, can see just how incompetent these terrorists really are, seems to be working quite well for Obama's counter-terror departments and agencies. So far none have actually succeeded in blowing anyone or anything up. However, I do not know how long that strategy will continue to work before the terrorists actually catch on and begin to take this more seriously.

It seems Obama's message of "hope" during his campaign was a foreshadowing of how he would conduct counter-terror operations; he would close his eyes really hard and "hope" the bad guys don't kill anyone. Way to go. The new strategy will be regular public service announcements asking everyone in America to "clap their hands and don't let Tink, er, the bad guys' bombs explode!" That should probably do it.