Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
The Global Law Enforcement Action on Terror
Neocon wackos frequently invoke the anti-Democrat cudgel that "Democrats fail to understand the war on terror because they don't get that it's a war." or, in the words of the less-than-great Daniel Pipes back in January 2004:

Nearly all the Democratic presidential contenders as well as other heavyweight Democrats have spoken out against the war on terror, preferring it to be a police action against terror.
And further:

Since 2001, the U.S. has engaged in the neocons' long-desired "war" to end the threat of terror, fighting militarily on two major fronts: Afghanistan and Iraq, and on several smaller ones, with military actions in Colombia, Somalia, and by proxy, in Lebanon. The results? Terror attacks around the world haven't declined, they've increased:

On a global scale: terrorist activity and violence has grown worse, not better since 11 September 2001. Average levels of terrorist violence that would have been considered extreme in the period prior to 9/11 have become the norm in the years since. And there is no sign that this trend is abating. This much is evident from a review of the terrorism incident database maintained by the Rand Corporation for the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT), which is funded by the US Department of Homeland Security. Surveying incidents for the period January 1998 through 11 August 2006 shows that:

- The rate of terrorism fatalities for the 59 month period following 11 September 2001 is 250 percent that of the 44.5 month period preceding and including the 9/11 attacks. This figure has been adjusted to account for the different length of the two periods and it implies an increase in average monthly fatalities of 150 percent. (Only in January 1998 did the database begin to include both national and international terrorism incidents.)

- The rate of terrorist incidents for the post-9/11 period is 268 percent that of the period prior to and including 11 September 2001. This implies a 167 percent increase in what might be called the average monthly rate of incidents.

- A fair portion of the increased activity is related to the war in Iraq -- but not all. Removing Iraq from the picture shows an increase in the average monthly rate of terrorism fatalities of more than 10 percent for the post-9/11 period. The increase in the rate of incidents not counting Iraq is 75 percent.

In other words, if the aim of Pipes' "war" is to make the world safe from terrorism, like World War I "made the world safe for democracy," it has utterly failed. And then there are Iraq and Afghanistan, which have become, respectively, a killing field and a violent narco-state, thanks again to the neocons' anti-terror war machine.

Meanwhile, as terrorism and Islamic militantcy have metastasized into Western Europe and the Western Hemisphere, including the U.S., what has been the most effective at stopping what are mostly amateurish or unrealizable terror plots, by Tim McVeigh types who heppen to derive their militantcy from anti-U.S. sentiments based on "jihadism" rather than from anger over Waco or Ruby Ridge? Not illegal NSA wiretapping or illegal Pentagon spying on American citizens ... not the constitutional outrages of the Patriot Act and "breaking down the wall between law enforcement and the intelligence agencies" as Pipes and others have called for ... nope.

It's been good old fashioned law enforcement -- starting with the lowly criminal informant.

Exhibit A: the recent plot against JFK airport by Caribbean nationals and U.S. citizens of West Indian descent. WNBC reports:

The question was simple: "Would you like to die as a martyr?" The putative terrorist unhesitatingly replied yes -- there was no greater way to die in Islam.

The right answer put the man in the midst of a terrorist plot conceived as more devastating than the 9/11 attacks. He was soon making surveillance trips around John F. Kennedy International Airport -- the "chicken farm," as the planners dubbed their target -- and visiting the Trinidad compound of a radical Muslim group.

On Saturday, the insider -- a twice-convicted drug dealer -- was revealed as a government informant whose surreptitious work undermined a plot to destroy the Queens airport by exploding a jet fuel pipeline. The case demonstrated the growing importance of informants in the war on terrorism, particularly as smaller radical groups become more aggressive ...

...The four Muslim men accused in the JFK plot didn't turn to Pakistan, Iran or Afghanistan for support after targeting the airport, home to an average 1,000 daily flights and 45 million passengers annually.

Instead, according to a federal complaint, the informant and defendants Kareem Ibrahim and Defreitas visited a compound belonging to the Jamaat al Muslimeen, a radical Muslim group based in Trinidad. When Defreitas discussed his radical "brothers" with the informant, he made it clear they were not Arabs, but from Trinidad and Guyana.

The complaint also made clear how deeply the informant had infiltrated the small band of would-be terrorists. While Defreitas, a retired JFK airport cargo worker, made four reconnaissance missions to the airport with the informant, federal authorities captured each one on audio and video equipment.
Sounds more like an episode of "The Shield" than of "Band of Brothers."

What's more:

Last year, informants played a major role in two other terror cases. In June 2006, an informant posing as an al-Qaida operative helped bring down a plot to blow up the Sears Tower. Five of the seven men arrested in that alleged terrorist group were U.S. citizens.

And in May 2006, an NYPD informant's testimony led to the conviction of a man plotting to blow up the busy Herald Square subway station in midtown Manhattan.
Stipulating that the Liberty City Seven -- the Sears Tower plotters -- didn't even have shoes, let alone explosives -- these cases do point out that in our society, as in any, there are disgruntled, criminally minded people, whose outlet for anger ultimately turns destructive and violent. In the present age, many of them turn to jihadism to find meaning for themselves and to feel important, and their criminal intent is best broken up by good old fashioned law enforcement.

Ditto in Britain, where the 7/7 plotters were sussed out by security videos and beat police.

The war on terror, as John Edwards has said, is a bumper sticker -- and a convenient one at that, as it's allowed the military industry and private contract firms to make a killing off the blood of our military personnel, and at the expense of the infrastructure and people of Iraq. But beyond their naked profits, the "war on terror" has gotten us nothing.

Given the choice, I'm with the police action. It comes with all sorts of goodies, like warrants and oversight, it doesn't infringe on my Constitutional right to privacy, and most important, it doesn't have to be run by George W. Bush and his incompetent friends. The closest we get to trouble is those tainted, Alberto Gonzales U.S. attorneys, who I'm sure will be prosecuting suspicious looking hobos by the time we get to the election, in order to help Alberto's party stay in the White House...

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