Friday, 29 January 2010

Targeted Killings of US Citizens? Yes We Can!

President Obama's efforts at disrupting Al Qeada have been marked by a major increase in drone attacks and the use of US Special Forces in short end effective operations against other targets as required. This strategy seems much more pragmatic and is arguably the best way to tackle the Al Qaeda threat around the globe, versus the launching of major campaigns or 'wars' which ties down your forces to specific geographical locations.

However there is one interesting continuation from the Bush era; the authority to kill US citizens abroad. This should obviously present many legal and ethical issues for any administration but at present the threshold seems to be set at if the person "a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests". Is a US citizen chooses to join an organisation such as A Qaeda then "they are then part of the enemy".

For now there seems to have been little debate as to the continuation of this policy, or even its existence I expect in many cases. Though for an organisation like Al Qaeda it would be interesting to see if their propaganda machine could start to use this against the US or on the flip-side when would the US consider it acceptable to target a US citizen who was not abroad?

More can be found at the Washington Post below.


U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people, among them six of 15 top leaders of a regional al-Qaeda affiliate, according to senior administration officials.

a U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Aulaqi, was thought to be meeting with other regional al-Qaeda leaders. Although he was not the focus of the strike and was not killed, he has since been added to a shortlist of U.S. citizens specifically targeted for killing or capture by the JSOC, military officials said.
he has embraced the notion that the most effective way to kill or capture members of al-Qaeda and its affiliates is to work closely with foreign partners, including those that have feeble democracies, shoddy human rights records and weak accountability over the vast sums of money Washington is giving them to win their continued participation in these efforts.
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Sunday, 24 January 2010

High Court Decrees Existence of Corporate Übermensch

Werther gives an analysis of the US Supreme Court's decision to allow corporations to fund campaigns for or against politicians. Most seem to be very surprised by this decision, it has also led me to wonder if the founders would have been happy with the East India Shipping Company being involved with US elections? Or if a company is incorporated in the US over 35 years ago, can it then run for president? Will the Roberts court decide that the Second Amendment also applies to corporations? The Goldman Sachs militia will then roam the streets of DC...

The Supreme Court's wholesale rejection of a century of statutes regulating corporate contributions to political campaigns is a breath of fresh air in a hypocrisy-ridden political process. It certainly ought to sweep away the tendency of timid rationalizers to deny the existence of corporate domination and control of every aspect of governance in the United States — a fact which should have already been made abundantly clear by the terms of the bank bailout and the health care travesty.
Freaks poster
•   Corporations are naturally endowed with personhood (the a priori assumption, and one that sounds suspiciously like parallel reasoning on abortion);
•   Corporations accordingly enjoy the rights of natural persons, including free speech (deduction);
•   Money ≡ speech (the logical leap, which can be made to parse with enough Platonic logic-chopping);
•   Ergo, corporate spending is an exercise in free speech not delimited in dollar amounts by the First Amendment (the syllogism is complete).
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Sunday, 17 January 2010

Foundations of Terror, Pakistan's Education System

These clips are taken from a look at Pakistan's education system and how it neglects to teach the children the basics but rather instil in them a type of hero worship of those that are determined to keep power in the country. Poorly targeted programmes but external states (like the USA) have failed to make an impact and will continue to do so, like almost all challenges or movements for change the want and desire has to start where the problem is.

Maybe the best we can do is let them know that they can choose a better way, much like during the Cold War. But this message has to be focused specifically down to the tribal/individual level, no broad sweeps here. Though nothing makes policy makers happy then saying how many schools have been built so change will have to begin on both sides of this divide.


ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN -- With a curriculum that glorifies violence in the name of Islam and ignores basic history, science and math, Pakistan's public education system has become a major barrier to U.S. efforts to defeat extremist groups here, U.S. and Pakistani officials say.

"If the people get education, the elite would be threatened," said Khadim Hussain, coordinator of the Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy and a professor at Islamabad's Bahria University. "If they make education available, the security establishment's ideology may be at risk."

"Telling students they need to use evidence and logic means that you are definitely an agent of India, Israel and the CIA," he said. "They don't understand what evidence is."

United States has not helped by frittering away much of its assistance budget on poorly defined programs, such as conflict-resolution training
There has to be a desire to improve. The U.S. can't create that desire.
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Thursday, 14 January 2010

Fly Air-Qaeda: Because Nobody is Watching

Reports have emerged (in 2008!) that Al-Qaeda (Africa) in conjunction with FARC (Latin America) have been using a fleet of rogue aircraft (as large as Boeing 727s) to transport drugs from Latin America to Africa, then filter them up to Europe. This is obviously the path of least resistance, why risk sneaking on a drug-mule when you can just fill up your own plane?

Are these just criminals or is the revenue actively supporting terrorist groups? Also how long before one of these planes is used as a weapon? No need to reach the USA, significant damage could be done by aiming for an oil tanker sitting in the Gulf and other such systems disruption. More needs to be done to investigate this development before it becomes the next black swan.

Just follow the links to the clips below for the full article.

clipped from
The document warned that a growing fleet of rogue jet aircraft was regularly crisscrossing the Atlantic Ocean. On one end of the air route, it said, are cocaine-producing areas in the Andes controlled by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. On the other are some of West Africa's most unstable countries.
The clandestine fleet has grown to include twin-engine turboprops, executive jets and retired Boeing 727s that are flying multi-ton loads of cocaine and possibly weapons to an area in Africa where factions of al-Qaida are believed to be facilitating the smuggling of drugs to Europe
"The bad guys have responded with their own aviation network that is out there everyday flying loads and moving contraband,"
militant organizations – including groups like the FARC and al-Qaida – have the "power to move people and material and contraband anywhere around the world with a couple of fuel stops."
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Global Jihad - Only Graduates and Wealthy Need Apply

For some reason policy makers seem to think that reaching out to the poor will help stem the tide of Jihadist's that are trying to strike at America. You can look at work by Fathali M. Moghaddam and his "The Staircase to Terrorism" to support the view that poverty plays a significant part in radicalisation, but those that lead (or at least try to guide/motivate) this global Jihad or carry out the most successful attacks are educated and relatively well-off.

This post by Douglas Farah takes a fresh look at the mistakes/assumptions being made by some policy makers, worth reading in full by following the link below.

As Anne Applebaum wrote in the Washington Post, we are seeing a "international jihadi elite" that resembles international elites of the Bolshevik days who were no more working class than the Tsar. As she notes:
These people are not the wretched of the Earth. Nor do they have much in common, sociologically speaking, with the illiterate warlords of Waziristan. They haven't emerged from repressive Islamic societies such as Iran, or been forced to live under extreme forms of sharia law, as in Saudi Arabia. On the contrary, they are children of ambitious, "Westernized" parents who sacrificed for their education -- though they are often people who, for one reason or another, didn't "make it," or didn't feel comfortable, in their respective societies.
How to counter this is something we should spend much more time on than trying to figure out how to get the average Yemeni to embrace Western liberal democracy.
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Monday, 11 January 2010

Doomsday Clock Announcement


Tick Tock Tick Tock... Doomsday Clock Announcement on Thursday, January 14, 2010 (1000 EST / 1500 GMT). The minute hand is set to move, but will we be closer to doomsday come the end?

Al-Qaeda has a new strategy. Obama needs one, too

"Throughout 2008 and 2009, U.S. officials repeatedly trumpeted al-Qaeda's demise. In a May 2008 interview with The Washington Post, then-CIA Director Michael Hayden heralded the group's "near strategic defeat." And the intensified aerial drone attacks that President Obama authorized against al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan last year were widely celebrated for having killed over half of its remaining senior leadership.

Yet, oddly enough for a terrorist movement supposedly on its last legs, al-Qaeda late last month launched two separate attacks less than a week apart -- one failed and one successful -- triggering the most extensive review of U.S. national security policies since 2001. Al-Qaeda's newfound vitality is the product of a fresh strategy that plays to its networking strength and compensates for its numerical weakness. In contrast to its plan on Sept. 11, which was to deliver a knock-out blow to the United States, al-Qaeda's leadership has now adopted a "death by a thousand cuts" ~Bruce Hoffman (Follow the link below for the full article)
Al-Qaeda has a new strategy. Obama needs one, too.
al-Qaeda's leadership has now adopted a "death by a thousand cuts" approach. There are five core elements to this strategy.
First, al-Qaeda is increasingly focused on overwhelming, distracting and exhausting us
Second, in the wake of the global financial crisis, al-Qaeda has stepped up a strategy of economic warfare
Third, al-Qaeda is still trying to create divisions within the global alliance arrayed against it by targeting key coalition partners.
Fourth, al-Qaeda is aggressively seeking out, destabilizing and exploiting failed states and other areas of lawlessness
Fifth and finally, al-Qaeda is covetously seeking recruits from non-Muslim countries who can be easily deployed for attacks in the West
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Saturday, 9 January 2010

Overseas Voters for US 2010 Elections Take Note

The laws are changing for overseas US voters for the 2010 elections, just because you got a ballot for previous elections automatically do not expect the same this time. Hopefully the message will be sent out to as many as possible before the elections otherwise many will lose a chance to take part in the democratic process. Or more importantly an election that will be seen as a referendum on the Democrats and Obama almost then 2 years in office. Clips below but follow the link for more on the story and sites to visit to make sure you are signed up.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2010 – Servicemembers and overseas voters shouldn’t assume they automatically will receive ballots for the 2010 elections just because they have in the past.

Previously, voters would receive absentee ballots for up to two cycles following their request, Bob Carey, Federal Voting Assistance Program director, said yesterday during the 2010 election year kick-off. He said new laws require voters to submit federal postcard applications for absentee ballots on a yearly basis.

Although the program’s staff is doing its best to make the process easy for military and overseas voters, people need to move quickly to ensure they get to vote. Voter applications may take a while to make it to hometown election offices, and it could take up to a month after that for ballots to be sent to voters.

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