Archive for the ‘Terrorism’ Category

Award winning war correspondent Michael Yon was detained and handcuffed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Yesterday by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel.

Yon was returning to the United States from Hong Kong to visit family when TSA officials stopped him during a routine security checkpoint.  “Officials asked me what was in my bag—nothing wrong with this question,” Yon said in an interview with BigGovernment.com.  “I told them it was normal stuff, clothes and toothbrushes.”

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Not a fan of his personality, but I always find Hitchens a great read:

In my boyhood, there were signs on English buses that declared, in bold letters, “No Spitting.” At a tender age, I was able to work out that most people don’t need to be told this, while those who do feel a desire to expectorate on public transport will require more discouragement than a mere sign. But I’d be wasting my time pointing this out to our majestic and sleepless protectors, who now boldly propose to prevent airline passengers from getting out of their seats for the last hour of any flight. Abdulmutallab made his bid in the last hour of his flight, after all. Yes, that ought to do it. It’s also incredibly, nay, almost diabolically clever of our guardians to let it be known what the precise time limit will be. Oh, and by the way, any passenger courageous or resourceful enough to stand up and fight back will also have broken the brave new law.

Why do we fail to detect or defeat the guilty, and why do we do so well at collective punishment of the innocent? The answer to the first question is: Because we can’t—or won’t. The answer to the second question is: Because we can.

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This is pretty impressive stuff from our Secretary of State. I can’t help but wonder if the right-wing establishment is going to criticize her for admitting American culpability as they do with any reasonable discussion on what reasons terrorists have for harming America. In their world view, America’s enemies have no motivation because America is infallible.

Speaking upon arrival in Mexico, Mrs Clinton said: “Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade.

“Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians.

“I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility.”

The BBC’s Stephen Gibbs in Mexico says these points have been repeatedly made by Mexico, which sometimes sees itself as the setting for an American financed and armed war.

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Oh, it will make you angry.

There are several dimensions to the debate over the U.S. prison facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba that the media have largely missed and, thus, of which the American people are almost completely unaware. For that matter, few within the government who were not directly involved are aware either.

The first of these is the utter incompetence of the battlefield vetting in Afghanistan during the early stages of the U.S. operations there. Simply stated, no meaningful attempt at discrimination was made in-country by competent officials, civilian or military, as to who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.

This was a factor of having too few troops in the combat zone, of the troops and civilians who were there having too few people trained and skilled in such vetting, and of the incredible pressure coming down from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others to “just get the bastards to the interrogators”.

It did not help that poor U.S. policies such as bounty-hunting, a weak understanding of cultural tendencies, and an utter disregard for the fundamentals of jurisprudence prevailed as well (no blame in the latter realm should accrue to combat soldiers as this it not their bailiwick anyway).

The second dimension that is largely unreported is that several in the U.S. leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and, thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.

But to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership from virtually day one of the so-called Global War on Terror and these leaders already had black marks enough: the dead in a field in Pennsylvania, in the ashes of the Pentagon, and in the ruins of the World Trade Towers. They were not about to admit to their further errors at Guantanamo Bay. Better to claim that everyone there was a hardcore terrorist, was of enduring intelligence value, and would return to jihad if released. I am very sorry to say that I believe there were uniformed military who aided and abetted these falsehoods, even at the highest levels of our armed forces.

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Dean Obeidallah tells us the painful truth:

When going to the airport, no shirts with Arabic writing nor Arab scarves that are very fashionable and worn by so many young, hip people today. Those scarves may be cool for white people, but if we wear them at the airport, it means one thing: Orange alert.

So what should you wear? Remember this saying: “Dress white, make your flight. Dress Brown, never leave town.” What does “dress white” mean? Two words: Banana Republic — khaki pants and polo shirt with a little animal on it — like a tiger, a horse or an alligator — but not a camel — I repeat, not a camel!

Also if you have a Middle Eastern accent and are answering questions by security, I’d recommend throwing in words from other languages so they have no idea where you are from. For example, if they ask where you are going, you respond: “Where are am I going, mon cheri? To see my Mamma Mia and have a fajita — mazel tov!”

Via Huffingtonpost.

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A Muslim family of 9 were kicked off an Air Trans flight because a suspicion was raised about terrorism. Apparently one of the family members noticed that his seat was next to one of the engines and he was discussing what was the safest seat on a plane in an accident.

I have an extreme fear of flying. In this case, I can sympathize both with the man who talked about the safest seat and with the passengers who reported him.

First I’ll discuss the man who talked about the safest seat. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been sitting in that plane seat and wondering to myself where is the best place to sit. My first choice is near the front. Second is in the emergency exit aisle. I want to be very close to a place where I can get out if I need to. I watch that safety intro by the flight attendants every time. Despite all of this, I still am scared during takeoff, landing and even just during the middle part of the flight. Don’t get me started on turbulence. The idea that this man caused suspicion for voicing the same concerns that many other people, like me, have voiced is sad.

Yet I can relate to the passengers who reported him. When you are afraid of flying, rational thought flies right out of the window. I was once on a plane when the captain came on the speaker and said “Welcome to the flight. My name is Captain Murphy and I’ll be your pilot today.” Immediately the thought flashed through my mind: “I hope he isn’t drunk.” It’s ridiculous isn’t it?

I have to admit, I’ve looked suspiciously more than once at Muslim passengers. I’ve wondered; I’ve feared. Even while my rational thought tells me that no terrorist dresses like a Muslim when on a terrorist mission. Terrorists want to blend in. Look at this picture of the terrorist at the Mumbai attacks.

More importantly, you might question why a person who is about to blow up a plane would bring their entire family with them. Kill yourself along with 9 members of your family? It’s unlikely. Nonetheless these irrational thoughts can take over when you are in the vulnerable and powerless position of being a passenger on a plane. But not all Muslims are terrorists. Not all Christians are terrorists. Not all anti-abortion activists are terrorists. Perhaps the passengers who reported the incident will learn from the mistake of letting their fears overcome rational thought.

If anyone is at fault for this it is the Air Trans employees who didn’t allow the family to book a flight once they had been cleared by the FBI. You would expect a company who is the business of flying to not be swayed by irrational fears.

Update: I forgot a very important detail in this post that I have just added above. It is irrational to believe that all people of a certain religion are terrorists. Terrorists are rare people if you think about it. There is no reason to equate a Muslim with terrorism.

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I’ve got a million photos but unfortunately I left the chord that links my camera to my computer at work. I’m not going to work to get it. Snow everywhere in Seattle. Here’s a photo from the Seattle PI with a guy skiing down Queen Anne Ave. That’s got to be a hell of a ride.

The only thing of interest news wise seems to be a poll that most Americans think Guantanomo Bay should stay open. There really is no excuse for Americans sometimes.

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