Category Archive '9/11'
27 Feb 2012

Apology

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Hat tip to Douglas.

16 Oct 2011

Memorial Planned For US Mounted Special Forces

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A memorial to mounted US troops who accompanied Northern Alliance forces in the conquest of Afghanistan, providing direction and support to fighters allied with the US in avenging the 9/11 attacks, will be installed in the vicinity of Ground Zero on Veteran’s Day.

Afghanistan demonstrated that the world features plenty of terrain impracticable for motorized transportation, proving that the age of horse-mounted military operations will never really be over. The closing of the US Army Cavalry School at Fort Riley in 1947 was proven in 2001 to have been premature.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

12 Sep 2011

And That’s Why Real Americans Hate Their Whole Rotten Class

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Glenn Reynolds typically just does the best job of aggregating imaginable and merely points in the direction of something worth a read with a brief quotation or a witty one-liner.

Paul Krugman’s already infamous typo’d-editorial from yesterday clearly struck a nerve, because Professor Reynolds uncharacteristically actually took the time to swat him down.

Everybody’s angry, to judge from my email, about Paul Krugman’s typo-burdened 9/11 screed. Don’t be angry. Understand it for what it is, an admission of impotence from a sad and irrelevant little man. Things haven’t gone the way he wanted lately, his messiah has feet of clay — hell, forget the “feet” part, the clay goes at least waist-high — and it seems likely he’ll have even less reason to like the coming decade than the last, and he’ll certainly have even less influence than he’s had. Thus, he tries to piss all over the people he’s always hated and envied. No surprise there. But no importance, either. You’ll see more and worse from Krugman and his ilk as the left nationally undergoes the kind of crackup it’s already experiencing in Wisconsin. They thought Barack Obama was going to bring back the glory days of liberal hegemony in politics, but it turned out he was their Ghost Dance, their Bear Shirt, a mystically believed-in totem that lacked the power to reverse their onrushing decline, no matter what the shamans claimed.

Plus, a comment: “I’m not ashamed. If Dr. Krugman, and the circles he moves in, are ashamed then they’ve left us. 9/11 didn’t become a wedge issue because we left them.”

12 Sep 2011

A Factual Detail Important to Note

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Chicago Boyz: The only part of the American national security establishment that successfully defended America on 9/11 was the portion of the reserve militia on board Flight 93, acting without orders, without hierarchy, without uniforms or weapons, by spontaneous organization and action.

When you come right down to it, the 9/11 hijacked airliner attacks which killed more than 3000 people, which destroyed billions of dollars worth of property, and which inflicted trillions of dollars in economic costs on the United States were only possible as the result of the policies chosen and inculcated by American officialdom. If one or more madmen, armed or merely claiming to be armed, attempt to take control of a passenger jet, ordinary travelers (who had been already disarmed by their own authorities) were firmly instructed to do nothing, be passive, obey the orders of the hijackers, and wait for the authorities to deal with the situation. In most cases, following those instructions proved safe enough. Planes were diverted to Libya or Havana. Ransoms were paid. In the end, passengers and crews were usually released unharmed. The occasional exceptions, like the case of TWA Flight 847 in 1985 in which members of the Hezbollah hijacking team tortured and murdered a US Navy diver who had been traveling on that flight, failed to impact the official policy.

So when September 11, 2001 rolled around, unarmed passengers and crew members in the planes (American Flight 11 and United Flight 175) which hit the WTC towers were simply followed the usual conventional instructions and passively submitting to the will of five hijackers in each case armed with boxcutters and multi-tool pliers. Passengers aboard American Flight 77 which struck the Pentagon had learned of the fate of the two previous hijacked planes and began organizing to resist too late, but passengers and crew on board Flight 93 did understand in time and did resist, saving either the US Capitol or the White House from destruction and saving many other American lives while losing their own.

No similar hijacking attacks have occurred, and even terrorist attempts to ignite explosives concealed in shoes and underwear were since foiled by alert passengers. What has changed is that officialdom’s policy of passivity and surrender became a dead letter after 9/11, and terrorists know that passengers and crew will fight hijackers to the death. Government and the TSA did not stop airline hijackings. Flight 93 ended airline hijacking as a useable strategy.

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Bill Clinton eulogized the heroes of Flight 93 yesterday, comparing their actions to the Alamo and Thermopylae.

11 Sep 2011

Colonel Cyril Richard “Rick” Rescorla (May 27, 1939 — September 11, 2001)

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Rick Rescorla in Vietnam, 15 Nov 1965
Captain Rescorla in action at Ia Drang, Republic of Vietnam, 15 November 1965.
photograph: Peter Arnett/AP.

Born in Hayle, Cornwall, May 27, 1939, to a working-class family, Rescorla joined the British Army in 1957, serving three years in Cyprus. Still eager for adventure, after army service, Rescorla enlisted in the Northern Rhodesia Police.

Ultimately finding few prospects for advancement in Britain or her few remaining colonies, Rescorla moved to the United States, and joined the US Army in 1963. After graduating from Officers’ Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1964, he was assigned as a platoon leader to Bravo Company of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, Third Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Rescorla’s serious approach to training and his commitment to excellence led to his men to apply to him the nickname “Hard Corps.”

The 2nd Battalion of the 7th Cavalry was sent to Vietnam in 1965, where it soon engaged in the first major battle between American forces and the North Vietnamese Army at Ia Drang.

The photograph above was used on the cover of Colonel Harold Moore’s 1992 memoir We Were Soldiers Once… and Young, made into a film starring Mel Gibson in 2002. Rescorla was omitted from the cast of characters in the film, which nonetheless made prominent use of his actual exploits, including the capture of the French bugle and the elimination of a North Vietnamese machine gun using a grenade.

For his actions in Vietnam, Rescorla was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star (twice), the Purple Heart, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. After Vietnam, he continued to serve in the Army Reserve, rising to the rank of Colonel by the time of his retirement in 1990.

Rick Rescorla became a US citizen in 1967. He subsequently earned bachelor’s, master’s, and law degrees from the University of Oklahoma, and proceeded to teach criminal law at the University of South Carolina from 1972-1976, before he moved to Chicago to become Director of Security for Continental Illinois Bank and Trust.

In 1985, Rescorla moved to New York to become Director of Security for Dean Witter, supervising a staff of 200 protecting 40 floors in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. (Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter merged in 1997.) Rescorla produced a report addressed to New York’s Port Authority identifying the vulnerability of the Tower’s central load-bearing columns to attacks from the complex’s insecure underground levels, used for parking and deliveries. It was ignored.

On February 26, 1993, Islamic terrorists detonated a car bomb in the underground garage located below the North Tower. Six people were killed, and over a thousand injured. Rescorla took personal charge of the evacuation, and got everyone out of the building. After a final sweep to make certain that no one was left behind, Rick Rescorla was the last to step outside.

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Rescorla on 9/11
Directing the evacuation on September 11th.
Security Guards Jorge Velasquez and Godwin Forde are on the right.
photograph: Eileen Mayer Hillock.

Rescorla was 62 years old, and suffering from prostate cancer on September 11, 2001. Nonetheless, he successfully evacuated all but 6 of Morgan Stanley’s 2800 employees. (Four of the six lost included Rescorla himself and three members of his own security staff, including both the two security guards who appear in the above photo and Vice President of Corporate Security Wesley Mercer, Rescorla’s deputy.) Rescorla travelled personally, bullhorn in hand, as low as the 10th floor and as high as the 78th floor, encouraging people to stay calm and make their way down the stairs in an orderly fashion. He is reported by many witnesses to have sung “God Bless America,” “Men of Harlech, ” and favorites from Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. “Today is a day to be proud to be an American,” he told evacuees.

A substantial portion of the South Tower’s workforce had already gotten out, thanks to Rescorla’s efforts, by the time the second plane, United Airlines Flight 175, struck the South Tower at 9:02:59 AM. Just under an hour later, as the stream of evacuees came to an end, Rescorla called his best friend Daniel Hill on his cell phone, and told him that he was going to make a final sweep. Then the South Tower collapsed.

Rescorla had observed a few months earlier to Hill, “Men like us shouldn’t go out like this.” (Referring to his cancer.) “We’re supposed to die in some desperate battle performing great deeds.” And he did.

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His hometown of Hayle in Cornwall has erected a memorial.

Hayle Memorial

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2,996 was a project put together by blogger Dale Roe to honor each victim of the September 11, 2001 attacks. 3,061 blogs committed to posting tributes to each victim. Never Yet Melted’s tribute was to Rick Rescorla, and is republished annually.

10 Sep 2011

9/11 Commemorative Snivellings

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “911 Peace Story Quilt”

Mark Steyn rants understandably enough at the Saturnalia of Snivelling on the part of our wiser and better fellow countrymen belonging to the urban arts and political communities occasioned by the 10th Anniversary of the Islamic Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.

Aside from firemen, Mayor Bloomberg’s official commemoration hasn’t got any room for clergy, either, what with all Executive Deputy Assistant Directors of Healing and Outreach who’ll be there. One reason why there’s so little room at Ground Zero is because it’s still a building site. As I write in my new book, 9/11 was something America’s enemies did to us; the 10-year hole is something we did to ourselves – and, in its way, the interminable bureaucratic sloth is surely as eloquent as anything Nanny Bloomberg will say in his remarks.

In Shanksville, Pa., the zoning and permitting processes are presumably less arthritic than in Lower Manhattan, but the Flight 93 memorial has still not been completed. There were objections to the proposed “Crescent of Embrace” on the grounds that it looked like an Islamic crescent pointing towards Mecca. The defense of its designers was that, au contraire, it’s just the usual touchy-feely huggy-weepy pansy-wimpy multiculti effete healing diversity mush. It doesn’t really matter which of these interpretations is correct, since neither of them has anything to do with what the passengers of Flight 93 actually did a decade ago. 9/11 was both Pearl Harbor and the Doolittle Raid rolled into one, and the fourth flight was the only good news of the day, when citizen volunteers formed themselves into an ad hoc militia and denied Osama bin Laden what might have been his most spectacular victory. A few brave individuals figured out what was going on and pushed back within half-an-hour. But we can’t memorialize their sacrifice within a decade. And when the architect gets the memorial brief, he naturally assumes there’s been a typing error and that “Let’s roll!” should really be “Let’s roll over!”

And so we commemorate an act of war as a “tragic event,” and we retreat to equivocation, cultural self-loathing, and utterly fraudulent misrepresentation about the events of the day. In the weeks after 9/11, Americans were enjoined to ask “Why do they hate us?” A better question is: “Why do they despise us?” And the quickest way to figure out the answer is to visit the Peace Quilt and the Wish Tree, the Crescent of Embrace and the Hole of Bureaucratic Inertia.

Donald Trump is basically an idiot, but he is not a pretentious ass, so even he could see that what real leadership would have done in response to the 9/11 attacks’ destruction of New York City’s World Trade Center Towers. Real leadership would have commenced immediately on rebuilding exactly the same buildings at the identical site and location, and would have grasped the symbolic importance of putting them back up as quickly as possible, only one story taller.

Real leadership obviously didn’t, and doesn’t, exist in New York City and New York State, only obfuscating, obstructing, hot air and sanctimony and conformity producing anti-leadership. Ten years have gone by, and replacement buildings are not up yet. They have instead created an amazing anti-monument to ruin and destruction with two deep water-filled holes occupying the actual former locations of the towers. I think one deep, useless, water-filled hole must be taken to symbolize the void where the intelligence of the city, state, and regional leadership ought to have been, and the second void must represent their missing masculine qualities, the absent courage, flair, and instinctive spirit of defiance of the same: one hole symbolizes their lack of brains, the other their lack of balls.

09 Aug 2010

One-Sided Religious Tolerance

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In Afghanistan, intolerant Muslims claim the right to execute out of hand unarmed medical volunteers who’ve traveled at their own personal expense to provide eye care to Afghan villagers on the basis of suspicion that they were proselytizing the Christian faith. [Christian Science Monitor]

Currently, in New York City, Muslims also claim the right to erect an enormous mosque and cultural complex, two blocks from the site where an unprovoked attack by Muslims killed 3000 people during a time in which militant and utterly intolerant Islam is still waging war against the United States, its allies, and the Christian West.

Publius, at the (Canadian) Western Standard, identifies the ironies of the debate.

The construction of the near Ground Zero community center / mosque is seen through the prism of the cultural wars. Liberals, who regard Islamist terrorism as a mere criminal activity, do not see the project as a threat, and view opposition as an expression of bigotry. To many conservatives, who subscribe to the Clash of Civilizations thesis, it is a woeful concession to an avowed enemy. Islam, or variant of Islam, is the enemy, and if only for symbolic purposes, a mosque at Ground Zero would be a triumph for the other side. A modern day version, in reverse, of the Marines hoisting Old Glory over Iwo Jima.

Libertarians tend to focus little of their energy on foreign affairs. With some notable exceptions, it is a blind spot for the movement. This is typically justified as fighting for freedom at home, before you go fighting for it abroad. Having a naturally jaundiced view of government action, libertarians lean toward regarding Islamic terrorism as another one of those unfortunate side-effects of big government.

In this light, the narrative of a bumbling, and grasping, oil driven foreign policy creating, or exacerbating, terrorism seems quite plausible. The big government as bad approach is usually understood as a one way street. Big American government is bad, and it causes nasty things at home and abroad. Strangely the logic is rarely used on other countries, that really big and bad governments in other countries might be generating terrorism, Islamic themed or not.

This blind spot in libertarian foreign policy analysis dovetails with another, and broader, shortcoming in how many libertarians view politics, the fallacy of economic man being universal man. Human beings are certainly motivated by money. It is not for pleasure that commuters fight their way through heavy traffic each morning and evening. But along with economic man, who carefully strives for profit maximization, there is also social man, romantic man, spiritual man and dozens more like him. We are driven by many things, including our ideas and beliefs.

The believer in economic man assumes that violence is simply an expression, albeit a perverse one, of this profit maximizing tendency. Thus some libertarians subscribe to the poverty-causing-terrorism theory. This round peg, however, has a very square hole to enter. How is a suicide bomber behaving economically? Bits of flesh have a hard time enjoying the material benefits of life. Such fanaticism cannot be explained in economic terms, it can only be understood philosophically.

The bulk of conservatives understand that we are engaged in an philosophical struggle, one in which symbolism is indeed important. An Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero, however, isn’t that important a symbol. The most important symbol of our Clash of Civilizations is that after nine years there is still a hole in lower Manhattan. It took less than seven years to build the original twin towers. Yet, nearly a decade after primitive religious fanatics scarred the skyline of New York City, it remains scarred. A confident culture would have, and very quickly, rebuilt the World Trade Center, to a new and better standard. That symbolism is far more powerful that a mere mosque two blocks away.

When I read of the murder of those medical volunteers in yesterday’s news, I was reminded of the persistent outrages by Muslims against Christian travelers, traders, and pilgrims to Christian religious sites in the Holy Land that finally exhausted the patience of Christian Europe, and led many of her leaders to take up the cross and go on Crusade.

Islam insolently claims the right to prohibit not only religious conversion and missionary activity, but even religious observances by Christians in places like Saudi Arabia. Yet, at the same time, Muslims are attempting to fully exploit all of the West’s very different cultural traditions for their own advantage.

Permitting the erection of an Islamic landmark in the near vicinity of the site of a terrible and perfidious Muslim attack, whose pain is far from past and forgotten, and whose wrongs have not yet been completely avenged, would be an outrage.

Yes, theoreticians may argue that, in a purely libertarian state, there would be no religious test of any kind concerning the use of property, but New York City has virtually infinite amounts of zoning regulations, and any property use, however legitimate and conventional, in that city is commonly intensely debated and negotiated and fought over in arcane processes open to the manipulation of every kind of special interest and activist ideological group. Repairing the West Side Highway in New York City was once successfully blocked on the basis of the interests of joggers, bird watchers, and homosexuals seeking open air liaisons who liked using the decrepit and closed motorway the way it was.

Approval of the construction of a Financial District mosque undoubtedly required not simply ordinary due process, but extraordinary exemption from the customary squabble among competing interest groups and factions that commonly paralyze all forms of development in New York.

Larry Silverstein has not been able to obtain permission to get the World Trade Center rebuilt in nearly a decade, but Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf only bought an abandoned Burlington Coat Factory building on Park Place last summer [link] and he has already obtained approval from the city to build “Cordoba House.”

The relevant authorities would never have allowed Americans of Japanese descent to construct a Shinto temple in the immediate vicinity of Pearl Harbor while American forces were still fighting Imperial Japan in the South Pacific during WWII, and no Islamic mosque ought to receive construction approvals anywhere near the scene of an Islamic attack on US soil for a very long time.

23 Mar 2010

“Highest Value Detainee” Ordered Released

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Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Osama bin Laden, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mohammed Atta

All poor Mohamedou Ould Slahi did was recruit Mohammed Atta, Marwan al Shehhi, and Ziad Jarrah, the suicide pilots of American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, and United Airlines Flight 93, for their mission on September 11, 2001.

Mr. Slahi and his defense team allege that he was tortured, i.e., beaten, exposed to uncomfortable temperatures, threatened, frightened by threats against his family, and sexually taunted by female interrogators. A DOD inquiry failed to confirm most of these allegations, but they were obviously credited, and considered to constitute torture, by the officer in charge of prosecution.

Wall Street Journal:

Although the treatment apparently induced Mr. Slahi’s compliance, the military prosecutor, Marine Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch, determined that it constituted torture and evidence it produced could not lawfully be used against Mr. Slahi.

Col. Couch, in a March 31, 2007, Page One story in The Wall Street Journal, cited legal, professional and moral reasons for declining to prosecute.

Mr. Slahi, who was then viewed as a cooperator by interrogators, was granted various privileges at Guantánamo Bay, including his own quarters and garden to tend.

Col. Couch, now in private practice in North Carolina, said Monday’s order “is one of the consequences that the decision-makers should have foreseen when they decided to adopt a policy of cruelty, and the interrogation techniques that flowed from it.”

The same Journal article informs us that he is consequently being freed to resume his former activities.

A suspected al Qaeda organizer once called “the highest value detainee” at Guantánamo Bay was ordered released by a federal judge in an order issued Monday.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi was accused in the 9/11 Commission report of helping recruit Mohammed Atta and other members of the al Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany, that took part in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Military prosecutors suspected Mr. Slahi of links to other al Qaeda operations, and considered seeking the death penalty against him while preparing possible charges in 2003 and 2004.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson granted Mr. Slahi’s petition for habeas corpus, effectively finding the government lacked legal grounds to hold him. The order was classified, although the court said it planned to release a redacted public version in the coming weeks.

Mr. Robertson held four days of closed hearings in the Slahi case last year. Mr. Slahi testified via secure video link from Guantánamo Bay, said his attorney.

“They were considering giving him the death penalty. Now they don’t even have enough evidence to pass the test for habeas,” said the attorney, Nancy Hollander, of Albuquerque, N.M.

Spiegel did a major article in October of 2008 on Slahi.

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What can one possibly say about the kind of stupidity that equates misinforming, threatening, taunting, scaring, and even roughing up or inflicting some discomfort on a mass murderer with torture? Or about the legal acumen of jurists who award habeas corpus protection to unlawful belligerents apprehended overseas during time of war?

Do you suppose they can quote “Quos Deus perdere, dementat” [Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad] in Arabic?

27 Jan 2010

Former WMD Chief’s Report: Al Qaeda’s WMD Ambitions and Intentions

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Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, currently a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, previously Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy and Chief of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Department for the CIA, has published a 32-page report, Al Qaeda Weapons of Mass Destruction Threat: Hype or Reality?, which asks the obvious question:

Why hasn’t there been an attack up to now by al Qaeda utilizing WMD?

To date, al Qaeda’s WMD programs may have been disrupted. This is in fact one likely explanation, given a sustained and ferocious counterterrorist response to 9/11 that largely destroyed al Qaeda as the organization that existed before the fateful attack on the US. If so, terrorists must continue to be disrupted and denied a safe haven to reestablish the ability to launch a major strike on the US homeland, or elsewhere in the world. …

Or perhaps, al Qaeda operational planners have failed to acquire the kind of weapons they seek, because they are unwilling to settle for anything other than a large scale attack in the US. …

[I]f Osama bin Ladin and his lieutenants had been interested in employing crude chemical, biological and radiological materials in small scale attacks, there is little doubt they could have done so by now. However, events have shown that the al Qaeda leadership does not choose weapons based on how easy they are to acquire and use. …

An examination of the 9/11 attack sheds light on al Qaeda’s reasoning behind the selection of specific weapons, and how that may apply to the role WMD plays in their thinking. Al Qaeda opted to pursue a highly complex and artfully choreographed plot to strike multiple targets requiring the simultaneous hijacking of several 747 jumbo passenger aircraft, because using airplanes as weapons offered the best means of attacking the targets they intended to destroy. If conventional wisdom on assessing WMD terrorism threats had been applied to considering the likelihood of the 9/11 plot, analysts may well have concluded it never would have happened; at the time, it was simply hard to believe any terrorist group could pull off such an elaborate plot utilizing novel, unpredictable weapons that were so difficult to acquire.

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Mowatt-Larssen presents a detailed 15-year (unclassified) chronology of efforts by al Qaeda to acquire WMD.

Graham Allison summarizes the evidence of that chronology in a forward to the report:

This chronology teaches us four important lessons. First, al Qaeda’s top leadership has demonstrated a sustained commitment to buy, steal or construct WMD. In 1998, Osama bin Laden declared that “acquiring WMD for the defense of Muslims is a religious duty.” In December 2001, bin Laden’s Deputy Ayman Zawahiri stated, “If you have $30 million, go to the black market in the central Asia, contact any disgruntled Soviet scientist and a lot of dozens of smart briefcase bombs are available.” A few months later, al Qaeda announced its goal to “kill four million Americans.”

Second, al Qaeda was prepared to expend significant resources to cultivate a WMD capability even during the planning phases of 9/11. In the years leading up to September 2001, we see that bin Laden’s organization never lost its focus on WMD, even while coordinating the 9/11 attacks, orchestrating the simultaneous bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, and successfully striking the U.S. warship (USS Cole) in 2000.

Third, a clear hallmark of al Qaeda’s WMD approach is to pursue parallel paths to procure these deadly materials. Multiple nodes of the network were assigned to different tasks of the overall WMD effort, acting and reporting independently, ensuring that failure in one cell did not jeopardize the entire operation. By taking into account possible operational set-backs and intelligence breaches, al Qaeda has displayed deliberate, shrewd planning to acquire WMD.

Fourth, al Qaeda has taken part in joint development of WMD with other terrorist groups. This collaboration between the most senior members of separate organizations demonstrates that interest in and motivation to possess WMD are not limited to a single group.

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The single most alarming detail must be:

Pakistani humanitarian NGO Umma Tameer e Nau (UTN), which was founded by Pakistani nuclear scientists with close ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban. UTN was headed by Bashiruddin Mahmood, who had been chief of Pakistan’s Khushab plutonium reactor. … Sometime before August 2001, UTN CEO Bashiruddin Mahmood offer[ed] to construct chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs for al Qaeda and Libya, in two separate, discreet approaches. …

Mahmood confesses that he was introduced to al Qaeda seniors in Afghanistan in summer 2001, met with Osama bin Ladin around a campfire, and they discussed how al Qaeda could build a nuclear device. Mahmood drew a very rough sketch of an improvised nuclear device. When Mahmood advised Osama bin Ladin that it would be too hard for his group to undertake a nuclear weapons program and develop the billion dollar infrastructure for weapons-usable materials, bin Ladin queries, “What if I already have it? (the nuclear material)”

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Newsmax

Security Management

26 Jan 2010

Laurie Mylroie and Neocon Conspiracy Theory

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Edward Jay Epstein, in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, explains that the Anthrax spores used in postal attacks around the time of 9/11 had been weaponized by a coating of silicon greatly enhancing their effectiveness as an aerosal. Over 100 scientists had had access to the particular strain of Anthrax, and the FBI’s ham-handed investigative efforts applied such intense scrutiny, pressure, and public accusations that they resulted in two suicides and a public apology including a $5.8 million settlement with no actual resolution.

The crux of the investigative problem is the silicon. None of the scientist suspects or the laboratories they had access to possessed either the specialized equipment or expertise needed to weaponize the Anthrax. Over 8 years later, the case remains open.

The Epstein editorial came to mind this morning, as I was looking through the Memeorandum aggregator page and found a link to this sneering hit piece by Justin Elliott, one of Talking Points Memo’s little leftist elfs.

Elliott is busily trying to marginalize Laurie Mylroie, a Harvard-educated Arabist, who has served on the faculty of Harvard and the Navy War College and as an advisor to Bill Clinton, identifying her as a “crackpot” and conspiracy theorist. I had not been previously familiar with Dr. Mylroie, her books, or opinions, but looking into all this, it is very clear that she has taken a position very much at odds with the prevailing consensus of the foreign policy and intelligence establishments and the media, one attributing a far more significant ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda and an active role on the part of the Iraqi regime in both the first WTC bombing and 9/11.

I don’t own her books (I just ordered two of them), so I don’t know if I agree with her, find any of her evidence persuasive or her reasoning credible, but I am interested in seeing what she has to say. Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Whenever I see the left performing one of their little excommunication-on-the-basis-of-thought-crime ceremonies, I always develop the suspicion that the target of such attention may be perfectly correct.

The TPM hit piece notes that the Department of Defense’s Office of Net Assessment (an internal Pentagon think tank) was employing Dr. Mylroie as recently as 2007 as a consultant to produce reports on Saddam Hussein’s strategy for dealing with UN inspections and his intelligence service. She had previously written in 2005 a History of Al Qaeda. I plan to read it carefully.

The popularly prevailing theory, completely excluding state support for al Qaeda’s terrorist activities, is very useful if you are interested in asserting Iraqi innocence in order to indict Bush, but it does leave a number of important problems unanswered, like where did those weaponized Anthrax spores come from?

09 Nov 2009

Nidal Malik Hasan Had Certain Ties

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Back in 1969, when Richard Nixon was trying to conscript me, part of the process accompanying physical examinations and aptitude testing was a lengthy background form.

The US Military was extremely conservative, since in 1969 it was still seeking assurances that prospective draftees were not members or associates of such examples of pre-WWII history as the German American Bund and the Black Dragon Society.

I was in a cranky mood that day, and being tickled at encountering such historical references in a contemporary document, I affirmed my own membership in the Kokuryūkai (Black Dragon Society).

I was perfectly confident that, if I got into any kind of trouble over this, I could easily prove that the society in question no longer existed and actually had not existed during my own lifetime, and I even gleefully scrawled some patriotic Japanese slogan like Hakkō ichiu (All the world under one roof!) or Tenno Heika Banzai (Serve the Emperor for Ten Thousand Years!) sarcastically in the form’s margin.

I was a trifle disappointed that no one noticed or ever mentioned my alleged sinister Oriental associations.

Presumably today, the contemporary version of the same form asks if you belong to, or subscribe to publications by, or sympathize with the goals of unsavory Islamic groups like al Qaeda and the Order of Assassins.

And clearly, today, just like back in 1969, the US Army does not look terribly closely into the sinister associations of potential inductees.

Take Nidal Malik Hasan, for example.

It turns out that he attended the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Great Falls, Virginia, presided over by none other than Anwar al-Awlaki, author of 44 Ways to Support Jihad and spiritual advisor to 9/11 hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi.

Anwar al-Awlaki, currently a resident of Yemen, has since endorsed his former congregant’s actions in a posting titled Nidal Hasan Did the Right Thing.

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The army was even warned about Hasan’s views by fellow doctors.

ABC:

A fellow Army doctor who studied with Hasan, Val Finell, told ABC News, “We would frequently say he was a Muslim first and an American second. And that came out in just about everything he did at the University.

Finell said he and other Army doctors complained to superiors about Hasan’s statements.

“And we questioned how somebody could take an oath of office…be an officer in the military and swear allegiance to the constitution and to defend America against all enemies, foreign and domestic and have that type of conflict,” Finell told ABC News.

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US Intelligence services were monitoring Hasan’s attempts to communicate with al Qaeda.

ABC:

U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al Qaeda, two American officials briefed on classified material in the case told ABC News.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan tried to make contact with people linked to al Qaeda.

It is not known whether the intelligence agencies informed the Army that one of its officers was seeking to connect with suspected al Qaeda figures, the officials said.

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During WWII, the issue of potential conflicting loyalties on the part of Japanese-Americans was taken very seriously. Japanese served in segregated units and were deliberately deployed only in the European theater. Today, the principal focus of concern is completely different.

Army Chief of Staff General George Casey has ordered his officers to be on the lookout to prevent “a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers.” “It would be a shame,” the general said, “As great a tragedy as this was — it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well.”

Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano is working to prevent “a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment.”

11 Sep 2009

8 Years Ago: Rick Rescorla Saved 2700 Lives

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Rick Rescorla in Vietnam, 15 Nov 1965
Captain Rescorla in action at Ia Drang, Republic of Vietnam, 15 November 1965.
photograph: Peter Arnett/AP.

first published in 2006

Born in Hayle, Cornwall, May 27, 1939, to a working-class family, Rescorla joined the British Army in 1957, serving three years in Cypress. Still eager for adventure, after army service, Rescorla enlisted in the Northern Rhodesia Police.

Ultimately finding few prospects for advancement in Britain or her few remaining colonies, Rescorla moved to the United States, and joined the US Army in 1963. After graduating from Officers’ Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1964, he was assigned as a platoon leader to Bravo Company of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, Third Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Rescorla’s serious approach to training and his commitment to excellence led to his men to apply to him the nickname “Hard Corps.”

The 2nd Battalion of the 7th Cavalry was sent to Vietnam in 1965, where it soon engaged in the first major battle between American forces and the North Vietnamese Army at Ia Drang.

The photograph above was used on the cover of Colonel Harold Moore’s 1992 memoir We Were Soldiers Once… and Young, made into a film starring Mel Gibson in 2002. Rescorla was omitted from the cast of characters in the film, which nonetheless made prominent use of his actual exploits, including the capture of the French bugle and the elimination of a North Vietnamese machine gun using a grenade.

For his actions in Vietnam, Rescorla was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star (twice), the Purple Heart, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. After Vietnam, he continued to serve in the Army Reserve, rising to the rank of Colonel by the time of his retirement in 1990.

Rick Rescorla became a US citizen in 1967. He subsequently earned bachelor’s, master’s, and law degrees from the University of Oklahoma, and proceeded to teach criminal law at the University of South Carolina from 1972-1976, before he moved to Chicago to become Director of Security for Continental Illinois Bank and Trust.

In 1985, Rescorla moved to New York to become Director of Security for Dean Witter, supervising a staff of 200 protecting 40 floors in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. (Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter merged in 1997.) Rescorla produced a report addressed to New York’s Port Authority identifying the vulnerability of the Tower’s central load-bearing columns to attacks from the complex’s insecure underground levels, used for parking and deliveries. It was ignored.

On February 26, 1993, Islamic terrorists detonated a car bomb in the underground garage located below the North Tower. Six people were killed, and over a thousand injured. Rescorla took personal charge of the evacuation, and got everyone out of the building. After a final sweep to make certain that no one was left behind, Rick Rescorla was the last to step outside.

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Rescorla on 9/11
Directing the evacuation on September 11th.
Security Guards Jorge Velasquez and Godwin Forde are on the right.
photograph: Eileen Mayer Hillock.

Rescorla was 62 years old, and suffering from prostate cancer on September 11, 2001. Nonetheless, he successfully evacuated all but 6 of Morgan Stanley’s 2800 employees. (Four of the six lost included Rescorla himself and three members of his own security staff, including both the two security guards who appear in the above photo and Vice President of Corporate Security Wesley Mercer, Rescorla’s deputy.) Rescorla travelled personally, bullhorn in hand, as low as the 10th floor and as high as the 78th floor, encouraging people to stay calm and make their way down the stairs in an orderly fashion. He is reported by many witnesses to have sung “God Bless America,” “Men of Harlech, ” and favorites from Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. “Today is a day to be proud to be an American,” he told evacuees.

A substantial portion of the South Tower’s workforce had already gotten out, thanks to Rescorla’s efforts, by the time the second plane, United Airlines Flight 175, struck the South Tower at 9:02:59 AM. Just under an hour later, as the stream of evacuees came to an end, Rescorla called his best friend Daniel Hill on his cell phone, and told him that he was going to make a final sweep. Then the South Tower collapsed.

Rescorla had observed a few months earlier to Hill, “Men like us shouldn’t go out like this.” (Referring to his cancer.) “We’re supposed to die in some desperate battle performing great deeds.” And he did.

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His hometown of Hayle in Cornwall has erected a memorial.

Hayle Memorial

18 Jan 2009

The Left’s Foreign Policy Ambush

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Richard Perle evaluates the Bush record in foreign policy (to the limited degree that Bush was allowed by the federal bureaucracy to have a say in the matter) and attacks the left’s false narrative of the reasons for bringing about regime change in Iraq.

[T]he salient issue was not whether Saddam had stockpiles of WMD but whether he could produce them and place them in the hands of terrorists. The administration’s appalling inability to explain that this is what it was thinking and doing allowed the unearthing of stockpiles to become the test of whether it had correctly assessed the risk that Saddam might provide WMD to terrorists. When none were found, the administration appeared to have failed the test even though considerable evidence of Saddam’s capability to produce WMD was found in postwar inspections by the Iraq Survey Group chaired by Charles Duelfer.

I am not alone in having been asked, “If you knew that Saddam did not have WMD, would you still have supported invading Iraq?” But what appears to some to be a “gotcha” question actually misses the point. The decision to remove Saddam stands or falls on one’s judgment at the time the decision was made, and with the information then available, about how to manage the risk that he would facilitate a catastrophic attack on the United States. To say the decision to remove him was mistaken because stockpiles of WMD were never found is akin to saying that it was a mistake to buy fire insurance last year because your house didn’t burn down or health insurance because you didn’t become ill. No one would take seriously the question, “Would you have bought Enron stock if you had known it would go down?” and no one should take seriously the facile conclusion that invading Iraq was mistaken because we now know Saddam did not possess stockpiles of WMD.

Bush might have decided differently: that the safer course was to leave Saddam in place and hope he would not cause or enable the use of WMD against the United States. How would we now assess his presidency if, say, Iraqi anthrax had later been used to kill thousands of Americans? He would have been accused—rightly in my view—of having taken a foolish risk by not acting against a regime we had good reason to consider extremely dangerous. (And no one would be so stupid as to ask: Would you have left Saddam in place if you had known he was going to supply anthrax to terrorists?)

Read the whole thing.

14 Jan 2009

20th Hijacker Will Not Be Tried

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left:Ali al-Kurdi, Right: Mohammed el-Qahtani in Yemen jail

Susan J. Crawford, the convening authority for military commissions, Bob Woodward gleefully reports, has announced that she is unwilling to try Mohammed el-Qahtani (the intended 20th 9/11 hijacker who missed his flight) because interrogation techniques applied to him, including “sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold” impaired the poor chap’s health and thus amounted to torture.

Crawford . . . .said the combination of the interrogation techniques, their duration and the impact on Qahtani’s health led to her conclusion. “The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge” to call it torture, she said.


MacRanger
is unsympathetic.

He says, if discomfort, embarrassment, and water poured on your face are torture, he was tortured himself.

Sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold I experienced in basic training. Waterboarding I experienced later during escape and invading training.

Here we have a Bush Administration official, with a long record of working for Dick Cheney, by the way, inhibited from prosecuting a principal participant in the worst attack on the United States in history costing the lives of 3000 innocent civilians
because she is willing to regard discomforts used in interrogation essentially identical to stresses endured by US military personnel in training as “torture.” Once Crawford is gone and some Obama appointee is in her place, we’ll have hairy Pathan mass murderers released because some corporal crushed their spirits with a cutting remark.

All this demonstrates that the Bush Administration approach of military commissions operating at Defense Department level in the full view of the domestic media and the humanitarian bien pensant left was always insane. The correct procedure was always minimum formality and drumhead courts martial for illegal combatants and captured terrorists under the immediate local US military authority followed by speedy dispatch to the Muslim Paradise at rope’s end.

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