Friday, July 20, 2007

Quote of the day.

US Undersecretary of defense, Eric Edelman:

Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia...such talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks.


I'm not making this up! From Der Spiegel:

You don't actually need a brain to work in a tax office. A French civil servant has been found to have a huge cavity filled with fluid in his head -- yet lives a completely normal life.

Where are the Islamist/jihadist websites?

MEMRI has provided an incredibly useful study on the role of the Internet and the jihad. It is a must see.

The war in Iraq.

As of July 19, 2007, there have been 3,915 coalition deaths: 3,628 Americans, 2 Australians, 157 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, 1 Czech, 7 Danes, 2 Dutch, 2 Estonians, 1 Fijian, 1 Hungarian, 33 Italians, 1 Kazakh, 1 Korean, 3 Latvian, 21 Poles, 2 Romanians, 5 Salvadoran, 4 Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, 2 Thai and 18 Ukrainians.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Spying squirrels.

As reported by Sky News.

The West's existential struggle.

Jewish Current Issues has a great account of the speeches by Natan Sharansky and Hugh Hewitt before the Republican Jewish Coalition. Here's an excerpt of what Hewitt thinks will be the central issue in the coming US election:

This [election] . . . is really against fantasists -- against people who do not believe that the threat is what it is. . . . Our fellow citizens and our friends also felt as badly as we did about the events of [9/11]. But increasingly they have come to believe that it was a lucky one-off, a fluke, a tragedy, as opposed to the first massive expression of a very sinister and very powerful will . . . intent not on peaceful coexistence . . . but on the relentless expansion of their radical vision of Islam.

[T]he Republicans are going to be saying a very hard thing to hear -- that we are locked in an existential struggle . . . and that indeed it is going to be a long and difficult and often bloody 20-30 years ahead of us. That’s a very tough hard message to sell in 60 seconds . . . especially when Democrats insist on saying it’s not so, and that we can retreat from Iraq without the carnage following us home, and that we can pretend that the radicalization of the Islamic population in Europe is neither far advanced nor continuing.

[W]e are only going to win if we make a sophisticated argument, based upon facts, and we do it every single day, and we do it day in and day out.

It’s why I recommend the book “Looming Tower” to everyone who will listen to me. You’ve got to understand what Sayed Qtub was saying and how it has spread and how it has metastasized . . . and it’s not about poverty in the Middle East, and it’s not about the West Bank, and it is not about Gaza. It is about a relentless ideological understanding of Islam that cannot be treated with. That book does it better than any.

I’d recommend “America Alone” . . . Mark Steyn’s effort to alert the world that it isn’t getting better in Europe; it is getting worse, and it’s getting worse in a hurry . . . .

I’d recommend Robert Kaplan’sImperial Grunts” . . . the story of the American military . . . an astonishing group of extraordinarily capable men and women who indeed are protecting the peace and preserving liberties -- and that is a reason for optimism.

I would also recommend the book that President Bush recommended . . . “The Case for Democracy” by Mr. Sharansky . . . It’s why the Bush Doctrine is . . . the only opportunity we have, the only rational choice, which is what Bernard Lewis said in Newport Beach Temple where I went to hear him a few weeks ago: either we will bring them freedom, or they will kill us . . . and he is right.

And finally one other book -- “Alone,” which is the story of the Thirties, the story of Winston Churchill by William Manchester -- the story of how Churchill never stopped doing one thing, which was say listen to what Hitler is saying, take him seriously, he means what he says and you cannot negotiate with him. It took a very long time and an extraordinarily terrible loss in history, for people to believe Churchill. . . .

Recently our friends at MEMRII put out a pamphlet “The Doctrine of Mahdism” and . . . I recommend you download it. It is the ideology of Mesbah-e Yazdi and Ahmadinejad. And people need to know that unlike the Thirties, horrible as they were, the next nut who gets their hands on weapons and begins offensive war is not going to have four and five years to roll out their divisions. It will be a flash of light . . . There is no Atlantic fortress to come to the rescue. . . .

That’s what we have to tell the American people repeatedly from now until November 2008. And it may not be until Election Day that we discover that they indeed were listening.

Cyber counter-jihad.

Yes, one person can make a difference in the war against Islamic fanatics. Read Shannen Rossmiller's full account of what she has done. Excerpt:

More than five years after 9-11, a growing number of terrorist movements harness the Internet and employ technology in their fight against the West. However, as Jarret Brachman, director of research for the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy, points out, "It is the strategic—not operational—objectives of the jihadi movement's use of technology that engenders the most enduring and lethal threat to the United States over the long term." He argues, "If Western governments made reading the online statements posted by Al-Qaeda ideologues a priority, they would better realize how the jihadi movement is not simply using technological tools to recruit new members, receive donations, and plan attacks. In actuality, Al-Qaeda's use of the Internet and other new technologies has also enabled it to radicalize and empower armies of new recruits by shaping their general worldview."[13]

The process that I started in early 2002 would eventually become a template for the government in the new and developing field of fighting terrorism online called "cyber-counterintelligence." It would be counterproductive, though, to ongoing investigations to comment further on the institutionalization of the field or its sources and methods.

Yet my efforts have been worth the personal sacrifice. After hundreds of cases, I continue to challenge myself to outthink and outmaneuver the terror enemy—by forging new and untested methods in the field of cyber-counterintelligence to always gain the upper hand in an operation. Whenever I set out to ensnare any terrorist operative or group, I always have one main motivating factor in sight: Simply said, I cannot and will not ever forget the painful memory of 9-11 and the death and destruction brought to bear upon the United States and the world.

If we are to defeat Al-Qaeda and all it encompasses, governments need to develop a better understanding of the ways Al-Qaeda and its affiliates use the Internet and technology. Intelligence agencies must be allowed to "think outside the box" and incorporate creative strategies that allow them to anticipate where the terrorist movements might next carve their path on the Internet. Western governments lag behind in Internet cyber-warfare with Al-Qaeda. If they do not catch up, they will not gain the upper hand in the war on terror.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I am in Maine right now, away from home and computer, so entries into the blog will be sporadic for the next couple of weeks...

Commanding General David H. Petraeus' Letter about Values.

APO AE 09342-1400

10 May 2007

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen serving in Multi-National Force-Iraq:

Our values and the laws governing warfare teach us to respect human dignity, maintain our integrity, and do what is right. Adherence to our values distinguishes us from our enemy. This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we - not our enemies - occupy the moral high ground. This strategy has shown results in recent months. Al Qaeda's indiscriminate attacks, for example, have finally started to turn a substantial proportion of the Iraqi population against it.

In view of this, I was concerned by the results of a recently released survey conducted last fall in Iraq that revealed an apparent unwillingness on the part of some US personnel to report illegal actions taken by fellow members of their units. The study also indicated that a small percentage of those surveyed may have mistreated noncombatants. This survey should spur reflection on our conduct in combat.

I fully appreciate the emotions that one experiences in Iraq. I also know firsthand the bonds between members of the "brotherhood of the close fight." Seeing a fellow trooper killed by a barbaric enemy can spark frustration, anger, and a desire for immediate revenge. As hard as it might be, however, we must not let these emotions lead us - or our comrades in arms - to commit hasty, illegal actions. In the event that we witness or hear of such actions, we must not let our bonds prevent us from speaking up.

Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. They would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary. Certainly, extreme physical action can make someone "talk;" however, what the individual says may be of questionable value. In fact, our experience in applying the interrogation standards laid out in the Army Field Manual (2-22.3) on Human Intelligence Collector Operations that was published last year shows that the techniques in the manual work effectively and humanely in eliciting information from detainees.

We are, indeed, warriors. We train to kill our enemies. We are engaged in combat, we must pursue the enemy relentlessly, and we must be violent at times. What sets us apart from our enemies in this fight, however, is how we behave. In everything we do, we must observe the standards and values that dictate that we treat noncombatants and detainees with dignity and respect. While we are warriors, we are also all human beings. Stress caused by lengthy deployments and combat is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign that we are human. If you feel such stress, do not hesitate to talk to your chain of command, your chaplain, or a medical expert.
We should use the survey results to renew our commitment to the values and standards that make us who we are and to spur re-examination of these issues. Leaders, in particular, need to discuss these issues with their troopers - and, as always, they need to set the right example and strive to ensure proper conduct. We should never underestimate the importance of good leadership and the difference it can make.

Thanks for what you continue to do. It is an honor to serve with each of you.

David H. Petraeus
General, United States Army

War on Terror.

There's an excellent editorial in Investors' Business Daily. Here's the chilling end:

After so many decapitations — of Westerners and insufficiently fanatical Muslims — and bombings targeting children, we should have a grasp of how evil the enemy bent on destroying us is.

In case we don't, former Green Beret and independent journalist Michael Yon recently provided a blood-curdling reminder, relayed to him by an Iraqi official describing al-Qaida's takeover of a city northeast of Baghdad:

"On a couple of occasions in Baqubah, al-Qaida invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking. In each instance, the family had a boy, he said, who was about 11 years old . . . at these luncheons, the families were sat down to eat.

"And then their boy was brought in with his mouth stuffed. The boy had been baked. Al-Qaida served the boy to his family."

As the president [Bush] has said many times, "It's important to defeat the enemy overseas so we do not have to face them here at home." Here at home — where they will murder us, and our children, in those same savage ways.

British anti-Semitism.

Little Green Footballs has posted the disturbing documentary from UK Channel 4 on the growing anti-Semitism in Britain. Check it out here.

Flying kites.

I just read an item about Polish soldiers helping children with kite flying in Afghanistan. It brought back memories of a great book I read a couple of years ago: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, a beautifully written novel about friendship, secrets, betrayal and redemption.