…it has been argued by some that The War Against Terror that the United States is currently persuing is the best option for America, and that unfortunate incidents like the Pakistani bombing, while sad for those involved, is an unfortunate consequence of their locality and their peers. They argue that the War on Terror has made America safer.
On January the 9th, 2006, the Pakistani government lodges a protest with the US government over the death of eight people in the North Waziristan tribal region after a missile strike. Five days later, the US allegedly hit three houses in Damadola Burkanday, targeting Bin Laden’s deputy, al-Zawahiri.
According to several reports, while the bombs missed their primary target, they did manage to kill Abu Khabab al-Masri, al-Qaeda’s chief bomb maker and head of it’s WMD programme. In the previous thread about the Pakistani bombing, a poster linked to the below article that included a photograph of the said bomb maker.
…except, the photo on the link (taken from the official State Department Website), is not of Abu Khabab al-Masri at all. It was a picture of the London preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri. For the last year and a half the wrong picture had been shown on the official web-site: Abu Khabab is now represented by a rather fetching silhouette, and he is description is as follows:
Date of birth: April 29, 1953
Place of birth: Egypt
Aliases: Abu Khabab al-Masri
Is he dead? Well, the reward is still open, his status is unknown, and unless they have some of his DNA on file, they obviously didn’t confirm his death by matching his facial features.
We know it was the wrong photo thanks to the detective work of NBC news, who kindly pointed it out to the CIA, who admited a “human error.”
By itself, this is a small fluff. But for anyone with an understanding of chaotic systems, this is a small fluff in a sea of many small fluff’s that add up to one huge clusterfluff. The way that America has prosecuted the war on terror has made the world less safe, not more.
Terror is a global problem, and gaining the co-operation of other nations is an absolute must. Below are listed three instances where the United States has taken an arrogant “we know best” attititude, one that is hardly conducive to good relations and international co-operation.
In March of 2003, the radical Islamic Cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, disappered off the streets of Milan. The US Central Intelligence Agency contacted the Italian Anti-Terror Police and told them that they had reliable information that Nasr had fled to an unknown location in the Balkans. According to Italian Investigators, this was a lie. Court documents allege that a CIA team abducted him from an Italian street, took him to two different US Military bases, then flew him to Egypt where he was tortured, then released into house arrest. The CIA operation was discovered because the operatives left the batteries in their cell-phones, allowing a periodic signal to be broadcast that was used to discover the identities and locations by Italian Investigators. More importantly, the abduction ruined an on-going terrorist investigation being run by Italian authorities.
In early 2002, Indonesian authorities captured Omar al-Faruq, and in a move highly controversial to many Indonesian’s, handed him over to United States Authorities. In July 2005 Omar escaped from a detention centre in Bagram. The escape was reported widely, but Omar’s identity was changed to an alias. In November, a court case about detainee abuse revealed the fact that Omar had escaped and that the al-Qaeda’s highest-ranking operative in Southeast Asia had been free for four months, and the Indonesian government had not been informed.
Part of the US strategry in fighting The War Against Terror is engaging “terrorists” where they “live.” Unfortunately for the people of Iraq, it means they become unwilling participants in Americas war. US government figures show that between January and March of 2004, on average of 25 Iraqi’s were killed or wounded by the insurgency, by June that figure was at 40 Iraqi’s killed or wounded. In November of 2005, an average of 63 Iraqi’s were killed or wounded by insurgents per day. Despite the high casaulty count, the Pentagon estimates that 80% of all attacks are targeting Coalition Forces, but 80% of the casaulties are Iraqi.
(Iraq, Measuring Security and Stability, 2005, PDF document about two thirds down the page, Page 23)
The Detention Industry and Actionable Intelligence.
The US policy of detention since 9/11 has developed, like all good free market enterprises, has developed into an industry. The end product is actionable intelligence, a somewhat nebulous term defined by the folks at K-Praxis as “a process of analyzing multi-dimensional facets of actionable information to arrive at an action plan.”*
Our biggest insights into the Industry come from Guantanemo Bay. Official statements from the Pentagon discribe those interned there as “the baddest of the bad”, and commonly believed to be illegal combantants taken from the battlefields of Afghanistan. The truth is, that after three years of captivity, there has been no successful prosecution of those locked up at Guantanemo. The evidence against those like David Hicks who have been charged are extremely thin, and there are people like Murat Kurnaz and Abu Baker Qassim have been declared to be not illegal combantants, yet they remain locked up at Guantanemo Bay.
The following citations we also get an insight on how some of the people were chosen for internment, from being in the wrong place at the wrong time, to being turned in by family enemies, and in the worst of cases, some were sent to Guantanemo simply because of bad paperwork, and Junior Officers chose not to upset more senior officers.
It is no secret that US authorities and Private Contractors used “Stress Positions”, temperature adjustments, sleep depravation and other means to illicit information from prisoners to helo obtain "actionable intelligence in many instances. But considering how dubious some of the circumstances behind the detentions were, how often were these techniques useful when interrogating somebody who was innocent?
Now lets take that problem, and move it to Iraq. In Iraq, detainees numbered in their tens of thousands. The hunt (both then and now) was for actionable intelligence in an effort to stop the insurgency. We know that the techniques that were used at Guantanemo were also used at the Iraqi prisons. Then in 2004, the International Red Cross broke their normal proceedure and released a report claiming between 60 and 90% of those in detention in Iraq were there either by malice or mistake. Shortly after the report was released, the Abu Gharib scandal broke, and then the US started a series of mass-prisoner releases.
The amount of “intelligence noise” generated by mulitple false imprisonments has never been seriously discussed, but I believe it to be a serious issue. Actionable Intelligence breeds Actionable Intelligence, much like the way “satanic ritual abuse” allegations became rampant in the late '80’s. The parallels between the development of the Detention Industry and the Counselling Industry during the peak of the ‘satanic ritual abuse’ are quite stark, both are undertaken by zealous prosecutions, people are detained more because of emotion than fact, normal rights become restricted because of the greater good, and bizarre accusations are taken as relatively normal. (Does anyone remember the al-Quada plot to blow up apartment blocks by leaving the gas on?)
The Hard Lessons From September 11 Have Not Been Heeded.
The American approach to the war on terror has taken the easy route. It is much easier to throw out a drift net and catch a lot of fish, than it is to shoot them with a sniper rifle. The problem is that once people get into the system, it is damm hard to get out of it again. Citizens of the world don’t have the advantage of the American Constitution to enusre basic rights when detained by American forces, so regardless of guilt people have remained locked up for over three years “just in case.”
In December of 2005, the 9/11 commission release a “scorecard” rating how well the US had reacted to the attacks of September 11.
I believe the hard, unexciting work has yet to be done. The US homeland is still open ,rife for attack. The intelligence agencies still aren’t communicating properly. The first responders don’t have radios that can talk to each other. There is no unified control system. But billions of dollars are being spent overseas detaining random people for no good reason, seeking intelligence that is no more reliable than what I could get from torturing my cousin.
I’ll add some more thoughts later, but I must go have tea. Thoughts, comments, criticisms and abuse are welcomed…