The $3 Million Terrorist

2bombing A top insurgent leader in Somalia whom U.S. officials have accused of having ties to al-Qaeda was killed in a U.S. airstrike early Thursday, according to the Islamist group he led.

The attack in the town of Dusa Marreb in central Somalia leveled a house belonging to the reclusive leader, Aden Hashi Ayro, who was inside at the time with at least one of his top commanders, according to his followers.

A spokesman for U.S. Central Command confirmed that the United States had attacked “a known al-Qaeda operative and militia leader” in the vicinity of Dusa Marreb, about 300 miles northeast of Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

A U.S. military official said five Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched against the village from a U.S. naval vessel. The official would not confirm the type of vessel or its home base but said ships from the Navy’s 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, “routinely operate in the Horn of Africa area.”

The group that Ayro headed issued a statement calling him a “martyr.”

“We are here informing the Enemy of God” that Ayro’s “trained and educated colleagues are currently in operation. They are committed to the continuation of the Holy War,” said Mukhtar Robow, a spokesman for al-Shabab, the military arm of the Islamic Courts movement that has gained ground recently against Somalia’s weak transitional government and the Ethiopian troops backing it.

The United States recently designated al-Shabab a terrorist organization.

Reports varied on the number of people killed. Abdi Warsame, a headmaster in the area, said he counted 16 bodies strewn around a crater where Ayro’s house used to be, on the western outskirts of town… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Washington Post>

Considering that one Tomahawk cruise missile costs US taxpayers about $600,000, we have paid $3 million to get one rather bush-league terrorist, and that doesn’t account for all the support cost of locating the terrorist and having a ship in position to take him out.

In addition, I have read estimated ranging from fifteen to thirty people killed in the blast, including women and children.  I bet their surviving relatives will be superb PR for the US.

We certainly could have accomplished this mission far less expensively and with far less collateral damage, assuming that the guy was actually a terrorist, and just someone the Bush/McConJob war machine does not like.  On that note, guess who else is on the terrorist watch list:

2mandela Nobel Peace Prize winner and international symbol of freedom Nelson Mandela is flagged on U.S. terrorist watch lists and needs special permission to visit the USA. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls the situation “embarrassing,” and some members of Congress vow to fix it.

The requirement applies to former South African leader Mandela and other members of South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC), the once-banned anti-Apartheid organization. In the 1970s and ’80s, the ANC was officially designated a terrorist group by the country’s ruling white minority. Other countries, including the United States, followed suit… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <USA Today>

How many cruise missiles would Bush and McConJob like to use to take him out?

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‘No Acquittals’ at Gitmo

29bush_hitler The former chief prosecutor here took the witness stand on Monday on behalf of a detainee and testified that top Pentagon officials had pressured him in deciding which cases to prosecute and what evidence to use.

The prosecutor, Col. Morris D. Davis of the Air Force, testified that Pentagon officials had interfered with his work for political reasons and told him that charges against well-known detainees “could have real strategic political value” and that there could be no acquittals.

His testimony completed one of the more unusual transformations in the contentious history of Guantánamo. Colonel Davis, who is on active duty as a senior Air Force official and was one of the Pentagon’s most vocal advocates of the Guantánamo military commissions, has become one of the most visible critics of the system.

Testifying about his assertions for the first time, Colonel Davis said a senior Pentagon official who oversaw the military commissions, Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann of the Air Force Reserve, reversed a decision he had made and insisted that prosecutors proceed with evidence derived through waterboarding of detainees and other aggressive interrogation methods that critics call torture.

Called to the stand by a Navy defense lawyer and testifying before a military judge, Colonel Davis said General Hartmann directed him last year to push war crimes cases here quickly. He said the general was trying to give the system legitimacy before a new president took office. He testified that General Hartmann referred to the long difficulties the Pentagon had had in operating the military commissions and said, “If we don’t get some cases going before the election, this thing’s going to implode.”

Spokesmen for the Pentagon and General Hartmann declined to comment on Monday, saying that the questioning was continuing before the military judge…

Inserted from <NY Times>

I first posted about Col. Davis on February 21. The GOP Reich likes to compare these tribunals with the Nuremberg trials, but in Nuremberg we did not extract testimony under torture and we did not decide the verdicts before the trials took place. Some might argue that some of these terrorists do not deserve a fair trial. Whether or not this is true, what they do or do not deserve is not relevant. This is not about who that are. It’s about who we are. At Nuremberg, we tried and convicted German judges for running exactly the same kinds of courts that Bush and the GOP are running here. If we ignore our own standards of justice to combat terrorism, then the war on terror is already over and the terrorists have won.

All articles cross-posted from Politics Plus

Romney Parrots McCain Propaganda

mittdog On Friday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), referring to Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), told conservative bloggers that “it’s very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States.” Now one of McCain’s top surrogates, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, has picked up on the line of attack, telling the Reno Gazette-Journal that the recent endorsement by Hamas” was “revealing”:

ROMNEY: I think Barack Obama was more of a blank sheet. I think the primary revealed more about him than perhaps he would’ve liked. The recent endorsement by Hamas of his candidacy is I think the kind of development which people find revealing.

QUESTION: What do you take that to mean?

ROMNEY: Well, I think he’s said in his first year he would be inclined to visit with [Iranian President] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, [North Korean President] Kim Jong Il, [former Cuban President] Fidel Castro. I think they find that appealing.

McCain and Romney’s scurrilous attacks are reminiscent of the over-the-top rhetoric of hardline right wingers like Rush Limbaugh and John Bolton. Earlier this month, Limbaugh claimed that “Islamofascists are actually campaigning for the election of Democrats” while Bolton contended in January that “the Mullahs in Tehran” want the Democrats to win. [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Think Progress>

Although this was intended as a attack, in a funny way, Romney may have a point.  Hamas probably would prefer Obama to McBoomBoom.  As the democratically elected government of Palestine, Hamas naturally wants to be a party in negotiations, so it would be natural for them to prefer an leader that negotiates with enemies over one that makes up songs about bomb, bomb bombing them.  What’s best for Hamas is a fair peace in the middle east.  That will not happen under McBoomBoom.  On the other hand, Osama bin Laden would prefer McConJob, because he would continue the same high-handed Bush policies that have brought Al Qaeda so many new recruits.

Newt Reveals Fear Card Agenda

19gingrich Yesterday, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich visited Drew University in New Jersey, where he took questions from 20 political science majors there. When one asked him how the government could justify stripping rights from Americans in such pieces of legislation as the Patriot Act, Gingrich said that the government has a “right to defend society,” and when under threat, “people will give up all their liberties“:

“If there’s a threat, you have a right to defend society,” Gingrich said. “People will give up all their liberties to avoid that level of threat.“

Gingrich is directly contradicted by Benjamin Franklin, who rejected the notion that one should give up one’s liberties out of fear:

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

This disagreement is significant, because Gingrich considers Franklin one of his heroes… [emphasis original]

Inserted from <Think Progress>

Not only did Newt contradict one of his favorite heroes, but also he revealed the key to the GOP agenda for dismantling our Constitution.  As long as they can keep us in fear, they believe we will ba-a-a-a-a-a-a-a like Faux Noise sheep.  Are we people, or are we sheeple?

GAO: US Lacks Terror Plan for Pakistan

18AQ-Pak Terrorists are still operating freely in Pakistan along the country’s Afghanistan border, despite the U.S. giving Pakistan more than $10.5 billion in military and economic aid, according to a government watchdog agency.

The Government Accountability Office says in a report released Thursday that the U.S. lacks a comprehensive plan to deal with the terrorist threat.

ON THE WEB: The GAO’s report on combating terrorism (.pdf)

Democrats called the report appalling because of congressional mandates demanding the nation do more to coordinate efforts by federal agencies.

“For anyone wondering how we’re doing in the fight to get the terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11, this report pretty much says it all,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

Some federal agencies, including the Defense Department, agreed with the findings. But the State Department disagreed, saying that a comprehensive strategy does exist and is being implemented.

Pakistan is widely seen as the linchpin in the U.S. anti-terrorism strategy. After the U.S. invasion in Afghanistan, Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters retreated across the mountainous 373-mile border into Pakistan’s unpoliced tribal areas.

Last month, CIA Director Michael Hayden said that if there were another terrorist attack against Americans, it would almost certainly originate from that region, where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding.

But because of a desire to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty, the U.S. since 2002 has relied mostly on the Pakistani military to go after the terrorist networks.

Of the $10.5 billion in aid provided to Pakistan since then, about $5.8 billion has been identified specifically for efforts along the border, mostly to reimburse Pakistan for military operations, according to GAO. Federal officials told the GAO that some 120,000 military and paramilitary forces have been deployed by Pakistan and hundreds of suspected al-Qaeda operatives have been killed or captured.

However, we found broad agreement … that al-Qaeda had regenerated its ability to attack the United States and had succeeded in establishing a safe haven in Pakistan’s” border area, GAO stated.

GAO also found that while individual federal agencies, including the Defense and State departments, have efforts underway to address the problem, they do not have a single coordinated strategy “that includes all elements of national power — diplomatic, military, intelligence, development assistance, economic, and law enforcement support.”… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <USA Today>

While accurate as far as it goes, USA Today misses the point.  Bush and the GOP have put all their eggs into one basket: backing an abusive totalitarian.  Had we invested that same $5.8 billion into supporting authentic democratic and economic reform in Pakistan, Al Qaeda could not thrive there.  Guerilla movements require popular support to survive.  Progress toward a better future would curtail that support for Al Qaeda.  Instead, we now have a very unstable nuclear nation harboring the world’s second most infamous terrorist.  McBoomBoom and the GOP want to stay the course with Musharraf.

Sea of David: Be Vewy, Vewy Afraid!

17seasofdavid There have been a series of alleged terrorist plots that the White House has claimed to have disrupted. Sometimes Bush and his team tout these thwarted plots to defend torture, and sometimes it’s to defend illegally tapping Americans’ phones, but the bottom line is always the same — there are dangerous bad guys out there, and the president is stopping them.

As it turns out, most, if not all, of the examples of thwarted plots touted by the Bush gang fall apart under scrutiny, but my all-time favorite has to be the “Seas of David” cult (aka, the “Miami Seven” or the “Liberty City Seven”).

When these would-be terrorists were captured, the administration characterized it as an enormous victory. Shortly after the suspects were taken into custody, Dick Cheney personally bragged that the Miami group was “a very real threat.” Then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was so excited he held a press conference to highlight this stunning counter-terrorism success story.

The AG said the group represented a “new brand of terrorism” created by “the convergence of globalization and technology.” The Justice Department said the terrorists in Miami intended to even blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago.

Except the story was wildly exaggerated — and juries refuse to give prosecutors a conviction.

Federal prosecutors again failed to win convictions for six Florida men on terror-related charges, as a deadlocked jury led a judge to declare a mistrial in the case Wednesday.

The men, part of a group dubbed the “Liberty City Seven,” were charged with planning an attack on Chicago’s Sears Tower following a 2006 FBI raid on a warehouse that served as their headquarters and “temple” in Liberty City, one of Miami’s poorest neighborhoods.

An earlier jury acquitted one man and deadlocked over counts against the other six in December.

Critics accused the Bush administration of “see[ing] terrorism under every rock,” and of essentially fabricating a major terror case against seven men using a paid informant.

Critics’ accusations appear to have merit.

These alleged terrorists had no weapons, no bombs, no expertise, and no money. They didn’t behave or operate as terrorists. They apparently swore an oath of allegiance to Osama bin Laden, but because an undercover FBI infiltrator suggested the idea. For that matter, despite some reports to the contrary, these guys weren’t Muslims, but instead practiced their own hybrid religion that combined Islam and Christianity.

Their “plots” against the United States were “embryonic at best.” The New York Daily News described the group, which was more a cult than a terrorist network, as the “7 Boobs.” They’d have trouble attacking a convenience store, better yet the Sears Tower.

They were best known in their community for following a leader who would wander around inner-city Miami in a bathrobe… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Carpetbagger Report>

This is what McConJob wants you to fear.

FBI Deceived Congress on NSLs

16fbi Counterterrorism officials in FBI headquarters slowed an investigation into a possible conspirator in the 2005 London bombings by forcing a field agent to return documents acquired from a U.S. university. Why? Because the agent received the documents through a lawful subpoena, while headquarters wanted him to demand the records under the USA Patriot Act, using a power the FBI did not have, but desperately wanted.

When a North Carolina State University lawyer correctly rejected the second records demand, the FBI obtained another subpoena. Two weeks later, the delay was cited by FBI director Robert Mueller in congressional testimony as proof that the USA Patriot Act needed to be expanded.

The strange episode is recounted in newly declassified documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents shed new light on how senior FBI officials’ determination to gain independence from judicial oversight slowed its own investigation, and led the bureau’s director to offer inaccurate testimony to Congress. The revelations are likely to play a key role in Capitol Hill hearings Tuesday and Wednesday on the FBI’s use of so-called national security letters, or NSLs

At issue is the FBI’s probe of a former chemistry graduate student at North Carolina State University who was then suspected aiding the deadly attack. The student has since been cleared of any involvement.

The agent investigating the student in the Charlotte, North Carolina field office obtained a grand jury subpoena demanding some university records on the student. But he was then advised by superiors in Washington DC to return the papers and draft an NSL demanding the documents instead.

Under the USA Patriot Act, FBI counterterrorism investigators can self-issue such letters to get phone records, portions of credit reports and bank records, simply by certifying that the records are relevant to an investigation. Unlike subpoenas, NSLs do not require probable cause, and at the time obliged the recipient to not discuss the demand with anyone, ever. In contrast, gag orders attached to grand jury subpoenas have expiration dates.

FBI agents have relied heavily on the power, issuing more than 100,000 NSLs in 2004 and 2005 combined. The first audit of the FBI’s use of the power found the agents became sloppy in their use of the power and one HQ office went rogue and issued hundreds of fake emergency requests for phone records.

The problem in the bombing case: the NSL demanded the university’s health records on the student. Even under the USA Patriot Act, which greatly expanded the NSL’s reach, university records and health records are exempt, making the order from headquarters a sure-fire path to delay.

The FBI even has sample letters for each of the 11 kinds of records NSL can be used to obtain. To comply with the demand from Washington, the Charlotte agent had to modify a sample letter intended for internet records.

The university, which had readily turned over the records in response to a subpoena, rejected the illegal NSL. Two weeks later, Mueller, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, portrayed the university as intransigent and said the incident showed the FBI needed the power to force the turnover of all sorts of records without having to involve the court system.

“Now in my mind, we should not, in that circumstance have to show somebody that this was an emergency,” Mueller testified on July 27, 2005. “We should’ve been able to have a document, an administrative subpoena that we took to the university and got those records immediately.”… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Wired News>

In a nutshell. the FBI had the records they wanted, legally obtained through a court-ordered subpoena, gave them back, issued an illegal NSL, were properly denied, obtained another court-ordered subpoena and got the same records they had the first time. Then Mueller lied to Congress, saying that the delay in obtaining these records justified expanding the Patriot Act.

In translation, this Bush/GOP minion lied to Congress to support the ongoing GOP agenda to transform our nation into a totalitarian police state.

Cross-posted from Politics Plus