Category Archives: terrorism

Some Words On “The Bowling Green Massacre”

Kellyanne Conway’s “Bowling Green Massacre” oopsie is ironic on so many levels. Let us count the ways that using this incident to justify a Muslim ban is completely wrong.

First, a recap of the incident in question: two Iraqis were arrested, indicted and convicted for a plot to send high-powered rifles (the kind available at any gun shop in the South) and money to Al Qaeda overseas. The weapons and money would have been used on Western targets overseas. The plot was uncovered by the FBI within months of the men’s arrival in the U.S. No weapons were ever sent overseas, and no terror attack occurred thanks to these two, either in the U.S. or anywhere else. The part that involves refugees is here:

Although both Alwan and Hammadi had been arrested by Iraq security forces, in 2006 they were allowed to enter the United States as refugees in April and July 2009, respectively. Asked why officials and Homeland Security had not properly vetted or reviewed the men’s records, a Homeland Security official said, “This case demonstrates specific gaps that were present in the screening process that was in place in the beginning of the administration. Once the administration became aware of these gaps, it took immediate steps to fill them. Today our vetting process considers a far broader range of information than it did in past years.”

The specific “gap” revealed by this case is that in 2009, fingerprints found on IEDs in Iraq weren’t being matched with those of refugees seeking entry into the U.S. Under George W. Bush, the IED fingerprint data base wasn’t included as part of the refugee screening process. That flaw in the vetting process was corrected by President Obama as soon as it was revealed by this case. So using this specific case to say “we need to fix the vetting process” is wrong because Obama already did that.

Even funnier is Trump’s claim that his bigoted Executive Order is “similar” to Obama’s “2011 Iraqi refugee ban.” Actually, no: Obama never banned Iraqi refugees, temporarily or otherwise. He did order refugee’s fingerprints be checked against those in the IED database. That caused some seriously big delays in the processing of applications as thousands of applications had to be reprocessed. It was not a ban, it was addressing a security issue that Trump now claims he’s addressing.

So just to review our “Bowling Green Massacre” incident:

1- The plot exploited the country’s lax gun laws;
2- The men were under FBI surveillance almost as soon as they entered the U.S.;
3- There was no plot to launch an attack inside the U.S.;
4- No weapons or money made it to Iraq because of the FBI’s undercover investigation;
5- Flaws in the refugee vetting process revealed by this case were corrected by President Obama years ago;
6- Claims that Trump isn’t doing anything that Obama didn’t already do are wrong.

Why do I know this and the president’s top advisor does not? I’m no expert, I don’t work for the government. I’m not involved in the security services. I don’t have top-level security clearance. I’m just a dang housewife in Tennessee who reads the New York Times instead of listening to Sean Hannity and watching Fox News. Is that all it takes to make someone knowledgeable about the world?

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Filed under immigration, terror alerts, terrorism

Refugees Are Not The Problem, You Jackass

From the conservative Cato Institute:

terrorists-chart

I’ve already written about this enough. This is beyond shameful. Right now, refugees who have been through years of vetting, sold all of their possessions, and boarded airplanes to arrive in the U.S. are being turned away. They now have literally nothing.

Meanwhile, countries conveniently left out of this ban all seem to have one thing in common:

President Trump’s most recent executive order effectively bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days — but some Muslim countries were spared from the order’s blacklist, even though they have deep-seated ties to terrorism.

Conspicuously, Trump doesn’t hold any business interests in any of the countries on the list, but holds major stakes in several of those excluded from it, records show.

Friday’s executive order, signed at the Pentagon, suspends the issuing of U.S. visas or travel permits to people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Not a single American was killed on U.S. soil by citizens from any of those countries between 1975 and 2015, according to statistics tallied by the conservative-leaning Cato Institute.

Coincidence? Maybe if we knew more about his business interests we’d have a better handle on why Saudi Arabia, which contributed 15 of the 9/11 hijackers and gave us Osama bin Laden, was not banned, but Sudan was.

Donald Trump is a monster. There is no logic to this action except his desire to make an easy scapegoat of the world’s most vulnerable. He is not a Christian. He is not making America great. We were in every single way a greater country 10 days ago than we are now. We were a safer country 10 days ago.

Make no mistake, Republicans: Donald Trump is going to be the villain of your children’s and grandchildren’s history books, and a big majority of you will be there right alongside him.

And all of those people who told us we had to stop taking Trump literally? Fuck you. He has literally done every horrible, inhumane, immoral thing we said he would do. So please shut up.

How to help: find a local organization near you. Reach out. Donate. Here are some ideas:

Legacy Mission Village
• Tennessee Immigrant And Refugee Rights Coalition
World Relief
International Rescue Committee
Nashville International Center For Empowerment

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Filed under immigration, terrorism

I Have Questions 

Kudos to law enforcement for their quick apprehension of the Texas bombing suspect.

Wait, Texas? Yup:

Cary Lee Ogborn, 50, was arrested late Friday after retrieving a package he thought contained explosives powerful enough to maim or kill people or destroy buildings.

This is the other terror plot from last weekend, the one cable news ignored, probably because the guy’s name is Cary Lee Ogborn, not something Muslim-y like Ahmed or Mohammed.

I’d like to know where Ogborn was radicalized. Did he act alone? Did he belong to a church or other group which spread anti-U.S. beliefs? Is he part of a larger network, or is he a “lone wolf”? What materials did he read, what radio shows did he listen to, what websites did he visit?

We may never know because this story has gone virtually ignored.

If I find out I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I’m without a computer this week, and am posting this via my iPhone. Please forgive any mistakes or typos.

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Filed under eco-terrorism, Housekeeping, terrorism

About That Terrorist Watch List

Guess what, everybody! The parents of the San Bernardino gunman have just been placed on the Federal terrorist watch list. Which means they can’t leave the country but they CAN buy guns!

So we have a (potential) terrorist trapped inside the U.S. and able to buy an AR-15. This makes sense, how?

I’m not agreeing with the Trump crowd, who want to ship the Muslims home (that’s what someone at his S.C. rally said, at least) and keep anyone else from coming here. I’m just pointing out an inconsistency in the argument.

Also, their argument always seems to go back to the idea that the terror watch list is flawed and that there’s no due process. I’m not challenging that notion at all, but I haven’t heard any Republicans (or Democrats, save far left Progressives) call for fixing it. Can we not add a due process element to the watch list? So citizens who find their names on the list in error can mount a challenge? Can we not improve the list or the way it’s compiled?

It all seems very phony to me. Republicans don’t want to infringe on the Second Amendment rights of people who may erroneously find their names on the list, but they sure as hell don’t mind barring those same people from travel. Isn’t that interesting?

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Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, terrorism

I’m Not Charlie, or, Why Does Everyone Have To Be So Mean?

I don’t believe in censorship. Nor am I calling for censorship. But I don’t understand why we, collectively, don’t ask people to show a little self-censorship when it comes to being offensive, intolerant and bigoted.

Lord knows we expect it of blowhards like Rush Limbaugh when they go on one their racist or sexist tirades.

Lord knows we expect it of all the homophobic preachers and NOM activists who have unleashed a torrent of anti-gay bigotry as marriage equality has spread from state to state.

Lord knows we expect it of ubiquitous purveyors of hate speech like Ann Coulter.

Lord knows we expected it of Bill Hobbs when he published that “Mohammed Blows” cartoon on his blog back in 2006.

But for some reason now that idle threats have turned into a despicable, vile, violent act of murder, suddenly it’s okay? Suddenly we have an obligation to spread the same offensive, anti-Muslim images because, freedom? Seriously?

You want to defend free speech? Then take up the cause of the Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt.

You want to fight terrorism? Then condemn the bombing of the Colorado Springs office of the NAACP two days ago (something which the mainstream media has given little attention to, in light of their “if it bleeds, it leads” SOP.) Get to work fighting the poverty, inequality and injustice (yes, even in France) that breeds these diseases. Republishing cartoons that show Mohammed being sodomized is the lazy way out. Reprinting offensive materials to show you won’t be bullied doesn’t prove you’re free, it shows you haven’t evolved beyond the maturity of a kindergartener.

I don’t get it. I don’t get why we don’t expect better of ourselves and others. If lowering yourself to a level where offending people is your best show of support for victims of violence, if that’s the best way you can stand up for freedom, you’re doing it wrong.

The world needs to grow up and fast, because we’re not going to get many more chances to get it right.

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Filed under Current Events, free speech, media, Media, terrorism

>Where’s The Osama Bin Laden Tape?

>Because with crap like this, you know that’s exactly where we’re headed:

Finally, a patriot has cracked that dastardly Obama’s secret code!

I mean, it’s really a shame the Republicans don’t have the White House any more and can’t gin up any pre-election “terra terra terra” fear porn. Poor dears. Ginning up anti-Muslim fear is the next best thing, especially when the president of the United States is a Muslim!!!11!!!11!!! ZOMG!!!!

How awfully inventive. Transparent, but inventive.

As Frank Rich observed yesterday, the whole Park51 fauxtroversy is so obviously manufactured, the only thing more appalling is that so few media figures have hit the LexisNexis data base to begin with (and Rich gives proper credit where it’s due to Salon.com’s Justin Elliott for doing just that).

One wonders why CNN or The Today Show or Brian Williams or anyone else on the TeeVee hasn’t reported any of these facts which Rich mentions in his column:

In the five months after The Times’s initial account there were no newspaper articles on the project at all. It was only in May of this year that the Rupert Murdoch axis of demagoguery revved up, jettisoning Ingraham’s benign take for a New York Post jihad. The paper’s inspiration was a rabidly anti-Islam blogger best known for claiming that Obama was Malcolm X’s illegitimate son. Soon the rest of the Murdoch empire and its political allies piled on, promoting the incendiary libel that the “radical Islamists” behind the “ground zero mosque” were tantamount either to neo-Nazis in Skokie (according to a Wall Street Journal columnist) or actual Nazis (per Newt Gingrich).

These patriots have never attacked the routine Muslim worship services at another site of the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon. Their sudden concern for ground zero is suspect to those of us who actually live in New York. All but 12 Republicans in the House voted against health benefits for 9/11 responders just last month. Though many of these ground-zero watchdogs partied at the 2004 G.O.P. convention in New York exploiting 9/11, none of them protested that a fellow Republican, the former New York governor George Pataki, so bollixed up the management of the World Trade Center site that nine years on it still lacks any finished buildings, let alone a permanent memorial.

(By Ingraham he does indeed mean Laura Ingraham. You can watch said “benign take” here.) The controversy started with Murdoch’s propaganda outfit? I’m shocked! CNN and the rest of the media simply repeat the Republican Party talking points? Still shocked! No, I’m not, actually. It was to be expected, because we have an election in a few months and this shit happens every time we have an election in a few months.

So now we have anti-Muslim fear suddenly front page news all across the nation. What a coinky-dinky that we also suddenly have that tired, oft-debunked “Obama is a Muslim” story also suddenly front page news all across the nation.

And I’m sure in a few weeks we’ll have “rumors” of some kind of Al Qaeda/Osama Bin Laden tape which Jerome Corsi suddenly found in a dark cave somewhere. Right next to Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate, of course.

Because there’s one thing I know about the Republican Party: they love to recycle old ideas. Scaring the pants off of people has been their winning strategy for years. So we have “Muslims are scary” and “Obama is a Muslim.” All we need to wrap this package up with a bow is “… and they want to kill you, SEE?”

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Filed under fear porn, terrorism

>Stupid Security Theater

>[UPDATE]:

That didn’t take long:

DALLAS – Airline officials say in-flight security rules have been eased after a two-day clampdown.
At the captain’s discretion, passengers can once again have blankets and other items on their laps or move about the cabin during the tail end of flight, two industry officials briefed on the situation said Monday.

It was a stupid rule to begin with.
———————–

Airline travel has just gotten substantially suckier thanks to our ridiculous Transportation Security Administration:

“Among other things, during the final hour of flights, customers must remain seated, will not be allowed to access carry-on baggage or have personal belongings or other items on their laps,” the airline said.

Look, in the interest of safer air travel, I will accept pat-downs and more scrutiny of my carry-on bags. But this “remain seated for the last hour of flight with nothing in your lap” bullshit is the last straw.

What does the “last” hour of flight have to do with anything? Just because the foiled Detroit attack took place in the “last” hour of flight, do you think they all have to be that way? Why not the first hour of flight? The second? How arbitrary and ridiculous. Al Qaeda is laughing their asses off at us.

Second of all, anyone who has ever traveled with children knows you simply cannot keep them locked in their seat for a full hour, no trips to the bathroom, no access to personal belongings, no toys, no games, hell not even a blanket. Good luck with that. Oh, and I’m sure the flight crews will have a grand ol’ time wiping urine off the seats.

Am I the only one who thinks it’s ridiculous that our safety screening is based on foiled terrorist plots? Richard Reed failed to light his shoes on fire so now we all take our shoes off at security. Some other terrorists failed to mix liquids into an explosive, so now you can’t take liquids through security. And now we have to stay out of the bathroom and twiddle our thumbs for an hour.

As I wrote last year when an eager TSA employee in Dallas stole took labeled my niece’s Christmas gift contraband:

Thank God the Maxwell Smart of terrorists didn’t have an exploding pen, or we’d all have our writing implements confiscated at security.

It seems to me there’s a better way to do this. Telling me I can’t read a freaking magazine for the last hour of flight or take a pee after you’ve plied me with ginger ale for two hours doesn’t seem to be the right approach. I’d rather we figured out how someone on the terror watch list was able to board an aircraft with a bomb strapped to his balls, when I can’t even get a damn bottle of Dasani past security.

Y’all ever think of that?

No, Janet Napolitano, our system did not work.

How about a little extra pat-down to the guy on our terror watch list who was denied an entry visa to the United Kingdom last spring? I realize hindsight is 20/20 and I don’t know all of the ins and outs of airline security but it seems like treating every single person like a potential terrorist accomplishes nothing, when there are actual, concrete things we should be doing to make air travel safer.

In my post last year I linked to this Salon.com “Ask The Pilot” column, in which a pilot had this to say about airport security:

What we need is a TSA willing to concede that the real nuts and bolts of keeping terrorists away from planes take place well out of view. We need to immediately rescind most of the rules restricting sharp objects and liquids, with a return to basic screening for firearms and bombs. With respect to the latter, the emphasis should be put squarely on improved anti-explosives screening of all luggage and cargo.

And although the attacks of 2001 took place on U.S. soil, the greater threats are at airports abroad. American carriers now operate throughout Asia, South America, Africa and beyond, where they remain potentially high-profile targets for extremist groups or rogue terrorists. Here we are confiscating scissors from somebody’s grandmother in Indianapolis when most of our security in foreign countries is outsourced to local authorities. How about relocating some of our domestic manpower overseas to help prevent a bombing or shoot-down?

All of those things would be nice. How about those new liquid-explosive screening devices soon to be available in the EU? Can we get some of those in the U.S., please?

I’m tired of these ridiculous security rules designed to give the appearance that we are doing something when in fact we are doing nothing at all. If we’re going to have terror watch lists, for crying out loud, use them.

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Filed under air travel, terrorism, TSA

>Is There Anything We Won’t Do For Oil?

>Turns out it wasn’t humanitarian, compassionate reasons that prompted the British government to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.

It was oil:

Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.

The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahi’s release.

The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests.

[…]

The exploration deal for oil and gas, potentially worth up to £15 billion, was announced in May 2007. Six months later the agreement was still waiting to be ratified.

On December 19, 2007, Straw wrote to MacAskill announcing that the UK government was abandoning its attempt to exclude Megrahi from the prisoner transfer agreement, citing the national interest.

[…]

Within six weeks of the government climbdown, Libya had ratified the BP deal. The prisoner transfer agreement was finalised in May this year, leading to Libya formally applying for Megrahi to be transferred to its custody.

For those who haven’t been following this story:

On Aug. 20, 2009, the Scottish government released him on compassionate grounds, saying that medical evidence showed he would die within months of prostate cancer. Mr. Megrahi, who served 8 years of a 27-year minimum sentence, was flown to Tripoli, Libya, and welcomed home as a hero, setting off angry protests in Britain and the United States.

I’m wondering just what, if anything, the West won’t do for oil.

We invade countries that were not a threat to us, killing tens of thousands of civillians.

We lie to our own people.

We poison our air and land and threaten the future of the entire globe.

We torture and indefinitely imprison people who, if they didn’t hate us before, surely do now.

And we release a convicted terrorist, who killed 270 people, to a hero’s homecomning.

It seems to me that oil is a pernicious thing, bringing us so much wealth and such a high standard of living over the past 50 years. But at what cost?

I ask you this: What good will it be for a man to gain the whole world, if he loses his soul? What price have we placed on our souls?

Is this it? Easy living, big cars, cheap food, big houses, nice clothes? Are we bought so cheap, then?

Surely the devil is laughing.

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Filed under Libya, oil, terrorism, UK

>News You Won’t See On TV

>I did not know that there was something called the “World Outgames,” a kind of gay and lesbian Olympics, taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark right now.

I did not know that two Nashvillians, Sam Felker and Keith Little, are competing in these games and writing about it on their blog.

I did not know that on Tuesday the track and field competition was disrupted by a bomb attack that injured one runner. Sam and Keith were there during the attack and posted pictures on their blog.

You’d think with Nashville debating its non-discrimination ordinance right now, and the fact that at least two Nashvillians are actually at the games and witnessed the attack, that there might be some local media interest in this incident.

Silly me. Outside the GLBT media and blogs: **crickets**

I think it would be helpful for everyone to know about this, and the fact that hate crimes against the GLBT community occur even in progressive cities like Copenhagen.

Thank you, Nashville blogosphere, for doing the job our local media would not.

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Filed under GLBT, media, terrorism

Lax Gun Laws Aid Our Enemies

You have to wonder what’s up when gun nuts fight strengthening gun laws that allow suspected terrorists to buy weapons:

WASHINGTON — People on the government’s terrorist watch list tried to buy guns nearly 1,000 times in the last five years, and federal authorities cleared the purchases 9 times out of 10 because they had no legal way to stop them, according to a new government report.

In one case, a person on the list was able to buy more than 50 pounds of explosives.

The new statistics, compiled in a report from the Government Accountability Office that is scheduled for public release next week, draw attention to an odd divergence in federal law: people placed on the government’s terrorist watch list can be stopped from getting on a plane or getting a visa, but they cannot be stopped from buying a gun.

Gun purchases must be approved unless federal officials can find some other disqualification of the would-be buyer, like being a felon, an illegal immigrant or a drug addict.

Does this make sense to anyone? A person on the government’s terrorist watch list can be stopped from boarding an airplane but can still legally buy a gun?

Apparently it makes sense to the gun nuts, who are actually fighting changing the law:

“We’re concerned about the quality and the integrity of the list,” said Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association. “There have been numerous studies and reports questioning the integrity, and we believe law-abiding people who are on the list by error should not be arbitrarily denied their civil rights” under the Second Amendment.

Mr. Lautenberg introduced a similar gun-control measure in 2007, but it stalled after opposition from the N.R.A. The senator attributed the outcome to “knuckling under to the gun lobby.”

I have doubts about the integrity of the terrorist watch list too, but I’d rather we focus our energy and efforts on managing the list than run the risk that the next James VonBrunn, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, or Eric Roeder can buy a gun, explosives, and even semi-automatic weapons.

And it’s completely stupid that some of the same folks who rang alarm bells over Gitmo detainees being in U.S. prisons don’t seem in the least bit concerned that someone on the terrorist watch list can buy an AK-47 with nothing legally to stop him or her. It is simply far too easy to buy a gun in this country and the people who are fighting changes the loudest are ignoring the reality that guns are involved in 70% of all U.S. homicides.

If, as the gun nuts like to remind us, that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” then shouldn’t we have a law that stops people suspected of being dangerous from possessing guns? Especially when we’re already restricting these people from things like boarding airplanes? Gun nuts stopped making sense to me a long time ago, however.

So here’s a plan: How about we do whatever needs to be done to clean up the terrorist watch list and get people who don’t belong on it off. Let those people board airplanes, buy guns, get their visas and basically get on with their lives.

And the people we have evidence of being a threat to the country: those folks let’s legally keep from buying weapons.

You got a problem with that?

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Filed under gun control, terrorism