January 23, 2005

LNS Post Coup II Supplement (Final): Part Three -- The Bush Abomination’s Three Greatest Failures

Part Three -- The Bush Abomination’s Three Greatest
Failures: National Security, Economic Security and
Environmental Security

Bush Abomination’s #1 Failure National Security

Richard A. Clarke, on “Ten Years Later,” Atlantic
Monthly: Having ignored al-Qaeda until September
11,2001, President George W. Bush responded to the
attack in three ways. First, he ordered an end to the
terrorist sanctuary in Afghanistan. For five years
thereafter a token US. military force assisted the
Kabul government in its attempts to rule the warlords
and suppress the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Second, he
moved to strengthen US. domestic law enforcement with
the first Patriot Act (a law that civil libertarians
would find benign from today's perspective) and the
Department of Homeland Security, which in those early
years of the war on terror was largely ineffectual.
[1] Third, Bush ordered the ill-fated invasion and
occupation of Iraq, which effectively turned his
administration into an active recruiting office for
al-Qaeda and other jihadi groups around the world.
The move against Afghanistan did set al-Qaeda and the
jihadi movement back. Although regional affiliates
were. able to stage spectacular attacks in Riyadh,
Istanbul, Bali, Madrid, Baghdad, and elsewhere, and
although there were twice as many attacks worldwide in
the three years after 9/11 as there had been in the
five years before that day, no al-Qaeda-related
attacks took place in the United States in the years
immediately following 9/11.
The several years without an attack on US. soil lulled
some Americans into thinking that the war on terror
was taking place only overseas. Few corporations
increased security spending. Americans increasingly
questioned President Bush's security policies, the
Patriot Act, and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom
Ridge's ridiculed color codes. In the 2004
presidential election George W. Bush won a second term
in part by dismissing such issues as whether the
mishandling of the Iraq War had made us less secure,
whether we had paid enough attention to al-Qaeda, and
whether we were adequately addressing our
vulnerabilities at home.
Then the second wave of al-Qaeda attacks hit America.
Since then we have spiraled downward in terms of
economic strength, national security, and civil
liberties. No one could stand here today, in 2011, and
say that America has won the war on terror. To
understand how we failed to win, and exactly what has
been lost along the way, J want to look at the past
seven years in some detail.

Amy Goodman interviews Seymour Hersch, DemocracyNow!:
On Monday, the Pentagon criticized major aspects of
the article, saying in a written statement "Hersh's
article is so riddled with errors of fundamental fact
that the credibility of his entire piece is
destroyed." But President Bush, when asked by NBC's
David Gregory whether he would rule out military
action against Iran, said: "I hope we can solve it
diplomatically, but I will never take any option off
the table."
Amy Goodman: Your response to what President Bush has
Seymour Hersh: Well, I mean, the thing that's
wonderful about that is that, of course, if he really
hopes we're doing something politically, he should
join in with the talks that have been underway for
more than a year. Since 2003, the European Union,
primarily led by England, France and Germany, has been
in extensive negotiations with the Iranians. I think
there's an understanding that Iran has ambitions to
become a nuclear power. It's not there yet. The goal
of these talks is to offer them, I guess, to use a
cliche, the carrot they need in terms of increased
trade and increased credits and dual-use goods, goods
that they have been denied by sanctions because of
their activities, in exchange for a commitment to
The United States has not joined in those talks,
absolutely has nothing to do with them. In the
article, I quoted senior Western diplomats -
everyone's so nervous about being quoted about
anything these days with this administration - anyway,
a senior European diplomat said to me, we're in a
lose-lose position, because as long as America doesn't
join in these negotiations we really don't have the
leverage. What kind of a commitment can we make for
Iran's security if America stays out of it? And as
long as they don't join in, we're eventually going to
have to go to the United Nations for sanctions because
we can't do it through diplomacy to stop them, and at
that point, everybody understands that Russia and
China will probably veto it, and then the Bush
administration can claim, 'Aha! The U.N. is not
working again,' which is analogous to what happened in
2003 when we went into Iraq. We didn't give the
negotiations there a chance to work. So, if you really
are interested in negotiations, it's simple. Start
talking to Iran.

Bush Abomination’s #2 Failure: Economic Security

Sidney Blumenthal, Salon: In his second term,
President Bush is intent on regime change. The country
whose order he seeks to overthrow is not ruled by
Islamic mullahs or Baathists. But members of his
administration have compared its system to communism
and have used the image of the Berlin Wall to describe
its rot. The battle will be "one of the most important
conservative undertakings of modern times," the deputy
to White House political director Karl Rove wrote in a
confidential memo. Since the election, the president
has spoken often of the "coming crisis," and he has
mobilized the government to begin a propaganda
campaign to prepare public opinion for the conflict
ahead. The nation whose regime he is set on toppling
is the United States.
One part of his strategy is to pack the federal bench
with judges pledged to restore what conservatives call
the "Constitution in exile" - the Constitution before
the New Deal. Bush has renominated for judgeships
"those" already rejected by the Senate, including
William Haynes, who as the Pentagon's general counsel
advised on the policy that the president isn't bound
by laws governing torture, and Janice Brown, who has
denounced the New Deal as a "socialist revolution" and
is opposed to the incorporation of the Bill of Rights
in the Constitution.
Since the New Deal, the American social contract has
been built upon acceptance of its reforms. When Dwight
Eisenhower became the first Republican president after
Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, he never
challenged the New Deal, solidifying the political
consensus that has prevailed for decades. Not even
Ronald Reagan, who, after all, began as a fervent New
Deal Democrat, attempted to overturn it. But now Bush
has launched an assault on the social contract in
earnest, seeking to blast away at its cornerstone,
Social Security, which disburses pensions to the
elderly and payments to the disabled.
The end of the election marked the start of Bush's new
campaign, and he is stumping relentlessly to replace
this "flat-bust, bankrupt" system by siphoning Social
Security funds into private stock market accounts. His
motive was best explained by his political aide, Peter
Wehner, in a memo circulated through the White House.
"For the first time in six decades, the Social
Security battle is one we can win," Wehner wrote
triumphantly in the afterglow of the election victory.
"And in doing so, we can help transform the political
and philosophical landscape of the country."

Bush Abomination’s #3 Failure: Environmental Security

Steve Connor, Independent (UK): The Government's chief
scientific adviser is being aggressively targeted by
American lobbyists trying to discredit his view that
man-made pollution is behind global warming.
In an interview with The Independent, Sir David
King said he was being followed around the world by
people in the pay of vested-interest groups that want
to cast doubt on the science of climate change.
Last year, Sir David said the threat from global
warming was greater than that posed by international
terrorism and he has criticised the Bush
administration for pulling out of the Kyoto treaty to
limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Since then, he has given many lectures to
international audiences but found individuals among
them who are there solely to create the impression
that he is presenting biased information.
"They'll be in the audience to stand up and raise
questions to get into the audience's mind that I
haven't represented a balanced view," he said.

Los Angeles Times Editorial: "Collapse," UCLA
physiology professor Jared Diamond's probing
historical analysis of why some civilizations endure
while others decline, and "State of Fear," Michael
Crichton's lurid thriller about the evils of radical
environmentalists, are literary and scientific polar
opposites. The two talked-about books do share a
tendency to finger as villains narrow-minded leaders
who put ideology and power above scientific truth. But
Diamond, whose views reflect those of most mainstream
scientists, and Crichton, author of popular medical
and scientific potboilers, part company over what the
truth is.
Crichton's enviro-villains try dastardly things - such
as blowing up part of Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf and
swamping California with a tsunami - to scare the
public into thinking that global warming is a growing,
catastrophic problem. Diamond's historical villains go
out of their way to ignore environmental danger.
Diamond explains, for example, how Mayan kings were so
occupied with their own political struggles that they
willfully ignored the ecological damage inflicted by
their economy, from eroded hills to denuded forests.
That damage was, Diamond says, a chief cause of the
collapse of the Mayan empire…
A worldview like Crichton's has kept Congress from
ratifying the oldest of global warming treaties, the
Kyoto Protocol. With Russia having added its
signature, the treaty to reduce greenhouse gases is
set to take effect in more than 100 nations next month
The United States, a major author of the 1997 treaty
but still not a signatory, won't be participating.

Charles J. Hanley, Associated Press: The U.S.
delegation to a global conference on disasters wants
to purge a U.N. action plan of its references to
climate change as a potential cause of future natural
The U.S. stand reflects the opposition of the Bush
administration to treating global warming as a
priority problem…
The chief U.N. official here had a different view.
"I hope there will be a global recognition of climate
change causing more natural disasters," said Jan
Egeland, U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a
U.N.-organized network of scientists, said in its
latest major assessment of climate science that the
planet is warming and that this is expected to cause
more extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and
droughts, as the century wears on.

Elaine Lies, David Fogarty, Planetark.com: Earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters could kill millions in the world's teeming megacities and time is running out to prevent such a catastrophe, the
United Nations point man on emergency relief said on Tuesday.
Jan Egeland, the UN Director of Disaster Relief, said
many of the world's megacities, including Tokyo, are
extremely vulnerable to natural disasters and the poor
were most at risk from a lack of investment and
"Perhaps the most frightening prospect would be to
have a truly megadisaster in a megacity," he said on
the first day of a disaster prevention conference in
the Japanese city of Kobe, where an earthquake killed
nearly 6,500 people a decade ago.

Ten Years Later (Incredibly long future-terrorism
article by Richard Clarke)
Richard A. Clarke ^ | January/February, 2005 | The
Atlantic Monthly
“Then the second wave of al-Qaeda attacks hit
A leading expert on counterterrorism imagines the
future history of the war on terror. A frightening
picture of a country still at war in 2011
This is a transcript if the Tenth Anniversary 9/11
Lecture Sunday, September 11, 2011
John F. Kennedy School if Government Cambridge,
Professor Roger McBride
Dean, Honored Guests,
It is a great honor to be chosen to give this
tenth-anniversary lecture. This year, more than at any
other time since the beginning of the war on terror, I
think we can see clearly how that war has changed our
country. Now that the terror seems finally to have
receded somewhat, perhaps we can begin to consider the
steps necessary to return the United States to what it
was before 9/11. To do so, however, we must be clear
about what has happened over the past ten years. Thus
tonight I will dwell on the history of the war on
2001-2004: The response to 9/11
Having ignored al-Qaeda until September 11,2001,
President George W. Bush responded to the attack in
three ways. First, he ordered an end to the terrorist
sanctuary in Afghanistan. For five years thereafter a
token US. military force assisted the Kabul government
in its attempts to rule the warlords and suppress the
Taliban and al-Qaeda. Second, he moved to strengthen
US. domestic law enforcement with the first Patriot
Act (a law that civil libertarians would find benign
from today's perspective) and the Department of
Homeland Security, which in those early years of the
war on terror was largely ineffectual. [1] Third, Bush
ordered the ill-fated invasion and occupation of Iraq,
which effectively turned his administration into an
active recruiting office for al-Qaeda and other jihadi
groups around the world.
The move against Afghanistan did set al-Qaeda and the
jihadi movement back. Although regional affiliates
were. able to stage spectacular attacks in Riyadh,
Istanbul, Bali, Madrid, Baghdad, and elsewhere, and
although there were twice as many attacks worldwide in
the three years after 9/11 as there had been in the
five years before that day, no al-Qaeda-related
attacks took place in the United States in the years
immediately following 9/11.
The several years without an attack on US. soil lulled
some Americans into thinking that the war on terror
was taking place only overseas. Few corporations
increased security spending. Americans increasingly
questioned President Bush's security policies, the
Patriot Act, and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom
Ridge's ridiculed color codes. In the 2004
presidential election George W. Bush won a second term
in part by dismissing such issues as whether the
mishandling of the Iraq War had made us less secure,
whether we had paid enough attention to al-Qaeda, and
whether we were adequately addressing our
vulnerabilities at home.
Then the second wave of al-Qaeda attacks hit America.
Since then we have spiraled downward in terms of
economic strength, national security, and civil
liberties. No one could stand here today, in 2011, and
say that America has won the war on terror. To
understand how we failed to win, and exactly what has
been lost along the way, J want to look at the past
seven years in some detail.
2005: Return to the homeland battlefields
The US. government had predicted that future attacks,
if they came, would likely be on financial
institutions, noting that Osama bin Laden had issued
instructions to destroy the US. economy. Thus when the
casinos were attacked, it was a surprise. It shouldn't
have been; we knew that Las Vegas had been under
surveillance by al-Qaeda since at least 2001. Despite
that knowledge casino owners had done little to
increase security, not wanting to slow people down on
their way into the city's pleasure palaces. [2]
Theme-park owners were also locked into a pre-9/11,
"it can't happen here" mindset, and consequently were
caught off guard, as New Yorkers and Washingtonians
had been in 2001. The first post-9/11 attacks on u.s.
soil came not from airplanes but from backpacks and
Winnebagos. They were aimed at places where we used to
have fun, what we then called "vacation destinations."
These places were particularly hard to defend.
Peter and Margaret Rataczak, of Wichita, Kansas, were
the first to die on June 29, 2005, in a new wave of
suicide attacks launched against the United States in
retaliation for the killing of Osama bin Laden that
spring, and for the continuing presence of U.S. troops
in Iraq. These attacks were every bit as well planned
as those of 9/11 and, in typical al-Qaeda fashion,
used low-technology means to achieve maximum public
impact. What we know about the attacks' planning and
execution comes in large part from tourists who
provided photos and video from their travels. Without
these images we might never have known that the
Rataczaks' killers were non-Arab. lt would also have
been harder to discover that they seem to have entered
the United States by driving across the border from
Canada. [3]
In order to save money for the poker tables that
night, Peter chose to stay at an RV campground,
parking his Winnebago at around 4:00 P.M. Shortly
thereafter a casually dressed Asian couple approached
the Rataczaks' secluded campsite with a map unfolded
in front of them. Only the birds heard the silenced
shots. The first murders by the group calling itself
al-Qaeda of North America had been carried out.
With the bodies in the back of the darkened camper,
the Asian couple drove back toward a safe house they
had quietly rented in the hills. (The landlord had no
reason to suspect they were fundamentalist Muslims;
their religion was of no concern to him. Nor,
certainly, would his standard background credit check
have turned up their association with an Indonesian
al-Qaeda affiliate.) The man quickly backed into the
garage and loaded an ammonium nitrate device into the
van. His leader had said the device would force the
unbelievers in "Sin City" to realize that even in
their ignorance they were guilty of conspiring with
the Zionists to destroy Islam. After a good night's
sleep and his morning prayers, the man carefully
helped the woman into her vest and belt before leaving
her to finish dressing and praying.
It was only an hour's drive to the city limits, and
the man was careful never to exceed the speed limit.
State troopers at the exit ramp to the city ignored
the van. At 3:00 P.M. the streets were packed as
crowds wandered the Strip. On Tropicana Avenue the man
stopped briefly to let his partner out with an
exchange of nods and a whispered statement: "God is
great." The woman blended seamlessly into the flow of
people walking into the Florentine casino, looking
like one of the millions of annual visitors to Las
Vegas from the Pacific Rim. She seemed a little heavy
for her frame, and the jacket she wore seemed a little
out of place in the heat, but the doormen, as security
videos later showed, didn't even give her a second
look. She had been there many times before.
The woman never hesitated. She walked to the roulette
table, fifty feet from the front door, and pushed a
detonator, blowing herself up. The explosion instantly
killed thirty-eight people who were standing and
sitting at nearby tables. The nails and ball bearings
that flew out of the woman's vest and belt wounded
more than a hundred others, even though slot machines
absorbed many of the miniature missiles. [4] Eighteen
of the hundreds of elderly gamblers in the casino
suffered heart attacks that proved fatal when they
could not be treated fast enough amid the rubble.
Just seconds later the man drove his van into the
lobby of the Lion's Grand and detonated his cargo.
This bomb was designed to wreak tremendous damage that
would remain in the consciousness of the American
people for years to come. Whereas the damage done to
the Florentine casino was repaired in just under a
month, the billion-dollar Lion's Grand was closed for
more than a year while security enhancements and
structural improvements were made. Losing the use of
5,034 rooms, plus casino gaming and concerts and other
special events, cost the Lion's Grand a million
dollars a day, and damaged its bond rating.
The long-term economic effects continue today: tourism
in Las Vegas has never returned to its pre-2005 level,
and unemployment in the city is at 28 percent. [5]
The attacks in Nevada occurred at almost the same time
as the ones in Florida, California, Texas, and New
Jersey. Two women strolling separately through
Mouseworld's Showcase of the Future detonated their
exploding belts in the vicinity of tour groups in the
"Mexican Holiday" and "Austrian Biergarten" exhibits.
Similar attacks took place at WaterWorld, in
California; Seven Pennants, near Dallas; and the
Rosebud Casino, in Atlantic City. By the end of the
day 1,032 people were dead and more than 4,000
wounded. The victims included many children and
elderly citizens. Among the dead were only eight
terrorists, two each from Iraq, Indonesia, Pakistan,
and the Philippines.
The next morning CNN's Los Angeles bureau received a
video purporting to be from al-Qaeda of North America.
On the tape the group claimed responsibility for the
incidents and pledged that attacks would continue
until America left the Middle East. We can all recall
the soft, steely voice in which the chilling words
were delivered: "We are not terrorists. We are
patriots trying to throw off the mantle of an
oppressive society. We do not look like you think we
do. And we will kill you until you leave our holy
Eyewitnesses supported the recording's assertions,
telling investigators that some of the terrorists who
had committed these atrocities did not look like
Arabs. Three of the terrorists were women. The FBI,
the Department of Homeland Security, and the local
authorities were momentarily stunned, and began
frantically trying to prepare for what they feared
were further imminent attacks. The DHS raised the
nationwide terror-alert level to red.
The social effect of the attacks was widespread. In
Detroit, northern New Jersey, northern Virginia, and
southern California armed gangs of local youths
attacked mosques and Islamic centers. At the request
of local clerics, the governor of Michigan ordered
National Guard units into the city of Dearborn and
parts of Detroit to stop the vigilante violence
against Islamic residents.
The reaction from the White House and Congress was
swift. Patriot Act II, which had been languishing on
Capitol Hill, passed in July. As more evidence was
made public, it became increasingly clear that the
attacks had been perpetrated by terrorists who were in
the United States illegally, either on false passports
or having overstayed their visas.[6] Two were Iraqis
pretending to be South Africans, using passports that
had been stolen in Cape Town the year before. [7]
Others had actually been picked up before the attacks
for being "out of visa status," but had been released
because immigration detention facilities were full.
The attorney general sought broad emergency powers to
impose extended pre-arraignment detention,
investigative confinement, broader material-witness
authority, and expanded deportation authority. After
the passage of Patriot Act II, federal agents
conducted large-scale roundups of illegal immigrants
and members of ethnic groups that were suspected of
hiding terrorists in their midst. Many citizens who
had been forcibly detained were held "with probable
cause" for allegedly "planning, assisting, or
executing an act of terrorism"; they were denied
access to an attorney for up to seven days, "by order
of the judicial officer on a showing that the
individual arrested has information which may prevent
a terrorist attack." [9] Many detainees, if they
failed to produce proof of citizenship or immigrant
status, were moved to new DHS illegal-immigration
detention facilities for further investigation and
possible deportation. The camps were in remote areas,
including one in Arizona that ended up holding 42,000
suspected illegals. [10]
Although the American Civil Liberties Union vigorously
condemned these roundups, most of the public accepted
them as not only a suitable precaution against
possible future attacks but also a brake on further
vigilante violence. [11] The fear that follow-on
attacks were likely was enough to satisfy the
judiciary that state and federal law enforcement
should be allowed to begin broad sweeps of communities
suspected of harboring sympathizers.
Roundups based on ethnicity succeeded only in enraging
local ethnic communities. This made it more difficult
for the authorities to enlist cooperation in either
investigating hate crimes or preventing future attacks
from within these communities. Despite earlier
warnings from sympathetic foreign officials, the U.S.
government, with the support of federal judges and the
American people, deemed these detentions the only way
to hold those who had collaborated with the suicide
bombers and to capture those who might carry out the
next attack. [12] In short, "the gravest imminent
danger to the public safety," which had justified the
internment of Japanese-American citizens during World
War II, was invoked again to support the widespread
use of pre-trial detentions and material-witness
warrants. [13]
Over the objections of the Pentagon, Congress had in
2004 created a cabinet-level director of national
intelligence and given the position budgetary control
of all intelligence agencies and operational control
over all agencies except the Defense Intelligence
Agency and the armed services' individual intelligence
branches. By this point most Americans were well aware
of the lapses in U.S. intelligence produced by a lack
of spies in the Middle East. [14] Not long after 9/11
George Tenet, then the director of the CIA, had
suggested that it would take at least five years to
raise the CIA's human-intelligence capacity to where
it needed to be. Although the new law gave the
national intelligence director the muscle to manage
all U.S. intelligence, Tenet turned out to have been
right: it took more than five years to train even a
fraction of the new field agents needed for a global
war on terror.
One price the United States has paid for security is a
significant decrease in foreign students at our
colleges and universities, effectively preventing
young people from all over the world from meeting one
another and building bridges between warring
ideologies. Foreign attendance is now down by more
than a third from what it was in 2001, resulting in
the closing or consolidation of some graduate programs
in science and engineering, and producing severe
budget cuts in others. [15] At the same time, research
institutions in France, England, India, China, and
Singapore have all grown. Many of us are now using the
Asiapac operating system on our laptops and taking
drugs imported from such foreign companies as Stem
labs and EuroPharmatica.
The summer and autumn of 2005 passed without further
attacks. By Thanksgiving many Americans believed what
government spokesmen were telling them: that the
attacks had been the work of eight isolated
terrorists, the last of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad's
al-Qaeda cells in America.
The government spokesmen were wrong.
On December 2, 2005, the Mall of the States became a
victim of a low-tech terrorist attack. In the
preceding years malls in Israel, Finland, and the
Philippines had been attacked; so far, American malls
had been spared. As security professionals knew, this
was partly luck; such targets are difficult to
protect. [16] In June of 2004, after learning of
intelligence reports indicating that the Madrid train
bombers had originally planned to strike a suburban
shopping area, Charles Schumer, a Democratic senator
from New York, called for increased funding to secure
U.S. shopping centers and malls. [17] Congress chose
instead to focus on defending other targets against
more-sophisticated terrorist acts.
The 4.2-million-square-foot mall, located in
Minnesota, was globally recognized as the largest
entertainment and retail complex in America, welcoming
more than 42 million visitors each year, or 117,000 a
day. On this day neither the 160 security cameras
surveying the mall nor the 150 safety officers
guarding it were able to detect, deter, or defend
against the terrorists. [18] Four men, disguised as
private mall-security officers and armed with TEC-9
submachine guns, street-sweeper 12-gauge shotguns, and
dynamite, entered the mall at two points and began
executing shoppers at will.
It had not been hard for the terrorists to buy all
their guns legally, in six different states across the
Midwest. A year earlier Congress had failed to
reauthorize the assault-weapons ban. Attorney General
John Ashcroft had announced a proposal, on July 6,
2001, to have the FBI destroy records of weapons sales
and background checks the day after the gun dealer had
the sale approved. This meant that if a gun buyer
subsequently turned up on the new Integrated Watch
List, or was discovered by law-enforcement officials
to be a felon or a suspected terrorist, when
government authorities tried to investigate the sale,
the record of the purchase would already be on the way
to the shredder. [19]
The panic and confusion brought on by the terrorists'
opening volleys led many shoppers to run away from one
pair of murderers and into the path of the other,
leading to more carnage, Two off-duty police officers
were cited for bravery after they took down one pair
of terrorists with their personal weapons, before the
local SWAT team could get to the scene. Meanwhile, one
of the other terrorists used his cell phone to
remotely detonate the rental van he had driven to the
mall; this resulted in even more chaos in the parking
garages, Once the SWAT team arrived, it made short
work of the two remaining terrorists, By the time the
smoke had cleared, more than 300 people were dead and
400 lay wounded. In the confusion of the firefight the
SWAT team had killed six mall guards and wounded two
police officers. [20]
At the same moment, at the Tower Place, in Chicago;
the Crystal Place, in Dallas; the Rappamassis Mall, in
Virginia; and the Beverly Forest Mall, in Los Angeles,
the scene was much the same: four shooters and
hundreds of dead shoppers. America's holiday mall
shopping effectively ended that day, as customers
retreated to the safety of online retail.
The December attacks were achieved with a relatively
small amount of ammonium nitrate, some Semtex plastic
explosive, and a few assault weapons in the hands of
twenty people who were willing to die. Some of the
terrorists were Iraqis, members of the fedayeen
militias, who had been radicalized by the American
presence in Baghdad, Others were Saudis. Only one was
captured alive, at the Rappamassis Mall. Through
continued questioning of him, said to involve
CIA-trained interrogators, it was discovered that more
shootings were planned for the New Year, Acting on
this information, FBI agents, in concert with the
Texas Rangers and the Seattle police, thwarted two
follow-up attacks, aimed at New Year's Eve festivities
on Sixth Street in Austin and in the Pike Place Market
area of Seattle, As the bloody year ended, the
president pointed to our having prevented those two
attacks as evidence that we had turned a corner, and
that the United States would be safer in 2006. [21]
2006: Mobilizing the home front
Well before the end of the first quarter of 2006 the
economic effects of the previous year's attacks were
clear. The closing of casinos and theme parks around
the country had increased only regional unemployment,
but the national effect on the already ailing airline
industry was significant. The pre-Christmas attacks on
shopping centers had been the most damaging of all.
Economic indicators in the first quarter of 2006
showed the dramatic ripple effect of the collapse of
retail shopping on top of the earlier economic
devastation of recreational travel: GDP growth was
negative, and national unemployment hit 9.5 percent in
January. [22]
There were rumors that in his State of the Union
speech the president would call for the military to
take on more security missions at home and would
federalize all National Guard units. Acting to
pre-empt him, eighteen governors met and announced
that they were abolishing their National Guard forces
and creating state militias, which could not be put
under Washington's control and could not be sent
overseas. [23] Speaking for the rebellious governors,
Rhode Island's chief executive said, "The promises of
more security at home have yet to be backed by
concrete action. Our modern-day Minutemen are needed
in Woonsocket, not Fallujah. My problem is empty
shopping malls, not whether Shiites or Sunnis or Kurds
or Turkmen run this or that part of Iraq." She then
ordered the first units of the Ocean State Militia to
begin screening cars and shoppers at three shopping
centers. Rhode Islanders emerged from their homes in
In January, when the president actually delivered the
speech, he called for immediate passage of Patriot Act
III. "We are a nation at war," he said. "We need to
start acting that way. We can no longer be in denial.
We must mobilize the home front." To that end he
proposed four things: adding 200,000 members of the
Army, to compensate for National Guard shortfalls;
deploying three squadrons of new unmanned aerial
vehicles (UAVs) to conduct reconnaissance in the
United States; suspending the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act
(which had prevented the military from conducting
arrests in the United States); and modifying the
charter of the National Security Agency to permit
"unfettered use of its capabilities" in support of the
FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. [24]
Several senators immediately denounced the plan as the
militarization of America, and promised to filibuster
to stop the law's passage. Polls showed that 62
percent of Americans believed the president knew best
what was necessary to defend America.
Skeptical civil libertarians were concerned that the
new UAVs, which included Predators and Global Hawks,
would be deployed not only to kill or intercept
terrorists but also to monitor Americans. Girded by
the polls, the president pressed forward with his
plan. The secretary of homeland security welcomed the
additional monitors, saying, "The more eyes we have
looking at our coastline and borders, the more likely
we are to interdict future terrorists and deter their
attacks." The Air Force announced that deploying these
UA V patrols domestically would finally provide large
municipalities with the air security they demanded.
The governors and mayors did not complain.
Then came Subway Day. Public-transit systems in
Atlanta, Boston, Baltimore, and Philadelphia were all
struck at 8:15 A.M. eastern time, on a Monday in
April. Unlike the previous year's attacks, these
strikes did not appear to involve suicides. The bombs
were apparently hidden on trains while they sat in
rail yards, or were placed in newspaper racks and
ticket machines. "We knew something was up," the
homeland-security secretary said, in a remark that
many believe led to his resignation a week later. "We
hesitated to raise the alert level to red again
because we lacked actionable intelligence and we
didn't want an increase in the terror alert to tip off
the terrorists." More than 200 people died and more
than 3,000 were injured. [25]
Subways and commuter rail lines in New York,
Washington, and Chicago moved quickly to halt trains
and clear stations, causing chaos even in those cities
that were not under attack. San Francisco closed its
system for the day at 5:45 A.M. Pacific time, a half
hour after the attacks in the east and before most
commuters had left home, forcing workers onto the
highways. Most cities kept their transport systems
closed for the next day or two, leading to enormous
traffic problems and numerous car accidents, as local
officials struggled desperately to put
passenger-screening systems in place.
The mayor of Chicago, whose security investments and
preparations had often been lauded by the
homeland-security secretary, was defiant as he pledged
to ride the storied "El" to city hall each day. He
also promised to speed up the installation of his once
controversial "smart" surveillance cameras throughout
public areas in the city. The system linked all video
monitoring to a central emergency-management site,
where police officers and sophisticated software
programs could track suspicious activity on public
thoroughfares. The mayor's actions received unanimous
support from the city council. Chicagoans responded by
continuing to use the trains.
Thursday was Railroad Day. Improvised explosive
devices — or IEDs, popularized by Iraqi insurgents
after the American invasion — exploded as interstate
trains passed by or over them in Virginia, Colorado,
Missouri, Connecticut, and Illinois. [26] The five
charges resulted in almost a hundred deaths. Among the
fatalities was the national rail service itself, as
terrorists finally broke congressional will to fund
the money-losing venture any further: fifty pounds of
explosives had accomplished what no appropriations
committee could. It suspended operations that day and
went into closure and liquidation the next month. The
"Patriot" line, from Boston to Washington, reopened
later, after the Federal Railroad Police were created.
The Ferpys, as they quickly became known, eventually
took over security for all subway and commuter rail
lines except the New York subway (which stubbornly
resisted federal protection). The numerous agents on
trains, along with the Ferpys' bright-yellow
surveillance helicopters, are now a reassuring
everyday sight in most large metropolitan areas —
supplemented, of course, by the many UAVs, which are
much harder to see.
Although Congress acted quickly on the president's
proposal, creating the Ferpys took time. It was 2007
before all 155,000 officers had been hired, trained,
and deployed. That delay was the major reason the Army
went into the cities.
Most analysts now agree that Subway Day and Railroad
Day not only caused the Senate filibuster to end,
permitting the passage of Patriot Act III, but also
finally triggered the withdrawal of some 40,000 troops
from Iraq. The Army was needed in the subways.
In announcing the Reaction Enclave Strategy, the
CENTCOM commander acknowledged, "Our goal now is just
to prevent Iraq from becoming a series of terrorist
training camps. If the new Iraqi army can't keep the
peace among the factions, that's its problem." The
strategy, which was also adopted in Afghanistan, has
reduced the U.S. force deployment to those troops
necessary to sanitize the area around the U.S.
Counter-Terrorism Reaction Force (CTRF) camps. Iraq,
with its three bases, and Afghanistan, with its two,
require only 20,000 and 7,500 members of the U.S.
armed forces respectively. Although some have
criticized military and political leaders for allowing
both countries to become "failed states" again, our
CTRFs do at least retain the ability to strike
terrorist facilities whenever they are detected.
Improved intelligence collection and analysis have
increased the success rate of the CTRFs and limited
collateral damage.
The attacks in April of 2006 finally made possible the
creation of the National Transportation Security
Identity Card, or SID, as we now call it. [27] Recall
that before 2006 each of the fifty states actually
issued its own card, in the form of a driver's
license. The SID is a biometric smart card with the
owner's photo, retinal signature, fingerprints, Social
Security number, birthday, and address encoded in it.
It has (so far, anyway) proved foolproof. Today a SID
is required for passage through card-reader turnstiles
at train stations, subway stations, and airports. Soon
all automobiles will be equipped with SID readers
connected to their ignition systems.
Even the Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz,
whose wariness of unnecessary government intrusion is
well known, had acknowledged several years earlier
that a national TO card would offer some benefits.
Just a few weeks after 9/11 Dershowitz wrote,
Anyone who had the card could be allowed to pass
through airports or building security more
expeditiously, and anyone who opted out could be
examined much more closely. As a civil libertarian, I
am instinctively skeptical of such tradeoffs. But I
support a national identity card with a chip that can
match the holder's fingerprint. It could be an
effective tool for preventing terrorism, reducing the
need for other law-enforcement mechanisms — especially
racial and ethnic profiling — that pose even greater
dangers to civil liberties … A national ID card would
not prevent all threats of terrorism, but it would
make it more difficult for potential terrorists to
hide in open view, as many of the Sept. 11 hijackers
apparently managed to do.
The American Civil Liberties Union had disagreed,
arguing not only that the government would misuse ID
cards but also that corporations would be allowed to
learn more about our private habits, and that
foreign-looking people would still suffer more
discrimination. The National Rifle Association made
common cause with the ACLU, noting that requiring gun
buyers to use the card would create a de facto gun
registry. For several years the ACLU, the NRA, and
their supporters helped prevent the introduction of a
national ID card. After the mall massacres,
perpetrated with assault rifles, Congress finally
broke ranks with its NRA donors.
Not only has the SID increased identity security, but
it could ultimately yield billions of dollars in
savings by reducing bureaucracy. Local governments are
using it to improve the delivery of state services and
to cut down on waste and fraud by adding other
information (gun and fishing licenses; welfare,
unemployment, and insurance information) to the card.
The SID uses the same technology that has also been
put in place on all shipping containers, which now
incorporate tags that can provide location data when
swept by a radar beam. Radar beams from towers, UAVs,
and even satellites cause a SID to emit a signal that
rides back to the transceiver on the return beam. That
signal provides the card's number, and the processor
computes its location. The signal is no stronger than
that used for years at airports and in police speed
traps. It is almost certainly safe, according to
studies by the National Institutes of Health. [28]
There were those who thought that the radar signals
would be used to track Americans carrying the SID. The
homeland-security secretary declared, "Our computers
do not have the processing capability to track that
many signals. We are focused on maintaining the
integrity of our immigration system by keeping
illegals out and expelling those individuals staying
beyond their visas. We use the US-VISIT cards to do
that." Still, some Americans refused to sign up for a
SID. They are the people you now see waiting in lines
at airports for the special interrogation and search
procedures. The suspension of rail transport for parts
of 2006, along with the collapse of the national rail
service and some of the airlines, exacerbated the
economic problems that had emerged in 2005 and caused
national unemployment to reach double digits by
December. The GDP declined again, as both the
manufacturing and retail sectors suffered. The federal
deficit as a percentage of GDP reached a new high,
because the government needed to pay for additional
security measures but, with the economy in such poor
shape, didn't dare to raise taxes.
2007: Iran and Saudi Arabia
At the beginning of the year three decisions
demonstrated the differences between America and
Europe yet again. First, Chuck Hagel, a Republican
senator from Nebraska, sponsored a resolution calling
on the administration to reach out to the Islamic
world with a number of specific proposals and to join
the proposed EU Tolerance and Reconciliation
Initiative. For several years Hagel had been
articulating a foreign-policy strategy based on the
"humble" approach promised by President Bush before
9/11. [29] Early in 2007 the administration rejected
the Hagel resolution as "buckling under to
terrorists." The plan went down to defeat in the
Second, the European Union reached a compromise on the
issue of admitting Turkey. The EU president claimed
that Turkey's membership would destabilize the
"Christian EU" and flood Europe with Muslim
immigrants. [30] Turkey agreed to a limit on
immigration and was admitted. The EU passed the
Tolerance and Reconciliation Initiative and opened
talks with the nations of the Islamic Conference.
Third, the United States and Europe parted ways over
what to do about "definitive intelligence" showing
that Iran had six nuclear devices ready to be mounted
on mobile long-range missiles. The war on terror had,
admittedly, distracted U.S. national-security
officials from dealing with Iran and nuclear
proliferation generally. [31]
We had suspected that Iran had assembled some nuclear
weapons, but only owing to the good work of the
British Secret Intelligence Service did we learn that
all the weapons would be in one place at one time. The
president decided to launch a pre-emptive attack;
given the circumstances, he could hardly have done
otherwise. The B-2 strike in May did indisputably
destroy all the mobile missiles and their launchers.
(Regrettably, it also killed some Chinese defense
contractors.) To the president's dismay, the attack
apparently did not destroy any of the nuclear
warheads, because they had not yet arrived at the
base. Intelligence is still not good enough to provide
precision. The good news was that without their
missiles, the Iranians had very few ways of using
their nuclear warheads. The bad news was that this
revived fears that the warheads would fall into
terrorist hands.
The Iranians responded to the attack by launching
their older SCUD missiles, armed with conventional
warheads, at the Saudi oil facilities at Ras Tanura.
Iranian navy units attacked Saudi tankers. The result
of all this was quite unsettling, both to regional
stability and to the U.S. economy. World oil prices
spiked to $81 a barrel, before falling back to $ 72 a
month later.
Then, on the day before Thanksgiving, Hizbollah, the
Iraqi Shia militia, and special operatives of Iran's
elite Qods ("Jerusalem") Force acted. [32] (They no
doubt chose that day because it was then still a
relatively heavy travel day in America.) "Stinger
Day," as it came to be known, did not actually involve
Stinger missiles, as originally thought. Rather, the
missiles were SA-14s and SA-16s stolen from Iraqi army
stockpiles way back in 2003, after the U.S. invasion.
The United States had failed to secure the Iraqi
weapons depots, giving terrorists an opportunity to
help themselves to Saddam Hussein's guns, explosives,
and missiles. The missiles were later smuggled across
the Canadian border into Minnesota, Washington, and
Montana. [33]
SA-I4s and SA-16s are much like Stingers, heat-seeking
and easily portable. The four missile strikes that
succeeded that day (in Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, and
Los Angeles) were all aimed at 767s. The death toll
was nearly 1,200, including those who died on the
ground where the aircraft crashed. There is some
dispute about whether three or four additional
attempts failed in other cities. The most widely
reported incident involved the killing by New Jersey
state police officers of two Lebanese Hizbollah
members who had been discovered sitting in a car with
an SA-14 on a police ramp over 1-95 next to Newark
Scarcely six years after 9/11 had briefly shut down
commercial aviation and driven several major airlines
into bankruptcy, the same thing occurred again.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans were stranded for
days that weekend. The Air Line Pilots Association
refused to allow its members to return to the skies
until all U.S. aircraft had been equipped with
defenses against surface-to-air missiles, such as the
ones used by Israel's air fleet. [34] Airline
executives halted flights until troops had been
deployed along all the takeoff and landing corridors
at airports. Even then few people flew. In truth, the
"legacy carriers," those airlines left over from the
days when the industry was federally regulated, such
as Delta, US Airways, and United, would probably have
failed anyway. They already had crushing debt, and had
been in and out of bankruptcy since 9/11. Their basic
economic model (relying on outdated "hub and spoke"
systems) was flawed, and they lacked the versatility
of the regional carriers. In any event, having
exhausted all federal loan guarantees and direct
bailout packages, the remaining legacy airlines were
closed down and broken up.
The emergency program to develop infrared
counter-measures for civilian passenger aircraft is
one of the best examples of America's using its
high-tech advantage to battle the terrorists. [35] The
IRCMs were produced at a cost of less than $2 million
per aircraft, and 2,000 were installed (at taxpayer
expense) before the next Thanksgiving rolled around.
Today we have almost 4,000 in place on the two new
major U.S. airlines that have supplanted the old
carriers. It has taken four years, but travelers are
slowly returning to the air.
The U.S. bombers that struck Iran had been refueled
from and then landed in Saudi Arabia. This gave
fundamentalist forces in that country the spark and
the distraction they needed to finally stage a coup
against the regime, which they did in August. The coup
succeeded, and the House of Saud was driven out, at
which point the price of oil reached the vicinity of
$85 a barrel and stayed there. The Saudi coup marked
one of the worst U.S. intelligence failures in years.
We were caught off guard because we had not been able
to effectively collect intelligence inside "the
kingdom," as it was then called. We relied on the
Saudi Ministry of the Interior to tell us how strong
the jihadis were, and whether there was serious
opposition to the king. As it turned out, opposition
was widespread, even among the royal family and the
Saudi National Guard that had been created to protect
it. [36]
The main stimulus for the coup probably came from the
many Saudis who had returned from neighboring Iraq,
where they had been radicalized by their experiences
fighting the U.S. occupation. Osama bin Laden's final,
pre-death request, captured on video and broadcast
worldwide on al-Jazeera and other media networks, was
that the royal family be deposed. It unexpectedly
unified a variety of Saudi dissident groups.
By dawn on the third day of the coup the surviving
members of the House of Saud had fled or were in
prison, the oil fields were in the hands of troops
loyal to the ruling clerics, and all foreigners were
being rounded up and escorted to the airports or the
borders. Iraq was the first country to acknowledge the
new government. Other Gulf states soon followed.
Had the United States welcomed the new government,
which we now know as Islamiyah, the effect on the
world oil market might have been different. Instead we
cut off the flow of spare parts needed to maintain the
billions of dollars' worth of high-tech arms we had
sold to the Saudis throughout the 1980s and 1990s; we
also withdrew the U.S. contractors who knew how to
make the systems work. Naturally, the new regime
responded by canceling all oil contracts between U.S.
firms and Saudi Arabia's national oil company. The
company made up much of what it had lost in dumping
the U.S. contracts by signing new long-term deals with
China; recent economic growth had raised China's
demand for overseas oil to about the level of
America's, which had been depressed by economic
stagnation. [37] The dislocation in the world oil
supply was short-lived, but it was a cold winter in
the northern United States that year.
The real economic effect of the oil-price increase
didn't hit until the last quarter of the year. Still,
2007 ended with U.S. unemployment at 15 percent and
GDP down again. The "good news," as the president
pointed out in his Christmas message, was that because
rail and air travel had been so heavily curtailed, and
because fewer people were hanging out at shopping
malls, and because many "destination venues" remained
closed, Americans were spending more time together as
2008: Election year and virtual war
Iran's hostile reaction to the U.S. bombing continued
into 2008 and made use of Hizbollah allies.
(Hizbollah, although composed largely of Palestinians
and Lebanese, was created in the 1980s by Iran, which
closely controlled it for more than twenty years.)
Iran also employed its Qods Force, the covert arm of
its Revolutionary Guards. American counterterrorism
specialists had always feared Hizbollah and the Qods
Force, because their "tradescraft" was so superior to
that of other terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda and
its many progeny. Diplomats and military leaders had
for years used numerous back channels to keep both
groups on the sidelines while we engaged in
counter-terrorist warfare. Our overt attack on Iran
brought their full power to bear on our citizenry,
with tragic results.
Working with the remnants of al-Qaeda, the Iranians
staged a significant cyberattack in the United States
during the 2008 election year. Reliance on cyberspace
for retail had, of course, increased significantly
after the many mall closings. More important, America
had been using cyberspace to control its critical
infrastructure since the late 1990s. Electrical-power
grids, gas pipelines, train networks, and banking and
financial markets all depended on computer-controlled
systems connected to the Internet. President Bill
Clinton had acknowledged this dependence and
vulnerability in a 1998 presidential directive.
President Bush had articulated the National Strategy
to Secure Cyberspace in 2003, but he had done little
to implement it. [38] Meanwhile, many nations created
information-warfare units and did surveillance on U.S.
networks. [39] Iran was one of those nations.
The cyberattack began with a "Zero Day worm," a piece
of self-propagating software that exploited a hitherto
unknown vulnerability in a widely used computer
operating system. [40] The worm bypassed computer
firewalls and placed applets on companies' networks.
The applets sent back covert messages describing what
kind of network they had penetrated. Then, all at
once, the worms erased the operating systems on key
computers throughout the United States, and in their
place installed a program that caused the computers to
repeatedly reboot whenever they were turned on.
Freight trains stopped. Nuclear-power plants shut
down. Banks and brokerage houses froze. In some cities
the emergency-call systems crashed; in others traffic
lights shut off. [41]
Then, as cybersecurity teams were attempting to figure
out what had happened, a second worm penetrated the
operating system of the most widely used routers on
U.S. computer. networks. Once inside, the worm found
the routing tables, called border gateway protocols,
that told Internet traffic where to go. It scrambled
the tables so that packets were lost in cyberspace.
Confused by the traffic errors, many of the routers
exceeded their processing capabilities and collapsed.
The stock market closed, as did the commodities
markets. Major hospitals canceled all but emergency
surgeries and procedures. Three major power grids
experienced brownouts. Police and state militia units
were ordered into the cities to maintain order and
minimize looting. Millions of Americans, now staring
at blank computer screens, were sent home from work.
The already reeling economy took another hit. The US.
software industry was hurt the most. As a result
open-source software, which had already spread widely
in Europe and Asia, now dominates US. servers,
routers, and desktops. The "free" software movement
badly hurt revenues at several US. firms. Intervention
by the new Federal Cyber Security Service, through its
monitoring of all Internet traffic, has since somewhat
reduced the prevalence of worms and viruses. Although
some Americans complained about loss of privacy,
others noted the benefits, such as a significant
reduction in the volume of spam e-mail.
State and local police forces, state militias,
Homeland Security Department personnel, and private
guards now protected airports, the neighborhoods
around them, train stations, the tracks connecting
them, shopping malls, and US. borders. By the middle
of 2008 there were 220,000 more such security officers
than there had been in 2000. The armed forces had
grown by 215,000 during the same period. Yet these new
jobs hardly put a dent in unemployment, which hovered
at 16 percent as the election approached.
During the campaign the two major parties had
attempted to outdo each other in their anti-terror
fervor. The similarity of their hawkish strategies
helped give rise to an influential third party, the
American Liberty Party, which challenged the Patriot
Acts. San Francisco's mayor, a Chinese-American woman,
surprised the experts by garnering 12 percent of the
popular vote for the presidency on a platform built
almost exclusively on shoring up civil liberties. Two
new governors were elected on the American Liberty
ticket, as were fourteen congressmen, who became a
vocal minority in the new Congress.
2009: “Nuke Squads” and the new draft
The Homeland Protection and Service Act of 2009 could
not have been introduced in an election year. It was
controversial when the president proposed it, in his
2009 State of the Union address, and, frankly, remains
so today. Had he proposed it in 2008, it is likely
that the American Liberty Party would have roused even
more support than it did. The "new draft," as its
opponents have labeled it, is different in important
respects from earlier conscriptions in US. history.
Conscripts are randomly selected and may serve any two
consecutive years, as long as their service begins
before age twenty-two. Most draftees are given
monitoring or first-responder jobs here at home; few
are required to go through weapons training. Despite
these differences from Vietnam-era conscription, draft
dodging and A WOLs have already become such a large
problem that the US. Marshals have created special
squads to hunt down recalcitrants and force them back
into service.
The act also included funding for special federal
courts (which would operate in secret, to protect the
judges and lawyers involved) to determine whether US.
citizens, resident aliens, and illegal aliens detained
on suspicion of terrorist activity should be treated
as POWs or as enemy combatants. Recognizing how long
it would take for the government to process the
increasing number of detainees, Congress authorized
the detention of suspected terrorists for up to three
years without a hearing, subject to review every six
months by the attorney general.
Meanwhile, the attorney general worried openly about
the threat from those terrorists who were not yet
known to the government and did not appear on any
watch lists: freshly arrived illegal immigrants,
members of sleeper cells, and new religious converts.
He conceded that capturing these people before they
committed acts of terror was next to impossible.
Announcing that the Department of Justice would crack
down on Islamic prayer in prisons, he instructed the
authorities to track released prisoners thought to
have converted to Islamic fundamentalism. al Qaeda and
its imitators did not have to work hard to make
converts within the US. prison system. A
disproportionate majority of the prison population was
nonwhite. Radical Islamists preached to these
prisoners that the society that had imprisoned them
should be made to pay. [42]
Shortly after his inauguration the president announced
that US. intelligence had detected plans by Iran and
Hizbollah to bring nuclear weapons into the United
States in retaliation for the US. bombing of Iran.
[43] He announced the Safe Sea Approaches Program,
which required all ships within 200 nautical miles of
the US. coast to broadcast on a satellite frequency,
squawking their location, name, departure and
destination ports, and cargo. Ships not complying
would be intercepted and might be sunk. In the first
months of the program only one ship, a small
Yemeni-flagged oil tanker bound for a refinery in
Trinidad, was sunk, by a U.S. attack submarine 120
miles off Puerto Rico, causing limited environmental
The Safe Sea effort also aimed to replace the entire
global inventory of shipping containers with smart
shipping units. [44] SSUs contain sensors that
automatically and continuously transmit information
about the contents of the containers from the moment
they are sealed until they are opened. The Department
of Homeland Security deployed 12,000 U.S. customs
inspectors in overseas ports to ensure that the SSUs
were not tampered with and to keep any non-SSU
containers off U.S.-bound ships. Radiation portals and
imaging equipment were also installed in foreign ports
and shipping depots, providing real-time images of
every container's contents as the container was loaded
into a ship or a truck bound for America.
Concerned that Iran had already slipped nuclear
weapons into the country, the Department of Homeland
Security greatly expanded its nuclear
search-and-disarmament teams, or "nuke squads," as
they became known. Under an amendment to Patriot Act
III the nuke squads were empowered to search
"anywhere, anytime," with Geiger counters and other
devices that could detect gamma rays and neutron flux.
The squads regularly raided self-storage facilities
and set up checkpoints at weigh stations on interstate
highways. Initially, federal courts differed on
whether other illegal materials found in these
searches could be used as a basis for arrests; the
Supreme Court ultimately ruled that searches for
nuclear weapons did not require a warrant, and that
any incriminating material found in the course of such
a search could be used as evidence in court.
When Canada refused to allow U.S. nuke squads to
conduct warrantless searches at customs stations on
the Canadian side of the border, we built the Northern
Wall, which channeled trucks and freight trains to a
limited number of monitored border crossings. Barbed
wire, radar installations, and thousands of security
workers made our border with Canada resemble our
border with Mexico. [45]
The quick and thorough response to the threat of
smuggled Iranian nuclear weapons was successful. Iran
was evidently deterred, and no terrorist nuclear
weapons have ever been found in the United States or
en route to it. [46]
2010: Using our own chemicals against us
It had been three years since a terrorist bomb had
been detonated on U.S. soil when executive jets packed
with explosives slammed into chlorine-gas facilities
in New Jersey and Delaware. Fortunately, in New Jersey
much of the potential gas cloud was consumed by the
flames of the initial explosion, and winds sent what
remained of the plume over a largely uninhabited area.
Delaware, however, was less fortUnate: the poisonous
cloud produced by the explosion left 1,500 dead and
4,000 injured, some as a result of panic during the
evacuation of the Wilmington area. [47]
Both al-Qaeda and Hizbollah claimed responsibility for
the attacks on the chemical plants, although Iran
condemned them and offered assistance to the affected
communities. Investigation into the attacks is still
officially ongoing. The United States has not yet
retaliated, and the Pentagon is reported to have
recommended against a retaliatory bombing of a
nuclear-armed Iran. (The president has publicly denied
that the Pentagon made any such recommendation, and
points out that we bombed Iran as recently as 2007.)
Although the deaths in Delaware did not result from
terrorist use of a chemical weapon, they nonetheless
highlighted the dangers of a chemical attack and led
directly to the issuing of gas masks to all citizens
in metropolitan areas and rural counties with chemical
plants or refineries. The masks were sound despite
their mass production, but improper training caused
some deaths from suffocation or coronary arrest during
practice exercises.
Heavy lobbying by the chemical industry in the years
following 9/11 had prevented any congressional
regulation that would have imposed terrorism-specific
security requirements or standards on chemical plants
near large municipalities. Some reports claimed that
the Bush administration had tried to undermine the
Environmental Protection Agency by relaxing the system
for evaluating plant security, in order to reduce the
number of facilities deemed high-risk. [48] Indeed,
both the facilities that were attacked had at one
point been on the EPA's high-risk list but were not on
the Bush administration's. Therefore they never
underwent the security upgrades that a more severe
risk assessment might possibly have induced. Outrage
at this realization led to substantial new regulations
and security requirements for private chemical and
nuclear plants. Whereas the federal government might
once have helped fund and carry out these
improvements, the economic sitUation now placed the
burden on companies and state militias. Money was
drying up.
2011: What we might have done differently
Nine months into this year we have so far been spared
any new terrorist attacks on our soil. Of course there
have been incidents at our embassies and some
U.S.-owned hotels overseas, as there have been nearly
every year for more than a decade, but they have
produced few U.S. casualties.
Some believe that the jihadi movement has lost its
fervor. Others believe that with jihadi governments
holding power in the former Saudi Arabia and in
Pakistan, as well as in large parts of Iraq and
Afghanistan, the terrorists are now too busy governing
to be planning further assaults. I think the real
reason for the diminished number of attacks is that
the United States has hardened itself. We have greatly
reduced our overseas profile, generally limiting our
presence to highly secure embassies. It has become
extremely difficult for people or cargo to get into or
out of the United States without extensive inspection.
The number of security workers per capita within
America's borders is now higher than in any other
country, including long-embattled Israel. A would-be
terrorist knows that his communications can easily be
monitored and his vehicles and facilities searched
with little provocation. If suspicious materials are
found, or if an informant provides a potential lead,
suspected terrorists can be held for an extensive
period of time pending investigation. All this has
made it more difficult to carry out attacks on U.S.
soil. Of course, it has also hurt us in world trade,
swelled our national debt, and depressed our CDP.
As we mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and the
launch of our global war on terror, it is hard for
many Americans to remember when the sight of police
officers with automatic weapons and body armor was
rare. Yet it wasn't so long ago that we could enter a
shopping mall, a train station, an airport, or a
public building without "see-through scanners" and
explosive-sniffers. The use of SlDs is now so routine
that we can hardly believe we ever did without them.
For all the additional security these developments
have afforded us, however, they have also produced a
powerful political backlash. Polls show that the
American Liberty Party may draw up to a third of the
popular vote in the campaign next year.
Could the global war on terror have played out
If the war had been restricted to eliminating al-Qaeda
in the two years following 9/11, it is possible that
the first generation might have been suppressed before
al-Qaeda metastasized into a multi-group jihadi
movement. In 2002 especially, we squandered
opportUnities to unite the global community in a
successful counterterrorism effort. If we had
initially sent a more substantial U.S. force to
Afghanistan, bin Laden might have been killed in the
first few weeks of the war, perhaps preventing many of
the attacks that took place around the world in the
following three years.
Had we not invaded Iraq, many of the jihadis we know
today would never have been recruited to the
terrorists' cause. Not invading Iraq would also have
freed up money for earlier investments in domestic
security: for instance, upgrades for chemical plants,
trains, container shipping, and computer networks.
Because we developed most such protective measures too
late, panicking under political pressure, we too often
used brute-force methods that were costly, intrusive,
and less effective than we hoped. With more time,
money, and careful consideration, the body politic
might have persuaded the private sector to join the
federal government in a real partnership to enhance
the security of critical infrastructure. More
important, we would have been . better able to carry
on an open national dialogue about the tradeoffs
between security and civil liberties, and about the
ways in which strong civil liberties and strong
domestic security can be mutually reinforcing.
Perhaps, too, we could have followed the proposal of
the 9/11 Commission and engaged the Islamic world in a
true battle of ideas. Indeed, if we had not from the
start adopted tactics and rhetoric that cast the war
on terror as a new "Crusade," as a struggle of good
versus evil, we might have been able to achieve more
popular support in the Islamic world. Our attempts to
change Islamic opinion with an Arabic-language
satellite-television news station and an Arabic radio
station carrying rock music were simply not enough. We
talked about replacing the hate-fostering madrassahs
with modern educational programs, but we never
succeeded in making that happen. Nor did we
successfully work behind the scenes with our Muslim
friends to create an ideological counterweight to the
jihadis. Although we talked hopefully about negotiated
outcomes to the Palestinian conflict and the struggle
in Chechnya, neither actually came to pass. Because we
were afraid to "reward bad behavior," we let Iranian
nuclear-weapons development get too far along, to the
point where our only option was to attack Iran. This
set back the Iranian democratic reform movement and
added Hizbollah to our list of active enemies.
Although we occasionally lectured Arab states about
the need for democracy and reform, we never developed
a country-by-country program, or provided practical
steps for moving theocracies and autocracies in that
direction. Moreover, our haranguing Arab governments
to be nicer to their citizens ended up producing a
backlash against us, because our exhortations were
seen as hypocritical in view of our bombing, torture,
and occupation tactics in Iraq.
It can still be debated whether we accelerated the
fall of the House of Saud with our arrogant tactics.
The almost total lack of intelligence about what was
going on in Saudi Arabia before the revolution did,
however, make it hard for U.S. policy-makers to
develop sound strategies.
Despite years of earnest-sounding talk about "energy
independence" and weaning ourselves from our addiction
to foreign oil, no president since Jimmy Carter in the
1970s has ever seemed serious about these goals. We
never developed truly fuel-efficient vehicles, so our
foreign energy imports drastically harm the economy
when oil prices soar.
As early as 2004 our nation's leaders were admitting
that the war on terror would probably last a
generation or more, even as they continued to argue
among themselves about whether it could ever truly be
won. If they had acted differently — sooner, smarter —
we might have been able to contain what were at one
time just a few radical jihadis, and to raise our
defenses more effectively. Instead our leaders made
the clash of cultures a self-fulfilling prophecy,
turning the first part of the twenty-first century
into an ongoing low-grade war between religions that
made America less wealthy, less confident, and
certainly less free. [49]
[1] As of June 28, 2004, about a year after the
Department of Homeland Security's operational startup,
only forty of 104 key changes recommended by the
Government Accountability Office (GAO) had been
implemented. "Status of Key Recommendations,"
GAO-04865R, July 2,2004.
[2] Surveillance tapes obtained in 2002 by Justice
Department officials in Detroit and Spanish
authorities in Madrid included footage of the MGM
Grand, Excalibur, and New York, New York casinos on
the Las Vegas Strip, along with the World Trade Center
in New York and Disneyland, in California. Las Vegas
authorities and casino representatives declined to
alert the public, possibly fearing a decline in
tourism or an increase in the casinos' legal
liability. “Despite Two Terror Tapes, Public Not
Alerted to Vegas Threat, Memos Show,” Associated
Press, August 10,2004. Also “Las Vegas, California
Authorities Reacted Differently to Same al-Qaida
Footage," Associated Press, August 11,2004.
[3] Canada's ethnically diverse population, liberal
immigration and refugee policies, and long border with
the United States make it a good place for terrorists
to raise funds, procure supplies and fake documents,
and plan attacks. The Canadian Security and
Intelligence Service acknowledged in 2003 that it
considered more than 300 people in Canada to be
members of various terrorist organizations, including
The Mexican border is even more porous than the
Canadian. More than 4,000 illegal immigrants cross
into Arizona alone each day. Most are Mexican, but a
large number hail from other countries. The Border
Patrol, less than 10,000 strong, is no match for this
enormous wave. For every person it picks up, at least
three elude capture. “The Challenge of Terror," Time
International, January 27, 2003. Also “Who Left the
Door Open?" Time, September 20, 2004.
[4] According to notebooks kept by jihadi students in
Uzbekistan in the mid-1990s, instruction in explosive
devices — from antipersonnel mines to bombs capable of
destroying buildings — was a standard part of the
curriculum at terrorist training camps. “The Terrorist
Notebooks," Foreign Policy, March/ApriI2003.
[5] After 9/11 the casino operator MGM Mirage — which
owns the Mirage, the MGM Grand, and the Bellagio,
among others — reported that its fourth-quarter
earnings for 2001 were about a third of what they had
been the year before

[6] The 9/11 Commission's investigation into the
attacks of 2001 found that lax screening by
immigration officials and poor communication between
security agencies allowed the hijackers to enter the
United States even though they used fraudulent
passports, provided incomplete and false statements on
visa applications, and were listed as suspect in
intelligence-community information systems. As many as
fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were potentially
vulnerable to interception by border authorities, the
commission concluded. The 9/11 Commission Report,
Norton, 2004.
[7] According to Belgian police, 19,050 blank Belgian
passports have been stolen from various embassies,
consulates, and town halls since 1990. Belgium's poor
security, as well as the country's location at the
crossroads of Europe (through which a high volume of
human traffic passes), makes it an attractive base for
terrorists and a global capital of identity fraud.
Thousands of passports stolen from other countries
also circulate on the black market. "How to Fake a
Passport," The New York Times Magazine, February 10,
[8] On July 19,2004, days after wading across the Rio
Grande, a Pakistani woman with a doctored South
African passport was arrested at an airport in Texas.
Because of inadequate funding, the DHS's Office of
Detention and Removal is capable of detaining only
about 200,000 illegal immigrants a year — even though
some 1.2 million arc apprehended. The lack of space
has led to a system of "catch and release," in which
border officials return hundreds of thousands of
Mexican nationals to Mexico, only to see them return
repeatedly to the United States. Non-Mexican illegals
are released directly into U.S. communities on
personal-recognizance bonds with summonses to appear
in court. More than 90 percent never show up. Not even
all those illegal immigrants from countries that
sponsor terrorism, such as Syria and Iran, are
detained, because the DHS is not required by statute
to detain illegal aliens unless they are felons, known
terrorists, associates of terrorists, or persons
suspected of certain other criminal violations.
"Transforming the Southern Border: Providing Security
and Prosperity in the Post 9/11 World," House Select
Committee on Homeland Security, September 2004.
[9] These procedures for treatment of detainees are
drawn from recommendations made by the anti-terrorism
experts Philip Heymann and Juliette Kayyem in their
final report for Harvard University's Long-Term Legal
Strategy Project. In the report the authors strive to
balance the need for increased security

Posted by richard at January 23, 2005 02:58 PM