Global War on Terror

This weekend saw the report that since 911, Islamic Terrorism has gotten worse globally. Aside from the poor reporting containing only hearsay which not much more need to be said of, if it was meant to be some sort of indictment of the GWoT I think they got it all wrong.

1. In a long war such as this war, if our actions do not anger those trying to destroy us, we are not doing enough.

2. If in being angered they reveal themselves as the Islamofascist that they are wanting to be, then even better and easier for us to kill them.

I do not understand why in waging a war so many still want us to play nice. Wars should be brutal enough to want to win rapidly lest any on either side think to drag it out longer than necessary, and enough so the peace afterward last a bit longer till the next war.

see also:
Roger L Simon's comment
In From the Cold additional snips from the same NIE analysis not reported by NYT or WaPo



Several activities are currently encircling what may or may not happen during interrogation of suspected terrorists.

The president is seeking clarification from the US congress on what is and what is not permissible. This is important to do to maintain legal support for our effort on the war on terror. Whatever is decided, it should not be less permissible than what we could do to arrested criminals.

Whatever policy we adopt will in no way increase or decrease the chances of our captured soldiers from being tortured. We cannot dictate the actions of our enemies. And we cannot hold them accountable. What Geneva Convention signatory nation have been fined or punished for torture? And what of non-signatories like terrorist organization? Will they care that we treat their prisoners nicely and thus not behead ours?

And what are the consequences of an overly strict policy regarding interrogation? Consider this perspective from the WSJ:
Opponents of interrogating al Qaeda detainees keep slandering the Bush Administration by equating all aggressive questioning techniques with "torture." What's more, they seem unable to draw the obvious lessons from our experience handling terror suspects thus far.

Take the case of Maher Arar, an apparently innocent Canadian citizen who was arrested at JFK airport in September 2002 and turned over to Syria -- a process known as "rendition" -- where he actually appears to have been tortured. According to some of our media colleagues, this shows that CIA officials can't be trusted with the authority they're seeking under the proposed new Detainee Act to use a number of "stress techniques" against high level al Qaeda detainees.

But Mr. Arar's case proves exactly the opposite. For starters, it was the Canadian government that supplied what appears to have been bad information about Mr. Arar's alleged al Qaeda ties. More to the point, the temptation to get vital information by "rendering" such suspects for interrogation by governments that have little respect for human rights will only increase if the CIA's own al Qaeda interrogation program is shut down. This may make some in Congress feel better about themselves, but it won't do much for the "rights" of those interrogated.

The White House has been negotiating over the issue with Senator John McCain so U.S. interrogators aren't left in legal limbo because Congress refuses to define our obligations under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. It's precisely such legal clarity that will limit potential abuses, rather than leaving Article 3 open to interpretation by individuals -- or by the likes of Syria, since as it stands every country in the world interprets Article 3 in its own way now.

Crucial to any compromise is that the new rules not only protect CIA interrogators under relevant U.S. law (the 1996 War Crimes Act), but also assert our understanding of our obligations under Geneva. This is not about "rewriting" Geneva, as Mr. McCain and others have previously suggested; it is about the necessity of fleshing out what vague Article 3 prohibitions against "humiliating" treatment and the like actually mean.

President Bush has been very strong on this issue so far. We trust he won't endorse anything now that falls short of the comprehensive legal clarity he's been right to demand.


911 Afterward

Our greatest mistake since 911 is that we as a nation have not unified for total war against our enemy.

In waging this war, we should show no mercy to those who have not have not shown mercy to the innocent.

And those who impede out effort should be treated as collaborators and facilitator of our enemies.


Vegetative thoughts

From the WSJ Science section:
In a startling new report in today's issue of the journal Science, however, scientists describe how the young accident victim in a vegetative state shows brain activity consistent with conscious awareness.

When the scientists spoke to her, advanced imaging showed, her brain registered activity in regions responsible for decoding language, just as the brains of normal volunteers do. When they used sentences with homonyms, which require more complicated semantic processing, the appropriate parts of her brain lit up, again just like healthy brains.

Either response might be dismissed as automatic and therefore unconscious. After all, some people in a vegetative state retain "islands" of preserved neural function, Nicholas Schiff of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and colleagues found in a 2002 study, but not in areas involved in higher mental function. Similarly, studies have shown that some people who are asleep, under general anesthesia or in a vegetative state show brain activity consistent with perceiving speech and responding to emotion-laden words and their name.

That's why simply responding to speech, admits neuroscientist Adrian Owens of the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, who led the new study, is "not unequivocal evidence that [the woman] is consciously aware."

So they asked her to imagine playing tennis. Remarkably, this made neurons fire in the premotor cortex, a region that hums with activity when you mentally practice sophisticated movement, from a jump shot to a backhand. Then they asked her to imagine walking through each room of her house. This time her parahippocampal gyrus, which generates spatial maps, became active, again just as in healthy volunteers.

"We know from extensive research that brain responses of this type do not occur automatically," says Prof. Owens, but "require the willed, intentional action of the participant."

He cautions that the results apply only to this patient, and that others in a vegetative state aren't this responsive. Indeed, 60 previous patients in a vegetative state show no such brain activity, says Steven Laureys of the University of Liege, Belgium. "But she was different," he says. "Her brain activity shows a clear act of intention. The activity in her higher-order cognitive areas means, to me, that she was consciously aware of herself and her surroundings."

Lionel Naccache of the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Orsay, France, calls the woman's response to the tennis and home tasks "quite spectacular" and evidence of "a rich mental life." But he notes that consciousness, according to neuroscience, requires engaging "in intentional actions or interactions" with the outside world. If she is conscious, why does she show no spontaneous intentional behavior, especially since there is no damage to parts of the brain that control moving or speaking?

Although the woman fits the diagnosis of being in a vegetative state, her brain activity raises the intriguing (or disturbing) possibility that there is a fully conscious being locked in that unresponsive body after all. The scientists doubt this, pointing out that there is nothing wrong with her motor function, so if there really were a conscious being in there she would purposefully move at least her eyes. Cornell's Dr. Schiff suspects that she may at least be moving into "a minimally conscious state."


Stifling Free Speech

It appears that elements of the US government is trying to pressure and influence a broadcast media company. It appears that leadership of the Democratic party is threatening ABC/Disney. Curious:
We write with serious concerns about the planned upcoming broadcast of The Path to 9/11 mini-series on September 10 and 11. Countless reports from experts on 9/11 who have viewed the program indicate numerous and serious inaccuracies that will undoubtedly serve to misinform the American people about the tragic events surrounding the terrible attacks of that day. Furthermore, the manner in which this program has been developed, funded, and advertised suggests a partisan bent unbecoming of a major company like Disney and a major and well respected news organization like ABC. We therefore urge you to cancel this broadcast to cease Disney’s plans to use it as a teaching tool in schools across America through Scholastic. Presenting such deeply flawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to your shareholders, and to the nation.

The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events. [...]

Should Disney allow this programming to proceed as planned, the factual record, millions of viewers, countless schoolchildren, and the reputation of Disney as a corporation worthy of the trust of the American people and the United States Congress will be deeply damaged. We urge you, after full consideration of the facts, to uphold your responsibilities as a respected member of American society and as a beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves to cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program. We look forward to hearing back from you soon.


Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid

Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin

Senator Debbie Stabenow

Senator Charles Schumer

Senator Byron Dorgan