Terror War Scorecard

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Amnesty International's annual report argues that the war on terror has actually increased terrorist activity worldwide–and has provided cover to repressive governments to suspend or abrogate human rights. The report is online here.

From the Boston Globe's account:

"It is clear that the way in which the war on terror is being conducted today is not making us safer. To put it as simply as possible, it is in fact a failure," William F. Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said at a news conference. "By relying on force alone, the US government has sacrificed one of its major weapons in the struggle against terrorism; namely, its own reputation as an exemplar of human rights."

The release of the report in Washington was accompanied by data indicating that terrorist acts have increased since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the advent of the war on terrorism. Jessica Eve Stern, a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University who has spent six years interviewing members of terrorist organizations, cited statistics indicating that the number of terrorist incidents increased from 2,303 in the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks to 4,422 in the two years after Sept. 11.

Reason interviewed Stern last summer and the Q&A is online here.

I haven't yet read the report (barely glanced at it), which the Bush administration dismissed. AI's Schultz's claim that the US is relying on "force alone" is clearly overstated, though it's clear that our standing as the "exemplar of human rights" has taken hits in the wake of Abu Ghraib and other terror war tactics. It may also be that none of that matters in the larger scheme of things.

From my admittedly quick glance, whatever it says about the US, the report doesn't stint on condemning repressive governments in Cuba, Central Asia, and elsewhere.

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  1. “Saying they have no expertise in the area doesn’t make it so.”

    Saying that they do doesn’t make it so either.

  2. What joe asked.

  3. If you’ve got a crazy man with a gun running around outside your house (and headed toward the arsenal) you can stay inside and cower, or go outside and confront him. In the short run, cowering will mean less violence, but probably not in the long run.

  4. execution accomplished after full judicial review and a summery execution

    Are summery executions in this year? They’re already bringing out the fall line of executions and I’d hate to have to get last year’s back out of the closet.

  5. Fred,

    The action’s of the US government in the Mid-east, pre 9/11, are the equivalent of needlessly provoking lots of crazy men. Now, this counter productive US government behavior is continuing in Iraq, among other places.

  6. Vynnie,

    Just for general context; also to point out that a drop or increase in the number of incidents may not be a use metric for determining the overall impact of terrorist incidents.

    Fred,

    The more you treat the Islamicists like they are “crazy,” the less likely you will be able to empathize with them, and thus less likely you will be able to make the right decisions vis a vis defeating them. They aren’t “crazy”; indeed, they are quite rationale in their goals, though their goals are reprehensible.

    Walter Wallis,

    Finding executions that are even based on proper procedural protections reprehensible is a perfectly acceptable position to take; that you disagree with this position does not discredit A.I. Furthermore, given that most executions world-wide do not entail such guarantees, its a point with little significance.

  7. Hey Will, how about you actually *read* the State Department’s reports, not just the summary? If you had, you’d find this nugget in the 2002 report explaining the sudden decrease in attacks:

    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/20109.pdf

    “The number of anti-US was 77, down 65% from the previous year’s total of 219. The main reason for the decrease was the sharp drop in oil pipeline bombings in Colombia (41 last year, compared to 178 in 2001).” (page 1, third paragraph, parenthentical in the original)

    And if we read the 2003 report, we see this:

    http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/31934.pdf

    “There were 82 anti-US attacks in 2003 which is up slightly from the 77 attacks the previous year, and represents a 62 percent decrease from the 219 attacks recorded in 2001.” (page 1, paragraph 4)

    So the drop is almost entirely accounted for by a cut back on attacks by FARC on pipelines, which has pretty much jackshit to do with the war on Iraq. But why would I expect warhumpers to actually investigate anything?

  8. Fred,

    Agreed. However, the question on the table is not how best to deal with an immediate threat from a hostile criminal, but how to address root causes.

    Also, AI’s report does not condemn beating up, disarming, or even shooting the crazy man. It condemns immobilizing him, then hooking him up to a car battery.

  9. SR,

    That doesn’t surprise me, since in the 1990s the mahority of acts of terrorism against the U.S. were committed in Latin America, hardly a hotbed of Islamacists.

  10. Garry – Allowing murderers to live is condemning others to die at their hands. At one time almost 45% of the “death” row inmates at Q had previously been convicted of a murder, served their time, been released and subsequently convicted of another murder. If one wants to be a fireman, one learns to put the fire out, not just control it until the end of the shift.
    Those responsible for eliminating the death sentence have condemned thousands others to death without the right of appeal.
    I find that reprehensible and stupid. You too.

  11. “Perhaps an analogy. You’d be more willing to secretly join forces with other children in a plot against the schoolyard bully than against a gentle giant, teddy bear type.”

    Is this what happens on schoolyards?

    Children join forces against the bully?

    Or do they join forces against some “gentle giant, teddy bear type”?

  12. repeatedly, strenuously argued in this space that the central tactic in defeating anti-American terror is to create a positive model of democracy and human rights in Iraq

    Untrue. I have argued that the democratic model is essential to ending the mosque’s stranglehold on governments. That’s only part of the picture.

    Is providing an alternative model for Middle Eastern politics to follow important, or not?

    Middle Eastern governments and terrorist organizations, while they often share a bed at times, are not the same creature. Liberalism will serve to bring down the governments, but did liberalism save us from OKC? Liberalism is going to be espoused mainly by those who already wanted it, and rejected by those who don’t. I wouldn’t expect a liberal government to enlighten al Qaeda anymore than I’d expect Queer Eye to enlighten the Christian Coalition.

    The motivation towards terrorism comes from the figures these people worship. I seek the fruits of the market and the Almighty Dollar. They need a new idol, and it might as well be money. A 25-year old who is saving up for an HDTV probably isn’t going to blow up a bus full of Jews.

    As far as Iraq, I’ve offered a number of motivations thereto. I made it very clear that what was “central” to my support for the invasion was that 9/11 aside, the world failed to finish the job when it had the chance (and responsibility) in ’91. Human rights are a peripheral concern. Not throwing Shiites into threshers simply because they were Shiites seemed like a situation that even the inept United States could marginally improve upon, but at no point was I under the delusion that we have some objective or even enviable model of human rights. Nor was I ever under the delusion that democracy more than anything else enables those “human rights,” only that it empowers to some degree the hopelessly stupid. If you want to set them free, give them class mobility.

    Yes, globalization will save your ass.

  13. Islamists are not rational. Neither are Christians, Jews, Hindus, etc. In fact, I can only think of one “religion” that is rational, but even it is irrational in practice since its followers harm themselves in preaching it (satanism).

    ghosts, spirits, sun gods, immaculate conception, 72 virgins in heaven, the parting of the sea, eternal life, rain dances, sacrifices – all bullshit. Anyone who believes in any of that has very little room to manuever (IMO) when discussing what and who is or is not rational.

  14. I can quite obviously read.

    You saw a “repetition” where there was none, and ran with it. Obviously you have some unspecified difficulties with the language. Think critically so that I don’t have to explain things to you.

    to dry up their supply of recruits.

    How, by making it so that women can drive cars in Mecca? I’m sure that will make us real popular with the fundies.

    the U.S. is in Iraq in order to bring about a change in the hearts and minds of the region by demonstrating the fruits of liberalism

    The Muslims do not have unified hearts or minds.

  15. Walter:

    A better policy may be to control the fire until it dies out — the approach that many experienced firefighters take with natural fires. In other words, don’t let the convicted murderer out of jail until he is dead.

    And either way, your argument would sentence anyone of any crime to life in prison. How can we let anyone out of jail who has been convicted of a violent act?

  16. that should say “convicted of any crime…”

  17. Al Qaeda members would be less inclined to engage in terrorist activites against the U.S. because of our reputation as a free country that respects the individual.

    The problem with this is that you assume that it is important to al Qaeda and Wahhabists in general that an individual is respected.

  18. Walter Willis,

    “Allowing murderers to live is condemning others to die at their hands.”

    Of course the resolution of this matter is a true life sentence; which preserves the life of the inmate, guarantees that a future appeal based on new technology can be used to free the individual if such demonstrates their innocence, and of course neutralizes them as a threat to anyone outside the prison. Look, you are doing something called balancing here, as am I; the balance for me comes out differently for me, especially in light of the above comments. If you think that this is “stupid,” well then, that’s your opinion. I at least have the integrity to accept your position as credible while at the same time disagreeing with it.

  19. rst,

    “Untrue. I have argued that the democratic model is essential to ending the mosque’s stranglehold on governments. That’s only part of the picture.”

    That is biggest, baldest lie that I ever seen you make; you have gone in nauseating detail of late about how the invasion of Iraq will change the middle east by providing them a “model” to follow.

    “I made it very clear that what was “central” to my support for the invasion was that 9/11 aside, the world failed to finish the job when it had the chance (and responsibility) in ’91.”

    Liar; what has been “central” to you has shifted with the wind on so many occassions that its hard to tell why you supported the war in the first place.

    “You saw a ‘repetition’ where there was none, and ran with it.”

    Well, “duh,” I already admitted to that; ergo my statement about misapprehension.

    “The Muslims do not have unified hearts or minds.”

    I never argued that they did; I merely parroted your arguments.

  20. The relevant question is whether our involvement in the war changes the world for better or worse once all the dust has settled.

    Ah, but it’s been more than a year since the Three Weeks’ War, and all the dust hasn’t settled yet! Proof positive that Bush’s War (TM) was a colossal failure.

  21. OK, maybe rst didn’t say that we should invade Iraq to bring liberalism (in the classical sense) to the Middle East and thereby reduce the terrorist threat. But dammit, somebody used to make that case on this forum! Somebody was talking about “draining the swamp.” Who was it? And if that person will identify himself/herself, can you tell us why holding the highest moral ground feasible (not just a slightly higher ground than our enemies) isn’t a necessary component of this strategy?

  22. Nice rebuttals, Gary. Now that you’re done calling rst a liar, a lying liar, etc., perhaps you’d care to enlighten us all as to whether or not his pants are, indeed, on fire.

  23. That is biggest, baldest lie…

    You are incorrect. I have made that assertion repeatedly.

    what has been “central” to you has shifted

    I think you are confusing what has been central to *me* with what has been central to the U.S. position as a whole. I like the human rights bit, and it was good propaganda, but I don’t believe in it as an objective force. Mathematics, on the other hand, that’s a different story.

    change the middle east by providing them a “model” to follow

    Governments, i.e., Iran and Syria, not terrorist groups. AFAIK al Qaeda is not in the market for a new model. Nor would I ever suggest a liberal government is going to do anything but irritate the terrorists more. Separate the governments from the terrorists, Gary. The terrorists are not the “middle east,” they are not “pan-arabism.” They’re just terrorist groups. Different things.

  24. Xlrg,

    My comments were far more extensive than that; and rst has been one of the biggest boosters of this war on this site. He can’t hide from his arguments now.

  25. rst,

    “You are incorrect. I have made that assertion repeatedly.”

    No, I am quite correct; only light of how the debacle has now turned out have you changed your tune.

    “I think you are confusing what has been central to *me* with what has been central to the U.S. position as a whole.”

    No I’m not; you are a bit like a man washed out to sea who is willing to grab at anything to save himself.

    “Governments, i.e., Iran and Syria, not terrorist groups.”

    Which is of course why my comments address your comments concerning Iraq.

  26. and rst has been one of the biggest boosters of this war

    moi? I don’t boost it, I just accept it. It was a job left undone by the vaunted int’l community in 1991. Many of you forgot about it, stopped reading about the constant skirmishes there, then 9/11 happened and your clocks were reset to 0 or something.

    and p.s. don’t confuse my desire to stop Shiites from being tossed into shredders with some kind of overwhelming faith in “human rights.”

  27. Xrlg –

    It’s easy to find “proof positive” from a few facts you like. Being objective is harder.

    How many countries return to complete normalcy within a year of a war – particularly a war they lost? I can still remember the early invasion days with the mainstream press predicting a “Vietnam-style quagmire” – remember, Vietnam was a war that stretched across many years, not even counting the country’s recovery period. By that prediction it’s a miracle there aren’t still Republican Guard units around Baghdad.

    Be careful about saying you’re the only one with special proof, or knowledge, or insight, above and beyond the rest of the forum/media/nation. When world events are this complex and unprecedented, it’s not a very believable claim.

    (As you’ll note, I haven’t attempted to answer that “relevant question” at all. At this point I am quite certain of my own uncertainty …)

  28. “And of course to counter your argument one could state that these measures are not meant to defeat al Qaeda directly, but to dry up their supply of recruits. BTW, given your repeated statements that the U.S. is in Iraq in order to bring about a change in the hearts and minds of the region by demonstrating the fruits of liberalism, the pose you strike now is nothing less than hypocritical.”

    We will “dry up their supply” by putting in place a prosperous free-market society in Iraq–not by making AI happy. The point being that humane treatment of prisoners is probably not the most important key to “winning hearts and minds” and defeating terrorism.

  29. you neocons can spin it anyway you want, but terrorism is being cause by the US hyperventionist polocies vise ve the neocon war machine.

    i don’t believe it is phantom “islamic terrorists”, it is hyperventionist policies that bombed Madrid, cut off that jew’s head, flew airplanes into buildings. etc etc, just like it was poverty and oppression that stole my car yesterday and capitalism that fired me from McDonalds.

    so if you see hyperventionist policies walking around, make sure to protest them. it is the only way to stop them!

  30. “Well, one of the major “critiques” of AI is that it is biased in its coverage; which it time and time again disproves. I think critics are largely disturbed by the fact it dares criticize the U.S., rather at some unbalance in its coverage.”

    IIRC, back in the 70s AI gave Pol Pot a pass while being critical of Western European nations jailing draft dodgers. One of the defenses of AI at the time was that it wasn’t effective in dealing with closed societies.

  31. Again Gary we get into this reading comprehension thing. I said, “I have argued that the democratic model is essential to ending the mosque’s stranglehold on governments.” You called this a lie. Obviously you have either not read or understood my remarks on the matter. I think everyone on this board knows that I have made the argument in quotes ad nauseam.

    Governments != terrorists.

    Democracy != capitalism.

    Liberalization != “market-ization.”

    Are we making any progress here? Are you understanding yet that there are two solutions for two different (although related) problems?

    Which is of course why my comments address your comments concerning Iraq.

    Let me spell it out for you. What I believe is good for Iraq (democracy) and why (Iran, Syria) is not the same as what I believe is good for the Middle East (capitalism) as a whole and why (consumerism vs. Wahhabism).

  32. * although both would serve each well.

  33. only light of how the debacle has now turned out have you changed your tune

    and that’s the difference between me and you, that you see this as a debacle. I don’t need to change my tune, I’m not embarrassed.

  34. rst,

    “moi? I don’t boost it…”

    Don’t play the wilting flower now; it doesn’t suit your rabidness.

    “Again Gary we get into this reading comprehension thing.”

    My reading comprehension isn’t at issue here; the issue is your unwillingness to be honest about your past remarks.

    “You called this a lie.”

    Well it is a lie; that doesn’t flush with your past remarks; its a wholly new creation on your part. If anyone has a reading comprehension problem here, its you. I’m not arguing with your current spin; I’m telling you that it doesn’t reflect your past remarks. If you want to act coy about such, that’s fine; that doesn’t make you any less of a liar.

    “I don’t need to change my tune, I’m not embarrassed.”

    Oh but you have changed your tune; you’ve waffled from one explanation to another, and I expect to continue to watch you do the same in the coming months.

  35. to be honest about your past remarks.

    Prove it.

  36. “Again Gary we get into this reading comprehension thing.”

    you can’t read stupid

    “I said, “I have argued that the democratic model is essential to ending the mosque’s stranglehold on governments.”

    liar

    “You called this a lie.

    It is, but keep spinning while i fisk the shit out of your right-wing propaganda!

    “Obviously you have either not read or understood my remarks on the matter.”

    nobody can understand your right-wing blather, go back to freerepublik

    “I think everyone on this board knows that I have made the argument in quotes ad nauseam.

    you can’t even spell it corretcly

    “Governments != terrorists. ”

    correct

    “Democracy != capitalism.”

    capitalism is state-creation, it is corporate rule

    “Liberalization != “market-ization.””

    nope

    “Are we making any progress here? Are you understanding yet that there are two solutions for two different (although related) problems?”

    You make no sense. go away!

    “Which is of course why my comments address your comments concerning Iraq.”

    funny how you change your tune quicker than bush failing a third grade homework lesson (he is dumber than that idiot regan!)

    “Let me spell it out for you. What I believe is good for Iraq (democracy) and why (Iran, Syria) is not the same as what I believe is good for the Middle East (capitalism) as a whole and why (consumerism vs. Wahhabism).”

    lies you liar, you stupid white man

  37. rst, you do know that old comments are easily accessed via the “More” link, right?

  38. lies you liar, you stupid white man

    Um…yeah. Next?

  39. rst, you do know that old comments are easily accessed via the “More” link, right?

    Go for it. Nothing you can pull up is going to demonstrate how I felt that a “positive model of democracy” was a “central tactic in defeating anti-American terror”. It is one tactic, to be sure. Perhaps a likely more effective tactic among many, but only to a very specific end (which I have stated) secularization of neighboring countries. That is one piece of a larger struggle against a specific philosophy (which I have stated). But most definitely, this “More” link will show that contrary to Gary’s claims I indeed have frequently argued for the “insertion” of American consumerism, more than liberalism, into the Middle East through globalization and other such “evil” things.

    As far as Iraq, I have held it to have been a good idea for many reasons (which I have stated in the context of whatever discussions were roaring at the time), but none so much as the fact that it was a job we simply did not finish. At no point however did I wrap myself in a flag.

    You and Gary are expecting me to rally around one aspect of my views and deny all others, and/or expecting me to identify what you have identified as my priority in the region. You will have no such satisfaction, because you are not me. Presumably.

  40. rst,

    Actually, I just expect you to be truthful; barring that, I will treat you as the low-down rascal that you are.

    ultimate fisk of all time,

    Brilliant. 🙂

  41. I just expect you to be truthful

    And I expect you to demonstrate how I am not. Barring that, I will treat you like a flaming bullshit artist.

  42. rst,

    The only one who is the flaming bullshit artist here is you; and I’ve already stated how you are a liar. Anyway, I’ll be watching and recording your comments on Iraq and the middle east as they waffle over time in the future; that will be demonstration enough.

  43. You’re ALL lying!!

    Neocon Satansim is the only rational religion!!

  44. I had an ultra-Catholic roommate, who earned a PhD in Philosophy from Catholic U, who told me that Catholicism was completely rational, and that all of its tenets could be deduced through reason, without requiring a leap of faith.

    No shit.

  45. One who takes no action except when that action is without the possibility of error will take not action. Do the best you can and get on with it.
    I do not propose to stand idly by and let the wolf chew my leg off just because I have “invaded the wolf’s territory.” Those who do stand idle deserve to be eaten, just don’t drag me along.

  46. I’ve already stated how you are a liar

    That you have stated it does not make it so. Prove it. You made the assertion, now back it up if you have the stones.

  47. Gary,
    I found your statement “and of course neutralizes them as a threat to anyone outside the prison” about lifers interesting.

    Of course you’d admit that there isn’t any guarantee that an incarcerated murderer won’t be able to ever escape, no? Clearly that is a possibility and clearly escapees have killed civilians in the past.
    It is also possible that a lifer will kill in prison. Innocent guards, nurses, doctors, administrators, even otherwise innocent (maybe nearly rehabilitated) convicts nearing release.
    Its also possible (if not probable) that a lifer, with nothing to lose, is unlikely to avoid violence in prison and is very likely to always be a much higher risk of at least injuring others.

    You are willing to accept all of these growing risks to innocent lives but unwilling to accept the risk of a wrongful execution. One carried out after a trial, an appeal, utilization of modern forensics, extensive media (and probably internet attention).

    I don’t see how you reconcile one innocent life being more valuable than another. One choice reduces an obvious risk, can be subject to extreme scientific scrutiny and multiple legal review to reduce risk. The alternative will always involve risk and will actually increase as more murderers remain unexecuted.

    I don’t see how the trade off works, logically or morally.

  48. if you have the stones.

    I guess that answers that question.

  49. Sorry, it’s off-topic.

    JAG,

    I think you have to demonstrate that the number of people killed by escaped convicts who were serving sentences of life without the possibility of parole would probably be higher than the number of innocent people killed by the government.

    What is the rate of murder by escaped convicts as opposed to the rate of murder by paroled convicts? I could look it up if you like (I probably should, I know), but I suspect that escaped convicts murder much less often than paroled convicts.

    I can’t argue against your personal philosophy regarding execution. That’s…well, personal. But I think it’s demonstrable that the government is not capable of carrying it out without screwing up a lot of the time. And when you screw up with the death penalty, innocent people die. Lots of them.

    “Screwing up: It’s What the Government Does” We all know it’s true. So I think we should wait until it’s not before we trust the government not to screw up with innocent people’s lives.

  50. “One who takes no action except when that action is without the possibility of error will take no action. Do the best you can and get on with it.”

    I think I saw this in a fortune cookie.

    Walter, this is a pure strawman. Who subscribes to the philosophy of “do nothing that has any possibility of error?” Certainly no one here. Certainly no one in ANY position of power.

    “I do not propose to stand idly by and let the wolf chew my leg off just because I have “invaded the wolf’s territory.” Those who do stand idle deserve to be eaten, just don’t drag me along.”

    I know it’s easier to understand things if you pretend that millions of people in a far-away land are actually wild animals. The thing is, though, they’re not. They’re human (fucking) beings, just like you and your family members. Just like me and mine. Some are good and some are bad. But they’re not (fucking) animals. To act is if they were is to become one.

    There. I’ve said it.

  51. San Quentin is not a far away land, and that is the land I wrote about. If you had a fortune cookie that said do your best and get on with it, treasure that cookie. It is smarter than you.
    To suggest that you must not execute a demonstrable guilty killer because he might prove later to be innocent equally covers every other government action. Try as they might, and with all the benefit of modern forensics, the let them live idiots have never come up with any truly innocent people executed in error. The best they have been able to do is wave proceedural errors, none of which have been of the nature to prove innocent.
    If I catch you trying to kill my wife or child, I will, as a right, kill you. If you succeed in killing one of them then I have an absolute right to demand that the government operating on my consent kill you in my stead. If they are too pussified for the job, let them go back to their paper route and give the job to someone who is up to it.

  52. Nick,

    Well, one of the major “critiques” of AI is that it is biased in its coverage; which it time and time again disproves. I think critics are largely disturbed by the fact it dares criticize the U.S., rather at some unbalance in its coverage.

  53. By relying on force alone, the US government has sacrificed one of its major weapons in the struggle against terrorism; namely, its own reputation as an exemplar of human rights.

    Ah, the mucosoid leftist propaganda. “Run, Mohammed! It’s the Americans and they’ve brought their human rights!”

    My ass.

  54. The U.S. has a reputation as an exemplar of human rights? What planet are these people living on?

    Maybe they meant Iceland.

  55. rst,

    Aside from repeating Nick’s criticism, do you have anything original to say?

  56. Walter, you’re like Velikovsky. Sometimes I think you should just be ignored and then others, I get this mysterious urge to understand your reasoning.

    “San Quentin is not a far away land, and that is the land I wrote about.”

    Ah, that clears it up. It’s the people in prison (many of whom are there for non-violent drug offenses) who are animals. Again, much easier than thinking of them as human beings. Which they are, interesting enough.

    “To suggest that you must not execute a demonstrable guilty killer because he might prove later to be innocent equally covers every other government action.”

    Define “demonstrably.” There are around 100 people who were found to be “demonstrably” guilty of murder and sentenced to death who WERE proved later to be innocent. And that’s just the DNA cases in the last 15 years or so. And you know that execution is NOT equal to “every other government action.” You’re a veritable craftsman of straw men.

    “Try as they might, and with all the benefit of modern forensics, the let them live idiots have never come up with any truly innocent people executed in error.”

    If 100 people have been exonerated just in the last 15 years, it’s easy to extrapolate that percentage to work out a conservative estimate of at least one innocent person executed in the 200 years before DNA testing existed. Easy, that is, if you’re intellectually honest.

    “If I catch you trying to kill my wife or child, I will, as a right, kill you.”

    See, we DO agree on some things! I think killing is acceptable in self-defense or the defense of others. But I bet I could kill you before you kill me!

    Practical issues aside, I personally feel that to kill a person who is unarmed and imprisoned is an inherently cowardly act. And vengeance has nothing to do with public safety. But that’s just me.

  57. So AI thinks the war on terror has been a failure. Big deal. Who cares what they think?

    AI is certainly no expert on what is or isn’t effective strategy and tactics on dealing with terrorism.

  58. Gary – Learn to read. Nick wrote about our standing as an “exemplar of human rights.” I on the other hand find it amusing that some dumbass thought of that position, real or imagined, as among the “major weapons in the struggle against terrorism”. As though we enlightened Westerners have something to teach al Qaeda? They’re not after equal pay. At the end of this they want a world government in which among other innovations in human rights, apostasy is punishable by death. If “[i]t may also be that none of that matters in the larger scheme of things” applies to that thought, and further counts as an unrepeatable criticism, then my apologies, asshat.

  59. rst,

    I can quite obviously read. Your criticism should fall more along the lines of proper apprehension.

    And of course to counter your argument one could state that these measures are not meant to defeat al Qaeda directly, but to dry up their supply of recruits. BTW, given your repeated statements that the U.S. is in Iraq in order to bring about a change in the hearts and minds of the region by demonstrating the fruits of liberalism, the pose you strike now is nothing less than hypocritical.

  60. rst:

    I would assume the point of the human rights comment is that potential Al Qaeda members would be less inclined to engage in terrorist activites against the U.S. because of our reputation as a free country that respects the individual. That is to say, a person would be less inclined to attack a nice U.S. that is internationally recognized as concerned about human rights than a vicious U.S. that is widely condemmed for awful human rights abuses and violations.

    Perhaps an analogy. You’d be more willing to secretly join forces with other children in a plot against the schoolyard bully than against a gentle giant, teddy bear type.

    So yes, a good reputation would discourage terrorist activity to some extent, because I would think one would be less inclined to do harmful acts against a country and populace that is perceived as having done less harm to you and your kind.

  61. Gilbert Martin,

    I suspect they know more than you do; furthermore, their expertise is bolstered by the likes of Jessica Eve Stern.

  62. The Amnesty report has some good points that don’t show up in the Globe’s article, but the Globe characterization troubles me. Sept. 11th wasn’t the date the U.S. attacked “terror,” it was the date Al Qaeda attacked the U.S. An increase in terrorism after that date tends to suggest that an Al Qaeda jihad increases terrorism (duh!) but the Globe makes no attempt to demonstrate whether U.S. actions have spiked or blunted that increase.

    It also doesn’t address the fact that violence in wartime is always going to be higher than pre-war violence. Were state-sanctioned killings by the German government higher in the two years after the invasion of Poland than in the two years before? Of course! Could Iraq – and France – be called “weak states” immediately after Allied forces rolled through them and before normal elections could be organized? Um … yes. The relevant question is whether our involvement in the war changes the world for better or worse once all the dust has settled.

    It is unfortunate that the Globe skipped over so many well-founded AI criticisms of “Patriot Act” type laws in various Western countries and of similar concerns. Instead it has fastened on perhaps the weakest of AI’s arguments to create a U.S.-bashing scream piece. Or to attack AI indirectly by attributing bad arguments to it.

    Either way this is bad journalism, bad for the war on terror, and bad for those of us who have some very real and legitimate concerns about how that war is being conducted.

  63. Actually, Gary, AI’s expertise in human rights translates not at all into expertise in counterterrorism strategy or tactics. There is simply no overlap that I can think of between the two.

    AI is good at monitoring how governments abuse their citizens, and at asking those governments to be nicer to their own citizens. Anti-terrorism focusses on non-governmental organizations (although they may have ties to or even be proxies for governments). The analogue to what AI does, asking fanatics to be nicer to their enemies, has never been a particularly successful tactic.

  64. “Gilbert Martin,

    I suspect they know more than you do; furthermore, their expertise is bolstered by the likes of Jessica Eve Stern.”

    What you “suspect” means nothing to me – as do the opinions of the likes of Jessica Eve Stern or AI.

  65. R.C. Dean,

    Saying they have no expertise in the area doesn’t make it so.

    Vynnie,

    Throughout the 1990s incidents of terrorism were decreasing (according to the State Department and other independent sources that I would have to dig through a sheaf of papers to find); however, the death toll from terrorism increased throughout the 1990s (the rise of “mega-terror” as some have called it).

  66. Amnesty International’s inability to differentiate between an execution accomplished after full judicial review and a summery execution has rendered its meanderings fatuous.
    If you can see no difference between cutting of a child’s allowance and cutting off an arm, I have no interest in anything else you might say.

  67. Amnesty International may not know anything about terrorism, but the U.S. State Department does.

    And the State Department says that international acts of terror in 2003 were the fewest in more than 30 years.

    The State Department’s Patterns of Global Terrorism report says that 190 acts of international terrorism occurred in 2003 — a slight drop from 198 attacks the previous year and the lowest total since 1969. That figure marked a 45 percent decrease in attacks since 2001.

    Source: http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/pgtrpt/2003/

    It appears that AI is monkeying with the numbers for political purposes — again.

  68. Gary – That sounds about right. Is there a connection to the Globe article, or are you just presenting the figures for general discussion?

  69. RC Dean and rst have repeatedly, strenuously argued in this space that the central tactic in defeating anti-American terror is to create a positive model of democracy and human rights in Iraq, in order to undercut the appeal of Islamist totalitarianism and provide a model for other nations to follow.

    Yet now they show up and dismiss the concept of a democratic, human rights-respecting nation (the US) having any ability to lead by example and serve as an alternate vision to that of dictatorship.

    Which is it guys? Is providing an alternative model for Middle Eastern politics to follow important, or not?

  70. rst at 02:19 PM :

    “A 25-year old who is saving up for an HDTV probably isn’t going to blow up a bus full of Jews.”

    The problem won’t go away until the occupation of Palestinian land by the Israeli government ends.

    The 25 -year old Israeli will continue to blow up a crowd of Palestinians while saving for an HDTV with his salary from the IDF, paid for by the US taxpayer, as long this situation stays as it is.

    “I have argued that the democratic model is essential to ending the mosque’s stranglehold on governments”

    Perhaps, but there is no guarantee of voting producing that result. Also, Iraq pre war, occupied Palestine, Egypt, Jordan…all situations where Arabs are repressed, the US government finances or has financed that repression, and there is no or was no, in the case of Iraq, “stranglehold on government” by the mosque.

    “If you want to set them free, give them class mobility.”

    Now you’re talking, but it’s more like; “If you want to give them class mobility, set them free”, with the economic freedom that is capitalism. This means limiting what democratic majorities may impose on minorities.

    BTW, in the Cato Journal,Fall 2003 issue titled: “Foreign Aid, Freedom and Growth”, it is observed that after the overthrow of authoritarian regimes, in many cases, economic growth and prosperity rockets, but after a while the rate of increase in both tends to subside. This is attributed to democratic institutions starting to tax and regulate.

    “Yes, globalization will save your ass.”

    Hear! Hear! It has already saved many lives, literally, and the evidence is that it will enrich us all as long as it is powered by freedom of enterprise. As for as making us safer; it will push things in that direction for sure, but a US government interventionist foreign policy in the Mid-east can continue to put us in peril.

  71. Les – Tell me why the guy who decapitated those three kids in Baltimore should not be executed. You will have to talk real loud for the sound to make its way out of your anal orifice.

  72. Les,

    I think the savings of having a tool to fully eliminate trials will more than offset the appeals costs of those few death penalty cases. As it is now, EVERYTHING gets appealed. The only way to decrease the number of appeals is to be able to make some deals that eliminate the first trials. I think the economics are a no brainer. Add in the savings of the cost of incarceration and you’re way ahead.
    Yes, innocent people do confess, beats me why. I’m all for every phase of police interrogations being video taped. For crying out loud, there are so many new tools to keep cops honest out there it is ridiculous. Why aren’t they routinely employed now? I’d also stipulate that every murder suspect interview MUST be videotaped to be eligible for the death penalty.
    There are simple ways to use improved technology and communications and forensics to dramatically reduce risks. That you don’t want to even consider them as part of the equation doesn’t seem all that “practical” to me.

    Should a victim’s family have the final say? I’d let them speak to the jury or judge. I wouldn’t make it solely their call because that’s a lot of weight to put on anyone’s shoulders, particularly those suffering from a loss. Its the system’s job to make the call. The judge and/or the jury. I don’t know about you but I’ve served on several juries. You’d be surprised how seriously people take even a relatively minor case. Are all jurors engaged in the trials? No but most jurors are and they get the less engaged to participate. You don’t need a 12 perfect people to find a reasonable verdict. Sometimes all it might take is a couple of reasonably intelligent and fair people to direct a jury to a sound verdict.

  73. “I had an ultra-Catholic roommate, who earned a PhD in Philosophy from Catholic U, who told me that Catholicism was completely rational, and that all of its tenets could be deduced through reason, without requiring a leap of faith.”

    I think I met that guy at a place I worked at. Used to read the Catechism during lunch, right?

  74. The time and expense of the appeals process is an indictment of the legal profession bordering on barratry. Pay lawyers by the job instead of by the hour and no appeal would last more than a year. With the public paying the lawyers and the judges never challenging the billing, a couple of lifers can put a third rate lawyer on easy street, and in my experience most of them are third rate.

  75. Add “functioning of the legal profession” to the list of things Walten knows dick about.

    Really, that’s beyond stupid.

  76. Les,

    I wouldn’t disagree that more people are killed by cons later released from prison legitimately. I don’t know how many lifers have gone on to kill or injure others in prison or upon their escape.
    But the fact is no one can point to a single case of wrongful execution. Yes, people have been freed from prison on technicalities as well as findings of new, exculpatory, evidence. However, I wouldn’t advocate execution for anyone unless it was beyond a SINGLE doubt they were guilty.
    I agree the government makes mistakes. I agree nothing is foolproof. But we accept the fallibility of government all the time, do we not? The FDA continuously delays new drug approvals that, historically, have cost tens of thousands lives. We accept this on the grounds that it seems to be a reasonable risk. We accept the risks of FAA oversight of new plane development even though new designs and materials have an element of risk.
    So why is the risk of executing an innocent by the hands of the government, assisted by a jury, scrutinized by a free press so beyond the pale of acceptability?
    I haven’t even mentioned the side benefits of just having a death penalty as a “tool”. Without this threat EVERY murder defendant chooses a trial. Nothing to lose. How many murderers would take a life sentence to avoid the ultimate risk at trial? How much do we waste on obvious trials that could be more productively spent focusing on better justice for the relatively few, unclear, cases? How many innocent defendants would be saved by having better defenses mounted for them, more attention focused on their trials?
    Don’t these potential life threatening “mistakes” matter in the calculation?
    Last, having a death threat entices murderers to cooperate. The “Green River” killer gave up the information on many unsolved cases in this kind of deal. How much manpower was saved here? How much comfort to the families was attained? In Boston a coconspirator gave crucial testimony in a murder trial of a notorious career criminal. What would have motivated his cooperation absent the threat of execution?

    Being against the death penalty certainly gives people a sense of moral superiority. However, there are tremendous, unseen costs, that accrue to that choice, do they not? Yes, there is always a risk of a wrongful execution. But don’t imagine the absence of this penalty is more “moral” than the alternative without reasonably considering the other costs of this utopian gesture.

  77. JAG,

    I don’t feel morally superior (except, maybe, when I’m arguing with Walter :). I try to look at it from a practical angle. I just think it’s too much power to give the government, which has proven that it doesn’t do too well with too much power (I think drug and airplane safety are radically different from execution; the deliberate killing of a non-dangerous human being has much more serious implications, I think).

    I don’t think you can call opposition of execution “a utopian gesture” since execution has been banned in so many countries with lower crime rates than the U.S.. I don’t think they’re “utopias,” but obviously it hasn’t hurt.

    Like I said before, since so many people have been exonerated since DNA testing became possible, it clearly demonstrates that innocents were executed during the years before DNA testing.

    You have a good point about using the death penalty as a tool to get murderers to cooperate. But we can also agree that innocent people are made to confess with threats of harsher punishments. That’s just part of the equation.

    The costs of the death penalty, with the necessary appeals process (which has saved quite a few innocent lives) costs more than the cost of keeping murderers locked up for the rest of their lives.

    Maybe there’s room for compromise, though. I saw a woman who watched her father get stabbed to death (as she lay bleeding from the same knife) cry on the witness stand during the sentencing phase of the trial. She was crying because the judge had told her that if she said that she didn’t want the death penalty applied (which she didn’t) that she would be held in contempt of court and sent to jail. Can we agree that that degree of fervor for the death penalty isn’t productive and, in light of the victim’s wishes, unjust? What if the victim’s family doesn’t want the murderer killed, but rather imprisoned for life? Public safety isn’t compromised and the victims’ feel justice was served. How does it serve us to still attempt to kill the perpetrator when we know it will cost much more than simply keeping him safely locked up?

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