Paris

Calls for Boots on the Ground, Immigration Restrictions, and Expanded Surveillance Powers Are Coming in Response to Friday's Terrorist Attack in Paris

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Whitehouse.gov

CNN's Jim Acosta captured the prevailing mood in the corridors of political power today when he asked President Obama about America's willingness to step up attacks on ISIS following the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday. 

"I think a lot of Americans have this frustration that they see that the United States has the greatest military in the world, it has the backing of nearly every other country in the world when it comes to taking on ISIS," Acosta said. "I guess the question is, and if you'll forgive the language, is why can't we take out these bastards?"

It was as much a statement as a question: People are upset, and they want something done.

We've already seen a lot of calls for action in the wake of Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris, and we can expect to see quite a few more. Those calls are likely to proceed down a few broad lines.

First, there will be calls to step up direct military action against ISIS in and around the turf it controls in Syria. More bombing runs and more special operations exercises will be part of the equation, but for many that won't be enough. Lots of commentary will call, in some cases explicitly and in many more implicitly, for a massive deployment of U.S. ground troops.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, not surprisingly, has already reiterated his idea that we should send 10,000 troops to Syria and Iraq. And in an op-ed for The Washington Post this weekend, Mitt Romney wrote that "we must wage the war to defeat the enemy, not merely to harass it. For over a year, the president has clung to the hope that an air campaign is sufficient. It demonstrably is not."

So far, however, the Obama administration seems unenthusiastic about troop involvement, with deputy national security adviser Ben Rhoades saying, "We don't believe U.S. troops are the answer to the problem." An unnamed senior administration official did, however, suggest to The New York Times that stepped up airstrikes and special operations raids would be on the table.

Second, there will be calls to stop or slow the flow of Syrian refugees. This is already happening in Congress, where Republican legislators are saying that the security risk of harboring refugees is too high.

"There's no possible way to screen them," Representative Devin Nunes, the California Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"It should be stopped immediately," he said. "Look, we feel for these refugees, but the bottom line, if you don't want refugees, then you have to go into Iraq and Syria and defeat ISIS."

At least four Republican state governors—Greg Abbot of Texas, Robert Bentley of Alabama, and Rick Synder of Michigan, and Rick Scott of Florida—have already said that they will not allow Syrian refugees into their states, though it's not exactly clear what the mechanism for the bans might be, or if they have the legal authority to enforce these proposed restrictions.

Finally, expect an increased push for additional government surveillance powers, especially online. Some reports have already suggested that the attackers in Paris relied on the Playstation 4 gaming network to communicate because of the relative anonymity it provides.

As American University law professor Steve Vladeck wrote this morning at Just Security:

It strikes me that, however that conversation plays out, the attacks are likely to have an additional effect on surveillance policy discussions in the United States — in two years, when the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, especially section 702 (the statutory authority for both the PRISM and "upstream" collection programs) expires.

Recall that the core of section 702 is programmatic surveillance directed against non-US persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States, i.e., targets like the Paris attackers. 

All of these ideas, and probably more, will be debated hotly and heavily over the next few days in Congress, in the media, and on the campaign trail. The aggressive phrasing of Acosta's question, designed to reflect the anger that just about everyone rightfully feels, suggests the tenor with which discussions about these policy ideas are likely to proceed.

Anger and even outright rage are entirely reasonable and appropriate in situations like this, but as the history of rushed and poorly conceived policy responses to horrific and and terrifying events suggests, they're not great foundations for good policy. It's perfectly understandable that people would want to do something, anything in response to an attack like this, but it's also worth taking the time and effort to consider whether it's doing something workable and effective, or whether it's doing something just to do something, because it feels like that's what should be done. 

NEXT: SCOTUS Just Agreed to Rule on Abortion and Obamacare. Is Obama's Immigration Plan Next?

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  1. “I guess the question is, and if you’ll forgive the language, is why can’t we take out these bastards?”

    Because we don’t know who they are; see, oh, Vietnam for example.
    It’s not difficult. Even a cave man can see it.

    1. The challenge with vietnam is that we wanted to leave something for our allies to govern.

      I am not aware that we have any real stake in leaving the caliphate habitable.

      1. Bubba Jones|11.16.15 @ 3:38PM|#
        “The challenge with vietnam is that we wanted to leave something for our allies to govern. I am not aware that we have any real stake in leaving the caliphate habitable”

        So, nukes from the Mediterranean to Pakistan? Several million square miles of glowing sand? Is that what you have in mind?

        1. Chechnya writ large. Come on it could totally work!

        2. Several million square miles of glowing sand? Is that what you have in mind?

          Nope, just Raqqa.

    2. Yes we do. Raqqa and Dibiq. This isn’t Al Qaeda. These people are actually holding territory and governing and trying to build a state. It’s right there in the name — Islamic STATE — get it? That’s not just a formal title; they’re actually building a real nation with governors and trash collection and everything.

      We need to raze their cities to the ground, and call it a fucking day already.

  2. Never let a crisis go to waste.

  3. I wonder how Field Marshal Lindsey would employ this magic 10,000 number of troops?

      1. “The men had a whip-round and got you this. Well, what I mean is I had the men roundly whipped until they got you this. It’s a cigarillo case engraved with the regimental crest of two crossed dead Frenchmen, emblazoned on a mound of dead Frenchmen motif.”

    1. why stop at 10,000? Why not 100,000?

      1. 1,000,000,000!!! Jobs for everyone! HUZZAH!

        1. Finally a sensible employment plan. grave shovel ready too!

        2. You guys are talking about a minimum guaranteed income, right?

          1. Yup, $15 an hour and all the plunder you can carry !

    2. On a cigarillo case, emblazoned with the company motif of two crossed dead Frenchmen on a background of a mound of dead Frenchmen…

        1. Hey, as editor, you’re ‘sposed to catch this stuff!

        2. If you’re not first on Hit n Run, you’re… a productive member of society.

  4. Some reports have already suggested that the attackers in Paris relied on the Playstation 4 gaming network to communicate because of the relative anonymity it provides.

    AND THEY SAY VIDEO GAMES DON’T PROMOTE VIOLENCE!!!!!!!

    /Tipper Gore, Hillary Clinton

    1. SEE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE, GAMERGATE?!

    2. “The right does it too”

      /reason editor

  5. Napalm.

    1. Sorry, no longer in the inventory.

  6. Perhaps if our Commander in Chief expressed a complete and well thought out strategy for addressing the, as mentioned, legitimate fears and concerns of the citizenry following the Paris attacks, then the loud-mouthed reactionaries would be silent, or at least a bit more thoughtful in their suggestions. Instead POTUS petulantly and dismissively explains he’s too busy to discuss or address the various calls for action.

    1. ISIS is contained, Steve. The President said so! Move along, now. He has more important things to worry about, like harassing his political enemies through the IRS and trolling conservatives in Congress.

      1. Wrong ! Now he can win the war on Climate Change which creates terrorism !

  7. Calls for Boots on the Ground, Immigration Restrictions, and Expanded Surveillance Powers

    So more of what didn’t work to begin with…what’s the definition of insanity, again?

    1. your mom? She’s crazy in bed, fersure

  8. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, not surprisingly, has already reiterated his idea that we should send 10,000 troops to Syria and Iraq. And in an op-ed for The Washington Post this weekend, Mitt Romney wrote that “we must wage the war to defeat the enemy, not merely to harass it. For over a year, the president has clung to the hope that an air campaign is sufficient. It demonstrably is not.”

    I for one won’t be satisfied until I see troops pushing Blackhawks off the decks of aircraft carriers when the conflict is finished.

    1. Why does anyone care what Romney thinks?

    2. I call to send Lindsey Graham. And 10,000 rounds of ammo.

  9. I was gonna save this for PM links, but it works so well here:

    “France seeks united US-Russia assault on Islamic State”
    […]
    “France wants to bring the United States and Russia together in a grand coalition dedicated to smashing the Islamic State group, President Francois Hollande told lawmakers Monday in a rare joint session in the Palace of Versailles as authorities worldwide struggled to pinpoint those responsible for the deadliest attacks on French soil since World War II.”
    http://www.sfgate.com/news/cri…..635002.php

    France will furnish the cooks, so long as they don’t get KP duty. Oh, and the MPs, since the French are so good at that…

    1. Eh, it’s the desert. Foreign Legion has a century and a half fighting there. If they’re serious, there’ll be lots of white kepis over there soon.

  10. I guess the question is, and if you’ll forgive the language, is why can’t we take out these bastards?

    Because it would probably require glassing the entire region, and I don’t think anyone wants that much blood on their hands. Other than ISIS, that is. And therein lies the problem. To defeat monsters you need to create monsters.

    1. To defeat monsters you need to create monsters

      So, you advocate a Jaeger program?

      1. Who doesn’t???

    2. and I don’t think anyone wants that much blood

      I just don’t care anymore.

    3. See bubba, above; you might be wrong.

      1. Let me rephrase that. While I am sure some people would revel in the warm glow of the nuclear desert, I don’t think they would be able to stay in power for very long once videos of burning children started popping up on YouTube.

        1. “popping up” is an apt phrase in this case.

        2. You know nothing. The nuclear blast will fry all electronics, thus no pictures of the incredible human suffering…..at least until news teams arrive and by then who will still be alive ?

  11. Libertarian Moment!

  12. Galloping in all directions usually means that you’re galloping in the wrong ones. IMHO, the US has done way too much of that over the past few years.

    Stipulated that reaction to an event like the horrors Daesh perpetrated in Paris is to “do something”, what’s the most effective thing we can do to achieve our goals, i.e., eradicating these monsters whenever and wherever found? And insuring that they’re reduced to the level of a minor nuisance (I don’t think we’ll ever be completely rid of them; if it isn’t one bunch of terrorists, it’ll be another)?

    Achieving those goals while keeping the rightist and leftist morons from further eroding our rights requires that we decide what to do with ‘all deliberate speed’.

    1. Stipulated that reaction to an event like the horrors Daesh perpetrated in Paris

      Nobody fucking calls them Daesh.

      You work for Kerry or something?

      1. Entropy, I call ’em that because, according to the spokesmen for these assholes, it’s an insult and the people who use it should have their tongues cut out. Google ‘Daesh’ and see for yourself.

        Maybe it’s petty of me, but I’ll be damned if I give these slimeballs any kind of dignity whatever.

  13. Someone told me it should be like stamping out cockroaches. I pointed out that all cockroaches are bad and there is no need to sort them out before dropping the insect bomb. Nor do cockroaches fight back and kill almost as many exterminators as are sent out to your house to kill them. His response was essentially that all billion Muslims were cockroaches and should be exterminated. Good luck with that.

    1. The contrarian in me must point out that there are billions upon billions of roaches. You’re only interested in the ones that enter your home. Maybe the analogy isn’t so bad after all, at least until someone mentions killing every roach in the world.

  14. It’s perfectly understandable that people would want to do something, anything in response to an attack like this, but it’s also worth taking the time and effort to consider whether it’s doing something workable and effective, or whether it’s doing something just to do something, because it feels like that’s what should be done.

    That reminds me. Whatever happened to the crisis of migrant children coming in from the south?

  15. Calls for Boots on the Ground, Immigration Restrictions, and Expanded Surveillance Powers Are Coming in Response to Friday’s Terrorist Attack in Paris

  16. Reason; guys open borders is great! more jobs and money for everyone!!!

    ISIS and Cartels : yes let us in by the thousands, nothing bad will ever happen, trust us.

    if you guys had your own state it would be invaded and you guys would be piked within 24 hours by the invading army that walked across your borders , thinking they would create jobs…..

  17. Islam was dying from its own impotence until oil was discovered. They had fallen so far behind the rest of the world and gotten their asses easily kicked by the technologically superior west that it would probably be a footnote in history if not for money pouring into the region.

    As long as wealthy powers exist in the region to spread it any fight will end up a game of whack-a-mole.

  18. Well, if it’s never happened before, then it would be crazy fear mongering to even be concerned about it. What’s even more reassuring is that no ISIS member has ever attacked on U.S soil. Whew, I was worried there for a minute. Beer, anyone?

  19. Why don’t we ask the troops if they wanna go fight in Syria and Iraq (again)?

    I mean, fuck. Enlisting in the US Army isn’t supposed to be guaranteed a 20 year stint in the fucking Roman Legion, going from one fight to the next.

    1. I think the majority would say yes,

    2. I can’t speak for all soldiers, but I do speak TO several dozen pretty regularly…they want to go…

  20. Instead of finding out who actually committed the 9/11 attacks, U. S. leaders falsely declared that Saddam Hussein was complicit, then declared war against Iraq. ISIS today grew out of that war. Say that once more: our enemy today sprang from a misplaced desire for revenge after 9/11.

    The first rule of warfare is, know your enemy. The United States has ignored that rule for a long time. If you find yourself asking, “why can’t we take out these bastards?” — you have a major hole in your strategic thinking department. If you want to “take these bastards out,” you have to discover the truth about who is responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Once you know that, you can figure out what to do now.

    Google Infamy by T. J. Hill.

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