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December 14, 2009
Home Grown (Part Two)By Greyhawk
The story received a bit of notice last September:
His father was at his side. Mohammed Wali Zazi, 53, had also been arrested and charged.
Meanwhile, in New York, a hearing was underway for a third suspect involved in the case. "Ahmad Wais Afzali had for years been a popular imam in Queens," the New York Times reported.
Authorities who had been tracking Zazi's cross-country excursion had contacted the Queens, New York imam - and he, according to charges based on recorded phone conversations, warned Zazi of the investigation.
But just prior to his arrest, Afzali had contacted an attorney: "Only a few weeks ago, left-leaning criminal defense lawyer Ron Kuby knew little about a popular 37-year-old Queens imam," the story begins.
Later, "during the early-morning hours of Sept. 20, Kuby got another call from Afzali, saying police were knocking at his door."
I asked him to put one of the officers on the line but they declined to speak to me. They put him in handcuffs and took him away. That was his big arrest on a Sunday morning."
Almost immediately, Kuby launched a campaign detailing his client's history of cooperation with the police. "The police had worked with the imam and had gone to him on a fairly regular basis. And he had done what Americans say they want Islamic religious leaders to do -- just to cooperate with the police when there's an investigation. So the imam did that."
Afzali was released after posting a $1.5 million bail bond. ("The government would not agree to release him on bail if they believed he was involved in a terrorist conspiracy," Kuby said.) Zazi was transferred from Colorado to New York.
Immediately following the arrests the Obama administration launched a media blitz to assure Americans that
...all of which led to another conclusion - key provisions of the Patriot Act can not be allowed to expire at the end of the year:
The story received a bit of attention last September, however, that bit of national security news was lost in the attention given to another story that broke at the time - the release of General McChrystal's Afghanistan assessment to the press.
And the AP reported last week that re-authorization has yet to be accomplished. "Three provisions of the anti-terrorism Patriot Act expire at the end of the year. Some Democrats want to make changes to better ensure that government surveillance doesn't violate privacy rights."
Days later: "The looming deadline coincides with a growing concern among law enforcement officials that homegrown terrorism is becoming a more dangerous and immediate threat," Politics Daily reported, adding that neither the House or Senate has scheduled time to debate those provisions now set to expire on Dec. 31.
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) "blamed House leaders for allowing liberal activists to politicize the issue."
So in many ways, this news doesn't sound so new after all: "U.S. officials are increasingly concerned about the threat of homegrown Islamist extremism. This concern is prompted by a spike in attacks like the Fort Hood massacre, and conspiracies broken up by law enforcement before any attacks took place."
President Obama noted the increase during his speech last week at West Point explaining the Afghanistan surge:"In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror."Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano echoed that sentiment in a speech last week. "We are seeing young Americans who are inspired by Al Qaeda and radical ideology," she said.
That last quote from one of the earliest reports of five missing Americans later arrested in Pakistan, which "may end up being at least the fourth case prosecuted this year in which Muslim Americans traveled to Pakistan" to join extremist groups there."
But the first to "make the papers" in such a big way.
Posted by Greyhawk / December 14, 2009 1:36 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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