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January 2, 2010
More WTFBy Greyhawk
...the revelation by the White House, made in response to a report about the intelligence warning this evening on CBS News, is bound to fuel Congressional demands for a deeper investigation into why American intelligence agencies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had failed to put together individual pieces of evidence that, in retrospect, now seem to suggest what was coming.
Wait, my bad - the link goes to a new Newsweek story, but that quoted paragraph came from a 2002 report from the New York Times, headlined "Bush was warned bin Laden wanted to hijack planes".
It's hard to read those two stories without wondering what parts of either are motivated less by a concern for public safety and more by a desire for political payback. (Neener neener neener!) There's something understandable about that - to the great detriment of our national security, Democrats spent most of their time and effort since 2002 trying to prove Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al were the second coming of the Third Reich, and that the men and women in the military were alternately their victims and their Gestapo. Now that Democrats are in charge of national security, well, only the names we call things have changed.
To further confuse the issue, bear in mind that the reporters aren't subject matter experts on anything other than attracting readers, something that controversy (plus a dash of ohmygod we could all be killed!!!) certainly assures.
It assures something else, too - pointless overreaction and a reduction in overall security. Reduction as in it's actually easier to sneak on board a plane with explosives in your underpants when "security" is busy checking your shoes. Likewise it's easier to disregard any early warnings - even from relatives of potential terrorists - when you know that someone can't get on a plane without "security" checking them first.
The bottom line - and nothing here is to be taken as excusing security lapses - is that for whatever reason, a guy with explosives was able to get on board a plane and attempted to set them off. He was stopped - and everyone on the plane was saved - when an alert fellow passenger took action. That hero angle - along with the likely absurd responses of the government - struck me as the compelling aspects of the story in the first place.
It's absolutely disgusting that for whatever reason seemingly each and every account of a terrorist act committed with some degree of success on American soil last year (see Abdulhakim Muhammad and Nidal Hasan, for examples) includes a claim by some government official that oh yeah - we knew about him, but it's also a reminder that they won't get 'em all. (In fairness - they did get some.)
But clearly - unless they're motivated by the previously mentioned political payback - a sizable chunk of Americans believes the government must do more to protect them. Fair enough - but for starters, (unless they're actually motivated by desire for political payback and a very misguided notion that Democrats were right about that whole Hitler/Gestapo thing) they apparently want the underwear bomber given to the military, taken to Gitmo, and waterboarded. Where we go from that beginning is anybody's guess - most of mine aren't pleasant.
The irony is that besides buying into the idea that the government can protect them every moment of every day from every psycho out there (a separate issue from whether the government should protect them), these same folks have bought into the myth that the military sanctions and performs torture of prisoners (especially Muslim prisoners) - a myth that inspires guys like the underwear bomber to become underwear bombers in the first place.
And since it also happened on Christmas, you probably missed the release of the latest Taliban video featuring their star prisoner, US Army Private Bowe Bergdahl.
All Taliban propaganda, to be sure - but for their next episode they'll have some American poll numbers to cite in support of their claims.
Excellent comments on the previous entry have increased my understanding of this situation. I honestly do believe a sizable percentage of Americans aren't motivated on this issue by political payback, and instead are genuinely concerned about the government's inability to keep them safe. Because some solutions to that perceived problem are actually far worse than the problem (this is how fascists, communists, baathists, Islamic fundamentalists and other totalitarian regimes actually do come to power) I'm genuinely concerned about that concern.
"You have a nice little web page that gets some number of visitors," says astonerii, "maybe you could, instead of trying to protect our enemies, use this space to educate people on the difference between a law you would support to protect yourself, your family and theirs and what the politicians have written."
Which I think is a fine idea for the next installment.
Posted by Greyhawk / January 2, 2010 12:59 PM | Permalink
Did Spy chiefs turn on President Obama after seven CIA agents are slaughtered in Afghanistan? Well, controversy sells. Meanwhile, "it's not at all clear what, precisely, either man should or could have done differently," says James Joyner. I agree. Mor... Read More
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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