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"[D]efeating terrorism must remain one of our intelligence community's core objectives, as widely dispersed terrorist networks will present one of the most serious challenges to U.S. national security interests at home and abroad...."
DCI Porter Goss, testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Nine days after the horrendous bombing of the Trade Towers on September 11, 2001, President George Bush addressed the Joint Session of Congress and the American People told the watching public that "we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done ... I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people."
As a result of this war on terrorism, the United States government created the Department of Homeland Security, the most comprehensive reorganization of the Federal government in a half-century. It consolidates 22 agencies and 180,000 employees in a single agency dedicated to protecting America from terrorism. The question remains: Can even this many agencies and employees protect America from a terrorist war? The answer is questionable: as educator Noam Chomsky stated: ... "terrorism works. It doesn't fail. It works. Violence usually works. That's world history."
The attacks of September 11 forever ended the idea that the United States could somehow be different from the rest of the earth and be unscathed. Americans can no longer foster the illusion that what happens to the rest of the world cannot affect them as well.
The bottom line, says Michael Scheuer, a CIA analyst who wrote the book Imperial Hubris under the name "anonymous," "While the 11 September attack was a human-economic calamity, Washington's failure to have its military ready for a crippling next-day attack on al-Qaeda turned it into catastrophe. It cost America its best -- perhaps only -- chance to deliver what is called a 'decapitation' operation, one with a chance to kill at a stroke many al-Qaeda and Taleban leaders" (24). Even if the leaders had survived, immediate American military strikes could have destroyed thousands of enemy soldiers.
Throughout his book, Scheurer makes the U.S.'s biggest mistake: It does not understand the mind of the enemy -- a number-one priority in any war. This, if nothing else, will spell failure for America. In fact, the U.S. played right into the "bad guy's" hand. All along, the administration described Osama bin Laden as an anomaly, whose beliefs and tactics were supported by a minority of the Arab population. However, argues Scheurer, he is anything but an abnormality with farfetched ideals, bin Laden is the protector of the jihad or holy war against a country that helped him "wage a holy war against the Soviet Army in Afghanistan." It is like the pot calling the kettle black.
How credible can the United States look with its track record of militarism and might in the recent past and present, including U.S. backing of Russia, India and China against the Muslim militants, continued support for Israel that is playing hard to get with the Palestinians; occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and troops on the Arabian peninsula; U.S. control over Iraq and Afghanistan; and support of too-numerous to name right-wing military political powers for all the wrong reasons?
Scheurer concludes that there is no way the U.S. is going to win a war against so-called terrorists or anyone else until it clearly recognizes and admits who bin Laden and his followers are, their real fears and determined goals.
Similarly in his book, New Crusade: The U.S. War on Terrorism (2002), Rahul Mahajan, a physics graduate student at the University of Texas who serves on the national boards of Peace Action and the Education for Peace in Iraq Center and writes on foreign policy and globalization in national publications, noted that it is not enough to admit that the attacks were crimes against humanity and that terrorism like this must be stopped: those are givens. Likewise, it is not enough to state that the terrorists were religious extremists: another truism. People also have to acknowledge the role the United States has played in promoting religious fanaticism, directly, as in the Afghan jihad, and indirectly, by eliminating all alternatives through its endless attacks on the left and by initiating policies that foster resentment and anger.
Mahajan agrees with Scheurer that Osama bin Laden or members of his network statements contain no mention of any resentment of American democracy, freedom, or the role of women. Instead, they mention specific criticisms regarding American policy in the Middle East: the sanctions on Iraq, maintained largely by the U.S., which have killed over one million civilians; and U.S. military occupation of the Gulf and support for unsavory regimes serving the interests of American business before those of the people.
America's misrepresentation of itself in this situation, is not the country's only failing. Despite the fact that America put billions of dollars into security and intelligence since the end of WWII and throughout the Cold War as well as billions more in some of the most highly advanced electronics and equipment worldwide, the country got caught with its pants down. Nine months after the terrorists' successful strike on September 11, the new director of the FBI, Robert S. Mueller III, did an about face. After refuting since the attack that there could have been no way for the U.S. law enforcement or intelligence agencies to have known about the terrorist plot in advance, he admitted that important clues to the disaster were actually ignored or neglected. If these signs had been taken as true alarms, the situation just may have been thwarted (Bernstein, 2002, 157). A country that had been attacked only once since its establishment 200+ years ago, and then not even on its main shores, had become too complacent and careless.
Part of winning the war is preventing the worst kinds of attacks and responding well to others. And on this score, America remains unprepared. " ... Britain has excellent response systems and its people are well prepared on how to respond. America has neither advantage today," says Stephen Flynn, a homeland-security expert and author of "America the Vulnerable: How Our Government Is Failing to Protect Us From Terrorism" "We need good education and training for transit workers and citizens, good communication mechanisms among government agencies and the people, and most important, a good public-health infrastructure" (Zakuria).
Unfortunately, the U.S. is not the only Western country that is not able to keep track of the terrorists. Apparently the story with the bombing in England this month was deja vu to September 11. According to an Associated Press article (Gardiner), at least one of the suspected London suicide bombers was investigated last year by MI-5, Britain's domestic intelligence service. MI-5 agents reportedly determined that Mohammad Sidique Khan was not a threat to national security and decided not to put him under surveillance after checking him out in connection with an alleged plot to blow up a truck bomb in London. Another report said Britain had been warned that Jamaican-born Germaine Lindsay was on a terror watchlist, but MI-5 failed to monitor him. The bombers' trail may stretch to Pakistan, and al-Qaida organizers around Europe may also have provided organizational help. In response to the bombings, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced sweeping changes, including new technology to help protect the nation's transit systems from a biological attack or other weapons of mass destruction.
It is not only the media who are claiming that the war on terrorism is not doing as well as wished or expected. Terrell E. Arnold, retired Senior Foreign Service Officer of the U.S. Department of State, a former Deputy Director of the State Department Office of Counterterrorism and former Chairman of the Department of International Studies of the National War College, notes: "On the eve of the publication of its annual 'Patterns of Global Terrorism,' the State Department Office of Counterterrorism indicated the report would not be published for 2004. Instead, the legal requirement to report to the Congress would be met by sending the information to the Hill, but it would not be released to the public. That announcement stirred a flurry of accusatives, e.g., the numbers have gone up as high as they were in the 1980s; the U.S. is losing the War on Terrorism; and the White House does not want the public to know."
On April 27 the newly established National Counterterrorism Center instead published its first statistical report: "A chronology of Significant International Terrorism for 2004." Arnold explains on his website that the report deals with the most important terrorist categories covered in the State annual but applies a wider set of reporting criteria and only on significant incidents. That is, that they result…[continue]
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