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New York Police on heightened alert in Times Square
GENUINE THREAT, CRYING WOLF, OR BOTH?
New York's muscled alert, following Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge's announcment that the U.S. had captured extraordinarily detailed Al Qaeda documents, seemed reasonable enough. But it soon emerged that nearly all of the targeting information dated from before the 2001 attack against the World Trade Center. Although there is no information that an attack is actually being prepared at this time, the heightened state of alert is likely to be maintained until after the November elections. (Dan Eggen and Dana Priest in the Washington Post, August 2, 2004)
•White House Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend explains the administration's reasons for publicizing the threat...
(Frances Townsend, PBS NewsHour, August 2, 2004)
BUNGLING THE RESPONSE AGAIN?
Former CIA antiterrorism expert, Larry Johnson, points out that the administration has once again confused a surveillance report with an actual threat, and that countersurveillance combined with a discrete alert to the target institutions would have been more effective than alerting the enemy to what we know. Johnson, was interviewed on PBS' Jim Lehrer NewsHour. (NewsHour, August 3, 2004) •Capitol Hill Blue reports that the threat alert may be partially based on a source who provided questionable leads in the past.
A THREAT ALERT TIMED FOR MAXIMUM POLITICAL IMPACT?
The New Republic suggests that Pakistani intelligence officials were encouraged to release the news of the arrest of terrorism suspect Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani at a time when it would almost certainly steal thunder from John Kerry's speech to the Democratic National Convention. Ghailani had actually been picked up four days earlier. Intelligence agents would normally have tried to keep the arrest secret long enough to round up any other terrorist leads revealed by Ghailani, but the Pakistanis had been under pressure for weeks to make a high profile arrest desperately needed by the administration for a pre-election boost. Pakistan's interior minister, Faisal Saleh Hayyat, made the announcment at midnight, too late for Pakistan newspapers, but just in time for American news media. (New Republic, August 4, 2004)
•The New Republic's earlier prediction of a "July Surprise" arrest in Pakistan to counter Bush's lost credibility on the War against Terrorism. (TNR, July 29, 2004)
THE TERRORIST AS A MODERN CORPORATE CEO
Bruce Hoffman, writing in RAND's quarterly review, suggests that Al Qaeda has eluded the U.S. by applying modern business management techniques: "Al Qaeda’s resiliency and longevity are predicated not on the total number of jihadists that it might have trained in the past but on its continued ability to recruit, to mobilize, and to animate both actual and would-be fighters, supporters, and sympathizers," observes Hoffman."...The epic battle launched by bin Laden is not over. If anything, because of what al Qaeda sees as America’s global war on Islam (in Afghanistan and Iraq) and as America’s commitment to ensuring the longevity of morally bankrupt regimes (in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and elsewhere), al Qaeda’s commitment and sense of purpose today are arguably greater than ever." (Bruce Hoffman, RAND REVIEW, Spring 2004, with links to Hoffman's 9/11 Commission testimony).
•Jessica Stern in FOREIGN AFFAIRS on Al Qaeda's Protean nature... "Over its life span, al Qaeda has constantly evolved and shown a surprising willingness to adapt its mission," writes Stern. "This capacity for change has consistently made the group more appealing to recruits, attracted surprising new allies..." (Jessica Stern, Foreign Affairs, July-August 2003)
ALGERIA'S ISLAMIC TERRORISM
Before Al Qaeda, the most dangerous Islamic radicals were based in Algeria. A military coup, which attempted to deal with the problem by force, led to 100,000 deaths and made Algeria a powerful example of how not to deal with Islamic activism. The International Crisis Group analyzes what happened. (ICG, 30 July 2004)
Sibel Edmonds charges that FBI translators ignored important leads
EX-FBI TRANSLATOR CLAIMS THAT 9/11 COMMISSION REFUSED TO EXAMINE INFORMATION ABOUT FBI LAPSES
In an open letter to 9/11 Commission chairman Thomas Kean, former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds charges that some of her fellow translators systematically blocked investigations of suspect organizations, and that her supervisors fired her when she tried to warn them what was happening. Attorney General John Ashcroft has tried to classify the case, charging national security would be compromised if it were made public. Edmonds was denied "whistle-blower" protection on grounds that she was a contract-hire employee, and not eligible for staff protection. (Sibel Edmonds, Antiwar.com, August 2, 2004)
• Classified FBI investigation finds that Edmonds was dismissed in part for reporting problems to superiors (Eric Lichtblau, International Herald Tribune, July 30, 2004)
•Justice Department tries to classify letters from 9/11 Commission requesting information on the case, two years after they were made public...(The Memory Hole)
A FORMER AGENT CHARGES THE FBI WITH COVERING UP ITS MISTAKES
Mike German, a former under cover agent, says that the FBI sat on a critical investigation and then falsified documents to discredit its own sources. (Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times, August 2, 2004)
OUTSOURCING THE DEFENSE BUDGET
The Center for Public Integrity reports that the Pentagon may be outsourcing some of its budget drafting responsibilities to private contractors, a practice that has some observers concerned.
(Center for Public Integrity, August 2, 2004)
INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP DETAILS EIGHT OF THE WORLD'S DANGER ZONES
The ICG's August Crisis Watch provides a quick background summary on leading troublespots with links to recent background news articles (ICG, August 2, 2004)
ISRAEL TRIES TO BLOCK U.S. MISSILE SALES TO JORDAN
The deal involves the sale of U.S. AMRAAM air-to-air missiles to the Jordanian air force. Israel fears that a sale to Jordan will lead to the U.S. selling the same missiles to Egypt, which would reduce Israel's "qualitative edge." (Haaretz, Sunday, August 1, 2004)
CANADA'S FORMER PRIME MINISTER, JEAN CHRETIEN, TO HELP NEGOTIATE YUKOS OIL SETTLEMENT
Chretien, who is now working for a private law firm, met with Vladimir Putin in early July. His involvement in the case has been welcomed by foreign investors. (Russia Journal, August 2, 2004)
RUSSIA'S SUPPORT TO IRAN'S NUCLEAR EFFORT IS POPULAR AT HOME, BUT RISKY
Attempts to influence Iran by engaging with it economically are not paying off, but Russia continues to supply Iran with nuclear technology, partly to get leverage in negotiations over the Caspian, and partly because, with a shortage of clients, it needs Iran to keep the Russian nuclear industry alive. (Mark Katz, Eurasianet, August 1, 2004)
RUSSIA SELLS MIG-29s TO SUDAN DESPITE PROTESTS OVER DARFUR CRISIS
The major incentive seems to be profit, which in the current free-wheeling Moscow business climate, can turn a lucky arms dealer into a millionaire overnight. Russia regularly sells to Syria and Iran, and Russian anti-tank missiles showed up in Iraq. (Pavel Felgenhauer, Moscow Times via Center for Defense Information, July 27, 2004)
SUDAN IS DRAWING INTEREST FOR ITS OIL RESERVES
One reason for exercising caution over the current crisis in the Darfur region of western Sudan is that Khartoum is likely to become a significant player in the world energy market. Estimates of Sudan's oil reserves have nearly doubled since 2001. Its crude production reached 345,000 barrels per day in June, and is expected to reach 500,000 BBD next year. (U.S. Department of Energy Country Analysis, July 2004)
U.S. NUCLEAR RETALIATION PLAN IN THE 1960s WOULD HAVE ENDANGERED THE U.S. AS WELL AS AN ENEMY
The National Security Archives has released previously classified documents pointing to massive overkill on the part of Pentagon planners, who were prepared to launch more than 1700 missiles in the event of an attack. Both Eisenhower and Robert McNamamara said that they had been frightened by the scope of the strategy. The lack of nuance was also cause for concern. The plan, or SIOPS (Single Integrated Operations Plan), failed to differentiate between countries that might be attacking the U.S. and those who were uninvolved bystanders. (National Security Archives, July 13, 2004)
U.S. soldiers guard Iraqi churches after car bombs
TARGETING IRAQI CHRISTIANS
Roughly 750,000 Iraqis, about 3% of the population, are Christians. Most have supported the U.S. occupation. By launching coordinated attacks against 5 Iraqi churches over the weekend, insurgents may have hoped to emphasize the U.S. inability to provide protection, while stirring up resentment against Christians as a symbol of Western incursion into Islamic culture. Juan Cole analyzes the precarious situation of Iraq's beleaguered Christian community in Informed Comment( August 2, 2004).
Kidnapped Turkish truck driver moments before assassination
Turkey's Foreign Minister sees chaos in Iraq as greatest potential threat to the region
Abdullah Gul, who is also deputy prime minister, describes Iraq as unpredictable. Reactions to Turkish drivers' decision to stop working in Iraq are mixed. (Turkish Press.com, August 2, 2004)
•Turkish drivers's organization
urges halt to deliveries to U.S. troops
ASIA TIMES' SPENGLER PREDICTS A BUSH VICTORY FOLLOWED BY REGRETS
"...Bush opened a Pandora's box a year ago," writes Spengler, "and not even Kerry proposes to shut it. In this case Pandora's box better resembles a nested set of Russian dolls. Open one, and a bevy of demons flies out, forcing you to open the next one...( Spengler, Asia Times, August 2, 2004)
The Security Policy Working Group
Hartung, Marcus Corbin, Winslow T. Wheeler,Lucy Webster
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