Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Terrifying.

Yes, I know, I've been neglecting my blog. I've been swamped with work lately. But I just couldn't pass up this editorial from the New York Times. I find it terrifying to know that I'm more well informed then the people in Washington who are overseeing our war with Islam. Not knowing that Iran in Shiite, and what that means for stability in, say, Lebanon or Saudi Arabia, is just goddamn criminal. Here ya go:

FOR the past several months, I’ve been wrapping up lengthy interviews with Washington counterterrorism officials with a fundamental question: “Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?”

A “gotcha” question? Perhaps. But if knowing your enemy is the most basic rule of war, I don’t think it’s out of bounds. And as I quickly explain to my subjects, I’m not looking for theological explanations, just the basics: Who’s on what side today, and what does each want?

After all, wouldn’t British counterterrorism officials responsible for Northern Ireland know the difference between Catholics and Protestants? In a remotely similar but far more lethal vein, the 1,400-year Sunni-Shiite rivalry is playing out in the streets of Baghdad, raising the specter of a breakup of Iraq into antagonistic states, one backed by Shiite Iran and the other by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states.

A complete collapse in Iraq could provide a haven for Al Qaeda operatives within striking distance of Israel, even Europe. And the nature of the threat from Iran, a potential nuclear power with protégés in the Gulf states, northern Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, is entirely different from that of Al Qaeda. It seems silly to have to argue that officials responsible for counterterrorism should be able to recognize opportunities for pitting these rivals against each other.

But so far, most American officials I’ve interviewed don’t have a clue. That includes not just intelligence and law enforcement officials, but also members of Congress who have important roles overseeing our spy agencies. How can they do their jobs without knowing the basics?

My curiosity about our policymakers’ grasp of Islam’s two major branches was piqued in 2005, when Jon Stewart and other TV comedians made hash out of depositions, taken in a whistleblower case, in which top F.B.I. officials drew blanks when asked basic questions about Islam. One of the bemused officials was Gary Bald, then the bureau’s counterterrorism chief. Such expertise, Mr. Bald maintained, wasn’t as important as being a good manager.

A few months later, I asked the F.B.I.’s spokesman, John Miller, about Mr. Bald’s comments. “A leader needs to drive the organization forward,” Mr. Miller told me. “If he is the executive in a counterterrorism operation in the post-9/11 world, he does not need to memorize the collected statements of Osama bin Laden, or be able to read Urdu to be effective. ... Playing ‘Islamic Trivial Pursuit’ was a cheap shot for the lawyers and a cheaper shot for the journalist. It’s just a gimmick.”

Of course, I hadn’t asked about reading Urdu or Mr. bin Laden’s writings.

A few weeks ago, I took the F.B.I.’s temperature again. At the end of a long interview, I asked Willie Hulon, chief of the bureau’s new national security branch, whether he thought that it was important for a man in his position to know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites. “Yes, sure, it’s right to know the difference,” he said. “It’s important to know who your targets are.”

That was a big advance over 2005. So next I asked him if he could tell me the difference. He was flummoxed. “The basics goes back to their beliefs and who they were following,” he said. “And the conflicts between the Sunnis and the Shia and the difference between who they were following.”

O.K., I asked, trying to help, what about today? Which one is Iran — Sunni or Shiite? He thought for a second. “Iran and Hezbollah,” I prompted. “Which are they?”

He took a stab: “Sunni.”

Wrong.

Al Qaeda? “Sunni.”

Right.

AND to his credit, Mr. Hulon, a distinguished agent who is up nights worrying about Al Qaeda while we safely sleep, did at least know that the vicious struggle between Islam’s Abel and Cain was driving Iraq into civil war. But then we pay him to know things like that, the same as some members of Congress.

Take Representative Terry Everett, a seven-term Alabama Republican who is vice chairman of the House intelligence subcommittee on technical and tactical intelligence.

“Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?” I asked him a few weeks ago.

Mr. Everett responded with a low chuckle. He thought for a moment: “One’s in one location, another’s in another location. No, to be honest with you, I don’t know. I thought it was differences in their religion, different families or something.”

To his credit, he asked me to explain the differences. I told him briefly about the schism that developed after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, and how Iraq and Iran are majority Shiite nations while the rest of the Muslim world is mostly Sunni. “Now that you’ve explained it to me,” he replied, “what occurs to me is that it makes what we’re doing over there extremely difficult, not only in Iraq but that whole area.”

Representative Jo Ann Davis, a Virginia Republican who heads a House intelligence subcommittee charged with overseeing the C.I.A.’s performance in recruiting Islamic spies and analyzing information, was similarly dumbfounded when I asked her if she knew the difference between Sunnis and Shiites.

“Do I?” she asked me. A look of concentration came over her face. “You know, I should.” She took a stab at it: “It’s a difference in their fundamental religious beliefs. The Sunni are more radical than the Shia. Or vice versa. But I think it’s the Sunnis who’re more radical than the Shia.”

Did she know which branch Al Qaeda’s leaders follow?

“Al Qaeda is the one that’s most radical, so I think they’re Sunni,” she replied. “I may be wrong, but I think that’s right.”

Did she think that it was important, I asked, for members of Congress charged with oversight of the intelligence agencies, to know the answer to such questions, so they can cut through officials’ puffery when they came up to the Hill?

“Oh, I think it’s very important,” said Ms. Davis, “because Al Qaeda’s whole reason for being is based on their beliefs. And you’ve got to understand, and to know your enemy.”

It’s not all so grimly humorous. Some agency officials and members of Congress have easily handled my “gotcha” question. But as I keep asking it around Capitol Hill and the agencies, I get more and more blank stares. Too many officials in charge of the war on terrorism just don’t care to learn much, if anything, about the enemy we’re fighting. And that’s enough to keep anybody up at night.

3 Comments:

Blogger belledame222 said...

and yet, not surprising. ever since Ari Fleischer (speaking for the boss) not only didn't know the difference between Ireland and Northern Ireland RIGHT BEFORE BOSSMAN WAS SCHEDULED TO GO PAY A VISIT (heh, no i don't remember to which one of course...) but, when called on it, said something to the effect of, oh well we can't be expected to know EVERY LITTLE THING like that, can we? bunch of pointy headed eggheads with their tiresome GEOGRAPHY and HISTORY and FACTS ("stupid things," tm Ronnie Reagan)...

...yeh. color me unshocked.

there ought to be a standardized test, you know, since we're so fond of them, for potential candidates, esp. before being sworn into office. also, you may not bomb this country until you can find it on a map, unaided, name its leader (spelled correctly), principal exports and imports (-besides- Oil), and write a two-page minimum essay describing its history for the past fifty years (at least).

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Enlightenment said...

Speaking of "Al Qaeda" and the "war on terror", let’s take a few moments and look at some of the details of the horrible event that precipitated the "war on terror" and around which America’s foreign policy has been inextricably wrapped ever since.

One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying "We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]". Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I've ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four "pilots" among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake "pilot" of the bunch, with someone who was there when he was attempting to fly a small airplane saying that Hanjour was so clumsy that he was unsure if he had driven a car before. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports after Mohammed Atta supposedly leaves two rental cars at two impossibly far-removed locations. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn't work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn't work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won't let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you "aren't supposed to think about". Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name ("Hi mom, this is Mark Bingham"), more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn't respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn't happen, not even close. Somehow these "hijackers" must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that is not at all like a jumbo jet, but didn't have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were "supposed to see". Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these "hijackers" wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces most no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn't even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying "We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down" attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers' magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be "Muslim hijackers" the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don't laugh) one of their passports was "found" a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously "surviving" the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also "survived" the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be "indestructable" like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn't bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Further making themselves look guilty, the Bush administration steadfastly refused for over a year to allow a commission to investigate 9/11 to even be formed, only agreeing to it on the conditions that they get to dictate its scope, meaning it was based on the false pretense of the "official story" being true with no other alternatives allowed to be considered, handpicked all its members making sure the ones picked had vested interests in the truth remaining buried, and with Bush and Cheney only "testifying" together, only for an hour, behind closed doors, with their attorneys present and with their "testimonies" not being recorded by tape or even written down in notes. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastic far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the "nineteen hijackers" is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America.

Debunking Popular Mechanics lies:
http://www.lookingglassnews.org/viewstory.php?storyid=6880
someone else debunking Popular Mechanics crap:
http://www.serendipity.li/wot/pop_mech/reply_to_popular_mechanics.htm
still more debunking Poopular Mechanics:
http://letsroll911.org/ipw-web/bulletin/bb/viewtopic.php?t=5505
and still more debunking of Popular Mechanics:
http://www.reopen911.org/ericreubt.htm

Poopular Mechanics staff replaced just before laughable “debunking” article written:
http://www.reopen911.org/hiddenhand.htm
another neo-con 9/11 hit piece explodes, is retracted:
http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/august2006/180806hitpiece.htm
Professor Steven Jones debunks the N.I.S.T. “report” as well as the F.E.M.A. one and the 9/11 commission "report":
http://www.infowars.com/articles/sept11/wtc_buildings_collapse_steven_jones.htm
N.I.S.T. scientist interviewed:
http://www.teamliberty.net/id235.html
F.B.I. says no hard evidence linking Osama bin Laden to 9/11 which is why his wanted poster says nothing about 9/11:
http://forum.afghansite.com/index.php?showtopic=9349
Fire Engineering magazine says important questions about the Twin Tower “collapses” still need to be addressed:http://fe.pennnet.com/Articles/Article_Display.cfm?Section=OnlineArticles&SubSection=Display&PUBLICATION_ID=25&ARTICLE_ID

Twin Towers’ construction certifiers say they should have easily withstood it:
http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/november2004/121104easilywithstood.htm
USA Today interview with the last man out of the South Tower, pursued by a fireball:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/sept11/2001/12/19/usat-escape.htm
Janitor who heard explosions and escaped has testimony ignored by 9/11 whitewash commission:
http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/ignoring_9-11.html
Janitor starts speaking out about it and his apartment is burglarized, laptop stolen:
http://kurtnimmo.blogspot.com/2005/08/apartment-of-nine-eleven-hero-william_28.html
Firefighters tell of multiple explosions:
http://www.wnbc.com/news/1315651/detail.html
Eyewitnesses tell of explosions:
http://research.amnh.org/users/tyson/essays/TheHorrorTheHorror.html
Interview with another firefighter telling of explosions:
http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/Banaciski_Richard.txt
Firefighter saw “sparkles” (strobe lights on detonators?) before “collapse”:
http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/Fitzpatrick_Tom.txt
Other eyewitnesses talk of seeing/hearing explosions:
http://georgewashington.blogspot.com/2005/11/more-proof-911-inside-job-witnesses-to.html
Surviving eyewitnesses talk of multiple explosions there:
http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/veliz-bombs.htm
Cutter charge explosions clearly visible:
http://www.rense.com/general63/cutt.htm
The pyroclastic cloud (that dust cloud that a second before was concrete) and how it wouldn’t be possible without explosives:
http://st12.startlogic.com/~xenonpup/physics/
Detailed description of the demolition of the Twin Towers:
http://gordonssite.tripod.com/id2.html
Freefall rate of “collapses” math:
http://www.911blimp.net/prf_FreeFallPhysics.shtml
More about their freefall rate “collapses”:
http://www.serendipity.li/wot/second_wave.htm
Video footage of the controlled demolition of the Twin Towers:
http://www.plaguepuppy.net/public_html/video%20archive/
Video footage of the controlled demolition of WTC # 7 building:
http://911research.wtc7.net/talks/wtc/videos.html
More of WTC # 7 controlled demolition:
http://www.wtc7.net/
Naudet brothers' video footage of the North Tower crash:
http://www.911blimp.net/vid_Naudet.shtml
Photos of the Pentagon’s lawn (look at these and see if you can tell me with a straight face that a jumbo jet crashed there):
http://www.911blimp.net/cached/HuntTheBoeing!.htm
More photos of this amazing lawn at the Pentagon:
http://cryptogon.com/docs/Introducing%20the%20amazing%20Penta-Lawn%202000!%20(9-11).htm
Very unconvincing fake “Osama” “confession” tape:
http://welfarestate.com/wtc/faketape/
More about the fake “Osama” tape:
http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/osamatape2.html
Fake “Mohammed Atta” “suicide” letter:
http://www.welfarestate.com/wtc/fake-letters.txt
Commercial pilots disagree with “official” 9/11 myth:
http://www.prisonplanet.com/september_11_us_government_accused.htm
More commercial jet pilots say “official” myth is impossible:
http://www.masternewmedia.org/2001/10/31/commercial_jet_pilots_analysis_of_the_twin_tower_attack.htm
Impossibility of cell phone calls from United 93:
http://www.physics911.net/cellphoneflight93.htm
More about the impossible cell phone calls:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO408B.html
Experiment proves cell phone calls were NOT possible from anywhere near the altitude the “official” myth has them at:
http://physics911.ca/org/modules/news/article.php?storyid=9
Fake Barbara Olson phone call:
http://www.vialls.com/lies911/lies.htm
Where the hell was the Air Force?
http://www.welfarestate.com/wtc/af-scramble.txt
More about the Air Force impotence question:
http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0331-11.htm
Sept. 10th 2001, Pentagon announces it is “missing” $2.3 trillion (now why do you think they picked THAT day to announce it? So it could be buried the next day by 9/11 news):
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/01/29/eveningnews/main325985.shtml
Unocal pipeline-through-Afghanistan plan:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0513/p05s01-wosc.html
Unocal pipeline-through-Afghanistan plan mentioned:
http://thetyee.ca/Views/2006/05/19/OutOfAfghanistan
More on Unocal Afghan pipeline:
http://www.newscentralasia.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1031
The attack on Afghanistan was planned in the summer of 2001, months before 9/11:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1550366.stm
Pentagon deliberately misled 9/11 Commission:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=EGG20060802&articleId=2887
Evidence destruction by authorities and cover-up:
http://www.flcv.com/coverup.html/
9/11 whitewash Commission and NORAD day:
http://fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/071204_final_fraud.shtml
The incredible fish tales of the 9/11 Commission examined:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=%20GR20051213&articleId=1478
Jeb Bush declares state of emergency 4 days before 9/11 for Florida, saying it will help respond to terrorism:
http://www.eionews.addr.com/psyops/news/jebknew.htm
Steel debris removal from Ground Zero, destruction of evidence:
http://911research.wtc7.net/wtc/groundzero/cleanup.html
Over two hundred incriminating bits of 9/11 evidence shown in the mainstream media:
http://thewebfairy.com/killtown/911smokingguns.html
Tracking the “hijackers”:
http://www.welfarestate.com/911/
“Hijacker” patsies:
http://911review.org/Wiki/HijackersPatsies.shtml
“Hijackers” receiving flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station:
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0208/S00085.htm
Several accused "hijackers" still alive and well, wondering why they are accused:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1559151.stm
Yet the F.B.I. insists that the people it claims were the "hijackers" really were the "hijackers":
http://www.prisonplanet.com/fbi_denies_mix_up_of_911_terrorists.htm
No Arabs on Flight 77:
http://www.sierratimes.com/03/07/02/article_tro.htm
Thirty experts say “official” 9/11 myth impossible:
http://911fraud.blogspot.com/2005/06/us-governments-offical-911-story-is.html
“Al Qaeda” website tracks back to Maryland:
http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/alqmaryland.html
Al Qaeda videos uploaded from U.S. government website:
http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/july2004/140704governmentwebsite.htm
Operation: Northwoods, a plan for a false-flag “terror” attack to be blamed on Castro to use it as a pretext for America to invade Cuba, thankfully not approved by Kennedy back in 1962 but was approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and sent to his desk:
http://www.prisonplanet.com/us_terror_plan_cuba_invasion_pretext.html

1:15 PM  
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2:44 PM  

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