Tag Archives: al-qaeda

Buffalo Talk Show Host: al Qaeda better than the Government

29 Jan

On January 24th, during the 11am hour, Entercom’s WBEN talk show host Tom Bauerle and his guest, Assemblyman David DiPietro (R-147), discussed what they consider to be constitutional jurisprudence, the supposed coming confiscation of all guns, how Obama has destroyed America, and the fact that armed citizens must be ready and willing to assault and murder law enforcement when they come to take your guns. All of this semi-informed nonsense culminated with Tom Bauerle exclaiming, “I regard the [US] government as a greater enemy than al Qaeda”. Because? Because guns. 

Bauerle2

Tom Bauerle and al Qaeda: besties.  This guy is a never-ending compendium of lowest-common denominator derp. 

Buffalo’s ultra-right wing is always lurching from manufactured outrage to conspiratorial fever-dream, and has WBEN’s morning host Tom Bauerle to act as its lurcher-in-chief, spokeschampion, and ur-patriot. Last week’s outrage involved the New York State gun legislation that was recently passed by overwhelming state senate and assembly majorities. Signed by Governor Cuomo, New York’s gun regulations rank among the toughest in the United States, and people who take issue with them promise to fight them through litigation. 

That is, after all, how our system of laws; our representative democracy with its checks and balances, is intended to work. 

It’s the sort of thing that gets a particularly uninformed and ignorant part of the community angry and riled up. These are people who bastardize Martin Niemoller’s famous quote about encroaching fascistic tyranny into, “first Hitler came for the Germans’ guns” and “then Stalin came for the Russians’ guns” and they were just given up willingly, and so Europe endured genocide and war. This is all part of the “fight tyranny” falsehoods that people have built into the 2nd Amendment, whose true purpose was to ensure that the United States – which did not have a standing army at the time – could call up militias who would already be armed, in order to defend the country against its foes. Nothing in the Constitution, nor in the case law, nor in the vast volumes of statutes of the United States gives citizens the right to take up arms against the government. 

Being the constitutional scholars that they purport to be, one would expect Mr. Bauerle and Assemblyman DiPietro to be somewhat familiar with the 5th Amendment’s Taking Clause and its interplay with the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which together stand for the proposition that the government cannot arbitrarily take one’s private property without due process. Instead, derp. 

At one point, Assemblyman DiPietro alleged that his legislative colleagues have no respect or understanding for the constitution; that they consider it to be a nuisance. Such inflammatory talk from someone who is himself so fundamentally ignorant of Constitutional jurisprudence is despicable. Perhaps the 5th and 14th aren’t taught as part of the BBA program at Wittenburg University, nor must they make up part of the communications or history curriculum at UB, however this doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Derp. (Hey, what part of “shall not be infringed” does Antonin Scalia not understand, AMIRITE?)

Turning to the radio program in question, lest anyone think I heard it live, here’s how I found out about it on Thursday, January 24th: 

Here is the clip, within its context, with Assemblyman DiPietro’s comments immediately preceding it: 

Bauerle and al Qaeda: Besties

And this wasn’t some fluke: 

183 people like that. Several more left encouraging comments, (all [sic]) like Richard Wheeler, who suggests that this is “counterrevolution. The dems drew first blood”. Laurel Krupski thinks it was “Well said !!” Kale Crum says, “The one thing thats preventing a full on revolution is the air cover the US military currently has. The only way thats mitigated is if there is a secession and the leaving states claim ownership of airbases and military equipment in state. I see it coming and hopefully can get a shot in before i myself am taken out. Snipers Unite!!!!” At least one commenter, Jim Walczak, brought up a discredited, false quote from Josef Stalin. Because guns go with derp. 

Here we have a talk-show host, employee of a multimillion-dollar public corporate entity, taking to the publicly owned airwaves and to a corporate-sponsored Facebook page to talk about armed insurrection, and to favorably compare al Qaeda to New York and the United States. Wow. 

I know that Bauerle is a conspiratorial birther, but I have yet to see the proposal to turn America into a part of al Qaeda’s global caliphate.

In fact, Obama comes under much criticism for maintaining a “war on terror” policy whereby unmanned drones are used to target suspected al Qaeda terrorists. I am not, however, aware of any government policy encouraging or permitting the deliberate or indiscriminate targeting of civilian non-combatants. When you see Governor Cuomo or Hillary Clinton post a video to the internet wherein he and some cabinet henchmen behead a captive, you let me know. When the state sets up a paramilitary training camp to train terrorists to mass murder civilians, you let me know. When Shelly Silver hijacks a plane or three to hurl it into some landmarks, you give me a holler. When Harry Reid or John Boehner dons a suicide bomb and detonates it in a crowded shopping area, text me. 

As for Assemblyman DiPietro, he was perfectly content to stay on the line and talk with Bauerle through another several segments after Mr. Bauerle expressed his comparative admiration for al Qaeda. But he didn’t hear that; Mr. DiPietro released this statement: 

I was interviewed via telephone Thursday by WBEN’s Tom Bauerle. I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Bauerle and I am a fan of his show. I did not hear him compare the New York State government to al Qaeda. As a legislator, I am a member of the New York State government and I do not believe we are the moral equivalent to the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization.

There you have it – a sitting Assemblyman appearing on a radio program in Buffalo, NY, having to issue a statement disavowing the radio host’s statement that the United States is a terrorist organization? These sorts of discussions didn’t, interestingly enough, take place when, e.g., the government made up stories about Iraq developing weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons in order to start a war.

You can disagree with the new gun laws the state passed. You can protest them. You can move to another state. You can file a lawsuit to challenge it. You can do just about whatever you want, within the law. You can even go on the publicly owned, privately licensed airwaves to favorably compare al Qaeda to New York State, if you’re a complete mental defective who spends time on the radio advocating secession and civil war, riling up every gun nerd with a micropenis and an AM radio. 

Indeed, to the extent Bauerle’s political speech doesn’t make the shift into armed insurrection or outright treason, he has every right to say or write whatever idiocy he wants to. But you can’t get away with saying it in a vacuum, and I – you – have every right to expose it, criticize it, and hate it. And frankly, his speech is perilously close to the kind of speech that is expressly prohibited by Article III, section 3 of the Constitution

It comes full circle – the people who remained silent during the run-up to the Iraq war tainted anyone who opposed it with the “treason” brush. But now, with a duly elected Democratic government, treason and armed insurrection is all the rage. 

I don’t quite understand why Entercom (ETM) or WBEN thinks it’s a good idea to have its commentators make stuff up about confiscation (as if Albany was going to pass a law to reimburse people for the confiscation of their guns), but Bauerle and his corporate parent Entercom are whipping gullible, already angry gun owners into a much bigger frenzy.  If they keep it up, I fear one of them will hurt someone. Maybe a cop. Maybe you. 

Nary a word was spoken about the fact that a lunatic stole his mother’s militaria in order to massacre almost two dozen first graders. Mssrs. Bauerle and DiPietro make stuff up about the Constitution and denigrate the patriotism of those who think that gun violence is a problem in this country, but they cavalierly reject any notion that people – that parents – have a right to be free from gun violence that is at least equal to their right to arm themselves against some fantasyworld. Assemblyman DiPietro argued that humans have always been violent; after all, Cain killed Abel. 

Constitutional questions should rarely be settled with allusions to Biblical allegories. 

In the meantime, who will protect us from the tyranny of the angry, violent, and misinformed 2nd amendment revisionists? 

The Death of a Symbol

2 May

I had imagined this day many times, the day we learned Bin Laden was dead. I was already in Saudi Arabia on 9/11, deployed for a boring (and hopefully, short) Operation SOUTHERN WATCH tour, enforcing the no-fly zone over Iraq. Half way around the world, it was mid-afternoon when the World Trade Center was hit, and at first I thought the news coverage was a bad mid-day movie on AFN.

We had a lot of optimism as the war started, as successes built quickly. I had friends back in the US who were jealous I was already deployed – they thought the war would end too soon, and they’d never get a chance to go. As the Taliban government fell and we knew Bin Laden was on the run, our war in Afghanistan was looking more like our snatching of Manuel Noriega in Panama than a drawn out quagmire.

Of course, we didn’t get Bin Laden on my first tour. Like many, I had fallen into a habit of checking the news regularly, thinking Bin Laden’s capture would be the next headline. As 2002 dragged, Bin Laden assumed the role of unscratched itch, an annoyance we had not yet remedied. But more bad-guy targets remained, and within the military, we talked about invading Iraq nearly from the 12th of September. By the end of 2003, we had toppled the Baath government, yanked Khalid Sheikh Mohammed out of a safehouse in Pakistan in just his undershirt, captured a bearded Saddam Hussein in a spider hole, and it seemed like a matter of time before we had Bin Laden as well. I was genuinely surprised when he did not appear in flex cuffs on TV just in time for the 2004 Presidential election. 

I returned to the Middle East in late 2004, this time to Iraq, in a new role as a bomb technician, and to a much different fight. Still we believed the wars would ended quickly, but underneath, frustration was building. By the time I started my second tour in Iraq in mid-2006, Bin Laden was nearly forgotten – we had other local bogeymen, lesser shades of the true evil, that were occupying our time. I was eating a burned, tasteless meal in a Kirkuk chowhall when we saw the news we had killed al-Zarqawi, chief of Al Qaeda in Iraq. I felt a sense of relief, but it was short lived – IEDs were laid as normal later that same day. Nothing changed.

With Bin Laden a no-show at the 2008 Presidential election as well, and the wars stretching on and on (and now in a third theater), like many Americans I had almost forgotten him. Nearly a decade since I had cable news perpetually on, muted in the background just in case we grabbed him, I had given up hope of dramatic finality. The sense of closure and satisfaction waned with each name we crossed off the list. KSM’s groggy mug and Saddam face down in the dirt were replaced with a smoking crater and a mangled body – we killed Zarqawi with two 500 pound JDAMs. Into Obama’s administration, we didn’t even have those final pictures, as video of Predator strikes is rarely released or leaked. The only news footage we regularly saw was of mistaken strikes, killing journalists and innocents. I had decided some time ago that Bin Laden would probably die of kidney failure in a Lahore safehouse, and no one would know.

This morning I awoke to a text message from Chris Smith, asking me to turn on the television. He had sent it last night, and as I wandered to the radio to turn on NPR, searching for the coffee, I wondered what possible big news could break so late on a Sunday. While sleeping through the event was not a scenario I considered the last 9 1/2 years, it is perhaps symbolic of our nation’s level of attention.

Though I find them unseemly, I understand the cheering crowds gathered in Times Square, at Ground Zero, and outside of the White House. This is as close to a victory as we will have in this fight, as near as we will come to signing a treaty on the deck of a battleship or kissing a girl in a ticker tape parade. For some, a sense of closure is now possible, a demon has been exorcised, or, at the basest level, a pride in America, shaken and lately beaten down in the Great Recession, has been rekindled.

I will not be joining the crowds, though, even in spirit, because the wars Bin Laden set in motion endure, and those wars themselves have become a greater horror to me than the original attack of 9/11. A symbol of terrorism died yesterday, but the cancer has metastasized, and the cure has killed more than the original disease. I started losing friends in combat eight years ago, and have no assurance that I have lost the last. Today, our military forces will don gear, hump the Hindu Kush, fly combat air patrols, scout by helo, and disarm IEDs as they have done for nearly a decade. They will do so again tomorrow. We are little closer to finishing what Bin Laden started today than we were last week. And America itself must continue to come to grips with what it has morphed into in the wake of 9/11; the tip that ultimately led to Bin Laden’s death was obtained via waterboarding a detainee in Gitmo in 2004.

Radicalizing a Generation

26 Oct

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, noting the 10th anniversary of the fall of Slobodan Milosevic and the 15th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords, meeting with Serb President Boris Tadic, and holding a townhall meeting with Bosnian students in Sarajevo. Clinton wanted to send a message of openness and outreach, pushing Bosnia to join the EU and NATO, and further meld with Europe. The message she got in return, however, was different. Bosnian students fear for the fractured nature of their state, as the new head of Republika Srpska (the Serbian piece of Bosnia) calls his larger state “absurd,” and ethnic tensions, never eradicated, are growing again. Meanwhile, a generation is growing up in Serbia removed from the larger world, and resenting it more with each year. The impetus for the next war is sown in the treatment of the losing side in the previous. A pariah nation for over fifteen years, young Serbians know no other world than an isolated one. Mein Kampf was written in such circumstances, and in Europe, the West is (should be) working hard to avoid that fate a second time.

Not so in other parts of the world. When, as part of my paying job, I teach Counter-Insurgency Theory to the US Army as a government contractor, I like to find the youngest member of the class and ask them what they were doing on 9/11. A typical response: sitting in math class in fifth grade. Meanwhile, another eleven year old may have been starving in Kabul due to food shortages in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Or attending a madrassa in Pakistan where the only reading they were allowed to do was from the Koran. Or running AK-47 magazines to their older cousin, fighting the Northern Alliance near Mazar-i-Sharif. Whatever the history, now those two people will meet, in the Hindu Kush: the fifth grader in math class in Dallas, Texas and the Koran student from Pakistan. And while the American has been spending his time playing XBox, sneaking beers behind the high school football stadium and worrying about the senior prom, that Afghani or Pakistani eleven year old has endured nothing but war for nine years. 

Image courtesy The Boston Globe

A generation can not grow up under constant threat, or isolated from and punished by the larger world, and not become radicalized, ideologically and/or violently. The only way to do the least long term damage to a country’s people is to minimize the amount of time killing, and maximize the amount of time healing and rebuilding. Note the failure of three successive administrations to do that in Afghanistan.

Eastern Afghanistan has been the subject of American attacks since August 1998. Very soon after the ground invasion in October of 2001, the American government and military prided itself on having learned the lessons of the Soviet experience: small footprint, pinpointed attacks, small amount of collateral damage. 90% of any success we had in that war we had in the first 90 days, with the Taliban routed and Al Qaeda demoralized and ostracized as “camels” by the Afghan people. Since the Spring of 2002, however, we have steadily undone that success with each subsequent action we take to consolidate gains. Now we look at Afghanistan through an intellectual fun house mirror: success will be measured by adding additional troops, for a specific (longer) period of time, to accomplish an undetermined goal. At that point, in 2011 or 2012, prior to the American Presidential election and after a longer occupation than the Soviets implemented in the 1980’s, we will leave the same way our Russian counterparts did: after a declaration of victory, in our wake will remain an unpopular, feckless, puppet government, a radicalized generation, and the seeds for the next conflict. The mythos is complete; substitute Predators and Reapers as our Hind helicopters, and IEDs from Iran and Iraq for our Stinger missiles.

President Obama is fighting for the midterm elections, fighting to reintroduce his healthcare legislation, and fighting Republicans on income taxes, but he is not fighting the Afghan War with any regularity, public interest, or discernable strategic end state in mind. A new report on war is not positive, to put it mildly. If I may be so bold, the President has taken his eye off the ball.

Warned of the threat of Al Qaeda, and in an effort to distract from the Monica Lewinski scandal, President Clinton thought a couple cruise missiles would fix both his Afghanistan problem and political troubles. Representing an angry nation, President Bush came closest to a reasonably short and decisive end state, but frittered it away in a Wall Street Bank-esque attempt to leverage his gains. President Obama won an election on opposition to one war, but with few plans for this one, he spent his political capital elsewhere. President Obama is now down to a strategy of drones and timelines, and is relying on voter apathy for ultimate political success. Obama’s policy is as ineffectual as Clinton’s, but the constant harassment is fertilizing the seed of retaliatory violence in an already radicalized generation.

The differences between Afghanistan and Bosnia are a matter of scale, not of type. What lesson is Bosnia and Serbia reteaching? You can’t marginalize and isolate the youth of a nation for the sum of its upbringing. The consequences of President Clinton’s decisions are still echoing in Bosnia and Afghanistan, and History, that elusive author, is not done writing the story of his interventions. Serbia now has a lost generation, and we’re still dropping bombs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 13 years later.

The Laundry List of Things He Fears in Addition to Fear Itself

4 Feb

When I read Politico’s headline accompanying its interview with Dick Cheney – “Cheney Warns of New Attacks”, I wonder why al Qaeda doesn’t just retain him to do their threat videos? He’s just as effective, and he speaka di English.

How Does Terrorism End?

17 Nov

It’s a simple question, isn’t it?  Sometimes in order to solve the most complex problems, one has to take a step back and re-examine the basics.  Earlier this year, RAND published a landmark study on the end of terrorism that seems to have received very little national attention.

As Barack Obama prepares to assume the Presidency, the time is right to reassess our global “war on terror” and change the way we think about prosecuting Al Qaeda.

The comprehensive study analyzes 648 terrorist groups that existed between 1968 and 2006. The most common way that terrorist groups end — 43 percent — was via a transition to the political process.

The second most common way that terrorist groups end — 40 percent — was through police and intelligence services either apprehending or killing the key leaders of these groups.

Military force was effective in only 7 percent of the cases examined; in most instances, military force is too blunt an instrument to be successful against terrorist groups

So, in 83% of historical dealings with terrorism organizations, engagement in the political process and policing brought about an end to a terrorism network.  The study is not simply observational, it offers a strategy for moving forward in the global campaign against Al Qaeda and other affiliated groups.

The study recommends the United States should adopt a two-front strategy: rely on policing and intelligence work to root out the terrorist leaders in Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East, and involve military force — though not necessarily the U.S. military — when insurgencies are involved.

So, military force as a responsorial force to insurgency while putting forth a primary effort of diplomacy and policing.  Sounds a lot like John Kerry’s proposed strategy in 2004 and Barack Obama’s proposed strategy in 2008.  Both were ridiculed by the right as waving the “white flag of surrender”, when in essence, it is the historically smarter approach.

There is a lot of data to review here and it’s not simple to break it down in a black/white analysis that we are so used to in our political discourse.  Give it a read and let’s discuss it.

Worst. Administration. Ever.

30 Jun

Remember al Qaeda?

Just as it had on the day before 9/11, Al Qaeda now has a band of terror camps from which to plan and train for attacks against Western targets, including the United States. Officials say the new camps are smaller than the ones the group used prior to 2001. However, despite dozens of American missile strikes in Pakistan since 2002, one retired CIA officer estimated that the makeshift training compounds now have as many as 2,000 Arab and Pakistani militants, up from several hundred three years ago.

Bush is nothing but epic fail from day one to day 2,922.

But while Bush vowed early on that Bin Laden would be captured “dead or alive,” the moment in late 2001 when Bin Laden and his followers escaped at Tora Bora was almost certainly the last time the Qaeda leader was in American sights, current and former intelligence officials say. Leading terrorism experts have warned that it is only a matter of time before a major terrorist attack planned in the mountains of Pakistan is carried out on American soil.

Remember that next time you take your shoes off at the airport. To quote Robert DeNiro’s Al Capone in the Untouchables, Bush and is nothing “but a lot of talk and a badge.”