Subscribe: Terrorism
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
afghanistan  ban  government  military  order  people  police  president  terrorism  terrorists  travel ban  trump  united states  war 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Terrorism


All articles with the "Terrorism" tag.

Published: Tue, 17 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Last Build Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2017 23:11:21 -0400


Before Calling People Racist or Politically Correct, Let’s Remember That Law Enforcement Has Conflicting Definitions of the Word ‘Terrorism’

Mon, 02 Oct 2017 13:32:00 -0400

I was still getting up to speed on this morning's awful news from Las Vegas when the first of many Twitter fights erupted in my feed, beginning with this pair of tweets from Slate's Jamelle Bouie: Essentially, by the definition currently in common currency, a white person cannot be a terrorist. — Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) October 2, 2017 This prompted The Week's Damon Linker to reply, "Amazing how when you assume everything is about race, suddenly everything is about race," and we were off to the proverbial races. Glenn Greenwald, for instance, tweeted: "Everyone knows (even if won't admit it) that in the early stages of mass shooting, 'no signs of terrorism' means: 'shooter isn't Muslim.'" This is emphatically not true. "Is this a terrorist incident? We do not know," David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI's Los Angeles field office, said after Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik had been killed in a shootout with police following their murder of 14 people in San Bernardino nearly two years ago. "Have you noticed the government still is not calling this terrorism?" Rush Limbaugh scoffed at the time. So before falling once again into a rut of ritualized response, it's worth examining what different people mean at different times by the word terrorism. Start with July 4, 2002. Back then, when America's nerves were still raw to the bleeding point after 9/11, a 41-year-old Egyptian national and Irvine resident named Hesham Mohamed Hadayet took two guns and a hunting knife to LAX, and opened fire at the ticket counter of the Israeli airline El Al, killing two and wounding four. Prior to targeting Israelis on America's Independence Day, Hadayet, who U.S. immigration officials knew had been arrested back in Egypt for association with an Islamist group, had reportedly expressed anger at a neighbor for flying an American flag after Sept. 11, and also decorated his front door with a "Read the Koran'' bumper sticker. Despite all this information being known by the morning of July 5, then-White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that day, "There is no evidence, no indication at this time that this is a terrorist." This echoed comments from L.A. Mayor James Hahn ("We have no reason to believe that this was a terrorist activity"), the office of Gov. Gray Davis ("isolated incident"), and several law enforcement officials. At the time, I was apoplectic about what I felt was a paternalistic condescension toward the public's ability to handle the truth during a moment of crisis (note that the act was judged to be terrorism months later by the FBI and Dept. of Justice). But with the passage of years and the dreary compilation of subsequent murderous acts, it has become obvious that, especially during moments of intense crisis, the law enforcement definition of "terrorism" has little in common with the dictionary description of "The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims." For instance, look at the Telegraph piece Bouie linked to support his initial "ruled out terrorism" claim: When asked by a reporter if it was an act of terrorism, Sheriff [Joseph] Lombardo said: "No, not at this point. We believe it was a local individual. He resides here locally." "I'm not at liberty to give you his place of residence yet, because it's an ongoing investigation, we don't know what his belief system was at this time. … Right now we believe he is the sole aggressor at this point and the scene is static." Sole aggressor, local individual, unknown belief system. As in the cases of Farook and Hadayet, an official during the initial moment of investigative confusion, local panic and national grief seems to be defining "terrorism" as "an act coordinated with a probably overseas-based terrorist organization." Such a definition would rule out any number of attacks we easily recognize now as terroristic, from Timothy McVeigh's Oklahoma City truck bombing to possibly even Nidal Hasan's murder of 13 people in Fort Hood. So why are authorities frequently slow to use the T-word? When you set aside[...]

Trump's Latest Travel Ban Is Just As Legal but Not Much Smarter

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 18:05:00 -0400

It looks like the third time may be the charm for Donald Trump's travel ban, which he revised again on Sunday, dropping Sudan from the list of targeted countries while adding Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela. Yesterday the Supreme Court responded by canceling oral argument in the case challenging the second version of the travel ban, which expires next month. Assuming the Court decides the case is moot, critics would have to start again in a U.S. district court if they want to challenge the latest version, and their legal arguments would be weaker. The new order, which does not have an expiration date, imposes restrictions that vary by country. The ban on Venezuelan visitors, for instance, applies only to government officials and their families, while the ban on North Koreans, who obtained a grand total of 100 or so U.S. visas last year, has no exceptions. Neither does the ban on Syrians, and the door is closed almost completely for citizens of Chad, Libya, and Yemen. Iranians can still come as students, but not as immigrants, tourists, or business people. Somalis can come as visitors but not as immigrants. Like the second set of travel restrictions, issued on March 6 after the first one led to airport chaos and swift legal challenges, the third one, styled as a "presidential proclamation" rather than an executive order, does not apply to legal permanent residents or current visa holders. The official rationales for selecting these seven countries are based on the extent to which they serve as havens for terrorists as well as their ability and willingness to share information needed to properly screen travelers. The proclamation describes some governments, such as Iran's and North Korea's, as mainly or entirely uncooperative, while it describes others, such as Chad's and Yemen's, as important allies against terrorism that nonetheless do not currently meet U.S. security criteria. The proclamation says the countries were picked based on a "worldwide review" by the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security that took several months, which makes the process look considerably more rational and deliberative than the one that gave birth to the original travel ban, issued a week after Trump took office. The addition of Venezuela and North Korea to the list, which has very little impact in terms of visa numbers, is clearly designed to allay the impression that Trump is targeting Muslims. "The fact that Trump has added North Korea—with few visitors to the U.S.—and a few government officials from Venezuela doesn't obfuscate the real fact that the administration's order is still a Muslim ban," says Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "President Trump's original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list." But the argument that the travel ban amounted to unconstitutional religious discrimination was already a stretch, especially since critics conceded that the very same order could have been legal if it had been issued by Hillary Clinton. The constitutional case against the order hinged on Trump's loose campaign talk about banning all Muslims from entering the country. But he never actually pursued that policy, and the latest version of his travel ban, framed in religiously neutral terms and based on a purportedly rigorous security review, seems even further removed from it. That does not mean the travel ban makes sense as a matter of policy, as my colleague Shikha Dalmia notes in her latest column for The Week. Since 1975, Cato Institute immigration analyst Alex Nowrasteh found, no Americans have been killed on U.S. soil by terrorists from any of the countries targeted by Trump's first two orders. That remains true of the latest list, he reports. "The national security justification for the new order is just as weak as for the original order because it could only have prevented nine terrorists who planned domestic attacks, at the maximum, from entering," Nowrasteh writes. "Since four of the nine terrori[...]

Most of the Lessons of 9/11 Went Unlearned

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 16:45:00 -0400

"American citizens cannot delegate the responsibility for strengthening our security, in our airports and on our streets, to bureaucrats. We should undertake a vigorous dialogue on the national cost of pretending we have limitless freedom in our world." You'd find that quote near the end of a very long piece I wrote for the Austin American-Statesman in the aftermath of 9/11, 16 years ago. But newspapers didn't do as much internet archiving then as they do now, so I can't direct you to it. It was part of a cover story for an extra, something newspapers don't do much of any more either. I get the paper version out on the anniversary—not every year—to admire its crystalline prose (I'm keeping in mind you can't look it up) and to take stock of a few prescriptions I was willing to make on deadline, fresh off that harrowing Tuesday. Like many of us watching something truly horrendous happen on our home soil, I got a lot of things wrong. Like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, 9/11 brought out what we like to think is the best in the American spirit. But I think Ben Domenech, the publisher of The Federalist, was right when he wrote a couple of anniversaries ago that "We wept and we forgot." September 11, I wrote, stripped from Americans "the illusion that the Unites States could bestride the world with its economic and political power and somehow not be of the world." This was a new kind of Pearl Harbor, an attack with a potentially transformative power to unite Americans. Vietnam divided and continues to divide a country. After 9/11, I supposed, how could anyone disagree about the enemy and what needed to be done? NATO seemed to prove my point. Although it has long been forgotten, for the first time in the treaty's history NATO invoked Article 5, asserting that an attack on the US was an attack on all member countries. Even Russia pledged to join this war on terrorism. "The opportunity exists for this war to unify the democratic world," I wrote, "in a way that World War II did not." Oh, my. That's a little embarrassing. The US has since lurched from President Bush's war in Iraq to President Obama's unilateral interventionism to President Trump's selective brinksmanship. The Reason archives are bursting with hundreds of dispatches detailing the spectacular failures of American foreign policy, both on their own merits and as an international democratic unifier. In 2015, Matt Welch wrote an article that serves as a chastener for my unjustified optimism. "What would happen in a world where humans, including those in or near power, freely admitted that they don't know how to stop ISIS, can't tell the difference between a Yazidi and and Assyrian, have no convincing explanation for why crime stats are fluctuating this year, and don't know why Billy Beane's shit doesn't work in the playoffs?" he asked. "For one, I think people would be a little less likely to champion or sign up for giant, mass-mobilizing schemes. If we are humble in the face of facts, and mindful of the unforeseen consequences that come with every grand plan, we might be more cautious about bending a sprawling nation's resources and will in one direction or another." At least I didn't lose my mind on the home front. Politicians at the time indignantly insisted that freedom and security are American birthrights. That entitled mentality obscured one of the central concerns of my essay: I was pretty sure Americans would be asked (or told) to pay for security with their freedom. And as James Bovard concluded in the June 2016 issue of Reason, we've been paying ever since, in freedom and in dollars, for something we've never secured. Few publications have been as vigilant as Reason in resisting those exorbitant and unreasonable costs. Which brings me to that opening quote, and to the vigorous dialogue that took place on this website and in our magazine but was in no way a national discussion. In Texas and now in Florida, we've seen again that Americans are good people, maybe even great. But if 9/11 showed us anything, it'[...]

Antifa Has Backed Its Message With Violence for Decades in Europe

Fri, 08 Sep 2017 17:10:00 -0400

It is a cold and dark January night in the Swedish town of Eskilstuna. Fredrik Nyqvist and a friend are walking home from the founding meeting of the local section of the minuscule Libertarian Party. Suddenly, four men in black clothes and facemasks show up, knocking the two unconscious. One of the offenders later bragged about jumping on Fredrik's head, causing injuries that kept him hospitalized for days. The two libertarians had no way of identifying the perpetrators and assumed it was just a regular criminal incident. They could not know they had just become victims of political terrorism. But they would soon find out. At his home a couple of days later, a third party member received a note from a group claiming responsibility for the attack, and was warned: We hereby give you a chance to terminate all political activities. Failing to do so, you may be the next one to be physically reminded of the consequences of pursuing anti-working class policies. The Antifa, or anti-fascist, movement of Charlottesville, Portland, and Berkeley fame did not come out of nowhere. It is a carbon copy in name, tactics and ideology of groups that have been active in Europe for decades. The website of the Swedish organization is Originally an anti-Nazi body in a pre-WWII Germany, organizations resurfaced in various European countries in the 1980s and 1990s, attracting plenty of attention during the anti-globalization protests at the turn of the millennium. Since then, Antifa have systematically used violence as a political tool. Victims are in no way limited to Nazis or the alt-right. Mainstream center-right politicians, leftist mayors and government bureaucrats have been targeted. Apart from the usual assaults, Antifa members have made arson and gas attacks. An original Antifa specialty is rioting, making up the Black Bloc of more mainstream leftist demonstrations, not least in protests against summits of international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. The most recent example was the G20 meeting in July, when large parts of Hamburg, Germany were under siege and private property worth millions of dollars was vandalized. "Welcome to hell" was the message. The American outfit copycats its elder siblings from across the pond, blending in with democratic leftist groups (acting as self-appointed bodyguards), creating Lenin-style united-front coalitions to gain legitimacy (who is not an anti-fascist?) and applying a very wide definition of the term fascist (most people they don't agree with). The extreme-left tradition of misusing terms to their own benefit is not only an Orwellian cliché, but also an historic reality. Remember that the official East German name for the Berlin Wall was "Antifaschistischer Schutzwall" or Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart. In The Washington Post, Dartmouth historian Mark Bray, author of the recent book Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, whitewashes the movement, putting forward the argument that Nazis need to be dealt with at an early-stage. But neither libertarians nor Social Democrats are Nazis. Do the ends really justify the means, especially when the end is undemocratic socialism? In Germany, with its particular history, freedom of speech is more restricted than in the US. Nazism and its symbols are forbidden. And recently, after the Hamburg riots, authorities closed down a website used to coordinate the extreme-left activities. It is in this context that Americans should remind themselves that the First Amendment also protects authoritarian right-wingers and white supremacists. Just as its European counterparts, the US Antifa is a mix of mainly left-anarchists and hard-core Marxists. Not trusting the government to protect them from authoritarian right-wing rule, they rely on pre-emptive "self-defense." The more experienced Europeans, working in loose networks and strategically appearing under different group names, opportunistically set up and dissolve bodies [...]

From Pig’s Blood Assassination Fantasies to the Depressingly Real Afghan Surge

Fri, 01 Sep 2017 15:27:00 -0400

On Aug. 17, President Donald Trump, in the wake of the Barcelona terrorist attack, tweeted that we all should "Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!" On Aug. 21, the president laid out his new Afghanistan policy, reversing campaign rhetoric by backing an open-ended increase of around 4,000 U.S. troops. The two statements, separated by four days (or four months in Trump News-Cycle Time) were understandably treated as wholly separate events. But they are not. Trump's allusion to one of his favorite historical fables—an alleged Pershing mass killing which historians unanimously agree there is zero evidence of having ever taken place—advertises a core belief that has always been at tension with the president's expressed skepticism about military intervention. Namely, that a key tactical error separating America from victory against Islamic terrorists is the self-restricting embrace of "political correctness." This formulation, long embraced by the likes of Ralph Peters, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ben Carson, and Rick Santorum, can mean everything from the refusal to utter the phrase radical Islamic terrorism ("She won't even mention the words," Trump clucked at Hillary Clinton during one of their debates), to the broader and vaguer sense that America lacks the "will to win" straight-up violations of the Geneva Conventions. "We're fighting a very politically correct war," candidate Trump lamented to Fox & Friends in December 2015. "When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families." In domestic fights against suspected bad guys, there is no equivalent to the countervailing Trumpian foreign policy tendency to eschew nation-building and avoid disastrous wars. This means that taking the proverbial gloves off America's internal law enforcement cops will likely be a one-way ratchet. President Trump, through his campaigning as the "law and order" candidate, to his appointment of Jeff Sessions as attorney general, issuance of succeeding travel bans, attempts to punish "sanctuary cities," fondness for draconian drug prohibition, pardoning of Joe Arpaio, mutual affection for recently resigned Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, re-starting of the controversial 1033 program of transferring military surplus gear to local law enforcement, and much more, has sent the unmistakable message that he will aggressively move around any perceived impediment—including the judiciary branch and the United States Constitution—to give cops and prosecutors more power. He has never exhibited a drop of anxiety about potentially punishing the innocent or otherwise producing unintended consequences. But overseas, there had been reason to hope that Trump's internal conflicts would at least produce some kind of draw. "Afghanistan is, is not going well. Nothing's going well—I guess we've been in Afghanistan almost 17 years," the president-elect said in a joint interview with Bild and The Times of London back in January, sounding not unlike Ron Paul, at least until his very next words: "But you look at all of the places, now in all fairness, we haven't let our people do what they're supposed to do….We haven't let our military win." Why did the bellicose version of the 45th president win out over the intervention-skeptic? Some anti-war voices assert that with the exit of strategist Steve Bannon, the president's foreign policy has been captured by his generals. That may well have merit. But Trump, and the people who supported and voted for him, and even man of his #NeverTrump antagonists, have long indulged in the dangerous delusion that military victory is achievable through the removal of proverbial handcuffs. This was true during primary season, through the general election, in the first seven months of his presidency, and after the Afghanistan re-surge announcement. And nowhere has that mindset been made more clear than in Trum[...]

Trump Sticks to Status Quo With Idiotic Afghanistan Plans

Sun, 27 Aug 2017 08:00:00 -0400

Steve Bannon's Breitbart and others notwithstanding, that was Trump being Trump when he announced he would not be quitting Afghanistan, despite the manifest futility and counterproductivity—that is, idiocy—of America's 16-year war there. He is not a captive of "my generals," bad as they are. He is his own man. Just look at the attitude toward military power he displayed throughout his presidential campaign and young presidency. He boasted of being the most "militaristic" candidate in the large Republican field—and that was saying something. He promised to "bomb the shit" out of ISIS, torture terrorist suspects, and kill their families. He promised to win. So now he says his military's renewed effort in Afghanistan will be directed at killing terrorists and eradicating evil. What else is new? The great disrupter of the establishment turns out to be—surprise, surprise—a man of the establishment. He craves its acceptance and adoration, but he'll settle for the love of his base until the real thing comes along. "If you can't be with the one you love, honey," Stephen Stills wrote, "love the one you're with." The base may not like that he has put his "instincts" about Afghanistan on a shelf, but so be it. Sure, during Barack Obama's second term Trump questioned the wisdom of staying the course in Afghanistan, although in October 2015 he said, "At this point we probably have to [leave US troops there] because that thing will collapse in about two seconds after they leave." The pro-withdrawal statements are easily explained in light of the Trumpian MO. As J.P. Sottile writes, "Trump never had a 'policy' of anti-interventionism. He was simply a troll who tweeted out oppositional statements attacking Obama's foreign policy. If Obama was doing it … he was against it. He knew that no matter what, it was red meat for his future base…. Sorry, but [his turn to intervene] wasn't a Deep State plot…." Does anyone know what Trump's position on Afghanistan was on Sept. 12, 2001? I see nothing on the record, but it is hard to believe he opposed George W. Bush's invasion and occupation back then. It would have been out of character, to say the least, for him to have opposed a military response to 9/11. He probably thought Donald Rumsfeld's war-on-the-cheap strategy was for losers. Moreover, while he dishonestly and repeatedly bragged that he opposed in advance the U.S. military actions Iraq and Libya, I can't recall his bragging about his early opposition to the Afghan war. (I think he mentioned this one time.) In light of his change of heart, Trump's foes in the media, who love to point out flip-flops, would surely be pointing this out if it were true. Beyond this, Trump's position is a tangled mess. He presents what is now his war as a matter of national security: his toy soldiers will be killing "terrorists" who allegedly threaten America, not building a democracy or telling the Afghans how to live. Leave aside the fact that killing alleged terrorists creates even more of them, as many military people recognize. Graeme Wood writes, "On September 11, 2001, al Qaeda commanded an army of 400. A decade and a half later, the Islamic State (or ISIS) had mobilized some 40,000 people to travel to Iraq and Syria." There was no ISIS in Afghanistan in 2001. The national-security state is a perpetual motion machine, which is fine with most politicians, the military bureaucracy, and its contractors. Yet while Trump says Afghanistan is about national security, he also says: America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress. However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check. The government of Afghanistan must carry their share of the military, political, and economic burden. The American people expect to see real reforms, real progress, and real results. Our patience is not unlimited. [Emphasis added.] If the U.S. occupation is, as Tr[...]

Remember That Time Trump Said 'Get Out of Afghanistan'? Neither Does He.

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 19:45:00 -0400

As Matt Welch and Ed Krayewski have noted, President Donald Trump's plans for a United States military presence in Afghanistan aren't just secretive and undefined. They represent a total reversal of earlier statements condemning America's longest war for its utter lack of effectiveness and unconscionable loss of life and gigantic waste of money. To date, over 2,400 U.S. military have died in the war in Afghanistan and estimates of the cost run between $840 billion and $2 trillion. "Let's get with it," Citizen Trump said in 2012 at a video blog he used to promote The Apprentice. "Get out of Afghanistan. We've wasted billions and billions of dollars and, more important, thousands and thousands of lives—not to mention all of these young men and women who come home and they really have problems." src="" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0"> Whether you agree with's Eric Garris (who dug up the video above) that "the War Party got to him" once he became president or believe that he was never really a non-interventionist, the switch in positions is stunning. Here's a 2013 tweet: Do not allow our very stupid leaders to sign a deal that keeps us in Afghanistan through 2024-with all costs by U.S.A. MAKE AMERICA GREAT! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 21, 2013 In October 2015, he declared that occupying Afghanistan was a "terrible mistake" but he took it all back last night, saying My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts. But all my life, I have heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office. In other words, when you are president of the United States....the consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable. 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our history, was planned and directed from Afghanistan because that country was ruled by a government that gave comfort and shelter to terrorists. A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill, just as happened before September 11. And as we know, in 2011, America hastily and mistakenly withdrew from Iraq. While Trump explicitly ruled out "nation building," it's unclear what sort of strategy follows from his adamant refusal to beat a "rapid exit" or "hasty withdrawal." Indeed, he seems to be laying the groundwork for a permanent presence. As troubling as that is his characterization of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, which was negotiated by George W. Bush and implemented by the Obama administration only after attempts to extend our military presence were rebuffed by the Iraqi government we helped install. The collapse of Iraq after the U.S. exit is a sure sign that the war effort there was a fool's errand, not an argument for our staying there longer. The president did not lay out any clear markers or guideposts that might conceivable trigger the removal of American troops from Afghanistan. Rather, he stressed an ongoing need for the U.S. military to "stop the resurgence of safe havens" for terrorists everywhere in the world and the need to keep terrorists from obtaining nuclear weapons. Both of those goals suggest not just a permanent presence in Afghanistan but elsewhere throughout the world. Trump also dished up a familiar mix of self-pity, humblebragging, and good, old-fashioned bullshit to explain (sort of) his strategy in Afghanistan: I was given a bad and very complex hand, but I fully knew what I was getting into. Big and intricate problems. But one way or another, these problems will be solved. I am a problem solver. And in the end, we will win. We must address the reality of the world as it exists right now, the threats we face, and the confronting of all of the problems of today, an extremely predictable consequences of a hasty withdrawal.... We wil[...]

Breaking: Van Plows Into Barcelona Crowd. Fatalities Reported (UPDATE: 13 Reported Dead, 50 Injured)

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 12:58:00 -0400

(image) Police and witnesses in Barcelona are reporting that a van crashed at high speed into a crowd into a tourist-oriented part of the city.

Initial details are obviously very sketchy. BBC has been able to talk to witnesses to the crash and is updating information minute-by-minute live here. Police have reported fatalities and injuries but the numbers have not been released. Police are hunting for the driver. BBC also passed along a report that two gunmen have entrenched themselves in a bar.

As always, be very careful about accepting early reports as factual. We'll update this post as facts become available, if necessary. Catalan Police are saying the attack was terrorism.

UPDATE 1 p.m.: Local media outlets are saying there are 13 dead.

UPDATE 1:15: Catalonia Police so far are acknowledging one dead and 32 injured, 10 seriously.

UPDATE 1:50: Spanish public radio reports that one suspect has been arrested. We still do not have anything resembling an official casualty count.

UPDATE 2:30: A Catalonian official affirms that there are 13 dead and 50 injured. Police say they do have a suspect in custody and they're treating him as a terrorist.

UPDATE 3:20: Police have released a picture of the suspect they've arrested. Local media has identified him as Driss Oukabir, of Morocco:


Update 3:50 p.m.: An Islamic State (ISIS) group is claiming responsibility for the attack.

Illinois Legislators Urge Cops to Designate Neo-Nazis as Terrorists. They Should Be More Concerned With White Supremacists in Police Ranks.

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 16:15:00 -0400

The Illinois legislature has passed a nonbinding resolution urging the state's police departments to designate neo-Nazi and other white nationalist groups as terrorist organizations. If they're really interested in combating white supremacy in Illinois, they'd do better to start with the white supremacists in those police departments. A 2015 classified FBI counterterrorism policy obtained by The Intercept noted that terror investigations focused on white supremacists "often have identified active links to law enforcement officers." And of course many officers are independently racist, without ties to outside groups. In Illinois specifically, a decades-long secret torture program in Chicago exclusively targeted African-Americans, with the cops involved regularly using explicitly racist language during their torture sessions. Whether they join white supremacist groups or not, such officers are doing the violent work of white supremacy—and the government is enabling their work. After the car attack in Charlottesville, cops from at least two states took to social media to mock the victims. They are being "investigated" internally for their posts, but it's highly unlikely anything will happen to them, given the broad employment protections that police officers have. Their lack of a filter as government employees in making controversial comments on public platforms reveals how little accountability they are used to having. A white supremacist in a police uniform is more dangerous than the member of any organization Illinois legislators might want to see designated as a terror group, because a white supremacist in a police uniform is operating under the color of law. Police officers have little meaningful oversight or accountability, and they are entrusted to use force on individuals not complying with government rules. Police links to white supremacist groups are difficult to uncover and even more difficult to break, thanks to a cop culture that values a "no snitching" code (the so-called blue wall of silence). And thanks in large part to state laws and union-negotiated rules, it's exceedingly difficult for police chiefs to fire problem cops with histories of abuse, let alone those that may have affiliations that ought to be incompatible with police work. A recent Washington Post investigation found that the country's largest police departments had reinstated more than 400 officers who had previously been fired for misconduct, usually after union-contract-mandated arbitration. "It is vital that we stand in total opposition to the hatred, bigotry and violence displayed by the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville this past weekend," Illinois state Sen. Don Harmon (D–Oak Park), who sponsored the resolution, said after his bill passed. "They are the heirs to the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis. We fought two bloody wars in opposition to their ideologies. We must continue to fight those same twisted ideologies today." Police departments themselves have sometimes been among the most racist institutions in American history. Decades of state lawmaking and undue deference to police union reps have turned cops into a uniquely privileged class, and have turned many of those they are sworn to serve and protect into second-class citizens. Illinois lawmakers have the power to pass legislation to change this. But that would require challenging powerful special interests. Empty preening is easier.[...]

Trump Denounces Racism in Charlottesville. Too Little, Too Late.

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 20:18:00 -0400

It's too little too late that President Donald Trump has finally called out violent white nationalists who marched through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. One of them deliberately drove his car into a crowd of people, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 20 more.

It's pathetic that it took massive public backlash—including a lot from Republicans and conservatives—to spur the president to actually denounce neo-Nazis. Who still needs a teachable moment on this? Seventy-two years after the end of World War II and the president of the United States is slow off the mark to condemn white supremacists?

Rarely one for evenhanded rhetoric, President Trump's initial response referred only to "violence," and he pointedly refused to call out the protesters who beat a black man into the hospital.

The president even managed to squeeze in some political sloganeering over the weekend, declaring "we are all Americans first," echoing one of campaign themes.

There are three basic explanations for Trump's shameful response, one more troubling than the other. Maybe he's unaware that Nazis were responsible for murdering 11 million people. Or maybe he is so politically tone-deaf that he thought his original comments were adequate. Or maybe he just doesn't want to alienate those he considers an important part of his political constituency. Any way you look at it, it's not good.

President Trump surely isn't responsible for the car that killed Heather Heyer, but his rhetoric has helped to fill its gas tank. He wasn't slow to call out Black Lives Matter by name for supposedly "igniting" attacks on police even as he explicitly encouraged violence at his own campaign rallies, telling his supporters that he would cover their legal expenses if they got in trouble.

Just a few weeks ago, he encouraged police to rough up suspects.

If the president really is interested in curbing violence and restoring "law and order," it shouldn't be so hard for him to denounce neo-Nazis by name while upholding constitutional protections for free speech.

That's what we need from a chief executive in hyper-partisan and polarized times, but Donald Trump doesn't seem interested in being the president of most—much less all—Americans.

Produced by Todd Krainin. Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Like us on Facebook.

Follow us on Twitter.

Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes.

For Sake of Civil Liberties, Use of Word 'Terrorism' Should Be Restricted, Not Expanded

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 15:35:00 -0400

The deadly car attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, has led some prominent politicians and former federal officials to label the assault an act of domestic terrorism. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Col.) tweeted that the killing was "domestic terrorism" and urged President Donald Trump to "call evil by its name"; former Attorney General Eric Holder declared that had "ISIS rammed a car into a crowd this would be labeled quickly." That's true: It would. But after 16 years of a war on terror that has eroded civil liberties, we should be trying to roll back the broad use of the term terrorism to describe any sort of ideologically motivated violence, not expanding it. Holder was sometimes more appropriately cautious when he was actually attorney general, resisting calls to label various criminal acts terrorism before an investigation could even be started. Most prominently, the Department of Justice's approach to the Fort Hood shooting was criticized by those who wanted it labeled a terrorist attack. The FBI has specific legal criteria it uses to define international terrorism, domestic terrorism, and the federal crime of terrorism. To be terrorist, an act must appear to intend to "intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping." The federal offense is defined as a criminal act "calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct." In political rhetoric, by contrast, the word is frequently deployed as a thought-terminating cliché—a way to promote the idea that some military or police activity should be permitted to occur outside of the constraints of the Constitution, particularly against certain classes of people. In the last few decades, and particularly since 9/11, those classes of people have tended to be Muslim. Republicans have made a lot of hay about Democrats refusing to "name the enemy" in the war on terror, but this misses the point spectacularly, conflating rhetoric and word choice with the policies they are meant to prop up. Similarly, when word spread earlier this year that the Trump administration might rename the federal government's Countering Violent Extremism program to something like "Countering Radical Islamic Extremism," some on the left complained that this represented a victory for far-right extremists. Those critiques ignored the more salient point—that the program was ineffective, for much the same reason many counter-terrorism initiatives are. It aims its fire at "radicalization," leading to a kind of soft surveillance that former FBI agent Michael German told Reason's Jesse Walker was "intended to suppress ideas, which is likely to cause more problems than solve them. It encourages the identification, reporting, and 'treatment' of people with bad ideas, which will only lead to misuse of security resources and deprivation of civil liberties." It's hard to understand the kind of person that would look at the extent of failures in the "war on terror"—a loss of civil liberties, a proliferation of terrorist safe havens around the world, and an increase in domestic "lone wolf" attacks, all at a great cost in blood and treasure—and decide that what America needs is a broader definition of the term. Since 2001 the militarization of domestic police has been accelerated. Constitutionally dubious law enforcement tools like the ones packaged in the PATRIOT Act have been systematically abused far beyond their originally declared scope. Drones have blurred the rules of war. The U.S. regularly launches "signature strikes," where the exact identity of the targets is unclear to the officials ordering the strikes. Th[...]

Brickbat: The Terrorists Have Won

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) In Australia, a court has upheld a decision by a local government to bar the construction of a synagogue near Bondi Beach. Officials say the synagogue could become a target for terrorists, endangering the neighborhood as well as beach-goers

Trump's Narrow View of 'Civilization'

Thu, 06 Jul 2017 17:12:00 -0400

"I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken," President Donald Trump vowed near the end of his doctrine-defining speech today in Warsaw's Krasinski Square. "Our values will prevail, our people will thrive, and our civilization will triumph." Set rhetorically and physically against the backdrop of Poland's inspiring courage and perseverance in the face of long adversity, Trump's address, at turns apocalyptic and motivational, was an attempt to summon similar will to the shared project of defeating radical Islamic terrorism. "Together let us all fight like the Poles: for family, for freedom, for country, and for God," he said. But Trump's policy recommendations for this clash of civilizations were disproportionately inward-looking, borderline paranoid; and his depiction of what constitutes "Western" values was cramped and incomplete. The foundation of the modern "West" as applied to Europe is about more than just faith and family and NATO (the latter of which the president was careful to emphasize in this Russophobic, alliance-loving former satellite state). Free Europe as we know it was built upon free trade, and as Donald Trump will hear earfuls about over the coming days, his mercantilist, zero-sum views on international exchange threaten to inflict harm on the very civilization he aims to protect. To confront the "oppressive ideology" of expansionist Islam, the president today pointed largely to immigration policies, surely music to the ears of the Polish government, which, like those in Hungary and Austria, is currently taking flak from the European Union for refusing to admit relocated refugees. "While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people," Trump said to applause, "our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind…. We cannot accept those who reject our values and who use hatred to justify violence against the innocent." Trump then identified two other sources of trouble that threaten to erode western resolve: the "destabilizing activities" and "support for hostile regimes" by nearby Russia (which may or may not have been target of the immediately preceding paragraph, which covered "propaganda, financial crimes, and cyberwarfare"), and also…well, would you believe bureaucracy? Finally, on both sides of the Atlantic, our citizens are confronted by yet another danger—one firmly within our control. This danger is invisible to some but familiar to the Poles: the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people. The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies. This is where not just Trumpism, but a whole lot of libertarianism and conservatism, collides into a paradox. Trump is entirely right that the West became great in large part through "allowing every man to pursue his own interest his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty and justice," as Adam Smith put it in 1776, at the dawn of modern liberalism. This brilliant new idea in admittedly imperfect settings changed the world forever. "The boldness of commoners pursuing their own interests resulted in a Great Enrichment—a rise in Europe and the Anglosphere of real, inflation-corrected incomes per head, from 1800 to the present, by a factor, conservatively measured, of about 30," the economist Deirdre McCloskey wrote in these pages earlier this year. So what's the paradox? In an E.U. setting, that the transnational body itself has been the single most effective mechanism for reducing barriers to trade and movement throughout the bloc. Americans look at Brussels and imagine Bernie Sanders or Bill [...]

The Foolishness of Pursuing Regime Change in Iran

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:15:00 -0400

Hearing American policymakers talk about regime change is like watching Wile E. Coyote open a package of dynamite he ordered. No matter how clever his scheme, you know that sooner or later, he'll get blown up. He never seems to figure out that TNT is something to avoid. Some people in Washington are sick of trying to get the government of Iran to change its ways—which include financing terrorism, punishing dissent, and supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad. They have embraced another idea: Help topple the rulers in Tehran in hopes of getting someone more to our liking. This is a reminder of the maxim that for many people, the only use of history is to disregard it. The United States has a long history of fomenting regime change in other countries—including Iran, in a CIA-sponsored coup in 1953—and the results have generally been calamitous. Yet its appeal persists. While he was in Congress, CIA Director Mike Pompeo endorsed the removal of the existing government. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called for a "peaceful transition" to a new regime in Iran. Among those captivated by the idea is Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas). He told Politico, "I don't see how anyone can say America can be safe as long as you have in power a theocratic despotism." How could America be safe as long as Russia was ruled by a blood-drenched Communist regime that enslaved half of Europe and had the capacity to destroy us in a nuclear holocaust? Through a strong military, firm alliances, and a missile arsenal that ensured our capacity to destroy it in return. The same approach that worked against a hostile superpower could work against a hostile non-superpower. But there have always been Americans who yearn for perfect safety. It's a snare. A certain amount of danger is unavoidable in a multinational world. And the dangers of trying to achieve total security turn out to be the worst dangers of all. It was not Iran that spawned the scariest enemy now on the horizon—the Islamic State group. It was the U.S. occupation of Iraq after we invaded in 2003 to, yes, topple the government. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were among those who thought America could never be safe as long as Saddam Hussein was in power. As it happened, America was safer with him than it has been without him. The invasion bogged us down in a bewildering civil war that left 36,000 Americans dead or wounded, destabilized the region, and expanded the influence of ... Iran. The theocratic despotism in Tehran is stronger today than it was in 2003. "Iran not only lost an enemy when Saddam was hanged, it gained an ally in the new Iraq," wrote Thomas Ricks, author of two books about the war. It also came out ahead when we invaded Afghanistan to bring down the Taliban government, another enemy of Tehran. Our reward was the opportunity to fight a war that has lasted 16 years and shows no sign of nearing the end. Regime change in Libya didn't go so well, either. Because it was hard to imagine that anything could be worse than the vicious rule of Moammar Gadhafi, President Barack Obama saw no downside in using air power to bring him down. But success was fleeting. Soon, Libya was embroiled in anarchy and overrun by the Islamic State, with repercussions far beyond its shores. "The instability in Libya and North Africa may be the most significant near-term threat to U.S. and allies' interests on the continent," Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of the U.S. Africa Command, said in March. A half-million of the refugees flooding Europe came from Libya. So did Salman Abedi, who killed 22 people in a suicide bombing in Manchester, England, last month. Faced with a perennially hostile government, our best bet is to use[...]

Trump's Travel Ban Is Legal but Dumb

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:01:00 -0400

This week the Supreme Court unblocked most aspects of President Trump's executive order limiting entry into the United States, signaling that the restrictions are likely to be upheld. That makes sense, because the reasons that two federal appeals court offered for upholding injunctions against Trump's order are unpersuasive. But the fact that Trump's policy is legal does not make it smart. The original version of Trump's order was issued in great haste a week after he took office, and it showed. The 90-day ban on entry by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) applied to current visa holders, including people working and studying in the United States, and legal permanent residents, who were barred from returning home after traveling abroad. Adding to the confusion, the travel ban took effect immediately, stranding residents and visitors in mid-trip without notice. The result was dismay and disorder at airports around the world as officials, travelers, and lawyers grappled with the new policy. After the order was blocked by the courts, Trump issued a revised version on March 6, clarifying that the travel ban did not apply to legal permanent residents, who have a right to due process when the government tries to prevent their re-entry, or to current visa holders, whose hosts may have standing to sue. Notably, the order issued by the Supreme Court on Monday says that while the case is pending the travel ban should not be enforced against visa applicants or would-be refugees with a "bona fide relationship" to Americans, such as relatives, students accepted by U.S. universities, employees hired by U.S. companies, or lecturers booked to speak here. The revised order also eliminated Iraq from the list of targeted countries and excised language favoring religious minorities from the section imposing a 120-day moratorium on admission of refugees. Critics cited that preference as evidence that the order was motivated by anti-Muslim bias. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit nevertheless concluded that the March 6 order "in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination." The context that the court deemed relevant consisted mostly of statements made by Trump or his surrogates before and after the election, including his support for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." But that is not the policy Trump actually tried to implement, and relying on his campaign comments to conclude that his executive order is a "Muslim ban" in disguise leads to strange results. The plaintiffs conceded, for example, that if Hillary Clinton had been elected president and issued exactly the same executive order, it "could be constitutional." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit relied on a different rationale when it upheld an injunction against Trump's order, saying he exceeded his statutory authority because he did not make an evidence-based determination that admitting the people he wants to exclude would be "detrimental to the interests of the United States." But that was really just another way of saying that Trump's policy, which is supposedly aimed at protecting Americans from terrorists, is half-baked and empirically unsound. That much is true. Since 1975, no terrorist from any of the countries covered by the travel ban has killed anyone in the United States, and the odds of being killed by a refugee are infinitesimal. In any case, it has never been clear why a travel ban was necessary for Trump to deliver the "extreme vetting" he promised. Even the "total and complete" Muslim ban he originally proposed was supposed to last only as long as it[...]