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Brits Admit Rendition

Fri, 27 Feb 2009 08:00:02 +00002009-02-27T08:00:02Z

The admission by Great Britain's Defense Minister, John Hutton, that the UK participated in the US practice of extraordinary rendition has outraged for UK human rights activists and policy makers. After denying for five years that UK captures were transferred to third countries for interrogation, the Ministry of Defense has now acknowledged two men captured in Iraq in 2004 were transferred to the United States and "rendered" to Afghanistan. The men are still in US custody there. The Ministry of Defense maintains that it was not complicit in rendition, but it did violate as US-UK agreement by handing over suspects captured in Iraq to the Americans.

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Inconclusive on Iraq Withdrawal?

Fri, 27 Feb 2009 07:12:18 +00002009-02-27T07:12:18Z

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A quick read of comments by Representative John McHugh (R-New York) following a White House conversation with Obama, Biden, defense secretary Gates, and joint chiefs head Mullen, suggests internal politicking, with potentially partisan implications, over the plan to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Iraq by August 2010. McHugh's statements that "[the president] assured me that he will revisit his plan if the situation on the ground deteriorates and violence increases," and that "our commanders must have the flexibility they need in order to respond to ... challenges" and that "the security situation in Iraq is fragile" are all indications of strong efforts among some to sustain the possibility of changes to the current plan in public discourse.

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Somali-American Suicide Bomber Raises Questions about Terrorist Recruiting in the U.S.

Wed, 25 Feb 2009 07:10:04 +00002009-02-25T07:10:04Z

The FBI has made public the news that a Somali-American man participated in a suicide attack in Somalia in 2008. The attack killed at least 30 people. As reported in the New York Times, Shirwa Ahmed immigrated to Minneapolis, home to the country's largest Somali population, in the mid-1990s. He, as well as a number of other of young Somali immigrant men, returned to Somalia after their recruitment by Islamist militants.

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Sri Lankan Civilians Trapped in War, and War of Words

Wed, 18 Feb 2009 17:30:32 +00002009-02-18T17:30:32Z

Sri Lanka's 25-year war between the Sinhalese Buddhist majority government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), may be coming to an end, according to Sri Lanka's president Mahinda Rajapakse. For a couple of weeks, Rajapakse has been announcing that the Tamil rebels, who seek an autonomously ruled area in the country's north, are on the edge of defeat. The former control of around 7,000 square miles by the LTTE has been reduced to a negligible piece of land.

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All WMDs Are Not Alike, but Most of Us Don't Know It

Wed, 18 Feb 2009 13:39:39 +00002009-02-18T13:39:39Z

John Solomon, over at his citizen-centric blog on emergency preparedness, has posted on the proposition that the Obama administration should do a better job than previous administrations educating citizens about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). John's specific point is that most of us don't know there is a difference, or don't know what is important about the difference, between nuclear and biological weapons, on the one hand, and chemical and radiological weapons, on the other. John writes:

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Whither the War on Terror?

Tue, 10 Feb 2009 11:56:30 +00002009-02-10T11:56:30Z

The absence of the term "war on terror" from both President Obama's and Vice President Biden's foreign policy lexicon has left the media, hired and self-appointed, abuzz with the question of whether that means "the war" is over.

Newsweek diplomatically explains what's going on behind the scenes in "the search for new terror terminology" without taking sides, while Reuters contextualizes the gesture in light of other Obama foreign policy moves.

Nile Gardiner, a Washington based analyst thinks it sends the "wrong signal" to Islamist extremists. Conservative columnist David Stokes doesn't mind moving away from the phrase, but he'd like it replaced with something more like "war on Islamism."

Roger Cohen, globalist guru for the International Herald Tribune, is elated that at long last the plug's been pulled on the "with-us-or-against-us global struggle." Aref Assaf, president of the American Arab Forum, couldn't agree more; for him the "rallying cry that is the global war against terrorism" symbolized the Bush Administration's "demogogic simplification" of complex political realities.

Declaring the end of "the war on terror" doesn't make it so though; what Obama is drawing to an end is the use of a Bush-era floating signifier that could be, and was, appended to an array of practices and activities deemed to fall within its purview--including a war in Iraq, illegal surveillance of Americans and the excesses of Guantanamo, to name a few. The phrase "war on terror" is permanently tainted, in the eyes of the world, with these actions and with military aggression based on ideology, not threat.

As for the event formerly known as GWOT, it goes on, but the theory of it has changed substantially on two counts, first: who constitutes the perceived enemy, and how it should be combated. The reconstituted theory is that of a global Islamic insurgency.




Bush Anti-Terrorist Financing Official Will Continue Under Obama

Tue, 03 Feb 2009 15:47:52 +00002009-02-03T15:47:52Z

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Stuart Levey, who served as the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence in the Bush Administration Treasury Department, will continue in that role under Obama, according to news reports. Levey has gained recognition for an initiative designed to isolate Iran financially by pressuring international banks to refuse business with Iran until it accedes to political demands. These demands are related to financing militant groups and stopping its nuclear development. Levey joined the government after contributing to Bush's defense in the contested election of 2004.

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Rape as Terrorism

Wed, 28 Jan 2009 07:28:00 +00002009-01-28T07:28:00Z

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Activists, journalists and other longtime observers of conflict zones have begun to label systematic rape a form of terrorism in the ongoing hostilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Obama's Inaugural Address on Terrorism

Wed, 21 Jan 2009 09:43:29 +00002009-01-21T09:43:29Z

Speaks Softly, Carries a Big Stick

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Obama's inaugural address confirmed his intention to support the military's prosecution of a "global war on terror." Previous rhetoric and actions, such as his decision to keep Robert Gates at the head of the Defense Department, have suggested his desire for continuity.

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The Usefulness of Killing Leaders in Terrorist Networks

Sun, 11 Jan 2009 21:59:50 +00002009-01-11T21:59:50Z

According to news reports, two Al Qaeda members were killed on New Year's Day by CIA directed unmanned airborne vehicles, commonly called "drones," on New Year's Day, in northwest Pakistan. Kenyan nationals Usama Al-Kini and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan had long rap sheets that included substantial roles in planning bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. Swedan is also said to have been responsible for the 2002 bombing of the Kikambala hotel in Kenya, which killed 12 Israeli tourists. Targeting programs led by Special Operations forces have reportedly accelerated the number of Al Qaeda leaders in northwest Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden is suspected of hiding.

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