CNN’s Peter Bergen: My cherry-picked data says the right wing is more deadly than jihadists

al Qaeda Yemen

Wouldn’t it be great to be a national security analyst who could just cherry-pick data that fits your worldview and then pass it off as an accurate depiction of reality? CNN’s Peter Bergen is a lucky guy, because that’s exactly what he gets to do as a “national security analyst” and director at the New America Foundation.

In his latest piece he argues that Americans have more to fear from “right wing extremists” (e.g., Guys who wear cowboy hats at ranches in Nevada?) than Islamic terrorists. Ironically, his column appears the same day he and his colleagues had to report on an “extraordinary” gathering of al Qaeda in Yemen, the size of which hasn’t been seen in years — but more on that later.

Mr. Bergen writes:

[T]he death toll in the shootings in Kansas is similar to that of last year’s Boston Marathon bombings, where three people were killed and the suspects later killed a police officer as they tried to evade capture. (Many more, of course, were also wounded in the Boston attacks; 16 men, women and children lost limbs.)

In fact, since 9/11 extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right wing ideologies, including white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants, have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda’s ideology. According to a count by the New America Foundation, right wing extremists have killed 34 people in the United States for political reasons since 9/11. (The total includes the latest shootings in Kansas, which are being classified as a hate crime).

By contrast, terrorists motivated by al Qaeda’s ideology have killed 21 people in the United States since 9/11.

Just like your friendly neighborhood liberal’s data on global warming — errrm, climate change — Mr. Bergen starts the timeline at a point that benefits the conclusion he wanted to come to the entire time, and then carefully begins adding data.

What a coincidence: his timeline starts on 9/12, which of course denies the 2,977 victims and God knows how many who suffer from Ground Zero-related health problems, PTSD, etc. Cost to the economy? Eh. Never mind. Failed Islamic terror plots and the cost required to keep that death toll at 21? Let’s ignore that one. (Within the piece he also omits any mention of the first World Trade Center bombing from 1993, but then makes sure to talk about the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.)

And hey, the Boston Marathon bombing was basically like the Kansas shooting, as long as we sorta-kinda ignore the hundreds who were injured, those missing limbs and the psychological trauma to all of Boston.

Perhaps we shouldn’t count the first Fort Hood massacre, in which 13 people died and 32 others were wounded when Maj. Nidal “Allahu Akbar!” Hasan went on a rampage, because the Obama administration deemed it “workplace violence.”

Bergen continues:

Despite this history of deadly violence by individuals motivated by political ideologies other than al Qaeda, it is jihadist violence that continues to dominate the news and the attention of policy makers.

Some of this is quite understandable. After all, on 9/11 al Qaeda’s 19 terrorists killed almost 3,000 people in the space of a morning. Since then al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen tried to bring down with a bomb secreted on a passenger an American commercial jet flying over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 and al Qaeda’s branch in Pakistan tried to launch bombings on the New York subway system a few months earlier. Luckily those plots didn’t succeed, but certainly if they had the death toll would have been on a large scale.

Yet the disparity in media coverage between even failed jihadist terrorist attacks and this latest incident in Kansas is emblematic of a flawed division in the public’s mind between killing that is purportedly committed in the name of Allah and killing that is committed for other political ends, such as neo-Nazi beliefs about the need to kill Jews.

It’s cute how Mr. Bergen downplays the near-misses when it came to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s failed Christmas day attack over Detroit, and it’s sad that he forgot to add in shoe bomber Richard Reid’s failed attempt. Why? Because he wants to impress upon readers that those American right-wing neo-Nazis like Frazier Glenn Cross (who loves books put out by The Nation and is inspired by the history of the National Socialist Workers Party) are more dangerous to national security than a worldwide movement to create an Islamic caliphate.

As I said before, his CNN piece becomes even more hilarious when one considers that it comes on the very same day that al Qaeda hosted an “extraordinary” gathering in Yemen to essentially tell the U.S.: we’re coming for you.

In the middle of the clip, the man known as al Qaeda’s crown prince, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, appears brazenly out in the open, greeting followers in Yemen. Al-Wuhayshi, the No. 2 leader of al Qaeda globally and the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has said he wants to attack the United States. But in the video, he looks unconcerned that he could be hit by an American drone.”This is quite an extraordinary video,” Paul Cruickshank, CNN terrorism analyst, said.

The video shows al-Wuhayshi addressing more than 100 fighters somewhere within Yemen, Cruickshank said, a restive nation on the southwestern portion of the Arabian Peninsula. The al Qaeda leader, he said, is “taking a big risk in doing this.” …

In a speech to the group, al-Wuhayshi makes it clear that he’s going after the United States, saying “We must eliminate the cross. … The bearer of the cross is America!”

U.S. officials believe the highly produced video is recent. With some fighters faces blurred, there is worry it signals a new round of plotting.

“The U.S. intelligence community should be surprised that such a large group of al Qaeda assembled together, including the leadership, and somehow they didn’t notice,” said Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst.

Maybe the intelligence community “didn’t notice” the terror gathering because they’re listening to guys like you, Mr. Bergen. Classic!

Yes, while Mr. Bergen and the New America Foundation are busy figuring out ways to cast right wing pro-lifers as a national security threat on par with al Qaeda terror masterminds, enemies like bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri (the guy who provided Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab with his device) have been perfecting their deadly craft.

Again, CNN reported:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, also known as AQAP, is considered the most dangerous al Qaeda affiliate. The CIA and the Pentagon have repeatedly killed AQAP leaders with drone strikes. But the group is now emboldened.

“The main problem about this group is that it has a bomb maker who can put bombs on to planes that can’t be detected,” Bergen said.

That bomb maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, is believed to be responsible for severalattack attempts against the United States, including the failed 2009 Christmas Day underwear bomber attack in Detroit.

Poor Mr. Bergen — he’s so confused. On one hand his job forces him to admit that we face a determined enemy who now makes bombs that are undetectable, but on the other hand he really, really wants the world to pay attention to the Tea-hadists and the Christian Taliban or whatever insult for conservatives you can come up with.

Perhaps it never occurred to Mr. Bergen, but the reason why Islamic terrorism “continues to dominate the news and the attention of policy makers” is because the seriousness of threat it poses is quite clear to sane people around the world. Perhaps it dominates “the attention of policy makers” because they’re the ones getting intelligence briefings — and in those closed-door sessions it’s obvious that the random whack job with a pistol or a rifle is not the same threat to the nation’s security as a global movement to force Sharia Law down the civilized world’s throat.

I can’t wait until Mr. Bergen puts together another set of analysis that proves that the tea party is more of a national security threat than British jihadists returning from the battlefields in Syria.


God bless former CIA counterterrorism chief Jose A. Rodriguez

The line between a “tough interrogation” and “torture” is a blurry one. In the days and weeks and years after 9/11, our CIA was tasked by the U.S. government with gathering information that would prevent such a travesty from ever happening again. Their job was huge, given that the civilized world was dealing with an enemy who completely blew up the definition of the traditional battlefield (i.e., it’s all fair game and anyone can now be a target) wasn’t necessarily state-sponsored, and who often operated in relatively lawless areas of “sovereign” nations.

Former CIA counterterrorism chief Jose A. Rodriguez was one of the first to walk onto the front lines of the post September 11th battlefield, and he did what he had to do to protect American lives — knowing that many citizens and perhaps his own government — would turn on him. His interview with Bill Gertz of The Washington Free Beacon is, to put it mildly, eye-opening.

On current CIA counterterrorism operations, Rodriguez said the CIA is relying too much on drone strikes and expressed concerns that the policy of killing but not capturing key terror leaders has led to a lack of intelligence.

Armed Predator strikes play an important role in hitting terrorists hiding out in remote locations, he said.

“The problem is that when you over-rely on the Predator, you miss out on the intelligence,” Rodriguez said. “We are still living off the intelligence that was collected over the first eight or nine years of post-9/11.”

“At some point, you are going to be needing information regarding the actual status of al Qaeda, and what they are thinking, and what they are planning, what their intentions are. So I think we’re going to pay for this [lack of intelligence] at some point.”

Bill Roggio over at Long War Journal touched on the Obama administration’s over-reliance on drones just last week.

The new focus on drones raises a number of important issues, not least of which is the soundness of basing a military strategy on something that is merely a tactic. …

Instead of being defeated, al Qaeda has metastasized beyond the Afghan-Pakistan border areas, and has cropped up in Yemen, Somalia, North Africa (including in Mali), and even in the Egyptian Sinai. Other close allies, such as the Al Nusrah front in Syria, and Boko Haram in Nigeria, threaten to join the global jihad. Al Qaeda and affiliated Islamist terror groups operate not only in remote, lawless regions, but also in populated areas. A positive result of the so-called “Arab Spring” is far from assured. What happens if al Qaeda cells become established in Cairo or Tripoli? Does the US intend to drone its way out of this problem by conducting strikes in major Arab cities?

Rodriguez notes that the Obama administration dismantled the CIA’s ability to use harsh interrogation techniques, did away with black sites and essentially made Guantanamo Bay closed for business when it comes to new jihadi tenants — despite the fact that the function Guantanamo Bay performs is still necessary.

The Obama administration has used drone warfare as a crutch. They do this because having to admit that there are rare occasions when rough interrogations are a rational choice for a high value target is something that hobbles their ability to claim the moral high ground. The Obama administration has calculated that by vaporizing terrorists you’ll forget about them before too long, which is a very good bet … because that’s exactly what happens (if you live thousands of miles away and have a summer blockbuster movie to catch on Friday night). However, that doesn’t change the fact that the United States and its allies need human intelligence to combat a very patient, very fluid enemy.

One of the things I hear regularly from critics of the techniques Rodriguez employed (e.g., sleep deprivation, water boarding), is that it simply doesn’t work. I find that hard to believe, especially after reading Rodriguez’s testimony:

At least 10 terrorist plots were preempted as a result of harsh interrogations, Rodriguez said. They included an al Qaeda plan to conduct hijacked plane attacks on the U.S. West Coast; planned terror strikes on London’s Heathrow Airport; planned attacks in Djibouti using water trunks filled with explosives; and an attack planned against the U.S. Consulate in Karachi.

Al Qaeda agents inside the United States were also uncovered as a result of the interrogation program.

“I can tell you that interrogation of high-level detainees produced such valuable intelligence, intelligence that allowed us to destroy the al Qaeda organization that attacked us on 9/11,” he said.

Nobody is saying that such techniques should be the first tools in the interrogation toolbox. In fact, I don’t even think they should be the second, third, four … or tenth, if possible. But they should still be available if necessary.

When I was in the military I had multiple experiences where I took my gas mask off in a room filled with CS gas. Somewhere, there is probably video of my reactions to it, which were never pretty. In fact, it was always quite embarrassing. I say this because there are people out there who would object to terrorists being thrown into a room with CS gas. Perhaps they’d even call it torture. The truth is, it sucked, but I wouldn’t mind in the very least if a guy like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had it done to him. Multiple times. Especially if it saved American lives.

There aren’t many men who could live in the grey area that Mr. Rodriguez did for so many years. I’m sure he would have much rather preferred to have been spending time with his children and grandchildren than reading reports about what went on at black site detention facilities with Islamic terrorists. We should thank God that there are men like Rodriguez out there who wake up every day trying to figure out how to protect us, and if we don’t like their tactics we should take it up with the politicians who give them the playbook.

Germans Used “Sprockets” Diplomacy. Terrorists Target Anyway. Mike Meyers Silent.

For years liberal Germans thought if they portrayed themselves as Mike Meyers' "Dieter" they would somehow be spared by al Qaeda and their radical Islamic allies. If anything, it made them more of a target...

With a last name like “Ernst” I can’t help but think of my German roots from time to time.  Having lived there while enlisted in the military years ago also contributes to the occasional desire to see what our Deutsch friends are up to.  A few years ago their Special Forces were up to…nothing!

GERMANY has admitted its Special Forces have spent three years in Afghanistan without doing a single mission, and are now going to be withdrawn.

More than 100 soldiers from the elite Kommando Spezialkrafte regiment, or KSK, are set to leave the war-torn country after their foreign minister revealed they had never left their bases on an operation.

What are Germans up to today? It appears they’re dealing with terrorist threats at home:

Germany said on Wednesday it had strong evidence Islamist militants were planning attacks in the next two weeks and ordered security at potential targets such as train stations and airports to be tightened.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said details of the plot emerged after parcel bombs were dispatched from Yemen to U.S. targets at the end of October, and separate postal bombs by suspected Greek militants were sent to prominent figures including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

At a news conference hastily convened at his ministry in Berlin, de Maiziere said the security threat in Germany had risen and that intelligence services had received concrete indications that attacks were planned at the end of November.

Who would have thought that trying to play nice with radical head-choppers and the kind of communities that torch homes at the drop of a hat would all be for naught! I’m sure that our liberal German friends are confused, as they’ve spent years trying to persuade al Qaeda that all they wanted to do was retire to a biergarten and listen to really bad Euro-dance music.

Newsflash, Germany: Becoming a nation of “sprockets” inspired appeasement monkeys only serves to make you more of a target. Our current President tried to play nice with sharia law dreamers and they responded by opening Obama shoe-throwing booths for entertainment.  George Bush was ridiculed by the left for years because he wanted to take the fight to these clowns on their home turf instead of sitting back and taking it on the chin.  It’s only been a few years since he’s been out of office and history is already starting to correct the “historians” and talking heads who declared him (while in office) one of the worst presidents of all time.

Bush was by no means perfect, but in the aftermath of September 11th he accurately identified the enemy and the long-term threat it posed to free nations around the globe.  Those who still don’t get it? It’s only a matter of time before it blows up in their face—literally.  I hate to say “I told you so” when it comes to matters of national security, so instead I’ll go with, “Now is the time when we dance!”

The Mullah Baradar Pearl Jam Curiosity

The capture of Mullah Baradar in Pakistan is great news for the United States and people who despise jihadi head-choppers everywhere. I’m a little bothered that the numbers “two” and “three” always seem to turn up instead of “ONE”…but perhaps I’m just being impatient. And, while on many levels I wish he would have assumed room temperature like our old friend Al-Zarqawi (who probably died in part because he had no clue how to fire his own weapon), I’m happy that someone, somewhere, is gleaning intelligence from this clown.

But that once again begs the question: How do we get intelligence from him once his laptop and computer treasure trove is empty? Right now he’s in Pakistani custody, so I assume they have their “own ways” of getting people to talk, but what if they were to take a few suggestions from their US counterparts. Are REM, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, and Rage Against the Machine on the table?

Recently, a number of rock bands from the 90’s were upset that their music was used to annoy murderers who scream “Allah Akbar” as they chop off heads (instead of at the microphone). If I remember correctly, Michael Stipe has a few regrets about penning Shiny Happy People, so why not atone for it by getting under the skin of a terrorist mastermind and moneyman? I suppose I shouldn’t have used the word ‘atone’ because of it’s religious connotation, right Mike?

Why not show a montage of famous “infidels” while playing Pearl Jam’s Alive? Sure, the lyrics of Alive don’t really lend itself to that…but a deeper reading of Eddie Vedder’s lyrical talent would be lost on Mullah Baradar anyway. Perhaps we could even incorporate strobe lights as images of George Bush flashed across a big screen TV. Think about it, Eddie!

The point is, artists and liberal “intellectuals” (defined as anyone who disagrees with conservatives) live in a world where we’re all a big multi-cultural safety circle of “Shiny Happy People.” Guys who actively seek chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons to detonate in downtown Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York should be subjected to Michael Stipe’s worst offerings if the intelligence gathered will save countless American lives. To the CIA I suggest anything after Bill Berry left the group due to a brain aneurism. They haven’t been the same since.

*note* Eddie, if you read this, I already know what your response is going to be: Shut yo mouth… But I’m just talking about Dirty Frank…urrrm, Mullah Baradar.