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hamas don't want none-a this

terrorism, folks, is a business.

terrorist masterminds are businessmen who run cost-benefit analyses of attacks against sundry targets, then select the ones that seem to offer the greatest bang for their buck. maximize the pay-out, minimize the risk.

i'm not talking about the foot soldiers. the foot soldiers are just dupes for guys like ahmed yassin and osama bin laden to use up like so many human poker chips. to a yassin or a bin laden, a human being's fullest potential is realized when he or she becomes, in effect, a precision-guided munition. no, i'm talking about the fat cats.

consider fat cat osama bin laden, september 10th, 2001. there he sits, plump and happy, not in a cave, mind you, but in some posh, taliban-sponsored headquarters, contentedly musing on the last decade. throughout the nineties he had plucked the whiskers from face of the paper tiger called america with a frequency and audacity no terrorist before him had dared. but osama dared. he dared and then some.

he'd instigated the violence in somalia which, as you'll recall, led to those horrible images of slain u.s. soldiers being drug through the streets in macabre parade. he bombed the world trade center, taking his war to the enemy's own back yard, killing 6 and injuring a thousand. he bombed two american embassies in africa and racked up his biggest-ever (at that time) death tolls, then for an encore, bombed a marine corps barracks in saudi arabia, and the USS cole. all told, he killed nearly three hundred americans and injured thousands. and he'd gotten away with it. gotten off scott free. the best the u.s. had been able to muster in response to his reign of terror had been a bombed-out aspirin factory that he'd had nothing to do with.

why would september 10th osama, sitting in his cozy camp with the sounds of his fanatical hordes training vigorously just outside his door and allah smiling gratefully upon him from above, have any reason to believe that, within a couple of short years, half of his officers would be dead or captured, his bases destroyed, his millions confiscated, his friendly governments annihilated, and he himself would be an international pariah hiding from the great eagle swooping overhead like a frightened field mouse--one that quite literally went scurrying into the nearest hole.

the answer, of course, is that he wouldn't have thought that. he would have never thought that. never could have thought that. nothing in his experience even remotely suggest the possibility. he'd bombed the world trade center once and gotten away with it. why should this time be any different? the americans had even learned of a failed attempt to hijack a plane and ram it into CIA headquarters in concert with the first WTC bombing. they hadn't seemed to mind all that much. oh, they'll make their little speeches, pound their little pulpits, perhaps launch a token strike against some innocent bystander (who, no doubt, would be sent to paradise for his unwitting martyrdom by allah most forgiving) and then that would be the end of it. business as usual.

but osama had made one little mistake. was one figure shy of a spreadsheet, one slide short of a presentation, one missing receipt over an audit. he forgot to reckon with the new sherrif, and this one, it turned out, was an old-fashioned gunslinger who frowned on osama's crimson shade of white-collar crime. the tiger was flesh and blood after all.

what's my point? my point is that, however suicidal the membership of any significant terrorist organization may be, the leadership remains cool as cucumbers. in order for one of these organizations to grow large enough to really hurt us, there has to be someone sane calling the shots. someone who can be made to see reason--not reasoned with necessarily, but scared. cowed. slapped into place. a man who does not know a threat when he sees one doesn't live long enough to become the CEO of an international terrorist mega-corporation, and those who miscalculate, as osama could attest, find themselves back on skid row in short order.

which is why hamas, for all their bluster and bark, won't bite the united states of america: they don't want their teeth knocked out. and which is why israel, for all their flaws, did exactly the right thing when they killed ahmed yassin, and will be doing what is right when they polish off the rest of the hamas brass. take the fight to the guys that care whether they live or die. fanatics are a dime a dozen, but truly dangerous men are rare, and, by their very nature, deterrable.

locdog reminds us to deter the ones that can be by killing the ones that can't, and always, always, always focus on the leaders



dick clarke's american grandstand

man i wish i could take credit for that subject line, but i heard the pun on the radio this morning.

anyway, bush supporter or no, i just find it really, really hard to take this guy seriously. what he's said so far bears an uncanny resemblance to democratic party line and coincides so nicely with election season that's it hard not to be suspicious--even if he did get his start under reagan.

forgetting the likelihood of democratic political machinations, how do we know that this guy isn't just what he appears to be: a disgruntled ex-employee who says that he was right, right all along, dammit, but the boss just wouldn't listen. that's why three thousand people died on his watch as the nation's top counter-terrorist enforcer.

that in and of itself is enough to make you stop and go "hmm..." but there's more. a lot more.

mansoor ijaz, in a column for national review, offers a few questions he'd like to see clarke asked by the 9/11 commission. questions like what he thought of clinton's 1996 decision not to accept bin laden's head on a silver platter from sudan, and what role he may have played in that decision.

ijaz has some other interesting questions too, like why madeline albright's 1997 deal for counter-terror info from the sudan--a deal ijaz himself brokered--was suddenly rejected by then national security adviser sandy berger. a shame, that. it would have been a glorious intelligence windfall including dossiers on several of the future 9/11 hijackers and 1998 embassy bombers.

clarke sure picked a helluva time to start crying over spilled milk, didn't he?

this next question is so priceless i have to just quote it outright:

Are you aware that bin Laden's chief deputy in Sudan made a trip to Baghdad to visit with Iraqi intelligence officials at about the same time in February 1998? If not, why not? How do you reconcile your categorical statement in a recent 60 Minutes interview that there was no relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq — ever, I believe is how you put it — with the fact that bin Laden's chief deputy was visiting Baghdad at the same time you were receiving repeated offers to explore Sudan's intelligence files?

boy. that's a toughie. no time to worry about it, though, because six scant months after that visit, al qaeda bombed the u.s. embassies in kenya and tanzania. could there have been a connection? no, never, said mr. clarke in his 60 minutes interview. (oh, and by the way, you do all know that CBS parent company viacom owns the publisher of clarke's book, don't you? you don't? hmm. must be because 60 minutes never bothered to tell you.) but what did clarke say in the aftermath of the bombings?

Mr. Clarke, you then recommended bombing Sudan's al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant as the best response to the embassy attacks. Can you recount the evidence that led you to believe al-Shifa was producing nerve agents, and the evidence you had of its ownership and financing by bin Laden? Can you again help us to rectify your categorical statement now that there was no relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime, ever, when you previously argued that Iraq and Sudan were cooperating on the development of chemical and biological weapons at a pharmaceutical plant you claimed was owned and financed by bin Laden?

no iraqi weapons of mass destruction. ouch.

and so, a bombed pharmaceutical plant and two more botched opportunities to nab bin laden later, we find the clinton administration being directly warned about pakistani nuclear proliferation...and doing absolutely nothing about it.

what to make of all of this? well, for starters, if clarke needs a president to blame, it seems the one he worked for over the eight years leading up to september 11th would be a good place to start. if bush is bad on terror then clinton flat out sucked. and if that's the case, how can we account for two administrations as different as night and day having such a remarkably similar approach to terror? what's the common link?


clarke's wise and steady clinton-era service saw us through the pleasantries in somalia, the first world trade center bombing, the bombing of the marine corps barracks in saudi arabia, two embassy bombings, and the bombing of the uss cole. all told, nearly three hundred americans died by al qaeda's hands during those years--that we know of. in response, mr. clarke bombed tylenol back to the stone age.

since george w. bush came to power less than four years ago, we've had 9/11, yes, but we've also eliminated two hostile governments, half of the known al qaeda leadership, and countless foot soldiers--to say nothing of the outing of north korean and pakistani nuclear hijinks and the dismantling of libyan WMD programs (and don't look now, iran, but we finally seem to be on to you as well.) i can credit bush specifically for all of that since clarke holds bush's counter-terror record in such disdain. not hard to see why.

if you ever wonder what sort of dog locdog is, he's the seeing-eye kind