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More Evidence GWOT Has Failed

[UPDATED: Full Text of the report appears below the fold (thanks to Rolling Stone magazine]

After all of these years, shattered and destroyed lives, loss of liberties, and billions spent we are no safer now than we were back when President Bush launched his Global War on Terror.

U.S. intelligence agencies on Tuesday warned that al Qaeda would intensify efforts to put operatives inside the United States and said there was a heightened threat of attack.

The assessment came in unclassified judgments from a "National Intelligence Estimate on the Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland," which is a compilation of views from the various spy agencies.

Al Qaeda, responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, remained the "the most serious terrorist threat" to the U.S. homeland and its leadership continued to plan "high-impact plots," the report said.

"Although we have discovered only a handful of individuals in the United States with ties to al Qaeda senior leadership since 9/11, we judge that al Qaeda will intensify its efforts to put operatives here," the report said.

"As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment," it said.

If Republicans think Americans will continue to allow them to bungle this effort and compromise our safety the next election will be a sad and sorry wake-up call.

Full Text of the report - thanks, Rolling Stone:

Key Judgments

We judge the US Homeland will face a persistent and evolving terrorist threat over the next three years. The main threat comes from Islamic terrorist groups and cells, especially al-Qa'ida, driven by their undiminished intent to attack the Homeland and a continued effort by these terrorist groups to adapt and improve their capabilities.

We assess that greatly increased worldwide counterterrorism efforts over the past five years have constrained the ability of al-Qa'ida to attack the US Homeland again and have led terrorist groups to perceive the Homeland as a harder target to strike than on 9/11.

These measures have helped disrupt known plots against the United States since 9/11.

• We are concerned, however, that this level of international cooperation may wane...... as 9/11 becomes a more distant memory and perceptions of the threat diverge. Al-Qa'ida is and will remain the most serious terrorist threat to the Homeland, as its central leadership continues to plan high-impact plots, while pushing others in extremist Sunni communities to mimic its efforts and to supplement its capabilities.

We assess the group has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability, including: a safehaven in the Pakistan Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), operational lieutenants, and its top leadership. Although we have discovered only a handful of individuals in the United States with ties to al-Qa'ida senior leadership since 9/11, we judge that al-Qa'ida will intensify its efforts to put operatives here.

• As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment.

We assess that al-Qa'ida will continue to enhance its capabilities to attack the Homeland through greater cooperation with regional terrorist groups. Of note, we assess that al-Qa'ida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland.

In addition, we assess that its association with AQI helps al-Qa'ida to energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks.

We assess that al-Qa'ida's Homeland plotting is likely to continue to focus on prominent political, economic, and infrastructure targets with the goal of producing mass casualties, visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks, and/or fear among the US population. The group is proficient with conventional small arms and improvised explosive devices, and is innovative in creating new capabilities and overcoming security obstacles.

• We assess that al-Qa'ida will continue to try to acquire and employ chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material in attacks and would not hesitate to use them if it develops what it deems is sufficient capability.

We assess Lebanese Hizballah, which has conducted anti-US attacks outside the United States in the past, may be more likely to consider attacking the Homeland over the next three years if it perceives the United States as posing a direct threat to the group or Iran.

We assess that the spread of radical--especially Salafi--Internet sites, increasingly aggressive anti-US rhetoric and actions, and the growing number of radical, self-generating cells in Western countries indicate that the radical and violent segment of the West's Muslim population is expanding, including in the United States. The arrest and prosecution by US law enforcement of a small number of violent Islamic extremists inside the United States--who are becoming more connected ideologically, virtually, and/or in a physical sense to the global extremist movement--points to the possibility that others may become sufficiently radicalized that they will view the use of violence here as legitimate.

We assess that this internal Muslim terrorist threat is not likely to be as severe as it is in Europe, however.

We assess that other, non-Muslim terrorist groups--often referred to as "single-issue" groups by the FBI--probably will conduct attacks over the next three years given their violent histories, but we assess this violence is likely to be on a small scale.

We assess that globalization trends and recent technological advances will continue to enable even small numbers of alienated people to find and connect with one another, justify and intensify their anger, and mobilize resources to attack--all without requiring a centralized terrorist organization, training camp, or leader.

• The ability to detect broader and more diverse terrorist plotting in this environment will challenge current US defensive efforts and the tools we use to detect and disrupt plots. It will also require greater understanding of how suspect activities at the local level relate to strategic threat information and how best to identify indicators of terrorist activity in the midst of legitimate interactions.


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Comments (11)

Heralder:
"Although we have discovered only a handful of individuals in the United States with ties to al Qaeda senior leadership since 9/11, we judge that al Qaeda will intensify its efforts to put operatives here," the report said.

"As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment," it said.

That seems to meet Larkin's requirments for fear mongering.

So in that post, there was much lamenting and gnashing of teeth over the director's conclusion, which contained no more information and had the same conclusion. But when posted here it's somehow magically transformed into evidence the War on Terror is failing?

Either there's a threat or there isn't. That seems to flucuate wildly depending on what point is attempting to be made.

Lee Ward:

Opinions may vary, and in fact I believe Larkin's lament was over Chertoff's "GUT" feeling that something would happen -- which is without a doubt fear mongering of the highest order -- but what do you believe, Heralder?

Heralder:

I don't believe either is an example of fear mongering. But I do believe in consistency.

I get the same exact message from what you posted and to what Chertoff said.

Lee Ward:

Chertoff came right out and said his was only getting a "gut" feeling, this is different:

"The assessment came in unclassified judgments from a "National Intelligence Estimate on the Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland," which is a compilation of views from the various spy agencies."
Heralder:

Right, but Lee...the conclusion is the same...vague and unhelpful:

"Although we have discovered only a handful of individuals in the United States with ties to al Qaeda senior leadership since 9/11, we judge that al Qaeda will intensify its efforts to put operatives here," the report said. "As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment," it said.

It doesn't mention a specific threat or help in any actionable way.

Personally I gloss over this stuff anyway, but that tends to meet the criteria by many over here for mongering fear.

Lee Ward:

"the conclusion is the same...vague and unhelpful"

So in your opinion, if I understand correctly, the information is either gut-level fear mongering, or it's vague and unhelpful -- and either instance points to major failures in the GWOT -- either we're being lied to about our security, or we don't know - either is significantly indicative of failure, imho.

Heralder:

Larkin:

Face it, Heralder, Chertoff bungled the communication.

The personal interview you mean?

Heralder:
So in your opinion, if I understand correctly, the information is either gut-level fear mongering, or it's vague and unhelpful -- and either instance points to major failures in the GWOT -- either we're being lied to about our security, or we don't know - either is significantly indicative of failure, imho.

I'm simply trying to point out that the conditions that made one fear mongering should apply to the other that shares the same conditions.

The real issue is that if you release information that's too detailed the would-be perpetrators will know you know and adjust. If the information is too vague, it's of no use to the public. It's a catch 22.

I don't think either is indicative of failure, as it's a universal problem with any war and intelligence gathering and dissemination.

The personal interview you mean?

What difference does the mode of communication matter? Chertoff is being interviewed because he is the Secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Security. In that capacity, he shouldn't be discussing gut feelings. I am having a hard time figuring out why you are defending Chertoff's actions.

mantis:

Admit it you guys, Heralder is right. You jumped all over Chertoff for saying basically what the NIE is saying, and now you're trying to find some way to distinguish the two, either by focusing on the word "gut" or claiming that the NIE is an authority whose vague judgements are to be valued, while the DHS secretary is not. Doesn't it occur to you that Chertoff had access to the same info in the NIE, and likely produced some of it, before his interview? They are saying the same thing, based on the same info.

And this:

Chertoff's "GUT" feeling that something would happen -- which is without a doubt fear mongering of the highest order

is just silly. In context it is no such thing. A press conference with orange alerts before an election; that's fearmongering of the highest order. The DHS secretary answering an interview question honestly is not.

Heralder:

Blue:

What difference does the mode of communication matter?

Everything.

Chertoff is being interviewed because he is the Secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Security. In that capacity, he shouldn't be discussing gut feelings.

No? Then why interview him? Why not wait for the next press conference or look at archives about things he's already officially said?

I am having a hard time figuring out why you are defending Chertoff's actions.

Because a nasty double standard is being applied to him. I argued this same point in the thread that was about this subject.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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