The US military, through a West Point terrorism training school, released documents seized during the Osama bin Laden raid, a year ago this week. Readers know that despite the formidable achievement, for which the President deserves a great deal of credit, there has been no bin Laden dividend. The 99 percent has seen no benefit from his killing. The war, if anything, has accelerated with more drone assassinations and special operations work.
The original No-Prize was invented by Stan Lee of Marvel Comics. It was a way to say ‘atta-boy,’ a symbolic air prize totally without worth. And that’s the bin Laden doc release by the US government.
At the time of the raid the media, fed by government minders, dutifully reported that a “trove” of materials had been seized in the bin Laden compound.
Physically, perhaps it was true. However, the released of 17 declassified documents today, constituting over 170 pages of translated-into-English letters is a dud.
They are not particularly interesting. For example, in document “SOCOM-2012-0000004T” there is much trivial discussion on which media outlets in the US should get al Qaeda’s propaganda messages for the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Fox News is written off.
“[CNN] seems to be in cooperation with the government more than the others (with the exception of Fox News),” the letter reads, penned by American-turned al Qaeda man Adam Gadahn to bin Laden. The Arabic version of CNN, he writes, is somewhat better.
In the end Gadahn makes the recommendation that every news channel receive a copy of Ayman Zawahiri’s 9/11 anniversary speech.
“Except for Fox News, let her die in her anger.” It is inadvertently funny.
Gadahn also recommends a few journalists by name — all them of seemingly cocked up in some interesting way.
There is “Brian Russ” — he means ABC’s Brian Ross. And “Simon Hirsh,” presumably Pulitzer winner Seymour Hersh.
Finally, also on the list is “Jerry Van Dyke.”
I leave only a picture for readers to determine why this is hilarious.
Were bin Laden and Adam Gadahn fans of re-runs of My Mother the Car? It is hard to know.
The other observation to be made is that being the preferred journalists of al Qaeda is like getting a recommendation from a colony of flesh-eating bacteria.
The remote possibility exists that some of the material has been doctored by the US government for the express purpose of humiliation.
It shows again how short al Qaeda was on talent. It just adds to the picture that over a decade of war history had passed bin Laden and his terror men by.
Last year the picture was of bin Laden, alone in his compound, writing letters to his minions, missives ignored. Much like Hitler in the Fuhrer bunker near the end, moving formations that no longer existed on a room’s map table, no one daring to point out the obvious.
There are big differences, of course. In the grand scheme of history, Hitler still makes bin Laden look like a piker.
In sharp contrast, many Americans still know some of the famous names of US generals from WWII. Movies were made about them.
Nobody down ladder knows the names of the men who killed bin Laden. They may know the name of the dog on the mission — Cairo — because it was convenient publicity.
Americans can’t name the commanding generals in any of the theaters of war where there is action against al Qaeda or the Taliban. And they will never be able to do so because no one cares.
Glorious memorable movies will not be made. The war will go on, somewhere, always.
This is the way the military machine has made things. If there are any men or women of stature among them aghast at the length of the conflict and how millions upon millions of their countrymen have been economically disenfranchised and cast into ruin on the home front while they have continued to meaninglessly fight on, we will never hear it.
The nation’s top military officer told Harvard’s Kennedy School Thursday that despite the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the exit of longtime dictators from the world stage, and no mortal enemy in the form of a nation-state the United States is more vulnerable.
Army General Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told students at a forum on the Cambridge campus that even though the world appears to enjoy greater stability and interdependence, threats looming beneath the surface — from cyber warfare to the proliferation of long-range missiles — actually place American security at greater risk.
“The truth is, I believe I am chairman at a time that seems less dangerous but is actually more dangerous,” Dempsey said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. “That’s the essence of what I like to call the security paradox.”
Dempsey, who took on the role as top military adviser to President Obama last fall, has been criticized for asserting that the international scene poses greater harm than at any time in his lifetime – even the Cold War when the destruction of much of humanity loomed as a possible consequence of the nuclear standoff between superpowers.
A week from now no readers will remember this man’s name, only that yet another bit of exaggerated insane trash was passed off as wisdom from an expert.
We do not need or train good military leaders. They are only needed to ensure the machine continues to grind.
Why this blog exists
A scholarly report issued by the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State entitled Carnage Interrupted: An Analysis of Fifteen Terrorist Plots Against Public Surface Transportation cites yours truly in the footnotes.
This is because I did primary research on the infamous London ricin plot.
The report, written by Brian Michaal Jenkins, a counter-terror expert and former Green Beret covers it, although under the label — Heathrow Express Ricin Plot.
“The trial of the defendants did not establish any link to al Qaeda or Zarqawi,” writes Jenkins. “Since all but one of the nine held for trial were acquitted, we can only speculate that at least some of them may have thought as part of the global jihadist enterprise.”
Or maybe not. For the text Jenkins eschews the political dimension of the case — which was its primary reason for being in the news in the first place.
The castor beans seized in no way could have been made into a WMD, or even a weapon that would have killed many. Jenkins grasps this.
In a reaction to a Scotland Yard officer’s claim that it “was going to be our 9/11,” Jenkins writes:
“This was a gross exaggeration of what was a terrorist fantasy, or at most, an amateurish scheme. The Heathrow Express plotters possessed no ricin and their planned method of disbursal was dubious.”
And we know this because I explained it in this country, at Globalsecurity.Org, first. No one else. I had the materials from the trial because I was consulted while it was going on and furnished the defense council with materials that were used to make part of the case concerning the nature of the poison recipes.
Jenkins still comes up a bit short on what ricin actually is, however. He writes that it might pose some hazard if smeared on handrails or doorhandles.
He knows ricin is not a contact poison and cannot be absorbed through the skin. But if there were open cuts on the hand?
No. If such were the case it would have been impossible to work in castor mills, work in castor plant fields, or handle castor mash — which was often packaged as fertilizer and used in mostly futile attempts to kill insect pests. Fatalities would have resulted.
In castor powder, which is all anyone has ever produced from castor seeds outside of fully-equipped biochemistry labs where people know what they’re doing, there is simply not enough ricin to make that a realistic hazard.
Eating it, however, is another matter. And there are times when people have tried to poison one another in domestic criminal cases with it.
The Heathrow Express/London ricin plot was a huge deal, politically. The Bush administration conspicuously used it to push for war in Iraq, making the claim that the UK poison ring — actually, Kamel Bourgass — was connected to al Qaeda in Iraq. It was in a slide used to present evidence that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was in league with al Qaeda.
Indeed, the UK prosecution’s initial strategy was try and tie the poison recipes of Kamel Bourgass to materials seized from al Qaeda hideouts in Kandahar and Kabul. They failed in this because that’s not where the poison recipes seized in the London ricin trial were from.
Nevertheless, the Carnage Averted monograph is a worthy read on a collection of failed terrorist plots.
Be sure to check “endnotes” 24 and 25. There I am, a thorn in everyone’s side, for getting it right first. And that’s why this blog.
Tin of castor seeds in London ricin trial. WMD connected to al Qaeda? Utterly ludicrous.