Archive for the 'Terrorism' Category



Border War

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 6 months ago

We have previously discussed the adoption of military style tactics, techniques and procedures by the Mexican cartels, the increasing corruption of the U.S. border patrol, and the recruitment of large numbers of High Schoolers by the cartels.  After observing that the use of the National Guard is problematic for a number of reasons (including the lack of training, the lack of appropriate rules for the use of force, etc.), I recommended that:

… we view what is going on as a war against warlords and insurgents who will destabilize the state both South and even North of the border.  I have further recommended that the RUF be amended and the U.S. Marines be used to set up outposts and observation posts along the border in distributed operations, even making incursions into Mexican territory if necessary while chasing insurgents (Mexican police have used U.S. soil in pursuit of the insurgents).

While militarization of border security may be an unpalatable option for America, it is the only option that will work.  All other choices make the situation worse because it is allowed to expand and grow.  Every other option is mere window dressing.

We now know that gang members are being recruited by the cartels to do street-level jobs, and the loss of border security has wreaked ecological disaster.

“I have learned to live with trash,” said fifth-generation Arizona rancher Jim Chilton.

He saw his once-beautiful ranch, just a few miles from the border with Mexico, is now dotted with clusters of crushed trees and cactus, whole hillsides have been turned into charred eyesores, years worth of his award-winning conservation projects obliterated — and the whole thing is littered with trash, tons and tons of trash. And some of the trash was dead bodies.

Chilton had the misfortune of settling in the path of what would become a dangerous drug- and human-smuggling route on the U.S.-Mexican border, parallel with the notorious Peck Canyon Corridor.

“I’ve got 30,000 to 40,000 illegal aliens coming right through the ranch every year, and the Forest Service says each one leaves about eight pounds of trash. That means 100 tons of trash. Some cows eat the plastic bags and about 10 head a year die a slow and painful death. At $1,200 a head, that means we lose $12,000 a year to trash.”

Chilton saw southern Arizona not as the headline-grabbing political flashpoint of the Justice Department’s failed “Fast and Furious” guns-to-smugglers tracking project, but as the land-grabbing opportunism of Obama’s resource management agencies and, sadly, the failure of the U.S. Border Patrol to secure that bloody line separating the United States from Mexico.

The land-grabbing chapter of the trash story has gone largely unnoticed, but surfaced last year when the Bureau of Land Management proposed to shut down target shooting on 490,000 acres in the Sonoran Desert National Monument — and in large swaths of other public lands as well.

The reason? Monument manager Richard Hanson claimed shooters were leaving trash at the shooting sites, an outrageously trumped up excuse, but Hanson’s claim couldn’t be refuted at the time.

The BLM had closed 400,000 acres of publicly owned, national monument lands across three states to recreational shooting activities in 2010, labeling recreational shooting as a resource-harming activity and a public safety threat.

That was a clear signal showing that the SDNM move was just another step in Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s obnoxious “lock-it-up-and-kick-‘em-out” plans that have drawn the ire of Congress.

If it seems that the administration is taking an un-serious view of border security (intentionally conflating the trash left by illegals with shooters), then this report shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Federal agents trying to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border say they’re hampered by laws that keep them from driving vehicles on huge swaths of land because it falls under U.S. environmental protection, leaving it to wildlife — and illegal immigrants and smugglers who can walk through the territory undisturbed.

A growing number of lawmakers are saying such restrictions have turned wilderness areas into highways for criminals. In recent weeks, three congressional panels, including two in the GOP-controlled House and one in the Democratic-controlled Senate, have moved to give the Border Patrol unfettered access to all federally managed lands within 100 miles of the border with Mexico.

While the cartels develop intricate intelligence networks and adopt military style tactics, the U.S. prohibits access to lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management due to EPA regulations, and blames trash at the border on shooters.  It’s no wonder that insurgents have gone hunting at the border – not hunting for animal game, but human game.

Five illegal immigrants armed with at least two AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles were hunting for U.S. Border Patrol agents near a desert watering hole known as Mesquite Seep just north of the Arizona-Mexico border when a firefight erupted and one U.S. agent was killed, records show.

A now-sealed federal grand jury indictment in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry says the Mexican nationals were “patrolling” the rugged desert area of Peck Canyon at about 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 14 with the intent to “intentionally and forcibly assault” Border Patrol agents.

Commenter Scott Wilson recommends the following:

They should take the 7th Army (and the Ghost of Patton), and all its subordinate units, and move it lock, stock & barrel to Del Rio, TX. They can then patrol the banks of the Rio Grande with Bradley’s, Apaches & Cobras. Then, let’s see how much success these border insurgents, armed with the semi-auto AKs have against that.

Germany has the strongest economy in Europe. It can afford to defend itself from Russian aggression. If it can’t, then we have PLENTY of military contractors that can sell them the weapons that they need. Europe needs to stand on its own. Our resources need to be protecting our borders, not Germany’s.

This sentiment is certainly in line with my own, but unfortunately, roving the border with Bradley Fighting Vehicles won’t work.  This requires combat outposts and Marines (or Soldiers) on foot patrol.  Infantry – not mechanized infantry – is the order of the day.

But it will require more than that.  As long as we continue to treat the border as a law enforcement endeavor, with agents subject to rules such as those outlined in the Supreme Court decision in Tennessee versus Garner, with criminals imprisoned or sent back to Mexico to try it all again, we will continue to lose the war at the border.  Imprisonment of drug traffickers and illegals won’t work any more than prisons work in counterinsurgency.  Prisons are a costly ruse.

Make no mistake about it.  This isn’t a war against drugs, or a war against the drug cartels, or a war against illegal immigration, or even a war against human trafficking or Hezbollah fighters entering the U.S. at the Southern border.  This is a war for national sovereignty – a border war.

Law enforcement cannot do the job when people are afraid to call them for fear of retribution and are being told to wear body armor to work out in their own fields.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A border war.  Only when we militarize the border with combat outposts and shoot all trespassers will we even begin to wage the war on the enemy’s terms.  In spite of claims that the Posse Comitatus Act applies, this war is against non-U.S. citizens, and it is a fight for the survival of what defines America.  Presidents in both parties have seen America as an idea rather than a location with secure borders.

If America is an idea and the Southern border is to be just an imaginary line, then we have already lost.  If America deserves defending, then we must do what is both uncomfortable and necessary to effect its security.

Prior on Border War: Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment

Prior Featured: Analysis of Brief For The U.S. In Opposition to Sean Masciandaro

Anwar al-Awlaki, U.S. Citizen, Killed in Yemen?

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 8 months ago

So apparently al Qaeda propagandist, Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in Yemen by a CIA-led strike.  So this raises some important questions.

First off, while my friend Michael Ledeen wants to support the Green movement in Iran, I want to do this along with (a) reversing the executive order on assassinations issued by President Ford, (b) assassinating General Suleimani, Hassan Nasrallah, and a whole host of other unsavory characters, and fomenting an insurgency inside of Iran.  I pleaded for killing Baitullah Mehsud before his name became a household word, and toasted his demise when it happened (Edit: And now that I think back on this event, quite literally I laughed out loud and celebrated his death, just as I did Zarqawi).  I haven’t changed any of my views.  So let’s not level silly charges that I’m going soft or becoming a leftist.

But we have just rained ordnance down on a U.S. citizen by executive order.  Does anyone see any problems with this?  I (think I) have divorced myself from the fact that Mr. Obama approved this; as my readers know, I am no supporter of Mr. Obama.  But while I think less highly of the high value target program’s effectiveness than he does, I  supported his approval of the mission against UBL.  UBL wasn’t a U.S. citizen.

In this case, though, things are different.  The constitution affords certain protections to U.S. citizens.  I discussed this with co-writer Glen Tschirgi and he suggested some alternative solutions to the dilemma.  For example, Congress could have issued a bill that strips U.S. citizens of their citizenship when a person identifies with a formally designated terrorist entity.  There might be a set of other reasons that a person must relinquish their citizenship.  Now, to be sure, I can think of problematic aspects of such a solution, such as the fact that we would be relying on the accuracy and viability of the U.S. State Department’s program of identification of terrorists, or possibly corruption of the process.

But the fact of the matter is that we didn’t pursue any of these approaches.  Awlaki was still a U.S. citizen when we executed him under executive order.  For some odd reason, that little thing called “due process” keeps coming to mind.

UPDATE: Kevin Williamson weighs in a bit at NRO.  David French responds at NRO with what I consider to be an uncompelling argument.  The issue doesn’t focus on the term “assassination.”  The issue focuses on the protections afforded by the constutition to U.S. citizens.  If it’s legal to execute U.S. citizens without due process, then queue the argument up.  I’ll listen.  And this isn’t analogous to stumbling upon a shooter on the field of battle who happens to be a U.S. citizen.  This is the premeditated targeting of a U.S. citizen without due process.  Again, queue up the argument for this.  Tell me how this fits within our legal framework?

Christianity And Self Examination In Light Of the Norway Killings

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 10 months ago

My regular readers may be wondering why I haven’t weighed in on the horrific killing spree perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway.  In fact, I think that it’s important for Christians to engage in honest, open self-examination in light of events such as this, as suggested by one reader at National Review Online’s Corner (in reponse to thoughts by Mark Steyn).  This sort of thing is extremely serious, and for those on the left believe that there is a sense of unease among right-leaning Christians, you are correct whether we admit it or not.  So I may as well engage in open confessions and admit what we all know to be true.

I have made my position clear on personal ownership and carryng of weapons, and Christian scholars far better than I have already made a case against gun controlBut … evil actions like those in Norway, that cause so many people, so young, to perish in such a violent way, should cause soul searching for every sane individual, and especially so for those of us who claim to carry the name of Christ.

So Mr. Breivik was apparently shooting a rifle (perhaps a Ruger Mini-14?).  He was apparently good with it.  I’m good with my rifle too, and I can put a tight group on target at 100 yards, but I don’t engage in open carry of my rifle.  I don’t engage in concealed or open carry all of the time, only when I consider the situation as warranting such security.  But this event goes to remind us that only God knows the future, and thus, my predilections on personal security and when I might need a weapon are not only foolish, but self-deceiving.

After serious reflection, I hereby vow to carry my handguns more often (both concealed and open, depending upon the circumstances).  But he was shooting a rifle, you say.  Yes, and that means that my moderate targeting skills with my handguns (in contrast to my finely-tuned skills with my rifle) need to get much better.  I hereby vow to buy more ammunition and get to the range even more often than I do.  And, I vow to continue my workouts at the gym and practice my tactics and techniques so that when the awful day comes that I need to perform tactical maneuvers against a shooter in order to defend myself or my family or friends, I am capable of doing so.  If I die defending loved ones, then I die.

As for the Mr. Breivik’s prose, I find it so inconsistent, incoherent, incomprehensible and ridiculous that it has no meaning for me at all.  With a short review of Mr. Breivik and after having sworn an oath to shoot better and more often, I think I have done my Christian duty regarding this event.  Oh, and I will pray for the families of the victims too.

Al Qaida Closer to Nukes? Don’t Bother Telling Anyone

BY Glen Tschirgi
5 years, 1 month ago

Here is a highly disturbing article from February that I would bet most of us never saw featured in any major, U.S. newspaper or given any time on the network news.

According to the article:

Al-Qaida is on the verge of producing radioactive weapons after sourcing nuclear material and recruiting rogue scientists to build “dirty” bombs, according to leaked diplomatic documents.

A leading atomic regulator has privately warned that the world stands on the brink of a “nuclear 9/11″.

Security briefings suggest that jihadi groups are also close to producing “workable and efficient” biological and chemical weapons that could kill thousands if unleashed in attacks on the West.

Thousands of classified American cables obtained by the WikiLeaks website and passed to The Daily Telegraph detail the international struggle to stop the spread of weapons-grade nuclear, chemical and biological material around the globe.

At a Nato meeting in January 2009, security chiefs briefed member states that al-Qaida was plotting a program of “dirty radioactive IEDs”, makeshift nuclear roadside bombs that could be used against British troops in Afghanistan.

Lest anyone think that this is an over-reaction by nervous State Department diplomats, the Indian security services have provided their own confirmation:
The briefings also state that al-Qaida documents found in Afghanistan in 2007 revealed that “greater advances” had been made in bioterrorism than was previously realized. An Indian national security adviser told American security personnel in June 2008 that terrorists had made a “manifest attempt to get fissile material” and “have the technical competence to manufacture an explosive device beyond a mere dirty bomb”.

Does anyone have the increasing feeling that we are trying to build ever stronger sandcastles?   The tide is coming in.  The U.S. had better have a well-thought out response.

On second thought, given the current Administration and its responses to international crises so far, the most sensible response may be on a personal level:  food, medicines, water and ammunition.

San Diego Port Authority: Homeland Security Has Got No Clothes!

BY Glen Tschirgi
5 years, 3 months ago

Last week, WKGTV, a San Diego ABC News station, interviewed the Assistant Director, Al Hallor, for the San Diego port authority about security at the port.

During the interview Hallor confirmed that “weapons of mass effect” have been found by U.S. government agencies in apparent attempts to smuggle such devices into the country.

Customs and Border Protection officers clear 80 percent of all cargo before it enters the United States. Congress has mandated that they clear 100 percent of cargo imports by 2012. In San Diego, every cargo container is driven through a radiation detector before leaving San Diego’s seaport.”So, specifically, you’re looking for the dirty bomb? You’re looking for the nuclear device?” asked Blacher.”Correct. Weapons of mass effect,” Hallor said.”You ever found one?” asked Blacher.”Not at this location,” Hallor said.”But they have found them?” asked Blacher.”Yes,” said Hallor.

I could be wrong, but this would seem to qualify as a major news story.

So far, however, the only, other media source to report on this is The Daily Mail in the U.K.

The Department of Homeland Security has sought to tamp down any interest in the story and has explained Hallor’s comments as confusion or nervousness at being interviewed.

Perhaps.

Or perhaps Hallor has yet to get the Administration memo that government officials should never be honest or candid with the public about the grave threats that we face.  In that sense, Hallor is like the little boy in the nursery tale that was too innocent not to blurt out, “The Emperor’s got no clothes!”

Perhaps it is the rest of us who should be nervous.  Very nervous.

A Terrorist Attack That America Cannot Absorb

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 8 months ago

According to Bob Woodward who has recently completed his book entitled Obama’s Wars, an interesting view of terrorist attacks has emerged from the White House.

Woodward’s book portrays Obama and the White House as barraged by warnings about the threat of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and confronted with the difficulty in preventing them. During an interview with Woodward in July, the president said, “We can absorb a terrorist attack. We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger.”

I’m not particularly fond of Woodward’s use of anonymous sources, but let’s assume for the moment the complete accuracy of this position.  At a minimum, it hasn’t been denied by the White House.  It’s difficult to imagine a more important opinion on the future of terrorist attacks on the homeland than that of the President.  It’s also impossible to underestimate the horrible confusion, naivety and childlike grasp of homeland security that this opinion betrays.

I had originally passed over this quote as something that would quietly die, that didn’t really represent the thinking of the Department of Homeland Security, and that wouldn’t prevent the administration from doing what was necessary to prevent attacks on the homeland to the degree possible.  But Bob Woodward was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly tonight, and neither of them actually had a problem with the quote other than simply that the President of the U.S. shouldn’t say such things in public.

In a brief attempt to address this mistaken notion of the inherent capability to absorb any attack, I will pose one that we simply cannot absorb.  The scenario I am about to describe can be accomplished by simple, direct attacks and without reference to more complicated organizational skills except for weapons, dedicated fighters and effective timing.  The scenario I am about to describe would quite literally destroy the economy of the nation for a long time.  I am hesitant to describe it in detail; when I do this sort of thing I usually get charged with giving the terrorists ideas.

But the fact of the matter is that the terrorists already know these things, and it is important to educate the American people to the dangers right outside the gate.  It’s also important to reflect on what it means to kill terrorists on foreign soil and destroy their sanctuaries rather than allow them to perpetrate attacks with which we cannot cope.  That said, it’s time to describe the attack.

I don’t want to divulge too much detail concerning what could be regarded as nuclear safeguards information.  But the reader will have to trust me when I say that commercial nuclear power plants are hardened.  They were so prior to 9/11, but they are even more so now.  They are not fertile ground for terrorist attacks, even for the most well trained, well armed and educated group of fighters.  I cannot go any further in discussing the details of nuclear security, but the terrorists also know that nuclear reactors are not fertile fighting ground.  Forget about them.

Not so for commercial fossil facilities.  They are not hardened and not well guarded.  The most vulnerable structure, system or component for large scale coal plants is the main step up transformer – that component that handles electricity at 230 or 500 kV.  They are one of a kind components, and no two are exactly alike.  They are so huge and so heavy that they must be transported to the site via special designed rail cars intended only for them, and only about three of these exist in the U.S.

They are no longer fabricated in the U.S., much the same as other large scale steel fabrication.  It’s manufacture has primarily gone overseas.  These step up transformers must be ordered years in advance of their installation.  Some utilities are part of a consortium to keep one of these transformers available for multiple coal units, hoping that more will not be needed at any one time.  In industrial engineering terms, the warehouse min-max for these components is a fine line.

On any given day with the right timing, several well trained, dedicated, well armed fighters would be able to force their way on to utility property, fire missiles or lay explosives at the transformer, destroy it, and perhaps even go to the next given the security for coal plants.  Next in line along the transmission system are other important transformers, not as important as the main step up transformers, but still important, that would also be vulnerable to attack.  With the transmission system in chaos and completely isolated due to protective relaying, and with the coal units that supply the majority of the electricity to the nation incapable of providing that power for years due to the wait for step up transformers, whole cites, heavy industry, and homes and businesses would be left in the dark for a protracted period of time, all over the nation.

The economy would collapse, regardless of how much good will and positive hope there was among the ruling elite.  The hard facts of life – America in the dark – would soon become apparent to everyone, and the economy wouldn’t be able to absorb it.

That’s only one of the many possibilities, and in order to avoid the charge of divulging too much detail to terrorists, I will stop here.  But suffice it to say that if you give me weapons, ordnance, time and 300 or 400 dedicated fighters with a calendar and a watch, I could collapse the economy of America.

Where would these fighters come from?  Recall that we have previously discussed two very good papers on Hezbollah and their activities in the Americas.  They’re around, lying in wait for orders, and it’s best not to have them on our soil.  It’s best to confront them away from the infrastructure that is proving itself to be so vulnerable to their malicious aims.

The Mumbai Attacks and American Imperialism

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 6 months ago

While some speculation exists as to the possibility that the attacks in Mumbai are from home-grown terrorists, it appears that there was at least some involvement by foreign fighters, and specifically, from Karachi, Pakistan.

The terrorists who carried out multiple strikes in Mumbai yesterday landed on Indian shores on a boat that had set sail from Karachi before anchoring in one of the many barren islands in the Rann of Kutch along Gujarat’s coastline.

The 25-30 terrorists then used smaller boats to reach the Mumbai shores the same day they struck at 12 locations in the country’s financial capital. “They landed at Sasoon dock (off the Gateway of India) and reached the metropolis using rubber dinghies. We have information about their route, which we would share in time to come,” said the Special Secretary (Internal Security), Mr ML Kumawat.

The attacks have exposed India’s 7,516-km-long vulnerable coastline. It has shown that terrorists can create a Kargil-like situation along India’s coastline to harbour terror modules in the 1,200-odd barren islands and attack over 200 sensitive strategic installations spread across the country.

There is also a certain shock and dread among Indians that accompanies this attack.

India’s cities are no strangers to indiscriminate terror attacks. Such attacks have occurred regularly, and with steadily increasing frequency, in recent years. Mumbai, India’s financial capital, has been targeted before …

So what is new about Mumbai, November 2008? The obvious novelty is the use of frontal assault tactics instead of timed explosive devices.

This is new in the urban Indian context. There was one notable exception – an attack by a five-man squad armed with rifles and grenades on India’s Parliament in New Delhi in December 2001.

The attackers were narrowly prevented by alert staff from gaining access to the building, where hundreds of parliamentarians and ministers were attending a session.

They were gunned down near the entrance by security personnel after an hour-long battle. Nine guards and parliament stewards also died.

This attack led to the crisis of 2002 between India and Pakistan.

The Indian government blamed Pakistani religious radicals, and embarked on a major military build-up on the border with Pakistan, to which Pakistan responded with its own mobilisation.

The stand-off eventually wound down later in 2002 after months of tension and brinkmanship.

But frontal assaults, usually carried out by two-man teams firing semi-automatic rifles and lobbing grenades, were the favoured tactic of the insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir between 1999 and 2003 …

The tactic is thus not without precedent, but the mayhem in Mumbai may nonetheless mark a new chapter in the evolution of urban terrorism in India.

Bombs planted in markets and on commuter trains kill and maim working-class and middle-class Indians.

The gunmen who attacked two luxury hotels, and a fashionable cafe frequented by visiting Westerners, have brought the “war” – as they see it – to India’s elite class, and to affluent Westerners living in or visiting India’s most cosmopolitan city.

Analysis

There might be a sense of sympathetic understanding among Americans, as if we’ve seen this before with 9/11 and understand all about the war being brought to one’s doorstep. But when thoughtfully considered, this sentiment doesn’t stand the test of reasonableness, or even magnitude, for what could have been or what could be in the future.

This analysis doesn’t minimize the suffering of those who lost loved ones on 9/11, or the magnitude of effort and commitment to respond to the initial or delayed affects of 9/11. But considered analysis forces the conclusion that there is a nontrivial chance that we haven’t seen the worst yet. The so-called Hamburg cell, at the direction of al Qaeda command, attacked symbolic targets, but left face-to-face confrontations in the streets for engagements they had hoped would come later by other jihadists.

They fundamentally left important (and remarkably soft) infrastructure unmolested. Terror would be multiplied in the future by fighters targeting women and children in shopping malls. A few hundred fighters would cause untold death among innocent and unprotected civilians, and cause terror on a heretofore unparalleled level. New York is still far away from the heartland of America. The local shopping mall is not. A few hundred fighters could cause tens of thousands of deaths.

Furthermore, the basic infrastructure still functioned after 9/11, even if the economy suffered for a period of time. Targeting the right (relatively unprotected) medium or high voltage transformers on the electrical grid of America would literally shut down industry and business in America. These are components that don’t sit on the shelves in great numbers and which must be fabricated, and upon losing the electrical grid, the power wouldn’t even be available to manufacture these components, at least for weeks or months. What is now easy to Google and purchase over the internet would become very scarce upon thousands being destroyed. Granted, this would take involvement of more fighters than were involved in the 9/11 attacks, but Mumbai is in significant trouble over much fewer fighters.

Targeting the right infrastructure could lead to economic consequences more catastrophic than 9/11 by an order of magnitude or more. And hence, it takes a special naivety to dismiss so easily the issues surrounding so-called American imperialism, as if the actions of a “meddling” armed forces must necessarily be evil because they are anticipatory rather than reactionary.

There are certainly unintended consequences to American imperialism, and the practice of fighting wars on soil other than our own is a costly affair, both monetarily and in terms of the human sacrifice. But there are also unintended consequences to isolationism too, and one such consequence might very well be that the sacrifice is even more costly when the fight is in one’s own back yard.

The ones affected by tactics described above might be constrained to reconsider just who the evil one is after such attacks: the leader who meddled in the affairs of other nations, or the leader who failed to anticipate the danger and dire consequences of failing to act before the terror came to our own shores.

Postscript: In anticipation of the charge that articles such as this give the terrorists ideas, it isn’t the terrorists who need ideas. They already know which targets are hard and which ones are soft. Before making the charge, the reader should consider the question, “why is it that I don’t want to hear this information?” The terrorists already know it.

The Pakistan Border and Covert Operations

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 8 months ago

An unusually clear-headed letter appeared in Pakistan’s The Post concerning the Pakistan-Afghan border, ending with the following observation.

Ordinarily, coalition partners should not be concerned about border issues when they have a common objective and Former Ambassador Zafar Hilaly made a valid point that the enemy neither respects nor recognises borders, and yet the nation quibbles about border violations. The fact that militancy found a willing stronghold within the tribal belt shows how easily these people surrendered their ‘sovereignty’ to the enemy. Those who vow to defend our territorial integrity against the ‘Farangi’ invader forfeited the right when the first Taliban crossed over to Pakistan after 2001. But someone needs to clean up this mess and it is preferable to have Pakistan at the helm only because our national pride will not permit otherwise. If Pakistan can convince the Americans that they can sort out their side of the border, they must then convince this nation to let them.

For the last four years Pakistan has been gaming the campaign against extremists in order to continue to procure money from the U.S. They shoot at empty buildings, pretend to engage the Taliban fighters, and then “make agreements” with them through jirgas. Although the recent bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad has been called Pakistan’s 9/11, The Captain’s Journal is still skeptical. It is more than just the Pashtuns who have given up their right to defend Pakistan from U.S. incursions. The Pakistan Army’s gaming of operations against the Taliban for U.S. dollars has also lost them the credibility to conduct real operations against the Taliban or complain when the U.S. does.

The U.S. must take whatever action deemed appropriate by CENTCOM and its new head General Petraeus. But regular readers of The Captain’s Journal know that we do not advocate treating the campaign as a counterterrorism campaign against high value targets. Special forces, we have claimed, cannot win a counterinsurgency. This requires infantry. Steve Coll of The New Yorker recently made an analogous observation concerning covert policy.

On television shows and in the movies, we romanticize covert action of this kind as bold and daring, but military history suggests that it is usually of very limited strategic value. It is usually most effective, as it was during the Second World War, when it serves as a kind of extension or multiplier of a successful overt policy. This may have been the case, too, with the covert action arm of the “surge,” which Bob Woodward has highlighted in his recent book. But covert action fails, as at the Bay of Pigs, when frustrated and desperate Presidents seize on secret war as a substitute for a successful declared or open policy that also involves diplomacy, economic measures, and so forth. The problem with covert U.S. raids in the Pakistani tribal territories today is not that they are unjustified—the Taliban and Al Qaeda are vicious adversaries, and they pose what the national-security lawyers call a “clear and present danger” to the United States and to Pakistan. The problem is that in the attenuating months of the Bush Administration, covert policy has dominated U.S. policy, and often controlled it—and it obviously isn’t working.

As an editorial note, we don’t necessarily agree with Woodward’s characterization of anything concerning Operation Iraqi Freedom. Also, Coll’s assessment that more diplomacy and money are needed in order to consider our actions “policy” is amusing. Diplomacy and money – along with covert special forces and CIA operations – have been the cornerstone of our policy in Pakistan from the beginning.

“Dirty Bombs” and Proper Control of Radioactive Material

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 11 months ago

H/T to Ed Morrissey, the Canadian press has compiled a catalog of missing radioactive sources.

Radioactive devices — some of which have the potential to be used in terrorist attacks — have gone missing in alarming numbers in Canada over the past five years.

A new database compiled by The Canadian Press shows that the devices, which are used in everything from medical research to measuring oil wells, are becoming a favoured target of thieves.

At least 76 have gone missing in Canada over the past five years — disappearing from construction sites, specialized tool boxes, and generally growing legs and walking away.

Some of the devices could be used in a “dirty bomb,” where conventional explosives are used to detonate nuclear material, spreading the contamination over a wide area, said Alan Bell, a security and international terrorism expert from Globe Risk Security Holdings.

He told CTV Newsnet on Thursday that the problem isn’t new, but it has gained new attention as a result of the CP report.

“It’s come to the fore over the last couple of days but it has always been there. We’ve had this problem. It’s only a matter of time before terrorists use a dirty bomb process to attack the world,” Bell said.

The database compiled by CP tracks the rate at which the devices have gone missing in recent years.

It points to dozens of cases where hazardous materials have gone missing, been stolen or lost in a variety of mishaps.

Of the 76, 35 were stolen, three others were found in a ditch beside a road, in a dump and in a farmer’s field.

Dozens were still unaccounted for at last count.

Bell said there is a lack of streamlining among the different federal departments responsible for nuclear materials and a single agency should be set up to track the transportation of nuclear materials.

“But one of the biggest problems is yes, we do keep track of them to the best of our ability, but things fall through the cracks as they always do,” Bell said.

The CP report comes in the wake of the release of a federal study that said the detonation of a small dirty bomb near Toronto’s CN Tower would send radiation out over a four kilometre area, causing economic devastation and slamming the city’s emergency medical services.

Bell said such reports could actually help motivate terrorists to strike the city.

“I was surprised. Why tell the terrorists where to place the device? This is the ramifications of the weather, this is the area that’s contaminated or affected. I thought it was irresponsible to do that.”

For the benefit of the reader, the radioactive sources to which the report refers come from commercial applications such as medical uses (PET scans, radioactive tracers), radiography (of industrial welds with Co-60, etc.), and other fairly large scale industrial uses.  Mr. Bell’s concern about informing the terrorists of the best tactics is irrelevant.  The terrorists already know that atmospheric dispersion is important.  The communication of basic science in the media doesn’t constitute assistance to terrorists.  However, lack of control over radioactive sources does, and we might point out that the number of sources discussed in this report is very small compared to that existing in the U.S.  Amelioration of missing or stray sources has been an issue in the U.S. for some time, and there has been a concerted recovery effort over the past months.

Under the NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), excess, unwanted, or abandoned radioactive sealed sources and other radioactive material are recovered and secured by Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL’s) Off-site Source Recovery Project (OSRP) from commercial firms and academic institutions. Sources containing radioactive plutonium, americium, californium, caesium, cobalt, iridium, radium, and strontium have been recovered from medical, educational, agricultural, research and industrial facilities throughout the USA.

Radioactive sealed sources packaged by NNSA’s OSRP include more than 15,000 curies of americium-241, 10,000 curies of plutonium-238, and 10,000 grams of plutonium-239, collected from more than 600 sites. The sealed sources were once used in applications ranging from nuclear-powered cardiac pacemakers to gauges used in the manufacture of paper.

The aim of the GTRI program is to remove and securely manage radioactive materials that could be at risk of theft or used in a radiological dispersal device (‘dirty bomb’).

The OSRP was initiated by the DoE in 1999 as an environmental management project to recover and dispose of excess and unwanted sealed radioactive sources. The NNSA was established by Congress in 2000 as a separately organized agency within the DoE responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. The OSRP was transferred to NNSA’s Office of Global Threat Reduction in 2003. In 2006, OSRP also began recovering unwanted or unused US-origin sealed sources distributed overseas.

Russia is planning on consolidating control over radioactive materials for the same reason that the U.S. has already been on this quest for recovery of sources, i.e., prevention of nuclear terrorism.  Russia is planning on this central authority also having responsibility for control over “special nuclear materials,” or fissile material (already under extremely strict controls in the U.S.).

None of the controls discussed above, whether U.S. or Russian, pertain to small radioactive sources such as calibration sources, “button” sources, etc.  For instance, if you pull your smoke detector down and read the back panel, you will see that it contains 1 microCurie of Am-241 (Americium 241).  Such sources are too small to warrant control, although they are widely distributed and readily available.

Use and effectiveness of such a device is subject to atmospheric conditions, amount of radioactive material, emergency actions such as evacuation, and other things not under the control of the terrorists.  The terrorists will also consider use of such a device in a confined area such as a subway.  The discussing of this tactic here is not tantamount to divulging operational security to the enemy.  The enemy already knows it.

The solution to this kind of terrorism lies in prevention.  First, the terrorists themselves must be found out, and second, radioactive sources must be controlled.  Finally, an effective emergency response must be fielded and an information campaign must inform the public as to the precise consequences of such an event (both projected and actual).  It is likely that the consequences will redound more to public fear and reaction than to real health effects.

“Dirty Bombs” and Proper Control of Radioactive Material

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 11 months ago

H/T to Ed Morrissey, the Canadian press has compiled a catalog of missing radioactive sources.

Radioactive devices — some of which have the potential to be used in terrorist attacks — have gone missing in alarming numbers in Canada over the past five years.

A new database compiled by The Canadian Press shows that the devices, which are used in everything from medical research to measuring oil wells, are becoming a favoured target of thieves.

At least 76 have gone missing in Canada over the past five years — disappearing from construction sites, specialized tool boxes, and generally growing legs and walking away.

Some of the devices could be used in a “dirty bomb,” where conventional explosives are used to detonate nuclear material, spreading the contamination over a wide area, said Alan Bell, a security and international terrorism expert from Globe Risk Security Holdings.

He told CTV Newsnet on Thursday that the problem isn’t new, but it has gained new attention as a result of the CP report.

“It’s come to the fore over the last couple of days but it has always been there. We’ve had this problem. It’s only a matter of time before terrorists use a dirty bomb process to attack the world,” Bell said.

The database compiled by CP tracks the rate at which the devices have gone missing in recent years.

It points to dozens of cases where hazardous materials have gone missing, been stolen or lost in a variety of mishaps.

Of the 76, 35 were stolen, three others were found in a ditch beside a road, in a dump and in a farmer’s field.

Dozens were still unaccounted for at last count.

Bell said there is a lack of streamlining among the different federal departments responsible for nuclear materials and a single agency should be set up to track the transportation of nuclear materials.

“But one of the biggest problems is yes, we do keep track of them to the best of our ability, but things fall through the cracks as they always do,” Bell said.

The CP report comes in the wake of the release of a federal study that said the detonation of a small dirty bomb near Toronto’s CN Tower would send radiation out over a four kilometre area, causing economic devastation and slamming the city’s emergency medical services.

Bell said such reports could actually help motivate terrorists to strike the city.

“I was surprised. Why tell the terrorists where to place the device? This is the ramifications of the weather, this is the area that’s contaminated or affected. I thought it was irresponsible to do that.”

For the benefit of the reader, the radioactive sources to which the report refers come from commercial applications such as medical uses (PET scans, radioactive tracers), radiography (of industrial welds with Co-60, etc.), and other fairly large scale industrial uses.  Mr. Bell’s concern about informing the terrorists of the best tactics is irrelevant.  The terrorists already know that atmospheric dispersion is important.  The communication of basic science in the media doesn’t constitute assistance to terrorists.  However, lack of control over radioactive sources does, and we might point out that the number of sources discussed in this report is very small compared to that existing in the U.S.  Amelioration of missing or stray sources has been an issue in the U.S. for some time, and there has been a concerted recovery effort over the past months.

Under the NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), excess, unwanted, or abandoned radioactive sealed sources and other radioactive material are recovered and secured by Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL’s) Off-site Source Recovery Project (OSRP) from commercial firms and academic institutions. Sources containing radioactive plutonium, americium, californium, caesium, cobalt, iridium, radium, and strontium have been recovered from medical, educational, agricultural, research and industrial facilities throughout the USA.

Radioactive sealed sources packaged by NNSA’s OSRP include more than 15,000 curies of americium-241, 10,000 curies of plutonium-238, and 10,000 grams of plutonium-239, collected from more than 600 sites. The sealed sources were once used in applications ranging from nuclear-powered cardiac pacemakers to gauges used in the manufacture of paper.

The aim of the GTRI program is to remove and securely manage radioactive materials that could be at risk of theft or used in a radiological dispersal device (‘dirty bomb’).

The OSRP was initiated by the DoE in 1999 as an environmental management project to recover and dispose of excess and unwanted sealed radioactive sources. The NNSA was established by Congress in 2000 as a separately organized agency within the DoE responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. The OSRP was transferred to NNSA’s Office of Global Threat Reduction in 2003. In 2006, OSRP also began recovering unwanted or unused US-origin sealed sources distributed overseas.

Russia is planning on consolidating control over radioactive materials for the same reason that the U.S. has already been on this quest for recovery of sources, i.e., prevention of nuclear terrorism.  Russia is planning on this central authority also having responsibility for control over “special nuclear materials,” or fissile material (already under extremely strict controls in the U.S.).

None of the controls discussed above, whether U.S. or Russian, pertain to small radioactive sources such as calibration sources, “button” sources, etc.  For instance, if you pull your smoke detector down and read the back panel, you will see that it contains 1 microCurie of Am-241 (Americium 241).  Such sources are too small to warrant control, although they are widely distributed and readily available.

Use and effectiveness of such a device is subject to atmospheric conditions, amount of radioactive material, emergency actions such as evacuation, and other things not under the control of the terrorists.  The terrorists will also consider use of such a device in a confined area such as a subway.  The discussing of this tactic here is not tantamount to divulging operational security to the enemy.  The enemy already knows it.

The solution to this kind of terrorism lies in prevention.  First, the terrorists themselves must be found out, and second, radioactive sources must be controlled.  Finally, an effective emergency response must be fielded and an information campaign must inform the public as to the precise consequences of such an event (both projected and actual).  It is likely that the consequences will redound more to public fear and reaction than to real health effects.


26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (677)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (29)
Air Power (9)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (7)
Ammunition (22)
Animals in War (4)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
Antonin Scalia (1)
AR-15s (61)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (41)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (26)
Australian Army (5)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (2)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (49)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (17)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (2)
Blogs (5)
Body Armor (17)
Books (2)
Border War (7)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (27)
British Army (35)
Camping (4)
Canada (2)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
CENTCOM (7)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (10)
Christmas (8)
CIA (12)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (2)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (215)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (2)
Department of Defense (122)
Department of Homeland Security (13)
Disaster Preparedness (2)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (6)
Drone Campaign (3)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
El Salvador (1)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (1)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (2)
Featured (176)
Federal Firearms Laws (16)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (423)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (14)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (39)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (7)
Georgia (19)
GITMO (2)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (378)
Guns (903)
Guns In National Parks (3)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
HAMAS (7)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (7)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (4)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (11)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (1)
Horses (1)
Humor (13)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (45)
India (10)
Infantry (3)
Information Warfare (2)
Infrastructure (2)
Intelligence (22)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (169)
Iraq (378)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (38)
Islamists (55)
Israel (18)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (2)
Jihadists (75)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (9)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (2)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (2)
Lawfare (6)
Leadership (5)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (2)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (14)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (8)
Logistics (49)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (239)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
MEDEVAC (2)
Media (23)
Memorial Day (2)
Mexican Cartels (23)
Mexico (30)
Michael Yon (5)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (3)
Military Equipment (24)
Militia (3)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (10)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (16)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (17)
NATO (15)
Navy (20)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (2)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (1)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (53)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (216)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (6)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (27)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Pistol (2)
Police (194)
Police in COIN (3)
Policy (15)
Politics (232)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (105)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Rifles (1)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (74)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (28)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (154)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (24)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (17)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Supreme Court (1)
Survival (12)
SWAT Raids (53)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (1)
Tactical Gear (1)
Taliban (167)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (16)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (92)
Thanksgiving (5)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (12)
TSA Ineptitude (10)
TTPs (1)
U.S. Border Patrol (5)
U.S. Border Security (13)
U.S. Sovereignty (14)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (3)
Uncategorized (41)
Universal Background Check (3)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (2)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (210)
War & Warfare (40)
War Movies (3)
War Reporting (18)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (6)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (57)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (17)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2016 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.