Reading the statement given by President Obama on the attempted Christmas bombing makes one feel as if they have stepped into a fantasy land:
Good afternoon, everybody. The immediate reviews that I ordered after the failed Christmas terrorist attack are now complete. I was just briefed on the findings and recommendations for reform, and I believe it's important that the American people understand the new steps that we're taking to prevent attacks and keep our country safe.
This afternoon, my Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Advisor, John Brennan, will discuss his review into our terrorist watchlist system -- how our government failed to connect the dots in a way that would have prevented a known terrorist from boarding a plane for America, and the steps we're going to take to prevent that from happening again.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will discuss her review of aviation screening, technology and procedures —- how that terrorist boarded a plane with explosives that could have killed nearly 300 innocent people, and how we'll strengthen aviation security going forward.
But even the best intelligence can't identify in advance every individual who would do us harm. So we need the security -- at our airports, ports, and borders, and through our partnerships with other nations -- to prevent terrorists from entering America.
At the Amsterdam airport, Abdulmutallab was subjected to the same screening as other passengers. He was required to show his documents -- including a valid U.S. visa. His carry-on bag was X-rayed. He passed through a metal detector. But a metal detector can't detect the kind of explosives that were sewn into his clothes.
As Secretary Napolitano will explain, the screening technologies that might have detected these explosives are in use at the Amsterdam airport, but not at the specific checkpoints that he passed through. Indeed, most airports in the world -- and in the United States -- do not yet have these technologies. Now, there's no silver bullet to securing the thousands of flights into America each day, domestic and international. It will require significant investments in many areas. And that's why, even before the Christmas attack, we increased investments in homeland security and aviation security. This includes an additional $1 billion in new systems and technologies that we need to protect our airports -- more baggage screening, more passenger screening and more advanced explosive detection capabilities, including those that can improve our ability to detect the kind of explosive used on Christmas. These are major investments and they'll make our skies safer and more secure.
Why it seems only yesterday that:
...that those responsible for terrorist acts throughout the world must be taken on by civilized nations; that the international community must ensure that all our airports are safe and that civil air travel is safeguarded; and that the world must unite in taking decisive action against terrorists, against nations that sponsor terrorists, and against nations that give terrorists safe haven.
This drama has reminded us how precious and fragile are the freedoms and standards of decency of civilized societies; how greatly civilized life depends on trust in other human beings; but how those values we hold most dear must also be defended with bravery—a bravery that may lie quiet and deep, but that will rise to answer our call in every time of peril. Freedom, democracy, and peace have enemies; they must also have steadfast friends.
The United States gives terrorists no rewards and no guarantees. We make no concessions; we make no deals. Nations that harbor terrorists undermine their own stability and endanger their own people. Terrorists, be on notice, we will fight back against you, in Lebanon and elsewhere. We will fight back against your cowardly attacks on American citizens and property.
But that was in 30 JUN 1985, under President Reagan.
Mind you, that was after we left Beirut, our dead unavenged after Marines and our Embassy had been bombed there. Twice in the case of the Embassy before and after the attack on the Marines and French contingent of the MNF in Lebanon. And by 05 SEP 1986 President Reagan was making yet another address on terrorism against US civilians, this time in Pakistan. Yes after that all the peace loving Nations of the G-7 swept into action as seen on 09 JUN 1987:
We, the Heads of State or Government of seven major democracies and the Representatives of the European Community assembled here in Venice, profoundly aware of our peoples' concern at the threat posed by terrorism;
—reaffirm our commitment to the statements on terrorism made at previous Summits, in Bonn, Venice, Ottawa, London and Tokyo;
—resolutely condemn all forms of terrorism, including aircraft hijackings and hostage-taking, and reiterate our belief that whatever its motives, terrorism has no justification;
—confirm the commitment of each of us to the principle of making no concessions to terrorists or their sponsors;
—remain resolved to apply, in respect of any State clearly involved in sponsoring or supporting international terrorism, effective measures within the framework of international law and in our own jurisdictions;
—welcome the progress made in international cooperation against terrorism since we last met in Tokyo in May 1986, and in particular the initiative taken by France and Germany to convene in May in Paris a meeting of Ministers of nine countries, who are responsible for counter-terrorism;
—reaffirm our determination to combat terrorism both through national measures and through international cooperation among ourselves and with others, when appropriate, and therefore renew our appeal to all like-minded countries to consolidate and extend international cooperation in all appropriate fora;
—will continue our efforts to improve the safety of travellers. We welcome improvements in airport and maritime security, and encourage the work of ICAO and IMO in this regard. Each of us will continue to monitor closely the activities of airlines which raise security problems. The Heads of State or Government have decided on measures, annexed to this statement, to make the 1978 Bonn Declaration more effective in dealing with all forms of terrorism affecting civil aviation;
—commit ourselves to support the rule of law in bringing terrorists to justice. Each of us pledges increased cooperation in the relevant fora and within the framework of domestic and international law on the investigation, apprehension and prosecution of terrorists. In particular we reaffirm the principle established by relevant international conventions of trying or extraditing, according to national laws and those international conventions, those who have perpetrated acts of terrorism.
Yes the beloved clarion call to the rest of the world went out! And we were going to try those waging acts of Personal War in the CIVIL VENUE! Ah, by then President Reagan had clearly forgotten that terrorism is an act of war, not a mere civil crime. As an act of war it is first given to military justice to try, not civilian courts to puzzle out as civil law is all about crimes, while military courts are about determining if you are waging war.
It also seems a bit forgotten that military justice is STILL justice.
How did that stuff work out?
And did that 1978 Bonn Declaration actually make air travel any 'safer'? If it did then why were there so many meetings after it in Tokyo, Venice, Paris... just asking!
Of course none of this sort of thing, attacks against US military personnel abroad, would be treated as a CRIME SCENE would it?
Oh... wait... there was the Khobar Towers bombing on 06 NOV 1995. So sorry!
Mind you the mindset of 'terrorism = civil crime' had already been thoroughly hammered home over the years as no one bothered to learn just what war actually is. This can be seen in the reaction to the First WTC bombing and to the event just before it, the Oklahoma Murrah Federal Building bombing on 19 APR 1995. An activity like that can be BOTH a civil crime AND an act of war against the US, which is what McVeigh and Nichols intended it to be. Now destruction of property and murder are what you get on the civil side, but on the military side committing an act of war against your own Nation has a very different name to it: treason. The Constitution demands two witnesses to that. My guess is that barring that the use of the Geneva Conventions would place McVeigh and Nichols out of uniform doing acts of 'espionage and sabotage' to wage war against us, which has a summary sentence attached to it. No sitting in the Federal Pen as a minor celebrity, no interviews with whatever news organization can get to you, and your appeals process is right quick.
Thus in a major 60 Minutes interview on 23 APR 1995, President Clinton had this as part of the back and forth:
Mr. Kroft. You said immediately after the attack that we will find the people who did this, and justice will be swift, certain, and severe. If it had turned out that this had been an act of foreign-sponsored terrorism, you would have had some limited but very clear options. You could have ordered bombing attacks. You could have ordered trade embargoes. You could have done a lot of things. But it seems almost certain now that this is home-grown terrorism, that the enemy is in fact within. How do we respond to that?
The President. Well, we have to arrest the people who did it. We have to put them on trial. We have to convict them. Then we have to punish them. I certainly believe that they should be executed. And in the crime bill, which the Congress passed last year, we had an expansion of capital punishment for purposes such as this. If this is not a crime for which capital punishment is called, I don't know what is.
Ed Bradley. Mr. President, this is Ed Bradley in New York. There are many people who would question our system of criminal justice today in the United States—in fact, many people who have lost faith in our criminal justice system. With so many people languishing on death row today for so many years, how can you say with such assurance that justice will be certain, swift, and severe?
The President. Well let me say first of all, it's been a long time since there has been a capital case carried through at the national level. But our new crime bill permits that. Now, when I was Governor, I carried out our capital punishment laws at the State level. We just pursued the appeals vigorously. I do believe the habeas corpus provisions of the Federal law, which permit these appeals sometimes to be delayed 7, 8, 9 years, should be changed. I have advocated that. I tried to pass it last year. I hope the Congress will pass a review and a reform of the habeas corpus provisions, because it should not take 8 or 9 years and three trips to the Supreme Court to finalize whether a person, in fact, was properly convicted or not.
Now I had looked at the size of the Anti-Terrorism work done by Congress that President Clinton refers to in this piece and compared it to the statutes against those waging Private War who give themselves up for civil prosecution. The Anti-Terrorism stuff has 904 sections to it, that wander all over the place because it is trying to address so many issues as to create scripts that law enforcement will have to follow so that it is constrained by civil justice. The other statutes against Private War? There are 10 paragraphs to them, in total, and they deal with both foreigners and Americans waging war illegally and the worst term is life imprisonment, and that was in the era before the idea of 'parole' had ever been heard of.
And just a bit later we find that we will be made much safer:
Mike Wallace. Mr. President, Mike Wallace. Are we Americans going to have to give up some of our liberties in order better to combat terrorism, both from overseas and here?
The President. Mike, I don't think we have to give up our liberties, but I do think we have to have more discipline and we have to be willing to see serious threats to our liberties properly investigated. I have sent a counter-terrorism, a piece of legislation to Capitol Hill, which I hope Congress will pass. And after consultation with the Attorney General, the FBI Director, and others, I'm going to send some more legislation to Congress to ask them to give the FBI and others more power to crack these terrorist networks, both domestic and foreign.
We still will have freedom of speech. We'll have freedom of association. We'll have freedom of movement. But we may have to have some discipline in doing it so we can go after people who want to destroy our very way of life.
You know, we accepted a minor infringement on our freedom, I guess, when the airport metal detectors were put up, but they went a long way to stop airplane hijackings and the explosion of planes and the murdering of innocent people. We're going to have to be very, very tough and firm in dealing with this. We cannot allow our country to be subject to the kinds of things these poor people in Oklahoma City have been through in the last few days.
I do wish those who go on about the Patriot Act would pay some notice to the mind-set whereby government is letting you have freedom of speech, association and movement. With government 'discipline', of course! I thought that all our rights and liberty were born within us and we grant some very few to government to secure them? Perhaps those who abhor the Patriot Act can address this wider mind-set that seems to say that our rights and liberties are mere chips that government can call in at any moment it wants for 'discipline'?
And all these measures were ever so effective in stopping bombings, now, weren't they? I am sure that many lives were saved by the measures outlined, but just why is law enforcement seen as an answer to those willing to wage war against Nations, civil society and civil populations? Often their own, mind you. Why is it that we need government 'discipline' on our civil rights when government, itself, is unwilling to do one of the primary jobs it is handed: to discern those who make war against us and STOP THEM?
When government moves acts of war into the overburdened civil venue of crimes, those new crimes then get less attention put to them than if the military were handed the task of figuring out how to end those waging war against us. We will always, without any doubt, have the problem of our fellow citizens reclaiming all their liberties and rights to wage war on mankind, as that is part of the nature of man that can not be bred out nor disciplined away from him.
When our fellow man does that he has broken with civil society and civil law and taken all law into his own hands and now uses war against us. What part of making war against mankind is there in the civil law? Only those parts where those individuals recognize the error of their ways and present themselves for civil justice. When you 'capture' them, they are STILL waging war against you because you had to 'capture' them: they are not voluntarily changing their ways. Notice that to get civil justice one must submit to it, not wage war on the society creating it?
Sounds nasty, doesn't it?
That is because the action is nasty and meant to attack not just the 'victims' but the society and Nation that underpins the civil way of life. That is done so those attacking it can get what THEY want outside of all civil procedures. And even then they are none too choosy about who they kill to get their way. Because they are fighting war in its most brutal form: Private War taken up with no Nation to back them, just on their own for their own reasons to their own ends and don't mind the body count along the way.
Mind you I take this exact, same approach when looking at the bureaucracies set up post-9/11 to deal with its problem, and I am not joking when I say they are too big to succeed.
Getting back to President Obama and his address, this passage is telling:
I have repeatedly made it clear -- in public with the American people, and in private with my national security team -- that I will hold my staff, our agencies and the people in them accountable when they fail to perform their responsibilities at the highest levels.
Now, at this stage in the review process it appears that this incident was not the fault of a single individual or organization, but rather a systemic failure across organizations and agencies. That's why, in addition to the corrective efforts that I've ordered, I've directed agency heads to establish internal accountability reviews, and directed my national security staff to monitor their efforts. We will measure progress. And John Brennan will report back to me within 30 days and on a regular basis after that. All of these agencies -- and their leaders -- are responsible for implementing these reforms. And all will be held accountable if they don't.
Moreover, I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer. For ultimately, the buck stops with me. As President, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people. And when the system fails, it is my responsibility.
President Truman had the famous sign on the desk: The Buck Stops Here.
President Truman dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan that was not fighting by the laws of war as were understood then, and now, and had come to the conclusion that FDR had made a fateful choice when he started the Manhattan Project after getting a message from Albert Einstein on the matter. Truman had time to figure out that all of the Pacific Campaign had pointed to Japanese soldiers and civilians dying or killing themselves so as not to be taken prisoner. The entire culture, the entire Nation of Japan looked horrifically suicidal and he had 6 million Purple Hearts minted in the expectation of a massive US invasion of the Japanese home islands. He was seeing many salient points that we come upon with terrorism these days, with the way things were being done in the Pacific War. Japan had most of its fleet sunk, it was losing nearly all of its land holding and supply lines from overseas, and yet it was still shifting its industry to more hardened sites and was preparing the defenses necessary to fight an invasion. The choice was to use nuclear weapons AND start the longer term preparations for an invasion of Japan that would see millions of American soldiers, shifted from the European Theater to the Pacific Theater, used to subdue Japan. It would have made Sherman's march through the South seem like a walk in the shade, in comparison.
The European Theater had seen the downfall of the Nazi regime and its two-faced nature towards its foes. Towards the Soviets it was a bitter battle, brutal and not much of the laws of war were kept to. Against the rest of the Allies Germany did its best to adhere to the laws of war and fight standard battles. During the declining days the meager defense against the rest of the Allies was due to the Soviet push to Berlin and in that final push, that final set of battles, Truman would get the reports of the differences between wars of fighting en mass and fighting in detail. The US and its Western Allies had defeated entire German Armies and they would then surrender in good order, en mass. That is the way of war adhering to the Nation State ways of war, and defeat for that is recognized as honorable. That was not the case in Berlin.
The Soviet-Nazi conflict in that city would be in detail. In detail fighting is eliminating each and every unit, and nearly every man in bitter, close fighting that went house to house and then room to room. By not adhering to the laws of war, Nazi Germany got its reward of in detail fighting with the Soviets.
When looking at Japan, Truman saw an entire Nation, from children to the aged, prepared for in detail fighting. The horror of that in Berlin was immense. What would happen in Japan with that would stagger the imagination.
His only out was that Japan was a Nation, and just might realize the US had a trick or two up its sleeve that just might put some sense into one man: the Emperor. It was a very near thing as Emperor Hirohito was nearly stopped by a military coup from surrendering.
President Obama is faced with a foe that accepts nothing save your surrender, and is more than willing to fight against the unarmed to get its way. Unlike Japan and Germany, they are no Nation State: there are no strings to pull, no reason to appeal to, and no demonstration of might that will convince this enemy to stop fighting us. President Obama could nuke Quetta, but that would achieve very little even if he did get bin Laden and Zawahiri as their sub-ordinates outside of Pakistan (and even inside it and Afghanistan) now have an inter-cooperating web of groups called the Shadow Army. That is not an army that wears uniforms or has a regularized control structure and system of orders to follow. There is no leader to capture to make it surrender, no one you can appeal to so that they will abide by the laws of war, nothing that can be done to them on the civil side that will make them stop. They have accepted the ways of the Law of Nature and Private War, that has no rules to it save kill or be killed. They do not want 'peace' but submission to them and they will kill to get their ends.
For a President who so admires one of the predecessors, he does not have the will to follow that man's example when having to fight a war surrounded by incompetents. If he DID follow the way of that President, he would NOT be having incompetent heads of various agencies still around AFTER they have failed him REPEATEDLY.
The President who Obama has invoked on more than one instance is not Reagan nor FDR, but one who understood what Private War is and how it is to be dealt with by the US Armed Forces. And he did have a large number of incompetent underlings to go through!
That was President Lincoln and he went through Generals that couldn't fight, that couldn't win and couldn't figure out how to do either, so fast that they became a blur. He went through the very simple exercise that really should be used by the President far more than now: Fire People Until Competence Is Found.
Not political connection.
Not brown-nosing 'yes men'.
Not political ideologues.
Make no excuses and fire their asses when they don't perform.
And then fight.
Because nothing we do on the civil side will get rid of terrorism.
Terrorism is a tactic in Private War and we expect the Nation to protect us from war, not endanger our liberties for the sake of 'safety' that doesn't address the issue of war.
Not being able to do so indicates a failure from the man with the responsibility to safeguard the Nation.
It cannot be done by more laws, more regulations, and more 'discipline' from government upon the people of the Nation.
Fight or do not fight.
You cannot fight war with a dimmer switch, especially when its electrodes are attached to the innocent.
That middle way just gets people killed to no good end.