Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

Do you remember how the 9/11 attacks happened, and then there was an investigation into whether anything could have been done differently to prevent it, and it turned out that the various government agencies hadn’t been sharing intelligence and information very well? And do you remember how George W Bush (“He Kept Us Safe“) fixed all of that, with his Department of Homeland Security and his daily briefings and his general level of awesomeness?

Well, as the Obama administration begins its plans to close Arkham Asylum Guantanamo Bay, it’s discovering just how effectively information is recorded and shared after seven years of Him Keeping Us Safe:


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The Friday Freebie

The Friday Freebie is where I share an online, open-access resource that I think readers might find interesting and useful. Each week, I will introduce a free resource that I think will be useful to teh angry Leftists – books, podcasts, web sites, etc. The aim is to compile a toolkit for understanding and advancing progressive ideals.

This week’s freebie rounds out our Bush Legacy Project (pending investigations and/or prosecutions). Author Ron Schalow contacted me this week to let me know that his book “Bullshit Artist: The 9/11 Leadership Myth” is now available for free online.

Schalow’s book is a biting  commentary on the actions of the Bush administration’s actions around the time of the 9/11 attacks. He charts the timeline of events on that day, as well as how the Bush administration worked in the days after the event to create a public perception of decisive leadership.

You can read Schalow’s book here – the for-sale version has the footnotes providing sources for all of Schalow’s information about the events. It’s a refreshing antidote to these types of claims – arguing that when the most obvious, serious opportunity for protecting the national security in the past eight years took place, the Bush administration struggled to get the job done, before and during that event.

Do you have a tip for future freebies? Contact me with any suggestions or requests.

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Still not sorry

Phil of the Dead:

My view is that one should not apologise for seeking to ensure that matters that tragically occur that involve terrorist acts are thoroughly investigated to see whether or not there are any implications for Australia.

You know what? I agree with Phil.

But there’s just one problem with his argument about why an apology is not appropriate – it doesn’t apply to the Haneef case. If the “matter” had been “thoroughly investigated” before Haneef was charged and his deportation ordered, nobody would have a problem. Dr Haneef would probably still be working in an Australian hospital, and the AFP and our Government wouldn’t owe him an apology.

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Today, we have two stories that illustrate how a Government can render itself blameless:

  • Here at home, the Clarke Inquiry has found that Mohamed Haneef should never have been charged, but that Kevin Andrews did not use the Haneef case for political advantage and acted out of “grave suspicions”. But, as much as some might claim otherwise, this is not a vindication of Andrews or of the Howard Government’s use of terrorism fears as a political instrument. As Mercurius notes at LP, the finding that Andrews did not corrupt the process shows that the process worked exactly as it had been set up – the Government put in place an anti-terrorism regime that encouraged the AFP to act on the slightest suspicion, created immigration laws that allowed the Minister to act on the slightest suspicion, and in the Haneef case both the AFP and Andrews simply followed the framework that had been set up. But Kevin Andrews is not to blame, because he was just using the laws as they had been implemented – never mind that they were implemented by the Government he was a part of.
  • Meanwhile, across the Pacific, Vice-President Dick Cheney has stated that the Democratic leadership was involved in a meeting that gave unanimous approval to continue the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance of US citizens. Now, this definitely places an obligation on the Democrats who were involved in the meeting to confirm or deny Cheney’s account. If it is true, then it will reflect very badly on them. But even if it is, does that absolve Cheney and the Bush administration? They still made the decision to initiate the program. Even based on Cheney’s account, they had already begun it without Congressional approval. But Dick Cheney is not to blame, because when he got around to telling Republicans and Democrats from the Congress about it, they (allegedly) didn’t tell him to stop. Because they didn’t apply the checks and balances, it’s their fault that he tipped the scales right over.

The only positive I can take from watching these governments play these games to avoid blame is that, within a month, both of these cases will relate to former governments. Now I just wish we could have complete confidence that our new governments and governments to come won’t do the same.

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My plan to start a regular feature on behavioural and social science topics has been delayed due to pressing issues at work. But even though I don’t have time for commentary at the moment, I want to link to this article in the Washington Post about moral reasoning and outrage.

It relates to the difference in coverage and reactions to the Mumbai terrorist attacks and the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe – essentially, research shows that when we can attribute responsibility for a tragedy to someone (e.g., terrorists), we will tend to be more outraged than when it is not possible to attribute responsibility (e.g., a disease outbreak). The article also discusses how the consequences of an act affect our reactions to it. The psychology researcher interviewed in the column also participated in a web chat, with the transcript available here.

I have this topic on my list of issues I want to return to in the weeks to come – but for now, the article itself is worth reading.

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The horror of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai is still not over. There has been a lot of excellent reporting, both professional and amateur, about the situation on the ground as well as the people and issues driving the attacks. But there are a couple of threads of reductionist reporting that disappoint me:

  • The filtering of these attacks through the prism of Islam vs The West. I have already said more about this at TBBWP.
  • The tendency to focus on reporting about how many of “our people” are affected. It is terrible that Australians have been killed and wounded, and I am sorry for the loss their friends and families have suffered. But many others have been killed – and the emphasis on Australian or Western casualties feeds into my previous concern. Yes, there is reason to think that the terrorists targeted Westerners. But current reports suggest that of the more than 150 confirmed dead, a little over 20 are foreigners; many Indians have been killed.

And while our attention is focused on these awful attacks, I would also note that these deaths are tragic, as are these ones.

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Obviously the news tonight and tomorrow morning will be dominated by the violence in Mumbai. The situation is far from settled, the death toll not known and the perpetrators not identified. A few links to resources for keeping an eye on things:

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