So what happens this time?

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  • Gareth Jenkins,

    Here's a clue: 90 percent of House Democrats voted against the NSA's Terrorist Surveillance Program; 80 percent voted against the terrorist interrogation bill. All these counterterror programs are at risk if House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gets the speaker's gavel next year . . .

    So basically what you're saying is, only 90% of Democrats are FOR the 4th Amendment, and a mere 80% support the US following the Geneva Convention?

    Like you, I'm shocked - why would anyone vote for THOSE guys???

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Russell:

    Fair ping, to paraphrase Albert Francis Gore there was no need on my part to get snippy. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Boden,

    Danyl & Joe

    Why hasn't the US hasn't been attacked since 9/11?

    Maybe Osama has been at the beach, or have there been several massive attacks in the US that the Bush administration has covered up to cling desperately to power to keep making money from Halliburton?

    Let me try to rephrase the original point. It is specious reasoning to attribute the non-occurrence of a highly improbable event (terrorist attack) to any particular causal process.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 94 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Murtha is not being persecuted; his views and his offered solution of redeploying the troops in Iraq to Okinawa is just too stupid to be true.

    Sigh ... this is exactly what I mean. In the 'Meet the Press' interview in June, which attracted all the attention, he was asked to respond to a Rove comment demanding to know where the US could station troops if it withdrew from Iraq. Murtha mentioned Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait - and then, as an afterthought, Okinawa. He has apparently mentioned increasing the existing cohort at Okinawa before, but I couldn't find references.

    Okay, Okinawa is too far from the Middle East to be practical as a staging post, so not a great idea. It also didn't warrant the batshit-crazy response it got from the winger media and blogosphere.

    Ironically, Jack Kelly, who castigated Murtha over this on Real Clear Politics, is now, three months later, declaring that "it's plain we've worn out our welcome" in Iraq, calling for a "timetable for withdrawal", etc. He unfortunately neglected to answer Mr Rove's question about where to send the troops next ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Thompson,

    Russ,

    New thread... yea or nay...

    The discussion with NO (Jesse) James could stay here perhaps...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 220 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Russ,

    New thread... yea or nay...

    Alright, you've convinced me. I'm still feeling my way with this discussion thing ...

    New thread here for poll-watching, now that the returns are poised to come in. Feel free to keep on arguing in this one though ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    Gareth
    Geneva conventions only apply to soldiers captured in uniform, fighting for a recognized government, i.e not Al Qaeda types

    NSA program only covered suspected terrorists calling from outside the US to a US phone number, so it didn't violate any laws covering domestic wiretaps. The program was reviewed by the DOJ and both Dem and Repub members of the intelligence committees in the House and Senate were briefed on the program regularly.

    Like the Patriot Act, and the Swift money transfer surveillance program, the NSA program is a very reasonable program that a substantial majority of the US population agrees with.

    And Eddie, opposing the renewal of the Patriot Act, the NSA program and the Swift money transfer surveillance program is all the evidence you need to deem someone a card carrying member of the loony left.

    Pelosi has been pretty much out of sight for the last few weeks, strange behavior for a potential speaker at election time don't you think? Why would that be? Because she is well to the left of the average American perhaps and the Dems running the election (Rahm Emmanuel in the House) want her out of sight

    One of the interesting thing about this election is that a lot of the new Dem candidates that may well be elected are much more conservative than the Dem House leadership, most of the new Dem Reps are more than likely sensible enough to support the 3 programs referred to above, so it could make for an interesting time for Pelosi and her fellow more senior left leaning Dem leaders.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    Joe, was the planned attack on multiple airplanes that was stopped recently in the UK another one of those highly unlikely events? There seem to have been quite a few of those “highly unlikely” events over the last few years, Madrid, Bali, London etc. Maybe they are not so highly unlikely after all.

    So we are just supposed to do nothing to try to stop Bin Laden and Co from doing again what they have very clearly stated that they want to do again? I don’t get it. What is your suggested course of action?

    I think we have hit on one of the central differences between people in places like New Zealand who feel that this terrorism stuff is all very far away and remote with no likely hood of impacting them, and those of us who live in the US and travel to New York and DC and who fly the Atlantic reasonably regularly and feel that any possibility of a terrorist attack is unacceptable and that the government can and should do whatever it can do to try to stop a terrorist attack before it happens.

    We live in different worlds and look at each other and wonder what the f@#k the other person is thinking. I don't know what to do about it but 9/11 was real, it wasn't a 3 d holograph or a stunt faked by Chimpybushhitler to make money or as an excuse to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. It was cold blooded murder on a horrendous scale.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    Alistair, sorry to interrupt your echo chamber, or should that be circle jerk?

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Thompson,

    Not my circle jerk or echo chamber. Russell's home for serious discussion and considered argument.

    As for your view that your views are majoritarian in the home of the brave the exit polls tend to indicate otherwise.

    And if the NSA programme was legal then why did it explode in Bush's face so spectacularly?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 220 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    I suggest that there hasn't been another attack because Al Qaeda doesn't really have a reason to attack the US mainland. It's risky and expensive and they can achieve their goals more readily by killing Shia muslims and US soldiers in Iraq, or infidels in Saudia Arabia, or tourists in Egypt. Most Al Qaeda members are from those last two countries and that is where their ambitions lie - the US doesn't concern Al Qaeda very much, except as a powerful ally of the 'pagan' governments in Cairo and Riyadh.

    The CIA did find evidence that another terror plot was in the works back in early 2003 - poison gas attacks on metropolitan subways. Zawahiri called it off a month before execution and they haven't gone near the US since - presumably because 9/11 achieved their goal of engaging 'the far enemy'.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Lee Wilkinson,

    I know feeding the trolls is naughty, but.
    I dont usually get this frustrated James, but heads up dude!
    There was a mighty disturbing terrorism incident here a few years back, or is it not terrorism when a government sponsors it?
    That little girl running down the road with her back on fire sure looked like a terrorist to me.
    Changed my life and shattered my innocence, thanks napalm.
    Just remember more americans die from drowning in their bathtubs yearly than died on 9/11 and that number equates to roughly a months handgun deaths stateside as well.

    Whangarei Heads • Since Nov 2006 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Clarke,

    So, James, let's just run with some of your logic here, and simply ignore the fact that Lisa Simspon can blow holes in it.

    How about we assume that the Dems gain control of the House, and that the GOP retains the Senate 49-51, and that as a result some of the more extreme programs (such as the waterboarding and the NSA surveillance) are suspended. We can but dream, right?

    On that basis, you seem to be saying that America would be much less safe, and the bogeyman (oops, sorry, I meant Al Qaeda) will again attack the US mainland. So the question is, how soon would this occur?

    Clearly, if the Patriot Act and the NSA programme and the Swift monitoring are the only things keeping US citizens safe - as you're suggesting - their suspension should see an instant resumption in Al Qaeda activity.

    So based on the scenario above, how soon would we have to wait for another 9/11? We'll accept predictions in denominations of days, weeks, months and years (or any combination thereof), but a concrete estimate that we can point to would be welcomed.

    Because if if you're unable (or unwilling) to put an actual number on the threat posed, then Lisa's summary - that you're using specious reasoning - would seem to be the case.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 85 posts Report Reply

  • The Doctor,

    Alistair, sorry to interrupt your echo chamber, or should that be circle jerk?

    Keep it seemly James. No one is talking to you like that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    James,

    The validity (or not) of your arguments are in many ways beside the point. A few steps back and you might begin to try and unravel all the reasons it has come to this.

    State-sponsored terrorism, neo-colonial foreign policy and outright deceit and hypocrisy are just a few of the reasons the "bad guys" came knocking on your door.

    No reasonable person is defending Al Queda's actions (nor the IRA et al over the years) but we can try and understand what drives people to such extremes.

    Generally I think you'll find they were very angry. And generally for quite valid reasons.

    Dealing with the reasons seems the more logical approach. As opposed to constraining civil liberties and bombing all the followers of Allah.

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Hamish,

    opposing the renewal of the Patriot Act, the NSA program and the Swift money transfer surveillance program is all the evidence you need to deem someone a card carrying member of the loony left.

    Well, no. Governments of yester-year would never have allowed such policies to be enacted in the first place.

    Postulating on the supposed effectiveness of the programs is missing the point - as Michael says, the fact that people like James feel that such anti-American measures (in the classic, freedom and liberty sense) are necessary is symptomatic of the failures of failed US foreign policy.

    The A.K. • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Nat Torkington,

    James wrote: "all I can say is that I live in the US, I talk to Americans everyday, I travel around the US, I watch US TV every night, and you don't.". I lived there from 1995-2005, through the tech boom, 9/11, and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. I travelled around the US and Europe too, lived in a state with a strong Republican presence, and yet came to entirely different conclusions than does James.

    I do, however, agree with him that the US has foiled attacks since 9/11. It foiled attacks before 9/11 as well. We differ on the role that the contested legislation has played. I don't believe that the previous system for getting wiretaps had been a problem, and I don't believe that cruel interrogation techniques on prisoners should be okay (because not all prisoners can be guaranteed to be criminals).

    Not that those opinions helped me in the US: I couldn't vote. So I came back home :-)

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    Haven't been back here for a few days, its been a busy place!!

    Michael Savidge wrote:
    State-sponsored terrorism, neo-colonial foreign policy and outright deceit and hypocrisy are just a few of the reasons the "bad guys" came knocking on your door.
    No reasonable person is defending Al Queda's actions (nor the IRA et al over the years) but we can try and understand what drives people to such extremes.
    Generally I think you'll find they were very angry. And generally for quite valid reasons.

    Osama came knocking on Uncle Sam's door because it was a step in his grand plan to reestablish the Caliphate and move on conquer the world for Islam, he has enumerated his grand plan and the reasons for it on numerous occasions.

    It is not about neo-colonial foreign policy or any "valid reason". Islam is a religion of conquest and Osama wants to conquer the infidels. Ditto Armidinijad in Iran.

    There is no possible way to reason with those guys, they want our submission or our heads. All of this is not only completely justified as far as they are concerned, but commanded by the Koran. I wish it wasn't so, but unfortunately it is.

    Our forebears didn't take Hilter seriously, or thought they could talk to him and come to some reasonable agreement. A big mistake that cost 60 million people their lives (total death toll of WWII). I hope we don't make the same mistake in our times.

    Clarke
    Predictions of next Al Qaeda in days and hours. Very funny. Why don’t you ask Lisa Simpson since she seems to be your guiding philosopher?

    The question is when we know Al Qaeda are still trying to, and have repeatedly stated their intentions to attack the US, why make it easier for them? We can take some very reasonable steps and make it much harder for them without costing the US much at all in time, effort, and civil rights "given up". In fact I had any civil rightds taken from me since 9/11.

    I have every right to expect, infact I demand that the Govt do EVERYTHING in its power to keep me and my family safe. I don’t care how small the chance of being killed by a terrorist act is, if I want to eat myself to death by chocolate that is my choice, to hell with any possibility of having my life or the lives of my loved ones or friends or anyone taken by some crazed rag heads.

    Tangentially related point. The more Al Qaeda guys the US kills in Iraq the better. Means we don't have to deal with them on our own turf. In terms of terrorism, away games are a much better option!!

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    I have every right to expect, infact I demand that the Govt do EVERYTHING in its power to keep me and my family safe.

    Weren't you the guy sneering at the residents of New Orleans who failed to evacuate and complaining about how they expected the Government to take care of them instead of looking after themselves? I'm pretty sure you were.

    In fact I had any civil rightds taken from me since 9/11.

    I think you'll find you've lost your right to privacy - US intelligence organisations can listen to your phone conversations without any judicial oversight. You've also lost your right to a fair trial if you're suspected of terrorist related activities. You can be held without access to a lawyer and tried by a military tribunal in which evidence that you don't have access to can be used to convict you.

    Our forebears didn't take Hilter seriously, or thought they could talk to him and come to some reasonable agreement. A big mistake that cost 60 million people their lives (total death toll of WWII). I hope we don't make the same mistake in our times.

    You know you're deep in paranoid fantasy land when you start comparing bin Laden - head of an organisation that barely exists anymore, with most of it's members dead, hiding or in prison - with Adolf Hitler, who was head of one of the worlds largest most populous military industrial states.

    It's also amusing to hear apologists for US foreign policy warn against 'the dangers of ignoring someone like Hitler'. Did anyone ignore him longer than the US did?

    Islam is a religion of conquest and Osama wants to conquer the infidels. Ditto Armidinijad in Iran. There is no possible way to reason with those guys, they want our submission or our heads. All of this is not only completely justified as far as they are concerned, but commanded by the Koran. I wish it wasn't so, but unfortunately it is.

    I think Islam is a crazy, evil insane religion.
    I also think it's virtually no threat to the west at all, certainly in the existential sense that many Americans seem to think it is. (I'm constantly amused to hear Americans warn me that France - which is about 85% Catholic and virulently anti-muslim - is going to become a Sharia state 'within 'a few years'.)

    As I've said before, I don't think the US has much to fear from another attack from Al Qaeda. The goal of the 9/11 attacks was to provoke a US invasion of Afghanistan which was a 'diabolical trap' where Al Qaeda would destroy the American armies and bring an end to the US as a great power, the same way they bought down the Soviet Union (or, at least they convinced themselves they did).

    Obviously that didn't work out too well for bin Laden and Zawahiri. Afghanistan was not occupied and control of the state was turned over to it's various warlords. Most of Al Qaedas members were captured or killed, or fled to Pakistan. They lost all of their training camps and redoubts. Funding from Bin Ladens old friends and relatives back in Saudi Arabia dried up.

    Why does Al Qaeda want to bring down the US in the first place? It's not a question you hear discussed very often in the American media. President Bush insists that it's because 'they hate freedom'. Others talk about establishing 'a new Caliphate' but don't seem to know just how attacking the World Trade Center ties in to that. Many on the right feel it's because they want to convert everyone in the world to Islam and decided to start with the US.

    The truth is more prosaic. Bin Laden and Zawahiri are exiles from their homelands - Saudi Arabia and Egypt respectively. Their goal is to overthrow the governments in those states and transform them into theocracies like Afghanistan under the Taliban.

    Zawahiri has devoted his life - and spent much of it being tortured in Egyptian prisons - trying to overthrow the Mubarak regime. He's formed the reasonable conclusion that the secular dictatorship in Egypt will never fall so long as it's being bankrolled by the United States. Bin Laden has decided they same thing about Saudi Arabia. Thus their decision to attack 'the far enemy' in order to bring about the defeat of their real foes - the regimes in Cairo and Riyahd that Al Qaeda consider 'pharonic' - pre muslim.

    So it's not surprising to me that that chattering classes in the US don't really discuss the harsh reality that it was financial and military support for the Monarchy in Saudi Arabia and the military dictatorship in Egypt that lay behind the rational for the 9/11 attacks.

    Ayman al Zawahiri has read Paul Kennedys book on the decline of great powers and knows that empires like the US decline in relative terms due to excessive military expenditure and the damage that foreign military adventures cause to the domestic economy. He doubtless knew that the low grade commitment of NATO troops to Kabul was unlikely to bring down a power as mighty as the US.

    So additional attacks were planned on the US mainland - supposedly they were going to be poison gas attacks against metropolitian subways. Zawahiri called them off when it became apparent that the US was going to invade and occupy Iraq. His goals - a large US occupying force in a hostile muslim country - had been achieved, although obviously not in a way he had anticipated.

    So in that respect the US is pretty safe from additional terrorist attacks - but being safe because you're doing exactly what your enemy wants you to do isn't really a great tactical position.

    So how does a democratic senate change any of this? It doesn't. Al Qaeda still want to overthrow Egypt and KSA, the US continues to support them and remains stuck in Iraq with no obvious solutions to it's doomed policies in the region.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Hi Darryl,
    I agree with everything you say and it still amazes me that people such as yourself still, after all, this time have to point out the obvious to those stateside who seem to exist to reiterate the Fox talking points. Which, with some irony is the home of Lisa Simpson too, but I didn't bring her up. If I hear one more spin of the protecting our freedom or Caliphate garbage...

    My only argument is with your description of Islam. I not religious at all, and indeed actively believe that all religion is a problem. However I do live in the biggest Muslim nation on the planet. This is a nation which has had its problems with violent applications of its religion by a very small minority, largely driven by foreign (Malay) forces. But its also a nation of much tolerance with hundreds of nationalities and religions peacefully living together. A few kms from my house is a Muslim Mosque, Hindu Temple and Christian Church all next to each other. They share a playgroup for the kids...

    With some 200 million adherents to a supposedly violent evil religion you'd think we non believers would suffer. We don't at all, quite the opposite. I've had no looks, no threats, no comments, just endless smiles (in a way that we westerners can't quite comprehend) and generosity over the years. Yes there are some nutters out there. I don't think Indonesia is alone in that.

    Many of the allegedly Islam driven issues here, if you look a little closer, are more economic in nature and indeed, as you find across the Muslim world grinding poverty and poor education are the real problem. Wealth and education doesn't, as Pat Robertson and the religious right are evidence of, remove all the world's religiously driven ignorance and bigotry, but it certainly helps one hell of a lot.

    Religion is an easy tag to bring people together for a common purpose, but as you rightly say, Al Qaeda and the such have aims that are far more earthly than the Caliphate that they use as a catchall. And it is very very handy for winding up the less questioning Americans. Osama has been, and is, very good at playing the US..James' comments are evidence of that.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

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