HomeFeaturesDailyBriefingsRapidReconSpecial ReportsAbout Us

« January 2011 | Return to RapidRecon | April 2011 »

February 13, 2011

When It Crosses Over...

Despite declarations that Anwar al-Awlaki poses the greatest threat to U.S. security, once again, looking closer to home is in order. That is not to diminish the serious threat posed by al Qaeda, or the seriousness of the enflamed region in North Africa.

But when you have Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu predicting outright armed battles between his people and cartel gunmen, it is time to listen.

A gunbattle is all but certain, Babeu told The Arizona Republic, because his deputies and members of a regional SWAT team are now routinely working to stop smugglers from pushing cargo through Pinal. "We have had enough," Babeu said. "That's why we're going into these areas and sending a very clear message to the cartels: We see you and we're not going to let you through."

Our border with Mexico remains insecure. Frankly, I am tired of writing about this problem. It hasn't gotten any better since 2006 when I started writing here, and it isn't going away. Two years ago, ThreatsWatch posted America's Unacknowledged War

So the question again must be asked, what will it take? How many Americans need to die because of the cartels (on our side of the border)?

This raises another question that flared last week. Why would an American citizen knowingly cross to the Mexican side of the border? I heard an interview with the wife of the jet skier who was shot and killed on Falcon Lake last year. I am very sorry for her loss. I truly am. But in the interview it became clear that they crossed to the Mexican side of the border because they wanted to see a church. The same goes for the used truck buyers and everyone else. I am sorry for pain, suffering and loss of life. Why expose yourself to clear risk?

February 10, 2011

Mubarak Stays: But Transfers "Authority" to Vice President

Instead of stepping down, Hosni Mubarak defiantly remained in what should be interpreted as more an effort to save face in a relatively graceful exit rather than an attempt to simply retain power. The 82-year old authoritarian said he has transfered his "authority" to 74-year old Vice President Omar Suleiman. The writing is on the wall. Mubarak knows it. If he was trying to hold on to power, he would have tried to do so by rebuffing or transferring to a younger man.

That said, the Egyptians protesting in Tahrir Square in Cairo erupted with vocalized anger when it became apparent in Mubarak's address that he was not stepping down and leaving.

It is amusing to listen to Wolf Blitzer at the end of the CNN broadcast clip below, as he is outwardly befuddled why the crowd was 'cheering.' Blitzer remarked, "Uh, I - I don't know why these crowds would seem to be exuberant, because it would seem to be disappointing. Uh, Mubarak seemed to be saying, uh, he was staying in business, uh, at least for the time being. He spoke about the scheduled elections. But, Fred, you're there on the scene at Tahrir Square. What do these folks think he said?" We presume Fred straightened Wolf Blitzer out in short order.

But Wolf Blitzer's confusion is less dangerous than the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's proffering of the notion that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is a "largely secular" group. One is left to suppose that the Brotherhoods' remarkable secularism is why the group's faith is prominently part of its name, and that the restoration of the caliphate has no religious basis whatsoever.

It is one thing to argue the Muslim Brotherhood's social programs in Egypt and elsewhere. It's quite another to make the leap to a secular label.

Parting random thought...

There are great dangers of a leaderless revolution. Some have been quick to dismiss any comparisons between today's revolutionary Egypt and revolutionary Iran of 1979. Both began as truly a popular groundswell of discontent. Iran's revolution, like Egypt's, was also initially leaderless. Until it wasn't.

Caveat emptor.

Mubarak's sticking around in whatever capacity slows the race from anger to vacuum. It gives Egypt a better chance of emerging with a more thought-out representative governance than an immediate vacuum filled more with urgency than reason. The slower the transition, the better the chance of keeping the caliphate-seeking Muslim Brotherhood sidelined as an alternative is given chance to take shape.

Exit Mubarak: Egypt Effects Regime Change?

UPDATE: Mubarak Stays: But Transfers "Authority" to Vice President - with video of Tahrir Square reaction.

As Egypt awaits Hosni Mubarak's address to the nation expected this evening, the speculation is rampant that he will step down with the speech. The people of Egypt will have suddenly and unexpectedly effected their own regime change.

When the Chief of Staff of the Egyptian army tells ABC News it is over, it's more than simple speculation about ttonight's coming events. When asked if Mubarak will leave Egypt after tonight, General Sami Enan said, "I can't say, but I can say this is over."

Even after tonight, there will be infinitely more questions than answers - for Egypt and its people, for the people under regimes in the region, and for security and the future of the Egyptian-Israeli peace.

But Egypt also matters far beyond the Middle East region. More than most busy Americans realize. The events in Egypt will directly impact our lives here at home for generations to come.

History is being made with futures in the balance. As the situations unfold, we will unpack the events with an eye and an ear ahead, explaining things as we see them and in plain English.

February 9, 2011

Napolitano's Elephant In The Room

Months after the Obama administration took office, newly-appointed head of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano stood by a DHS report which concluded that homegrown "right wing extremists" posed the greatest security threat to the United States. Immediately, the explicit politicization of America's security structures and systems was ratcheted to whole new levels of Donkeys vs Elephants. In the two years since, the American right wing (Conspiratus Pachydermicus) has apparently failed to render the fanciful and politically motivated security assessment true. No right wing bomb plots or shootings or threats have materialized to speak of.

But this is not so regarding the simple domestic nature of the threat, sans the Obama administration's "right wing" identifier. For, even if not politically identifiable as "right wing" much to the political disappointment of the American Left, several threats and attacks originated with individuals who were American citizens - technically if not culturally.

And so it is acknowledged today by DHS Secretary Napolitano that "the threat facing us is at its most heightened state since [the September 11] attacks," and that "plots to attack America increasingly involve American residents and citizens." You know the principal suspects. US citizen Najibullah Zazi and his New York subway bombing plot. US resident Faisal Shahzad and his ill-fated attempt to detonate a propane tank-rigged car bomb in Times Square.

Yet, with all of the talk of the "homegrown" threat, the deadliest prime example is never spoken of by Janet Napolitano or the administration. Nidal Hasan, an Army major and radicalized Islamic extremist, shot and killed 14 soldiers and civilians at Fort Hood. He shouted "Allahu Akbar!" while firing, murdering. He was in contact with the same radical Yemeni-American al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al Awlaki that Napolitano cites in reference to other "homegrown" terrorists. Yet not a single mention in context with terrorist attacks.

Says Jim Robbins and the Washington Times editorial board:

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee recently concluded a year-long look into the circumstances of the domestic terror incident that took 14 lives. The committee report concluded that the Department of Defense and the FBI "collectively had sufficient information to have detected [Major Nidal] Hasan's radicalization to violent Islamist extremism but failed both to understand and to act on it."

[...] The White House response to the Fort Hood massacre is a textbook study in denial and coverup. The Obama administration refused to admit it was a terrorist attack, calling it instead an example of "violence in the workplace." The Army's official "force protection" report whitewashed the incident and avoided any reference to Hasan's jihadist motivations. The message to the federal bureaucracy was that even when blood is spilled, even when a soldier slaughters his fellow troops with a cry of "Allah akbar," official silence will be maintained. Radical Islam is the hatred that dare not speak its name.

DHS Secretary Napolitano's elephant in the room is hardly Conspiratus Pachydermicus, but rather Jihadiyun Violentia Mahemicus. Ignoring it won't reduce the threat. Calling it something else won't bring back the dead. Certainly neither will save its future prey.

  • AudioFebruary 2, 2010
    [Listen Here]
    What on Earth can Usama bin Laden, the mystical calculus of climate change and US Homeland Security have in common? Does bin Laden really agree with the President of the United States on matters weather? How is it that the...

Special Reports

Recent Features