“Countering Violent Extremism”

Sorry to let the threads grow so long of late–I’ve been out weeding again, if you know what I mean.

So partly to open up another thread to discuss the many ways in which our government kills Americans and/or journalists, and partly because we’ve been talking about whether the Hutaree militia organizing 40 miles from my house to the west, or whether the Imam gunned down by the FBI 30 miles in the other direction, were terrorists, I wanted to point to a Mark Hosenball post on the jargon replacing “GWOT”:

Not long after President Obama took office, he unofficially put an end to a favorite phrase of his predecessor: the “global war on terror.” True, George W. Bush used it so much that GWOT, as it became known in Washington, had largely lost its impact. But it got the job done—and Obama had yet to find a tough, pithy replacement. Until now.

In a speech today before a conference on post-9/11 intelligence-reform efforts, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair didn’t once utter the words “global war on terror.” But at least twice he talked about the administration’s efforts at “countering violent extremism.”


CVE has been slowly catching on among the Obama crowd. Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s top counterterrorism adviser, used it in testimony he gave to the Senate Armed Services Committee last month. As Benjamin explained it, “The primary goal of countering violent extremism is to stop those most at risk of radicalization from becoming terrorists. Its tools are noncoercive and include social programs, counter-ideology initiatives, and working with civil society to delegitimize the Al Qaeda narrative and, where possible, provide positive alternative narratives.” He added, “We are working hard to develop a variety of CVE programs.”

Hosenball also quotes John Brennan acknowledging that terrorism is a tactic.

It seems we’re replacing the word “terrorist,” then, with “extremist.” Preferable, in my mind, to be sure. But how will the term be used in the United States where we’ve got nutcases threatening members of Congress because they don’t like democratic votes? And will the fight against extremists merit special tactics in return, like the targeting of Americans with no due process?

80 replies
  1. bobschacht says:

    Thanks, EW!

    Well, I like abandoning the word “war” as the centerpiece.

    But “extremist” has many of the same problems as terrorist.

    For example, what’s the difference between an extremist and a freedom fighter? Take the Taliban, for example. Are they “extremists”? Many of them think of themselves as freedom fighters defending their culture against foreign invaders. If they are extremists, in what sense are they extreme? In Afghanistan culture and history, many of them are pretty normal.

    Afghanistan is essentially a feudal state run mostly by warlords. Fealty usually follows ethnicity & language (e.g. Pashtun), tribe, confederation, and clan, with alliances built through marriage. Our recent policy has been to de-emphasize Karzai, and work directly with the warlords and other regional leaders. How’s that going to build national unity?

    Bob in AZ

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, that, plus the way the DC Beltway has pushed the Overton window so far right, DFH bloggers are sometimes considered extremists, but nutjobs talking about gunning down Commerce Department employees are not.

      • Jim White says:

        I’m so glad you made the Erick Erickson connection here. I think that’s how we get this wording to quietly disappear. If we start referring to Erickson as a violent extremist and label Hannity’s call to McVeigh wannabes as violent extremism and then label, as you point out, the threats against Congressmemebers who voted for health care reform as violent extremism, then those using the term for the effort formerly known as the GWOT will be forced to define their terms better. And that’s where it all falls apart, because we already will have pointed out the fallacy.

        • klynn says:

          Jim White,

          You make a great point as a strategy to define the terms better from EW’s post.

          This piece in Foreign Policy by Marc Lynch gave some “counter” views on CVE. It is an interesting read.

          My remarks contrasted sharply with the vision outlined by General Michael Herzog (Ehud Barak’s chief of staff at the Israeli Ministry of Defense) in the plenary session. Herzog offered this graphic, if familiar, imagery: Iran is the head, Syria the body, and Hamas and Hezbollah the two arms reaching out to strangle Israel. I countered that this conflation of different challenges was misleading, dangerous, and unhelpful. Hamas and Hezbollah are two of the most popular forces in the Arab world — why “give” them to Iran? Treat Hezbollah as a Lebanese issue, Hamas as a Palestinian issue, and resolve them on their own terms. Address Syria’s national interests in a direct dialogue. And engage with Iran seriously, not just as a show before getting on to sanctions or military confrontation.

          Thanks for the post EW.

        • Jeff Kaye says:

          I politely disagree.

          Instead, it plays into the use of the term. These people do not understand either nuance, or irony. Nor do they process very well contradictions. The fountainhead of power announces the campaign (against “violent extremism” or extremists), and the right-wing and the soggy center ape the call of their masters. (Remember, even Margolis speaks of himself as serving his “masters”.)

          It is better to immediately call out and condemn the use of the term outright, which only serves to perjoratively label any group of people, right or left, the government doesn’t like, and place them outside the pale of reasonableness or legal response. “Extremist” and “terrorist” are what “Jew” and “Commie” used to be.

          • Jim White says:

            I see your point, but somehow I think we have to find a way to demonstrate how badly some of these folks are engaging in projection when they use the term.

    • fatster says:

      “How’s that going to build national unity?”

      I haven’t a clue, but Miliband thinks he does. I doubt it.

      Thanks so much, EW, for staying on top of this, on how our very foundations are being twisted and torn as the rich and powerful pursue their exclusive goals.

  2. bobschacht says:

    BTW, Richard Wolffe was on Countdown tonight, attributing Obama’s new assassination policy to John Brennan. Ah, yes, another stay-behind mapping Obama strategy. When will Obama really learn that these people are not really his friends?

    But what I fear is that the assassination program is a way of “running it up the flagpole” to see who salutes it and who works to take it down.

    I would really like to see Brennan, Rizzo, Margolis and the lot take early retirement and go away, but they’d just be hired by Blackwater, like Cofer Black.

    Bob in AZ

    • bmaz says:

      Brennan is not a stay behind. He left the Bush Administration years ago and was in the private sector before becoming an advisor to Obama during the campaign; Obama then brought him into his Administration. Brennan is all on Obama.

  3. skdadl says:

    Barry Goldwater: “Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice.”

    That’s the trouble with empty political rhetoric. It’s just waiting to be filled with meaning by whomever can commandeer it first.

  4. tjbs says:

    “countering violent extremism.”

    How does that work when it comes to controlling a chief executive who assumes the duty to assassinate citizens without benefit of a trial or are there two kinds of violent extremists the good us and others with the others willing to assassinate the invaders?

  5. klynn says:

    My complaint in the change in terms is that countering violent extremism does not sound like an effort which should have an end date.

    Thus, I fear this rhetoric is simply to extend our stay in a number of countries and extend military/intel efforts.

    The word “war” at least called for the obvious: an ending.

    • klynn says:

      Just to add to my point, try protesting against countering violent extremism. It makes any sensible person sound like a raving idiot and anti American.

      But “anti war” and “peace marches” are far more acceptable sounding even logical.

      The phrase, CVE, was developed for just this reason. To protest this makes the protester an extremist in appearance.

      I suggest a countering of the phrase ASAP. Just yesterday a military spokesperson said on TV that we will be in Iraq for 10 plus years instead of the shorter timeline once thought.

      Amazing repackaging of war.

      • skdadl says:

        Well, “Down with crooks and liars!” works for me. Those words aren’t empty rhetoric; they mean something. We could try “Down with empty rhetoric!” but that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. “Down with empty suits!”?

        • fatster says:

          “Down with empty suits!”

          You’d de-populate half of Washington DC if that slogan became reality.

    • bobschacht says:

      The word “war” at least called for the obvious: an ending.

      That’s not the way Bush saw it. They wanted perpetual war, and they knew that with the GWOT there would never be an end. The only way for there to be an end would be if we captured Osama bin Laden, and he signed an official declaration stating that Al Qaeda had been defeated and would no longer fight against us. How likely is that? Holder has already conceded that OBL would never survive capture. The only other way to end it would be for the President to declare unilaterally that we have won, and are ceasing hostilities. How likely is that?

      “War” has a special place in law; it allows for bending the Constitution in all kinds of ways, mostly bad. Bush wanted to have those options, even if it was not an official, Congressionally-declared war.

      So I’m glad to see the war terminology no longer the main focus.

      Bob in AZ

      • klynn says:

        I will not disagree with you about what Bush wanted — perpetual war.

        Every war creates its’ own lexicon. However, historically common in the lexicon have been the concepts of beginning, deployment or engaging as well as withdraw, exit plan, end and treatise.

        This language allows for war opponents to engage in opposition more easily than CVE will. This new lexicon challenges the ability to bring the concept of closure to conflict a reality.

        With the war terminology, peace terminology had a great chance of intervention.

  6. klynn says:

    And, it is not new terminology. And learn about the people behind the phrase.

    And here’s the “bible” on it.

    To counter the threat from violent Islamist extremism more effectively, the Center for a New American Security launched a strategy development process modeled after President Eisenhower’s Project Solarium. CNAS asked five experts to recast the effort to defeat al-Qaeda in sustainable terms consistent with American values. The result is a series of essays, produced in this report, that recommend a rich array of counterterrorism tools and strategies for the new administration.

  7. alabama says:

    “Violent extremism” may look like a tautology, but as others suggest on this thread, it is nothing of the sort–unless and until it is accepted as one (“propaganda” being a name for such “acceptance”). Thus there can be “non-violent extremism”, and there can certainly be something like “violent non-extremism” (which doesn’t sound good to my ears at all). The two words “violence” and “extremism” cohabit strangely.

    Violence is a form of weakness, and it’s no easy thing to puzzle out the connection (if any) between “weakness” and “extremism”. To what does the word “extreme” refer in any given usage? Rembrandt is “extreme” (not that the art historians favor this term), but his work is never weak, and not to be seen as an expression of “violence”. If it affects us as being violent, we would do well to take our response as a sign of our own weakness (our own violence) in the face of Rembrandt’s power, which is always quiet and composed (especially so in its most extreme realizations).

    In terms of our own political moment, it is not logically self-evident that a given suicide-bombing, however “extreme” (and surely so for the one committing suicide), is necessarily “violent”. It is not necessarily an act of “weakness”. Certainly Samson was not a weak man–not, at least, when he performed his final act.

  8. wavpeac says:

    All these labels do…is create a false dichotomy…I tend to favor the idea of breaking the behaviors down…but here’s what happened to me…when I did this for my family. I was shocked to find how much “power and control” is considered “normal” parenting today. It is my humble opinion that the seeds of war are planted in the invalidation of the consequences of this type of behavior. Jim you talked about torture and trauma and “learned helplessness”. My thesis is that this is the “kernal” that makes us all vulnerable to power and control. When we internalize these behaviors, and become “numb” to the consequences of power and control…we are more likely and in more numbers, to succumb to “learned helplessness”. We become “sheep” and “followers” AND we “honor” power and control.

    Not all people who are exposed to power and control become traumatized enough to experience “learned helplessness”, because there are variations in resilience from one person to the next. The military absolutely uses power and control in basic training…to create “followers”. Certainly some people are resilient enough to transcend this and become leaders…but usually not without completely internalizing the use of power and control.

    We as a nation must become aware that even small doses of power and control seeks to create a nation of submissives who “worship” power and control. Many people felt safer under the authoritarian rule of Bush/cheney primarily because they had internalized the feeling that someone else has it under control, it’s not their authority to question, they should just follow. Fear based concepts of God, fall into the same dynamic…a river bed, that has already been created by power and control parenting, school based power and control, religious power and control.

    If we can become familiar with the “behaviors” of power and control, we have a better chance of not internalizing it or passing that on to our children.

    Power and control:

    The use of intimidation: Using size, weapons, the ability to over take as a means of creating fear and submission.

    Emotional abuse: Name calling, criticism and mind games. These undermine self esteem, create an invalidation of self, a self doubt.

    Isolation: Normalizes the behavior…creates the idea “the is just the way it is”…decreases the feeling of injustice or righteousness.

    Minimize deny and blame: decreases trust in self perception, creates self doubt, creates a dependence on “other” to define important messages about reality.

    Treating people as objects: Depersonalization as defined by the person in control. Children belong to parents, spouse is property, workers are owned by the corporate.

    Hierarchy: Freedom goes to the top of the hierarchy and diminishes as defined by the hierarchy. I am the “king” and can do whatever I want. I am the boss and can do whatever I want. I am the head of household and can do whatever I want. I am the head of the corporation and can do whatever I want.

    Financial: Controlling expendable income. This can be done by paycheck, raises, allowance, taxes…it limits choices.

    Threats and Coercion: Expressed threats of violence or negative consequences if submission is not given.

    This is not to say that power and control should never be used, but that we, in my humble opinion need to become more aware of when this dynamic is in play. The consequences for women who live under this dynamic is “learned helplessness”. They don’t leave domestic violence because their self concept has been so undermined that they cannot imagine themselves separate from the abuser. The degree to which this occurs varies in accordance not to childhood physical violence necessarily but the degree of power and control that has been internalized. Why didn’t people report torture, why don’t people in the military stand up to “wrong doing”? Why don’t people in the corporate culture blow the whistle more often? Because this dynamic is often in play…but we have all been exposed to it to some degree and have varying levels of blindness to it.

    I humbly suggest that we cannot blame organized religion alone, or the schools, or the military but that we need to look at this dynamic and how it weaves itself through our culture. How it has created a nation of people who “honor” the use of power and control…and are blind to it’s consequences. A nation of people who cannot see the value in using other forms of interaction.

    I put these concepts on my refrigerator…and encouraged my family not to use these behaviors with each other. I was shocked to find, how often I violated my own set of rules…but of course, I was raised with power and control. I was not beaten, I was not abused…and I did not want to continue the cycle, but I could not see it in myself until I made a conscious effort to see it.

    So…I tend not to shut up about this. I may be wrong…but I am fairly certain that understanding the consequences of this behavior can hurt no one. It does no harm…

  9. Palli says:

    When our society uses the word terrorist or extremist without using the modifying word “criminal” we lose the link to law, let alone a relationship to the international idea of crimes against humanity (particularly convenient for a civilized nation that tortures). Indefinite words make the line fuzzy enough to be useful to anyone as an blinding incendiary epiphet.

  10. b2020 says:

    “It seems we’re replacing the word “terrorist,” then, with “extremist.” Preferable, in my mind, to be sure.”

    Between this statement and “straight shooter” McCaffrey, I am getting a Digby-vibe around these parts. How is this preferable? Same conceptual structure, more blahblah – “extremist” is to call Obama a murderer. It is also accurate. Terrorism, at least, is a well-defined crime. “Extremism” is a bureaucratic riff on “center”, and quite possibly describes you and me.

    Violent extremism is an executive that codified torture (AFM App. M), “extralegal” assassination and remote-control killings of foreigners and citizens alike.

    Acknowledging that terrorism is a tactic is neither “progress” nor “progressive”, and nothing worthy of comment. It would be “preferable” to see Bygones and his merry band admit to using terror bombing tactics.

    • bmaz says:

      Getting caught up in semantics and rhetoric does not seem productive; irrespective of whatever in the world you meant with the “Digby vibe” analogy.

      • b2020 says:

        “Getting caught up in semantics and rhetoric does not seem productive..”

        Exactly. There is nothing worthy of comment, nothing “preferable”.

        “Digby vibe”

        Let me put it this way. To refer to a man accused of war crimes (McCaffrey) as straight shooter in an attempt to support your case reminds me strongly of many a Digby posting quoting Powell to support some critique of Bush. To refer to a quite Orwellian phrasing replacing another – an exercise in “semantics and rhetoric” that does not signal any substantial change in policy but allows for change to the worse – as “preferable” reminds me of applauding Obama for announcing that “we do not torture”.

        Greenwald and others often make the case that many a Bush critic did not quite cope with the transition to Obama – now that sympathies might conflict with principles. Digby, as much as I value her work between 2002 and 2008, is not in the category of the abysmal “career progressive” – see here

        but there is a lot of “gotcha” noise in her work these days obscuring the core issue – that the Obama administration is codifying and expanding what, under Bush, was seen as illegitimate and even illegal. I could not care less whether Powell, McCaffrey, Brennan are positioning themselves to endorse positions marginally closer to mine (or yours), and I do not think your or my cases require support from such odious characters. CVE is Newspeak, old fists in new gloves, not an improvement but an opening to render unacceptable policies even worse, and the only reason I see to even comment on it is to point out the extent to which there is nothing “preferable” about it. If you really see CVE as progress of some kind, then, in my view, the marketing efforts to rebrand and sell Bush policies with an Obama coating have once more been successful.

        Marcy’s and your work is extremely valuable, but there is a risk: The more you focus on the details of who lied when and how exactly, the bigger the risk that the minutiae start to overwhelm the premise. The timeline is not more important than the torture, Obama’s complicity is much more important than Bush-era coverups. In Digby’s case, deconstructing Republican spin, dishonesty and incompetence has overwhelmed reality: policy is made by Democrats, who had the power of the purse since 2006 and control the executive since 2009. If you can’t see the forest for the trees, then you are going to miss the strange fruits dangling from the branches.

        Marcy’s comments on the Health Insurance Preemptive Bailout Act were *the* essential critique of the Obama approach to finance as well as health care – government coercion and taxation to support a failed private industry, mandates for citizens to avoid mandates for corporations. That analysis stands in stark contrast to (I just picked the most recent one) postings like this:

        Review the comments in this CVE thread about how preferable the term “extremist” really is, and tell me again that semantics is not productive: I fully agree. I would “prefer” to not see somebody as smart as Marcy look for a silver lining on the various “Execution Orders” the Obama administration announces to indifferent voters. If you pardon the haphazard metaphor, any hint of silver is probably just the lining of another bullet.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, okay, that is reasonable argument. It takes a certain amount of both big picture and detailed minutiae to get at some of these issues, and in doing one or the other at any given time, someone always thinks you should be doing the other. That said, I think your points are well taken and are duly noted.

        • emptywheel says:

          Ah. Let’s see. I believe I was one of the first people to see the line about targeting Awlaki in Dana Priest’s article for what it was.

          You’re right. I’m focusing exclusively on BUsh era granular details. You’re right. I’m ignoring what Obama is doing.

          • klynn says:

            There are days I just read and smile.

            Especially with comments like bobschacht’s @ 66 (and that guy @ 67).

          • b2020 says:

            “I believe I was one of the first people to see the line about targeting Awlaki in Dana Priest’s article.”

            I do not value you for quick turnaround, but for the depth of analysis, and I would read you if you were the last person to catch on. I do value the certainty that relevant facts will surface eventually here, at Horton’s or Greenwald’s. As the depravity persists, there is really no reason to rush.

            I also still consider the example I gave instead – your critique of health insurance mandates – to be superior to the assasination catch. Bear with me, I cannot possibly enumerate all your accomplishments, as there are too many.

            “You’re right. I’m focusing exclusively on Bush era granular details. You’re right. I’m ignoring what Obama is doing.”

            Bollocks. That is not what I wrote. I understand the incentive to read it in a way that makes it easier to dismiss my point, but to speak with Karl Krauss – who was not reknowned for fairness or restraint, and is hence of questionable support, but at least no war criminal – “was trifft, trifft auch zu”. If it makes you angry, maybe it was not entirely wrong?

            “There are a lot of war criminals who are ‘straight shooters’.”

            Hence they should be contributors to the national discourse, and quoted to bolster our case? I do not care what you call McCaffrey, I did care that you appeared to present him as a credible voice committed to honesty. Personally, I’d rather not see him on TV or in print, and especially not here… but it is your home, and your choice.

            “extremism/extremist is not racially marked”

            Yes, it is the perfectly malleable term. “Terrorist” was not racially marked either until this nation made it so – it used to denounce environmental activists. Can you honestly look back at the steady use of “violent islamic extremism” since 2001 and tell me that your interpretation of this label has any significance whatsoever to its future operational use? Do you really think that CVE breaks with Bush legacy and precedent? Is “Extremist Violent Interrogation, Detention and Prosecution Act” perferable to “Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention and Prosecution Act” preferable to “Terrorist Interrogation, Detention and Prosecution Act”?

            “I didn’t elaborate on why I find violent extremism better than terrorism”

            So your take is that the next Roeder or Stack or Stone will be referred to as “violent extremists” in the same media and government bureaucracies that refuse to label them as domestic terrorists?

            Or is there some other aspect you are going to elaborate on?

            I can see the “not yet racist” angle, at least until we are at war with Oceania again, and the mouthpieces understand what “extremist” is really supposed to mean. CVE might very well be meant to be less racist, you have to open up a bit to cover more ground.

            But “preferable?” If the Great War On Extremism is functionally the same as GWOT, who cares what it is named? Even – especially – if its revised scope extends once more to include even more criminals, is *that* progress?

            If the FBI does not, by and large, want to treat certain citizens and residents the same way as others, they will not, whatever the label, unless an accountability is added that is currently absent. Hey, I can call the torturers at the CIA and DOJ “violent extremists”, but that will not lead to a prosecution either.

            “I actually consider being compared w/Digby a compliment.”

            No disagreement, considering lifetime achievements. I simply found the last year beyond disheartening.

            In any case, I considered flawed your reasoning in the two instances I named – surprisingly flawed. I expressed my surprise. That is all, and as my surprise will not recur one way or the other, I will not have occasion to express it again, one way or the other. As for the merits of my objection, we can revisit the evolution of CVE (or GWOE) on its first anniversary, if needed. It is, after all, really just rhethorics, and I can’t make sense of US domestics politics most of the time anyway, so who knows – maybe CVE is preferable after all.

            Keep up the good work.


    • emptywheel says:

      Several points.

      This may surprise you, but I actually consider being compared w/Digby a compliment.

      Second, “straight shooter” is about rhetoric and bluntness. There are a lot of war criminals who are “straight shooters.” The most famous, perhaps, is Cheney. There are those who prevaricate about crimes, and those who don’t. The latter, even though they may be just as or even more criminal, are useful because they provide verbal markers.

      Third, I didn’t elaborate on why I find violent extremism better than terrorism but I see that didn’t stop you from making conclusions about it. For me–located as I am right between a bunch of right wing Christian alleged terrorists and a brown Imam who was probably treated much differently because he is brown, the biggest benefit, at least at the moment, is that extremism/extremist is not racially marked.

  11. Jim White says:

    Semi OT: I just put up a new post in my series on shell games with Afghan prisons. I found another juicy photo on the ISAFMedia photostream. [And I already moved a copy to my Flickr account so that it will still show up in the diary after ISAF takes down their copy…]

  12. orionATL says:

    not as ot as it might appear

    if you want an example of just how blantly stupid a secuity bureaucracy can be

    go to today’s nytimes, front page

    and read

    “qatari diplomat held after confrontation on plane”

    in which said diplomat goes to the airplane bathroom

    takes a smoke.

    on emerging is confronted by two air marshalls riding in first class also,

    diplo responds to air marshalls’ questions by stating he was trying to set his shoe on fire,

    where upon our security bureaucracy blossoms with stupidity.

  13. TarheelDem says:

    “Extremist” has a big problem. Who defines what is extreme? Barry Goldwater gave the modern conservative movement complete license to carry out internal war with the statement “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” That was what lost Goldwater the election so decisively, that and his alliance with folks like Strom Thurmond.

    So who is an extremist today? Some would say Markos Moulitsas or Nancy Pelosi or …you get the McCarthyite drift.

    All of this semantic jungle comes from one piece of failed logic–treating 9/11 as a war and not an internationally coordinated crime. If Awlaki was a danger, they could have arrested him when he lived in the Virginia suburbs of Washington.

    At base, the issue here is the failure to see the Fort Hood shooting for what it was and to treat it as the action of a “sleeper cell”. To try to make it more than an easily prosecutable simple crime. And to pretend that it might have been prevented with preventive detention or reading the “warning signs”.

    On this issue, Obama seems to be drifting into what trapped Truman. And caused seven years of suppression of speech and association.

  14. AlbertFall says:

    What process is due for Anwar al-Awlaki?

    Would a trial in absentia be more than a kangaroo court, or be perceived that way by the world even if it were conducted fairly?

    If the response to al-Awlaki is “do nothing, since he is overseas” that seems problematic as well.

    The real issues with terrorism may now be clearer, 10 years after 9/11.

    A lot of due process issues presume the existence of ordered society –and a lot of the conduct of war falls out of that category.

    Terrorism, as a disruption of ordered society, but not quite war, strikes me as requiring its own legal framework that addresses concerns of both justice and security.

    Slippery slope there.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      At the very least, due process should include a real Judge issuing an arrest warrant. His “case” has never been presented in court, the President decided he should die.

      The order is supposed to be: Arrest, trial, conviction, appeal, execution. Admittedly, we can save a lot of money by going right to step 5.

      Boxturtle (Scary Brown Moslems aren’t human, don’t need rights)

      • AlbertFall says:

        I understand your point. And requiring judicial process takes the decision making out of a unilateral action by the president.

        Would trial in absentia truly address justice concerns in this case? Who argues the other side?

        • BoxTurtle says:

          Don’t need such. IMO, all that’s really needed is an arrest warrant. And a reasonable attempt to arrest rather than outright kill. His probable response will be something like “You’ll never take me alive, copper!” and in comes SWAT.

          But if he surrenders, he gets a lawyer and a trial, just like everybody else.

          If I were him, I’d relocate to Paris FAST. Even Bush wouldn’t bomb Paris and a French court will be real stuffy about extraditing without a valid warrant. Further, he might get asylum in France as the French have laws about rendering people where they might be tortured that they actually follow.

          It will be diffiicult to get a US court to issue a warrant, based on what I’ve read. Preaching, even preaching against America, is the most protected speech in America. The First Amendment is tough to get around.

          And I still really wonder what a US court would do if he requested a restraining order.

          Boxturtle (Because I’m not aware of any overt acts other than preaching)

          • AlbertFall says:

            There may be little practical difference in outcome, in the scenario that you pose v. a kill order, but the procedural difference is huge (at least, in the eyes of a lawyer–the real world, not so much).

            I think none of us want to see power in the hands of Obama that we would not be willing to see wielded by Bush, and vice versa.

            • bmaz says:

              Yes, exactly. An arrest warrant duly issued, a treason trial in abstentia, whatever; it may be a fig leaf, but a fig leaf of due process is one hell of a lot better than no due process whatsoever. To lawyers who care about such things, it matters.

              • bobschacht says:

                To lawyers who care about such things, it matters.

                And to any aware citizen who cares about such things, it matters, too!

                (stepping forward to identify…)

                Bob in AZ

      • bmaz says:

        If the reports of the UndieBomber’s statements are correct, Awlaki was operationally central in a plot to bomb a US flagged airliner out of the sky. To the best of my knowledge, Beck has not done anything like that.

        • b2020 says:

          “If the response to al-Awlaki is “do nothing, since he is overseas” that seems problematic as well.”
          followed by
          “If the reports of the UndieBomber’s statements are correct, Awlaki was operationally central in a plot to bomb a US flagged airliner out of the sky.”

          To paraphrase Greenwald, how does this distinguish suspected “extremist” Awlaki from suspected “extremist” Beck? Are we really trying to parse our – completely irrelevant – definition of “extremist”, or are we going to focus on the fact that it is the status of “suspect” and the issue of “criminal law” as opposed to “executive order” that are – just as before – in question here?

          If a polity decides it can afford to not investigate, prosecute, and punish torturers, war criminals, FISA felons and financial frauds – or decides it can not afford to investigate – then I believe we can safely forgo an Awlaki or ten, especially as their alleged masterminding appears to have yielded results that would be entirely unremarkable if it was not for the bed-wetting hysteria that has gripped this brave nation for almost a decade. Law enforcement is not a trip to the convenience store, and it is *supposed* to be hard for those that follow the law.

          “A lot of due process issues presume the existence of ordered society…”

          Ain’t that the truth. And balls, too.

          Forget about decency – have you no pride?

        • TarheelDem says:

          Seems a criminal court would be a good place to test the accuracy of his involvement. Can the US Attorney produce the evidence or not? Is there yet a warrant for the arrest of Awlaki, or is that what the assassination order amounts to: Wanted dead or alive?

          And has anyone bothered to investigate what Glenn Beck is operationally involved in?

  15. BoxTurtle says:

    Let’s seem if they can come up with a definition of “violent extremist” that includes such as KSM and Osama but excludes Fred Phelps, the Pro-lifers, and the Tea Party Gun Nuts.

    Boxturtle (Without using the words Moslem or Arab)

  16. cregan says:

    In certain ways, this goes back to a blog entry made a week or so ago moaning about the lack of some “true” reporting in the media, as if only one “true” picture or viewpoint was possible.

    Said many times, one man’s, or woman’s, terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. One person’s valiant protester is another person’s obstructionist or spanner in the works. One person’s socialist is another person’s sub-rosa socialist (shhh! don’t tell anyone until we’re done).

    At least during the prior 8 years, American’s with no overseas connections were not targeted.

    This, of course, was the main danger in what was done in those 8 years; that some later leaders would take that structure and turn it on ourselves.

  17. b2020 says:

    “I like abandoning the word “war” as the centerpiece”

    Same objection. “War” has connotations of military force, killing, gratiuous expenditure of munitions and plenty of collateral “damage”. “Countering” is not even a policy, it is a commendable ad-hoc action, obviously benign or at worst a lesser evil, and has absolutely no meaning with respect to the tools (weapons) and tactics (shoot on sight) employed. In fact, you could argue that our main means of “countering” islamic “extremism” have been terror bombings, except we go to great lengths to ensure that none of our terrorist application engineers accidentially suicide themselves in the process.

  18. Leen says:

    Chris Matthews has been hammering on these extremist for close to a year now.
    Can Senators ,Congress folks, former Governors, radio and news show host be held accountable for “aiding and abetting” domestic extremist? Fueling the fire with their inflammatory words and terms?

    Can you imagine what would have happened to anti Iraq invasion protesters in 2002-03 if we would have shown up packing a firearm?

    Matthews to Obama protester: Why’d you bring a loaded gun to a town hall with the president?

    • cregan says:

      Easy answer, no one would have said a thing if anti-war protesters has a gun–unless having a gun in a holster in public was a local violation. All anti war protests were never given any interference–as was proper.

      Government officials, at that time, recognized that protest is a time honored American custom and right. Some media people didn’t like them, but government officials had a hands off approach.

      And, I saw all kinds of crazy signs and things at the protests in my town. But, that is the way it is. Other societies have found in the past that when citizens are not allowed to vent frustrations in protest, not so good things happen. When people feel they are being ignored, they can act in not so good ways. Witness various riots that occurred because politicians were not listening.

      • Leen says:

        bull shit. At the New York City rally in Feb 2003 which I attended with friends Bev and John Titus who lost their daughter on Sept 11 (Alicia was a stewardess on the United flight used as a weapon on 9/11). The set up for the march was a complicated maze. Tens of thousands of people coming to the rally met up with road blocks and a complicated access set up for the rally. I kept going up to the New York City Police saying “you fellas know how to run a parade, what’s with the set up” They would smile. It was clearly set up to confuse and interfere with easy access (Like so many I have been to many a protest over 40 years).

        Bev and John along with other 9/11 families against the invasion and Veterans against the invasion from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm led that rally (I had the honor of pushing a 92 years old WWII Vet) that day. He as well as tens of thousands of other Vets were against that immoral and illegal invasion. If anyone would have been packing a firearm the police would have gone ape shit.

        • Gitcheegumee says:

          Do you recall the G-20 protest in Pittsburg last fall,where LRAD (sound cannon) was deployed?

          Video: Eardrum-Blasting Sound Cannon Coming to a Protest Near You …Sep 29, 2009 … This is the first time police have used the LRAD against civilians; … The sound cannon is not as cool as the Active Denial System. …
          gothamist.com/…/eardrum-blasting_sound_cannon_comin.php – Cached – Similar

          More on the LRAD sound cannon at Pittsburgh G20 protests – Boing BoingSep 28, 2009 … Why are the weapons that the police used on protesters ‘cool’? …. Those must all be angry Conservatives in the streets getting zapped by sound cannons. ….. boingboing.net/2009/09/28/more-on-the-lrad-sou.html – Cached – Similar

            • Gitcheegumee says:


              Here’s a preview of coming attractions:

              Small army to protect Toronto during G20 summit
              Published on 04-07-2010

              Source: Globe & Mail

              Police forces have entered into an alliance to deal with the threat of violent protest at Toronto’s G20 summit with as many as 10,000 uniformed officers and 1,000 private security guards teaming up to protect world leaders.

              Federal contract tenders obtained by The Globe indicate a small army will descend on Canada’s largest city this June, exceeding the estimated 6,000-police-officer presence at Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics.

              The police security will come at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, although police officials would not confirm deployment numbers. Yet federal contract tenders posted online indicate how things are shaping up.

              “For the G8 Summit [in Deerhurst, Ont.] the RCMP/OPP will require approximately 4,000 personnel with duty-related belongings to be transported at different dates, times and locations,” reads a contract tendered for shuttle buses. “For the G20 Summit, the RCMP will require approximately 5,600 personnel with duty-related belongings to be transported at different dates, times and locations.”

        • cregan says:

          Yes, a firearm on your hip in New York City is against the law no matter what you are doing.

          In the city where the big deal is made of the guy having a holstered gun, I understand it is legal.

          New York City has its own special situation with 9/11, they are more tough on demonstrations. But, in the rest of the US, anti war demonstrations were held anytime people wanted to stage them. No federal official said word one that I ever heard about them.

          Fed officials didn’t whine about opposition demonstrations like they do today.

      • tjbs says:

        You know if protesters showed up with guns that certainly would justify having the police respond in riot gear, now wouldn’t it?

        Da , counter question why are the police in riot gear for PEACE demonstrations missing any visible weaponry on the demonstrators. I’ve NEVER seen a weapon, since 68, other then the government’s, such as the sharp shooters on the White House while citizens assemble in the park across the street.

        • cregan says:

          Good you never saw a weapon at a peace demonstration. That would be a bit of a conflict of intention wouldn’t it?

          As far as riot gear goes, as far as I know, there has not been a conservative riot for at least 70 years. I’m not sure how many riots connected with liberal causes there have been in the same period. A lot.

          God forbid there ever be a conservative riot. The heads would just explode among Democrats and progressives in anger. You would think the world had ended or something.

          I ought to write a movie about it.

          • Palli says:

            Late to the discussion But I CAN”T STAND IT!
            please…How do you designate a Conservative or Liberal riot?
            Listen to who is yelling and throwing rocks, threatening or killing? RIGHT
            See who has the weapons and assume those people are holding the peace? WRONG!

            Riots against African Americans were certainly conservative.
            Count the victims. Who did what?
            Just the highlights of our American checkered history.
            1921 Tulsa Oklahoma
            1935 New York (Harlem)
            1943 New York City (Harlem); Columbia, Tennessee
            1951 Cicero, Illinois
            1957 Little Rock, Akansas
            1962 Jackson, Mississippi
            1963 Birmingham Alabama
            1965 Selma, Alabama
            1960s inner city rebellions (you would call them riots) throughout the US and then again in the 1990’s were confusing for the Conservative/Liberal to the paradiam. But surely, “maintenance” law and order is not a valid marker in an unjust world. Unthinking display and demonstration of power is not a liberal idea or action, to my mind.

            • cregan says:

              YOu should stand a little more. Maybe with better shoes it will be easier.

              You missed the point. First, I said that there has been no conservative riot in the last 70 years. Even accepting your chart, which I don’t necessarily, it has been around 50 years.

              During that period, there have been several, more than your chart, riots that were more liberally oriented. Some, very violent and on a much larger scale than those you list.

              So, here was the point you missed. The poster before bemoaned the fact that police in riot gear seemed to attend anti-war demonstrations but not Tea Party or more conservative demonstrations. My point was “WITH GOOD REASON.” The odds of some violence breaking out at a demonstration are FAR higher.

              You ran off on some other point as if I had said “Conservatives have never rioted.” The point was that it had been such a long time from any conservative riot, as opposed to a few years for liberal oriented riots, that the “riot gear” decisions by police were understandable.

          • Leen says:

            Yeah packing firearms at an anti health care reform rally makes sense. Going to church on Sunday, wearing a little cross around your neck, calling yourself pro life, and then marching against health care reform with a displayed firearm on hour hip. All makes perfect sense too.

            Crazies simply radical crazies

  19. JTMinIA says:

    Apologies in advance for being a concern troll, but a lot of the comments are criticisms of “countering violent extremists” when the actual phrase used by ObamaRama et al. is “countering violent extremism.” Now, I’m not suggesting that anyone adopt a “hate the extremism; love the extremist” point of view, but you should still criticize what was actually said, since many people – including me – see them as different.

    • bobschacht says:

      Extremists vs. Extremism is an interesting contrast– thanks for pointing this out.

      “Extremists” are people, who may or may not commit illegal acts.

      “Extremism” is an ideology, which suggests that the primary battlefield should be PR, not shock and awe bombing campaigns or predator drone strikes.

      It recalls to me the difference between “Communists” and “Communism”. Basically, we never went to war against Communism on the battlefield. We confronted it wherever we could, and we went to war against North Korea and North Vietnam, but those were both wars against “communists”, which served as a proxy for “Communism.” But mostly the battle against Communism was a PR war.

      That would be a refreshing change.

      Bob in AZ

  20. Leen says:

    Bet most of us have been supporters and fans of the Southern Poverty Law Center

    Report: “Patriot” Groups, Militias Surge in Number in Past Year

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The number of extremist groups in the United States exploded in 2009 as militias and other groups steeped in wild, antigovernment conspiracy theories exploited populist anger across the country and infiltrated the mainstream, according to a report issued today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

  21. Gitcheegumee says:

    This just up over at TPM,(an excerpt):

    In Secret Tape Alleged Hutaree Leader Preached Against New World Order (AUDIO)
    Justin Elliott | April 8, 2010, 12:10PM

    In an audio tape recorded by an undercover FBI agent while members of the Hutaree Christian militia were allegedly in a van en route to a militia “summit” in Kentucky, alleged Hutaree leader David Stone denounces Interpol and other “law enforcement mercenaries called the brotherhood working for the New World Order.”

    CNN got its hands on the audio, which was played during the bond hearing for Stone, who is being held in an alleged plot to kill police.

    “In this nation, we think we are free, but you need a certificate to be born, a license to drive, a permit to build, a number to get a job and even a paper after you die. These are permission slips from the terrorists organization called the New World Order,” he says.

  22. Gitcheegumee says:

    Secret Tape Alleged Hutaree Leader Preached Against New World …‎ – 23 minutes ago

    In an audio tape recorded by an undercover FBI agent while members of the Hutaree Christian militia were allegedly in a van en route to a militia “summit” …
    TPMMuckraker (blog) – 46 related articles »

  23. Leen says:

    Violent extremism/terrorism
    EXCLUSIVE: One Day After 2007 Attack, Witnesses Describe US Killings of Iraqi Civilians

    “AMY GOODMAN: That is from the military’s own footage. Again, this is military footage from the Apache helicopter with those radio transmissions of the soldiers speaking to each other. What did the residents say about that body?

    RICK ROWLEY: Yeah, now, I mean, I’m a journalist, and I go and talk to people and report what they said. And these residents came and told me that the man who they drove over was alive, that he had crawled out of the van that had been shot to pieces and that he was still alive when the Americans drove over him and cut him in half, basically, with a Bradley or tank or whatever armored vehicle they were driving in.”

  24. BillE says:

    Does anyone remember the premise behind the Jason Bourne series (movies not the Ludlum books). There is a secret kill squad that has taken out Americans. That was the unmentionable ( worthy of killing people ) plot line. With Bourne having essentially the whistle blower. I think its interesting that in real life it’s not so shocking to conscience anymore.

  25. JohnLopresti says:

    Measuring levity, I will draw a parallel between Lyndon Baines Johnson*s Wah on Poverty and Bush*s rhetorical device, also hailing from Texas, Global Wah on Terra. When one perforce must drive 900 miles to traverse one*s home state, the external world seems outsize, Bunyanesque.

    On a more unabashedly homiletic note, I heard an interview with a Pakistani lady on the radio, who was involved with what she described as a successful organization of women in that land, with a purpose to reach out to youth before they grow to adulthood. She said they had measurable effect working within their own families to teach youth to shun traversing the metaphysical border beyond which suicide becomes part of the ideology*s implementation. Probably was on NPR or Pacifica, I forget the outlet, but will post addendum later if I locate the name of the Pakistan NGO..

  26. Palli says:

    I don’t know you well enough to understand if this is merely semantics but here’s my side of the discussion.
    I started with 1921 (although it was 89 years ago on the American timeline) for several logical and personal reasons. This suburb was all but destroyed by white citizens who were not residents of the area; like the Rwanda horrors, this riot was fueled encouraged by the media editor of the city newspaper (who incidentally but important to my sensibilities, lived in a house that is too beautiful a space to be sullied by his inhumanity); it was a travesty that lasted for days and could have been halted. The individual rioters, the police and the rabble-rousing media were certainly not liberals, or the word has no meaning.

    Forgive me, but I do not understand the difference between: “there has been no conservative riot in the last 70 years” and “Conservatives have never rioted”. And what does liberal oriented riots mean?

    I believe you understand this from your response: If liberals are meeting, demonstrating, marching, practicing civil disobedience and riot-gear police are there “to protect” or separate onlookers from the participants and riot breaks out it is not liberals who have rioted. To be sure, the fact of the march, the civil disobedience, the demonstration, the meeting is the excuse for others to choose to riot but liberal action is not the riot.

    Yet you say it has been only “…a few years since liberal oriented riots.”

    John Lewis never rioted. With great humility I say, I have never rioted. I have not always been protected by police “protection” but, on some occasions, authentic safety was offered to others and myself because we were the victims of a riot not the rioters.

    I would alter your sentence to read:

    The odds of some violence breaking out at a [liberal] demonstration [used to be] FAR higher [but not because the demonstration was or caused a riot].

    I don’t mean to belabor the point but it seems to be fuzzy thinking. Sorry if I have offended.

    (Anarchists are a different category.)

    • Palli says:

      I sure wish the edit process would be able to maintain the paragraph separations or am I doing something incorrectly when I edit? Could someone help me it is so hard to read large blocks of text that had better layout before I edited a misspelling.

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