Mission NOT Accomplished…

Today, I read an article that, I think, basically confirms what I’m sure most of us already figured out.

 Congressional auditors have determined that the Iraqi government has failed to meet the vast majority of political and military goals laid out by lawmakers to assess President Bush’s Iraq war strategy, The Associated Press has learned. – [Yahoo/AP]

I’m not going to go into all that much detail about it because it’s all in the article (the link is below)  But I will say this. As an American citizen I feel that we have been mislead, lied to, and flat out treated like imbeciles, by our government. No matter how much spin you put on a deception, it is still a deception.

The fact that our president could brazenly claim “Mission Accomplished” when so many of the goals we believed he intended to achieve had not been reached, is to me, showing a lack of respect for the citizens of this great nation. We have not accomplished our mission. I say we have been party to an “Epic Fail”.

Little progress seen on Iraq goals – [Yahoo/AP]

The signs of successful terrorism. Or irrationality. You decide.

I keep running into stories that either prove that terrorism has truly changed our way of life, or that people aren’t particularly familiar with Occams razor.

Two people who sprinkled flour in a parking lot to mark a trail for their offbeat running club inadvertently caused a bioterrorism scare and now face a felony charge.

Umm,… OK…

New Haven ophthalmologist Daniel Salchow, 36, and his sister, Dorothee, 31, who is visiting from Hamburg, Germany, were both charged with first-degree breach of peace, a felony.

The siblings set off the scare while organizing a run for a local chapter of the Hash House Harriers, a worldwide group that bills itself as a “drinking club with a running problem.”

“Hares” are given the task of marking a trail to direct runners, throwing in some dead ends and forks as challenges. On Thursday, the Salchows decided to route runners through the massive IKEA parking lot.

Sounds innocent enough to me…

Mayoral spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said the city plans to seek restitution from the Salchows, who are due in court Sept. 14.

“You see powder connected by arrows and chalk, you never know,” she said. “It could be a terrorist, it could be something more serious. We’re thankful it wasn’t, but there were a lot of resources that went into figuring that out.” – [Yahoo/AP]

Riiiiiight. Basically what they are insinuating is that, were your average international terrorist, bent on distributing a biological agent to the largest possible group of random people in the USA, would make sense that I pour the distribution agent out in a neat trail through an IKEA parking lot, with and use chalk arrows to indicate for the obviously stupid Americans the best places to contaminate themselves…

I am going nuts here! Am I just really stupid? (Don’t answer that. Please.) Am I missing something? Does this sound plausible to anyone? And then we have the City planning to request restitution? For what? The chalk? The flour? Being paranoid? And exactly what resources were be required to figure out that flour and chalk does not a biological agent make? Especially given that the one who put it there came and told you himself?

Obviously someone panicked. And because of that persons fear, Dr. Salchow and his sister are facing felony charges. For pouring flour in an IKEA parking lot. How stupid is that? Knowing how this happened, how could anyone justify charging these people with a felony? And even more ridiculous, how can the city hold them liable for their over-reaction?

If every time we see a shadow, a forgotten lunch box, a broke down car in a parking lot, discarded groceries, etc we cry “Terrorists!”, then the terrorists have achieved their goal. To make us into a whimpering, frightened, paranoid and internally unstable country. I don’t know which is worse. The fact that people don’t seem to want to think rationally anymore, or that the terrorists may have already gotten what they wanted all along.

Running club members face felony charges – [Yahoo/AP]

War is waged both externally and internally.

A military report stated statistics that soldier suicides are the highest they have ever been for 26 years:

The report, obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its scheduled release Thursday, found there were 99 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers during 2006, up from 88 the previous year and the highest number since the 102 suicides in 1991 at the time of the Persian Gulf War.

The suicide rate for the Army has fluctuated over the past 26 years, from last year’s high of 17.3 per 100,000 to a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001.

Last year, “Iraq was the most common deployment location for both (suicides) and attempts,” the report said. – [Yahoo/AP]

I always find it sad that we even have to have an army. I realize that humans being the creatures we are, it is sometimes necessary to use force to defend against force. But in this case, I don’t believe it was warranted, and the kinds of mental trauma we put our faithful troops through is really not a just payment for their service.

It is really a crying shame.

Army suicides highest in 26 years – [Yahoo/AP]

The “Pirates” take a stand…

An interesting movement seems to have spawned the desert of Utah. The US arm of a group calling themselves the “Pirate Party”, has proclaimed their intent to become a legitimate political party:

Yesterday, the Pirate Party of the United States announced its intention to register as a political body in Utah, its first move into American state politics. The fledgling Utah operation is now accepting “statements of support,” needing 200 voter signatures for official registration.

“Our basic mission is to restore a lot of the civil liberties that have been eroded in the name of profit, including privacy, free speech, and due process,” Ray Jenson, the interim administrator for what may become the Pirate Party of Utah, told El Reg.

He has his sights set on the DMCA, the U.S. law that protects online intellectual property, and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group that quite likes the DMCA. “Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, there have been numerous erosions of liberties since it went into effect almost a decade ago,” Jenson said. “Number one on the list is the RIAA’s litigation” against P2P services and the people who use them. – [The Register]

Given the amount of abuse the entertainment industry has been dishing out lately, it is almost no surprise that this group exists, though I will admit I had never heard of them until today. However, I honestly believe that the entertainment industry, in particular the MPAA and the RIAA have been abusing the law.

I do agree that the RIAA and MPAA have the right to take actions to protect their investments. However I also believe that they have been using this as an excuse to violate the rights of others. They have embarked on what is little more than an extortion campaign, or litigation terrorism, in the name of curtailing piracy.

While I agree that piracy is a problem, it seems like nobody has been looking out for the innocent victims that have been needlessly terrorized by the MPAA/RIAA. While groups like the ACLU have been vocal about the issues, it appears that their efforts have done little to helped those who have been the unjust focus of the entertainment industries legal might. It’s about time there was an organization dedicate to this cause. I will be watching these “Pirates” closely…

Pirate Party invades Utah – [The Register]

Anonymous on Fox11… It’s Lulzeriffic…

I just saw a video on YouTube that kinda made me LOL… I know that the topic is probably one of great emotional pain for some, and I’m not a big fan of some of the emotional damage that some of the more malevolent hackers cause, but Fox news’ portrayal of the whole thing was rather… off-base.

I mean, the bomb threat was taken entirely out of context, and yet they had to show some random van blowing up… twice no less… As if to display one of the heinous terrorist acts of malicious hackers. And LOLS “Corrupted” (by evil hackers I assume) = LULZ? Seriously? Either nobody did any real homework for this piece or they intentionally skewed the facts in order to maximize the sensationalism of the story. What happened to unbiased and objective reporting? They have elevated a group of Internet pranksters to the level of violent international terrorists.

The modus operandi of pretty much every hacker I have come across has been to demonstrate their intellectual superiority, not execute hits on people. Unfortunately they do so by messing with peoples heads. Griefing, and other miscellaneous on-line harassment, especially in on-line games and social networking sites are usually their favorite haunts. They do not, as a rule, go out and physically assault people. I mean honestly, how many times has any of you heard of any hacker group killing anyone?

The poor schlub who got his MySpace account hacked in the piece was an easy and unfortunate target. And I’m willing to bet he (or his mom), teed someone off, because in general, that subsequent level of harassment is more work than the average sporadic prankster would be willing to put into it. One more question popped into my head while watching… how many of you honestly believe that this guy lost his girlfriend simply because she believed that he was cheating on her with guys? Yeah… I had to ask…

Fox News 11 covers Anonymous – [YouTube]

Obamas’ flameless firestorm…

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama apparently ignited a “firestorm” of controversy by responding to a YouTubers video questioner that he would, “without precondition”, meet with leaders of renegade regimes:

In Monday’s debate from Charleston, S.C., Obama was asked by a questioner via YouTube if he would be willing to meet — without precondition — in the first year of his presidency with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.

“I would,” he responded.

Clinton said she would not. “I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes,” she said. Clinton said she would first use envoys to test the waters. – [Yahoo/AP]

Now I’m no political expert, so my opinion may hold little value. But Hilary Clintons rebuttal makes no sense either. At least not to my admittedly politically intolerant mind. What exactly does the phrase “I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes” mean? And why is the possibility of being a propaganda item more important than establishing peaceful relationships? And why has this possible method of establishing a peaceful resolution been equated to pandering to rogue nations?

If a police officer tries to get a criminal to cooperate in an investigation, does that mean he/she is pandering to the criminal element? Is plea bargaining pandering? It’s done all the time. How is this concept any different? It seems some folks are more concerned with the appearance of impropriety than actually solving problems. This is why I hate politics.

I am a big fan of the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of thought, but our current international policy is broken. Severely. It just ain’t workin’ out too well for us. And we can’t honestly just sit here and say we don’t care what other countries think. It should have become apparent by now that our ability to solve our international problems is seriously affected by other nations relationship with us.

Perhaps we need to try something new. And at least Obama is willing to give it a shot, even if he is a newbie. I certainly don’t think he can do much worse than we are doing right now, especially if we continue with our current, and in my humble opinion, seriously jacked-up policies. So why not?

Obama debate comments set off firestorm – [Yahoo/AP]

Hey it’s a Bank Robber! BOMB THE BANK!!!

Our esteemed President has taken up the bull horn, yet again, to warn us of the dangers that Iraq poses to the security of the mighty U.S. of A.:

“The merger between al-Qaida and its Iraqi affiliate is an alliance of killers and that is why the finest military in the world is on their trail,” Bush said. …

… “That’s like watching a man walk into a bank with a mask and a gun and saying, ‘He’s probably just there to cash a check,’” Bush told troops at Charleston Air Force Base. – [Yahoo/AP]

Even if we were in the position of seeing “a man walk into a bank with a mask and a gun” which I still have am not convinced were were, I would point out that our current actions are more akin to blowing up the bank in an attempt to thwart a possible robbery. It’s a no win. At the very least, I can take some small solace in the fact that a good many rational American people have realized the illogical nature of our current predicament. Might does not make right.

That is not to say that we should be doormats. I am by no means a pacifist. Strength and power is a tool, much like any other. And I mean no disrespect or slight to those who have suffered as a result of terrorist attacks, but I believe strength should be used to defend innocence. Not as a tool of retribution, or even control.

Contrary to what many seem to believe, terrorists do not spawn in a vacuum. Nor are they simple lunatics. They are generally themselves recipients of terrorist acts, that have learned to respond in kind. But responding in anger only fuels more anger, and violence only breeds more violence. And right now we are wreaking untold levels of violence upon both the innocent as well as the guilty, and breeding anger like freakin’ rabbits, where there was none.

We are performing the mythological equivalent of attacking a hydra by cutting off each of it’s heads, one by one. And as each head falls, two more grow in it’s place. And even if we eventually kill the beast, and eliminate all of the true terrorists, the survivors of the innocents shall remain, bearing us so much hatred that, much like Heracles, if we don’t wise up, the blood of the hydra will eventually poison us to death…

Bush warns anew of al-Qaida threat – [Yahoo/AP]

Terrorist Profiling at it’s best. Or Worst. You Decide.

A poorly packaged college application prompted a call to the bomb squad at Eastern Illinois University. …… “There was no return address, it was poorly written, poorly addressed to the university, there were misspellings,” school spokeswoman Vicki Woodard said Saturday. “There was some tape over it. Just the overall appearance was rather strange.” – [USA Today]

OK, I have a question. Is a disheveled package with a poorly written address, equally poor spelling, and no return address the current modus operandi for bombers these days? I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that you had to be at least half-way intelligent to package explosives for delivery without blowing yourself up, or having the package blow up in transit.

By the same token I would think that any semi-intelligent person who wanted to ensure that an explosive package reached it’s destination would take pains to ensure that it did not exhibit traits that would attract attention, such as the said lack of a return address, poor spelling and rather conspicuous packaging. Or are we all supposed to believe that bombers and/or terrorists are, in general, of limited education and intelligence?

It may make you feel better to believe this to be the case, but as much as I hate to break it to ya, at least so far as terrorist activities are concerned, you are sorely mistaken if you do. Regardless of whether or not we believe our presidents “War on Terror” is justified, make no mistake; we are in it now, and must heed this all important rule of war: Know thy enemy…

Disheveled college application causes bomb scare – [USA Today]

Terrorist Tactics On The Home Front…

Former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani, in response to the recent reports of terrorist acts in the UK, made an interesting statement connecting illegal immigration with terrorist activity, which I thought was rather dubious in nature:

“This is the United Kingdom”, he said. “They have security that is at least equal to ours; they have intelligence services that have even had more experience with terrorism than ours has, you know, they have to be subjected to this. We’re in an era in which we need to know everyone who’s in the United States.”

“We need to end illegal immigration,” he said. “If we do, a lot of things can happen, in terms of how you resolve everything here. But if you don’t end illegal immigration, almost nothing is possible, because no matter what you do, things are going to get worse.” – [Yahoo/AP]

Now given Mr. Giulianis great track record as mayor of NY, I found this a little disappointing. It almost seemed to me like he was attempting to use the terrorist acts in the UK as an opportunity to bolster his political position on illegal immigration ( and perhaps his candidacy for president). Now don’t get me wrong. I believe there needs to be a reform on illegal immigration, however the exact details on how to approach the problem are not as clear cut as everyone wants to believe. But I’m not sure that things like a “Universal ID” or a “tracking database” will actually do much more than give “big brother” more tools to in which to spy on citizens with.

I don’t believe there has ever been any link between illegal immigration and terrorism. All of the terrorists involved in 9/11 for instance, where here legally, on either student or tourist visas. In fact, any terrorist organization worth their salt would go to great lengths to stay under the radar and beyond reproach, including being here legally, having a normal job, normal life, even avoid speeding tickets, i.e. be a model citizen, until they are ready to strike. That’s just common sense. So to say that without ending illegal immigration, “nothing is possible” is pure conjecture, and simply a manipulation of peoples fears in order to achieve his goals.

Sadly, statements like these illustrate a common, subconscious misconception possessed by many Americans. That we have control over everything, and that with enough resources thrown at something, we can prevent anything. Sadly, this is far from the truth. Even if we could monitor every hushed bar room conversation, every phone call, every email, every IM, and know where every single individual was in the country at any given time, we still would not be able to guarantee that a terrorist act would not occur. None of us are omnipresent or omnipotent beings. I love this country. We are a great people, and I think that in many, many, ways, we are the greatest country in the world. But we are just people. No matter how hard we try, there are some things we will not be able to prevent or avoid.

Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t do everything in our power to prevent terrorist attacks from occurring. But I do believe that there is a point of diminishing returns on our efforts. A point where our actions will cross the line from over-protection to oppression. I do not wish to be a member of a bar coded society of sheep. I don’t want everything I say and do to be monitored 24/7/365, and have to worry that some little insignificant action or word will brand me a threat to national security. I’ve heard people say that things like this are necessary in the war on terror, and that we are fighting for our freedom, and that we have to make sacrifices in order to maintain our way of life. But if, in the process of protecting them, we give up our personal freedoms and our way of life, then what are we fighting for? The terrorists will have already won.

Giuliani links terror, border security – [Yahoo/AP]