Archive | August, 2013

“Threat” of big al Queda attack … REAL OR RUSE?

4 Aug

All of a sudden the airwaves and media sources are full of info on the alleged “threat” of a large scale attack by Al Quada.

The news media is gushing over the ‘high levels of chatter’ suddenly being heard, while noting these same “channels” had been largely quiet recently. Not a one I’ve seen has had the slightest question of any of this is real. And there are many reasons/ways it may well not be.

Al_Qaeda_vows_t10463What has one of the biggest stories of late been?

The NSA spying programs as “outed” by Snowden.

And what has been the government response to the strong and growing concerns by the American people with these spy activities?

The gov’t has repeatedly claimed that these NSA programs are invaluable to protecting us from terrorism. But these claims are always very short on details – “classified” don’t you know – we can’t possibly reveal details … but in the few cases where details have come to light its been shown the NSA programs have had nominal input into preventing attacks – often it is other information and evidence that is the key factor.

Add to the NSA issues, the Benghazi debacle – another “phony” scandal according to the President, which they cannot seem to get away from no matter how hard they’ve tried to bury it.

And what might be the perfect way to attack BOTH the NSA and Benghazi scandals?

Why yes – you win a gold star if you answered “gin up an Al Queda ‘attack’ threat, based on ‘chatter’ that can be attributed to the wonderful and all-knowing power of the NSA programs … and then close a bunch of embassies etc., to show you’ve learned your lessons from the Benghazi disaster.”

The most obvious first  question is to ask why the heck Al Queda, knowing FULL WELL the NSA is listening in, would suddenly start talking about a major attack, after months of silence, in ways that could be easily monitored.

Two, why would the administration, who has claimed disclosure of the NSA programs has damaged our security, unleash an all out, high profile, campaign disclosing the extent and results of their secret intercepts, rather than quietly taking behind the scenes action? If Snowdens revelations were so damaging, why are they here immediately verifying to the enemy they are listening to them in almost real time?

There are some obvious potential reasons:

NSA-Gate, Benghazi-gate, IRS-gate and all the rest of the “phony” scandals. All of this blathering about intercepted chatter and imminent major attack is the perfect way to divert and deflect attention on the NSA programs and Benghazi failures and coverup.

This “fingerprint” … of diverting focus from the scandals, pimping up the ‘threat’ of a newly revitalized al Queda, burnishing the importance of NSA, and rehabilitating the Obama admin’s terrible handling of Benghazi … if you look closely, is supported by significant, clear evidence confirming this theory.

Almost every public comment on the al Queda chatter and evidence of attacks, is couched in terms of supporting the value of the NSA spy programs and that Susan Rice and the Obama administration suddenly learned their lessons about protecting our people and are now finally on the case.  Add the long list of politico’s and government sources who have promoted the meme of a “newly revitalized” “stronger” etc., al Queda – increasing their importance and thus their relevance as an enemy.

And there is one more important “trigger” – a huge reason for the pro-NSA people to go to such extremes to protect the NSA … while there is bi-partisan support for the NSA … more importantly there is strong bipartisan backlash against the over-reach of the NSA.

As evidenced by the vote a week or so ago on the Amash-Conyers anti-NSA bill. 94 Repub and 111 Democrats voted for the bill to severely restrict the NSA program – 205 total bipartisan votes, which,in a big scare to the President and NSA supporter,s was narrowly defeated … by just 12 votes!

Much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands immediately commenced, from the President, and from the NSA proponents, about how important the NSA was. We’ve heard the claims of the attacks thwarted increase from a few dozen when the NSA scandal began, to most recent more than 300 attacks prevented. Never of course with any but the barest of details in proof.

Now, a week after this historic, close vote to reign in the NSA … we suddenly get word of all this massive chatter and word of a planned major attack.

Why now you ask? Well – according to those behind all this it IS President Obama’s birthday. Really? Do they think we are all that stupid – that’s the best excuse they could make up?

Ah, but you probably need some examples – some proof of my theory that this whole thing is a manufactured attempt to divert attention from the NSA and Benghazi scandals and portray the NSA as our savior.

Well here you go … excerpts from a single Reuters story touches each of the bases I’ve noted – first support for how wonderful the NSA is:

 “There is an awful lot of chatter out there,” Senator Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

He said the “chatter” – communications among terrorism suspects about the planning of a possible attack – was “very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11.” A National Security Agency surveillance program that electronically collects communications on cellphones and emails – known as intercepts – had helped gather intelligence about this threat, Chambliss said. It was one of the NSA surveillance programs revealed by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden to media outlets.

Those programs “allow us to have the ability to gather this chatter,” Chambliss said. “If we did not have these programs then we simply wouldn’t be able to listen in on the bad guys.”

And even more commentary in support of the NSA – note how the Al Queda ‘threat’ is pumped up and embellished first, followed by the “we’re the NSA and we’re here to help you…” theme:

‘SERIOUS THREAT’ … “This is the most serious threat that I’ve seen in the last several years,” Chambliss said.

The threat also has prompted some European countries to close their embassies in Yemen, where an al Qaeda affiliate that is considered one of the most dangerous – al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – is based.

Interpol, the France-based international police agency, on Saturday issued a global security alert advising member states to increase vigilance against attacks after a series of prison breaks in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan.

“Al Qaeda is in many ways stronger than it was before 9/11, because it’s mutated and it spread and it can come at us from different directions,” U.S. Representative Peter King, a Republican, said on ABC’s “This Week” program. “And al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is probably the most deadly of all the al Qaeda affiliates,” he said.

“Republicans and Democrats alike on Sunday television talk shows said the threat was serious and sought to defuse the controversy over the NSA surveillance programs, which critics say are an invasion of privacy and civil rights.

The good news is that we picked up intelligence. And that’s what we do. That’s what NSA does,” U.S. Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“We’ve received information that high-level people from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are talking about a major attack,” he said. U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, another Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, characterized the security threat as being based on specific intelligence…

And the “learned our lesson” meme:

Senator Lindsey Graham said on CNN that the actions taken to close the embassies and issue the global travel alert showed that the Obama administration had learned lessons from last year’s attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. “Benghazi was a complete failure. The threats were real there. The reporting was real. And we basically dropped the ball. We’ve learned from Benghazi, thank God, and the administration is doing this right,” he said.

 By gosh we all learned our lesson with the Benghazi disaster, and these intercepts by the NSA of this big scary attack by al Queda, and the gubmint’s strong and immediate response – closing this handful of embassies over the weekend – proves it.

Perhaps I’m full of it and clueless. But I think not.

First the huge unasked and unanswered question … why, knowing their are under tight surveillance, has Al Quda suddenly, after months of silence, become such “chatty Kathy’s” ?

But even disregarding this huge question … what is the likelihood that a major Al Queda operation would be discovered just days after an eye-opening and historic BI-PARTISAN anti-NSA vote that came within 12 votes of passing … just 12 votes out of 422 votes total.

What is the chance it is strictly coincidence, that just days after this very close vote about restricting the NSA, that suddenly the NSA just happens on “chatter” … from an al Queda that knows they are listening and who have been largely silent for months … about a large imminent attack? Chatter that directly reinforces the NSA’s reason for being?

And why do the comments of almost every politician quoted, in some form or another directly reference that the NSA programs:

had helped gather intelligence about this threat” …

allow us to have the ability to gather this chatter” and that;

If we did not have these programs then we simply wouldn’t be able to listen in on the bad guys.”

What information are these politico’s more interested in getting out, the threat itself, or that it was the NSA we have to thank and without them we would be all but helpless?

Even if my theory is wrong here, that the Obama administration and pro-NSA folks have not ginned this whole thing up to divert attention from the numerous current scandals, and the failures in Benghazi … there is yet another very large elephant in the room. 

And that is; why al Queda would break their long-standing operational security, knowing more than ever about the NSA programs listening to them, and talk about this highly significant, high profile attack out in the open. And in what appears to be a large amount of communications – a lot of “chatter?”

One thing al Queda is not, is stupid. They do not suddenly let their guard down and let the NSA easily intercept their communications … not when they’ve gone to such great lengths in the past to hide from the NSA. 

Which leaves two possibilities in my view… 

One, they are feeding us the information they want to … which is the perfect counter to knowing you’re being listened to … in attempt to mislead us as to actual plans.

The more insidious option is they have realized they can cause just about as much damage – as much or more fear than blowing a few people up, by simply TALKING about attacking. Costs next to nothing to them, carries no risk, yet for those who take the bait, forces a ramp up of fear, and a huge waste of resources and assets. 

Used judiciously they can get much mileage, and create a lot of collateral damage, eventually undermining the credibility of their enemy – eventually putting them in the proverbial “boy who cried wolf” position where no one listens to them.

And along the way, each time they pull this stunt, the sheep who run to wave their arms and cry about the threat a “revitalized” and “stronger” al Queda present, burnish the reputation of al Queda with every story ….

We’l still see an occasional underpants bomber to be sure – the current threat worry is surgically implanted devices. But these have little chance of creating large scale damage or loss of life – just enough to maintain their credibility as a threat, and make these occasional security breeches to incite fear credible as well. 

We cannot beat them at this game of “whack a mole.” The best response is to stop spending billions and billions worrying about them and simply go on about our lives.

Al Queda is simply not a real, significant threat to cause large scale damage any longer. Certainly they can kill tens or dozens of people, perhaps even a few hundred if they were able to pull off a massive car bomb in the right place. 

Their ability to bring down an airliner is highly unlikely. They cannot fill a pair of underpants, or surgically implant, enough explosives to likely bring a large commercial aircraft down. They might manage to blow a hole in it, and you could lose some people, but even that is unlikely. 

Even if they were successful in down an airliner, it will be without control … it is all but impossible they will ever again get control of an aircraft. A death toll in perhaps the hundreds. 

It may sound callous, but when we weigh the risks and likelihoods, the chance of dying in any al Queda attack are infinitesimally remote. The risk of any large scale al Queda attack at all is almost zero. The risk of another 911 is in my opinion almost exactly zero. 

When we weigh those real risks vs the costs, both in cubic dollars and in freedoms and privacy, we have let al Queda win. We spend billions and billions on a threat that is extremely remote, and get virtually nothing in return.

 

Armed SWAT team raids shelter – kills Bambi …

3 Aug

bambi-in-crosshairsYes that title is over the top. It is preposterous and ridiculous. Unfortunately, unbelievably, it is also true and accurate.

“(There were) nine DNR agents and four deputy sheriffs, and they were all armed to the teeth,” Schulze said. The focus of their search was a baby fawn brought there by an Illinois family worried she had been abandoned by her mother.”

And how did the Wisconsin DNR mouthpiece respond to local media when queried by them if this SWAT raid wasn’t a bit excessive? By admitting the treated this small animal shelter, and on baby deer, just as they would a high risk drug raid.

“If a sheriff’s department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don’t call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up,”

If that’s not enough for you here is the initial excuse-making, errr … press release, the DNR put out:

Last week our warden staff had the difficult and emotional job of removing a fawn that was illegally taken out of the wild and into captivity. None of our staff take joy in these situations. The department does the best it can to educate the public about keeping wild animals in the wild. In the end, we are charged by the citizens of Wisconsin to carry out state laws mandated by the legislature. It is a responsibility we take very seriously. We don’t have the ability to pick and choose which laws to enforce. Our staff took precautions to keep everyone safe as they executed the required search warrant. We are always very empathetic to those involved in these situations and understand how difficult they are to all who are involved.

If you think that is laughable – you would find huge numbers of good folks around the world who would agree … as yes, this story, rightfully so, has gone viral.

After being soundly trashed, here is the statement I received today from the head of the Wisconsin DNR, Ms. Cathy Stepp – in response to my email to the Governor of Wisconsin’s office, highly ritical of the action of the DNR staff and leadership:

Dear Constituent,

Last week our warden staff had the difficult and emotional job of removing a fawn that was illegally taken out of the wild and into captivity.  None of our staff take joy in these situations.  The department does the best it can to educate the public about keeping wild animals in the wild.  In the end, we are charged by the citizens of Wisconsin to carry out state laws mandated by the legislature.  It is a responsibility we take very seriously.  We don’t have the ability to pick and choose which laws to enforce.  Wardens did request voluntary compliance from the facility.  When that didn’t happen, our staff took precautions to keep everyone safe as they executed the required search warrant.  We are always very empathetic to those involved in these situations and understand how difficult they are to all who are involved.

Sincerely,

Cathy Stepp – Secretary, WI Dept of Natural Resources

y-u-kill-bambiMakes you feel all better … NOT.

Now, after this has gone viral worldwide, and after doing their best to smear the shelter with claims of a myriad of illegal and criminal offenses, which they used to justify their warrant and raid (which they have acknowledged they do not intend to prosecute the shelter over)  they claim they did ask for voluntary compliance.

Lets say they really did make a good faith effort to obtain voluntary compliance. First, if they did, it begs the question why wasn’t that mentioned originally, in response to direct questions from the local TV station?

Second, and more importantly, even if this small shelter refused to turn over this baby deer voluntarily … asking I’m pretty sure for some paperwork showing a right to do so, what possible justification was there for the show of force – a 13 member, “armed to the teeth” SWAT team, who by the DNR’s admission performed the same type raid as a high risk drug bust entails?

Here is the “threat” that required a heavily armed 13 member high risk SWAT team to apprehend and kill … say goodnight Giggles:

Bambi-Giggles

As I noted I wrote a somewhat detailed note t the Governor. The response from the DNR head is above. My response to her silly excuse-making, going all in and condoning the actions of her people, is below.  I did get a bit long-winded ….   🙂

Sorry Ms. Stepp – but what a load of rubbish.  And your excuse making press release condoning these actions, with its falsehoods, does nothing to help.The fawn was not illegally taken out of the wild. It was brought by citizens concerned for its well being to a dedicated and professional animal shelter. Who cared for the deer and arranged for it to be returned to the wild – to a wildlife sanctuary  – as quickly as possible. I have read your statutes – there was nothing “illegal” about taking the deer out of the wild – nor was there anything legally or ethically wrong with the shelter accepting and caring for that deer. That is what shelters do. There certainly are  ways to twist and subvert the statutes to a particular agenda, if that is ones intent.The Wisconsin DNR would not let the shelter successfully return the fawn to the wild – to the wildlife sanctuary. Instead they made the deer pay with its life. What a great example that sets for people who actually DID what the DNR is supposed to do – care about and take care of the wildlife.

This entire mess is a complete joke – and has rightly made you and your organization the laughing stock of, not only the country, but now it’s the world. You should be ashamed – of the actions of your department and staff, and of yourself for condoning this ridiculous situation.

You and the “SWAT team” boys, have just set back the public perception, already highly suspect, of the DNR by decades. The image of heavily armed, jack-booted thugs, terrorizing the staff of a small shelter, whose only crime is carrying about wildlife, to apprehend and kill a baby deer is literally unbelievable.

The animal was in a SHELTER. Brought there by concerned and caring members of the public – a family from ILLINOIS. Both of them were actually looking OUT for the animal – unlike the WI DNR. It was by all appearances an ILLINOIS deer according to news reports, delivered to the no-kill shelter on the WI/IL Border. The fawn was due to be placed in an ILLINOIS wildlife sanctuary the following day.

Your jack booted thugs couldn’t let that happen. Their little “war game” would have been over – they wouldn’t have been able to play SWAT team. But they certainly would have avoided all the negative publicity.

Instead a large number – 9 DNR officers – plus 4 Sheriff Deputies … showed up and performed a full out SWAT raid. Apparently after a full covert surveillance by DNR officers including apparently aerial photos.

For a baby deer. Let me repeat – for a BABY DEER.

A completely ridiculous and unjustified waste of resources not to mention a horrible PR nightmare. 100% – completely – unnecessary.

Instead of the detailed surveillance, as described in the documents – one officer – the same idiot that treated this apparently like a high crimes spy case – or perhaps a couple, just in case the shelter staff suddenly turned violent (yeah right) could have walked up to the door, and simply asked – do you have a deer in here? And then explained the law.  No amount of excuses or back-pedalling will change the stupidity and arrogance of this display of force.

As far as ‘having to’ enforce the laws – that is complete gibberish as well. Like any LEO you enforce the laws as required and appropriate for the circumstances. Many violations are treated with warnings.

That is why law enforcement has escalation of force policies – because some cops on the street are – like these officers – unable to use good judgment – looking for an excuse to dress up and use the maximum force they can.

The absolute “tell” here – the proof that these DNR officers were way out of line, simply looking for an excuse to play SWAT team – is the statement that the shelter is unlikely to be charged for any of the nefarious criminal acts alleged in the complaint – the crimes used to justify this raid. That is ALL the report was – an excuse to justify a massive show of force – all to capture and kill one baby deer, at an animal shelter … a fawn arranged to be returned to the woild the following day.

It is the actions of the DNR, the failure to make a reasonable effort at contact (and we pretty clearly know there was none by statements from the shelter staff)  prior to the raid, and then the ridiculous overkill of the raid itself. NINE DNR agents and FOUR Sheriff’s Deputies showed up “armed to the teeth”  and terrorized the poor staff at this small no-kill shelter.
Again, all to apprehend and kill a baby deer.
What POSSIBLE justification could there be for this massive show of force?
Your initial statement that the DNR had “the difficult and emotional job of removing a fawn that was illegally taken out of the wild and into captivity” is simply an insult to any intelligent person. There is nothing “difficult” about capturing and killing a baby deer. Period. And clearly the only thing “emotional” about this was the thrill they received by forming a 13 person assault team “armed to the teeth” to serve raid the animal shelter and capture and kill a baby deer.
The deer was NOT illegally taken out of the wild and into captivity. The deer rehabilitation policy your staff provided me, shows it is not illegal per se  to take deer out of the wild and place them in a facility for rehabilitation – so this statement by the DNR is an outright lie – purposely intended to smear the shelter and justify the DNR’s response here.The statement then says: “None of our staff take joy in these situations.” Really? It would seem they took great joy in assembling a heavily armed force of 9 DNR and 4 Sheriff’s Officers – all to perform a high risk raid and serve a warrant on a small no-kill animal shelter, terrorize its workers, and capture and kill a baby deer. There is absolutely nothing anywhere in this story that would justify anything remotely close to that show of force for this issue.The DNR statement continues: “The department does the best it can to educate the public about keeping wild animals in the wild.” No it doesn’t. Clearly here they made little or no effort to educate the poor folks they terrorized over their act of kindness.

And the DNR statement points out the further silliness of their position. Had this animal been left in the wild it would be alive today. It is only because people were concerned about the safety and well being of the animal that it is dead today. The Wisconsin DNR rewards the public’s efforts to care about and protect wildlife with a death sentence. This is simply inexcusable. If the animal was not a threat in the wild, simply bringing it to a shelter does nothing to change the threat.

That is the message this silly show of force sends. Don’t screw with the DNR, or we’ll suit up the SWAT Team, terrorize, smear and harass you, and kill your little deer Giggles too.

Next the wonderful mouthpiece for the DNR stated: “In the end, we are charged by the citizens of Wisconsin to carry out state laws mandated by the legislature. It is a responsibility we take very seriously. We don’t have the ability to pick and choose which laws to enforce.”

More deceit and falsehoods. Every law enforcement officer is supposed to  address each situation individually. Many violations get a warming. They absolutely and unequivocally have the right, ability and responsibility to choose how to enforce the laws.Our President has shown perfect examples of that – choosing not to enforce the law regarding Black Panthers with weapons intimidating voters – or choosing not to enforce the immigration laws as written because he disagrees with them.Last, perhaps the most ridiculous claim from the DNR: “We are always very empathetic to those involved in these situations and understand how difficult they are to all who are involved.”

The DNR showed zero empathy for those poor folks involved. Nothing shows empathy like a 13 member heavily armed team of officers executing a SWAT like raid, all to capture and kill a baby deer shows zero empathy. It DOES show they have no understanding of empathy at all. And that they had zero concern about terrorizing these folks.A single, or at most couple of, officers .. simply knocking on the door, explaining the issue and what they had to do, would have got the job done. That would show empathy.The operational profile the DNR chose was that of a high risk warrant service – they acknowledge it was the same as would be used for a high risk drug raid and similar. There was zero reason or need to do so. It was ignorant, arrogant, stupid and completely unnecessary. It was also a colossal waste of taxpayer resources …

What the DNR did here – and the pathetic response and excuse-making – shows a serious problem. This increasing militarization of even the most routine quasi law enforcement actions must stop.  As should the mindset that allows these people to believe their over-the-top actions are somehow appropriate and justified.

This story is already going viral and national..  it has already hit “Drudge” and now gone international. The media won’t be able to resist “Heavily armed SWAT team captures and kills baby deer” … nor should they. It IS one of the most arrogant and ignorant displays of government stupidity in a long time.
Again that your officer’s went to the extreme of actual surveillance of the shelter, to gather “evidence” to support their silly search warrant – smearing the shelter with all kinds of criminal allegations to justify the warrant, and then – without by all appearances making any significant effort to simply contact the shelter, explain and ask for their help – your SWAT team wannabe’s show up with a 13 member “armed to the teeth” assault team and proceed to raid the shelter and terrorize its staff … all to capture and kill a baby deer – whose only offense was caring folks trying to help it.
The people involved in this – from top to bottom – should be fired. For waste of government funds, but more importantly for gross ignorance and complete disrespect for everything and everyone they involved.  And that includes the media relations staff, and you yourself Ms. Stepp for condoning this ridiculous action.
ANYONE that would EVER think or rationalize what they did was an acceptable level of response to this has no business working for the state. Period.

kill-bambi2

Damn. That was some soapbox, I better climb down before I get hurt. I’m certain there’s a lotta folks in the muckety-muck section of Wisconsin government clicking their little ruby heels together tonite and chanting “I wish I may, I wish I might… make this damn thing disappear tonite …”

Sorry to those folks … but stupidity and arrogance has a much longer shelf life than that – especially when it has “SWAT Team” – “Baby deer” and “kill” in the mix.

Perhaps you might try honesty – admit the ridiculousness here, and tell us how you will see it doesn’t happen again.