FROM Patrick Skinner
New York bombing suspect in custody Less than 48 hours after some bombs went off and others were discovered in New Jersey and New York City, Ahmad Khan Rahami was arrested after a shootout in Linden, New Jersey. Even before he knew of the capture, President Obama reminded Americans that terrorists want to provoke fear. "We all have a role to play as citizens in making sure we don't succumb to that fear." Patrick Skinner is a former CIA case officer, now with the Soufan Group, which tracks Islamic extremists.
It's Detention and Interrogation All Over Again The US has been killing Islamic State fighters with airstrikes and drones, but now 300 Special Forces are on the ground in Iraq. They're conducting so-called "targeted raids," and taking prisoners. But they're not the only ones. Today, Kurdish Peshmerga reportedly captured a US citizen, Mohammed Jamal Amin from Virginia — who is said to have entered Syria from Turkey and then made his way to Iraq — complicating the issue of what to do with ISIS detainees. Questions about "enhanced interrogation" and Guantánamo Bay are already being raised in the presidential campaign.
The Commander in Chief and the Evolution of Terrorism In a rare speech from the oval office last night, President Obama tried to bolster the morale of Americans. He did not outline any new plan to defeat the Islamic State, and Republican reaction ranged from House Speaker Paul Ryan, calling the speech "nothing new," to presidential candidates -- unanimous in saying the president's strategy isn’t working. Nobody has offered a strategy to prevent another San Bernardino with lone wolves acting alone, without any known confederates or Internet presence. Despite the power of military force and electronic surveillance, will the next national nightmare also be revealed only in hindsight?
The "Known Wolves" of International Terror "Media is more than half the battle." That's the motto of the State Department's Center for Strategic Counterterrorism . It's taken from a remark by an enemy leader, Al Qaeda's current commander, and it's demonstrated by the highly sophisticated recruiting videos produced by the so-called Islamic State. But it works both ways. Law enforcement at all levels is able to monitor social media — and to identify what are called "known wolves." By monitoring social media, investigators around the world have discovered hundreds of thousands of want-to-be terrorists. Does that mean atrocities can be prevented? Last week, two men were arrested with plans to board planes just because they wanted to join ISIS. How was it legal to intervene before they'd done anything wrong? Should the civil rights of suspects be suspended for the human rights of potential victims? Counter-terrorism officials call that the latest challenge with half the war now being fought on the battlefield of the media.
CIA Torture: Partisanship — and Accountability Last week, Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee released a 400-page report on what they called CIA "torture" of imprisoned suspects in the aftermath of September 11. Yesterday on NBC's Meet the Press, former Vice President Dick Cheney defended the program . "We got the authorization from the president and authorization from the Justice Department to go forward with the program. It worked. It worked now for 13 years. We've avoided another mass casualty attack against the United States and we did capture Bin Laden and we did capture an awful lot of the senior guys of Al Qaeda who were responsible for that attack on 9/11. I'd do it again in a minute." One-time POW John McCain is one of few Republicans to agree with Senate Democrats that American values were endangered along with national security. "There were violations of the Geneva conventions for the treatment of prisoners, there were violations of the convention against torture which Ronald Reagan was a primary signatory of, and I think in retrospect some of these practices fly in the face of everything America values and stands for." Former CIA insiders blame inexperienced agents and outside contractors, along with orders from Washington to "get tough" with prisoners. What are the prospects for accountability 13 years later?
Trump plays scolder-in-chief with NATO allies At the opening of NATO’s dramatic new headquarters in Brussels today, President Trump acknowledged that Article 5 — promising that “an attack on one nation is an attack on all” -- has only been invoked one time: in the aftermath of September 11. But the President failed to provide what 27 other Alliance members have been waiting for: a re-commitment by America’s new leader to Article 5. Instead, they got a scolding.
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?