December 17, 2003
911 Was Not Something That Had to Happen

Via Kevin Drum: Calpundit: 9/11 Was "Not Something That Had To Happen": For the first time, the chairman of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is saying publicly that 9/11 could have and should have been prevented, reports CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston. "This is a very, very important part of history and we've got to tell it right," said Thomas Kean. "As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done," he said. "This was not something that had to happen." Appointed by the Bush administration, Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, is now pointing fingers inside the administration and laying blame. "There are people that, if I was doing the job, would certainly not be in the position they were in at that time because they failed. They simply failed," Kean said.... Kean promises major revelations in public testimony beginning next month from top officials in the FBI, CIA, Defense Department, National Security Agency and, maybe, President Bush and former President Clinton....

Posted by DeLong at 07:19 PM

July 25, 2003
If Only...

The Economist writes about the 911 intelligence failures report: | Intelligence failures: ...The most important detail, first revealed by Newsweek, is that the FBI had a long-time informant in San Diego who had "numerous" contacts with two of the hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, including renting a room to them. But the informant found nothing suspicious about their behaviour; he did not even bother to tell the FBI their full names. And the CIA failed to tell the FBI that it had evidence linking the two men to terrorism: both attended an al-Qaeda meeting in Malaysia in January 2000. About a month before September 11th, the CIA at last got round to including the two men's names in a communication to the FBI, saying they were suspected terrorists who might well be in the country. But FBI agents in Washington sent the names only to the bureau's counter-terrorism offices in New York and Los Angeles--and the full names were not passed on to agents in San Diego until the hijackers were identified from passenger manifests after September 11th. The report also throws out a tantalising detail about a Saudi called Omar al-Bayoumi. Mr al-Bayoumi met the two hijackers...

Posted by DeLong at 01:30 PM

March 02, 2003
Going Into Iraq

I'm rereading Robert Woodward (2002), Bush at War (New York: Simon and Schuster). There are extraordinary problems in using anything by Woodward as evidence for anything. (If you don't believe me, compare the account of the Clinton administration's adoption of deficit-reduction as its key goal given in Agenda with the account given in Maestro.) Nevertheless, it's interesting to learn that--according to Woodward's sources at least, who include Powell or at least people who are close to and work for Powell--Wolfowitz, Perle, and company wanted to use American outrage at 9/11 as a justification for attacking Iraq before or instead of dealing with Al-Qaeda in its Afghan bases, even though they thought the chance that Saddam Hussein had been involved in 9/11 was less than 50 percent, and perhaps as low as 10 percent: Another risk they faced was getting bogged down in Afghanistan.... Rice['s] fears were shared by others.... Should they think about launching military action elsewhere as an insurance policy in case things in Afghanistan went bad. They would need successes early in any war to maintain domestic and international support.... Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz perked up.... Wolfowitz... believed that the abrupt end to... Desert Storm... which left...

Posted by DeLong at 09:53 PM

March 01, 2003
Very Good News

A piece of very good news: Alleged 9/11 Mastermind Arrested in Pakistan: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was arrested Saturday in Pakistan, a senior official told The Associated Press. Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said Mohammed was one of three men arrested in a 3 a.m. raid in Rawalpindi, a city near Islamabad. A U.S. official said both U.S. and Pakistani agents were involved in the operation. Mohammed, 37, is one of the FBI's most-wanted terror suspects, and the U.S. government had offered up to $25 million for information leading to his capture. U.S. officials have described him as a key al Qaeda lieutenant and the organizer of the terror mission that sent hijacked passenger jets crashing into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, killing more than 3,000 people......

Posted by DeLong at 10:18 PM

J. Micah Marshall Says the Bush Administration's Dog Eats Homework

J. Micah Marshall bangs his head against the wall as he contemplates the... circular firing squad that is Bush Administration diplomacy: Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: The more I think about this Turkish rejection of US troops the bigger a deal it looks like. Perhaps it can be salvaged next week, though that seems unclear. But if you want some evidence of this administration's diplomatic incompetence, consider this. We publicly sold out the Kurds to get this deal. We really should have made sure we had a deal before we tipped our hands to the Kurds about the price we were willing to pay for it. Now we have no deal and no Kurds. I don't think we should have sold out the Kurds regardless. But if we were going to do so we should have been clearer with ourselves about who we were in bed with, the Turks or the Kurds. The administration has a stiff wind of anti-anti-Americanism at its back which has thus far allowed it to weather each of these storms. Every one of the administration's diplomatic debacles is the fault, not of the administration, but of our conniving friends: the Germans, the French,...

Posted by DeLong at 04:43 PM

September 14, 2002

Edward Said's views of the root causes of Palestinian suicide bombings: it's all an Israeli plot. Mossad has deliberately and consciously "programmed" Palestinians to be suicide bombers: Edward Said: Punishment By Detail: ...Suicide bombing is reprehensible but it is a direct and, in my opinion, a consciously programmed result of years of abuse, powerlessness and despair. It has as little to do with the Arab or Muslim supposed propensity for violence as the man in the moon... Is it just me, or is there something strange, alien, mysterious, and childlike about this mode of thinking--that because something bad (in this case, the suicide bombings) has happened, it must have been the result of a sophisticated plot by those extremely clever and malevolent people in Jerusalem (and Washington)?...

Posted by DeLong at 10:49 AM

September 13, 2002
Paul Krugman on the "Economic Rationale" for War Against Iraq

Perhaps the stupidest things written about what action should be taken in response to Iraq's flouting of U.N. resolutions on its armaments are Larry Kudlow's cry to invade Iraq to raise the Dow and John Podhoretz's cry to invade Iraq to elect more Republicans to Congress in November. Here Paul Krugman takes on the mostly-whispered claim that a war against Iraq would be "a good thing" for the American economy. Needless to say, policy should rest on whether Saddam Hussein is the successful object of containment policies--a cautious tyrannical madman--or is likely to develop and use weapons that will turn New York or Tel Aviv into abattoirs, not on its effect on the year-over-year growth rate of real GDP. Stocks and Bombs: ...World War II is a very poor model for the economic effects of a new war in the Persian Gulf. On balance, such a war is much more likely to depress than to stimulate our struggling economy. There is nothing magical about military spending — it provides no more economic stimulus than the same amount spent on, say, cleaning up toxic waste sites. The reason World War II accomplished what the New Deal could not was simply that...

Posted by DeLong at 11:00 AM

September 12, 2002
No Comment Department

Max Sawicky writes: Weblog Entry - 09/11/2002: "9-11: A RADICAL RANT": I talk to a variety of far left characters quite often. Never once have I heard or read anyone say the victims of 9-11 "had it coming." As we all know, repeat the Big Lie enough and it takes hold. Max has--probably mercifully--either never read or has forgotten the British New Statesman of... was it September 17, 2001?: ...American bond traders, you may say, are as innocent and as undeserving of terror as Vietnamese or Iraqi peasants. Well, yes and no. Yes, because such large-scale carnage is beyond justification, since it can never distinguish between the innocent and the guilty. No, because Americans, unlike Iraqis and many others in poor countries, at least have the privileges of democracy and freedom that allow them to vote and speak in favor of a different order. If the United States often seems a greedy and overweening power, that is partly because its people have willed it. They preferred George Bush to Al Gore and both to Ralph Nader... If I read this correctly, it does say that the voters of the United States (at least all those who did not vote for...

Posted by DeLong at 05:12 PM

Acts of Remembrance

From the morning radio alarm to the well-after-dark return of the Lafayette city flag to full staff, yesterday was full of acts of remembrance of 911. Everyone was trying hard to make sure that what they said and did was meet, fitting, and proper--and almost everyone succeeded. There was one kind of act of remembrance that I found particularly affecting: those that started out to be about something other than 911, but turned out to be about 911 after all. The finest examplar I have seen comes from Tom Maguire: A Personal 9/11 ObservanceSevere windstorms are buffetting the New York City area, knocking down trees and power lines in the outlying suburbs. Although Utility crews are doing their best to keep the streets clear, driving on suburban streets in these conditions can be treacherous. A tree had fallen just down the street from our house and was blocking a well traveled intersection. Only yesterday I had been clearing some branches around our yard with my eight year old son. Seeing the downed tree, his first words were, "Hey, Dad, we can clear that tree".Hmmm. Cars squeezing by, high winds that could knock more branches onto our heads - don't they...

Posted by DeLong at 11:05 AM

September 11, 2002
New York City

We do know, however, that it is a rising, and not a setting, sun. Credit to <>...

Posted by DeLong at 11:59 PM

Economic Consequences of 911

The Economist points out that the economic effects of 911 have been much smaller than many of us feared. Of course, the terrorists have also proved much more inept than I, at least, feared. If you'd asked me in late September what the chances were that Al Qaeda would not successfully strike at American civilians again within a year, I would have put those chances at one percent. Of course, in the initial aftermath of the terrorist attacks, the world Of course, in the initial aftermath of the terrorist attacks, the world’s stockmarkets plunged still further. Economists were unanimous: the events in New York and Washington delivered an enormous blow to confidence. Airlines were on the brink of collapse as passengers vanished, afraid to fly. American retail sales virtually dried up in the days after the attacks as people stayed at home, glued to their televisions. But economists could not agree on how prolonged these short-term effects would be. Previous experience with massive economic shocks suggested that their impact tended to be relatively short-lived and relatively modest over the medium term. On September 12th last year, though, it was impossible to know whether that pattern would be repeated. Nobody...

Posted by DeLong at 04:46 PM

Larry Summers at 911 Memorial

Speech: Observance of September 11th, 9/11/02 Remarks of Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers Harvard Yard Cambridge, Massachusetts September 11, 2002 As originally prepared for delivery. A year ago on this day, we came together in this place to share our grief, to face our fear, to begin making sense of a world torn open. We now come together again. We vowed that we would remember and we have. We remember where we were when we heard. We remember the shock as we watched planes hit symbols of our strength, the horror as we watched people jump to their deaths, the fear in the voices of families and friends, the dread in our own hearts. We remember with respect and awe those who climbed stairs into fire risking all and those who searched the ruins for survivors, working past their own strength until all hope was exhausted. We remember how we in this community supported each other through hours on the phone; how we braced each other through days of uncertainty and through the weeks when our usual fall business -- of teaching and learning, studying and playing -- seemed never more beside the point, yet never more crucial. We...

Posted by DeLong at 10:44 AM

September 10, 2002
Eleven-Score and Six

Dave Barry: On hallowed ground Posted on Sat, Sep. 07, 2002 On hallowed groundBy DAVE BARRYMiami Herald MORE DAVE BARRY   • Audio: Barry gets serious   • Barry's column about Sept. 11 On a humid July day in Pennsylvania, hundreds of tourists, as millions have before them, are drifting among the simple gravestones and timeworn monuments of the national cemetery at Gettysburg. Several thousand soldiers are buried here. A few graves are decorated with flowers, suggesting some of the dead have relatives who still come here. There's a sign at the entrance, reminding people that this is a cemetery. It says: "SILENCE AND RESPECT." Most of the tourists are being reasonably respectful, for tourists, although many, apparently without noticing, walk on the graves, stand on the bones of the soldiers. Hardly anybody is silent. Perky tour guides are telling well-practiced stories and jokes; parents are yelling at children; children are yelling at each other. A tour group of maybe two dozen teen-agers are paying zero attention to anything but each other, flirting, laughing, wrapped in the happy self-absorbed obliviousness of Teen-agerLand. CHUCK FADELY/Miami Herald Gettysburg National Cemetery is the final resting place of 3,580 Union dead from some of the fiercest fighting in...

Posted by DeLong at 09:15 PM

September 06, 2002
Hearts and Minds

Jim Henley explains how Yasser Arafat and company permanently and totally lost their battle for the hearts and minds of him, me, and I would bet most Americans in the summer of 1972. Some of my schoolmates were on the airplanes flown to Jordan and blown up in 1970, so Palestinian terrorism seemed very real as we watched the Munich Olympics Massacre on TV... Unqualified Offerings: ...I was twelve years old at the time of the Munich Olympics and I saw the whole, awful thing, and the experience never left me. Enthusiasts for the Palestinian cause, however defined, might profit from pondering why that is. It was obvious to me, watching the masked gunmen on the balconies, and later the garish, uninformative spotlights on the runway, what I was seeing: a crime. I was watching bad guys. My first sustained exposure to "the plight of the Palestinians" was to villains acting in their name.... Then came the "discourse." Draw attention to the cause! I'd type more catch-phrases, but it's not worth the disgust. The 1970s were the high-water mark of Fanonist mendacity. It dumbfounded me then that anyone could believe such things, that people like George Habash were allowed to...

Posted by DeLong at 12:37 PM

September 03, 2002
Fareed Zakaria Thinks the Islamic Fundamentalist Moment Has Passed

Fareed Zakaria argues that the Islamic Fundamentalists' moment has passed--that people recognize that "Islamic fundamentalism has no real answers to the problems of the modern world; it has only fantasies." But he also thinks that "the new generation is just as angry, rebellious and bitter" as "he youth of the 1970s and 1980s, who came from villages into cities and took up Islam as a security blanket." This, however, does not necessarily seem to me to be good news. If they are "angry, rebellious, and bitter," what do they think that they should do? The Extremists Are Losing: ...Compare the landscape a decade ago. In Algeria, Islamic fundamentalists, having won an election, were poised to take control of the country. In Turkey, an Islamist political party was soon to come to power. In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak's regime was terrorized by groups that had effectively shut down the country to foreign tourists. In Pakistan, the mullahs had scared Parliament into enacting blasphemy laws. Only a few years earlier, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini had issued his fatwa against the novelist Salman Rushdie, who was still living under armed guard in a secret location. Throughout the Arab world, much of the talk was...

Posted by DeLong at 11:57 AM

September 01, 2002
So Where Did the Volume Go?

"Gene Healy's another smart person at Cato," an acquaintance said. "He's making powerful arguments that the Bush Administration must acknowledge Congress's power over war and peace in foreign affairs." So I went to read what Gene Healy had written. I was expecting considerable volume: I had read a short piece by him on the "executive arrogance" of the Clinton years, calling Clinton's foreign policy: ...shameful... brazen... abuse of executive authority... contempt for constitutional limits ... Nixonian... the cluster-bomb humanitarianism of the war on Serbia... But the volume turned out to be extremely muted. After all, if Healy really does believe that Clinton's conduct of foreign affairs in Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, and Afghanistan was "...shameful... brazen... abuse... contempt," what words must have come to Healy's mind to apply to many aspects of the Bush Administration's conduct of the campaign against terror? Yet somehow none of these words make it into Healy's discourse, which seems rather... milquetoast... by comparison. His arguments may be right--but if it was so important to express them so... forcefully in judging the Clinton Administration, isn't it even more important to express them forcefully today? War with Iraq: Who Decides? February 26, 2002 by Gene Healy Gene Healy...

Posted by DeLong at 07:55 PM

August 31, 2002
What the Founders Envisioned

Dan Kohn says something very smart about the falsity of the Bush administration's claims about "enemy combatants": Dan Kohn's Blog: ...The thing I don't understand about conservatives' claim that "enemy combatants" like Jose Padilla weren't envisioned by the framers is how obviously the text of the constitution contradicts them.... To quote Article III, Section 3: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court. The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted. Why did the framers so carefully spell out what was required for a treason conviction and that it couldn't be lasting on the family (corruption of blood)? Because they were responding to the numerous abuses that had occurred in England of unfairly accusing and prosecuting political enemies, under the rubric of treason, while denying the accused the rights of due process. I have little doubt...

Posted by DeLong at 03:45 PM

August 29, 2002
A Cautionary Tale

British Admiral Sandy Woodward -- commander of the Falklands naval battle group during Britain's war with Argentina in the 1980s -- tells the story of a pre-Falklands naval exercise in which he, with one British destroyer, three frigates, and four Exocet missiles, 'sank' the US fleet carrier Coral Sea. A cautionary tale: I was clear in my mind what I wanted to practise: the US battle group, with all its escorts and aircraft, was to take up positions well out to sea. Their job was to stop my force from getting through their guard to 'sink' their carrier before they 'sank' us. Admiral Brown was happy enough with that -- if you had been in his position, you would have been too. He could spot an enemy surface ship more than two hundred miles away, track it at his leisure, and strike it at a comfortable range with any six of his missile-launching attack aircraft. And that was only the first layer of his defence. By any modern military standard, he was well-nigh impregnable. I had Glamorgan and three frigates, plus three Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, two of which were tankers and the third, a stores ship. The frigates were...

Posted by DeLong at 01:52 AM

August 28, 2002
Everyone Should Read the Quran

Tom Friedman says the obvious thing about reading the Quran. It's a sign that America is weaker than I thought that this needs to be said. Cuckoo in Carolina: ...I understand that some people feel it's not right that terrorists kill 3,000 Americans -- in the name of Islam -- and then we go out and make the Koran a best seller to try to figure out who they are. But that doesn't bother me as an American. It would bother me, though, if I were Muslim. It would bother me that people have been awakened to my faith by an outrageously destructive act perpetrated in its name -- rather than by some compelling attractiveness of countries that claim to reflect Islam's vision of a just society. The freedom of thought and the multiple cultural and political perspectives we offer in our public schools are what nurture a critical mind. And it is a critical mind that is the root of innovation, scientific inquiry and entrepreneurship......

Posted by DeLong at 10:06 AM

August 26, 2002
Bin Laden's Funding Sources

From KEN LAYNE: The Times of London now prevents anyone from actually reading its articles, but the summary of today's top story says quite enough: Saudis paid Bin Laden 200m Senior members of royal family paid Bin Laden not to attack targets in Saudi Arabia, and money was used to fund training camps in Afghanistan. And the Bush administration says these guys are our allies? We are paying a very heavy price for not having taken steps to discourage oil consumption over the past fifteen years....

Posted by DeLong at 09:49 AM

August 19, 2002
110 Stories

Making Light: August 2002 Archives: 110 Stories From Elise Matthesen, from Teresa Nielsen Hayden: 110 Stories, by John M. Ford This is not real. We've seen it all before.Slow down, you're screaming. What exploded? When?I guess this means we've got ourselves a war.And look at -- Lord have mercy, not again.I heard that they went after Air Force One.Call FAA at once if you can't land.They say the bastards got the Pentagon.The Capitol. The White House. Disneyland.I was across the river, saw it all.Down Fifth, the buildings put it in a frame.Aboard the ferry -- we felt awful small.I didn't look until I felt the flame.The steel turns red, the framework starts to go.Jacks clasp Jills' hands and step onto the sky.The noise was not like anything you know.Stand still, he said, and watch a building die.There's no one you can help above this floor.We've got to hold our breath. We've got to climb.Don't give me that; I did this once before.The firemen look up, and know the time.These labored, took their wages, and are dead.The cracker-crumbs of fascia sieve the light.The air's deciduous of letterhead.How dark, how brilliant, things will be tonight.Once more, we'll all remember where we were.Forget...

Posted by DeLong at 10:32 PM

August 15, 2002
Brent Scowcroft Comes Out Against Attacking Iraq

I don't claim to know enough about military affairs to have an informed view on just what, if anything, the U.S. should do further to draw the fangs of Saddam Hussein. I cannot help noticing, however, that the right-wingers who have been beating up on those pleading for caution as lily-livered idealists with no sense of how dangerous the world is now have to beat up on... Brent Scowcroft: - Brent Scowcroft: Don't Attack Saddam: Given Saddam's aggressive regional ambitions, as well as his ruthlessness and unpredictability, it may at some point be wise to remove him from power. Whether and when that point should come ought to depend on overall U.S. national security priorities. Our pre-eminent security priority -- underscored repeatedly by the president -- is the war on terrorism. An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken. The United States could certainly defeat the Iraqi military and destroy Saddam's regime. But it would not be a cakewalk. On the contrary, it undoubtedly would be very expensive -- with serious consequences for the U.S. and global economy -- and could as well be bloody. In fact,...

Posted by DeLong at 09:23 AM

Lots to Read Here...

Go now and read Amygdala. Gary Farber writes and links to good stuff about Counterpane Internet Security; Bruce Sterling, Cory Doctorow, and Open Source; U.S.-Jordanian military exercises; the H.M.S. Ark Royal; Moore's Law and the Singularity; In-N-Out Burger; Ashcroft's refusal of congressional oversight; and the language gene. I may get nothing done all day......

Posted by DeLong at 09:16 AM

...Shall Not Perish From the Earth

Carey Gage of Cognocentric defends the idea of reading the Gettysburg Address on the one-year anniversary of 911. I agree. It's very relevant--all except the "four-score" and "civil war" parts. We have now been running for more than two hundred years. Thank God, our current ongoing war is not a civil one. And it is: ...for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth. CognoCentric: The Gettysburg Address is only nominally about a nation at civil war. It is about the sacrifice made by those who died in a war being waged so that "government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." It is about renewing the commitment of the living "to the great task remaining before us[:] ... that cause for which they...

Posted by DeLong at 01:59 AM

August 14, 2002
Did Anything Noteworthy Happen at Runnymede?

Dan Kohn pleads for judicial review. If this goes awry, it will be the result of a very long chain of historical events originating with Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney's attempts to use his office to fight for the South in the Civil War... Dan Kohn's Blog: If you don't know the name Yaser Esam Hamdi, you soon will. He was in court today to determine whether the right of Habeas Corpus, first granted to a few English nobles in the fields of Runnymede in 1215 and guaranteed by the constitution to all US citizens, will now be taken away by the Bush Administration's cavalier definition of an :"enemy combatant". The NYT reports on the federal judiciary playing their role as one of the main bulwarks of liberty: "'I have no desire to have an enemy combatant get out,' the judge said. 'But due process requires something other than a declaration by someone named Mobbs that he should be held incommunicado. Isn't that what we're fighting for?'"...

Posted by DeLong at 06:17 PM

August 11, 2002
I Can't Stand It

Placeholder... A White House in Search of a Policy ...These contradictions might be explained and rationalized. But no amount of spinning can prevent their net effect, which is to undermine the administration's credibility in the Middle East. Indeed, the randomness of American rhetoric on the Middle East is becoming its most distinctive pattern. The progress of our diplomacy has been equally erratic. Secretary Powell announced in November 2001 that he was dispatching Gen. Anthony Zinni to the Mideast with instructions to stay in the region until he achieved a cease-fire -- and withdrew him as soon as he faced the predictable campaign of terrorist attacks. General Zinni's return to the region was then made contingent on the very cease-fire he was supposed to be helping the two sides to achieve. After a spate of suicide bombings in May, the president announced that he was sending George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, to the Middle East to deal with the Palestinian terrorist problem, but Mr. Tenet did not go until a month later. Secretary Powell announced in early May a Middle East peace conference to be convened by early summer, an idea that was quietly shelved by late June. Finally,...

Posted by DeLong at 07:59 PM

Open Foot, Insert Mouth

Max Sawicky points out that Ann Coulter now excludes Manhattan from "America." I had never thought that anyone would dare claim that the World Trade Center was not part of America, and that the people who died there were not (mostly) Americans. I was wrong... 'By "America," I obviously mean to exclude newsrooms, college campuses, Manhattan and Los Angeles...'...

Posted by DeLong at 06:52 PM

June 20, 2002
Our Government Is Going About This All Wrong: If Civil Liberties Are to be Suspended, Then Suspend Them--Constitutionally

Eugene Volokh worries that "military tribunals, military detentions, and the like" raise fundamental questions "that go to the heart of the actual language of the Constitution": | The Volokh Conspiracy | But the main issues raised by military tribunals, military detentions, and the like have very little to do with the Warren Court decisions.... These matters raise fundamental questions that go to the heart of the actual language of the Constitution.... Now there are good arguments that, as a matter of the original meaning of the text (though not of its letter), and as a matter of American constitutional traditions, there are certain implied exceptions to the Bill of Rights with regard to enemy combatants... but the arguments of its critics cannot be rebutted simply by denouncing some "Warren Court set of rights" -- it's the Framers' set of rights that's clearly at issue here. I suspect that he is wrong about the letter of the Constitution (although--thank God!--I am not a lawyer). Article I, Section 9, Clause 2: "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." This is a case of...

Posted by DeLong at 08:42 PM

Yasir Arafat, as Seen by David Brooks

Whenever a people wind up with a conspicuously bad leader, it is natural to ask, "Just where did this guy come from?" Writing in the Atlantic Monthly, David Brooks gives his take on the answer to this question. | The Atlantic | July/August 2002 | A Brief History of Yasir Arafat | Brooks A Brief History of Yasir Arafat: The PLO leader is a terrible administrator but a brilliant image crafter by David Brooks Yasir Arafat claims that he was born in Jerusalem, but he was actually born in Cairo. He claims to belong to the prominent Jerusalem family of Husseini, but he is at best only distantly related to it. He claims that he turned down a chance to go to the University of Texas, but according to one biographer, the Palestinian-born writer Said K. Aburish, it is highly unlikely that he was ever accepted. He claims to have disabled ten Israeli armored personnel carriers in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, but Israel didn't even have ten APCs in the sector he was in. He claims to have made millions as a businessman in Kuwait, but this, too, is almost certainly untrue. Obviously, Arafat is a congenital liar. But there's...

Posted by DeLong at 11:04 AM

Al-Qaeda Strategy: Our Current Guesses

Jim Henley refers me to this Washington Post article about what our current picture of al-Qaeda strategy is: Al Qaeda Aims To Destabilize Secular Nations Al Qaeda Aims To Destabilize Secular Nations: Attacks Planned on U.S. Targets By Walter Pincus | Washington Post Staff Writer | Sunday, June 16, 2002; Page A21 A small cadre of al Qaeda leaders has refined the terrorist organization's strategy to use small-scale attacks to destabilize -- and ultimately overthrow -- the secular governments in Islamic countries while continuing to plan larger, sophisticated attacks on American targets, according to current and former senior officials at the CIA and FBI. The car bomb attack on the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, on Friday is part of what U.S. analysts believe is al Qaeda's strategy since being driven from its headquarters in Afghanistan. The smaller attacks, once directed at targets worldwide, have been revised to use recruits prepared to die in strikes against American, Western and Jewish targets in countries where the population is Muslim but the government is secular. The goal is to overthrow the government of nations such as Pakistan, Egypt and Jordan and establish a "Muslim state in the heart of the Islamic...

Posted by DeLong at 10:40 AM

June 18, 2002
Andrew Northrup Offers Insight Into Chomsky (Which Insight He Then Repudiates)

Andrew Northrup ("The Poor Man") offers some--I think accurate--insight into Noam Chomsky, particularly his bizarre apparent habit of attributing moral agency and moral responsibility (always exercised badly) to the governments of the U.S. and of Israel alone. The Poor Man [Chomsky writes:] "For intellectuals in Russia in the Communist days, condemnation of US crimes had little if any moral value; in fact, it might have had negative value, in serving to buttress the oppressive and brutal Soviet system. In contrast, when Eastern European dissidents condemned the crimes of their own states and society, it had great moral value. That much everyone takes for granted: everyone, that is, outside the Soviet commissar class. Much the same holds in the West, point by point, except with much more force, because the costs of honest dissidence are so immeasurably less. And exactly as we would expect, these utterly trivial points are almost incomprehensible to Western intellectuals, when applied to them, though readily understood when applied to official enemies." Well, yeah, that's about right, actually. And I think that offers a bit of insight into his style of criticism. And it is his strength, and it is his weakness. The concern with the "moral...

Posted by DeLong at 12:54 PM

December 07, 2001
Newsweek on the Plane That Wasn't Turned Into a Guided Missile

The Real Story of Flight 93 The terrorists had years to plan their hijacking. The passengers had just minutes to respond. But a band of patriots came together to defy death and save a symbol of freedom. What happened on that flight%uFFD1and inside the cockpit....

Posted by DeLong at 09:26 PM

October 07, 2001
How-to-Shoot-Yourself-in-the-Head Department

Brzezinski Refuses to Admit That He Was too Clever in Sponsoring the Mujaheddin I usually don't like Alexander Cockburn--an odd combination of right-wing militia sympathizer, anti-science global warming skeptic, and post-modern cultural leftie. But he has a *long* clipping file, which is sometimes very useful......

Posted by DeLong at 09:49 PM

I'm Still in Shock About 911: But I'm Trying to at Least Start to Think About It

Dealing with the Islamic Reformation: Parallels Between Today and the Sixteenth Century On August 24, 1572, St. Bartholomew's Day, the Huguenots, the Protestants of Paris, were massacred by the soldiers of the French crown, by the nobles of the Guise faction, and by their own neighbors. The death toll reportedly ran into the tens of thousands. The then-Pope had a medal struck to celebrate and commemorate the downfall of the Huguenots: in public, at least, the Vatican then showed the same glee over the megadeaths as Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants showed over the mass-murder of more than 5000 people who happened to be in the World Trade Center at the wrong time......

Posted by DeLong at 09:24 PM