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September 27, 2006

NIE cites Internet-based leftists as threat

Glenn Greenwald spots a very disconcerting passage in the National Intelligence Estimate:

The now-declassified summary of the National Intelligence Estimate (PDF) on "Trends on Global Terrorism" focuses almost exclusively on Islamic extremists. But inserted at the very end is this one overlooked, though seemingly quite important, passage that identifies other terrorist threats:

"Anti-U.S. and anti-globalization sentiment is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies. This could prompt some leftist, nationalist, or separatist groups to adopt terrorist methods to attack US interests. The radicalization process is occurring more quickly, more widely, and more anonymously in the Internet age, raising the likelihood of surprise attacks by unknown groups whose members and supporters may be difficult to pinpoint." It continues: "We judge that groups of all stripes will increasingly use the Internet to communicate, propagandize, recruit, train and obtain logistical and financial support."

Prior to 9/11, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil was in Oklahoma City, where Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building in pursuit of his right-wing, anti-federal-government agenda. But there is nothing in the NIE findings about right-wing or anti-government groups. Instead, there is a rather stark warning about the danger of "leftist" groups using the Internet to engage in terrorist attacks against the United States. Is there any basis at all for that warning?

Something for us lefty bloggers to think about.

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Comments

Yet another reason to invest in land in Canada.
Or, better yet, to find a Swiss citizen to marry. There's too much hidden money in Switzerland for it to ever be in danger.
I miss america, even from a deep blue corner of a deep blue state.

Anti-torture = leftist terrorist? Methinks yes if you are Republican! Majikthise the new "leftist radical" for global freedom and democracy?

I think it's fair to say that the threat of right wing terrorism has abated somewhat since the Republicans are at the helm. It takes some of the pressure off if they think they can get what they want through politics. When there is a Democrat in the White House again the probability of right wing terrorism will go up.

Of course, having said that, a right wing terrorist was arrested about a mile from the house I just moved out of. Barely made a ripple in the news, but they guy was stocked up on pipe bombs and had well worked out plans to attack a women's health clinic. There was also the guy who rammed a clinic about a week ago, believing it performed abortions (it didn't).

I read that paragraph, in context, as referring primarily to groups outside the US (hence the use of "US interests" rather than "the US". If so, they're probably thinking of anarchists like the Black Block. That said, it is certainly ambiguous and we know what the Bush administration thinks of domestic dissenters.

It's odd that left wing Internet activists were mentioned to the exclusion of potential right wing Internet terrorists.

Little Green Footballs is under FBI investigation.

I can't think of any domestic left wing terrorists, with the possible exception of some radical animal rights groups, but those guys don't really fall on the political spectrum as far as I'm concerned.

Ginger Yellow, you raise a good point. If the US were committed to due process, I wouldn't be so alarmed. But as long as the president reserves the right to declare anyone an enemy combattant...

If someone on my blogroll gets classified as a terrorist, does that mean that I've been providing material support to a terrorist?

Little Green Footballs is under FBI investigation.

Really?

Do you have a link?

Alon, I'm not an expert on the case, but as of September 11, 2006,

Alon, I'm not an expert on the case, but as of September 11, 2006, Charles Johnson had recieved two phonecalls from the FBI regarding the behavior of LGF commenters (threats, harrassing emails).

I think that most of the really dangerous groups that might be classified as "right wing" within the US are accurately described as "separatist" as well.

"Nationalist" usually implies right-wing as well, at least in the US and western Europe.

"Nationalist" usually implies right-wing as well, at least in the US and western Europe."

Ah, Philip you see there are no extremists or terrorists on the Right, after all fascists are leftwing too...well at least that is the conservative line.

And you know the FBI is just tripping over all the American communists out there blowing up shit and hijacking planes. (rolls eyes)

I think the point about a threat from the left was boiler plate stuff about terrorism.

On the other hand and this doesn't come from reading the NIE report excerpts, it seems to me a left is beginning to emerge in the U.S. In part because of Bush's misscalculations. Which has made it respectible. I suspect that some further rightwing action of a serious sort would seal the move to the left into the political landscape.

What fuels this move is the now really large problem with military as a tool of foreign power. It can be stated like this; terrorism was just a ploy to use military power to extend U.S. power rather than a serious threat.

If the military is not up to the task then U.S. power is questioned as well. I think that requires a sea change of sorts and needs a national consensus. The right in my view can't answer the question and that leaves an opening to the left to fill.
Doyle

I think a vital organized left/progressive movement is beginning to emerge in the US, and I think the current government is making a preemptive strike against it.

A lot of people think that they've got nothing to worry about because they aren't saying anything especially radical today. On the other hand, depending on what the government decides to do, intelligent people of good will might be forced to make even more radical critiques of the government.

For example, suppose there were a window in which we knew for sure that the US was planning to attack Iran with nuclear weapons.

At that point some people would propose radical action. There would be some irresponsible, irrational, unethical people who would propose violent resistance in the face of such a threat. We don't know who those people will be, possibly government provocateurs. No doubt, those people will have struck up email correspondences and blogs, infiltrated peaceful political groups and otherwise insinuated themselves into the fabric of progressive political life in this country. The trap is being laid for the rest of us. If the standard is "material help to terrorists" that puts practically everyone in the movement in jeopardy.

Here we go.

A couple of days ago the NIE was gospel truth according to you guys. Now you have a problem with it? What's up with that?

I think this seems broadly reasonable. Various animal-rights and anarchist groups, broadly on the left, have been responsible for terrorist threats and acts. And the right-wing wacko crowd is certainly covered under Nationalist and Separatist. In essence, although the nuanced threat is boiled down to three words -- which will necessarily include non-terrorists and fail to include dangerous people -- two thirds of the categories are rightwards ho.

Given that it is unreasonable in any regard to imagine that people working in Government Intelligence will be too anti-establishment, I think that's as good as you'll get. Sure it sucks when we get lumped in with anarchists, but this is part of the cost of being on the left.

On the other hand, depending on what the government decides to do, intelligent people of good will might be forced to make even more radical critiques of the government.
For example, suppose there were a window in which we knew for sure that the US was planning to attack Iran with nuclear weapons.
At that point some people would propose radical action. There would be some irresponsible, irrational, unethical people who would propose violent resistance in the face of such a threat.

We can’t know if BushCo. will use nuclear weapons, but if they already had done so, in Iran say, proposing violent resistance might just be the responsible, rational and ethical thing to do. They know it, and at that point anyone who mouths any opposition will perforce be an “illegal combatant” or some such quasi-legal baloney, subject to arrest, torture, and disappearance. Once the nuclear genii is loose, all bets, including the constitution, are off. I very much doubt that the Pentagon brass would actually let Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld wet-dreaming reach a nuclear climax, but these days one never knows.

This is like something out of V for Vendetta.

This is like something out of V for Vendetta.

Use of nuclear weapons was given semi-serious consideration during the Korean and Vietnam wars, and were mercifully left at that. The current Whitehouse crowd is so rabid-dog crazy though that virtually nothing in the way of self-destructive madness can be ruled out. Not to drift into a leftist version of Little Green Football paranoia, but these guys scare me more than any administration in my lifetime. And given that Cheney/Bush recklessly and deliberately forced us to step into the Iraq cowpie and are now gleefully forcing us to eat it, I can’t help but think anything is possible.

A couple of days ago the NIE was gospel truth according to you guys. Now you have a problem with it? What's up with that? - Rambo

Am I the only one who's kinda paranoid and thinks that Bush & CO make sure either easily demonstratively inaccurate or anti-leftist stuff gets into these sorts of documents that way Rambo's argument can be used to discredit the document or to dissuade us from pushing the document politically?

I.e. Bush & CO realize they no longer can keep incident X under wraps, so they put an easily demonstratively false statement in the report describing incident X, so that way when that false statement is discredited, they can paint the whole report as suspect.

Or Bush & CO realize they can no longer keep draft document Y under wraps, so when they do release it, they put in a statement Z which may or may not be true, but which would make lefties have to make a Hobson's choice between either publicizing document Y and also publicizing damaging statement Z or avoiding publicizing Z by not pushing to publicize Y.

I'll sleep eaiser at night knowing the government is finally heeding the warning signs and beginning to pay some attention to the existential threat posed to America by-left-of-center webloggers. My god, some nights I've cried myself to sleep, speachless with fear about what these internet activists might some day do my country with their evil keyboards and mean thoughts and pointed, reality-based words. God, I get the shakes just typing about it.

"A couple of days ago the NIE was gospel truth according to you guys. Now you have a problem with it? What's up with that?"


Posted by: Rambo |

We still think it truthfully reflects what intelligence agencies believe. It's just that part of what those agencies believe could be dangerous, and definitely reveals irrational bias.

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