Thursday, December 31, 2009

Detainees At Home and Abroad

by Mort Malkin

Detainees at Home and Abroad

Many folks here in the US have an image of a typical terrorist as brown skinned and of the Muslim persuasion. Don’t ask about denominations — Sunni, Shia, Sufi, Salafi … Terrorists often have beards and wear Arab headdress, too. Certainly, a man wearing a headdress and sporting a full beard, would arouse suspicion. Sikhs fit the profile and ipso facto are suspect, even though they are neither Arab nor Muslim. I recently met a Sikh who lives in the US and asked him if other Americans cast a wary eye upon him. He was born in the province of Punjab where Sikhs distribute free food to the hungry at gurdwaras. They feel a calling to work for the good of the community. No, they’re not communists.

The top beard in Al Qaeda, defamed be his name, is from the Wahhabi sect of Islam. Wahhabism is not even a denomination, but a fundamentalist sect. They are from Saudi Arabia and wish to rid their land of foreign infidels (the US military). Afghanistan, whose major natural resource is the opium poppy, is a thousand miles away from Saudi Arabia. So, what are we doing in Afghanistan? Yes, Al Qaeda used to rent space there, but that was years ago and since then they found it more comfortable in Pakistan instead of the cold caves of Tora Bora. They also liked the weather better in Yemen, Somalia, New Jersey, and Florida. Back in 2001, a dark year when the Bush-Cheney (B-C) administration took power and when three buildings of the WTC were brought down, members of Al Qaeda were traveling freely around the US taking flying lessons in Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma and Minnesota.

So, the US Army and Marines invaded Afghanistan and detained likely terrorists — Semite and South Asian Muslims. Rewards (bounties) were offered. Many Afghans took advantage of the stimulus program and turned in members of adversary tribes or personal rivals. The Americans, not fluent in Pashto or Dari, had to rely on the honesty of the informants. With terrorists in hand, we were obliged to use coercive techniques — waterboarding, walling, strong music, and canine visitations — to locate others. When roadside bombs are ticking we could not await a variance from the quaint Geneva Conventions. The International Red Cross, as fussy as ever, would be best kept in the dark.

We have been in Afghanistan for only eight years, but we must have been successful. Today, there are fewer than 100 low level Al Qaeda members left in Afghanistan. The Taliban, are just Afghans, not international terrorists.

Dealing with terrorists from Arabia in Afghanistan was good practice for constraining terrorists here at home. Pittsburgh was the first opportunity to test out strategies, techniques, and equipment. The G-20 nations were meeting to shuffle currency, cook the books, and conclude that world wide economic recovery had begun. Protesters were surely going to try to disrupt the meeting: environmentalists, pacifists, Iraq Veterans Against the War, The United Steel Workers, The Raging Grannies, Poets On The Loose, and opponents of free trade — terrorists and anarchists all. Extreme measures would be in order.

So, 4,000 police, assorted State Troopers, FBI Agents, DEA Officers, Secret Service Agents, and a couple of private security services, were assembled. A $19.5 million budget was allocated for the two day event — security officers would outnumber the demonstrators. A few battalions of police in full riot gear were arranged in phalanxes, a la Alexander the Great. They wore helmets with wrap-around Plexiglas face masks. Some wore body armor and carried wrist mounted weapons worthy of a Star Wars costume. Overhead, helicopters swooped. On the ground, armored personnel carriers, mounted police, motorcycle columns, and police dog units insured redundancy (confusion). When marchers with banners refused to disperse, officers (public servants?) fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and ear piercing sound cannons. Over 170 demonstrators were pre-emptively arrested — the worst of the worst — including medics, journalists, and passersby. They were held in detention until the financiers went home. Pittsburgh was an invaluable example of winning the hearts and minds of the people.

Let that be a lesson for demonstrators and insurgents alike. In the US there will be zero tolerance for dissidents. The Afghans better beware.

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