The War on Terrorism Takes Aim at Crime

The War on Terrorism Takes Aim at Crime
Posted by FoM on April 08, 2002 at 10:15:56 PT
By James Dao
Source: New York Times
In South America, the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, controls lucrative coca fields that finance a terror campaign against the government. In the Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf group kidnaps people to sustain its separatist dreams. In Sri Lanka, the violent Tamil Tigers have a fleet of stealthy vessels for smuggling contraband across the Indian Ocean. In Uzbekistan, heavily armed Islamic militants run a protection racket for opium traffickers. And before the fall of the Taliban, Al Qaeda was thought to profit from Afghanistan's thriving poppy trade. 
Across the globe, the lines between international crime syndicates and terrorist organizations have become impossibly blurred. And recognition of that reality has spurred Washington to begin revamping its strategy for the war on terror.Informants for the Drug Enforcement Administration are being enlisted to dig up intelligence on terrorist cells. F.B.I. agents are working with C.I.A. operatives to track down criminal as well as terrorist cells. A federally financed anti-drug campaign links drug use to supporting terrorism. And the military, long accustomed to preparing for battles against large conventional armies, is rushing to retrain its allies — and itself — to fight small conflicts against borderless groups that engage in crime even as they commit acts of terror. "Everything we could do to put those people out of business would be good for our purposes," said Adm. Dennis Blair, the commander in chief of the United States Pacific Command. Links to criminal activity have existed for as long as terrorists have been around. But analysts say those links have grown since the end of the cold war, when many insurgent groups lost their state sponsors and turned to criminal enterprises to finance their activities.Hence the more expansive approach, which on one level seems a triumph of common sense. If terrorists who threaten America buy their weapons, move their people and hide their money by hiring criminal syndicates, why not go after those subcontractors? And if insurgent groups are financing terror by assisting drug traffickers, why not go after both? It would be killing two birds with one stone, administration officials say."The illegal drug production that undermines America's culture also funds terror and erodes democracies across the globe," Asa Hutchinson, the drug enforcement administrator, said in a speech last week. "They all represent a clear and present danger to our national security."But expanding the global war on terrorism to include a global war on crime has also raised sharp questions about whether the United States has the political support, know-how and resources to attack such a large and complicated set of new enemies. Many criminal syndicates have slyly evaded the law for decades, usually with the help of corrupt local officials. Can Americans suddenly expect to undermine those groups while also waging war in Afghanistan, trying to contain Saddam Hussein, keeping Israelis and Palestinians from each others' throats and sending troops to places like the Philippines, Yemen and Georgia?On Capitol Hill, many lawmakers are not so sure. Some are already drawing analogies between Colombia — where the administration wants to expand its military assistance for fighting drug traffickers to include fighting the FARC — and Vietnam. "This could be a real quagmire," said Representative Ike Skelton, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. "And our commanders are already saying they don't have enough resources to meet their missions."Kurt Campbell, a former Clinton administration official who is a director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan policy group in Washington, said Mr. Bush runs the risk of diluting his antiterror campaign by continuously expanding its targets. First there was Al Qaeda, then the axis of evil — Iraq, Iran and North Korea — and now there are drug traffickers and other criminal syndicates."If you expand the definition of what you're trying to do, you blur your mission and you start to lose support," Mr. Campbell said. "You start to have questions about what exactly are we concerned with. Is it Islamic fundamentalism? Is it states that are trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction? Is it states that support drug running and then maybe do things that aid terrorists? Each is important, but can all be the focus of your attention?"Still, analysts who have studied international criminal syndicates say the Bush administration is right to recognize the connections between criminal groups and terrorists, which they lump together under the rubric of "transnational threats." The FARC, which lost funding from Cuba after the fall of the Soviet Union, is a good example of how the end of the cold war opened the way to more criminal activity. Having initially made money by "taxing" local drug dealers, the FARC began running drugs itself in the 1990's. Today, American officials say the group has become so corrupted by drug profits that its political goals have become secondary. Similar cycles of violence exist in the Balkans, Central Asia and Africa, where criminal enterprises — from stealing oil to smuggling diamonds — have sustained guerrilla warriors long after their political goals have faded.But even as they applaud the Bush administration's new steps, analysts say the administration has yet to grapple with the long-term problems posed by stateless groups — problems that could prove even more intractable than those presented by Iraq or North Korea.Louise I. Shelley, director of the Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at American University in Washington, said criminal groups provide vital services and generate economic opportunity in many regions where government is weak. Attacking the criminal organizations without replacing their socially useful services could antagonize communities whose help America needs in fighting terrorists, she said."In some places, criminal groups provide food, provide gas, run the trade and mediate the conflicts," Dr. Shelley said. "They are de facto governments. But if you demonize them, you are not going to have the local community behind you."Military analysts also said that traditional military approaches to fighting war must change if the United States is going to be effective in attacking borderless enemies. The concept of deterrence, for example, could quickly become obsolete if the enemy has no country, no capital, no standing army, no obvious "centers of gravity" worth destroying. But so far, the analysts say, the Pentagon hasn't quite figured out how to deter groups that seem to have nothing to lose. It is a problem common to terror groups and criminal bands, whether they engage in both crime and terror or not."Trying to fight these groups can be like trying to pin down a piece of mercury," said Thomas M. Sanderson, deputy director for the Transnational Threats Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Yet we're still trying to box something that can't be boxed."Source: New York Times (NY)Author: James DaoPublished: April 7, 2002Copyright: 2002 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite: Articles:DEA Head Warns of Drugs Funding Terrorism Views on Ads Linking Drugs to Terrorism Decry Ads Linking Drugs, Terror
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Comment #8 posted by Dark Star on April 09, 2002 at 08:48:36 PT
Polls Abroad
The news reported last night that 80% of people in a poll in Saudi Arabia said that they hated America. This cannot be a good thing. Our country can ignore that, and continue to be the global cowboy. We will be increasingly detested and reviled. Eventually resistance will erupt in a way that is far more devastating than 9/11.In contrast, we can do something about it, and try to understand the sensibilities and concerns of people that are "not like us."It would also make a lot of sense to radically reduce our dependence on foreign oil. That doesn't mean drilling ANWR, but rather to develop hemp bio-diesel, and renewable energy resources (air and solar power). High tech can help. If we put even a fraction of the current defense budget into nuclear fusion research, the pay off could be enormous: a world with limitless clean power. If achieved, the technology should be shared with everyone.
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Comment #7 posted by Lehder on April 09, 2002 at 08:38:00 PT
Global Vietnam
Kurt Campbell...said Mr.Bush runs the risk of diluting his antiterror campaign by continuously expanding its targets. First there was Al Qaeda, then the axis of evil — Iraq, Iran and North Korea — and now there are drug traffickers and other criminal syndicates.He left out plain vanilla evil, not restricted to its "axis", but on a global scale as Bush has promised: The US is fighting evil.The objective is perpetual war for the entire globe, including the war of citizens and police in the US that is now being militarized.The US pounded Vietnam, a quarter the size of France, with more tons of bombs than were detonated all over Europe and the Pacific during WWII. Yet a society and a culture remain in Vietnam - clearly they could have absorbed still more bombs. Imagine an unending Vietnam on a global scale. Imagine the profits to be made. Every single year into the infinite future. 
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Comment #6 posted by freddybigbee on April 09, 2002 at 07:03:43 PT:
Mine's broken, can I borrow yours?
"The illegal drug production that undermines America's culture also funds terror and erodes democracies across the globe," Asa Hutchinson, the drug enforcement administrator, said in a speech last week. "They all represent a clear and present danger to our national security."My Bull$shit meter was working fine until I read this. Then it started flashing and emitting smoke, and exploded leaving nothing but a charred shell.If black market drug sales are threatening civilization (such as it is...), the solution is to eliminate the prohibitive laws and incorporate production and distribution into lawful channels. The same people will use drugs, and the funding of "terrorism" will cease. Not exactly rocket-science.Terrorism n: 1) the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion 2) whatever the Bush administration doesn't like/profit from.
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Comment #5 posted by DdC on April 08, 2002 at 13:59:45 PT
Ooops! Sikorsky Helisculptures correction...
Spraying Misery
Legalizing Abuses in Colombia
Information Network of the Americas - Colombia Report 
Witness For Peace Terrorists, Bad Terrorists: How Washington Decides Who's Who
http://www.americas.orgSikorsky Helisculptures
The Dumbya Chronicles - All News Archives
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Comment #4 posted by DdC on April 08, 2002 at 13:40:57 PT
Ain't NO Hype Critter Like Bushit...
The War on Some Drugs Bush Cheney and Rumsfeld Doesn't Sell...April 8, 2002
CCLE Fights Government's Forced-Drugging of Dentist in Federal CourtThe Alchemind Society's Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics (CCLE) today filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals asking the court to reconsider its recent decision permitting the government to continue forcibly injecting a St. Louis dentist with mind-altering drugs. Dr. Sell is currently being administered drugs against his will in an effort to make him "competent to stand trial" on federal fraud charges.>>Continued... case was the subject of a recent article by conservative columnist Phyllis Schalfly. 19, 2002 
Forced Drugging OK'd By Federal Court CIA Mind Control DaddyBush's CIA Society
http://www.alchemind.orgbtw...The Real Reason for US Aid to Colombia is OIL!
Stop the WoD on Colombians
Copter Stoppers
Sikorsky Helisculptures
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Comment #3 posted by SansSuperego on April 08, 2002 at 11:08:34 PT
Colombia: Why No Secession?
Colombia is currently in the same position the United States was in during the so-called Civil War, only then it was about slavery and Colombia is about drug trafficking. When the southern states tried to secede from the "United" states, the North would not let them. Why? Because the North knew it needed the South for economic reasons. In short, the North was making money off the South, and they knew that if the South seceded, it would be the end of a great moneymaking enterprise. The Civil War had little to do with slavery. That was incorporated into it to give the North a feeling of moral superiority; by and large it had more to do with money than anything else.So, what is the parallel in Colombia? Simple: if the Colombian government wanted to end the civil war there, one great thing to try might be to let the ELN and FARC have their own state--you know, that "Switzerland-sized" chunk of land that has been made into a "demilitarized zone" (which really means "militarized zone, but we're not saying so"). If the FARC and ELN could have their own country, they could decide what is legal and what is not, they could provide all the niceties of socialized government for their people, and perhaps they would finally end this 30-plus year war.The problem? The Colombian government is making too much money off coca production. Actually, the Colombian government is getting to much money from the U.S., and the U.S. is making too much money off of coca production. You see, Colombia is just like the U.S. was 140 years ago: they want their cake, and they want to eat it too. As for the U.S.--well, it hasn't changed a bit, except that it is now the most powerful empire the world has ever seen and can basically dictate to everyone else what their policies should be. Thank God for Western Europe, home to the world's only political entities with the cajones to give the bird to American drug war politics. Would that the southern half of the western hemisphere had the same.SansSuperego
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Comment #2 posted by krutch on April 08, 2002 at 11:00:15 PT:
How to loss a war
The sure fire way to screw-up a war effort is to have nebulous goals. This started out as an effort to keep our borders safe from foreign pigs who want to kill our innocent citizens. Unfortunately, it has now degenerated to a global war against so called "Evil". Drug dealers and political terrorists or freedom fighters who do not target the United States should not be the focus here. We are wasting time and resources on Columbians and Peruvians. When did a South American fly a plane into our skyscrapers?Meanwhile, the enemies of our country, the engineers of the September 11th, attack are still running free
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Comment #1 posted by Dark Star on April 08, 2002 at 10:34:25 PT
Everyone Goes Down
Bush is challenging everyone. Tough guy. Well, remember Sonny Liston. He was "unbeatable," until he met Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali, the Lip from Louisville. Then there was Mike Tyson. It took a tree to knock him out, but then other boxers beat him. Now the rapacious rascal has been reduced to cannabilism to get attention.Keep in mind that this administration represents this country, and the image it projects to the world. Do you agree with this representation? Do you want your collective noses bloodied because of what the bullies are saying and provoking? I think not.Now Tony Blair is said to be close to signing on to the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein, a gambit opposed by almost every other country in the world. Dubya is gonna close the history books on his dad's great failing. Isn't that special?
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