Rethinking the War on Terror
a cow can turn grass into milk, but a further process is required to turn milk into butter
Eric LaMont Gregory
26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev (right), 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar
The problem of apprehending a criminal is for the most part one of finding him, and in this regard it is evident that good intelligence is of great importance, and this fact is incontrovertible.
In the realm of the irrefutable there lies an additional fact and that is that rarely does intelligence information exist in a form which will immediately bring the policemen into direct contact with the criminal, and the reason for this is inherent in the way intelligence services operate.
There is a tendency when the big boys and girls, intelligence services, are on the scene for the police to back off. In this situation you have on the scene the services which rarely interdict criminals, and the service designed to apprehend criminals off the scene, and you get Boston. This is an enormous oversimplification of the facts, and this is also not the end of this article, so let us proceed.
The crimes associated with the Boston Marathon Massacre did not begin when the bombs went off maiming and killing those assembled to participate in or to watch the race. The attacks were planned; the pressure cooker explosive devices were assembled, brought to the scene, and then detonated. And, it is at that precise point when the conspiracy to commit murder became an act of murder.
The task of the police is essentially to use the information they gather from a variety of sources, including but not exclusively from intelligence agencies, and analyze it carefully to narrow the possible location of a criminal, and thereby deploy officers intelligently with a hope of success in interdicting a suspect.
It is the role of our police forces to collect information and develop it into arrests, tasks which our intelligence services are not designed or organized to do.
To express the concept in the words of a British intelligence strategist, a cow can turn grass into milk but a further process is required in order to turn the milk into butter. Our intelligence services provide the milk, and our police services take that milk and along with other ingredients and build a case, locate those who break or even plan to break the law, and make arrests.
In America, it is not a crime to be an - ist - nor is it a crime to be an adherent of an - ism. It is a crime to contravene the law.
The eighth principle in his seminal work ‘The fog of war’ McNamara suggests that one should be prepared to re-examine one’s reasoning.
And, a re-examination of the war on terror is long overdue.
Shortly after the events of 9/11, I entered the US Embassy in London on a routine matter and naturally the main topics of discussion were the attacks on New York, Washington, and that third high jacked plane that crashed.
During the course of our discussions I stated the very worst thing that president Bush could do would be to elevate a simple contravention of the law, albeit a large scale one, from a crime into an act of terrorism, and criminals into terrorists.
Because if he did, we would spend billions creating departments, organizations and special groups to first define what a terrorist is, then to investigate the modus operandi of terrorists once they were defined, and then to construct terrorists surveillance networks, and in about a decade or so we could begin to kill, or interdict and bring those who committed crimes in America or against Americans to justice. However, in the interim we and our allies would suffer attack after attack.
Not only would the elevation of the status of those who committed crimes on 9/11 not lead to their immediate arrest, but it would help build an aura around them that would serve as a recruiting tool for their various criminal (now terrorist) organizations.
We already had adequate police forces, and Clinton had signed an executive order giving the FBI not only the ability to act abroad, but to be proactive in the protection of Americans from international criminals. Therefore, the apparatus for going after anyone who committed a crime in the United States or against Americans anywhere in the world was already well in place.
I also suggested in those discussions, that I had witnessed between 1980 and 2000 the slow but sustained undoing of previously well managed and functioning international organizations, such as, the World Health Organization and UNICEF fall into disrepute due to the caliber of the recruits being brought into those agencies.
The billions spent on the war on terror, that is, creating departments, organizations and special groups begs a fundamental question since in essence these are massive job creation programs.
That question is whether this new generation of politically correct and computer literate recruits will prove capable of dealing with the increasingly dangerous and criminally dominated international intelligence environment of the second decade of the 21st century.
After more than a decade of the war on terror it is no longer an open question, we are positioned to answer that question, and the result is not good.