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Author Topic: Airstrikes & al-Zawahri
FiredrakeRAGE
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Link

quote:
Pakistan Condemns Purported CIA Airstrike

By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer 52 minutes ago

Pakistan on Saturday condemned a purported CIA airstrike on a border village that officials said unsuccessfully targeted al-Qaida's second-in-command, and said it was protesting to the U.S. Embassy over the attack that killed at least 17 people.

Thousands of local tribesmen, chanting "God is Great," demonstrated against the attack, claiming the victims were local villagers without terrorist links and had never hosted Ayman al-Zawahri.

Two senior Pakistani officials told The Associated Press that the CIA acted on incorrect information in launching the attack early Friday in the northwestern village of Damadola, near the Afghan border.

Citing unidentified American intelligence officials, U.S. news networks reported that CIA-operated Predator drone aircraft carried out the missile strike because al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, was thought to be at a compound in the village or about to arrive.

"Their information was wrong, and our investigations conclude that they acted on a false information," said a senior Pakistani intelligence official with direct knowledge of Pakistan's investigations into the attack.

His account was confirmed by a senior government official who said al-Zawahri "was not there." Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity.

Washington had no comment on the reports that the attack was aimed at al-Zawahri, who has a $25 million U.S. government bounty on his head. Like bin Laden, he is believed to have been hiding along the rugged Pakistan-Afghan frontier since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Pakistan says it does not allow Afghan or the 20,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan to cross the border in pursuit of Taliban and al-Qaida believed to be hiding there. The war on terror is opposed by many in this Islamic nation of 150 million people.

Pakistan's information minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, called the "incident" in Damadola "highly condemnable."

The Foreign Ministry later issued a statement saying a protest had been filed with the U.S. Embassy.

"According to preliminary investigations there was foreign presence in the area and that in all probability was targeted from across the border in Afghanistan," the Foreign Ministry said.

"The investigations are still continuing. Meanwhile the Foreign Office has lodged a protest with the U.S. ambassador in Islamabad."

U.S. Embassy spokesman Rakesh Surampudi said the protest had not been received by Saturday evening.

An AP reporter who visited Damadola about 12 hours after the attack saw three destroyed houses, hundreds of yards apart. Villagers had buried at least 15 people, including women and children, and were digging for more bodies in the rubble.

Villagers denied hosting al-Zawahri or any other member of al-Qaida or Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime, and said all the dead were local people.

More than 8,000 tribesmen staged a peaceful protest in a nearby town Saturday to condemn the airstrike, which one speaker described as "open terrorism." Police dispersed a smaller protest in another town using tear gas. A mob burned the office of a U.S.-backed aid agency near Damadola, but nobody was injured, residents said.

NBC News reported that U.S. and Pakistani officials said Predator drones had fired as many as 10 missiles at Damadola in the Bajur tribal region. ABC quoted anonymous Pakistani military sources as saying al-Zawahri could have been among five top al-Qaida officials believed killed.

A second Pakistani intelligence official told AP that the remains of some bodies had "quickly been removed" from Damadola after the strike and DNA tests were being conducted, but would not say by whom. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

The official said that hours before the strike some unidentified guests had arrived at the home of a tribesman named Shah Zaman.

Zaman, who said three of his children were killed when his home was destroyed, told AP he was a "law-abiding" laborer and had no ties to al-Zawahri or any other militants.

"I don't know him. He was not at my home. No foreigner was at my home when the planes came and dropped bombs," Zaman said.

Local lawmaker Sahibzada Haroon ur Rashid, who visited Damadola soon after the attack, said the dead had been buried and that no foreigners were among them. They came from a local family of jewelers, he said, adding that none of the bodies was burned so badly that identification was difficult.

In Washington, Pentagon, State Department, National Security Council and intelligence officials all said they had no information on the reports concerning al-Zawahri. A U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan, Lt. Mike Cody, referred questions on the matter to the Pentagon.

Doctors told AP that at least 17 people died in the attack, but residents of Damadola, a Pashtun tribal hamlet on a hillside about four miles from the Afghan border, said more than 30 died. They recounted hearing aircraft fly overhead before explosions in the village that were felt miles away.

Speaking as he dug through the rubble of his home, Zaman said he heard planes at around 2:40 a.m. and then eight huge explosions. He said planes had been flying over the village for three or four days.

At another destroyed house, Sami Ullah, a 17-year-old student, said 24 of his family members were killed and vowed he would "seek justice from God."

The attack was the latest in a series of strikes on the Pakistan side of the border with Afghanistan that have not been explained by authorities but are widely suspected to have targeted terror suspects or Islamic militants.

Pakistan lodged a protest Monday with the U.S. military in Afghanistan after a reported U.S. air strike killed eight people in the North Waziristan tribal region last Saturday. Pakistan says it does not allow U.S. forces to cross the border in pursuit of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters.

In Afghanistan, Mohammed Hasan, deputy police chief of Kunar province, which is opposite Bajur, said U.S. forces had for weeks been patrolling in airplanes along the rugged border, which he described as a hide-out for Arab terrorists.

Al-Zawahri, an Egyptian, has appeared regularly over the Internet and in Arab media to encourage Muslims to attack Americans and U.S. interests worldwide.

--Firedrake

[ January 14, 2006, 02:36 PM: Message edited by: FiredrakeRAGE ]

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RickyB
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And your take on this?
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FiredrakeRAGE
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There's too little information at the moment to create a real picture of what happened. It could be a total mistake, or we might have nabbed some bad guys with some collateral damage. Pakistan claims that there were no terrorists present, but they also mention that there were foreigners in the village. The villager claims there was nobody at all there. DNA tests are being attempted, but nobody knows by whom.

I do find it annoying when Pakistan restricts our efforts on the ground, then proceeds to be annoyed when we use an airstrike. This would have been a lot less bloody had Special Forces been used rather than explosives. The intelligence related to the event probably would have been both better and totally confirmed. Despite Pakistan's intransigence has had an apparent effect on this mission, it is our responsibility to ensure that any collateral damage is low, and is worth the achieved goal. If it turns out that Al-Zawahri was not present, and the collateral damage was useless, it will (and should) result in a (small) black eye for the United States.

--Firedrake

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FIJC
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Pakistan has been cooperatiive...Musharraf has to be careful though.
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RickyB
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Pakistan has been somewhat cooperative. Micro more than macro. They won't help us catch the big fish, and they can't actually deal with the jihad-sympthizers on their western border. FIJC is right. I'm shocked, personally, that Musharraf is still alive.
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Everard
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"I do find it annoying when Pakistan restricts our efforts on the ground, then proceeds to be annoyed when we use an airstrike."

You mean you find it annoying when they get annoyed about our violations of their territorial sovereignty?

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FiredrakeRAGE
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Everard -

Either they are our allies, or they're not. They seem to be trying to have this both ways - insisting that they'll track the terrorists along the border down, and yet refusing to actually do so.

You can insist that you're my friend, but action speaks louder than words. If, as a friend, you keep refusing to tell your kid to stop throwing eggs at my house, it should not surprise you when I call the cops.

--Firedrake

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Everard
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"They seem to be trying to have this both ways - insisting that they'll track the terrorists along the border down, and yet refusing to actually do so."

They are under no real obligation to track the terrorists down, and if they don't, and then we bomb them resulting in the deaths of their citizens, we are in the wrong.

We have violated their territorial sovereignty because they aren't cooperating with one of our efforts that they view as wrong.

A better analogy then the egg throwing would be that I ask my neighbor to watch his territory for a third neighbors dog coming through and crapping on my lawn, he says he will, but isn't very enthusiastic because the dog isn't crapping on HIS lawn, I get frustrated, and vandalize his house.

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FiredrakeRAGE
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Everard -

Pakistan has said that they would take responsibility for hunting the terrorists hiding along their border down. We're giving them more than $3 billion in aid, partially due to the assistance they're (not) giving us.

--Firedrake

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Everard
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Yes, so it would be reasonable to stop sending so much aid... but we're still in the moral wrong here, because we violated their national sovereignty and killed their citizens.
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aupton15
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I think at least part of the problem is that if these terrorists were in our country, we wouldn't blow up a few of our own houses in order to get a terrorist (I hope), even if we were physically unable to get them another way. There would have to be an imminent threat to even consider such a thing. We don't seem to take anything like that amount of precaution with another country's citizens. I understand, and basically support the idea behind the war on terror, but I don't think it's always executed with the concern for innocent lives that we would give to innocents in our own country. To me that is unfortunate.
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FiredrakeRAGE
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aupton15 -

As I pointed out earlier, we probably would have loved to extend that protection to Pakistan. I'm sure that whomever was in charge would have loved to have raided those houses, capturing the terrorists.

We did not have a choice, however.

Everard -

National soverignity means something when you have the means and the will to protect it. Pakistan has the means, but in this case I doubt it has the will.

--Firedrake

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Everard
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"They seem to be trying to have this both ways - insisting that they'll track the terrorists along the border down, and yet refusing to actually do so."

Depends what you mean by the word "means."

It certainly carries significance, even if you choose not to sacrifice ALL Of your sovereignty in a futile effort to defend some that was stolen from you.

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FiredrakeRAGE
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Everard said:
quote:

Depends what you mean by the word "means."

It certainly carries significance, even if you choose not to sacrifice ALL Of your sovereignty in a futile effort to defend some that was stolen from you.

Probably with regard to me saying:
quote:
National soverignity means something when you have the means and the will to protect it. Pakistan has the means, but in this case I doubt it has the will.
I agree. National soverignity does carry significance. If we acted, we should have acted only on absolute intelligence.

--Firedrake

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Hannibal
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Hah!

when Israeli intelligence had 100% true information about the wherabouts of arch-terrorists Salah Sh'Had'e who was hiding inside a building. the israeli air force dropped a quarter ton bomb on that building - killing him, but also his entire family and several other palestinians nearby.

I am not against Israel's attack, and i am also not against this american attack. but each time you americans fumble like this, it reminds me how closly the IDF is being "watched" and how losly the american army is.

Imagine israel leveling a palestinian village if they KNOW that the entire hamas leadership is conveaned there. even if israel will know that for a fact, israel will not level the village.

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aupton15
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"As I pointed out earlier, we probably would have loved to extend that protection to Pakistan. I'm sure that whomever was in charge would have loved to have raided those houses, capturing the terrorists."

I agree to a point. I'm sure the preference would be for us to have free reign to hunt terrorists in any country in the world. But we would not give such power to any other country in the world, and it would take a dire situation for us to risk civilian casualties in our own country for the sake of killing a terrorist. I think it would be better if Pakistan would allow us into their country, but at the same time I can certainly understand why the don't want to. We wouldn't do it either...we're just in a position to be able to stop other countries from doing it. I think it's a situation of "might makes right", which is not the best rationale in my opinion.

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FiredrakeRAGE
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Aupton15 said:
quote:
I think it's a situation of "might makes right", which is not the best rationale in my opinion.
What other rationale works in international politics?

--Firedrake

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aupton15
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We are in a position of power. That's fine, and I prefer that to the other way around. I think we can execute the war on terror almost as effectively, without doing unauthorized airstrikes on foreign soil, in a country we are not at war with, where civilian casualties are likely. I think that would be a more judicious use of our position.

"What other rationale works in international politics?"

I'm not sure it's politics anymore when a missile strike has occurred. It's part of the war on terror, but it occurred in a country in which we apparently did not have permission to operate. Since it's not something we would do in our own country, and is probably not something we would do in many other countries, especially our supposed allies, so I'm having a hard time figuring out what rationale is used to justify this. I'd like to hear what you have to say about the rest of my previous post, before the last sentence. Any thoughts?

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FiredrakeRAGE
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aupton15 -

My apologies, I'm a little busy right now.

I agree with your post. Particularly if the intelligence was wrong, we have made a grave error. Blowing up civilians in an allied country is a poor way to win hearts and minds.

--Firedrake

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flydye45
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There is a very simple theory which explains this. Pakistan gave us some info (we don't have many assets on the ground there). We attacked with a nod and a wink. If we hit al-Zawahri, Pakistan is a hero taking credit. If it failed, those Satanic Americans are invading our borders. Musharraf gets to seem a strong man by defying an ambassador. Win win.

Second theory, CIA and NSA got their info and acted on their own with flimsy intelligence, probably directly ordered by Bush or Darth Cheney.

A political Rorschach for your consideration.

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Dan Allen
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You're probably right flydye: IIRC, the initial reports had us working with the Pakistani's, but the story has changed over the last several days.

For example:
quote:
Pakistani officials were at the scene, trying to determine if al-Zawahiri was killed, the U.S. sources told CNN.

Contacted by CNN, Pakistan's information minister could not confirm that al-Zawahiri had been the target of a CIA strike. Both the Pentagon and the White House declined to comment on the reports.

from CNN
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Adjudicator
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Real information in a situation like this is impossible to get. What, were the villagers going to say "The blast killed several terrorists from our village" or "Yes, our village is often a safe haven for AL Queda." On the other hand, what if we really just killed a bunch of people for no reason?
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WarrsawPact
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Intelligence is never perfect. That said, there coulda been a phone call to Musharraf from Bush saying, "Listen, you're with us on this Global Struggle Againt Violent Extremism, right? Well, we think we've got a bead on al-Zawahiri and he's in your country. I can't get too specific, but this is extremely time-sensitive and we wouldn't do this unless we were highly confident in our intelligence. That doesn't mean mistakes won't be made. But we would like the go-ahead from you, even though we know you want this guy dead too. If not, let's hear the reasons right now."
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Adjudicator
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WP- who says that such communication didn't occur on some level? Whether or not it did is irrelevant to the fact that Musharraf essentially has to object to any use of force by the US in Pakistan. His position seems to be too tenuous to risk being too friendly to us.
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Athelstan
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I wonder what the reaction in the US would have been if the RAF had bombed some village in Eire trying to get a high ranking IRA terrorist (oops I mean freedom fighter)? On second thoughts I think I know.
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FIJC
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quote:
"WP- who says that such communication didn't occur on some level? Whether or not it did is irrelevant to the fact that Musharraf essentially has to object to any use of force by the US in Pakistan. His position seems to be too tenuous to risk being too friendly to us."
Musharraf needs to stay alive and behind the scenes, he can, should, and is very friendly and cooperative with the US. Public perception often tells a very different story than what actually happened, and this is most likely the case.
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Hannibal
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" we wouldn't do this unless we were highly confident in our intelligence"

just like when that intelligence said that Iraq has WMDs?

"That doesn't mean mistakes won't be made"

yeah right, Bush is gonna say somthing like that to Musharaf, sure.

"I wonder what the reaction in the US would have been if the RAF had bombed some village in Eire trying to get a high ranking IRA terrorist (oops I mean freedom fighter)? On second thoughts I think I know. "

I wonder what will be the reaction of BOTH the US and England if israel have bombed a palestinian terrorist (oops freedom fighter) on second thoughts i think i know

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WarrsawPact
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Hannibal : Covering-your-ass comments are anything but unbelievable. It's the nature of intelligence and the use of force.
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RickyB
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pakistan's attitude is an untenable situation, in the long run. Either they are our allies, in which case they have to either effectively deal with the terrorists in theor country or give us real freedom to do so for them.

Now, Musharraf is in a bind. He has a wild region he cannot truly rule and cannot let go of. Plus, his entire military is riddled with AQ sympathizers and enablers. It's a whole damn mess.

It would actually be interesting to know from an authoritative source what, if any, progress Musharraf has made in purging his army, especially the intelligence services

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Hannibal
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some how i doubt that Bush whould like to apear that weak in face of Musharaf.

i think it whould be more in the sort of, "since you have cant / are not successfull in dealing with AQ, and since we have discovered a gathering of AQ operatives in your country, we have decided to attack...

in actions like these, i dont think you pre-"cover your ass", you Should though, be absolutly sure at what you are doing before you do it, at the cost of not doing it. but the USA has proven to be above petty political calculations such as these, unlike Israel for instance

[ January 16, 2006, 05:10 PM: Message edited by: Hannibal ]

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FIJC
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quote:
"It would actually be interesting to know from an authoritative source what, if any, progress Musharraf has made in purging his army, especially the intelligence services"
I have read of these problems, but many of those articles/books are around 3 years old now. I assume that Musharraf must have a close inner circle that can be trusted, because he is still alive. It would be interesting to know whether or not the CIA has been able to successfully penetrate foreign intelligence bureaus, such as Pakistan's, with moles.
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Joe Schmoe
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Even had al-Zawahri really been there that does not justify dropping missiles on innocent villagers. [Frown] By Bush's own definition this act was terrorism against the pakistani people by OUR government.
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javelin
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quote:
Originally posted by Joe Schmoe:
Even had al-Zawahri really been there that does not justify dropping missiles on innocent villagers. [Frown] By Bush's own definition this act was terrorism against the pakistani people by OUR government.

You mean, it's terrorism to target an enemy combatent because he's in a house that might have other people in it?

"Bush's own definition" of terrorism is using violence against non-combatants to achieve a political purpose.

How's that work then?

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Joe Schmoe
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quote:
Originally posted by javelin:
quote:
Originally posted by Joe Schmoe:
Even had al-Zawahri really been there that does not justify dropping missiles on innocent villagers. [Frown] By Bush's own definition this act was terrorism against the pakistani people by OUR government.

You mean, it's terrorism to target an enemy combatent because he's in a house that might have other people in it?

"Bush's own definition" of terrorism is using violence against non-combatants to achieve a political purpose.

How's that work then?

I assume your not going to contest the use of violence against non-combatants. So you think bombing a village is not meant to influence pakistani politics?? Come on now.

quote:

Congress and the Bush administration define terrorism as actions intended “to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.” Terrorism is what private citizens do to governments, while “public service” is what governments inflict upon private citizens.

Theres Bushs' rationale. Since he's the government its OK to bomb innocents for his agenda. If private citizens do it, then its terrorism. [Roll Eyes]

FFF Article

[ January 17, 2006, 04:07 PM: Message edited by: Joe Schmoe ]

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javelin
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quote:
Theres Bushs' rationale. Since he's the government its OK to bomb innocents for his agenda. If private citizens do it, then its terrorism.
That's not actually something Bush said, so, well, nice try.

I gave a pretty clear definition of terrorism - do you honestly think Bush is calling it a different way?

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Joe Schmoe
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quote:
Originally posted by javelin:
quote:
Theres Bushs' rationale. Since he's the government its OK to bomb innocents for his agenda. If private citizens do it, then its terrorism.
That's not actually something Bush said, so, well, nice try.

I gave a pretty clear definition of terrorism - do you honestly think Bush is calling it a different way?

never said bush said that. Your missing the point. I quoted that to show that bushes official definition of terrorism pretty much matches yours (I was agreeing). It also shows how bush rationalizes his actions even though they fall squarely under his own definition of terrorism.

Its ridiculous to say that violating a country's sovereignty by bombing some of its citizens, has no political influence on that country's government. Therefore, this falls squarely under your definition and Bushs'. Or do you contest that bombing that village will have no influence on pakistani politics? If so, please explain.

[ January 17, 2006, 04:32 PM: Message edited by: Joe Schmoe ]

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javelin
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quote:
Originally posted by Joe Schmoe:
never said bush said that. Your missing the point. I quoted that to show that bushes official definition of terrorism pretty much matches yours (I was agreeing). It also shows how bush rationalizes his actions even though they fall squarely under his own definition of terrorism.

Its ridiculous to say that violating a country's sovereignty by bombing some of its citizens, has no political influence on that country's government. Therefore, this falls squarely under your definition and Bushs'. Or do you contest that bombing that village will have no influence on pakistani politics? If so, please explain.

I'm saying that the attack did not target non-combatants. Nor was it attempting to influence Pakistani politics.

Simply put - it was an attempt to kill a declared enemy of the United States. It failed, and probably caused collateral damage - killing people who were not it's target.

Was it a stupid idea? Yep. Do I support it? Nope. Was it a terrorist attack? Not by any definition I could support.

[ January 17, 2006, 04:41 PM: Message edited by: javelin ]

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Joe Schmoe
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quote:
Originally posted by javelin:
quote:
Originally posted by Joe Schmoe:
never said bush said that. Your missing the point. I quoted that to show that bushes official definition of terrorism pretty much matches yours (I was agreeing). It also shows how bush rationalizes his actions even though they fall squarely under his own definition of terrorism.

Its ridiculous to say that violating a country's sovereignty by bombing some of its citizens, has no political influence on that country's government. Therefore, this falls squarely under your definition and Bushs'. Or do you contest that bombing that village will have no influence on pakistani politics? If so, please explain.

I'm saying that the attack did not target non-combatants. Nor was it attempting to influence Pakistani politics.

I don't buy that. Bush had to have known this would influence pakistani politics. In fact, that may well have been the reason for the bombs, to send the message that pakistan better step up its effots to find terrorists or the U.S. would do it itself with bombs.
quote:
Originally posted by javelin:

Simply put - it was an attempt to kill a declared enemy of the United States. It failed, and probably caused collateral damage - killing people who were not it's target.

Yes, what you say is true. But WHY did they use bombs instead of one of the numerous other options? Bombs send a message that a quiet assassination or arrest does not.
quote:
Originally posted by javelin:

Was it a stupid idea? Yep. Do I support it? Nope. Was it a terrorist attack? Not by any definition I could support.

Fair enough. Call it what you want. At least we agree that it was wrong.
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WarrsawPact
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Quiet assassinations are much much more difficult. Arrest in that situation would be ridiculously difficult. It's this kind of cold-footed BS that made sure Clinton coudn't kill OBL despite several opportunities.

Bombs/missiles are easier than ever to aim and fire with a quick check on the coordinates. If you have a location, you can get the job done -- which is the important part.
If Hitler had been in France, and we had Tomahawks, we'd have tried to bomb him too.

I'm not convined what we did was "wrong." The primary problem I have with it is that it may not have been successful -- had it been successful, we wouldn't be sweating the collateral right now, would we? A secondary consideration is whether Bush made that call to Musharraf. If that call was made, then I'm not upset.

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WarrsawPact
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Read this.
It's from Bill Roggio.
Hunting Zawahiri and al Qaeda on the Border

[ January 17, 2006, 10:17 PM: Message edited by: WarrsawPact ]

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