RANGER AGAINST WAR: Planes, Trains and Automobiles <

Monday, November 23, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

You say you want a Revolution,
Mr. Fish


(P)ermanent war has become

the de facto policy of the United States

--
Root Causes, Andrew Bacevich

What do we do?

The standard answer is that we need better leaders.

The real answer is that we need better citizens.

--Advice From Grandma, Thomas Friedman


Cause I'm radioactive oh yeah

Oh yeah radioactive

Don't you stand, stand too close

You might catch it

--Radioactive
, the Firm

_______________

Counterterrorism expert Roger Cressey, who served in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, said in Tallahassee last Wednesday that trains and subways were the "ultimate soft target in the U.S," -- more vulnerable to attack than any other sector (Counterterrorism Expert: Mass Transit the 'Ultimate Target'.)

Okay -- let's agree that the U.S. transit systems are soft targets susceptible to attack. Has there been any credible evidence that these systems are being targeted?

To digress, the nature of terrorism and terror tactics is that every new attack must be significantly more spectacular than the previous. If a terror network targeted said soft targets, it would only serve to demonstrate their weakness and poor operational skills.

Attacks on low-level transit systems would not create any significant fear factor, or at least it would not have in the past. For terrorism to be counted a success, the fear must be amplified by the target audience's news systems. What has always been the case is now amplified in our 24/7 plugged-in lives.

Everything has become terrorism and we are overreacting, our senses overloaded. Simply stated, there are vulnerabilities that cannot be eliminated but that are low-level, even though they remain soft. No sophisticated terror operative would waste skills and resources to blow up a train or attack a subway system. The Japanese survived Sarin attacks by AUM Shinrikyo in the 1980's and survived without too much fanfare.

Mr. Cressey then delivered the bait-and-switch, and/or non sequitur, by diverting attention to Pakistan, calling it "a mess. There are plenty of forces inside of Pakistan that don't want us operating in their country." Somehow he effected a nexus among the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©), Pakistan and U.S. transit systems.

His synthesis promotes an over-response, thereby attracting government dollars to the consultant-fear monger, a self-perpetuating system. One can feather one's nest quite nicely with fear, as evidenced by Mr. Cressey's recent vita:
Cressey's talk at the law school was sponsored by FSU's Center for the Advancement of Human Rights and was part of its ongoing series. He is a counterterrorism analyst for NBC News, and has a company that advises clients on homeland security, cyber security and counterterrorism issues.
The PWOT is a government tit-sucker's best friend. In fact, it is a cash cow for many people unqualified for any other useful social function. These people are sub-species of the Homeland Security racket, called "consultants". Consultants make money telling the government what they want to hear. Today, the message is one of fear, and the messengers are well-paid and esteemed.

Our system perpetuates the problem.

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25 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Attacks on low-level transit systems would not create any significant fear factor, or at least it would not have in the past. For terrorism to be counted a success, the fear must be amplified by the target audience's news systems. What has always been the case is now amplified in our 24/7 plugged-in lives.".... Ranger


Jim,
On 3/11/2004 in Madrid an Islamic cell not related to al Queda set off ten backpack bombs that killed 191 people and wounded another 1800 souls, on the very SOFT TARGETS you seem to feel have no terror value, trains and busses. It influenced to Spain enough to alter the political landscape. A few months later Spanish troops were pulled out of Iraq.

Now I don't know a damned thing about 'Counterterrorism expert Roger Cressey' nor do I give a shit. That fact is this was an act of terror, and lets call it by it's real name mass murder by Islamic fanatics not given to following the Geneva Accords.


Last night I saw a HBO documentry, 'Terror in Bumbai' (Bombay). Produced by Dan Reed and narrated by Harvard PHD Zareed Zakaria a CNN and GPS commentator and former editor of the monthly publication 'Foriegn Affairs'. BTW, Dr. Zakaria grew up in Mumbai and his Muslim family still lives there. To quickly sum it up, 10 young Pakistani men with Ak-47's and grenades, were recruited by a terror cell, again not related to al Queda, held off the The Imdian police and army for two day's, killing 191 and wounding 300 civilians in restaurants and high profile Hotels. It was one of the most powerful documentary film's I've ever seen. I encourage anybody interested to watch it on HBO's 'On Demand', then give me a sitrep.......


I don't know much, but when the 1991 Gulf War began, I was a young Fire department Shift Commander. I gathered the men and informed them that this war was real and to instantly report any unfamilar vehicles or trucks parked close to our Metro Station Fire house. Was I being a fear monger or a few steps ahead of the pack, or just doing my job? Fuck it, I'd do it over again.

Blackhawk187

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 12:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Underground Carpenter said...

Congratulations Blackhawk187, you sound like a true believer. I think the point Jim was making was that in order to keep Americans cringing and wetting their pants, the terror act has to be bigger to achieve the same or greater fear level. A subway attack would only cause sadness and hate-filled rants, not panic. Terror is the point of terrorism.

Dave

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 5:09:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave,
I don't what you mean by me being a 'true beliver', I've read Eric Hoffer and I don't think I fall into that catagory. But the fact is that many Americans are already living in the dread of terror attack.

One of the more humorous examples that happen recently was a fully loaded commercial airliner was awaiting take off when someone cried gas! The plane was quickly offloaded and the TSA and Hazmat teams scoured the plane only to find out later that someone had farted.He who smelled it dealt it.

BTW, I don't think Jim needs an interpeter. The facts I outlined, I believe spoke to substance of Jim's post.

Nuff said,
Blackhawk187

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 8:16:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

IMO a train would be 90% worthless as a target in the U.S.; only poor people ride trains outside the NY-to-DC corridor. Our sociopolitical track record over the past 29 years suggests that the only thing we fear more than terrorists are poor people.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 8:46:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim,

You are right, one attack on a subway train system would not greatly increase the fear level in the United States.

However, what if a few sets of people plant a bomb on multiple public transportation systems? Say monday New York, thursday Chicago, then the next tuesday LA? Just a small IED with some store bought shrapnel would do the trick. They continue to blow off bombs till they get caught, keeping it random of course as to what day they are to strike. I bet each cell would be able to blow off at least 2 bombs in each city before being caught (think about how long it took to catch the DC snipers).

People don't have to die for their to be fear. If the threat is constant or we have people believing that their are terrorists continuously operating in the US I guess there will be greater fear than right after 9/11.

What about emergency response plans? Everything was pretty much shut down after 9/11, would these entire transportation systems be shut down or maybe even the entire city? Imagine the financial losses for the country if that were to happen. Maybe fear wouldn't be the only motivator, maybe destruction of our economy would be enough of an added bonus to make these attacks a legitimate threat if not the primary purpose of the attacks.

Not to argue with you too much though Jim, I agree with most everything you say. So despite all I just said, how is DHS suppose to prevent this? Should we completely change the openness of our transportation system? Should we have an never ending army of bomb sniffing dogs and armed police every where? If we did these things would they really make a difference? Haven't the terrorists suceeded because we have significantly changed our way of life (or to put it bluntly, we now live in terror)?

-PG

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 9:54:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous CholoAzul said...

I was at FSU before 9/11...
Risk management, security analysis, assessment of terrorism, etc. were well below the azimuth of 'real' faculty proboscides, so they paid lowly practitioners like myself lowly money to teach lowly electives that were packed every session.

Apres 9/11 all sorts of esteemed pedants, no matter what their area of specialization before, suddenly revealed themselves to be experts on terrorism.

Now if I could only figure out how to spell 'consultant'.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 9:59:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Cholo,
You needn't know how to spell consultant if you have a leather bound briefcase.
jim

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 11:04:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

BOB/187
One cannot equate the US situation with that of France/ Spain/Britain/Germany.All are in proximity to Morroco,Algeria and other historical colonial hot spots.The radicals share hubs throughout Europe and have done so since the 70's. They have hubs/associations that are well established and /or possibly organized and radical. The US experience to date(with very minor exceptions)does not follow this template. To suggest otherwise is fear mongering and not factual.
As for 191 deaths I care less. What makes their sacrifice any more sorrowful than my soldiers dying for an unquantifiable phony war?
jim

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 11:12:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

PG,
We are not arguing unless I'm shouting. Which we are not even approaching
The types of attacks that you discuss really go beyond Terrorism and approach unconventional warfare. No group has this capability to include AL Q. And if I'm wrong then show me the intell to verify any counter claim. We are all lost in a fantasy world created by our ignorance and misunderstanding of the topic. We are lead by nutless wonders selling fear and calling it leadership. Fear is a reactive posture and as such will never lead anywhere positive. Reactive postures are always losing propositions. We're taught that in Military Science 101.
jim

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 11:20:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

UC/ Dave
I like your new photo but you got to get a real dog like my Catahoula.
If there were a subway atk it'll be centered on cities with a very heavy international traffic flow. Heartland America lends no approach or escape routes for parachutist operatives. The Euro terror has home grown types and this does not equate to the threat facing American so-called soft targets.
Thanks for the supporting fire. I always need help when pinned down by heavy fire.
The key in this business is toi ignore emotion and look at the problem in a realistic manner. Too bad our so called leaders lack this skill.
jim

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 11:26:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

FD Chief,
Since you mention poor people let's look at another myth of Terrorism experts. They equate the topic with poverty when this is not the case. The 9-11 operatives did not fit this template but yet we base our pwot on fighting poverty in Afgh when this is not relevant to protecting America from Al Q. The problem with poverty is that it helps insurgent and anti-govt forces to recruit but these people are not a threat to us , but rather to Mr Karzais democratically elected government. BTW that was sarcasm if you didn't pick up on it.
I'm all in favor of flushing Karzai and fighting poverty in America before it becomes a real problem. Does anyone remember the FreiKorps?
Hope you have a nice holiday with your little troop of family members.
Your friend,
jim
jim

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 11:40:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

To all readers,
I fear that I may be a little unclear on a key point.
TERRORISM IS NOT WARFARE.
What's happening in AFGH and in Irq is low intensity conflict but has nothing to do with Terror aimed at our homeland. All AQ has to do is reorganise and realign forces and move to another sand box. What about this is so hard to grasp?
jim

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 11:52:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i have often pointed out that england went through three fucking years of nearly nightly 9/11's during ww2. how did they manage?

the same way they managed the last tube bombings. they cleaned up, and they went about their business.

the victims of 9/11 for the most part weren't heroes. they were working schlubs who went to work on a very bad day. monuments are bullshit.

if you wanted to memorialize people who went to work, then build up another glass and steel monument to capitalism and wealth and go back to fucking work.

that would tell the terrorists, yes, you gave us a very bad day, one of the worst days in history.

in the end though, we're still rich, still going to work, and you're hiding in fucking caves. who's the winner here?

there are myriad soft targets. if we were to protect one, it would often be to the detriment of another. the thing to do is to follow the british example.

clean up, go about your business. let law enforcement handle the investigations, let the d.a.'s handle the prosecutions.

treat them like criminals. that's what they are. giving them the label of "terrorist" gives them political cache. they are murdering fucking scum. call them and treat them as such.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 12:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

MB,

Correct: "Keep calm and Carry on". Unfortunately, we lack the Brit's stalwart natures (to our detriment.)


CholoAzul,

I graduated from FSU in the 90's; where did you go? As you know, there's been a great flight from FSU - and not just bright cholos :)


FDC,

You touch on something important -- the fact that outside the DC-Boston corridor, mostly poor people avail themselves of public transit. Watching Frontline last night on the credit scandal, I was horrified at the usury in the credit industry, always aimed at the poor.

I wonder how much longer their backs will be bowed before a revolt, for they are the only ones outside of the system who have nothing to lose by doing so?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 2:16:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As for 191 deaths I care less. What makes their sacrifice any more sorrowful than my soldiers dying for an unquantifiable phony war?"
jim

ranger
From my perspective the 191 dead and 1800 civilians wounded didn't volunteer to lay their life on the line.

When I took the oath in '65' I was aware there was a war going on and I might 'buy the farm'. As luck would have it, I didn't 'buy the farm'. But I did lease a few acres.....


"The US experience to date(with very minor exceptions)does not follow this template. To suggest otherwise is fear mongering and not factual." jim

jim,
I'm glad you added qualifier "to date". The fact of the matter no one, not even you, can guarantee what is, or is not, going to happen in the future. My training taught me to first prepare for the worst outcome, then work for the best. If this is fearmongering, Well I'm a big boy and I've been called worse. but I'm changing my 'handle' to:

FearMonger187

PS: enjoy your Thanksgiving, I'll try to do the same but I'm worried my wife will burn the turkey........

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 4:20:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Terrible said...

"trains and subways were the ultimate soft target in the U.S"

Yeah they don't seem like such great targets to me either. I've said for many many years that the best terror targets are water and energy supplies in major population centers. LSD or something like that in the reservoir. Timed bombs at a number of power sub stations. that sort of thing. Told my mother that same thing over 20 years ago when she was talking about some alledged terror attack that I said "shit that wasn't terror I'll tell you how to do a terror attack,

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 4:26:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous CholoAzul said...

@Lisa

I was at Hecht House from '97 to 2001, teaching crimins... (when not distracted by the rough crowd hanging out on the back porch of Black Dog).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 8:27:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Publius said...

Ranger: "TERRORISM IS NOT WARFARE.
What's happening in AFGH and in Irq is low intensity conflict but has nothing to do with Terror aimed at our homeland. All AQ has to do is reorganise and realign forces and move to another sand box. What about this is so hard to grasp?"

Yes.

MB: "treat them like criminals. that's what they are. giving them the label of "terrorist" gives them political cache. they are murdering fucking scum. call them and treat them as such."

Yes.

Everybody makes good points about domestic targets. Yes, indeed we have tons of vulnerable areas. But isn't that kind of what we bought into when we decided to have this neat advanced civilization. I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't want to live in caves or mud huts. If certain assholes want to live in the 14th century, I'm fine with that, just so long as they leave me alone. If they don't want to leave me alone, than I think they're good candidates for elimination.

What inquring minds want to know is exactly what the ongoing horseshit in Afghanistan and Iraq has to do with the multitude of soft targets in an advanced society.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 9:49:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim,

I have no intel to state otherwise but do you really think AQ has no cells in major US cities?

Terrorism, unconventional warfare they all have the same result don't they? Dead Americans?

But alas, billions of dollars spent yearly on false security whether it be foreign wars or the newest high tech gadgets do nothing but make us feel safer.

My point being:
1. There is a threat, although it is GREATLY overstated.
2. There is nothing we can do about the threat, as Minstrel Boy points out so perfectly "
there are myriad soft targets. if we were to protect one, it would often be to the detriment of another." No matter what we do there will always be a threat, you can never eliminate the threat of a small group of people.
3. The only thing we can do about this threat is to be prepared as possible to respond to one.

Have a great thanksgiving.

-PG

Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 12:21:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous tw said...

"We have allowed one day to rule our future"

On my way south to eat some of that American turkey. Hope all have a great day and lots to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 2:16:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

PG,

Unless shown any proof to the opposite I DO NOT BELIEVE that AQ has operational assets prepositioned in an attack posture ANYWHERE in Conus.

To believe otherwise is fearful crap and my training forces me to address what is real rather than what is imaginary.

I appreciate your comments.

jim

Friday, November 27, 2009 at 11:52:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Cholo,
We've crossed trails b/c I hang out at the Blackdog but i sit in the back corner usually reading.
jim

Friday, November 27, 2009 at 12:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

terrible,

For 20 plus years i've been predictinG WATER SOURCE problems. Imagine putting nuclear waste in the NYC/major city water supply.
The waste is on our highways daily and is easy to secure/steal.

Also as for soft targets - what about the NYC Thanksgiving Day parade and the news coverage that would be live and on scene? Same Rose Bowl etc...but there is no threat to exploit this target.

jim

Friday, November 27, 2009 at 12:14:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

FM 187,

All of us old Army dogs ALWAYS prepare for the worst and that is sacred, it's what soldiers do and we'll never change. But jumping through ones ass on imaginary threats is not soldierly.

You know we love you even though you are buying the party line.
I still have time to get your fly boy ass trained up properly.
jim

Friday, November 27, 2009 at 12:19:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks, Cholo. I hope you're happy wherever you've landed, and are enjoying the unintended fruits of being in a now-hot topic area.

Friday, November 27, 2009 at 1:50:00 PM GMT-5  

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