Thursday, March 11, 2004

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Open Spain thread

Discuss motivations and implications of the despicable Madrid bombings below. My first thought was that this was Al Qaeda inspired, but the Economist makes a persuasive case that this was the ETA.

UPDATE: Well, this would seem to turn Al Qaeda into a live possibility. The Associated Press and CBS have more.

Not surprisingly, Glenn Reynolds has a link-rich post.

posted by Dan on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM


In fact, it now seems that this could be an Arab terrorist strike against one of our allies. See Drudge. This is different from the usual ETA strike, in its scope, if nothing else. Besides, their public apologists denied that the ETA was responsible (for what its worth).

posted by: Jim Bender on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Worst-case scenario: this represents a teaming up of outer fringe ETA terrorists with al Qaeda operatives. I don't know if this is possible, but if it is we are looking at an entirely new beast.

posted by: Kelli on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Breaking News!:

“MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's interior minister said a suspect van had been found on Thursday near Madrid, scene of bombings that killed 190 people, containing seven detonators and a tape in Arabic language.

Interior Minister Angel Acebes said the tape had recordings of verses from the Koran.

Spain has so far attributed the attack to Basque separatists, but Acebes' remarks appeared to raise the possibility of a link to Islamist militants.”;jsessionid=1YIJWBQRBW5XOCRBAELCFFA?type=worldNews&storyID=4550229

posted by: David Thomson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

“Worst-case scenario: this represents a teaming up of outer fringe ETA terrorists with al Qaeda operatives. I don't know if this is possible, but if it is we are looking at an entirely new beast.”

Everybody should read Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer.” This is what the author says:

“He’s (the true believer) a guilt-ridden hitchhiker who thumbs a ride on every cause from Christianity to Communism. He’s a fanatic, needing a Stalin (or a Christ) to worship and die for. He’s the mortal enemy of things-as-they-are, and he insists on sacrificing himself for a dream impossible to attain. He is today everywhere on the march.”

Who did the Nazis seek out as a good source for potential converts? Answer: members of communist organizations! The beliefs and values are of secondary importance. It is the opportunity to belong to a group of true believers which is their primary consideration.

posted by: David Thomson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

My wire is reporting that Al-Qaeda has taken responsibility. Metro Networks is my wire, were joined with Reuters....

posted by: Darren on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Wasn't there recently an Ayman al-Zawahiri video released? As I recall, there seemed to have been a correlation between a Zawahiri video and an imminent attack.

posted by: Vee on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

There was always a significant (indeed overwhelming danger) in tying together the liberalization of autocratic states, and substituting an aggressive military posture for poor counter-terrorism planning and intelligence reform.

The main danger as I've pointed out is that state-substitute radical religious terrorism might indeed wane while promoting the rise of state-sponsored and nationalist-ideology terrorism. Nationalist movements and state-sponsored terrorism are far more powerful threats with far greater potential access to WMD that extra-state terrorism.

Of course, now that they've realized we have such poor intelligence and cannot pin the rap on anyone this opens the way for rogue states and/or nationalist-ideologues to equip terrorist proxies with their weapons.

The objection that they would never do this because the weapons could be turned on them as a firewall doesn't hold if the organizations build up a cozy and interlinked working collaboration. In other words, we've forced them into bed together.

It has always been said that war makes strange bedmates.

posted by: Oldman on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

I wonder if anyone remembers the IRA members who were caught in Colombia training the FARC? Oh yeah, and there wasn't any connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda either.

posted by: Paolo on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


I'm not understanding your comment. Are you suggesting an alliance between ETA (an elderly, and decreasingly effective nationalist terrorist outfit) and Al Q? I would think the alliance with Saddam would be more likely.

And are you meaning Spain (self-liberalized, circa 1976) as one of the dtates being tyed together?

Not really commenting negatively/positively on what you said. Just trying to get a handle on it.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

I would like to say that despite some data points towards islamic terrorism, the main suspect is still ETA. The explosive used is the one they usually employ (Titadine, a TNT type explosive that they steal in France). And just two months ago, a similar atack by ETA was thwarted: two terrorists were detained aboard trains enroute to Madrid with backpacks full of explosives.

posted by: Golan on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Does the fact this is March 11 (6 mos after 9/11) have any significance?

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

“I would like to say that despite some data points towards islamic terrorism, the main suspect is still ETA.”

If so, why is ETA denying this terrorist action? What can they possibly gain if Al Quaeda is blamed? One would think that ETA would be screaming from the roof top that they are proud of this carnage.

posted by: David Thomson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Well, ETA itself has NOT denied it. Arnaldo Otegui, from the banned political party (and ETA supporter) Batasuna has said that he doesn't believe this is ETA work. If it isn't, it would have been really easy for ETA to say so, by themselves, clearly. I'm not saying that it's ETA work, just that we should be cautious. Time will tell. ETA usually takes some time to claim their actions. And with the perspective of a national ellection next Sunday, they may like the confusion. I don't know.

posted by: Golan on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

“ETA usually takes some time to claim their actions. And with the perspective of a national ellection next Sunday, they may like the confusion. I don't know.”

What about the reports of the Spanish authorities finding Arab language papers in a van with filled with explosives? Is this report too premature and incomplete to be taken seriously? Could ETA be trying to frame A Quaeda? If this is indeed the case, what sense does that make?

posted by: David Thomson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

The sense would be this: look, that monster Aznar got us into the islamists crosshairs by aligning us with the U.S. It's a message already being spread by some anti-war people here.

I repeat, I am not fully convinced that it's ETA's work. But I still think it's the most probable scenario.

posted by: Golan on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Dear Appalled Moderate,

I'm hard pressed to see how Saddam Hussein could unite with Alqueda since he's behind bars. As for previous organizational alliance, it's extremely doubtful. As for present Iraqi nationalist groups allying with foreign fighters, probable to some degree but Saddam is out of the picture.

As for my suggestion, it is principally this: that there has always been somewhat of a cultural demarcation between religious extremist extra-state terrorism and state-sponsored or nationalist-aspiration type terrorism. Everything we have done, from Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, etc. and around the world has had one overwhelming effect : to drive all these groups into bed with one another.

The Bush doctrine has in my view become a self-fullfilling prophecy. It is entirely possible that Alqueda might have created this attack to punish the government of Spain for backing an invasion on Iraq. They may or may have done this in order to tie into the Basque separatist movement.

The previously unimaginable is now imaginable. International terrorism melded with local groups with their own agendas, but creating a true international market infrastructure for terrorism.

That statement should itself make your blood run cold, because it should suggest that the old rules that governed "firewall" separation of nationalist-aspiration, state-sponsored, and state-substitute radical religious terrorism have crumbled. It's a whole new ballgame, and like usual our intel and politicos have been caught with their pants down in someone else's bed.

posted by: Oldman on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Btw check out the MSNBC coverage connecting Alqueda to the Spain attack, and initial reports suggesting a Muslim connection Spanish authorities. This is completely preliminary, but with some 190 killed and over a thousand wounded this has got to considered a major operation - with the Alqueda signature of multiple simultaneous strikes.

posted by: Oldman on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

“Not really commenting negatively/positively on what you (Oldman) said. Just trying to get a handle on it.”

Is anybody ready for a black helicopter conspiracy theory? Well, I’ve got one to tell you about. I strongly believe there is at least a 50/50 chance that “Oldman” is being paid by George Soros to participate on this blog. Is Dan that important? Yup, this blog is read by sufficient numbers of movers and shakers to be worth the financial investment. Please also note that Oldman sounds like a Soros clone. Every single one of his posts seem like tape recordings of the billionaire hater of President Bush.

posted by: David Thomson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

David Thomson,

Personally, Dave, in my house George Soros was always regarded as one of the leading candidates for the Second Beast of Revelations. Your suggestion while amusing, is completely imbecilic and off-base like usual.

Remember when you charged me with being a liar or a fool, but I came back with government unemployment citations that blew you out of the water? Or the "intellectual harvard-sl*t" thing where you claimed to be cautious and nuanced in your comments? Or when you claimed I was an anti-Semite fascist for criticizing Sharon, until it become apparent my solution to the Palestinian issue was to build the wall and exile all the Arabs outside of it (with development aid)?

You were wrong then, and you are moronically wrong now. Not to mention, that you've managed again to go against while what are preliminary facts at least based on something other than your paranoid theories. No sooner do I get done posting mainstream press links citing supporting (but not conclusive) evidence of my position, then you get done accusing me of being a Soros dupe.

Let me give you a clue, David, I am no one's dupe. If I get rich, I intend to do it on my own and not as someone's lackey. You however truly have no clue, do you? Your suggestion has absolutely nothing to do with the subject under discussion. Talk about red herring ad hominems.

posted by: Oldman on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

 ve you a clue, David, I am no one's dupe. If I get rich, I intend to do it on my own and not as someone's lackey.”

What is your real name? Why do you employ a pseudonym? You are a good example why we need to question the identities and motivations of those posting opinions on major blogs. The innocent days are gone. Let’s not forget that the singer Moby has advised liberals to lie on these blogs to confuse their readers. Also, the billionaire George Soros is spending enormous amounts of money to defeat President Bush. There is no doubt in my mind but that his organizations would employ these sort of tactics. Andrew Sullivan agrees with me. He recently thought that his letters to the editors section was moybied.

posted by: David Thomson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

This is what Andrew Sullivan says about this suspicious activity:

"It's Krugman! Only kidding. Actually, there's a HUGE qestion-mark hanging over this email, and that is its email address. I should have worried about that before. It's from "" (I'm not giving out a person's email address in full. The writer could still feasibly be genuine; and people are innocent till proven guilty.) But how many people have an email address that reflects exactly the sentiments of one particular email? It is impossible to verify all letters. My general view is that if they make good points, I couldn't care less who sent them. And then there's human nature. I think I was Mobyed."

posted by: David Thomson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Already there is a commentary up on the website of a German newspaper, calling this "Spain's 09/11" ( ).

Yet if one wants to liken this attack to 09/11, he will have to call it "Europe's 09/11". It is in stark contrast to the usual European Sunday speeches to limit the meaning of the event to Spain.

Will the EU unite or will the bomber's tactic of divide and conquer succeed?

What effect will the attacks have on Europe's sheltered societies?

Will Spaniards and Europeans cower and press their governments to retreat from the war on terror?

Give me your American perspective.

posted by: Wonko on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]



Suspicious activity? That’s twice in the past 24 hours that someone has attacked someone else’s motives. It sounds like a bad 50s anti-communist movie.

People can disagree with you and not be part of some vast ______-winged conspiracy. Why don’t you address the argument and not the speaker?

This is a discussion board, not a cheerleading section. The best thing about this board is the range of views. I find myself agreeing with people on some issues and not on others. Yes, even you David. There are plenty of places where “dissent is not tolerated.” I hope this doesn’t become one. Get a grip.

posted by: TexasToast on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Kelli is right that the possibility of this being joint action by Arab and Basque terrorists makes things really speculative at this point.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


Suspicious activity? That’s twice in the past 24 hours that someone has attacked someone else’s motives. It sounds like a bad 50s anti-communist movie.”

Are Andrew Sullivan and myself going off the deep end? Well, earlier today the FBI arrested Susan Lindauer. Who is she? look for yourself:

“Lindauer was a temporary, full-time reporter on the metro desk of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for a few months, from April 27, 1987 to July 17, 1987, John Joly, a spokesman for the newspaper told The Associated Press.

She then worked as an editorial writer for The Herald in Everett, north of Seattle, from Aug. 3, 1987, to July 25, 1989, according to an AP review of that newspaper's records.

The Seattle Times reported that Lou Wein, former editorial page editor for The Herald of Everett, who hired Lindauer as an editorial writer, called her brilliant but "erratic."

"I can believe it," he said, when he heard about the allegations.”

posted by: David Thomson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Dear all,

[snip David's paranoid rant]

My facts tend to check out, David. Remember the Democratic Primaries when you were ranting about the leftist organizers capturing the Iowa Caucus for Dean? Dean was my candidate, but from the ground despite boosting for him what I reported was that there was good momentum going for Kerry and Edwards. What I talked about who and how many Kerry and Edwards supporters I was running into.

I have long nurtured a "just the facts please" perspective toward the world, including one strong enough to let me see the truth when it's about my own preferred outcomes or candidates.

Nor do I think that "Moby"-activists usually cite Robert Kagan, Henry Kissenger, and aides from the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan admin. All of which I've done, just today..

Thomson, your thinking is so shallow and desperate the best you can see to do is resort to transparent personal attacks. I don't require that, I have logic, reason, and the strength of my investigative bent to back me up.

On topic

As for what has happened to Spain, it is distressing and it bears out what many people on all sides of the spectrum have been saying - that Europe has complacently assumed itself immune to terrorism. Also western commentators in general have been complacent in assuming that the lack of major western attacks indicated a weakening of Alqueda. I have referred several times to Alqueda going underground and the past measures against them have been much less successful than previously thought. Our elimination of their old leadership has not done more than caused a generational power shift.

They are like the Hydra, cut one head off and a bad Bush policy will cause three more to spring back in its place.

America is currently complacent. While improved Airport security and the example of the flight downed by passenger resistance would probably stop another airplane-missile scenario, there is no reason to conclude that Alqueda wouldn't be capable of launching a Madrid level attack several times throughout the states.

Imagine an Oklohoma-City style bombing once a week for a month. Maybe with one set off during the fourth of July. Each time they'd ground the planes all over again, just to make sure.

This is the result of complancy and self-congratulation without genuine discipline and reform. Years after 911, we still don't have our first-responders upgraded, sufficient translators, an upgraded analyst training and evaluation program, significant network penetration, serious continuing terrorism finance tracking, and good enough intel to point our special ops assassin squads like Task Force 121 at the right place at the right time to out a cap in these guys heads. Also a great deal of money is going into simulating a bio-terrorism attack, when the most probable form would be a truck-bomb and the most serious form a nuclear attack. Simulating dirty bombs or attacks on water supply, nuclear power plants, chemical plants, would be much better preparation.

All partisanship aside, we have to assume that Alqueda is probably planning one or more major relatively low-tech attacks on the United States in the upcoming year. Election coming up you know. Gives a new meaning to the RNC catch-phrase that a vote against Bush is a vote for bin Ladin.

posted by: Oldman on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

This CSM article has more background on teh ETA angle:

Here's BBC coverage which has considerably more backstory:

posted by: Oldman on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Gee whiz, is my allegedly paranoid imagination getting the best of me? Oh well, perhaps Dan Drezner may wish to ask Andrew Sullivan what he thinks. Does he still think we should still worry about being mobied?

posted by: David Thomson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Any credence to the rumor that this attack occured 911 days after 9/11/01?

posted by: Victor on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


She worked for four Democratic members of Congress but what does the headline in the Seattle Post Intelligencer say about the accused Iraqi spy?
Accused spy is cousin of Bush staffer

Yep, that's the headline. Absolutely shameless.

posted at 08:27 PM by Glenn Reynolds”

A member of the liberal media was arreseted earlier this morning. How many more are being paid by our country’s enemies?

posted by: David Thomson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

The fact that the "staffer" just happens to be the cousin to the current President of the United States' Chief of Staff, Andy Card, is perhaps a tad more relevant then her jobs more then a decade ago. Interesting also how Faux News hasn't acknowledged that she also worked for them in 2002.

Congrats to both David and Glenn on their righteous indignation. Shameless.

posted by: vee on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

vee -

She's the second cousin to Andy Card and the fact that people would even consider this to have any significance is ridiculous. Are you up on all your second cousin's activities?

posted by: Ugh on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Her familial relationship with Andy Card is as about as relevant as her work for Democratic congress people. The conservative blogs played up her connection to the Democrats when the story broke, ucnaware of her relationship with Card, and clearly for partisan purposes to cast Dems in a negative light. Once her consanguinity to Card came to light, it was payback time. Good for the goose, good for the gander. Either way, it shed no light on the story and was used by each side for partisan purposes.

posted by: vee on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

I know more about Spanish wine than Spanish politics, and if it's all the same to the posters fighting their off-topic battles would like to put out some questions to anyone with some knowledge of political currents in that country.

Relative to the size of the country this is a tremendous disaster, comparable to 9/11 here. How will the Spanish people react? Will their instinct be to throw blame on Arabs (or Basques, or both, depending on what post-mortems reveal)? Will they blame one or more of their parties, or Aznar personally? Will they focus on improving internal security, especially in major cities?

I understand that the shock over these murders will last for several days and make answering these questions difficult. I'd welcome an educated guess in the meantime.

posted by: Zathras on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

The technique--coordinated explosions and the attack on mass transit--point to Arab terrorists. But the technique is pretty easy to copy. The explosives point to ETA.

The idea that the WOT drove AQ and ETA together is silly. There have long been links between the major terrorist groups in Europe. The ETA could come at it from the direction of connections to the older Arab secular terrorists, who have been hanging with the fundamentalist terrorists lately. It's not like they need a lot of contact to figure out the two central ideas--coordinated explosions and mass transit attacks.

posted by: Ernst Blofeld on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Oldman, you're suggesting that Bush forced rouge states and terrorists into bed together, but wern't they already in bed together? Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afganistan and Lybia were all in bed with terrorists long before Bush held the White House.

The action of the Bush administration has eliminated the collaboration of state/terrorists links in three of those places. The inaction, going all the way back to Regan in Leb. made the US look like a paper tiger as OBL said and that did more to embolden terrorists and strengethen state ties.

"It has always been said that war makes strange bedmates." I agree. So why is it so hard for some to imagine that Alqaeda and Iraq, at war with the US for a long time, wouldn't unite?

The offensive stategy of the US will not end terrorism, but it has broken at least a few of the very dangerous state/terrorist links that you rightly worry about. And yes, it may be difficult to trace future terrorist ties to certain states, but now, because of actions taken, those states know that they will be wiped out if the connection is made. That wasn't the case before Afganistan and Iraq.

posted by: ERA on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

My money is on an Al Qaeda buyout of the ETA's remaining terrorist operations, which the ETA's political side is only just now learning about. I read today that Spanish security had hurt the ETA's terrorists so bad they were about done & out.

Which means they were willing takeover targets. Al Qaeda could offer them money, support, equipment and training.

I highly recommend Dan Darling's Thursday column at Winds of Change on Al Qaeda's "structure". Here's the URL:

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

It was actually 912 days. It would have been 911, if not for the leap year this year. If someone was trying for symbolism, perhaps they just forgot about the leap year?

posted by: Nicole on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

“...and if it's all the same to the posters fighting their off-topic battles”

The days of innocence are over. It is very on-topic to wonder if we are being mobyed and if certain people are being funded by George Soros and Theresa Heinz. How many other previously employed journalists took money from Saddam Hussein and other evil dictators? The liberal media has been slanting stories, distorting facts, and doing everything it can to destroy President Bush. It’s time to start asking the hard questions. Once again, why are so many people anonymous on the Internet? Are their reasons valid---or might they have something to hide?

posted by: David Thomson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

It wouldn't surprise me if ETA denies responsibility for the bombing as it might have been far worse than they originally intended.

Here's my theory:

ETA and "some" Islamic organization have been in cahoots for a while. I know that they have arrested several Al Qaeda linked people in Spain recently. ETA and this organization plan an attack using ETA supplies and MO. However, the Islamists aim for something much more dramatic and deadly.

This attack does a great deal of damage to the goals of ETA. I can't see how it is in their interests to carry out such a large attack directly specifically at civilians. It may have been ETA personnel, but it appears to me that it was backed by an Islamic group.

posted by: Alasdair Robinson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


The real implication of the arrest of this former Democratic staffer and "peace activist" is that it means the Bush Administration is starting to use the intelligence documents it captured in Iraq for both intelligence and partisan advantage.

The on-going information dump on the UN Oil-for-Food program should be seen in that light. The documents from the Iraqi government side of the corruption have been translated and are now bring leaked to selected journalists here and abroad.

posted by: Trent Telenko on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

even if oldman is a covert soros mole, who cares? address the message, not the messenger right? i think we're all adult enuf to form our own opinions. otherwise your off in the ann coulter deepend calling for mcarthyist withcunts and purges. no thanks. i mean it's not like astroturfing is anything new, ever hear of advertising? or free speech for that matter, jeez.

"i may not like what you have to say, but i'll defend to the death your right to say it." -DT

posted by: CSM on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

David Thomson,
If you want to start slinging accusations that people's opinions are purchased with absolutely no basis for them, they will certainly come back to you. Do you want this (or any other) forum to become a place where people promote paranoid theories rather than discuss facts? If so, I could suggest that the Bush Campaign has spent tens of millions of dollars prior to its current ad buys and ask if you received any of it? Do any of us want to go there?

posted by: Dantheman on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

“If so, I could suggest that the Bush Campaign has spent tens of millions of dollars prior to its current ad buys and ask if you received any of it? Do any of us want to go there?”

First of all, why aren’t you using your real name? What is this "dantheman" stuff? And yes, I don’t mind if you “want to go there.” I’ve got nothing to hide. Please also note that only the Wall Street Journal and the National Review have provided extensive coverage of the UN Iraqi food program. Why is this occurring? How many people remember when CNN was embarrassed by the revelations concerning their despicable cooperation with Saddam Hussein’s government? How many Liberal journalists are lining their pockets by protecting France, Germany, and Russia?

posted by: David Thomson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

David T:

Speaking as a pseudonym, I can say that we have no idea whether you are a pseudonym. Remember, Kelli, a few posts back, postulated that you may really be female, hiding in an aggressive male personality. I don't remember you denying that.

Look, there's one very good reason for a pseudonym. It's called google. If you don't want your political opinions casually available to your current and furture employer, and random coworkers, a posting pseudonym is the best option.

But, seriously (and at this point, I'm wondering why I am doing you that courtesy), what difference does it make if Oldman works for Soros, Howard Dean, Pat Buchanan, or the KGB? All we have from him are his opinions, and those stand and fall on their own merits.

David, you are actually intelligent and well read, and you make interesting points, as long as you aren't clanging on about old europe or indulging a little neo-McCarthyism and other hobbyhorses. It's fun to write and fun to post and fun to be snarky, and project a personality which may not even be close to your own. But if you want people to take you seriously (as opposed to merely "know who you are"), you are failing miserably.

Alonzo Church III

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

This is “The Open Spain Thread” and I’m been accused of getting off topic. What can I tell you? I’m just a bad person. Shucks, let’s take a look at what the liberal media are saying about Spain:

“It was unfortunate that Thursday was the day the IHT chose to unburden itself of anti-Aznar sentiments on its op-ed page. A very mysterious piece by Dan O'Brien claimed that Aznar's pro-American policies were bound to be rejected by his successors, no matter who won the election, because, as you know, the Spanish had lost the Spanish-American War, and because Aznar's pro-Americanism had "led to Spain's isolation in the EU" — by which O'Brien means, as you know, France and Germany.”

posted by: David Thomson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

I'm speechless, I've got no words to talk about the motivations and implications of the Madrid bombings. But I take that as a lesson: words can't and therefore souldn't be used when we deal with those despicable lunatics.

They must get what they deserve, and I hope Europe will now discover that the answer is not "words".

Márcio Guilherme.

posted by: Márcio Guilherme on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

“Look, there's one very good reason for a pseudonym. It's called google. If you don't want your political opinions casually available to your current and furture employer, and random coworkers, a posting pseudonym is the best option.”

That is indeed a very valid point. I just notice that most conservative posters seem to use their real name. Am I paranoid? Well, I think you need to speak to Moby. He is the one who advocated spreading lies on the Internet. Did you think that Andrew Sullivan and I merely made this up? Also, why are the liberal media smearing President Bush? Why do they hide the fact that many people attacking the President are funded by Theresa Kerry and George Soros? No, I becoming more convinced that numerous members of the liberal media are afraid of a second Bush term. They know that more evidence is likely to be discovered in Iraq that will send them to prison. The crap is just starting to hit the fan.

posted by: David Thomson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

David Thomson,

So if you don't mind "going there", let's start with a few questions:

1. Prove that your real name is David Thomson. I suggest scanning in and posting your driver's license, and social security card.

2. Prove that you have taken no money from the Republican National Committee, the Bush Re-Election Campaign, etc. While this would not be entirely dispositive, I suggest scanning and posting your tax returns for the last few years, your pay stubs from your employer, and your bank account records.

Do you _really_ want to go there?

posted by: dantheman on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Did anyone notice the market's going up bigtime?
weird rebound connection to the attack, I wonder?

posted by: Bithead on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Did anyone notice the market's going up bigtime?
weird rebound connection to the attack, I wonder?

posted by: Bithead on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Oldman, DT,

Go to your rooms!

Oops, sorry. For a moment there I thought I was breaking up another wrestling match between my sons.

Seriously, DT, take your ravings to a shrink. "Mobying" is not a word, because no one takes what they read in the blog-world too seriously, anyway. Okay, besides YOU.

Oldman, I'm a bit surprised at you. Think you're off-track on this score. Bush has made some mistakes but he is hardly in the terror match-making business, and in case you hadn't noticed, he isn't the leader of Spain anyway.

For the record, this happened to Spain, not US. They are the victims today, and they don't need a bunch of Americans whining about how hundreds of their citizens dying and thousands injured is a message to the USA. They need our solidarity and compassion, not our self-absorption right now.

I'm off to sign the condolence book at the Spanish Embassy. I'll let y'all know what I saw later.

To any Spaniards reading this thread, I am so sorry for your pain. We are grateful to you, and will always stand by you.

posted by: Kelli on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

The stock market is up so far (as of 10:23 am CST) today because:

- Aetna raised its 2004 profit forecast;
- Dell's rating was boosted by Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan/Chase analysts;
- business inventories failed to grow, indicating companies are selling as fast as they can produce;
- a sense that stocks are more rationally priced after a 4% loss for this week.

I'm sure, however, that the usual suspects will claim that this is proof that the Spain bombings were caused by Bush in order to enrich his Wall Street cronies.

posted by: Percy Dovetonsils on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

It was 911 days after 9/11/01.

silver:> deltadate -f %D 912
silver:> deltadate -f %D 1

posted by: Chad Peterson on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Trent Telenko: Did you come to the conclusion that the Bush Administration is using intelligence documents for political purposes before or after the indictment of Susan Lindauer?

You may not be aware of it, but the other two names on the indictment were previously indicted under the same charges. Yesterday's release was just an updated indictment sheet to include Ms. Lindauer's role in the alleged crimes. Your accusations are reminiscent of present discourse courtesy of Democratic politicking. Just about every person that the DoJ has charged with a crime that is affiliated with the Democratic Party has been defended on the accusation of "politically time indictments".

My latest blog post highlights some of this hypocrasy with the example of the latest indictment of Rep. Jan Schakowsky's(D-IL) husband Robert Creamer.

To other topics...

Oldman makes the point that some of the White House policies may be in fact inciting terrorism on the part of Islamists. Albeit true, it is valid in the sense of the Teacher's Unions stating that "No Child Left Behind" is the cause of declining test scores. Just because you look behind a door, overturn a rock or set up a pest trap and find a massive roach problem it doesn't mean you caused it.

The inevitable dilemna of fighting a war on terror through prosecutorial means is that you will always leave criminals behind. The DA will know they'll have someone that is guilty but won't be able to prove it because a witness won't testify on grounds of safety concerns. As evidence by the Deathcult™ in the West Bank and Gaza, criminal prosecution is non-existent when the head of the cult is the cheif law enforcement officer.

But I neglect to mention one tool that prosecutors sometimes use to get a conviction. Sometimes they play good guy/bad guy to rustle some feathers, get people talking and place beat officers in the right places with the information they learn. Current foreign policy is representative of good guy/bad guy. The good guy routine is Democracy, self rule, self determination, freedom, liberty - but the bad guy routine is some innocent casualties, wrongfully encarcerated prisioners at Gitmo and cozy relations with Jihadist bastions like Egypt, Pakistan and Syria.

posted by: Brennan Stout on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

It was a horrific act and the killing of innocents can never be justified.

It also raises some hard questions about the strategy of the war on terrorism. Most bluntly is the world really safer without Saddam? I know that the answer to this question will depend upon how the investigation into the perpetrators plays out. But if it turns out that Al Qaeda was involved in some way, it would suggest that the War in Iraq has not blunted their capacity to act violently on a very significant scale. To take it a step further: should we be expending military and economic resources in Iraq while significant terrorist activity is happening elsewhere? The vulnerability of America rail lines alone would require a great deal of money and manpower to address adequately. I know that pulling out of Iraq is near impossible now, especially since the disintegration of the state has made it easier for terrorist organizations to operate there. But the nagging question is: is Iraq weakening our strategy against terrorism?

Please let's keep the personal invective to a minimum on this. Responses asserting that my employment at a liberal arts college in Massachusetts somehow makes me Osama's fellow traveller really don't advance the debate.

posted by: Sam on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


You ask a fair question (which others above have chewed on a bit): is the Bush approach to the WOT working? But then you use the awful attacks in Spain to suggest it is not. That's a bait and switch debating tactic, in my book.

I just got back from signing the condolence book at the Spanish Embassy. I took the Metro across the river from Virginia. Coming and going there were security guards, security cameras, and readers of the WaPo will recall the Feds recently installed a state of the art chem/bio detection system for our protection. All of this is justified, to my mind, by the extreme likelihood that DC will be attacked in the future. We ARE preparing.

I wish the same could be said for Spain--and I apologize if there was more to the security on those commuter trains than has so far been reported. I'm going by what I have read, which so far indicates that ten unattended backpacks went unnoticed (I spent a year in England at the height of the IRA terror--if your bag was not on your shoulder you were questioned immediately and there was nowhere to throw away trash, since all the bins were removed from streets). There were no security agents on the trains. And this, months after ETA's failed attempts to place bombs on trains, days ahead of a national election. This is, sadly, the very picture of complacency.

This is Europe's wakeup call. We've already had ours. It is a tribute to the courage and foresight of the Spanish Government that they recognized the threat they faced two and a half years ago. Unfortunately, western Europeans have not bolstered their "homeland" security adequately (my husband was appalled by what passed for airport security there this past week). Now, perhaps, the rest of western Europe will see the danger they too are in, and work towards a common strategy. The US should encourage and back any movements in that direction.

The problem to date with the WOT has been that not everyone has taken the threat equally seriously. Brave countries like Spain are less likely to be targeted if their continental neighbors stand together with them, as well as with the UK and the US. Mind the gap, indeed.

posted by: Kelli on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Sam, I don't really see how Iraq is weakening our response to terrorism. Let's say that, immediately after the fall of Baghdad, a full blown democratic government had instantly emerged, iwth its own security forces, and army to defend the country, and we had immeidately gotten our troops back home. Thus, no 87 billion $ appropriations bill. What would we have done then? Put more troops into Afghainstan? Maybe a few, but what for? To be targets for the Islamofascists there? To search for Bin LAden? That really doesn't seem to me the kind of job that calls for whole divisions.

Well, perhaps, we could spend the money on homeland security. I keep hearing the complaint that our ports aren't secure. Well, let's triple what we spend on searching cargo containers. OK, now guess how many containers would be searched? 6% instead of the 2% we now search. Feel safer? I don't.

And what about that nasty deficit? And Congresses insatiable appetite for pork? Right now, the appropriators want to blow through the budget by $75 billion to pave roads. That $87 billions sure would be a nice place to get that. And then there are things like health care that need to be funded.

I am afraid that the only way you can fund any action against terrorism is through the defense budget. I hope Bush's policy is right; I personally think it is. But if it isn't, we're screwed, because the amount of $'s that would be required to make us appreciably safer through homeland defense is many orders of magnitude greater than our willingness and ability to fund it.

posted by: Daniel L. Merriman on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


Several thoughts:

1. First, tragic though the event in Spain was, it did happen in Spain. I don't think the forces in Iraq could be reliably used to ferret out Spanish terrorists. Spain's own homeland security forces have more than one group of terrorists to deal with. Also, arabs are far less conspicuous in Spain than they would be here or in most of the rest of Europe. (Morocco is not that far away.)

2. Second, are you aware of something rather than Graham/Clark's insinuations that the Iraq conflict took relevent intelligence resources away from hunting Al Quaeda in Afghanistan/Pakistan? (This is a request for info, not an attack, btw.)

3. The thing to remember is that the Iraq business unfolded in several stages. If Bush had decided to do nothing about Iraq at all,Saddam would still be in power, and there would probably still be a presumption he had wmds. I think this would have had an effect on what the US could and would do in the mideast. (I don't know what)

4. If Bush had backed down after putting troops in Kuwait, it would have been a defeat for the US, on the heals of our withdrawals from Beirut and Somalia. This would most certainly put us at greater risk.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

"there was nowhere to throw away trash, since all the bins were removed from streets"

That part is still true in a lot of public places, particularly railway stations. There will probably be even fewer bins around after this atrocity.

A different Sam

posted by: sam on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


A reasonable question, but perhaps we'd best consider some specifics:

The kind of attack as happened in Madrid can happen with a handful of people.

OTOH, it's about the largest attack as can happen with a handful of people.

It's certainly not up to the requirements of people that several hijacking planes would have.

I'm not ready to conclude this as yet, but logically, one could infer that ElQuieda's runnning out of blodthirsty idiots.

posted by: Bithead on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Re: ETA working with al Qaeda, in 1992 there were reports in Europe that ETA had purchased Stinger missiles from alQ and had sent people to Afghanistan to learn how to use them.

I think we're seeing ad hoc and even more regular cooperation among terror networks with very different origins and aims, all of whom hope to benefit from chaos and fear.

posted by: rkb on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

ummm ... make that 2002, not 1992. Sorry bout that.

posted by: rkb on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Waring: long post by the first Sam...

Following Anthony Cordesman's CSIS paper, the US can be seen as being engaged in four wars simultaneously (Iraq, Afghanistan, terrorism in general, and US role in Israel v. Palestine) (link: As such, our military and intelligence resources are seriously stretched. Personally, I think our number one priority should be directly attacking Al Qaeda - they were, after all, responsible for 9/11. This involves certain defensive moves (protecting ports, etc.) but also offensively requires searching them out.

Up to this point, we seem not to have maximized our effort to capture bin Laden. Only now do we hear that resources are moving from Iraq to Afghanistan/Pakistan to ramp up the search for Osama - task force 121 or whatever. Why didn't we do this earlier? Why have we not concentrated on Afghanistan and Pakistan? Because Bush and co. decided that we had to do a large-scale ground-occupation assault on Iraq.

We know that we have had grave intelligence problems in Iraq. Some of these were due to relying unwisely on self-interested emmigres. But some of it, too, is the result of the scale of the problem. We have increased our military and intelligence commitments without increasing our resources. Note the recent LA Times piece discussing how the CIA is struggling in Iraq and Afghanistan. (reprinted in the Aussie newspaper, The Age: It seems that there are not enough trained Arabic speakers to do all of the dangerous jobs. While the top brass says everything if fine, a former agent says we are "sucking wind." (i.e. exhausting our resources).

If Madrid was done by Al Qaeda, it suggests that much more could be done, more resources, especially Arabic-language intelligence expertise, expended to stop them. That those resrouces have been used elsewhere could be a serious strategic mistake.

One more point. With the crumbling of the Iraqi state, we have, inadvertently, increased the effective territorial reach of Al Qaeda. It is now easier, I would argue, for AQ operatives to move through Iraq, recruit Iraqi agents, and attack US and other interests directly. Remember, Osama wanted us to invade Iraq. He goaded us on in pre-war tapes. He was betting that chaos there would help him. Thus far, I am afraid he was right.

posted by: Sam on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


What makes you say that we're losing the war on Al Qaeda? Throughout the 1990s they staged devastating attacks on US targets roughly every 20 months. Since 9/11, THIRTY months have passed and we've yet to see a major AQ attack on a US civilian or diplomatic target, here or abroad.

In addition, we know from Khalid Muhammad that AQ had--note past tense--much more ambitious plans for massive strikes immediately after 9/11.

If you have evidence that AQ is more effective than before the Iraq war, then bring it forth. I've yet to see such evidence.

posted by: tombo on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

There was a time quite recently in Spain where some thought suicide bombing was not only acceptable, bus positively sexy.

posted by: Rekkid on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


Whatever degradation there may have been to AQ, it is not at all clear to me that the war in Iraq has had anything to do with it. The initial attack on Afghanistan, and other operations, have hurt them. But Iraq has been of marginal effect in this regard, it seems to me.

On the continuing threat, see George Tenet at his Senate testimony on February 24. Here's an excerpt:

"Blows to al-QA`ida's central leadership have transformed the organization into a loose collection of regional networks that operate more autonomously. These regional components have demonstrated their operational prowess in the past year.

The sites of their attacks span the entire reach of al-QA`ida—Morocco, Kenya, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia.
And al-QA`ida seeks to influence the regional networks with operational training, consultations, and money. Khalid Shaykh Muhammad sent Hambali $50,000 for operations in Southeast Asia.
You should not take the fact that these attacks occurred abroad to mean the threat to the US homeland has waned. As al-QA`ida and associated groups undertook these attacks overseas, detainees consistently talk about the importance the group still attaches to striking the main enemy: the United States. Across the operational spectrum—air, maritime, special weapons—we have time and again uncovered plots that are chilling.

On aircraft plots alone, we have uncovered new plans to recruit pilots and to evade new security measures in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
Even catastrophic attacks on the scale of 11 September remain within al-QA`ida's reach. Make no mistake: these plots are hatched abroad, but they target US soil or that of our allies."

posted by: Sam on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


Common sense that others see on Winds of Change here:

and via updates on

"March 6, 2004: The tons of documents captured from the former Saddam Hussein government, and interrogations of former Iraqi officials, are yielding evidence of more embarrassing acts by nations that long supported Saddam. In this case, Russian missile engineers were helping Iraq develop longer range missiles. The peace agreement Iraq signed in 1991 limited Iraqi missiles to a range of 150 kilometers. The Russian missile experts were assisting in the design of much longer range missiles. The work was being done in Baghdad and Moscow. Some of the Russian engineers were in Baghdad as recently as 2001. The Russians were working for a Russian company, not the Russian government. But it is unlikely that this sort of thing was going on with no one in the Russian government being aware of it. It was long rumored that Russians were involved in this sort of thing. There were also rumors of French assistance in the development and maintenance of weapons."

...that were predicted in advance on here:

One Invasion Won't Be Enough
by Tom Holsinger
April 24, 2002

"There are astronomical implications to American occupation of Iraq. The intelligence haul will be incredible just from documents and computer files, plus we'll scoop up a lot of people who will tell us everything rather than be put out on the street wearing "I Luv Saddam" t-shirts. Embarrassing information in Iraqi files might be among the reasons certain governments are so opposed to our attacking Iraq."

posted by: Trent Telenko on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

A couple notes:

1. it's been 24 hours, and still no offical word on who did this. This makes me think (a) it was not AlQueda and (2) it was not ETA, (3) we're dealing with another terrorist faction, or (4) it was an inside (i.e. state sanctioned) job.

2. Someone mentioned europe uniting. The horrid slogan "terrorists of the world, unite!" ran through my head.

3. No one has offered any concerte reasons for anyone to blow up a Madrid train station. OK, who has Span irritated lately?
- Anyone who supported Saddamn Hussein
- Morroco
- ?
It's a really short list. We're talking _Spain_ here.

4. This is the 2nd major bombing of a US ally. I wonder why no one is comparing this to the Turkish bombings. Y'all remember HBSC got nailed, right?

5. What is the political effect of the bombing? Well, all of the Western world is horrified. This might increase support for the Bush Administration's poorly executed war on terror. It might cow European allies into supporting more American policies. And it will definitely hurt extermist organizations' support in the 1st world. Does anyone see how this strengthens Al Queda and ETA? I don't.
It does however strengthen a Spanish political party that has allied itself to the Bush Administration. It has also reminded us Americans that terrorist can strike anywhere.

6. If this was international terrorism, why isn't _our_ terror level going up?

7. Accordining to the Spanish government, this was the 4th attempt to blow up a commuter rail line in a month. They didn't attribute the attempts to anyone. What are they hiding?

The more I think about this, the more I'm convinced the perpetrators are:

1. A small faction of lunatics who are likely all dead (after all, 10 backpacks). They are not an offshoot of AlQueda or ETA.

2. A black op by the Spanish or one of their allies to shore up the election and rally people to the war against terror

3. A new terrorist organization dedicated to removing all traces of the Christian West from historically Islamic lands.

My best bet is on 3 - it explains Spain and Turkey. It might even explain the amazing precision of the attack. My pessemistic bet is on 2. Again it explains the professionalism, and answers the question "who does did this hurt? who does it help?". And I really, really hope the real answer is 1. 'Cause then we won't see another attack.

God, what a disaster.


posted by: Carolina on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


That is the most psychotic thing I've ever read. You leapfrogged right over David Thomson into the nuthouse. I'm shocked (well, just a bit).

posted by: Kelli on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


Of course AQ's PLANS remain ambitious. But we're not talking about intentions, we're talking about effectiveness.

Again: do you have any hard evidence is there to suggest that AQ are more effective now than before the Iraq war?

Where are all the attacks against US targets that your theory, were it an accurate reflection of reality, would predict?

What evidence do you have that middle eastern state terror sponsors and terror-breeders such as Libya, SA, Syria, and Iran are MORE effective at sheltering and supporting AQ than they were prior to the Iraq War?

posted by: tombo on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


I'm just pointing out who benefits from this massacre. Dear god, I'm not endorsing it. I raised it as an academic point for debate.

And besides, if you think that my black ops idea is bunk, then say so and move on to my other points. I think that we might be dealing with an organization that isn't Alqueda or ETA is very likely.

Last but not least, I'm very offended that you compared me to Dave Thompson. I haven't tried to insult anyone, switch the topic, or accuse people of political agendas. I haven't even attacked anyone on the board.

Can't a woman brainstorm around here anymore?


posted by: Carolina on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


Oh, wait, were you being sarcastic? If so, sorry, I'm clearly taking things too literally.

been too long of a day,

posted by: Carolina on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Oldman wrote "The objection that they would never do this because the weapons could be turned on them as a firewall doesn't hold if the organizations build up a cozy and interlinked working collaboration. In other words, we've forced them into bed together.

I thought about this and your comments on our posts earlier this week, and I think you might be right. After all the US did help supply Iraq with chemical weapons in the 80s. Admittedly state to state actions, but we didn't worry (too much) then about him using them against us.

So maybe I'll alter my comment a bit. If a state is arrogant enough to think it will never be assaulted by the group it's abetting, then yes, WMD might be placed in the hands of state sponsored terrorists.

However, I'm not sure the US's action will push smaller states in bed with terrorists. Smaller staes level of insecurity is higher than the US's. Perhaps if they thought they were going to be attacked by the US and had nothing to makes sense. I'm sure the taliban would have given Osama the bomb had they had it. Middle powers without the threat of invasion would be less agreeable.


posted by: Carolina on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


If by "hard evidence" you mean something to do with actual attacks on the US since 9/11, obviously there is none. No such attacks have occured. So, we are reduced to the impossibility of explaining a negative (rather like the old problem with demonstrating the efficacy of nuclear deterrence). But we are both stuck then. I cannot adduce any "hard evidence" that AQ is stronger (as measured by your criteria of attacks against the US) since Iraq; yet neither can you adduce any "hard evidence" that AQ is weaker (as measured by your criteria) because of the Iraq war. Why have they not attacked the US? Because they could not or because they could have but chose to focus on other targets? If you have "hard evidence" to answer that question, then you've got me.

But, as Mr. Tenet pointed out, we do know that AQ has actually attacked (i.e. not just harbored intentions to attack) other targets in the past year (i.e. since Iraq war). It is not clear if Madrid is the most recent example, but if it is (my initial post was premised on that conditional), then it would, I believe, case serious doubt on the strategy of fighting the war on terrorism by way of Iraq.

One more thing. What should the presumption behind our strategy on terrorism be: that AQ is weak and declining as a threat to us; or that AQ remains strong enough to pose a serious threat to the US? I think US policy, at this point, must be premised on the latter.

posted by: Sam on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Dear Kelli,

I think you're not being exactly even handed here. I have only defended in two posts my good name and expressed by opinion, while DT has gone on is several posts to smear me with suggestions that Iraqi spies, liberal=traitor conspiracies, and suggesting that I might be working for Soros.

I don't exactly think those two stances are comparable really yet you seem to treat them so.

About Spain, what makes you think it wasn't a message? The tragedy of the event is awful. The claim put out by the Alqueda proxy-group however specified Spain's participation in the Iraq war as a motivation for the bombing.

Psychologically, the motivation may be to intimidate other countries from cooperating with the United States. This is a perfectly "rational" motivation in the thinking of a bully.

Plus there are other suggestive circumstantial evidence points - the van of detonators with the Arabic language tape, the "911 days" (not counting leap year) connection, that this would be the sixth time in six years that an Al-Zawahiri announcement was followed by an action within three weeks (MSNBC), etc.

I think Carolina is being premature in asserting that the delay in "blaming" someone means a third party is involved. In the days after 911, nobody was quite sure who had done it. This is only the second day. The authorities may be trying to get harder evidence, witholding information to not compromise investigations, waiting for the mourning to take hold a while longer, be torn between the choice of blaming ETA / Alqueda, or just may be stumped.

In addition, if you look at the other posts Holsinger and Sam have presented some good information which potentially supports an Alqueda and ETA collusion at some level using local knowledge and foreign muscle. Note that I have disagreed strongly with Holsinger on the question of values and probity before, but as I have noted he is quite intelligent and well-informed.

These theories are of course unconfirmed, but aside from DT making wild accusations regarding partisanship, they are as plausible as anything else until we see the real evidence.

As for the WOT driving terrorists together of different stripes, the simple historical facts regarding intelligence show that as a matter of degree that it was not significant or widespread in the past though to some degree it existed.

So a major increase, to the extent of ETA operatives working with Alqueda, would be clearly a new degree of escalation. ETA afterall does not have very much in common with Alqueda.

Now some would suggest that this level of collaboration was already true, or inevitable, or that the WOT as conducted by Bush had nothing to do with it. Well the latter is still debatable, but the former are quite fatalistic and false presumptions.

Commentators who have been suggesting that Alqueda has been weakened and is no longer a significant terrorist force, clearly need to revaluate their hasty judgements. Alqueda has always been a long-term planning and execution group. We can probably expect more and larger attacks in the future, given the sensational impact of this one. Those also who have suggested that "radical islamic fundamentalist terrorism" is going to decline, must also revaluate their thinking. Such terrorism sprung from a demand from populaces, and given shifting conditions one form may fall away only to be replaced by another.

posted by: Oldman on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Carolina and Oldman,

Relax! I don't even think DT is truly crazy--you just like jerking everyone's chain, right Dave?

posted by: Kelli on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Spain likes to be bombed to death, it's faster than taxing themselves to the point that their nation is dying (fertility rate 1.2).

But, Spain, along with France, voted with the UN Humnan Rights commission to declare attacks on civilians as legitimate for oppressed people. They did this shortly after 9/11.

So, every time a Spaniard dies beneath the rubble from a terrorist boomb, I marvel at their suicidal tendencies, and wish them a speedy suicide. Since Spain has such love for being bombed, I suggest they make an industry out of it. Perhaps charging $2,000 for a bombing license, giving the holder the right to one Spanish car bomb, all in the name of human rioghts.

posted by: Matt Young on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Dear Kelli,

You write:
Relax! I don't even think DT is truly crazy--you just like jerking everyone's chain, right Dave?

If you're reading me as being aggrieved, that's not what is happening. I'm not insulted, personally. DT in so many ways shows himself as someone not to be taken seriously.

He smeared me. I stuck up for myself. As far as I'm concerned, the rest is just a back-handed compliment - "He does me too much honor." - and only discredits himself by touting unfounded paranoid ideas.

However, if you presume so charmingly that no one could be as irrational as DT is acting then I'm afraid my dear that while it speaks well of you to think so I'm afraid that many people do think as he presents himself. It's quite sad really.

What I find much more interesting than DT's rants is the spin on the Madrid-bombing. So much for respecting the honored dead. Apparently, both sides are moving toward politicizing this already. If it is perceived as shifting the results of the election (either way) then it could have profound consequences beyond the incident itself. There's a great deal of internal pressure, not all of it in the same direction, cooking this investigation.

It seems that the "truce" called by all sides is breaking down.

posted by: Oldman on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Clearly the ones "politicizing" the Madrid bombings are the Spanish Socialists, who wish to make the elections a referendum on Spain's support for the Iraq war. A depoliticized analysis would accept that islamist totalitarians have in the past two years targeted and slaughtered

--French engineers in Karachi

--German tourists in Tunisia

--tourists of many nationalities partying in the predominantly-muslim (and hostile to the Iraq War) nation of indonesia

--muslim civilians across the world, including shi'ite worshippers on their holiest of days.

Clearly, islamist totalitarianism is at war with all those they consider infidels, be they Frenchmen, Germans or anyone else. Just as clearly, they will not be deterred by their targets' forswearing aggressive military force against them, as their demands are apocalyptic and non-negotiable.

The effort to pretend that western Europeans can declare themselves neutral in this battle may be psychologically understandable. Politically, it's indefensible.

Let's repeat this simple fact: It's not about Bush or the neo-cons. The islamist totalitarians would be attacking us even if Michael Moore were in the White House.

There are signs that even Le Monde is starting to get it. When the rest of the European Left wake up?

[Sam: thanks for your thoughtful reply. Re nukes, my inclination--supported by first-hand admissions to me by senior officials in Gorbachev's govt--would be to support the thesis that strength, not negotiations, causes authoritarians to make concessions. I respect your preferences but, again, see no evidence that non-western authoritarian regimes respect negotiation and concessions.]

posted by: tombo on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

Tombo -
Good, as per usual.

Best of the thread:
[Let's repeat this simple fact: It's not about Bush or the neo-cons. The islamist totalitarians would be attacking us even if Michael Moore were in the White House.]

Regarding your Sam reply, I would only add that the lack of evidence is due mainly to the fact that the only thing that ARs have to negotiate is delaying their eventual demise. Which is another reason why strength is the better tonic.

posted by: Tommy G on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

I believe Tombo's comment on the politicization of Spain's 3/11 is right on target. Clearly, the scope of Islamic terrorism is wider than one country and the reason they are successful is that each country's citizens are looking for a reason "their country" was attacked while AQ and others move on to the next victim/weak country.

Another point is that it is logical that the terrorists hook up such as with the IRA training the FARC in Colombia. The weakest always unite against the strong as defense, that's why we for example united with liberal gov against the Soviet push for world domination/liberation.

A third point is that BOTH US pres. candidates are spending a lot of money on dirty politiking on the net--big deal, same old politics, new medium. I also doubt that the PP is holding back info to the Spanish public to win elections--it is too close to elections to react in such a manner and either party will unite with the citizens against terrorism.

I believe one of the best methods to defeat the terrorism would be to encourage free speech, free trade with the Middle East and pressure governments there to liberalize. Clearly, the terrorism threat from that region will continue while its people are actively repressed by their own governments.

A major point to creating our own terrorism from the Middle East is supporting Israel and not criticising its treatment of Palestinians. On the same accord the EU has actively supported Arafat while not getting rid of Palestinian corruption. We should likely demand from Israel equal protection of Palestinians and get the EU to support Palestinians of moderate mind.

A point nobody has addressed is the extremism being pumped out of the madrassas in Saudi Arabia. This country has the most extreme treatment of its own people and is actively sponsoring Islamic jihad through building Mosques and spreading the most extreme form of Islam that rejects any other religion and even other forms of Islam, like Shias. Of course, the West will never have the balls to stare down the oil producer of 70% of the world's oil and leader of OPEC. Anybody check out the gas prices and wonder why prices did NOT come down after Iraq? Thank OPEC and Saudi Arabia.

posted by: Supersonic on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


It appears I was wrong to blame the Spanish SOcialists for politicizing the Madrid bombings. Perhaps they share blame, but certainly Aznar's government, esp the Foreign Minister, deserves the lion's share of the blame. It was reported that Ana Palacio sent a cable to all the Spanish embassies instructing them to find and highlight any information they could find that would play up an ETA connection.

Pretty disgusting, really. As bitter as it may be to think of AQ (and ETA, ironically) getting precisely the vote they desired, the fact is that Aznar's government brought this on itself. They deserve to be booted out.

That said, the Socialists can yank their troops from Iraq but they're deluded if they think that will make them any safer. Al-Andalus is still Al-Andalus. Spain, and Morocco and Algeria as well, is still crawling with AQ, and no amount of clever police work will overcome the fact that this is indeed a global war. Nowhere to hide, amigos--as much as you may hate Bush, we're all in this together and will remain so after Kerry loses to Bush.

posted by: tombo on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

that david thompson (if its his real name) is a wanker.

posted by: englishman on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]


You say, "neither can you adduce any 'hard evidence' that AQ is weaker (as measured by your criteria) because of the Iraq war."

Actually, I would think the fact that AQ have repeatedly hit not only soft targets--nightclubs, synagogues, mosques etc as opposed to US battleships, embassies and the command and control center of the US--is pretty good evidence of a certain desperation. Add to this the fact that the majority of their "successes" have been against MUSLIM targets around the world and I think you have a picture of a movement that, while of course still lethal, is nonetheless even less coherent, less disciplined, less organized than before.

Is an undisciplined organization more or less of a threat? If they get nukes from Khan and Co or from the mullahs (perhaps with help from the Kremlin middlemen who received some $90M or so from Saddam), then of course all bets are off, and no one on this planet has a good remedy. But a much more likely outcome is that, deprived of effective state sponsorship, with Osama hemmed in, Khalid M in US custody and hundreds of other intelligent, discplined, experienced leaders killed or in Gitmo, the individual cells simply lack the organizational juice to pull off the kinds of spectacular hits against US targets that they prefer.

So that leaves attacks against soft targets close to home. To the extent that the focus is shifted away from the US, the world may be less safe than in the days when everyone could indulge their private glee that arrogant ol Uncle Sam took it on the chin. But there's no question that the US is safer now than several years ago.

OTOH, if the main lesson that the Spanish and other Euro Socialist leaders take is that appeasement of AQ is the best way to win elections and (cross your fingers) avoid more hits on Europe, then we're all screwed. The clear lesson will be that only the US will stand against AQ. No one could then argue that multilateralism enhances US security.

posted by: tombo on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

OTOH, if the main lesson that the Spanish and other Euro Socialist leaders take is that appeasement of AQ is the best way to win elections and (cross your fingers) avoid more hits on Europe, then we're all screwed.

Certainly, this is the attitude Kerry is taking...

posted by: Bithead on 03.11.04 at 02:55 PM [permalink]

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