“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

British MI 5, Not As Intelligent As We Would Hope .

Serial killers, scam artists and politicians have a least one thing in common, the knowledge about the naivety of the common folk. People want to trust. They want to believe. How many times have you heard a caller on talk radio or c-span say “the President knows things we do not” or someone in authority has a wider or deeper insight into complex events. People get their beliefs from some facts and one big pile of fiction. Nowhere is that more prevalent than in the almost childlike belief in the process and ability of the intelligence services. In most cases these services have a lot of information but a paltry compilation of useable and developed intelligence. But hope springs eternal in the human breast or brain or somewhere. The latest grasp at hope is the little gem that “We never hear about all the successes because they can’t tell”. That is usually followed shortly by the teeth-cracking phrase, “at the end of the day”.

Fraser Nelson has some bad news for the wishfully thinking gifted crowd. He writes in The Spectator about the British spy icons MI5 and MI6. This section caught my eye:

...In the document, Islamic terrorism is explained in terms of social exclusion. ‘Most Muslims suffer high levels of disadvantage,’ it says — as if this were somehow a reason to blow yourself up on the London Underground. Amazingly, the Sure Start nursery scheme, Mr Brown’s pet project, is billed as a means of helping to defeat terrorism by promoting ‘cohesion in communities’. Of course, the biographies of the London bombers disproved the deprivation theory: they included university graduates, keen cricketers and teachers. One had been received in the House of Commons by an MP. Like the 9/11 bombers, they were not drawn from the underclass.

For more than a year, Mr Blair has known that his terrorism strategy is useless. Last autumn the No. 10 Delivery Unit handed him a confidential report based on an investigation into the way in which Project Contest was seen within Whitehall. Its findings were devastating. ‘The strategy is immature,’ the document said. ‘Forward planning is disjointed or has yet to occur. Accountability for delivery is weak. Real world impact is seldom measured.’ This is what intelligence officials — from Special Branch to the Ms and Qs of Whitehall — thought of their marching orders. Yet, staggeringly, Project Contest has survived for want of a better idea...

Perhaps you need to read the entire thing. If you believe the American services are much better then perhaps at the end of the day, it will be the end of the day.

The Spectator You may have to log-in

Fiasco Royale: Labour’s ineptitude
Fraser Nelson

Throughout their history, James Bond films have shown an eerie ability to predict national security threats. Dr No (1962) looked beyond the Cold War towards a new brand of international terrorism. In Goldfinger (1964) the menace was rogue nuclear weapons, and in Moonraker (1979), biological warfare. In Casino Royale, released this week, Bond fights terrorists by cutting off their sources of funding — precisely the mission which Gordon Brown has set himself in real life. The tragedy for Britain is that this time both 007 and the Chancellor have got it wrong.

The premise of the 21st Bond film is only marginally more fanciful than the Treasury’s. Both believe that extremism requires huge funds — and that it can be conquered by tracking down the terrorists’ banker (Bond) or shutting their bank accounts (Brown). Yet the intelligence community’s problem is that the terrorists cannot be tracked or controlled in such a way: as we have seen time and again, they require almost no resources, just the promise of untold bounty in Paradise. And the security service has lost years in this deadly race because the government has dithered for so long.

The fiasco of Tony Blair’s terror strategy has been one of the best-kept secrets in Whitehall. As a matter of principle, the Prime Minister never answers questions about MI5 or MI6 — although he enjoys flaunting what he claims is his close relationship with the ‘professionals’. Those affected by his years of indecision have tended to keep their counsel. But fractured pieces of information can be collated to form a wider picture of chaos, disharmony and a sense of betrayal. I wrote a brief item about this in a newspaper last weekend, and found the response remarkable. Since then, I have spoken to a range of sources who concur that the problem is grave and that much of the blame should be attributed to indecisive politicians...


  1. 2164th quoth Fraser Nelson:

    Yet the intelligence community’s problem is that the terrorists cannot be tracked or controlled in such a way: as we have seen time and again, they require almost no resources, just the promise of untold bounty in Paradise.

    This is not precisely true. Gunning down an El Al check-in attendant is cheap, but a mega-terror event like 9-11 requires a great deal of money getting all the players trained and in place while ensuring that comms are secure. And the people who al-Quada would likely resort to dealing with (ie. the Mob) are greedy bass tards who would need huge payoffs to clam up.

  2. Well, Ms T
    Mr Bush, the CiC and I guess by extention, your boss, says this about the amounts of money required to strike US. He said this 5 Sep 06 and is available on the White House website.

    ".... Bin Laden calls this his "bleed-until-bankruptcy plan." And he cited the attacks of 9/11 as evidence that such a plan can succeed. With the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden says, "al Qaeda spent $500,000 on the event, while America… lost -- according to the lowest estimate -- $500 billion… Meaning that every dollar of al Qaeda defeated a million dollars” of America. Bin Laden concludes from this experience that "America is definitely a great power, with… unbelievable military strength and a vibrant economy, but all of these have been built on a very weak and hollow foundation." He went on to say, "Therefore, it is very easy to target the flimsy base and concentrate on their weak points, and even if we're able to target one-tenth of these weak points, we will be able [to] crush and destroy them."

    Now, maybe, in your circle of friends $500,000 may be considered a "great deal of money". In mine it is an average real estate deal or a couple months of cash flow.
    In the Mohammedan circles it's just 1,000 barrels of crude.

    There were twenty terrorists in the 9-11 cells, $25,000 per man. Peanut dough.

    That is why, even if the US were to get of the teat of ME oil the threat will remain, if not intensify, as the Mohammedans really become "impoverished", financially.

  3. Desert Rat, I wish to unveil to you a great secret about spending money by reminding you that the Apollo moon program cost $24 billion dollars, but this money was not left out on the Sea of Tranquility on pallets by Neil and Buzz. All of it was spent or invested by aerospace employees from Florida to Alabama to Texas, and by innumerable contractors. This amazing dynamic (which recycles technological know-how as well as spending power) is not available to also-rans like al-Qaeda. Every penny they spent to execute their plan was money that went to Western airlines, pilot schools, cell phone companies, and the like.

  4. To answer Rat's question from the previous thread. Folks, Dubya lost the Center on the War. The Dems didn't offer a plan; they didn't have to. The people just wanted a "Change."

    Sometimes it's as simple as "That guy CAN'T DO ANY WORSE!" Bush lost the Center.

    Then comes the border. Here, Bush was where the American people were at, "to a point." They wanted a fence, or at least some form of border enforcement. Bush's policy got a little dicey, here; but again, he was off base with the center.

    Then comes the "Comprehensive" part of the plan. Here, Bush was DEFINITELY with the American people. Poll, after poll, showed that they wanted some sort of "Guest Worker, path to Citizenship" type plan. But, here's where the Right part of the "Base" ran away from the people.

    In short, it was a "Clusterfuck" of Magnificent Proportions.

  5. The far right gave us Clinton. The far left gave us Bush.

    Now, after beating up on their Center-Right President for a solid year, or so, the far right has managed to put the Dems back in the Congress. This, in spite of the fact, that the far left was trying to let us retain it (Lamont-Lieberman.)

  6. Money and technology are both fungible, Ms T.
    If it's on the market, the Mohammeans can buy it. In Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
    The $500,000 the Mohammedans spent was miniscule to the scale of the loss inflicted. Where ever the Mohammedans bought their tools.

    As long as the Mohammedan have the desire to strike the US, they can.
    It has not been their interest to, in deed it may never have been their scheme, a second, third or more waves of assailants. Or so they've said.

    The Mohammedans wanted to catch the US on a strip of Mohammedan "fly paper". Instead of being causght on just one strip, we've chosen to get stuck on two.

    All the while claiming, in the Law, that these US actions are unrelated. The Supreme "Hamadan" Decision and the Congressional response to it proves the point.

  7. The problem is not identifying who the Jihadis are, that's the easy part. The problem is having the political aegis to do what is needed. And as long as Jihadi money corrupts the news media and the political system, this problem will remain. Putin is correct in killing the Jihadi and Leftist corruption trying to undermine operations in Chechnya.

  8. Again you miss the point on Immigration, rufus.

    The prudent move would have been to pass, earily on in the debate, the funding for increased enforcemnt of the current laws.
    Then push for reform. Of both the Security and Guest Worker portions of the program.

    The "Path to Citizenship" was the sticking point, that Mr Bush held the entire Program hostage to. It was that part of it enraged the "base", as you say.

    By enforcing the current law, as was his duty, Mr Bush could have cut the entire issue out of the Election. He refused to compromise on the "new" law soon enough to make a difference, while refusing to enforce the current laws or seek budgeting to enforce it.

  9. The far-right refuses to understand that there was, eventually, going to be a prescription drug benefit for Medicare. The people really wanted it. So, when Bush preempts the argument by implementing a free-enterprise type, market friendly plan, over the hysterical objections of the Democrats who wanted a "Socialized" plan, the Far Right Vilifies him.

    By the way, the cost of that plan is dropping rapidly. It's already down to 4 Billion/mo, which is about half of what it was said that it would cost (and, probably 1/4 of what it would have cost if Bush had waited for a Dem to get it done.)

    It's going to end up costing virtually nothing. You know why? Because it's a hell of a lot cheaper to help a poor senior buy a generic statin than it is to pay for a Quadruple Bypass for that same Senior. The hysterical Bush Hating Conservatives seem to have missed that part.

  10. Rufus:
    I wish you would define the far right. To me, that's not the group that Bush lost. He never had it.

    Also, I always hear the immigration issue framed as border control v. guest worker. I think that's disingenuous. (Not calling you a prevaricator) The issue was "amnesty" as proposed by Bush and the Senate. Having been previously burned by the President on the border issue, (Promised reinforcements for the Border Patrol but never delivered) many if not most people wanted secure borders before a half-assed amnesty program which would reward law breakers and encourage more short term illegal entry.
    The quest worker argument is a red herring because obviously we need what we traditionally recognized as "migrant workers."

  11. Reread what I wrote, Rat. I said that Dubya and the Base both got out of step on immigration. Dubya misread the attitude on enforcement, and the far right base misread the public on the desire for "Comprehensive" reform.

    I still blame the Far Righters. The Comprehensive bill had enforcement in it. If they wanted even stronger enforcement they could have fought for that later.

    They threw out the baby with the bathwater.

  12. Whit, the polls show that the American people do not consider it "Amnesty." They see just as Bush sees it, "A path to Citizenship." The plan made sense to me, and I'm usually pretty close to the Middle.

    Bush's proposal polled 70% American Support. When I speak of the Far-Right, I speak of Pat Buchanan, Tom Tancredo, James Sensinbrenner, et al.

  13. Rufus:
    Your argument for prescription drug benefit sounds a lot like the argument put forward before Congress created HMO's.

    "Health Maintenance is cheaper than sickness repair and will be the answer to sky rocketing insurance costs."

    Well, what happened?

  14. Whit, to me the far-righters are the "Let's send all the brown-skinned people back where they came from" crowd.

  15. Again, rufus, I think you misread the Election, at least here in AZ.
    All the "anti" immigrant Propositions passed. There were four or five of them.

    Mr Graf lost because the "moderate" part of the Party abandoned him, Mr Kolbe would not support the Primary winner. It was not the "Right" that bailed but the "moderates".

    Mr JD, well over 12 years and a stomach staple he developed the reputation as an ass hole, the State had also reGerrymandered the Districts and must have misjudged the effect on JD. He lost by a hair.

  16. Whit, what happened is you opted for an ultra-sound instead of an X-Ray.

  17. Whit, Crestor is 8 times stronger than Zocor, which is, I guess, two or three times stronger than the early statins.

  18. See, whit, I'm no "right winger" I just want to send the law breaking browned skins back to their country of origin. All the legal brown skinned immigrants are welcome. Same goes for white or black skinned folks as well.

    I'd support Mr Pence's proposal on Immigration, allowing most of the self-deportees quick legal reentry.
    Whether that included a "Path to Citizenship" or just a "Legal Worker" status is open to debate.



    That is exactly what the Administration was trying to tell the Pubs before the Primary. He didn't have a Chinaman's chance in hell of winning.

  20. This post on Newt's immigration reform got lost in the kerfuffle over some racist idiot's comments which had to be deleted. The post merits a revisit.

    If 70% of the public wants a "guest worker" program it could be because they didn't know what Bush and the Senate were proposing. Its funny that the House, which is often referred to as most representing the "people" passed the border security bill but refused to go along with Bush and the Senate.

  21. Mr Kolbe was the Independent?
    All this time I thought he was a Republican. A Congressman.

    So the person that cared the least, about the GOP holding the House, the one that voted his "Principles" was Mr Kolbe.

    He bolted from the Party's choice, assuring their loss of the House. He did not think that he should support someone that did not agree with his positions for the "good" of the GOP.

    He'd rather see it sink. Judged by his actions. A Republican Congressman so decided.
    That is where the problem is, rufus. When those that held power do not want to see it's own Party's continuation or control in their absence.

  22. The Federal Party rejects a "Right wing" Congressional candidate, ensuring his defeat.
    While pouring money into Lincoln Chafee's campaign. Lincoln Chafee who will single handedly keep Mr Bolton from an up or down vote in the Senate.

    That's your style Republican, aye, rufus? Party loyalty, it's hardly my Party. It belongs to Mr Chafee and Mr Kolbe, much much more than it is mine.

  23. Rat, I would agree that there are assholes spread across the board. Like I said, "The Far Left gave us Bush."

    I'm not familiar on whether there was something "personal" between Kolbe and Graf, but, yes, I would say that he should have supported Graf.

    Having said that, though, I'll say this, "Single issue voters will kill you, and single issue candidates will, as well."

  24. There's only "TWO" Teams, Rat; and, you've GOTTA PLAY!

    We try to teach our children in kindergarten, and at home, that sometimes they have to share (Compromise.)

    Any businessman will tell you that sometimes the choices are (1) Bad, and (2) Goddamn Awful; and, you GOTTA PICK ONE!

  25. Well, what happened is a lot of people, for whatever reason, pitched a hissy fit, put their own selfish reasons front and center, and helped the GODDAMNED AWFUL PARTY GET ELECTED.

  26. The American people aren't all brain surgeons, but they're smart enough to know that you're not going to load up 11 Million People and ship them back to Mexico.

    As a result, the failure to reach a "Compromise" looked like Lunacy of the First Order.

  27. Look, there's a family of Mexicans that opened a really nice Mexican Restaurant here in Hernando, Ms. The Food is excellent, the Prices are very, very affordable, the Margueritas are Great, and the Service is "Outstanding."

    I know most of those young guys running around bringing me this great food in a big-time hurry are probably "Illegals," and I don't give a Damn. My life is "Better" as a result of what they're doing.

    AND, THAT is the Picture that MOST Americans have of Mexicans. They're making our life more pleasant. AND, WE LIKE THEM!

    It's hard to get elected "Running" against something like that.

  28. Yep, you like having wage slaves service your needs, rufus.
    Workers not covered by Social Security nor minimum wage, labor and safety laws.
    Suits your style and you like it. The fruits of lawlessness are tasty to rufus and his clan.

    Enforce the law, rufus, bring your MexiCali food service supplier into legal compliance and their economic advantage dissappears.
    Then it's back to Denny's Grand Slam for value dining.

  29. rufus said;

    Well, what happened is a lot of people, for whatever reason, pitched a hissy fit, put their own selfish reasons front and center, and helped the GODDAMNED AWFUL PARTY GET ELECTED.

    At least the piglets at the feeding trough in this Congress will pay-as-they-go rather than charge it to Red Flag Payday Loans and Chop Suey, and have my nieces and nephews pick up the tab.

  30. At least the piglets at the feeding trough in this Congress will pay-as-they-go rather than charge it to Red Flag Payday Loans and Chop Suey, and have my nieces and nephews pick up the tab.

    I seriously doubt it.

  31. Yeah, if you believe that I've got some "pet" water moccassins I want to sell you. "They won't bite; I Promise."

  32. rufus wrote:

    Yeah, if you believe that I've got some "pet" water moccassins I want to sell you. "They won't bite; I Promise."

    They sure as hell won't after I turn them into land moccasins and walk a few miles in 'em.