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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Counter Terror Considerations

The two MOST effective categories of strategy for dealing with terrorists are “Violent and Non-violent Covert Operations” supported by “Intelligence Gathering Operations”. . It must be emphasized that no combination of measures will end terrorism permanently, but the amount of damages that terrorists can inflict can be minimized.

Why do I assert that terror will never end? History demonstrates that humans hold a capacity for irrational hatred and irrational political views. In this country, for example, the KKK has been subdued and reformed several times. The Klan was subdued in the 1870's, in part by the Justice Department which was formed for that purpose, ”By the mid-1870's the federal government had eradicated Klan violence— the Klan had virtually ceased to exist” (Illinois Legislative Investigating Commission, 1976, p. 11) It was reformed in the 1920's and succumbed to social opposition by the 1930's, reformed again in the 1960's to be subdued once more by the FBI's COINTELPRO operations, and finally “subsequent to the third wave, the Klan unsuccessfully attempted another resurgence in the mid-1970s/early 1980s but was snuffed out before a campaign could be triggered” (Brister, 2011, p. v). The Klan is active again today. A cynical person (e.g., me) might claim that there is no bottom to the well of human stupidity. And because stupidity (or irrationality) is so often borne out in violence, we can predict there will be no end of terror. “Counterterrorism should be seen not as an effort to rid the world of terrorism, but as an ongoing struggle to constrict the operating environment in which terrorists raise funds, procure documents, engage in support activities, and conduct attacks” (Levitt, 2004, p.33).

Returning to the two most effective strategies that can minimize terror activity, we see that covert operations and intelligence are often symbiotic. We can also include “Surgical Strikes” as a component of covert operations in the sense of targeted assassinations; if not in the sense of drone strikes. Zussman, Zussman, & Yisrael found that “assassinating members of Palestinian terrorist organizations was a major element in Israel’s counterterrorism effort” (2005, p.24); however, they qualified this assertion to exclude low level terrorists in that “It is reasonable to assume that an assassination would be most effective in reducing the capabilities of a terrorist organization if the target is a senior leader with specialized knowledge and skills”(2005, p.4). The selection of terror leaders is often referred to as a “kingpin” strategy, “The strategy can also be applied to counter terrorism; referring to the strategy of targeting terrorist leaders in an attempt to disrupt illicit networks”(Jones, 2013, p.157). Jones concludes “Kingpin strategies can effectively disrupt and fragment an illicit network” (2013, p. 170). Price confirms this by asserting that “The violent, clandestine, and values-based nature of terrorist groups makes them particularly susceptible to leadership decapitation” (2012, p. 22). However, specific targeting of terrorists that provide value to their organization is required; “The undiscerning use of force in terrorism can be as productive as cutting off one of hydra’s heads”(Barba, 2014, p.62). Intelligence is crucial to this. The purpose of proper intelligence is “to support operations (whether of a police,military, or covert nature) in defense of national security. To accomplish these two missions, intelligence organizations carry out—and must integrate—four primary functions: collection, analysis, counterintelligence, and covert action” (Boraz & Bruneau, 2006, p. 29). Intelligence is needed for effective covert action, and effective intelligence may need covert action in order to be generated.

The disadvantages of covert operations and intelligence are primarily political in nature. Public criticism of counterterrorism operations and strategies can be based on partisan grounds; one can “ask whether President Obama broke campaign promises regarding counterterrorism policies, or if the expectations that Bush Administration critics had for Obama were completely unrealistic”(Yin, 2011, p.496). Schuurman “argues that in counterterrorism campaigns, significant fluuctuations in popular support for the government and its non-state adversaries represent critical junctions which can create the necessary conditions for either a marked escalation or a significant de-escalation of violence”(2013, p.153). A specific example of this phenomenon lies in the public reaction to the Phoenix program, which targeted the Viet Cong political network, and for which the “United States did pay a heavy political price, both domestically and internationally” (Rosenau & Long, 2009, p.14).

It should be noted that covert operations and intelligence are not the only strategies that can be effective in combating terror, and that they can be combined with other strategies. Barba notes that “it is very important that all instruments of statecraft work in harmony and cooperate for such a strategy to work satisfactorily”(2014, p.63), and Weisman supports the position in that “any effective counterterrorism strategy is likely to involve a significant number of fairly complex elements”(2009, p.13). The third most effective strategy would be “Political Pressure” in the specific form of propaganda, which would aid in reducing negative public reaction for the counterterrorist position, while reducing public support for the terrorist position. A review of other strategies should include how well they combine for effective response. “Legalistic Policies” are required in domestic counterterror operations, yet “Law enforcement – particularly against terrorists, organized crime or international syndicates – inevitably raises troublesome questions of jurisdiction” (Allard, 2010, p. 90). “War” as a strategy may be used to remove a government that sponsors terrorism, however, “Under most conditions, there are limits to the use of military force against terrorist groups. Most groups are small...making it difficult to engage them with large, conventional forces. “(Jones, 2008, .31). “Violent Suppression” of an entire population may produce short term results in terms of reducing the terrorists' ability to operate, yet be counteractive long-term as it produces conditions in which terrorist recruiting is easy (refer to the discussion above in terms of popular support). ”Surgical Strikes” may range from covert assassination to drone strikes to commando raids. “Target Hardening” is effective for the specific targets protected, but does not make a society safer from terrorism overall, as “terrorists who employ violence to extort political concessions now are understood to be rational actors who respond predictably to changes in their constraints”, and thus will change their targets (Brant & Sandler, 2009, p.3). “Economic Pressures” and “Social Reforms” can be viewed as modes of a political solution, and may not be effective in meeting the demands of an extremist position. “Since 1920, the British government had defined policy in Northern Ireland in terms of containment. In general, this rested upon the belief that a political solution would be necessary in the long run, but that short-term control of terrorist violence was the immediate priority” (Weisman, 2009, p.98).

To summarize, effective counterterrorism policy recognizes that there will always be a risk of terrorism, and that the goal is to minimize- not to end – terrorist activity. Although some strategies are more effective than others, those strategies may only have short-term effects and negative effects may be associated with their use. Overall, there are many strategies that counterterrorist policy makers must consider in the context of the terror group, it's location, it's base of support, and the level of it's extremism.

Allard, K. (2010). Change and the American security paradigm. Orbis, 54(1), 87–96. doi:10.1016/j.orbis.2009.10.010

Barba, P. E. S. (2014, June). Breaking terrorists’ will to fight (Thesis). Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School. Retrieved from https://calhoun.nps.edu/handle/10945/42721

Brant, P. and Sandler, T. ( 2009).What do transnational terrorists target? Has it
changed? Are we safer? The University of Texas, Dallas. Retrieved February 10, 2015 from http://www.utdallas.edu/~tms063000/website/TargetSubstitution-20091003.pdf

Brister, P. D. (2011). Ku Klux rising: Toward an understanding of American right wing terrorist campaigns.(Dissertation). Monterey, California. Naval Postgraduate School Retrieved October 17, 2014 from https://calhoun.nps.edu/handle/10945/10800

Boraz, S. C., & Bruneau, T. C. (2006). Reforming intelligence: Democracy and effectiveness. Journal of Democracy, Volume 17,  Number 3. Retrieved October 17, 2014 from https://calhoun.nps.edu/handle/10945/43134

Illinois Legislative Investigating Commission. (1976). Ku Klux Klan: A Report to the Illinois General Assembly. Retrieved October 10, 2014 from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/Digitization/46433NCJRS.pdf

Jones, N. (2013). The unintended consequences of kingpin strategies: Kidnap rates and the Arellano-Félix Organization. Trends in Organized Crime, 16(2), 156–176. doi:http://dx.doi.org.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/10.1007/s12117-012-9185-x

Jones, S. G. and Libicki, M. (2008). How terrorist groups end: Lessons for countering Al Qa’ida. Santa Monica, CA: RAND. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=268371

Levitt, M. (2004). Untangling the terror web: Identifying and counteracting the phenomenon of crossover between terrorist groups. The SAIS Review of International Affairs, 24(1), 33–48. Retrieved January 24, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/231348224?pq-origsite=summon

Price, B. C. (2012). Targeting top terrorists. International Security, 36(4), 9–46. Retrieved January 17, 2015 from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=74386576&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Rosenau, W., & Long, A. (2009). The Phoenix program and contemporary counterinsurgency. Santa Monica, CA: RAND. Retrieved October 11, 2014 from http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=475072

Schuurman, B. (2013). Defeated by popular demand: Public support and counterterrorism in three Western democracies, 1963–1998. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 36(2), 152–175. doi:10.1080/1057610X.2013.747072

Weisman, E. S. (2009). Learning to win: An examination of counterterrorism in Northern Ireland. Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut. Retrieved October 6, 2014 from http://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1270&context=etd_hon_theses

Yin, T. (2011). Broken promises or unrealistic expectations?: Comparing the Bush and Obama administrations on counterterrorism. Part of the Symposium: Introduction to A Critical Juncture: Human Rights & U.S. Standing in the World Under the Obama Administration, Issue 20:2, 20(2), 465–510.

Zussman, A., Zussman, N., & Yisrael, B. (2005). Targeted killings: Evaluating the effectiveness of a counterterrorism policy. Banḳ Yiśraʼel, Maḥlaḳat ha-meḥḳar. Retrieved Retrieved January 24, 2015 from http://boi.gov.il/deptdata/mehkar/papers/dp0502e.pdf

The President is responsible for all aspects of national security as Commander in Chief.  Of course, he delegates authority to various agencies to perform these functions.  From there, though, counterterror responsibilities get confused.  American government has tended to divide internal security and external security functions as a matter of preventing a military state.  It wasn't even until WWI that the Bureau of Investigation, soon to be the FBI, began keeping book on subversives.  This where Hoover got his start, "in the middle of this hysteria over traitors, spies, and saboteurs" (Powers, 1987, p.47).  Responsibility for security functions gets more complicated with the National Security Act of 1947, although a strict line was drawn in preventing the CIA from operating inside American borders.  Reforms conducted after the Church Committee investigations into domestic intelligence  operations drew additional lines, which may have contributed to the failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks.  Those attacks led to the PATRIOT Act and the creation of the DHS.

The addition of multiple layers of responsibility, and the legality of which agency can operate where, creates a certain level of confusion about which agency is responsible.  In Kolodkin's observation, "international terrorism" is specified. The CIA should not be participating in domestic CT operations.  Adding to the confusion would be defining cartel operations to CT priorities.  If a Mexican national operating within the border of the United States assassinates a law enforcement officer, should this be dealt with as a terror event or as a crime?

Ultimately, it falls back on the President to decide how to deal with terrorist threats, and which agency he should employ to do so within the law.

Powers, R. (1987).
Secrecy and power: The life of J. Edgar Hoover. New York, New York. The Free Press

Intelligence is perhaps the most important element in any operation, including CT operations.  It is telling that almost all of us selected "Intelligence Operations" as one of our two effective tactics.

I think that law enforcement is better suited to share intelligence now.  There was the awful reminder of the intelligence failure of 9/11 and the intelligence reforms post 9/11.  Sims suggests that "one of the US government’s worst intelligence failures during this tragedy was the lack of adequate data fusion and analysis" (2007, p.39).  One development resulting from this has been the implementation of local fusion centers to aid LE in "collecting and disseminating data"  (Fickes, 2008, para. 10).

Thanks for the Best cite, that looks like a good read!

           Fickes, M. (2008, Mar). The power of fusion. Government Security, 7, 12-n/a. Retrieved February 15, 2015  from http://search.proquest.com/docview/195454067?accountid=87314
Sims, J. (2007). Intelligence to counter terror: The importance of all-source fusion. Intelligence & National Security, 22(1), 38–56. doi:10.1080/02684520701200772

I like the question about how a non-violent assault can be committed.  In my studies on the 60's subversives, I have found that "nonviolent" has been used to describe throwing rocks and  bags of urine at policemen, similar to how the "nonviolent" protests in Ferguson resulted in buildings being burned down.  Bu then again, you have to consider that the "news" people are selective about their reporting.  MSNBC's
Melissa Harris-Perry states that "arson and looting . . . are not necessarily violence" (News Busters, 2014, para .2). 

http://newsbusters.org. (2014, December 6). Harris-Perry on 'Burn This B---- Down': Arson, Looting 'Not Necessarily Violence'. News Busters.  Retrieved February 12, 2015 from http://newsbusters.org/blogs/mark-finkelstein/2014/12/06/harris-perry-burn-b-ch-down-arson-looting-not-necessarily-violence

Although this is moving more towards military doctrine than specific counter terror ops, the following does apply interms of applying military power against terrorists:

(LIC = "Low Intensity Conflict"  CAS = "Close Air Support")

"in LIC, having dependable CAS assets allows ground forces to operate with reduced indigenous firepower since they rely on airpower to supply fires previously provided by Army artillery" (Haun, 2006, para. 7).
There is some debate within the Air Force about the appropriate kinds of planes to use for CAS ( the Marines and Army love it when an A-10 Warthog flies in support, but flying Warthogs can be a dead end as far as a pilot's career path), or whether CAS is a priority at all.  Ireton makes the argument that the Air Force "must make the support of US ground forces its tactical thrust by ensuring availability of the effects of combined arms" (2008, para 1).

Haun, P. (2006, Fall). The nature of Close Air Support in Low Intensity Conflict.
Air & Space Power Journal. Retrieved February 15, 2015 from
Ireton, C. T., U.S.A.F. (2008). Shifting the air force's support ideology to exploit combined arms in the close fight. Air & Space Power Journal, 22(4), 85-94,127. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/217769208?accountid=87314

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