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Ever since September 11, 2001, the US government has been using military force to pursue and destroy avowed and suspected al Qaeda terrorists via a Congressional authorization passed immediately after the attacks on New York and Washington D.C.  However, with the death of Osama Bin Laden, and the decimation of al Qaeda's ability to stage organized, large-scale terrorist attacks, the US has begun to experience diminishing security returns on its use of force due to a rapidly dwindling pool of credible and significant targets, as well as an increase in the negative geopolitical consequences of continuing in a military capacity.  According to a Guardian article, one of the Obama administration's top legal figures, Jeh Johnson - General Counsel to the Department of Defense - has said we may be approaching a point where the 2001 legal authorization is put to rest: In essence, when the so-called War on Terror ends, and we return to dealing with terrorism via law enforcement and, in more extreme cases, covert actions rather than explicit warfare.

We are all well aware of the political habit of never ending a nebulous war that serves the interests of power - after all, huge factions of the federal bureaucracy still insist that we are waging a "War on Drugs" despite its overwhelming objective failure, expense, and destructiveness over decades - but given the prominence of Jeh Johnson and the tremendous political capital being enjoyed by the Obama administration, I think there is reasonable cause to hope that at some point we may see victory declared in this "war" in all but name.  Obviously the actual word "victory" will not be used, since terrorism will always exist, and any moronic street thug in the Arab world with an Islamist bent can namedrop al Qaeda to get attention and make themselves feel important, but for all intents and purposes victory may be acknowledged and implemented in fact.

Most Americans, who in general aren't especially conversant in these matters, probably already consider the matter settled since Osama Bin Laden was killed, but many of the more informed people - as well as governments and activists abroad - have been troubled, if not enraged, by the ongoing drone war in places like Pakistan and Yemen.  If we do indeed reach a point where we can say that the pool of terrorist talent has been so decimated that the targets being shot are literally a waste of ammunition - which seems to be the implication of Johnson's remarks - then, as much as there would be resistance in certain communities (e.g., the CIA) to giving up the power the drone war had given them, it is very much credible that it could be officially ended, and soon.

While this is obviously not guaranteed, and we could expect plenty of resistance and blowback from the usual suspects, if it were to happen, and if the administration follows through on its plans to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, that would mean this is the first administration in history to end three wars - leaving Iraq, passing off the war against the taliban in Afghanistan to Afghans, and decisively winning the main event, the war on the terrorist insurgency that attacked us on 9/11.  Now, clearly a quiet end is more likely than triumphalism and fanfare, since the latter would be discredited if anything at all ever happens again from Islamic terrorists on American soil, but the accomplishment would be none the lesser.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  A Good thng. (16+ / 0-)

    Perhaps we can end the odious "Patriot Act" also.

    I'm glad Barack Obama is our President.

    by TomP on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 02:33:59 AM PST

    •  I kinda doubt that. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, TomP, Lujane

      while banks, in particular, would love to see it repealed, most of the bill is permanent.  the few parts that are subject to periodic extension may well lapse, though, but I'd be surprised if the permanent provisions were repealed.

    •  I finally got up enough money (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simplify, wu ming, Lujane, DvCM, Troubadour

      to hire a lawyer (day before yesterday) to do the legwork for a name change due to the 'odious' Patriot Act extension of 2006 that declared all forms of identification must now match the name on your Social Security card exactly.

      Got mine when I was 15, using school records for ID since I didn't have a copy of my birth certificate. My parents named me after an aunt, but my nursemaid called me by a pet name that became the only name I ever went by, and my parents enrolled me in school with that name first. I was born in a foreign country (Navy brat) but am a full citizen and have lived in the U.S. since I was 9 months old, no problem.

      SS refused to change my name so it would match the one on my driver's license, voter registration, bank account, marriage license and birth certificate - told me point blank that I "do not exist" until I get a legal name change. Tried to get my license name changed to the one on the SS card, the state told me the same thing. Even though I have a file full of documentation (including school records since kindergarten) to show that ALL the names I've ever used are in fact my 'legal' names. Or, were until 2006.

      I will be filing for Social Security next year, but haven't had the thou or so it'll take to do the legal deed. It has been both deeply insulting and outrageously burdensome (since I can no longer drive so can't just go to town any old time) as well as prohibitively expensive to try and comply with the government's criminalization of one little old (white) lady... who they tell me no longer exists. Ooohhh... scary!

      Sigh. Now that I've saved up enough to waste on a legal name change so I can get the SS I've been paying into for more than half a century (instead of using it for frivolous things like food, clothing and shelter), they'll no doubt change the law to exempt old folks from the burden. Catch-22.

  •  The wars on drugs and terrorism, (10+ / 0-)

    have saddled us with draconian laws and bureaucracies that do more damage to the national psyche than the problems they were created to deal with.  

    If they ended the drug war and rolled back every so-called "terrorism" bill passed since 9/11, we'd be a better country and in no more danger.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 03:32:04 AM PST

    •  as far as the war on drugs goes, when you stop (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sceptical observer, Troubadour

      arresting them then the statistics do go down...

      personally I still don't think it should be legal to sell alcohol, tobacco, pot, or anything else adults do to teenagers, up until 18. After that, if they can fight and die for their country, they deserve every right an adult has.

      When I ran for  my State House in 2008 various entities kept asking me if I would support medical marijuana. I said I support that about as far as I support medical alcohol and getting a prescription for your weekly carton of cigarettes. In other words, no, I support leaving marijuana alone for adults, and ending any subsidies that support tobacco.

      •  I don't think I've heard of anyone advocating (3+ / 0-)

        drug, alcohol or tobacco use by minors but, if minors do get caught using, I don't think jail's the answer. Fining them, grounding them or putting them on probation and/or community service should suffice until they turn eighteen.

        The adult who supplied them is another story.

        this left me confused.

        asking me if I would support medical marijuana. I said I support that about as far as I support medical alcohol and getting a prescription for your weekly carton of cigarettes. In other words, no
        You don't support medical Marijuana?

        "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

        by sceptical observer on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:49:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Fave conundrum: Is an illegal war legally a war? (5+ / 0-)

    Congress has the power to declare war, but didn't — they gave the President the final say on whether to strike. Also, the USA conducted this war against individuals and groups in many nations, some "friendly" and some not, as opposed to against a nation or group of nations. So, the USA conducted the "war on terror"/GSAVE/etc. outside of what the Constitution provides. It's my view that the government doesn't have the legal authority to do that. Yet because this principle seems uncommonly held, and because Congress is glad to cede the responsibility, Presidents willfully and readily use power outside of law. Hence the existence of the lawless and extraterritorial Guantanamo Bay prison.

    What would it take for the people to assert this principle, that government only has the powers that the written social contract provides, and no more? Seems like it would take a new constitution.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 03:32:12 AM PST

    •  congress declared war via the aumf. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      •  That's exactly my point, though: they did not. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, native, enhydra lutris

        AUMF stands for the Authorization of Use of Military Force. (There were two, one ostensibly for Afghanistan and the other for Iraq.) An AUMF is when Congress says, "Here, Mr. President, you decide whether to attack. By the way, we don't want to be responsible if this war goes sour." I believe this is an unconstitutional abrogation of responsibility by Congress, a handoff of power to the President not countenanced in the intended structure of out government.

        In the same way, in the 1990s Congress tried to give the President the line-item veto, i.e. the power to edit budget bills, but the Supreme Court struck it down, and rightfully so.

        Note that John Kerry used the exact argument above during his 2004 campaign. He said he gave Bush 43 the power to go to war but didn't mean for him to use it so enthusiastically. That was what "for it before I was against it" was all about. Perhaps if Kerry and the rest of Congress had to actually, formally, and publicly decide on whether to go to war, a majority would've voted no, and we wouldn't have spent a decade destroying Iraq.

        Process does matter.

        Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

        by Simplify on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:19:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  they seem the same to me (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour, Sky Net

          if congress authorizes military force, I don't see any functional difference between that and an identical declaration of congress that includes the words "declaration of war."

          SCOTUS has agreed (although this opinion may have been a plurality; I don't remember, so it'd be fair to rejoin that it wasn't a holding or a holding of the majority).  I believe the first big war on terra SCOTUS decision (Hamdan?) relied on the fact that the AUMF was, for all intents & purposes, a declaration of war that triggers the executive's ability to prosecute war (and make use of the incidental powers thereto, which was held to include the power to detain)

  •  Once administrations have tasted (5+ / 0-)

    the benefits of exercising a tool of power, it becomes addictive.

    Obama did not jettison Bush's invasion of civil liberties, and this and future administrations will not lightly give up the use of drones, "war" or no "war".

    A definition is the enclosing of a wilderness of ideas within a wall of words -- Samuel Butler

    by A Mad Mad World on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:18:50 AM PST

  •  11 years later, (4+ / 0-)

    can we not finally treat terrorism as a law enforcement matter, as we should have done from the beginning in the face of conservative ridicule?

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:24:49 AM PST

  •  We can only hope... (5+ / 0-)

    Attacking a little band of criminals because the perpetrators died with their victims is a stupid reason to start a war against a little band of criminals.

    It was my belief from the beginning that international law enforcement should go after them, not the US military.

    The stupidity of the last eleven years has known no bounds.

    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity;
    and I'm not sure about the universe.
    -- Albert Einstein

    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:36:19 AM PST

    •  How does law enforcement go after them? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster, Troubadour
      •  Interpol. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wu ming, NonnyO, Simplify

        Within days of 9?11, nearly every country in the world including Iran, Cuba, the Taliban(!) and many other "enemies" offered full cooperation with our police forces if we were to go the criminal prosecution route. BushCheney spat in their outstretched hands.
        The Al Qaeda gang left a trail that any decent detective could have followed. Lots of that trail was already found and reported to the FBI (see "Coleen Rowley" for details). With help from Germany, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, we could have wrapped the whole gang up in short order.
        And the world would have cooperated with us happily.
        Of course, that would have "wasted" the "opportunity" to invade Iraq.

        If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

        by CwV on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:36:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Evidence of Taliban cooperation? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          •  You'd have to go back to news archives (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            from the day.
            We were in negotiation with the Taliban at the time, I believe Bush had given them $50 million for their cooperation in the war on drugs and there were in negotiations around the routing of a Conoco pipeline.

            If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

            by CwV on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 01:05:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The US issued an ultimatum. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              From CNN:

              By aiding and abetting murder, the Taliban regime is committing murder. And tonight the United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban:

              -- Deliver to United States authorities all of the leaders of Al Qaeda who hide in your land.

              -- Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens you have unjustly imprisoned.

              -- Protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your country.

              -- Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. And hand over every terrorist and every person and their support structure to appropriate authorities.

              -- Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so we can make sure they are no longer operating.

              These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion.

              When did the Taliban indicate any accession to these demands?
              •  "President Bush forcefully rejected ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                another offer from the Taliban today to begin talks about the surrender of Osama bin Laden..."
                WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 2001

                If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

                by CwV on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 01:39:13 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Just so I'm clear. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  You're arguing that Taliban's refusal to accede to American demands and counteroffer (issued only after strikes commenced) to hand over Bin Laden to a neutral third country constitutes good faith cooperation?

                •  The taliban "cooperation" was bullshit. (0+ / 0-)

                  Let me present a scenario to you:

                  A group of neo-Nazis blow up a gathering of Jews, killing thousands.  The ones responsible, who everyone knows are responsible, and who brag about being responsible, are holed up in a KKK compound.  The KKK have been supporting them for years, and have committed similar, tough less extreme acts of violence.  The KKK offer to put the neo-Nazis on trial themselves if we can provide convincing evidence, but are vague about whether they are willing to deliver them.  Do you dick around with these assholes or give them a simple deadline to hand them over, then attack when it passes?

                  In Roviet Union, money spends YOU!

                  by Troubadour on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 01:03:45 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Enforcement within what the law (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wu ming, NonnyO

        provides under the Constitution, and what other countries can support us with through diplomacy.

        Beyond that and defensive measures, the government should not act. That's the price of living in a free country.

        Or we could choose not to be free...

        Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

        by Simplify on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:51:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  ^^^What CwV said....^^^ (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The criminals used low-tech "weapons" (box cutters) to hijack four planes [hijacking is a federal offense] to murder nearly 3000 people [all felony offenses; that they committed suicide in the process meant there was no one to "go after" as the people who committed such heinous acts], and do extensive property damage in the process [more felonies].

        All of these things are criminal offenses.  Done by a little rag-tag group of 19 men with box cutters who acted alone (or maybe on orders from the gang's leader), definitely not on orders from any country's leaders (since they were outlaws in their own countries), does NOT constitute an "act of war."

        There was NO reason to call out the military.  I know Moronic Media never gives numbers and makes Al Quaida sound like there are millions of members, but that was never true.  Within two months of Christiane Amanpour taking over This Week she had a muckety muck general/Pentagon type on, asked, since there had been any number of #2 types killed, how many Al Quaeda members there were still left, pressed him on it when he gave a vague answer, and finally he said "fewer than 100."  My guess is that there were never more than 500, at most, and probably a great deal fewer than that.

        Going after a criminal gang with the full might of the US military in a country in which we had no business invading is over-kill, and illegal, unjustified, unconstitutional, and likely constitutes an act of war.  Invading Iraq based on lies to acquire oil was most definitely an illegal and unconstitutional act of war, and Dumbya and Dickie should have been impeached..., then turned over to The Hague for war crimes prosecution.  [Why Congress authorized money to carry out the folly of illegally and unconstitutionally invading two countries without justification is another mystery entirely.  They are accomplices, at the very least.]

        Staying there and acting like imperial overlords is outrageous.  [Who trained their people before the US got there and now uses the excuse that they're training people to stay there?  Stop treating adult people like children.]

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 11:28:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There was every justification (0+ / 0-)

          both legal and moral to militarily wipe out al Qaeda in Afghanistan and remove the taliban insurgency that supported them.  

          In Roviet Union, money spends YOU!

          by Troubadour on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 01:07:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Perhaps (0+ / 0-)

            But Dumbya's and Dickie's phrase of justification, parroted by Moronic Media, was often "to go after the ones who committed 9/11," and the ones alive in Afghanistan (fanatic paranoid criminals like OBL that they are/were) are not the 19 who did the actual killing of almost 3K people that day.  [Other than OBL's say-so, do we actually have independent proof that he planned that operation?  OBL was a megalomaniac who wanted attention; how do we know he had anything to do with 9/11? The ones who did the dirty deeds are dead, and no one can gainsay a fanatic who wanted to be known as the world's most infamous criminal, so when he claims credit, no one contradicts him... apparently so he could spread the word of what he envisioned as an ideal world rule based on his interpretation of Islam.]

            The 19 hijackers and murderers all died with their victims.  There was no one to "go after" to put on trial and sentence to prison (or execute) for their monstrous crimes.

            That fanatic paranoid criminal gang members like AQ who think the whole world is against them because of their religion that they want to impose on the whole world do deserve death for the deaths they cause and the mayhem they bring to people who only want to live in peace.  I agree with that.  But why on earth does the US have to be the Imperialistic Big Brother of the planet and invade with our military?  We're all the poorer for that.

            Technically, the world is/was blissfully unaware of AQ's existence..., until they committed some monstrous criminal acts using guerrilla warfare tactics and killed innocent people.  For killing innocents (over and over and over), yes, they do deserve death.

            They want to be noticed.  They want us to drain our treasury and borrow money in search of them.  That weakens us as a nation.  Why are we giving them what they want?

            Every army since Alexander the Great has been defeated in that region because the criminals can disappear in those mountains, come out to commit guerrilla warfare actions of some sort, then disappear again.  So..., what are we going to do?  Level the mountains of Afghanistan to defeat a small gang of criminals?

            Idiot Dumbya is likely the one who gave the orders to let OBL go when they had him cornered in Tora Bora.  WHY?  That just made us stay in that hellhole longer.  If OBL had been captured then, that soon, the "war" in Afghanistan would have been over.  It was somehow to Dumbya and Dickie's benefit to keep their "war" going longer.

            Well, we've been there over ten years now..., OBL is dead (mission accomplished), most of AQ and the Taliban and many innocents are dead.  Killing innocents with drone bombs has not done us any favors and gained us more enemies, likely people who think OBL was correct.  Killing innocents is a great way of helping OBL recruit people to his side, even though he's dead.

            The US military does NOT need to "train" Afghanis how to kill their own.  Saying we "need" to stay there to train their armies is ridiculous.  They are adults; they trained themselves before we arrived; they can go back to training themselves when we leave.

            There remains no actual "need" for us to stay in Afghanistan.

            Let's leave.  Immediately.

            I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

            by NonnyO on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 01:42:35 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  War on Terror was a misnomer (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify, native, enhydra lutris

    Terrorism is a tactic. It's a war against radical islam--but not so stated due to political correctness. And it's not over.

  •  The term "radical Islam" is imprecise and (0+ / 0-)

    confusing, especially if it's used to define what we are declaring war against. And the term "terrorism" isn't any better.

    Part of our problem derives from the fact that we've got our vocabulary so screwed up, that we don't even know what we're talking about any more, let alone whom or what we are fighting.

    Even the word "war" has been debased to the point where it doesn't mean anything like what it used to mean. That hasn't stopped politicians and pundits from throwing it around like a lethal beanbag, though.

    You can't wage war against a theology, or against a tactic, or a particular group of drugs, no matter how pernicious any of these things might be.

    It would be helpful if leaders and pundits could stop bloviating long enough to study up on whatever it is they want to change, so that a cooler and more rational outlook might emerge.

    "The pessimists may be right in the end but an optimist has a better time getting there" -- Samuel Clemons

    by native on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:28:49 AM PST

    •  But that would reduce the power (0+ / 0-)

      of international corporate owners and war profiteers who benefit from fearful, irrational public opinion. Stampedes benefit someone.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:53:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  True, there will always be powerful people to (0+ / 0-)

        incite panic and encourage irrationality. But that doesn't mean their opinions necessarily need to dominate the public discourse, or that their objectives necessarily need to prevail.

        The fact that they do dominate, and that they have prevailed, is not clear evidence that they always will.

        "The pessimists may be right in the end but an optimist has a better time getting there" -- Samuel Clemons

        by native on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 10:12:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  We shall see (0+ / 0-)

    The surest sign that it is ending would be closing Guantanamo bay.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 02:40:04 PM PST

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