Not By Law Enforcement Alone

The Manchester bombing illustrates two failures of the current model for addressing terrorist activities.  One is the gathering and analysis of information. All well and good. But the information has a shelf life, and if it isn’t exploited, it is wasted. A group of bloggers some of whom write for have targeted Internet jihadis by making hosting services follow their terms of service to shut down sites that advocate violence. Analysis versus Action

The actions of the “jawas” have not always met with official approval. They note:

But the idea is not that you can totally eliminate all terrorist content. You could apply the expression herding cats. There has to be some balance.Sure you need to limit expose as much as you can. But not too much as they will become resistant. While at the same time gathering intelligence and countering the extremist message.

But at the same time as we saw in Manchester intelligence that is not acted on is wasted effort. The bomber was, of course, being monitored, he’s generating blips. And of course, all analysts want more blips. it’s their deal. But in the end, the judgment that the danger he posed was less than the value of what was learned was off. Incorrect. So we have to turn that knob up a little bit. We have to change the judgment. All the signs were there.

I watched this same dynamic at work while working narcotics investigations. Crime analysts make their bones by gathering information from a variety of sources. If they are successful, they will hand the criminal investigator the thread that reveals all. Given their druthers, they would preserve that thread forever. Criminal Investigators are looking for a thread to pull; one that will unravel an entire conspiracy. The conflict between the two camps arises in the action phase of the investigation.

There is an inherent conflict between the two camps. If the investigator exploits the information, gained by the analysts, they run the risk of exposing the source of information and shutting down the flow of information. There are tricks and strategies to obscure the origin of the information, but no guarantees.  The analysts want a solid gold guarantee. The conflict leads to paralysis by analysis where nothing gets done. My attitude was and is the analysis is secondary to the mission goals taking out the bad guy.

About this time, somebody is going to bring up Coventry, England. During WWII, the British broke the German Enigma Code. All German war communications were transmitted using the Enigma Code. The Codebreakers learned that the Germans intended to bomb Coventry. It was feared that any evacuation, shifting of fighter planes or other proactive action would tell the Germans that their communications were no longer secure. Churchill ordered that nothing be done. Coventry was bombed with devastating results. This is a lesson illustrating the difference between Strategic Intelligence and Tactical Intelligence and has nothing to do with the situation we are faced with nowThe second failure is that the terrorists are at war with the west. The west is not at war with the terrorists. The West has tried to address terrorism as a law enforcement issue, it is not. The fight against terrorism is a military action.

It is acceptable to send an armed drone after four ISIS fighters, who at the moment of their demise, are doing nothing more than driving down the street in Ramadi. It should be equally acceptable to send a Special Forces operator into a local Hadji Mart, run by an ISIS recruiter, to paint the walls with the recruiter’s blood brains and eyeballs. As George S Patton pointed out: “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.”

During WWII, before the United States entry into the war. The British moved their Intelligence establishment to the United States. Once here, British agents discovered that German agents were moving about freely. The United States wasn’t at war with Germany. The British were. Pretty soon German agents were falling off of tall buildings and bridges, jumping in front of subway trains, buses, trucks, and taxis. Never underestimate the value of mass transportation in combating terrorism.

The targeted killing of terrorists has an added advantage in that the manner of killing does more to disrupt the remaining operation than a law enforcement action. An arrest or even a gun battle with law enforcement signals the rest of the organization that they have been compromised allowing members time to get away. A traffic accident, street mugging, fire, drowning may trigger flight, or it could cause the remaining cell members to hesitate as they try to figure out whether their operation has been compromised.

War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want. William Tecumseh Sherman