The Washington Times notes:
U.S. Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and Chairman of the House’s Homeland Security Committee, said Tuesday that al Qaeda is a greater threat now than it was before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“That is the consensus of most intelligence experts,” he said on CNN’s “Starting Point.”
If King is right, then it shows that America’s anti-terrorism policies since 9/11 have been a dismal failure1.
D’oh! We’re Supporting Terrorists
If Al Qaeda is a greater threat now than before 9/11, maybe it’s because – oh, I don’t know – we’re supporting them?
Our Program of Torture Created Terrorists
In addition, torture creates new terrorists:
- One of the top military interrogators said that torture by Americans of innocent Iraqis is the main reason that foreign fighters started fighting against Americans in Iraq in the first place (and see this).
- Former counter-terrorism czar Richard A. Clarke says that America’s indefinite detention without trial and abuse of prisoners is a leading Al Qaeda recruiting tool
- A former FBI interrogator — who interrogated Al Qaeda suspects — says categorically that torture actually turns people into terrorists
- A 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most senior managerial ranks, says:
Torture creates more terrorists and fosters more acts of terror than it could possibly neutralize.
- A former US Air Force interrogator said that torture just creates more terrorists
- A former U.S. interrogator and counterintelligence agent, and Afghanistan veteran said, “Torture puts our troops in danger, torture makes our troops less safe, torture creates terrorists. It’s used so widely as a propaganda tool now in Afghanistan. All too often, detainees have pamphlets on them, depicting what happened at Guantanamo.”
- The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously stated:
“The administration’s policies concerning [torture] and the resulting controversies … strengthened the hand of our enemies.”
- Two professors of political science have demonstrated that torture increases, rather than decreases, terrorism
- General Petraeus said that torture hurts our national security
- And the reporter who broke Iran-Contra and other stories says that torture actually helped Al Qaeda, by giving false leads to the U.S. which diverted its military, intelligence and economic resources into wild goose chases
So the widespread program of torture under the Bush administration didn’t help.
Our Wars In the Middle East Have Created More Terrorists
Moreover, security experts – including both conservatives and liberals – agree that waging war in the Middle East weakens national security and increases terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.
Killing innocent civilians is one of the main things which increases terrorism. As one of the top counter-terrorism experts (the former number 2 counter-terrorism expert at the State Department) told me, starting wars against states which do not pose an imminent threat to America’s national security increases the threat of terrorism because:
One of the principal causes of terrorism is injuries to people and families.
(Indeed, Al Qaeda wasn’t even in Iraq until the U.S. invaded that country.)
Furthermore, James K. Feldman – former professor of decision analysis and economics at the Air Force Institute of Technology and the School of Advanced Airpower Studies – and other experts say that foreign occupation is the main cause of terrorism
University of Chicago professor Robert A. Pape – who specializes in international security affairs – points out:
Extensive research into the causes of suicide terrorism proves Islam isn’t to blame — the root of the problem is foreign military occupations.
Each month, there are more suicide terrorists trying to kill Americans and their allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Muslim countries than in all the years before 2001 combined.
New research provides strong evidence that suicide terrorism such as that of 9/11 is particularly sensitive to foreign military occupation, and not Islamic fundamentalism or any ideology independent of this crucial circumstance. Although this pattern began to emerge in the 1980s and 1990s, a wealth of new data presents a powerful picture.
More than 95 percent of all suicide attacks are in response to foreign occupation, according to extensive research [co-authored by James K. Feldman - former professor of decision analysis and economics at the Air Force Institute of Technology and the School of Advanced Airpower Studies] that we conducted at the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Terrorism, where we examined every one of the over 2,200 suicide attacks across the world from 1980 to the present day. As the United States has occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, which have a combined population of about 60 million, total suicide attacks worldwide have risen dramatically — from about 300 from 1980 to 2003, to 1,800 from 2004 to 2009. Further, over 90 percent of suicide attacks worldwide are now anti-American. The vast majority of suicide terrorists hail from the local region threatened by foreign troops, which is why 90 percent of suicide attackers in Afghanistan are Afghans.
Israelis have their own narrative about terrorism, which holds that Arab fanatics seek to destroy the Jewish state because of what it is, not what it does. But since Israel withdrew its army from Lebanon in May 2000, there has not been a single Lebanese suicide attack. Similarly, since Israel withdrew from Gaza and large parts of the West Bank, Palestinian suicide attacks are down over 90 percent.
The first step is recognizing that occupations in the Muslim world don’t make Americans any safer — in fact, they are at the heart of the problem.