Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nobel-Winning Scientist Dr. Michael Mann Sues Tim Ball, Frontier Centre, and "John Doe" for Libel!

The Courthouse News Service (3-28-11) reports that the famous climate scientist and Nobel-Prize winner Michael Mann (above) is suing the Canadian global warming denialist Tim Ball, the Winnepeg-based Frontier Centre for Public Policy, and an unnamed "John Doe" for libel. Read the Notice of Civil Claim.
As soon as the plaintiff learns the identity of "John Doe," the Notice of Civil Claim will be amended by substituting the defendant's true name.
"John Doe" is being sued because of a question he asked Ball which suggested, despite many investigations and exonerations of Dr. Mann, that Dr. Michael Mann was guilty of fraud (See The Defamatory Expression #7).
According to the Notice of Civil Claim, the interview was electronically recorded with the permission of all the defendants for the agreed purpose of re-publication to the world on the Frontier Center for Public Policy in the form of text and an electronic recording, which in fact occurred.
Richard Littlemore of DeSmog Blog (3-29-11) explains:
Dr. Michael Mann, Director of the Earth Systems Science Center at Penn State University, is suing the climate change denier Dr. Tim Ball and the think tank/web site Frontier Centre for Public Policy for libel - and particularly for suggesting that Mann is somehow guilty of criminal fraud for his part in what has come to be known as "climategate."
In the interview, an anonymous questioner ("John Doe" in court documents, says this to Ball: Various government and academic agencies have whitewashed the Climategate scandal so far. Do you think anyone will be prosecuted for fraud?" Ball responds, "Michael Mann at Penn State should be in the State Pen, not Penn State."
The Frontier Centre is a Canadian version of the Heartland Institute. The website was reportedly given an opportunity to apologize for the slight, which they declined - although they cleansed the interview of the quote featured above. (It originally appeared directly after the line: "There is a move amongst the Attorney Generals in the States to start prosecuting.")
The suits are also stacking up for Ball, who is already facing a similar action from the Canadian climate scientist Andrew Weaver...
In the Notice of Civil Claim, filed on March 25, 2011 in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, lawyer Roger McConchie lays out the specifics of Mann's complaint and then writes this:
"The defendants have been guilty of reprehensible, insulting, high-handed, spiteful, malicious and oppressive conduct, and such conduct by the defendants justifies the court imposing a substantial penalty of exemplary damages on the defendant and an award of special costs in favour of the plaintiff, in addition to an award of general damages for injury to reputation."
McConchie goes on to make a bid for aggravated and special damages, as well. [See the full text and attached Notice of Civil Claim.]
A Pennsylvania State University professor claims climate-change denier Timothy Ball defamed him in an interview published by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, a Winnipeg-based think tank.
Michael Mann, a professor in Penn State's meteorology department and director of the university's Earth Systems Science Center, claims that Ball defamed him when he said that Mann "should be in the State Pen, not Penn State," for his alleged role in the so-called climate gate email tussle.
Mann says that Ball and the Centre refused to issue an apology and published the words with the "purpose of harming the plaintiff and exposing him to hatred, ridicule and contempt, lowering the plaintiff in the estimation of others, and causing him to be shunned and avoided."
It's not the first time Ball's been sued by a climate scientist for defamation. [See the full text.]

Saturday, March 26, 2011

FBI Joins the Hunt for Accused Money-Launderer "Bobby Thompson"

"A man who called himself Bobby Thompson — which turned out to be a stolen identity — is under investigation by the FBI and several states after the newspaper revealed that Thompson's Tampa-based U.S. Navy Veterans Association was a sham... Now, after being indicted by an Ohio grand jury, the man called John Doe by authorities is wanted on charges of identity theft, racketeering, money laundering and stealing more than $1 million from Ohio residents alone."---The Saint Petersburg Times (3-19-11)

The Saint Petersburg Times (3-10-11) reveals that the FBI is also investigating the case of "Bobby Thompson" (above), who is wanted on charges of identity theft, racketeering, money laundering and stealing millions of dollars from unsuspecting citizens who believed they were donating to the Navy Veterans' Charity. This case is also being investigated by the IRS, the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and the Attorney Generals of several states. The case of "Bobby Thompson" was also reported by America's Most Wanted on 3-19-11. [See all the articles in the Saint Petersburg Times' special report "U.S. Navy Veterans' Association: Under the Radar."]

"Bobby Thompson" gave $55,000 to Virginia's Attorney General Cuccinelli. Soon after, Virginia made a law exempting military charities from reporting on their operations to the state of Virginia and control of Virginia's Office of Consumer Affairs was put under Cuccinelli loyalist Delegate Matt Lohr. Attorney General Cuccinelli also persecutes the climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann and tries to sue the EPA for regulating CO2.

Harrisonburg News (6-25-10) reports:

During the last regular session of General Assembly, Sen. Mark Obenshain and then Del. Matt Lohr introduced legislation (SB388 and HB965, respectively) that would have moved “investigative and consumer complaint and dispute resolution functions for certain consumer protection laws from the Office of Consumer Affairs within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) to the Division of Consumer Counsel within the Office of the Attorney General."

Both bills were killed in committee. Two months later, Lohr was appointed commissioner of VDACS, initiating last week’s special election to fill his seat in the House of Delegates.

This is not the only time that "Bobby Thompson" has donated to an Attorney General who was involved with a state's Office of Consumer Affairs.

The Saint Petersburg Times (7-15-10) reports:

[Betty] Montgomery was Ohio Attorney General from 1995 to 2003 and was running for that office again in 2006 when her campaign reported Bobby C. Thompson's $500 check.

She lost that election and now works at Mac Murray, Petersen & Shuster, the law firm that represented the Navy Veterans until this week. Helen Mac Murray had been general counsel for the Navy Veterans since last June. While Montgomery was attorney general, Mac Murray was chief of Montgomery's Consumer Protection section.

The Saint Petersburg Times (3-19-11) reports:

The mysterious subject of a years-long St. Petersburg Times investigation appears on America's Most Wanted this weekend.

A man who called himself Bobby Thompson — which turned out to be a stolen identity — is under investigation by the FBI and several states after the newspaper revealed that Thompson's Tampa-based U.S. Navy Veterans Association was a sham.

Times reporter Jeff Testerman and researcher John Martin tried to find the 85 officers listed on Navy Veterans' tax returns, as well as some evidence of a claimed membership of 66,000 and beneficial gifts in the tens of millions of dollars.

It all led back to one man — "Thompson," who since vanished.

Now, after being indicted by an Ohio grand jury, the man called John Doe by authorities is wanted on charges of identity theft, racketeering, money laundering and stealing more than $1 million from Ohio residents alone.

"There are just so many questions," said William Clark, who produced tonight's Most Wanted episode. "What were you thinking? How did you do this? Who are you?"

The oddness of the story, in addition to Thompson's eccentric appearance in photographs with high-ranking officials including former President George W. Bush, sparked Clark's interest.

"He didn't have a past. He doesn't have a future, a present even. That's what's so weird," Clark said. "Nobody has been able to piece together what his life is really about." (See the full text.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pontifical Academy of Sciences Hosts a Workshop on the Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene

"The earth is suffering from global warming as a result of our excessive consumption of energy."---The Vatican (Scroll down.) See also Day 4.

Earth to Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli:

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences accepts the science of climate change and has created a Working Group on the Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene.

[UPDATE: Here is the Report of the Working Group.]

Wikipedia explains:

The Anthropocene is an informal geological epoch that serves to mark the recent extent of human activities that have had a significant global impact on the Earth's ecosystems...The term was coined in 2000 by the Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen, who regards the influence of human behavior on the Earth in recent centuries as so significant as to constitute a new geological era.

[See Dr. Crutzen's Wikipedia, his homepage at the Pontifical Academy, his homepage at the Max-Planck-Institute, his Nobel Prize autobiography, and an article by James Hansen in Time (10-17-07) about Dr. Crutzen's achievements.]

The Pontifical Academy's Working Group is having a workshop at the Casina Pio IV on April 2-4, 2011. The Prologue of the program, which was written by Pontifical Academician P.J. Crutzen, L. Bengtsson, and Pontifical Academician V. Ramanathan, states:

Mountain glaciers in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and the largest of them all in the Himalayan-Tibetan region are retreating, some at alarming rates. The hypothesized causal factors include global warming, atmospheric brown clouds, land surface modification, recovery from the mini ice-age, and large scale drying of the air among other factors. Some glaciers are expected to disappear during this century and others are predicted to experience significant loss of spatial cover and mass. The downstream consequences include glacial lake outburst floods, disrupted availability of water for agriculture and human consumption, changes to mountain eco systems, increased frequency of forest fires, loss of habitat, and other potential catastrophes. A holistic study covering the physical science, social science, and the human dimension sides of the problem has not been attempted thus far. It is our hope that this first of its kind workshop organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences will lay the foundation for studying and monitoring this potential disaster that will impact the entire planet.

The workshop will also explore avenues available for mitigating and adapting to this potential tragedy.

P.J. Crutzen, L. Bengtsson and V. Ramanathan

[Update: See the Report of the Working Group as well as the Prologue.]

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Google Science Communication Fellows

Google is going to help scientists communicate with with diverse audiences. Initially, Google will focus on communicating the science on climate change:

GoogleBlog (2-15-11) reports:

Making sense of science: introducing the Google Science Communication Fellows
2/15/2011 08:00:00 AM
(Cross-posted on the Blog)
In an effort to foster a more open, transparent and accessible scientific dialogue, we’ve started a new effort aimed at inspiring pioneering use of technology, new media and computational thinking in the communication of science to diverse audiences. Initially, we’ll focus on communicating the science on climate change.
We’re kicking off this effort by naming 21 Google Science Communication Fellows. These fellows were elected from a pool of applicants of early to mid-career Ph.D. scientists nominated by leaders in climate change research and science-based institutions across the U.S. It was hard to choose just 21 fellows from such an impressive pool of scientists; ultimately, we chose scientists who had the strongest potential to become excellent communicators. That meant previous training in science communication; research in topics related to understanding or managing climate change; and experience experimenting with innovative approaches or technology tools for science communication. This year’s fellows are an impressive bunch...[See the full text.]

Difficult Choices: U.N. Begins to Implement the No-Fly Zone Over Libya

“Qaddafi has the penchant to do things of a very concerning nature," John Brennan, the top White House counter-terrorism official, told reporters Friday evening...

Brennan also warned that "terrorist elements may try to take advantage of this situation" in Libya.

"Al Qaeda has a demonstrated track record of trying to exploit either political vacuums, or political change, or uncertainty in a number of countries throughout the world," he said. "Libya and the situation in Libya now will be no exception." ---The Christian Science Monitor (3-19-11)

Qaddafi has released four New York Times reporters he was holding, perhaps in order to blackmail the White House, but Secretary of State Hilary Clinton says that Qaddafi will commit unspeakable atrocities against his citizens if he is not stopped.

The New York Times (3-18-11) reports:

The United States is bracing for possible Libyan-backed terrorist attacks, President Obama’s top counterterrorism official said on Friday.

The official, John O. Brennan, said that the military attacks on civilians ordered in recent days by Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, coupled with his track record as a sponsor of terrorism, had heightened worries within the administration as an international coalition threatens military action against Libya.

Asked if American officials feared whether Colonel Qaddafi could open a new terrorism front, Mr. Brennan said: “Qaddafi has the penchant to do things of a very concerning nature. We have to anticipate and be prepared for things he might try to do to flout the will of the international community.”

Among the threats the United States is focusing on is Libya’s stockpile of deadly mustard gas, he said.

Mr. Brennan spoke to reporters after addressing the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School in Manhattan. [See the full text.]

The Christian Science Monitor (3-19-11) reports on the implementation of the anti-Qaddafi resolution in the United Nations:

Obama’s actions...have been deliberate, indicating a
clear hesitance to be out front in yet another war in a Muslim country.

He seemed to be listening closely to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and uniformed military leaders warning of what they saw as great difficulties in implementing a no-fly zone in Libya. Only when some Arab nations, plus major European powers, were ready to take on Muammar Qaddafi militarily did Obama indicate the same...

So far, at least, the US military role looks like it’ll be largely supportive as Britain and France take the lead following the United Nations declaration approving military efforts to prevent Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi from further attacking his government opponents among the civilian population...

One concern is that a desperate Qaddafi could resort to acts of terrorism or the use of the mustard gas he’s known to possess.

“Qaddafi has the penchant to do things of a very concerning nature," John Brennan, the top White House counter-terrorism official, told reporters Friday evening.

"We have to anticipate and be prepared for things that he might try to do to flout the will of the international community,” Brennan said, according to NPR. “Terrorism is certainly a tool that a lot of individuals will opt for when they lose other options."

Brennan also warned that “terrorist elements may try to take advantage of this situation” in Libya.

“Al Qaeda has a demonstrated track record of trying to exploit either political vacuums, or political change, or uncertainty in a number of countries throughout the world,” he said. “Libya and the situation in Libya now will be no exception.” [See full text.]

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dumb and Dumber: Ex-CIA Case Officer Kent Clizbe Trashes John Brennan

Kent Clizbe touts his CIA employment so that he can seem like an expert, but he doesn't really seem to be on the same page as the CIA at all. Perhaps he fast-roped from a Blackhawk and landed on his head.

Kent Clizbe, who claims he was a case officer in the CIA's Directorate of Operations, has written an article ridiculing John Brennan, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, as a mere CIA analyst instead of a real spy. Clizbe doesn't even report the well-known fact that John Brennan was the CIA Chief of Station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

According to the CIA (3-11-03):

Brennan joined the CIA in 1980 and has held a variety of senior positions in the Agency’s Directorate of Intelligence (DI) and the Directorate of Operations (DO). From 1984 to 1989, he served in several analytic assignments in the Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis in the DI. Mr. Brennan was in charge of terrorism analysis in the DCI’s Counterterrorist Center (DO) between 1990 and 1992, including during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He served as the CIA’s daily intelligence briefer at the White House in 1994 and 1995. Following that assignment, he worked as Executive Assistant to then-DDCI Tenet from 1995 to 1996, and then served as Chief of Station in a major Middle East capital from 1996 to 1999.

In "Failure of Understanding: Fire John Brennan" (2-11-11), Kent Clizbe writes disparagingly about John Brennan and CIA analysts:

...The big story is the Obama lackey we have not seen since the Maghreb Mutinies began, Obama’s Czar for Terrorism, and de facto intelligence chief, John Brennan.

Brennan has sought out TV cameras at every opportunity since January 2009. He popped up to talk about any issue dealing with intelligence, terrorism, Arabs, or Islam. He took it upon himself to declare the words “war on terrorism, jihad, global war” off limits. He trumpeted his “summer in Indonesia,” (like the President!), his semester abroad in Cairo, and his CIA station chief experience in “the region.”...

To understand the Brennan shadow play going on behind the scenes in Egypt, you first must understand the man—he is a CIA analyst. To understand the man, you must understand the culture of the bureaucracy that he ascended from—the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence (DI), the nation’s intelligence analysis belly button—and the type of person that culture produces.

A CIA analyst’s life is like being in grad school, forever. Just like an academic, the analyst is evaluated on his record of “publications.” Just like an academic, the analyst spends his time researching, writing, defending his work to committees, and trying to get his writing published. The big difference is that a CIA analyst has more resources, classified intelligence reports from operators around the world that an academic does not have. Otherwise, a CIA analyst is a virtual clone of an academic.

Just as in academia, the point of the exercise (creating finished intelligence to guide U.S. policy makers) becomes lost in academic politics, backstabbing, ass kissing, and internecine scheming. Just as in academia, CIA analysts who want to move up yearn for a position closer to the seat of bureaucratic power.

An analyst’s most treasured professional accomplishment is to have a hand in the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB). An article published in the PDB can be the crowning achievement of an analyst’s career. Circling the flame of power, like calculating moths, they try to get closer. The ultimate career position for a CIA analyst is to be the President’s Briefer, the guy who carries the PDB in to the President every morning. If an analyst is allowed to do that only once in his lifetime, he can die happy, fulfilled. He’s been to the mountaintop.

The other point that you must understand about analysts is what they are not. CIA analysts, regardless of what you’ve read or seen in Tom Clancy movies, are not spies. They do not manage spies. They do not recruit spies. They do not handle spies. They are not covert operators. They do not uncover secrets. They do not fast-rope from Blackhawks.

They sit in cubicles and research and write. Then they argue among themselves about what each other has written. Then they brief others on their articles. Then they do that again. And again, and again, and again. Because of the dreary reality of their lives, the analysts are allowed large budgets for travel. They travel to the countries in their portfolio, on boondoggle familiarization trips—which are more like vacations.

Many CIA analysts join the Agency believing the Tom Clancy hype. Once they learn what their job is, they can become bitter. And they can succumb to envy—of the operators who do recruit spies, travel the world under cover, meet and befriend exotic people, and plan and execute clandestine operations. There is a definite culture of envy in the CIA’s DI.

Because of this envy, occasionally, when the CIA goes through one of its bouts of self-destructiveness, the director of the CIA appoints an analyst, to be the chief of an overseas operational station. And when a presidential administration is extremely anti-CIA, like the Clintons, it appoints an analyst to be in charge of the entire Directorate of Operations.

John Brennan is a CIA analyst. In his mind, he is the Tom Clancy hero—the analyst fast-roping into a crisis, sub-machine gun locked and loaded, ready to respond. But in reality, he is an academic with sharply honed in-fighting claws, ready to rip to shreds a rival’s analytical piece so that his will be published.

In fact, John Brennan has served as an analyst, as an administrator, and in the Directorate of Operations as an overseas case officer for the CIA. Brennan is an expert on the Middle East who speaks nearly fluent Arabic and was the CIA Chief of Station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The CIA site states that John Brennan served in the Directorate of Operations (the National Clandestine Service since 2005), and media sources report that Brennan held the important post of the CIA Chief of Station in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

I wonder why the ex-CIA operative Kent Clizbe is trying to discredit the accomplished scholar, spy, and expert on terrorism John Brennan?

I wonder why Kent Clizbe, who exhibits such contempt for CIA analysts and academics, is emailing college professors and telling them that they can get a multi-million dollar reward from a federal whistleblower program if they denounce the climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann for fraud. The Department of Justice doesn't have any problems with Michael Mann's scientific research.

I wonder why Kent Clizbe trashes climate scientists in his ignorant, crude articles? Doesn't Kent Clizbe know that his former employer, the CIA, has a Center for Climate Change and National Security and that it is headed by Larry Kobayashi?

I wonder why Kent Clizbe seems to have such a chip on his shoulder about the CIA. Perhaps Kent Clizbe attacks climate scientists as a way of getting back at the CIA.

I wonder why Kent Clizbe is acting like those Russian secret policemen who publish kompromat in the media in order to compromise the opponents of their political bosses.

Kent Clizbe is basically offering people money in exchange for denouncing Dr. Mann for fraud. He doesn't seem anything like a government investigator who is trying to get to the truth.

I wonder if Kent Clizbe is a secret operative for politicians or fossil fuel interests. In his letters to professors, Kent Clizbe only says he is "assisting interested parties." Clizbe gives the impression that he may be acting on behalf of a law enforcement investigation, but I don't think that this is the case.

Kent Clizbe touts his CIA employment so that he can pose as a government expert, but he doesn't really seem to be on the same page as the CIA at all. Perhaps he fast-roped from a Blackhawk and landed on his head.

Friday, March 11, 2011

"The Big Wave" by Pearl Buck

"About 9,500 people are unaccounted for in the town of Minamisanriku in Miyagi Prefecture following Friday's powerful earthquake, prefectural officials said Saturday.

The figure is more than half of the population of about 17,000 in the town on the Pacific coast, they said."---Kyodo News (3-12-11)

Generations of children have read "The Big Wave," Pearl S. Buck's famous 1948 story about a Japanese tsunami and its aftermath. I read this story as a child almost 50 years ago, but I still remember this powerful tale about the Japanese character. I thought of this story today because of the horrible earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan which have claimed so many lives.

Listen to NPR's Jacki Lyden review Nobel prize-winning author Pearl S. Buck's children's story "The Big Wave."

Senator Inhofe's Goon Squad Attacks Eugene Wahl

The latest scientist to be attacked by global warming denialists is Dr. Eugene Wahl. On Tuesday, March 8, 2011, this illiterate comment appeared on my blog:

Looks like the Climate Gate thingy has a long tail as recently the Penn State white wash of Michael Mann's role in deleting email was exposed by deposition of his fellow warmist Eugen Wahl. Oh ne, Mann will next be exposed for his fraud @ the is over for these fraud science tools and their media supporters!

Real Climate (3-9-11) has posted Dr. Wahl's side of the story and some further context:

Eugene Wahl asked us to post a statement related to some incorrect claims circulating in the blogosphere:

"The Daily Caller blog yesterday contained an inaccurate story regarding a correspondence that was part of the emails hacked from East Anglia University Climate Research Unit (CRU) in November 2009.

For the record, while I received the email from CRU as forwarded by Dr. Mann, the forwarded message came without any additional comment from Dr. Mann; there was no request from him to delete emails. At the time of the email in May 2008, I was employed by Alfred University, New York. I became a NOAA employee in August 2008.

The emails I deleted while a university employee are the correspondence I had with Dr. Briffa of CRU regarding the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, all of which have been in the public domain since the CRU hack in November 2009. This correspondence has been extensively examined and no misconduct found. As a NOAA employee, I follow agency record retention policies and associated guidance from information technology staff.

Dr. Eugene R. Wahl
March 9, 2011

Further questions can be addressed to Katy.G.Human -at-"

[Real Climate] comments

These claims are simply the latest attempt to try and manufacture scandals and smear scientists, particularly Mike Mann, based on the UEA emails. The story appears likely to have come from Senator Inhofe’s office who presumably had access to the transcripts taken by the NOAA Office of the Inspector General (whose investigation found no evidence of any wrongdoing by NOAA employees). The story was planted with Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts, and Chris Horner, and then linked to by Inhofe’s office to provide a little plausible denialability – a rather blatant media spin operation.

But the facts of the case do not support the narrative they are pushing at all. [See the full text of the Real Climate response.]

House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa Solicits Denunciations

"Public corruption poses a fundamental threat to our national security and way of life. It impacts everything from how well our borders are secured and our neighborhoods protected…to verdicts handed down in courts…to the quality of our roads, schools, and other government services. And it takes a significant toll on our pocketbooks, wasting billions in tax dollars every year.

The FBI is singularly situated to combat this corruption, with the skills and capabilities to run complex undercover operations and surveillance."---the FBI, Public Corruption

The Hill (1-11-11) reports that House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has a “whistleblower” site that will accept tips on government fraud and waste.

I suspect that this is just the latest way for the Republicans to incite people to denounce our greatest climate scientists for fraud. The famous climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann wrote about Congressman Issa's tactics in a Washington Post op-ed titled "Get the anti-science bent out of politics" (10-8-10).

If people think they see fraud and abuse in the government, they should contact federal law enforcement authorities like the FBI, which investigates public corruption, not the crooks and liars in Congress who will just exploit fabricated "whistleblower" scandals to persecute our greatest climate scientists.

If Americans want to save money, they shouldn't pay Republicans any salary. Republican denialists get plenty of money from the fossil fuel industry. These Republicans work with political operatives who harrass scientists and write lies about them.

Instead of allowing Republican politicians and their operatives endlessly denounce our climate scientists for fraud, the Republicans should be denounced for lying to our people and for conspiracy to commit crimes against humanity. Their propaganda, lies, and schemes are going to destroy the lives of people all over the world.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

N. African Revolutions Viewed as a Setback for Al Qaeda

“So far — and I emphasize so far — the score card looks pretty terrible for Al Qaeda,” said Paul R. Pillar, who studied terrorism and the Middle East for nearly three decades at the C.I.A. and is now at Georgetown University. “Democracy is bad news for terrorists. The more peaceful channels people have to express grievances and pursue their goals, the less likely they are to turn to violence.”---NYT (2-27-11)

Michael Scheuer, the chief of the CIA's Bin Laden Station from 1996-1999, believes that the revolutions in N. Africa are "good news for al-Qaeda and kindred groups"; however, the New York Times has published a guardedly optimistic article about how the revolutions in N. Africa may have sidelined Al Qaeda: "As Regimes Fall in Arab World, Al Qaeda Sees History Fly By" (2-27-11):

For nearly two decades, the leaders of Al Qaeda have denounced the Arab world’s dictators as heretics and puppets of the West and called for their downfall. Now, people in country after country have risen to topple their leaders — and Al Qaeda has played absolutely no role.

In fact, the motley opposition movements that have appeared so suddenly and proved so powerful have shunned the two central tenets of the Qaeda credo: murderous violence and religious fanaticism. The demonstrators have used force defensively, treated Islam as an afterthought and embraced democracy, which is anathema to Osama bin Laden and his followers.

So for Al Qaeda — and perhaps no less for the American policies that have been built around the threat it poses — the democratic revolutions that have gripped the world’s attention present a crossroads. Will the terrorist network shrivel slowly to irrelevance? Or will it find a way to exploit the chaos produced by political upheaval and the disappointment that will inevitably follow hopes now raised so high?

For many specialists on terrorism and the Middle East, though not all, the past few weeks have the makings of an epochal disaster for Al Qaeda, making the jihadists look like ineffectual bystanders to history while offering young Muslims an appealing alternative to terrorism.

“So far — and I emphasize so far — the score card looks pretty terrible for Al Qaeda,” said Paul R. Pillar, who studied terrorism and the Middle East for nearly three decades at the C.I.A. and is now at Georgetown University. “Democracy is bad news for terrorists. The more peaceful channels people have to express grievances and pursue their goals, the less likely they are to turn to violence.”

If the terrorists network’s leaders hope to seize the moment, they have been slow off the mark. Mr. bin Laden has been silent. His Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, has issued three rambling statements from his presumed hide-out in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region that seemed oddly out of sync with the news, not noting the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, whose government detained and tortured Mr. Zawahri in the 1980s.

“Knocking off Mubarak has been Zawahri’s goal for more than 20 years, and he was unable to achieve it,” said Brian Fishman, a terrorism expert at the New America Foundation. “Now a nonviolent, nonreligious, pro-democracy movement got rid of him in a matter of weeks. It’s a major problem for Al Qaeda.”

The Arab revolutions, of course, remain very much a work in progress, as the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, orders a bloody defense of Tripoli, and Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, negotiates to cling to power. The breakdown of order could create havens for terrorist cells, at least for a time — a hazard both Colonel Qaddafi and Mr. Saleh have prevented, winning the gratitude of the American government.

“There’s an operational advantage for militants in any place where law enforcement and domestic security are weak and distracted,” said Steven Simon, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and co-author of “The Age of Sacred Terror.” But over all, he said, developments in the Arab countries are a strategic defeat for violent jihadism.

“These uprisings have shown that the new generation is not terribly interested in Al Qaeda’s ideology,” Mr. Simon said. He called the Zawahri statements “forlorn, if not pathetic.” [See the full text.]

Ex-CIA Analyst Michael Scheuer Offers a Gloomy Forcast about the Revolutions in N. Africa

"The revolts...mean that the United States and its Western allies must take on a far greater share of the counterterrorism operations that they previously conducted with the help of Arab regimes. The days of Mubarak, Saleh, Gaddafi and Ben Ali doing the dirty work for American, European and Israeli counterterrorism efforts are over."---Michael Scheuer

In a Washington Post Op-Ed titled "Why the Mideast revolts will help al-Qaeda" (3-4-11), Michael Scheuer, the former chief of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999, offers a gloomy prediction about the revolts in North Africa:

The rush in the West to proclaim the advance of democracy in the Arab world has led to the propagation of an ill-conceived and dangerous corollary: that the revolts in the Middle East and North Africa also mark the irrelevance of al-Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups.
"Al Qaeda Sees History Fly By," declared the New York Times. "Uprisings Put al Qaeda on Sidelines," asserted the Wall Street Journal. And Western politicians, academics and even intelligence specialists appear to agree that, with peaceful and pro-democratic change afoot in the Middle East, the world has moved beyond al-Qaeda, leaving Osama bin Laden writhing in the dust.
If only that were true. Since bin Laden declared war against the United States in 1996, al-Qaeda's main goals have included the destruction of the Arab world's tyrannies and of Israel. The events of recent weeks only move al-Qaeda closer to those objectives. [See the full text.]