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Ten years after 9/11, did the terrorists win?
An American flag was planted in the rubble of the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the attacks.
September 8th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Ten years after 9/11, did the terrorists win?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As our country prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, there's no doubt we were forever changed on that sunny Tuesday morning in September 2001.

One of Osama bin Laden's biggest victories was to make millions of Americans afraid.

So afraid that most of us stopped questioning our government – whether it meant launching unnecessary wars, removing some of our civil liberties, eroding constitutional rights, ignoring international treaties like the Geneva Conventions or torturing detainees.

So afraid that intrusive government security, especially invasive pat-downs and X-rays at airports, became the norm.

So afraid that we let politicians manipulate our fear to win elections and use Americans' deaths to advance their own agendas.

So afraid that in the name of national security, we've allowed the ill-defined wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to drag on. Thousands of lives and trillions of dollars gone. Along with our once dominant position as the world's biggest superpower.

Bin Laden is, fortunately, dead and gone now, but not before accomplishing much of what he set out to do on 9/11.

On Thursday, a USA Today/Gallup Poll shows almost 1 in 5 Americans say the terrorists have won. Have they? Or have we defeated ourselves?

How much of the way our life has changed in the last 10 years is a result of that single act of terrorism on 9/11, and how much of it is because we allowed ourselves to succumb to our fears and in the process surrender much of what we have always been most proud?

Here’s my question to you: Ten years after 9/11, did the terrorists win?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Osama bin Laden • September 11 • War in Iraq
May 5th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Does getting Osama bin Laden justify enhanced interrogation techniques?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Leon Panetta, head of the CIA, said earlier this week that intelligence collected from detainees who were waterboarded provided clues that helped the U.S. track down Osama bin Laden.

Waterboarding, which is the simulated drowning of prisoners to get them to spill secrets, is no longer legal, thanks to President Obama. It was one of Obama's first acts as president.

The Bush Administration before him had been harshly criticized for what some said was legalizing torture. Panetta in the past has said that enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding is torture and is morally wrong. However, he also said the debate about the use of these techniques will continue.

Some former members of the Bush Administration and a handful of other Republicans were quick to defend the practice in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Justice Department official John Yoo and Congressman Peter King from New York have all said in interviews this week that information obtained through enhanced interrogation techniques used on prisoners, like waterboarding, was key to the successful raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistani hideout.

However, none of these men is really in the position to know this for sure. And there's been no official statement or any proof that any information gained from prisoners by using these interrogation techniques ultimately led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Here’s my question to you: Does getting Osama bin Laden justify the use of enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

May 4th, 2011
04:33 PM ET

Should the United States have tried to take Osama bin Laden alive?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

If they had taken Osama bin Laden alive, there wouldn't be a debate about releasing these pictures. Hindsight is always 20/20. But reasonable people may disagree on whether or not it would have been a good idea to bring this guy back alive.

Depending on which account of the mission you believe, it sounds like it might have been possible. At first, we were told he had a gun, he resisted, he used his wife as a shield and the impression was the Navy SEALs had no choice but to kill him.

But then the story changed. He didn't use his wife as a shield. He wasn't armed. But he did resist. One account even said he looked like he was reaching for a gun.

You could also engage in a hypothetical discussion about whether shooting and killing an unarmed man is a good idea even if it was Osama bin Laden. In his case, I happen to think it was a great idea.

Returning him as a prisoner would have presented monumental security issues and putting him on trial would have cost this country a great dea l– financially, emotionally and psychologically. Tossing his body into the sea was also a good idea. No grave site that becomes a shrine for his demented followers.

Here’s my question to you: Should the United States have tried to take Osama bin Laden alive?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda • Obama Administration • Osama bin Laden
May 4th, 2011
04:16 PM ET

What should the U.S. do about Pakistan?

ALT TEXT

A Pakistani shepherd walks past the Abbottabad hideout where Osama bin Laden was killed. (PHOTO CREDIT: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There was a line in the "The Godfather, Part II": "Keep your friends close but your enemies closer." When it comes to Pakistan, which are they?

Osama bin Laden was living in a $1 million compound surrounded by 12-to-18-foot high walls topped with razor wire. It was in the middle of a quiet suburban town filled with retired Pakistani military officers. It was just yards away from the Pakistan Military Academy, which is basically that nation's West Point.

The compound was reportedly called Waziristan Mansion, after the tribal mountainous region of Pakistan where bin Laden fled after the September 11 attacks. There was no television and no phone lines. Instead of putting their trash out for collection, the people living with bin Laden burned it.

Come on.

If Pakistani officials didn't know who was living there, the neighbors likely did.

Neighborhood children even suspected something was up. They were not allowed to get a ball if it was accidentally kicked or thrown onto the property. Instead, they were given $2 to $3 to buy a new one. Other kids were invited to play with pet rabbits on the compound but noticed security cameras everywhere.

Ray Charles probably could have figured out who lived there. My guess is the Pakistani government wasn't looking very hard. And it's not because they didn't have the means to do so. The United States has given about $20 billion dollars in foreign aid to Pakistan over the past eight years - money meant to help combat terrorism. And as long as bin Laden remained at large, it was pretty easy to make the argument for that money.

Here’s my question to you: What should the U.S. do about Pakistan?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan
May 3rd, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Should W.H. release photo of Osama bin Laden's body?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The White House has pictures of Osama bin Laden's body. But we're not sure when or if we'll see them.

A senior U.S. official tells CNN that the White House received three sets of pictures on Monday: One set of bin Laden's body at a hangar in Afghanistan where it was flown after he was killed, one set from bin Laden's burial at sea aboard the USS Carl Vinson and one set from the raid in which he was killed, showing the compound and several corpses - including one of his sons - but no pictures of bin Laden at the scene where he was gunned down.

The tricky part for the White House is that the picture that includes the most recognizable image of bin Laden's face has been described as extremely gruesome and graphic. It reportedly shows a massive open bullet wound across both of his eyes. It's very bloody and not exactly acceptable for the front page of a newspaper or a morning television show. But whether to show it is a decision that should be made by the newspaper editor or the morning show producer.

Most Americans want to see the pictures anyway. More than half of Americans, 56%, say the United States should release a picture of Osama bin Laden's body, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll. Just 39% say it should not be released.

The other consideration is whether releasing the picture would further inflame Muslim extremists and members of al Qaeda. It probably would, but how much madder could they get? Bin Laden is dead, gunned down in his house by United States Navy SEALS. They're probably already pretty steamed.

A final decision on the photos has not been made, but there is "growing consensus" to release them. A decision could come as early as Tuesday.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda • White House
May 3rd, 2011
04:56 PM ET

With the death of Osama bin Laden, do you feel safer from terrorism?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden, law enforcement agencies in cities like New York, Washington and Boston have stepped up security on the streets, in airports, and at other transportation hubs like subways and bus stations.

Retaliation attacks from bin Laden's al Qaeda followers are very much a concern.

There's been no specific threat and the Department of Homeland Security has not issued a security alert, though Secretary Janet Napolitano said Americans should remain at a "heightened state of vigilance." Under the newly-revamped Homeland Security warning system, alerts aren't issued unless there are specific threats. The State Department released a warning to Americans traveling outside the U.S. about the "enhanced potential for anti-American violence."

Following bin Laden's killing, chatter on the radical websites used by his terrorist network mourned his death, celebrated him as a martyr and vowed to continue al Qaeda's mission despite the death of its leader. And bin Laden's “number two,” Ayman al-Zawahiri, is still out there. Just because one terrorist is dead - albeit the mastermind of the 9-11 attacks– he's still just one man. Al Qaeda is not gone. And there is much hatred against this country among the militant Muslim extremists.

But the "boatload" of intelligence materials recovered by our guys from bin Laden's house-five computers, ten computer hard drives and more than a hundred data storage devices-should give us a leg up in the short term at least as to what al Qaeda might have been planning.

Here’s my question to you: With the death of Osama bin Laden, do you feel safer from terrorism?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda
May 2nd, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Historically, what does the killing of Osama bin Laden compare to?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: KEYSTONE/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The terror attacks of September 11, 2001 were unlike anything most Americans had ever seen. Three thousand of our own people slaughtered on our own soil. It was an event that saddened and terrified people across this country...but also unified them in a way that they hadn't been since maybe the Second World War.

Sadly, that unity was short lived. We've been a pretty divided nation since soon after those attacks and the partisan politics that have taken over Washington over the past few years have made things downright ugly. But last night, with the news of Osama Bin Laden's death, Americans were once again united. They converged on the streets of lower Manhattan near Ground Zero and outside the White House. There was singing and dancing and flag waving. A sense of victory, but remembrance too.

We haven't seen this sort of patriotism and sense of justice in a very long time. The United States hasn't had much success in the wars we've gotten involved in since World War Two. That was the last one we won outright.

It's been pointed in that both Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler were declared dead on the same day, May 1, more than 65 years apart...bin Laden yesterday courtesy of U.S. special forces. Hitler turned a gun on himself when he realized his dreams of world domination for Germany were a lost cause.

Here’s my question to you: Historically, what does the killing of Osama bin Laden compare to?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda
May 2nd, 2011
05:00 PM ET

What should come next for the U.S. in the war on terror?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

News of the death of Osama bin Laden late last night stirred up a lot of emotion in Americans: Shock, joy, sadness, relief. For many, those emotions are being replaced today by questions, like "So what now?"

The vaguely termed "war on terror" was launched by George W. Bush in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The goal was to root out terror organizations like al Qaeda throughout the world, but the main target plain and simple was bin Laden, dead or alive.

It took almost 10 years to deliver on that, but we did.

In his address to the nation last night, President Obama said bin Laden's death does not "mark the end of our effort" to defeat al Qaeda.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "The battle to stop al Qaeda and its syndicate of terror" is not over.

And in a statement released last night, former President George W. Bush said, "The fight against terror goes on."

But what does that mean exactly now that the poster child of worldwide terror is gone? As difficult as it was to find and kill bin Laden, in a way, it was the simplest illustration of progress in this so-called war. But what now? Is the United States truly safer today from terrorism than it was yesterday?

Unrest is running rampant throughout the Middle East. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said U.S. soldiers should leave both Afghanistan and Iraq now that bin Laden's dead. U.S. troops will begin partial withdrawal from Afghanistan in July. U.S. troops are scheduled to withdraw from Iraq at the end of this year as part of a security pact with Baghdad. But will this change anything?

Here’s my question to you: What should come next for the U.S. in the war on terror?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda
April 22nd, 2009
05:00 PM ET

OK to use "enhanced interrogation techniques" if they worked?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama's national intelligence director says that Bush-era interrogation techniques - which many call torture - may have worked. Dennis Blair wrote in an internal memo: "High-value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country."

Nat’l. Intelligence Director David Blair says interrogation techniques have hurt America's image; and the damage they've done outweighs any benefits.

Blair added that he'd like to think he wouldn't have approved such methods in the past, but doesn't fault the people who made the decisions at the time and will defend those who carried out orders they were given.

He says the information gathered was valuable in some cases, but there's no way of knowing whether they could have found out the same things using other methods. Blair says the bottom line is that these techniques have hurt America's image around the world... and the damage they've done has outweighed any benefits.

Former Bush officials have argued the interrogations were an important part of the war on terror. Former CIA director Michael Hayden says the use of these techniques "made us safer." Former Vice President Dick Cheney agrees and says he's asked the CIA to declassify memos showing what was gained from harsh interrogations.

Just yesterday, President Obama left open the possibility of criminal prosecution for former Bush administration officials who authorized this stuff. But he continues to insist that CIA officers who carried out the interrogations shouldn't be prosecuted.

Meanwhile a new Senate report shows senior Bush officials authorized aggressive interrogation techniques - like waterboarding and forced nudity - despite concerns from military psychologists and lawyers.

Here’s my question to you: If so-called "enhanced interrogation" techniques yielded results, does that make them okay to use?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda
April 21st, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Waterboarding 2 members of al Qaeda 266 times constitute a crime?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Those hotly debated Bush era interrogation memos include this little nugget: CIA officials waterboarded two al Qaeda suspects 266 times. Interrogators waterboarded Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August of 2002; and they used the tactic against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the 9/11 attacks, 183 times in March of 2003. That's about six times a day.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, seen in a December sketch, was waterboarded 183 times in a month, a memo says.

These memos show waterboarding was used more frequently and with a greater volume of water than CIA rules allowed. Time magazine suggests the use of the tactic seemed to "occasionally get out of control." Don't you wonder what they learned from Khalid Sheik Mohammed the 183rd time they waterboarded him that they didn't know after waterboarding him 182 times?

In an about-face today, President Obama opened the door to the possibility of criminal prosecution for former Bush officials who authorized this stuff. He says it will be up to the attorney general to decide whether or not to prosecute them. Up until now, the president insisted there would be no investigation of those who ordered the torture, or those who carried it out.

The president's reversal comes a day after Senator Dianne Feinstein - whose Intelligence Committee has started a closed-door investigation into all of this - urged him to stop making public promises not to launch criminal prosecutions related to the interrogation program.

There is also pressure coming from the United Nations, which says the U.S. has signed the international Convention Against Torture and is therefore required to investigate and prosecute any credible allegations of same.

Here’s my question to you: Does waterboarding two members of al Qaeda 266 times constitute a crime?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda
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