Mentality

Programming note: Taking a break for Thanksgiving and other projects. Next Midnight Run drops December 5th.

It is, and has always been, easy to chalk up major attacks to either mental illness, or irrational thinking, or some form of desperation. The idea that some people see cold-blooded murder as a means to an end is repugnant to the civilized person. It defies what we see as reasonable, as acceptable.

Except, by definition, terrorism does not care for what we see as reasonable. Terrorism seeks to change how a country acts, how a country thinks, and what a country believes. Terrorism plans to fracture what a country holds sacred, and place virtually every citizen in a state of paralyzing fear. Terrorism plans to achieve these goals by any means necessary, up to and including mass murder.

Over the last 24 hours there have been a flood of social media comments and news reports about motives, gun laws, motivations, Muslims (some of which rational, some of which seems like the author just wants to kill anyone even vaguely Muslim), immigration, and terror as a whole. I feel the situation is a bit too fluid to go full bore into in the style of our previous Tactical Reviews, but nonetheless there are things to consider that will not change much regardless of where the investigation goes.

1.) Embassy. During the London Riots, STRATFOR posted a fantastic video on personal safety during riots and mob violence. The key point as it relates to the events in Paris is keeping in touch with your nation’s embassy.

If you are a foreigner you are going to want to make sure that you’re connected with your government and with your embassy. A lot of governments allow you to register and they will send out either text warnings or email warnings to you that will let you know when things are going on. One of the positive things about being registered with your embassy is that if it does become necessary to evacuate from a country — especially a Third World country that’s kind of remote — it’s nice to be on the Embassy system so they know you’re there, they will be looking for you and they will account for you when they are looking for space to get you out whether it is on a ship or an aircraft.

(Dispatch: Personal Safety In Riot Situations is republished with permission of Stratfor.)

The US Department of State maintains a list of all websites for American embassies,

2.) Intelligence. The conversation on the attacks has, of course, turned to survieliance. Specifically, if we are so hell-bent on recording everything and everyone, why did the events in Paris actually take place. As STRATFOR demonstrates, it is largely because there is way too much information to catch everybody.

This is exactly the situation in which the French authorities find themselves. They have incredible intelligence capabilities (sensors) and very capable police and military forces (teeth). Yet, those intelligence and enforcement resources are quite limited and can be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the shoal of potential jihadist attackers.

It requires an incredible amount of resources to maintain live telephone taps on one target, much less 24/7 physical surveillance. This means that security services very quickly reach their capacity. Thus, they need to use risk assessments to rank the potential threats and deploy their resources selectively against those threats deemed the most dangerous. This is especially true in a democratic country such at France, where there is rule of law and one cannot just conduct sweeps to arrest every known potential threat and then sort them out in prison. But frankly, as seen in even authoritarian countries, one simply cannot arrest (or kill) their way out of the problem and, often, draconian measures serve only to fuel anger and resentment, further aiding in radicalization.

(Paris Attacks: The Acuity of Hindsight is republished with permission of Stratfor.)

This, of course, is not to justify the warrantless searches that go on here in the US of people who don’t and never have had connections to terrorism. (If anything, it illustrates that expanding the haystack doesn’t make a needle any easier to find.) In the US, warrants are important, and the linchpin explicitly mentioned in the Fourth Amendment. It does, however, highlight an unfortunate truth behind all intelligence and law. You cannot stop all violence.

3.) Armed citizenry.

Remember in 2013 when the head of INTERPOL mused that armed citizens may be the solution to combating terrorism?

Remember Garland, Texas? When a few ISIS affiliated people looked to shoot up a “Draw Mohammend” contest only to get shot by an armed Texan?

Self-defense, and moreover physical defense in general (as opposed to “you can’t do that, it’s illegal”), are key to defeating terrorism specifically, and unlawful violence in general.

4.) Evil. This wasn’t random. All signs point to a deliberate, organized attempt at mass violence. As discussed in the opening, some people see mass violence as a means to an end. It is comforting to write off violence as something caused by mental illness, or something easily treatable (or at least politically exploitable). It is a lot harder to confront the concept that people who harm others know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. Murderous and crazy are not necessarily the same thing. Before any rational discussion can take place on terrorism, or unlawful violence in general, it must be accepted that it is too simple to burn the entire issue down into “he is just crazy” or the belief that all violence can be stopped in advance.

As we discussed in Broadcast, terrorism can be prevented by citizens who are aware of their surroundings and able to take action when violence occurs.

In other words, there must be anti-terrorism efforts like surveillance of course, but anti-terror efforts on the government’s part can only be boosted by an armed citizenry.

The government is never the first on scene of an attack. The people there are the first on scene.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Exaggerated

Before we go anywhere, we urgently need to update a story from Blue Blood. The shooting of Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, which was initially said to be an ambush, has turned out to be a carefully staged attempt to make the officer’s suicide look like a homicide. A brilliant New York Times piece this week looking at people who directly linked the shooting to anti-police sentiment before any evidence. (For the record, while Midnight Run: Blue Blood, did go with the ambush story at the time, Blue Blood never subscribed to the “war on police” narrative as a motive. Merely that it was an uptick in high-profile violence against police. It is now clear it wasn’t even that.) The Times piece concludes as follows:

The people who sought to politicize Gliniewicz’s death should feel chastened and embarrassed. Rather than simply mourning his death, empathizing with his family and waiting for the results of the full investigation — the very same thing they ask of those unsettled by the deaths of people at the hands of police officers — they pushed an association that didn’t exist.

So eager — or at least too recklessly willing — were they to add another tick mark to the tally of officers fallen in the supposed war on the police, and to ding protesters and the president, that they built a sham argument on a sham murder. Shameful.

This month, outside of that, we have yet another record month for gun sales, Virginia’s governor denies that the Dems loss in his state was due to gun control, and Hillary Clinton overestimates the number of “gun deaths” by a huge margin.

1.) Background checks. If background checks are useful for anything, it is apparently showing that gun sales can’t stop surging. The latest from the FBI shows background checks set a record in October. This is the sixth consecutive month that background checks have set records. There’s not much more to say about that, other than the fact that claiming gun ownership is down based on polling doesn’t match gun ownership based on background check numbers.

2.) Virginia. Everytown outspent the NRA 30-1 in Virginia and still lost in this week’s elections. The governor, notoriously anti-gun Terry McAuliffe, has tried to say the loss in the Senate has nothing to do with gun control.

Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe bragged and boasted when he won office despite challenging the NRA. He mistook his victory over a weak Republican candidate as a sign that gun control was a winning argument.

Now? He’s pretending that his strong gun control push didn’t happen, and wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

Elections have consequences, folks.

3.) Clinton. A new ad by Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton combines firearms-related suicides and homicides and in the process overstated “gun violence” stats by as much as 66 percent. (Also, yes, that is a Breitbart article that ISN’T related to Trump. Shocking as that may be.) The ad discusses an “epidemic” of gun violence, which is odd considering that violent crime has been on the decrease for decades.

“Gun violence” is apparently the only epidemic that gets worse by happening less frequently.

4.) Guns and Gays. Finally this week, an interesting look at how the gun rights and gay rights movements have very similar objectives. The sub-headline puts it best: “Self-defence and fighting stereotypes are among the ties that bind U.S. gay and gun communities.”

Both face incredible opposition, based largely on propaganda. Both also have shown that logical arguments can almost always prevail over emotional ones. (Don’t need to support the lifestyle, but there is no logical reason to ban it either.)

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.