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January 31, 2008

Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed (again)
Posted by Teresa at 09:05 PM * 261 comments

Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Feb 2002
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Nov 2002
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Oct 2003
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, June 2004
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Dec 2005
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, July 2005
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Oct 2005
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, June 2006
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Sept 2006
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Nov 2006
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Jan 2007
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, May 2007
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, May 2007
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Sept 2007
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed today, January 31, 2008.

It’s like being the drummer for Spinal Tap:

Jen Roth offers an explanation:

John: What, are they counting those for wins? Are they counting guys like Padilla? This is all very gooey, like how we’ve killed like, nine of Osama Bin Laden’s #3 guys.

Tyrone: Being #3 in Al-queda is like being a “creative vice president” at a Hollywood studio. There are dozens of them … and they are expendable.

Comments on Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed (again):
#1 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:10 PM:

Do they breed like rabbits in those Afghan hills?

#3 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:19 PM:

No, but they have a really good cloning lab in one of the caves. ;)

Haven't the PR guys in DC figured out yet that people are catching on to this trick?

#4 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:23 PM:

One wonders what is being covered up by the announcement.

#5 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:25 PM:

Also, one wonders if the break in the undersea cables providing phone and internet service to the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia is for the purpose of putting in a tap.

Is one, perhaps, a tad paranoid?

#6 ::: Another Damned Medievalist ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:29 PM:

God I wish I could be half as witty and succinct.

#7 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:30 PM:

Jen, I added your link to the front-page post.

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:32 PM:

ADMedievalist, you should have seen how much fun I had with "America has lost its innocence" in the wake of 9/11.

#10 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:43 PM:

We've turned the corner at last! In six months, tops, we'll be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:46 PM:

Phil, I know it's in the same spirit, but I can only use that story if its headline says "Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed."

#12 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:47 PM:

Fragano: Well, now we're *both* paranoid. Damn.

Teresa: all glory to Kung Fu Monkey! (and, you know, the Hypnotoad.)

Kip W: Oh, is it time for us to turn our friedmanglasses over and watch the sand run down again?

#13 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 10:02 PM:

Fragano, for some reason your question about excessive paranoia reminds me that a year ago this very day, Boston was attacked by Mooninites. (Had fun with that one, too.)

#14 ::: PhilPalmer ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 10:21 PM:

Teresa #11; agreed, there's all the difference in the world between what's baldly announced and what is conveyed with winks and codewords. (BTW, your post was laugh out loud funny and I hope it gets linked everywhere.) I wonder how far up the AQ organisation you have to be to get a white cat.

#15 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 10:51 PM:


(TTTO I'll Take You Home again Kathleen)

We kill you dead again top guy,
Another leader will sprout up, though
We kill you dead again top guy,
Recruiting brings in thousands more.

We kill you dead again top guy,
The jerks in Washington aren't clueless,
For clueless is too kind a word,
For what those vermin have all wrought.

We kill you dead again top guy,
But your legions they are endless
Until there's DC regime change,
The terrorists will have their way.

=========================

Are you dead yet
Are you dead yet
Bin Laden, Bin Laden?
Cheney doesn't care 'bout
Cheney doesn't care 'bout
What you do, what you do.

Are you gone yet,
Are you gone yet
Al-Aqaida, Al-Qaida
Cheney helps recruit for
Cheney helps recruit for
Terrorists, terrorists.

#16 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 10:53 PM:

Fragano @ 5... Is one, perhaps, a tad paranoid?

If you were from Eastern Europe, I'd ask if one is a tad pole, but you're not, so I won't.

#17 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:03 PM:

Who was it who said that #3 slots in al Qaeda are like being the drummer in Spinal Tap?

#18 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:08 PM:

How many organizational layers below the Eddorians have they worked through now?

#19 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:52 PM:

Jen, #2: Thanks for that link! I've seen it before, but the line, "I am not spotting him 800 million Hindus! I call shenanigans!" never fails to reduce me to helpless giggles for at least 5 minutes.

#20 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:12 AM:

Tsk. You people. Can't you see that this is proof that the War on Terror Against Us is working?

Another four years for Bush and the whole problem should be licked. Write your congressman!
[/snark]

#22 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:37 AM:

So, the arrival of this data coincided with the arrival of Office 2008 on my computer. I decided to see if it was all that good. I went to all of the stories, got the exact date, and put it in a table. I had Excel calculate the TTL for each #3, throwing out the gag one from May.

Not knowing shite about statistics, I boldly added a trendline, decided the data looked like a 3rd order polynomial, and extrapolated the next three dates that looked good on the chart.

I can tell you will all the confidence I have in this data set that we should get Al Qaeda's #3 on April 20th, August 10th, and February 26th (assuming we haven't changed tactics by then).

See? The surge is working!™

#23 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:53 AM:

Westley: [as he is unsuccessfully fighting Fezzik] Look, are you just fiddling around with me or what?
Fezzik: I just want you to feel you're doing well. I hate for people to die embarrassed.

#24 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 02:25 AM:

My first thought was to compare them to red-shirted ensigns on away missions. (Or is that too obvious?)

#25 ::: Del ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 05:22 AM:

"Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed" quasi-scans, with some effort, to the William Tell Overture. Just saying.

Also "Will Ye No Come Back Again?", and "Camptown Ladies". I got my money on the Baghdad Mayor, somebody bet on the Bey.

#26 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 06:03 AM:

Maybe the problem is that Al Qaeda has an organizational structure such that there are 10,000 #3 slots, sort of like sargeants in the army?

Call it the Spartacus Effect.

#27 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 06:43 AM:

Teresa #13: The dangers of attack by LED are clearly underexplored.

#28 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 06:45 AM:

Serge #16: I'm not going to touch that one with an eleven-foot Ukranian.

#29 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 07:31 AM:

Connie H@26

No, no. Actually they're all the same person. They just keep rerunning the story...

:-)

#30 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 07:44 AM:

Overheard in the office of the CIA Resident, Islamabad.

"Hey, boss, there#s the ayrab wants to talk to you. Say he wants to work for us."

"So what's his story this time? Another Osama sighting?"

"Well, he's a really old guy, and he says he's spent a few years up in the Himalaya. And he says his parents were English. Well, one of them was Irish. Sounds like hippies who went native."

"Doesn't sound any good."

"Anyway, he says his enemies are trying to make him number three in Al Qaeda, and he figures that we might not kill him if he's working for us."

"And he expects us to believe that. You have his name for the file?"

"Kimball O'Hara...."

#31 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 08:03 AM:

29: or they're all one person and he cannot be killed. Like Blofeld or something.

30: ...their number 3, a swarthy thug in the poshteen coat of a Peshwari, glanced at me for a moment with piercing blue eyes. In a flash, I noticed the Old Etonian tiepin on his turban.
'Good God!' I choked. 'Sandy Arbuthnot, you old fox! What are you doing here?'
'Hush, Dick! Not a word!' he whispered, with the delighted grin of a schoolboy...

#32 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 08:10 AM:

Avram, that one's mine -- but I can't be the only one who's said it.

#33 ::: Jack V ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 08:23 AM:

The way I imagine it is in a high-level meeting within the army. Another large military installation was suicide-blown-up by another of the horde of Al-queda creative vice presidents this afternoon. A bunch of generals are urgently debating the least damaging way of spinning the story to the media.

Young general: "Military installation gone to great snafu in the sky at 2pm today"?
Another young general: Ummm... "Military installation losses down 100% since 2pm today?"
Old general: *clears throat* (room falls silent)
Old general: Ahem. "A top Al-queda leader was killed at 2pm today."
Young general: *awe*
Old general: That's the way we spin it here, son. You'll learn.

#34 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 08:25 AM:

Dave Bell #30: O Very Old Friend of All the World...

#35 ::: James Goodman ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 09:14 AM:

I wonder if they have to share classes with the nameless henchmen at the super secret Nameless Henchman University or does someone tap them on the shoulder and say, "You know, we just lost, Mustafa. So, you're our top Al Qaeda leader now. Be careful out there."?

#36 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 09:31 AM:

It just occurred to me--clearly what's happening here is that there's some TV show none of us have ever heard of, called Al Qaeda's Next Top Leader, and for some reason, people keep competing on it even though the prize is being killed. Considering that America's Next Top Model has gone through nine "cycles" since 2003, I'm guessing they have roughly similar production schedules.

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:19 AM:

Al Qaeda seems to have as many Number Threes as The Prisoner's Village had Twos.

#38 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 11:19 AM:

The champ is still the newspaper in New England which carefully saved the Pentagon's weekly body count press releases through the Viet Nam War, and announced that the war was over when the body count equaled the total population.

#39 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 11:19 AM:

The champ is still the newspaper in New England which carefully saved the Pentagon's weekly body count press releases through the Viet Nam War, and announced that the war was over when the body count equaled the total population.

#40 ::: jstewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 11:47 AM:

It's obvious -- Al Qaeda's #3 is required to wear a red shirt.

#41 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:12 PM:

Surely this is the reason we are at war with Al Qaeda. They perfected cloning technology and won't share it with anyone.

#42 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:18 PM:

JackV #33- have you worked for them or something? I am in awe of the spin you just suggested there. What makes it worse is that it matches the spin that has been used in real life...

#43 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:31 PM:

ethan #36: It's probably on Al Jazeera. Though maybe each time a candidate gets removed from the running, they *become* the next #3, don the obligatory bullseye shirt, and go hang out in places frequented by US soldiers and quislings, hoping the end will be quick.

Teresa #8: Didn't we lose our innocence after Katrina, too? This is reminding me of an article I read once, describing an apparently real plastic surgery that gets a certain amount of (mostly non-US-origin) business, restoring womens' virginity. Apparently, the US gets this surgery once every generation or so.

#44 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:56 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 18

LOL, that's a good one. We haven't even gotten to Helmuth yet. If US intelligence ever bounces off what passes for a Plooran in AQ land, they won't have a clue.

#45 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:57 PM:

Lee @19: it has that effect on me as well. Truly one of the Great Blog Posts of Our Time.

#46 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 02:53 PM:

ethan @ #36

Brilliant!

#47 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 03:02 PM:

And BBC News has Top al-Qaeda commander 'killed'

An odd quirk with BBC News headlines is that they often use quotes to note a reference from a source text. However, that kind of quote can also be read with a quotey-fingers I-don't-believe-it meaning.

#49 ::: A. Buonarroti ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 04:17 PM:

I arrive here via a link from a two-year old post on Neil Gaiman's blog in which he quoted you at length about finding an agent. I'm a student getting my MFA in fiction, working on a novel, so naturally I am hearing things about getting an agent and about getting published. So your letter to him, which started with this: "1. If you're writing fiction, the True Secret Answer is "get an offer." If you've got an offer, you can get an agent. If you don't have an offer, you don't want the kind of agent you're likely to get," gave me pause.

I wonder if you would mind explaining how one goes about getting an offer without an agent. Not to sound like a noob, but as I'm OBVIOUSLY A NOOB, are you saying send your work to publishers without an agant? Query publishers without an agent? Sit in a cafe next door to the publisher's headquarters wearing a beret and an artistic expression, scribbling on a large, impossible to miss notepad with a flamboyant quill pen until someone from the publisher' s office notices you and asks what you are writing? Climb to the top of the publisher's building (possibly wearing a gorilla suit or a fairy costume) and refuse to leave until someone reads your manuscript?

Wouldn't it be easier to just get an agent? I'm terribly confused and would appreciate the additional information.

Respectfully yours,

A. Buonarroti

#50 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 04:40 PM:

ajay @ 31: r they're all one person and he cannot be killed. Like Blofeld or something.

Maybe they need to try the "stake through the heart, then cut off head, stuff mouth with garlic and bury it at a crossroads" method to keep him from coming back?

#51 ::: Distraxi ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 05:54 PM:

ajay @ 31: Maybe #3 in al-Queda is Kenny McCormick's day job.

#52 ::: Jonathan Birge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 06:45 PM:

Maybe this is too obvious, but aside from the issue of "is this doing any good?" it's perfectly reasonable for us to be killing the #3 guy repeatedly. There's *always* "a top AQ official" guy, by definition. We off one, and a new guy takes his place. Would you be surprised by the following set of headlines?

Top plate removed at cafeteria salad line!
Top plate removed at cafeteria salad line!
Top plate removed at cafeteria salad line!
Top plate removed at cafeteria salad line!
Top plate removed at cafeteria salad line!
Top plate removed at cafeteria salad line!
Top plate removed at cafeteria salad line!
Top plate removed at cafeteria salad line!

Now, why they are so easy to pick off may just be natural selection. Clearly, the #2 and #1 guys are good. They know what they're doing. But #3 and down not so much. And it just gets worse as we move down the seniority scale to replace the #3 last shot.

#53 ::: George Smiley ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 07:04 PM:

Via /.

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/third-undersea-cable-reportedly-cut/story.aspx?guid=%7B1AAB2A79-E983-4E0E-BC39-68A120DC16D9%7D

Third undersea cable reportedly cut between Sri Lanka, Suez

DUBAI (Zawya Dow Jones)--A third undersea fibre optic cable running through the Suez to Sri Lanka was cut Friday, said a Flag official.
Two other fiber optic cables owned by Flag Telecom and consortium SEA-ME-WE 4 located near Alexandria, Egypt, were damaged Wednesday leading to a slowdown in Internet and telephone services in the Middle East and South Asia.
"We had another cut today between Dubai and Muscat three hours back. The cable was about 80G capacity, it had telephone, Internet data, everything," one Flag official, who declined to be named, told Zawya Dow Jones.
The cable, known as Falcon, delivers services to countries in the Mediterranean and Gulf region, he added.
"It may take sometime to fix the cut but we are rerouting the traffic to another cable in the U.K. and U.S., the bandwidth utilization will go down," the official said.
There are conflicting reports of how the two Alexandria cables were cut. Oman's largest telecom, Omantel, said a tropical storm caused the damage while the United Arab Emirates' second largest telecom, said the cables were cut due to ships dragging their anchors.
"It's ship anchoring," said the Flag official.

--------

Internet traffic report says 100% packet loss to Iran.

http://www.internettrafficreport.com/asia.htm

--------

...and on the Friday afternoon, before Superbowl weekend, when everyone's TV will be tuned to Fox (and away from the other networks), too. I really, really hope this all an unfortunate coincidence.

#54 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 07:08 PM:

A. Buonarroti at #49:

You'll want to read this: "On the getting of agents."

Then come back and ask further thoughtful questions. I recommend you find the most recent "Open Thread" on Making Light and post there (since any topic is fair game). The local hangers-out are usually eager to discuss such issues at length.

I'm not an editor, publisher, or book author, just a physicist, but I believe the answers to today's questions are:

Yes, submit your writing without an agent;

No, submitting a whole manuscript is better than a query if you are an unpublished fiction writer;

Maybe on the beret and quill, but don't say I encouraged you;

The gorilla suit ploy is frowned upon, except perhaps on National Gorilla Suit Day, which, I am sad to report, you missed, as it occurred yesterday.

#55 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 07:37 PM:

George Smiley #53: Okay, my paranoia level went up about three notches when I saw that report this morning. Now, will someone explain to me either that this is just one of those screw ups that happen in series or that I really do have reason to be paranoid?

#56 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 07:50 PM:

Who benefits from the cut cables and reduced Internet coverage to parts of the Middle East?

#57 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 09:52 PM:

Earl #55: Who benefited when "patriotic hackers" (that was what the administration PR folks said) shut down the Al Jazeera website during the Iraq invasion?

The obvious guess is that something big and unpleasant is about to go down in Iran, and someone would like to avoid inconvenient footage showing up on YouTube, realtime discussions of what's happening, messages for sleeper agents coming out over the net, or some such thing. Alternatively, this might be some kind of terrorist attack, blackmail scheme (how much can you demand from the telecom companies if you can threaten to take out their cables?), installation of tapping equipment (I don't know much about undersea cables, but this doesn't sound real plausible to me), etc.

#58 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:48 PM:

The fact that Our Government is so on top of things that it knows both the names of the top members of the Al Qa'eda Organization and the names of the people killed in miscellaneous bombing raids makes me feel more confident of our omniscience, of course, but I do have to wonder why we can't find out where Osama bin Ladin is and kill _him_, assuming that we still want to do that.

#59 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 11:11 PM:

If I were being paranoid...

The reason to cut it now is because we suspect something, and this lets us sniff all the data which gets re-routed.

Don Fitch... yeah, that always gets me. We know who the number 2/3 guys are, and where to find them, but we can't follow that up to locate the number 1 guy; the one we say this is all about catching.

#60 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 11:18 PM:

Don #57: Unfortunately, we can know either Osama Bin Laden's position or his momentum, but not both.

#61 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 12:52 AM:

It seems that Iran is not cut off from the internet, just that one server is down. This comment thread on Reddit has links to various websites in Iran that are (as of right now) still working.

#62 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 02:52 AM:

We have top men working on it now....Top. Men. - Raiders of the Lost Ark

#63 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 03:29 AM:

All together, now...

Once is happenstance....

#64 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 04:21 AM:

There's just two Al-Qaeda leaders
And I just became the third.
Don't know why I got this big promotion
Or what's doing with the Kurds.
Spent my whole life just digging up Osama's shallow grave
For the two Al-Qaeda leaders
And the third one they just made.

A rich man once told me,
"Hey, life's a funny thing."
A poor man once told me,
That he can't afford to speak.
Now I'm just in the middle like a bird without a beak,
'Cause there's two Al-Qaeda leaders...

So I went to the President,
And I asked old What's-His-Name,
If he'd ever done insurgence,
or something like the same.
He just started talking like he was on TV:
"If there's just two Al-Qaeda leaders,
What do you want from me?"

So I bought myself a dynamite vest
And a silver Koran.
And I'll gladly tell the ladies to bugger off to Amman.
'Cause I have to keep my self-respect,
I'll never be a star,
Since there's just two Al-Qaeda leaders,
And I am...Number Three.

#65 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 08:08 AM:

The headline I'd really like to see might read something like this:

"Top Al-Qaeda Leader Defects To the U.S., Bemoans Lack Of Saudi Funding"

#66 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 10:52 AM:

Weak al-Ibi: "You don't understand! I'm 'Al Qaeda Number Three'! I'm expendable! I'm the guy who dies in the attack just to show how effective the 'War on Terror' is!"

#67 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 11:07 PM:

Reminds me of a particular Girl Genius comic, only without the Jaegers.

#68 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 12:50 AM:

TomB, #59: *snork!*

David, #63: Not bad! Was there any particular tune you had in mind? My brain keeps wanting to scan it to something C&W-ish, loosely related to "The Preacher and the Bear".

#69 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 05:25 AM:

Lee@67: I was going specifically off of a song from They Might Be Giants' first album, entitled "Number Three". It does have a C&W sort of sound to it. If you don't know it, you may be giving me too much credit....

Here's a link to the lyrics.

And here's a YouTube video using it.

#70 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:16 PM:

Maybe he regenerates in a different body!

#71 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:59 PM:

Lee @68: It's Number Three by They Might Be Giants (with great new lyrics!)

#72 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 01:41 AM:

Well, a fourth internet cable connecting the Middle East has been cut, and it's been reported that two earlier cables turn out not to have been cut by ship anchors after all.

#73 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 07:03 AM:

Dave Bell @ 63 + Earl Cooley II @ 72

And if 3 times is enemy action, then 4 times must be a declaration of war.

#74 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 07:18 AM:

There have been cases when an underwater event has cut most, or all, cables serving a region. I think there was an incident on the Grand Banks that messed up Trans-Atlantic cables, and there was a similar event a year or two back affecting Taiwan and Japan.

But these were georgraphically localised, and this batch of cable breaks affecting the Middle East isnn't.

I recall another common-failure event, where supposedly independent circuits in the USA went over the same bridge, and floods took it out. Different owners for the cable, but they'd taken the same route (I think this was back in the late Nineties).

It's not clear whether there were three or four events--two breaks seem closely linked--but it's still worth watching.

#75 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 07:25 AM:

I doubt it's possible to isolate any large region from the rest of the world anymore, short of shooting down a large number of geosynchronous satellites, something that's very difficult and has not to my knowledge ever been attempted even as a test against a single target at a time.* There are just too many alternative circuits available everywhere.** Terry may be right that it's a ploy to get better access to traffic for signal intelligence; it might also be a message to the governments of the region from some insurgent group that their access could be cut (even if that's not possible, politicians might not realize or believe that).

* Hitting something in geosync is much harder to do than taking out a target in LEO, something that only 3 nations have ever done even in testing. It also takes quite a bit longer to get the missle to the target, so it's much more likely to be detected and backtracked.
** I was in Facilities Control at the primary military comm center in Vietnam the morning the main cable from the Phillipines was cut. That took out about 90% of the operating capacity of the eastbound traffic from that part of Asia to the US; we had restored more than half of that bandwidth within less than 3 hours IIRC, mostly using westbound circuits and partly-idle radio links. At the time, all our satellite capability was one voice link or 16 teletype channels, between us and Australia. Capacity now almost anywhere is orders of magnitudes more.

#76 ::: Jack V ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:14 PM:

guthrie @ 42: God no! I'm a 26-year-old mostly liberal semi-pacifist software engineer in the UK :) But it's the kind of thing PartiallyClips or XKCD would do and I've become attuned to seeing the MOST spin that could possibly be imparted, just sometimes.

Jonathan Birge @ 52: That interpretation also occurred to me, obviously, indeed, you ideally keep *on* killing the #3 guy. However it didn't seem initially plausible to me that the organisation is centralised enough that there is always an identifiable #3 guy, yet decentralised enough that even if the #3 guy is killed fifteen times it doesn't start falling apart.

Of course, there could be many leaders of cells in large areas, or important but non-hierarchical guys, and it is likely most of them would get killed in an ongoing campaign, so the quotes would be accurate in that sense -- but I think it supports the point that the original list was making, that this is at best a bit of a stretch, even if not actually a distortion.

#77 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:31 PM:

Jack V: part of this is that there is (and I assume it's intended to happen on the part of the Administration) conflation of groups like, "Al Qaeda in Iraq" with Al Qaeda.

#78 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:59 PM:

Am I the only one who keeps picturing some guy in a coffee shop in Pakistan hearing the news, widening his eyes, shouting "Then I'm king o' the cats!" and high-tailing it out the door?

#79 ::: Alya ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 07:36 PM:

Re: internet outage in Middle East. Here in Egypt, where the incident actually happened in the first place, we were told the cable was hit (not cut, just roughly hit) by a ship anchor; the ship had been denied entry into the Alexandria Port, and thus turned around and took a wrong turn into an area it was never supposed to enter. No news of subsequent incidents have been relayed by the local media.

It sounds like the whole thing is being covered up, so that sets my tinhat-bells off, too.

The internet has been back here for two days, now, by the way. If Iran is still cut off (or majorly slowed down, as we were), this'd be very suspicious.

#80 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 08:54 PM:

Xopher @78: Thank you. I needed that laugh.

#81 ::: S.W.Erdnase ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 01:18 AM:

All,

Is it a bad thing for these people to be removed? (Notwithstanding armchair online sub-urban experts saying these people are a dime a dozen). I mean, no matter which way you vote, how is this bad? Unless Theresa's post is merely a commentary on unimaginative journalism?

Does me asking these questions make you guys think I prefer Robert Heinlein to Samuel R. Delaney?

All good questions, people.

S.W.E

#82 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 05:09 AM:

81: not sure I entirely care for the tone you're taking there, old boy.
But, assuming you are being serious:

1) we've seen an awful lot of people captured who were announced as 'a senior AQ official' and later turned out to be, say, limo drivers or footsoldiers or innocent bystanders. So it's rational to be suspicious that the ones we kill are of similarly varying quality.

2) the continued stream of 'top AQ leaders' killed is accompanied by the continuation in rude health of the two top AQ leaders that anyone had ever actually heard of: Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. We don't seem able to reach any top AQ leaders who are actually, you know, at the top of AQ.

3) it's generally better to capture than to kill, for intelligence reasons; Terry Karney can, I am sure, give more detail on this than I can.

4) if we're killing fifteen civilians to get at one supposed "top AQ leader", then, yes, that might indeed be a bad thing.

5) Just for your information, I actually do prefer Robert Heinlein to Samuel Delany. I wasn't aware that was a mark of seriousness; if it is, I will now undo its effects by announcing that I prefer Ken MacLeod to SM Stirling.

#83 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 06:11 AM:

I prefer H.P. Lovecraft to Edgar Allan Poe.

#84 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 06:20 AM:

I prefer trials to assassinations, effort spent in capturing bin Laden to killing people we've never heard of till they're dead, and Clark Ashton Smith to HP Lovecraft.

#85 ::: S.W.Erdnase ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 06:22 AM:

Tone?

1) We know this for a fact?

2) AQ is franchised now. You're talking about the symbolic or aspirational leadership as opposed to regional emirs. The reason those guys ain't been got is... wait for it... it's hard. It's not Hollywood out there people.

3) Obviously. That's why these people make attempts at capturing them a life-threatening endeavor for the regular and SF soldiers given the job.

4) Agreed. Unless doing so stops that person killing 150 or 300, or...

5) Actually I haven't read Delaney in years. I'm more of an Ian M. Banks or Alistair Reynolds type.

Toodle-pip!

#86 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 06:27 AM:

ethan @ 83... I prefer H.P. Lovecraft to Edgar Allan Poe... Abi @ 84... I prefer (...) Clark Ashton Smith to HP Lovecraft

Poe vs Lovecraft? That reminds me of a novel by John Morressy where religion wars are going on about that. I don't remember if there was a splinter faction involving Smith though.

#87 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 07:09 AM:

SW Erdnase @85:

I can't answer to ethan's view of your tone, but I find the "kill all; God will know his own" pretty unconvincing, myself.

1) We do. For instance, this report (pdf), based on the DoD's own documentation of the prisoners at Guantanamo, concludes that:

Only 8% of the detainees were characterized as al Qaeda fighters. Of the remaining detainees, 40% have no definitive connection with al Qaeda at all and 18% are have no definitive affiliation with either al Qaeda or the Taliban.

Remember, this is the case for the prosecution they're summarizing (or as much of it as is publicly available). The defense may feel that the above numbers are substantially off. And connection is defined very loosely:

Al-Qaeda leaders could dispatch one of their own -- someone who is not top tier...to recruit someone and to tell them, I have been given a mandate to do this on behalf of senior al-Qaeda leaders... even though perhaps this individual has never sworn an official oath and this person has never been to an al-Quaeda training camp, nor have they actually met, say, Osama bin Ladin.*

That's "my mate knows a fella..." levels of association. Not very convincing.

The White House, meanwhile, characterises the people sent to Gurantanamo thusly:

These aren't common criminals, or bystanders accidentally swept up on the battlefield -- we have in place a rigorous process to ensure those held at Guantanamo Bay belong at Guantanamo. Those held at Guantanamo include suspected bomb makers, terrorist trainers, recruiters and facilitators, and potential suicide bombers.

In a nation, and a judicial tradition built on the idea that someone is innocent until proven guilty, this is the best we can do? No sale.

2) Oh, yes, the it's hard. It's not Hollywood out there people meme. That's worth 10 points on troll bingo, you know. But I do find that the genuine soldiers and former military who post here tend not to take that line. It's the wannabes that always go for the "war is hard, so we do bad things" approach. And it is Hollywood. It's Rambo.

3) vide supra

4) Ah yes, the unprovable hypothetical. Why don't you come back with some evidence and try that one again? Because until then, I reserve the right to prefer to count the real costs, not the imaginary ones.

5) Banks is very good; Reynolds has never lit my fire.

Tattie byes!

-----
* elisions in the original

#88 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 07:24 AM:

85: Yes, tone. Saying things like "online suburban armchair experts" and "whichever way you vote". People here use words for a living - we notice these things.

(Also: Delany. Teresa. Iain M Banks.)

#89 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 07:40 AM:

One picked nit, abi, which is that it was ajay who brought up the "tone" issue, not me. Which is not to say that I don't feel the same way.

Otherwise: what abi said.

#90 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 07:44 AM:

ethan, a thousand apologies*.

-----
* Even if you are a Lovecraftian. I'm sure you just fell in with a bad crowd at an impressionable age.

#91 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 07:59 AM:

I'm sure you just fell in with a bad crowd at an impressionable age.

Yeah. This crowd, and I haven't had a birthday since, so this age, too.

You do remind me, though, that I've been meaning to read some of Klarkash-Ton's work.

#92 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 08:03 AM:

ethan @91:
This crowd.

Oh dearohdearohdear. The very worst, then.

I'd have a holy war about it, but there's this strange thing on my head, like a turban, or a headdress...

#93 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 08:12 AM:

abi @92 I'd have a holy war about it, but there's this strange thing on my head, like a turban, or a headdress...

...but probably not one of these?

#94 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 08:14 AM:

Debbie @93:

Infidel! Heretic! Don't accuse me of wearing Cthulhu gear.

I am, of course, referring to a Clark Ashton Smith story. *dignified sniff*

#95 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 08:50 AM:

abi --

Perish the thought! Make that "...probably definitely not one of these." (Not even for Karneval?)

#96 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 09:13 AM:

abi @ 94... What is Chtulhu gear? Pentacles or tentacles? No matter what, you should take it easy and let calamari heads prevail.

#97 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 09:27 AM:

..hmm. "Pentacle" rhymes with "tentacle".

*makes mental note of fact in advance of next inevitable outbreak of Cthulhu poetry*

ichor/biker
famous/squamous
Nyarlotep: dammit.

#98 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 09:34 AM:

ajay @97:
pentacle/tentacle?

That sounds like the start of a mnemonic for making the Eldrich Sign of Cthulhu.

Pentacle, tentacle, wattles and watch, perhaps?

Or would it be longer?

Pentacle, tentacle, squamous old squid,
Fragmented sanity, ego and id

#99 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 09:42 AM:

Tattle, unspeakable...

#100 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 09:48 AM:

If Cthulhu in rhyme is inevitable,
Then Osama bin Laden's expendable.
Alas for the thread!
Just look where this led!
It's all really very regrettable.

abi -- catchy!

#101 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 10:02 AM:

Debbi @ 100 Then Osama bin Laden's expendable.

Considering how many Number Threes he has, shouldn't he be expandable?

#102 ::: coffeedryad ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 11:11 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 69

That would probably explain why the tune my mind leapt to wasn't fitting it. I got to
A rich man once told me,
"Hey, life's a funny thing."
A poor man once told me,
That he can't afford to speak.

and immediately started trying to make it fit "Bird on a Wire".

#103 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 12:21 PM:

SW #81:

My take on this is that I'm pretty skeptical that we're really getting very high ranking folks in AQ as often as is being claimed. This is like the way police spokesmen announce some moderately successful drug raid as netting eighteen gazillion dollars worth of cocaine, or the way the introduction of an obscure paper on an insanely impractical cryptographic protocol to do some oddball thing will talk about important implications for electronic voting, digital cash, and privacy-protecting databases.

Organizations routinely puff up the importance of their accomplishments. This isn't news.

#104 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 02:35 PM:

S.W. Erdnase:
Tone? I’ll address tone.
1) We know this for a fact?
2) AQ is franchised now. You're talking about the symbolic or aspirational leadership as opposed to regional emirs. The reason those guys ain't been got is... wait for it... it's hard. It's not Hollywood out there people.
3) Obviously. That's why these people make attempts at capturing them a life-threatening endeavor for the regular and SF soldiers given the job.

We don’t know any of those for facts, and number one is false on its face.

Al Qaeda is branded. Anyone who has a grudge against the US, and wants a mantle of authority/sense of dread can call himself, Al Qaeda in “x”.

Your second statement is true, insofar as it goes, but since a number of those, “Number Three”s on that list. Since some were identified from the rubble of destroyed buildings (including the Number 3, who was Number 1 of Al Qaeda in Iraq, a guy I’d really like to have seen across the table) it seems killing them has taken higher priority than capturing them.

From PsyOp standpoint that’s also bad. It would be far better to have people kicking in the doors of these guys, and making them nervous every time they set up shop. If we know where they are enough to bomb them, we can go after them. I think, if they are that high in the power structure, we ought to take the risk. We haven’t. That tells me either they aren’t that important, or we are doing it stupidly. Take your pick; both are bad.

4) Agreed. Unless doing so stops that person killing 150 or 300, or...

Objection: Assumes facts not in evidence. 1: That each of these guys is actually in Al Qaeda, 2: That killing them, instead of capturing them is going to save more people. If they know of plans in motion, killing them won’t stop them; additionally it fails to take into account the effect of the deaths of the other people on the hostility to the US/West.

So the tone of your comments it, at best, snarky, at worst it presumes an understanding of events that subsequent explanation shows to be less than complete, and in many ways counterproductive/wrong.

In short, you are repeating propaganda, and daring people to disagree with the a priori assumptions packed into the questions. Since those assumptions are flawed, the questions are as well. To impute that those who disagree with our are; because of those assumptions wrong, well it’s not polite. Mocking them with glib one-liners (...wait for it... it’s not Hollywood out there people) implies either a lack of appreciation for effective persuasion, or a desire to offend.

As for what I know/think/vote... the last is immaterial, not worthy of being brought up by reasonable people in a conversation which isn’t about politics. I’m not an armchair strategist. I’m an Army interrogator, OIF-1 vet, instructor of the art and tolerably versed in the subject. You are... no one I’ve ever heard of, which; on its face, means nothing, but to challenge the credentials of people you don’t know, while failing to provide any bona fides of your own, well again it’s not polite.

The closest we have to any such from you are comments about having just gotten back from a stint in the Middle East. That’s thin broth to hang the rest on.

If you want to discuss the merits of getting (even killing, if it comes down to that) the upper echelons of Al Qaeda, have at.

I can say, for myself, that doing so strikes me as a good idea. If, however, you are looking at the atual discussion (which is wondering if 1: that's what's going on, and 2: if we are actually trying to best effect the capture of the people we say we are killing).

I don't think you'll get much disagreement, if that's what you want to talk about.

#105 ::: S.W.Erdnase ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 03:19 PM:

My point was to challenge the default position, which appears to be cynicism about anything reported on this matter. It was an honest question with, I thought, enough clues to show that I am not a troll - but instead a long time lurker on this page.

I had forgotten I mentioned coming back from the ME. That's irrelevant. I'm not trying to assert any expertise on the subject - I'm just interested in it. Even if it was relevant, I wouldn't fly that flag here.

Next time I'll leave out the sarcastic comments. People are surely sensitive around here. My apologies.

#106 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 03:34 PM:

SW Erdnase @105:

I think there are good grounds for cynicism. There is plenty of evidence that official channels are, to mix a metaphor, unreliable narrators. These are the people who told me there were WMD's in Iraq, for instance. They also told me the war was over years ago.

I'd want to see more that talking points disguised as sarcastic and needling questions before I rethink my default position. Next time try evidence.

People are surely sensitive around here.

Excellent. I'll add that to the list.

#107 ::: S.W.Erdnase ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 03:37 PM:

Okay then.

#108 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 04:01 PM:

S.W.Erdnase, it's not that people are sensitive, it's that we have to use the cues of your tone to decide whether you're interested in discussion or in making yourself feel TOTALLY AWESOME by getting people riled up. Based on your first post, you seemed borderline to ajay and others, hence the serious responses to your question and the notes about your tone. This makes sense, yesno?

So, for future reference: if you're interested in seriously discussing an issue, leave out the jokey sarcasm, and if you're interested in trolling, intensify it. That way, your intentions will be clearer.

#109 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 04:08 PM:

To add to ethan's comment, another thing you could do to convince us that you're interested in a discussion rather than just stirring the pot would be to do some actual research, and maybe even cite some facts.

Google. Read things. Primary evidence is good, reliable commentary can be useful too. State a view and support it with facts. Bring links.

Just asking idle questions and expecting us to do the legwork isn't really the mark of someone interested in a real discussion. At best, you're saying "spoon-feed me". At worst, "jump through my hoops."

#110 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 08:24 PM:

S. W. Erdnase (#105): I'm not trying to be contentious. I'm going to explain what about how you said it got me thinking you were trying to be snarky, and claim expertise.

Saying those who were skeptical were suburban armchair strategists implies you think they don't know what they are talking about, and that you do, esp. when coupled to the comment about this not being Hollywood.

That says, when combined, that the people here haven't thought about it. Haven't weighed what the administration has said (often) against what it has done.

If those sorts of things were left out, the actual question would have been much better receieved, at least by me.

#111 ::: S.W.Erdnase ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 04:17 AM:

Thanks, all.

Good advice, I think. Though I note many exceptions to the rules you impose within this thread in the sense of similar sarcastic or non-sequitur comments that don't provoke reactions like the ones I've received. I suppose familiarity has it's benefits. Just saying, is all. The last gasp of a chap clobbered by an unforeseen zeitgeist.

Anyway, I'll take all comments on board for future excursions and apologies if I came on too glib/strong.

Terry Karney, especially, you're points are well taken. That was lame of me. Apologies.

S.W.E


#112 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 04:53 AM:

So... back to Cthulhu, everyone?

Do stick around and join in the mindless unholy gibbering, SWE, by the way. Everyone gets smacked down by the others here from time to time, even the regulars. Don't take it to heart. Anyone who reads Banks and Reynolds can't be all bad.

#113 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 08:42 AM:

#112 ajay:

It's a strange conversation in which "So, back to Cthulu" is a tension-relieving thing to say....

#114 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 09:23 AM:

It's a strange conversation in which "So, back to Cthulu" is a tension-relieving thing to say....

You're new here, aren't you. I can tell.

#115 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 11:44 AM:

By stunning coincidence, I was thinking about the Cthulhu mythos today.

I think the loss of the undersea Internet cables is the first move in a war between Cthulhu and his ilk and the FSM. Put simply, I think the cables looked too much like pasta to be let to lie.

Next step: civil war in the pasta calamari.

(As a Klarkash-Ton disciple myself, well, we're the flowers on the table. We're flowers with faces, of course, and we drink blood, but we're not involved in this one.)

#116 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 12:01 PM:

115: that wouldn't be a stunning coincidence for me. A day without squamousness is like a day without sunshine.

Actually, it reminds me more of the opening of "The Kraken Wakes". Next, strange reddish meteors. Then ships start disappearing. After that, Teh 1950s British Squamous Horror kicks off Hammer-style.

#117 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 12:06 PM:

abi, ajay -- you aren't the only ones who've noticed connections among various elements of this thread....

#118 ::: S.W.Erdnase ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 02:45 PM:

Now, to me, that makes perfect sense. Where's my d10?

#119 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 03:01 PM:

SW Erdnase @118:
Where's my d10?

For this game, you need one of those dice whose shape varies depending on which angle you look at it from, assuming you can look at it for long without going slightly mad.

It's carven from bone, but it feels slightly slick, a little greasy, in the hand. Touching it, you feel the impulse to wipe your hand on something, though when you do no residue is left.

The symbols on the faces are etched in silver, and are in no known writing system.

It's the kind of die that gives a flat, toneless clack as it hits the table, rolls once or twice in a desultory fashion, like a recalcitrant child determined to give you the worst result, then sits menacingly, waiting to be read.

Here, borrow mine.

#120 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 03:09 PM:

abi @ 119... it feels slightly slick, a little greasy, in the hand. Touching it, you feel the impulse to wipe your hand on something, though when you do no residue is left

That sounds eeriely like the reaction of a woman I know whenever she sees Tim Curry on TV.

#121 ::: S.W.Erdnase ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 03:18 PM:

abi: is that the squamous model or the glabrous one? The glabrous roll better. Might be your problem right there.

"...then sits menacingly waiting to be read."

I hate that. But I hate it more when it sits for a while then flips and settles on a baaaaad number just as you're about to pick it up. Random number generator my ass.

#122 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 03:24 PM:

See, the glabrous may roll better, but the squamous ones stop better. Particularly on my rugose table top.

And dice are stupid, and have never heard of reverse psychology.

#123 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 03:50 PM:

#122 abi:

It's not that they're stupid. They just seem that way, because they have no memory....

#124 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 04:54 PM:

The Laser Sharks have been busy again: a fifth middle east internet cable has been cut.

#125 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 05:10 PM:

Damn laser sharks!

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to an overseas URL.

#126 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 10:35 PM:

SWE, I haven't seen abi ask, so I'll fill in. How's your poetry?

#127 ::: S.W.Erdnase ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 07:17 AM:

Rusty. It's a long time since I was a mawkish college student in the English Lit faculty. Is that a serious question?

I do love poetry through. Wallace Stevens is a favorite.

#128 ::: S.W.Erdnase ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 07:31 AM:

As an aside to the Cthulhu tangent and now that you mention poetry, interesting how squamous in Middle English meant "Squeamish" rather than "covered in scales". As in "Of fartynge he was squamous". Or not, I suppose.

Just me?

Did I mention I also enjoy Chaucer?

#129 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 07:38 AM:

119: I ran into dice like that once. I should have known; everyone told me it was the Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York. I just didn't know exactly how old that made it. Or that "floating" wasn't quite as accurate a description as "recently-surfaced".
I'm still not sure how much I lost that evening...

#130 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 09:56 AM:

I'm still not sure how much I lost that evening...

You think there may have been some intangibles lost/taken/consumed or contractually committed?

#131 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 10:00 AM:

Random comment related to AQ #3s being killed: Apparently, the administration says it may still need to do some water torture[1] from time to time. BBC story


[1] Calling it waterboarding is a good PR technique for the bad guys, because it sounds kinda harmless. Water torture is what it was called back when the Inquisition or did it.

#132 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 12:12 PM:

130: all I know is that it's a lot more dicey cycling to work when you don't show up in rear-view mirrors.

#133 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 12:13 PM:

Didn't realise it when I wrote 129, but of course "Guys and Dolls" is all about someone playing dice for human souls.
That's creepy as hell when you think about it.

#134 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2008, 10:34 PM:

#127 - I gather it was a serious question; abi asks it of most people who show up here new. Reason being, there's a sort of Godwin-like law on Making Light that as any thread grows longer its probability of including spontaneous verse, XKCD references, and/or Cthulhu approaches 1.

Er.

Do you read XKCD?

#135 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2008, 01:48 AM:

Yep, like Nicole said, there's a lot of verse that shows up here. Sometimes pertinent to the thread, sometimes not. You've probably already noticed the gleeful punning. We also tend to refer to Girl Genius.

#136 ::: S.W.Erdnase ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2008, 02:53 AM:

XKCD? I hadn't until now. I can feel my horizons expanding...

#137 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2008, 03:17 AM:

SW Erdnase @136:
Enjoy XKCD. And remember to hover your mouse over each comic. There's a second punchline in the image properties.

And versification comes in waves here. By the numbers, it's mostly sonnets, some villanelles and ballades, occasional outbreaks of limericks and haiku. We have some people doing less structured work these days as well. We also do rewrites and pastiches of famous poetry (most notably William Carlos Williams' This Is Just To Say) and song lyrics.

If you like Chaucer you're in good company.

#138 ::: S.W.Erdnase ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2008, 04:31 PM:

Thanks for the lead on XKCD. I've forwarded the link on to some buddies who will dig it. This appealed...

http://xkcd.com/126/

#139 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2008, 04:08 PM:

Pakistan: Top Al-Qaeda leader killed

Islamabad, 12 August (AKI) - Senior Al-Qaeda commander Abu Saeed al-Masri was killed after clashes with Pakistani security forces near the Afghan border.

According to Arab TV network Al-Jazeera, al-Masri, whose real name was Mustafa Abu al-Yazid was killed in the past few days in Pakistan's Bajaur tribal area near the border with Afghanistan in a clash with Pakistani military forces.

Abu Saeed al-Masri is the most senior Al-Qaeda member to have been killed in Pakistan after Egyptian national Abu Khabab al-Masri was killed last month in a suspected U.S. airstrike in Pakistan.

#141 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2009, 12:51 AM:

PakTribune:

Top Al-Qaeda leader killed in US drone attack

DailyIndia:
Top al-Qaeda leader killed in South Waziristan in drone attack

(Apparently a newswire story from Asian NewsInternational, so slightly-rewritten mutations are popping up all over.)

#143 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2009, 10:47 AM:

Bill Higgins... What the heck. Are the Mysterons the real power behind Al-Qaeda?

#144 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2009, 10:57 AM:

Serge writes in #142:

What the heck. Are the Mysterons the real power behind Al-Qaeda?

Are you implying that Osama bin Laden is some kind of puppet?

#145 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2009, 11:08 AM:

Bill Higgins... Yes, but he has obviously gone wireless.

#146 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 12:35 PM:

AP: Taliban's top military commander captured

ISLAMABAD – The Taliban's top military commander has been arrested in a joint CIA-Pakistani operation in Pakistan in a major victory against the insurgents as U.S. troops push into their heartland in southern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the group's No. 2 leader behind Afghan Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar and a close associate of Osama bin Laden, was captured in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, two Pakistani intelligence officers and a senior U.S. official said.

#148 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 04:23 PM:

And the BBC abuses scare quotes yet again. Someone needs to spank whoever wrote their style guide (pdf), which doesn't seem to mention this immoral practice. Perhaps it's more of a pernicious custom than formally ossified usage. (If someone finds the smoking gun on BBC scare quotes, I'd be interested to hear about it).

#149 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 06:02 PM:

Earl,

Those aren't scare quotes. They are quote quotes. That is, they are a British headline convention that indicates a reported assertion. The BBC is reporting that someone (who will be named in the lede) asserts that top al-Quaeda officials were killed. In the text of the report, punctuation like that would be scare quotes and your objection would be entirely correct, but they aren't used in the text.

In the US it would be necessary to identify who is being reported, something like Maliki: top al-Queda officials killed, or just say "reported". The actual NYT headline is Two Top Qaeda Leaders in Iraq Are Reported Killed in a Raid, which is functionally equivalent.

#150 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 07:21 PM:

As far as I know, there is no typographical convention which allows one to unambiguously determine the scariness of quotes. The BBC's usage is very annoying to me. As a further aside, I would prefer that people not use the two-handed quotey finger twitch in my presence, unless they are morbidly curious as to what I sound like when I snarl.

#151 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 07:52 PM:

I haven't found anything concrete from the BBC, but the Guardian style guide (http://www.guardian.co.uk/styleguide/q) says that single quotation marks are used for quotations in headlines, double quotation marks for quotations in text. The Times agrees.

#152 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 08:05 PM:

That rule is grounded in the need for typographical brevity in headlines. It can't be logically extended into other kinds of text.

For the record, I agree with Thomas: those aren't misused scare quotes. They're correctly used "or so they say" quotes. I'm irritated by most instances of quotation marks to indicate special use, but those don't bother me at all.

#153 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2010, 08:23 PM:

Guillemots could make good «scare quotes», but I figure it would be an Augean task to convince the worldwide cabal of style guide writers of this. heh.

#154 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2010, 08:25 AM:

On the heels of the news about Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Masri earlier this week, we hear about Ahmed Al Obeidi:

Top Al Qaeda leader killed in Iraq

This story includes a quote:

Charles Heyman, a Britain-based defence analyst, echoed that. "The important thing here is that, when leaders are taken out, is there somebody there to replace them?" said Heyman.

#155 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 01:18 PM:

Aaaaand another one.

Actually, they're recycling; it's Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, who was erroneously reported dead in 2008 (Bill Higgins mentions it above). This time, Al-Qaeda confirm that he's dead, along with his wife, three of his daughters, one granddaughter, and sundry others.

#156 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 02:39 PM:

Top Al-Qaeda leader killed

The Straits Times must like this headline; they also used it on 12 December 2009.

#157 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 03:00 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 156... Maybe he was a Top Guy if those who caught him were standing on their heads and forgot about that. I still think the Mysterons are behind Al-Qaeda.

#158 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 03:33 PM:

Important safety tip: NEVER accept promotion to number three man in al Qaida. You be safer taking a job as a javelin catcher.

#159 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 03:40 PM:

These guys are like the Boss at the end of a video game level.

#160 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 05:08 PM:

S. W. Erdnase @138, I'm afraid that for many or even most of them, it probably won't be news. I'm glad you like it, though.

#161 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2010, 06:08 PM:

"I'm just 'Crewman Number Six'! I'm expendable! I'm the guy in the episode who dies to prove how serious the situation is! I've gotta get outta here!"

#163 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2010, 12:03 AM:

Bill Higgins... To paraphrase Stephen Hawking... It's top Al Qaeda leaders all the way to the bottom!

#164 ::: Carrie S. sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2011, 11:45 AM:

Not even clever spam.

#165 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2011, 03:30 PM:

Life insurance policies for high-ranking members of terrorist organizations?

#166 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2011, 03:41 PM:

Albatross.... One wonders what kind of insurance coverage KAOS and SPECTER have that make up for the losses incurred by the meddling of the likes of Smart and Bond.

#167 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2011, 03:52 PM:

Serge @168:

Never mind that...I want to be the Meddling Kids insurance salesman in the next town over from wherever the Mystery Machine has been.

"Didja see what happened to Old Man Jones when he was trying to drive Widow Thomas off of her land by pretending to be the ghost of Charles Babbage, complete with haunted Difference Engine? That could happen to you next. But if you buy this policy, we'll reimburse you the cost of your glow in the dark paint, rubber masks, film projectors, and miniature inflatable gears, and give you a lump sum to bribe the cops and the judge after the denouement."

I could make a fortune, if it weren't for those meddling kids.

#168 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2011, 04:00 PM:

Abi @ 169... :-)

#170 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2011, 11:42 PM:

"We have top men working on it now."
"Who?"
"Top... men."

#171 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2011, 11:18 PM:

There goes another one... Oh, wait...

#172 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2011, 11:35 PM:

You beat me to it, Paul!

Oh, here comes Obama to the podium.

#173 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2011, 11:49 PM:

... an interesting speech, with a whole lot of things in it that caused me to twitch (some good, some bad).

#174 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2011, 11:51 PM:

Breaking: Donald Trump is demanding to see the long form death certificate.

#175 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 12:09 AM:

Feed OBL's internal organs to dogs, and bury the rest in the skin of a pig.

#176 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 12:27 AM:

I wish he weren't dead. I wish it wasn't that the US killed him and I sure as hell wish it wasn't done in Pakistan.

Because, apart from the way in which it lets a lot of people feel better (and Times Square is all sorts of raucous right now) what it does is martyr him, and the location stirs another pot altogether.

#177 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 12:29 AM:

My thoughts were more along the lines of sequestering the ashes in a hog manure lagoon.

But really, I'd be happy with "it was disposed of." No grave, no outrage over an atrocity, just make it gone.

For now, let's just declare victory and go home.

#178 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 12:59 AM:

Will this deprive the "Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed" game of its enjoyment?

#179 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 02:41 AM:

I was really hoping for a trial. They were able to retrieve the body--why not take him alive?

#180 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 02:55 AM:

heresiarch, according to several reports, he was shooting. I'd have expected him to commit suicide rather than be taken alive; he knew the power of martyrdom to his followers.

#181 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 07:45 AM:

He's allegedly been buried at sea.

#182 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 08:22 AM:

There were no perfect outcomes in a case like this one. A trial would have given Usama a chance to posture, death makes him a martyr (perhaps). Burial at sea means that his place of burial cannot become a shrine or place of pilgrimage at least.

Perhaps his death brings closure for some. I hope it does. I can remember all too well how I felt in mid-September 2001, working, as I still do, close to some quite iconic American enterprises (CNN, just over a mile away, and the world headquarters of Coca Cola two and a half miles away).

#183 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 08:51 AM:

I like to imagine there's a flowchart somewhere in the White House with what to do if bin Laden is encountered in battle, starting with "try to take alive" and ending with "burial at sea," with all the political consequences of each branching point worked out in advance. (Because I've been reading too much in the Vorkosiverse recently.) So, on to the flowchart for the aftermath.

#184 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 09:23 AM:

Any idea why the burial at sea made sense? That seems really bizarre to me. It's certain that there will be people who are skeptical that we got the right guy, or that we got anyone, or that he's really dead. (And it's not like the US military has maintained a sterling reputation for honesty in this war.)

I don't know enough to have any idea if burying him at sea was a good decision (in terms of avoiding shrines and funerals and such), so maybe this is obvious to everyone else. But it seems really odd to me in my current state of ignorance. Juan Cole didn't comment on it in his article (very much worth reading!), but maybe someone here knows enough to make sense of the decision?

#185 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 09:25 AM:

So, he'll be sleeping with the fish?

#186 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 09:36 AM:

albatross @ 186 ...
I don't know enough to have any idea if burying him at sea was a good decision (in terms of avoiding shrines and funerals and such), so maybe this is obvious to everyone else. But it seems really odd to me in my current state of ignorance. Juan Cole didn't comment on it in his article (very much worth reading!), but maybe someone here knows enough to make sense of the decision?

IIRC, it also avoids the question of defilement, depending on where he was interred, and how.

#187 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 09:39 AM:

Serge @ 187 ...
So, he'll be sleeping with the fish?

I misread a comment about expecting riots in Riyadh should there be a funeral as being riots in Rylleh (R'lyeh), in which case he'd be sleeping with the Great Old Ones.

#188 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 09:43 AM:

albatross: It prevents a cult site, it shows some sensitivity to Islamic practice.

Reports say Saudi Arabia refused the body (not surprising, if they did. They don't want a cult site for him, not given their fracture lines). So the 24 hours to bury him requirement meant in Afghanistan, or in the US (fast flight) or at sea.

#189 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 10:35 AM:

If they haven't got fingerprints and DNA samples it's going to be awkward. And does anyone have a record of the fingerprints? At least it's possible, with DNA, to narrow it down to the family, at least. But people have been questioning whether OBL was still alive for six or seven years.

#190 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 11:01 AM:

I know NPR reported they took DNA samples.

#191 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 11:17 AM:

xeger @ 189... Coming soon to the Skiffy Channel?

#192 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 11:21 AM:

Leading of course to all the stories where his clone grows up and does something peculiar....

#193 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 11:24 AM:

If Obama can get us out of Iraq, and if he can use his good offices to keep the pressure on the Egyptian military to lighten up, and if he can support the likely UN declaration of a Palestinian state in September, the US will be in the most favorable position in the Arab world it has had since 1956. And he would go down in history as one of the great presidents. If he tries to stay in Iraq and he takes a stand against Palestine, he risks provoking further anti-American violence. He can be not just the president who killed Bin Laden, but the president who killed the pretexts for radical violence against the US. He can promote the waving of the American flag in major Arab cities. And that would be a defeat and humiliation for Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda more profound than any they could have dreamed.

This is the final paragraph from Juan Cole's post - see Patrick's top Sidelight. I recommend the whole thing.

#194 ::: force five ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 11:56 AM:

No doubt they got their man. I raise a toast to every Navy Seal and special ops guy doing his job.

Here's also to the support and tactics people and coordinators.

Too bad they couldn't have beaten him like a red headed stepchild before they pulled his string.

Well, you can't complain, can you?

#195 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 12:41 PM:

I'm sure they would have taken him alive had that been an option, and equally sure he wouldn't have allowed himself to be so taken.

I thought the burial at sea was odd, too, but it makes sense given Terry's explanation.

#196 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 01:33 PM:

In a confluence of issues of interest to Fluorospherians this Guardian article suggests that bin Laden may have been influenced by Asimov's "Foundation" books. ("Foundation" being translated into Arabic as "Al Qaida")

#197 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 03:28 PM:

@192: The Boston media is reporting that a DNA sample had been taken from a now-deceased sister of bin Laden when she was in a Boston hospital.

(hopefully a full sister, as bin Laden senior had some forty children by various wives)

#198 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 03:57 PM:

Chris W:

Does that mean we're going to see videos of him keep emerging to give his followers directions, based on the clearly-foreseen unraveling of the empire?

#199 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 04:23 PM:

Albatross @200 - And if we do, will we have six more weeks of winter?

#200 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 04:28 PM:

Everyone always talks about people who "hate our freedom." Osama Bin Laden was the only person I can think of who actually said it out loud in the first person.

My thanks go out to the people who made that headline possible.

#201 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 04:38 PM:

The idea of Bin Laden patterning anything on the Foundation novels lends a different meaning to Psychohistory.

#202 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 05:15 PM:

If he's really dead, where's the death certificate?

#203 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 05:17 PM:

thomas @204:

Long form or short form?

#204 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 06:01 PM:

"I'm not dead."
"What?"
"Nothing. There's your ninepence."
"I'm not dead."
"'Ere, he says he's not dead."
"Yes he is."
"I'm not."

#205 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 06:11 PM:

I'm hoping that part of his charisma was based on his not getting killed by the US for so long, and that it will be hard for his followers to make a switch from that to martyr.

But my major hope for a good outcome is based on the Arab Spring-- because that was what made it clear it was possible to get useful change without random murder.

And my pride isn't from this skillful military operation though it was well done, it's from being in the tradition which established a right of peaceable assembly.

#206 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2011, 10:05 PM:

Albatross @200:

Yes, apparently

#208 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2011, 12:11 AM:

Lawrence O'Donnell just pointed out that Obama gave the order to go ahead with the takedown on OBL Friday morning...after which, and before the operation was complete, he a) visited the tornado-ravaged South and was completely appropriate and on-topic there; b) showed up for the (aborted) shuttle launch, and c) attended the White House Correspondents' Dinner, and was totally appropriate there too. Told jokes like a man without a care in the world.

Meanwhile, half the word away, a squad acting on his orders was carrying out the final stage in a decade-long manhunt.

That. Is one cool. Dude.

#209 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2011, 01:07 AM:

#210: If he played politics the way he played poker he'd be terrifying.

#210 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2011, 04:19 AM:

Sandy, @ #202

Everyone always talks about people who "hate our freedom." Osama Bin Laden was the only person I can think of who actually said it out loud in the first person.

What he said, back in '04, was: "Bush says and claims, that we hate freedom, let him tell us then, 'Why did we not attack Sweden?'"

#211 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2011, 07:39 AM:

#151 -- I wonder whether the writer of the Guardian article, dated August 2002, had seen Fortean Times for May 2002, or even the November 2001 Ansible.

#212 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2011, 07:42 AM:

Backtracking from #213: silly me, Ansible did indeed get a mention in the Grauniad piece. I'll get my coat now.

#213 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2011, 11:40 AM:

Obama's long-form birth certificate was bin Laden's last horcrux.

#214 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2011, 05:32 PM:

Charlie #209 Wikileaks document hints that bin Laden was in Abbottabad

Actually, no, it doesn't. It says that some other dude, who was then in Gitmo, had been in Abbottabad three years (as it now turns out) before bin Laden moved there.

Hardly a tip-off for bin Laden that the US was closing in.

#215 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2011, 05:33 PM:

James D. Macdonald #215: Ow!

#217 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2011, 11:55 AM:

#218: More canonically, ABC News reports this story with the headline "Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed in Pakistan?" (Warning: this site starts playing video ads and news clips.)

#219 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2011, 01:41 PM:

Giving new meaning to "Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed (again)", the TV news report I saw this evening ended with the reporter noting that this is not the first time Fazul Abdullah Mohammed has been reported killed in Somalia.

#221 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 04:00 AM:

Just spotted that one in the Guardian and came over here to see if I was the only one...

#222 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 09:44 AM:

ABC News has this story in its pure form:
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, U.S. Govt. Says

The New York Times offered a slightly weakened form: "A Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed in Drone Strike, US Says;" but the link I was given by Google now redirects to another version of the story with the non-cliched headline "C.I.A. Drone Is Said to Kill Al Qaeda’s No. 2," so it doesn't count.

#223 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2011, 12:43 AM:

The Daily Beast: Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed

IBN Live: Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed

Time to get a new top leader again.

#224 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2011, 01:33 PM:

The death of Anwar al-Awlaki in a drone attack yesterday has triggered a number of TALQLK headlines.

TV station KYTX in Tyler, Texas.

TV station KGRV, in Welasco, Texas.

Radaronline.com.

#225 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2011, 04:40 AM:

ML's lucky day, more link spam, today with added tripte.

#226 ::: Debbie sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2011, 02:25 PM:

Ack! forgot to flag.

#227 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2012, 12:22 AM:

The Daily Beast: Report: Top al Qaeda Leader Killed.

This publication has used the canonical headline at least twice before.

#228 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2012, 08:08 PM:

6 May 2012: An airstrike Sunday killed a top al-Qaida leader on the FBI’s most wanted list for his role in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole warship, Yemeni officials said. The airstrike resembled earlier U.S. drone attacks, but the U.S. did not immediately confirm it.

#229 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 08:21 AM:

Bikya Masr: Top al-Qaeda leader killed in Yemen.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Top al-Qaida leader killed in Yemen, U.S. says

Lots of fragments in various news sources today, "top al-Qaida leader" or "top al-Qaeda leader" dead, or buried, or the object of sentences, or with modifiers such as "linked to USS Cole" appended. But the above two are solid examples of the standard phrasing.



#230 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 09:20 AM:

Bill Higgins... I still think the Mysterons are behind this.

#231 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2012, 10:13 PM:

NATO Says Airstrike Killed Al-Qaida's No. 2 in Afghanistan.

Slate, the source of this headline, notes that the NYT's skeptical about Sakhr al-Taifi's exact status. Apparently, although NATO claims that Taifi was the second-in-command, he wasn't actually on the official wanted list and nobody ever publicized his name before his death.

I am trying to decide whether it's too cynical to interpret the evidence as a case of "Oh, look, we killed someone, therefore he must have been important."

#232 ::: Rymenhild has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2012, 10:15 PM:

Dear gnomes,

Have a plate of cookies to go with the news articles I just linked.

Yours respectfully,
Rymenhild

#233 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2012, 11:34 PM:

235
I don't think so. Our Beloved Government is claiming that every male of military age who is killed in a bombing of any kind is a militant. (They apparently don't count women and children at all. Apparently there are no male refugees, either.)

#234 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2012, 12:00 AM:

"Look, a dead terrorist!"

"How do you know he's a terrorist?"

"He's dead, isn't he?"

#235 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 03:43 PM:

US official: CIA drone strike in Pakistan kills no. 2 Al Qaeda leader

We're consistently up to #2! At this rate, the five-year plan will be completed in four years.

#236 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 03:53 PM:

"Who are you?"
"The new Number Two."

#237 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 04:13 PM:

I wonder if we get these high ranking AQ press releases even when the CIA does their "signature strikes" where they don't even know rhe names of the people they're targeting, just that they look kinda guilty.

And the painful bit is, these not all that credible reports are the baseline common picture of reality we all are supposed to assume when disussing our wars. We're told we kill a lot of bad guys and almost no innocents, and most American media reports that pretty uncritically, even when there is good reason to suspect we kill a hell of a lot of bystanders. We are told these strikes are stunningly successful. And yet, the programs are too sensitive to let any actual oversight happen--though not too sensitive to leak stories that make the president look good.

The truth is that even relatively informed people in the US have only a vague, cartoon-like propaganda image of what we are doing overseas. And getting a more realistic picture of that stuff moves you, automatically, outside the mainstream consensus picture of the world. And then we vote on the basis of this cartoon picture of reality. Unsurprisingly, we can't really exert any control over this stuff--how could we? IMO, this is the strongest argument against an interventionist, active foreign policy. As it is run now, voters basically can't do any meaningful oversight--whether we're running torture chambers or propping up dictators who are in the middle of massive repression of their people or murdering the 16 year old kid of a US citizen who made scary English language Al Qaida propaganda, most Americans never even suspect it's happening. Even among the subset who tries to stay informed, my sense is that very few people know much.

#238 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2012, 09:48 PM:

239
Beat me to it. (Of course, I was at work when I saw it, and can't get in from there....)

#239 ::: joann sees link spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2012, 01:57 PM:

Non-sequitur comment, and all that.

#240 ::: mjfgates sees the spam song ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2012, 04:39 AM:

Should sentences with no initial capital letter set off the gnomes, perhaps? Or is it hard to scan for those?

#241 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 11:29 PM:

Al-Qaida's No. 2 Leader in Yemen Killed in Airstrike

He was in Guantanamo Bay for 6 years, I note. I also note that the United States hasn't claimed the death as their responsibility.

There were five other people killed by the same missile. The news article doesn't tell us anything about them.

#242 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2012, 12:40 AM:

You beat me to it.

Toronto's Globe and Mail has the canonical form over a sory from the Associated Press: Top al-Qaeda leader killed in airstrike: Yemeni officials.

#244 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 02:20 AM:

"Top men."
- Raiders if the Lost Ark

#245 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2012, 04:35 AM:

Bill Higgins @244

That particular "Top Al Qaeda leader" was claiming responsibility for a gunman in Toulouse, which is now seeming plausible. But when was the claim made?


#246 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2012, 12:07 AM:

Newstrackindia (among other sources) has a story from the Indo-Asian News Service:

Top Al Qaeda leader killed in Algeria

Originates with Xinhua, but that agency did not use The Headline.

#247 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2012, 12:25 AM:

I still think Al Qaeda is in cahoots with the Mysterons.

#249 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2013, 09:08 AM:

Even the mighty CNN reaches for clichéd headlines now and then.

Report: Top al Qaeda leader killed

#250 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2013, 09:50 AM:

"Top men."
- Raiders of the Lost Ark

#251 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2013, 12:55 PM:

Near-miss: Google News headlines picked up the canonical phrase from Sky News:

Arabia has been killed, ...
News for "top Al Qaeda Leader killed"

Top Al Qaeda Leader 'Killed In Mali'

Sky News ‎- 1 day ago
French forces in Mali have reportedly killed Abdelhamid Abu Zeid, a commander of al Qaeda's north Africa wing. Abu Zeid was among 40 ...

However, clicking through reveals that, since the moment when Google crawled, Sky has changed its headline to a less-clichéd "Senior Al Qaeda Leader 'Killed In Mali'." Oh, well.

#252 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2013, 01:35 PM:

251
Close enough, though.

#253 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2013, 11:22 AM:

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey @251: French forces in Mali have reportedly killed Abdelhamid Abu Zeid, a commander of al Qaeda's north Africa wing...

Top Al Qaeda Wingman Killed...

#254 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 01:23 AM:

Niti Central headline, over an Associated Press story:

Top Al Qaeda leader killed in Yemen

#255 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 10:36 AM:

I still think the Mysterons are behind this.

#256 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 09:15 PM:

Al Jazeera: Algeria says top Al-Qaeda leader killed:

The two four-wheel-drive vehicles were hit as they were carrying Khalil Ould Addah, known as Abu Bassen, the number three leader in the terror network's North African branch, said the official from the southern regional capital of Tamanrasset.

So a top guy, but top in North Africa, not globally-top. Does this represent a lowering of headline standards?

#257 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 11:40 PM:

Daily Sabah, picking up a story from Agence France Presse:TOP AL-QAEDA LEADER KILLED BY YEMEN FORCES: STATE MEDIA

Also picked up by the Daily Star of Lebanon: Top Al-Qaeda leader killed by Yemen forces: report

#258 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2014, 11:56 PM:

Why does anyone want to be the top guy? It always turns into the St Peter Principle.

#259 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2014, 10:49 AM:

From The Onion's coverage of ISIS, a similar Islamic extremist group currently fighting in Syria and Iraq:

Modest ISIS Leader Credits Promotion Entirely To Drone Strikes

“While I’d love to pat myself on the back for being elevated to field commander, I have to say the missiles that killed my supervisor and wounded several of my peers really paved the way for me to advance,” said Farzat, conceding that while he had impressed his superiors with his leadership in ethnic cleansing campaigns, the strikes from U.S. Predator drones deserved “99.9 percent of the credit.”

#260 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 07:52 PM:

A vertitable bonanza of The Headline this week, as across the world the press reports the death of Adnan el Shukrijumah.

MSNBC: Top al Qaeda leader killed in raid, Pakistan military says

Euronews: Top al-Qaeda leader killed in Pakistani military raid

Press Trust of India: Top al-Qaeda leader killed in Pak military raid

There are several more, but why go on?

#261 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2014, 09:37 PM:

Darn Mysterons again!

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