Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall: Which is the Scariest Country of All?

The Pew Research Center polled 17,000 people in 15 countries on their attitudes toward Iran's nuclear ambitions and the United States's continuing presence in Iraq, in the context of which was the bigger threat to global security:

The presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is a greater threat to Mideast stability than the government in Iran, according to an annual poll of European and Muslim countries.

People in Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Russia rated America's continuing involvement in Iraq a worse problem than Iran and its nuclear ambitions, according to polling by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Views of U.S. troops in Iraq were even more negative in countries like Indonesia, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Pakistan.

America's image rebounded in some countries last year after the United States offered aid to tsunami victims, but those gains have disappeared, the Pew poll found.

Also: If George W. Bush's GWOT has made Americans in "the homeland" safer, and reduced the risk of another 9/11-type attack, then why are U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials seeing a rise in Islamist terror cells within the United States?

U.S. intelligence and law enforcement authorities are discovering new home-grown cells of Islamist radicals in the United States that draw inspiration and moral support from al Qaeda, officials said on Tuesday.

Like local terrorism cells that have recently come to light in Canada and Europe, officials said the groups are comprised of disaffected young men in their teens and 20s who rely on the Internet to try to organize and plan potential attacks on the U.S. homeland.

Concern about attacks inside the United States gathered pace after the arrest earlier this month in Canada of 17 men -- all Canadian citizens or residents -- accused of planning al Qaeda-inspired attacks across densely populated southern Ontario.

Scott Redd, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said in a written statement to the Senate that the emergence of home-grown terrorist groups is posing "real challenges" for U.S. authorities despite law enforcement successes at disrupting potential attacks.

"We are grappling with a whole new set of questions: what forces give rise to this violent ideology in immigrant communities that may appear otherwise to be quite well assimilated? ... What signs should we be looking for to try to draw early warning of potential problems?" the statement said.

It's really not rocket science. This is part of the reason why. This is another. And this. And this.

But of course the Bush administration will never be moved to reexamine the policies that cause such anti-American feeling. Rather, they will continue to jump on developments like this to justify actions like the NSA illegal surveillance program and collecting the call records of 280 million Americans.

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