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Disturbing News About Hezbollah:

Ha'aretz:

The head of American intelligence, Admiral (ret.) Mike McConnell, revealed a secret a week ago: Hezbollah sleeper cells are waiting in the United States for the order to carry out terror attacks. The unclassified version of the intelligence assessment, the one distributed to the public, has been stating for years that Hezbollah has the ability and intentions to act against American targets and assets. However, this description has been vague enough to deceive the public into thinking that attacks are expected only in Lebanon and other places in the Middle East. McConnell, who crafted his speech on the fly while on the way from the White House to another location in Washington, tripped up and let slip what the American intelligence community had discovered from its sources and was trying to hide....

The expected trigger for Hezbollah attacks, both in the secret assessment and the censored version, is if America or Israel crosses what McConnell calls a "red line" as far as Hezbollah is concerned: an attack on Iran. A response to this will shed American blood. Politicians will have to explain to the public, the day after a bombing in Iran and reprisals in Detroit or Los Angeles, why it has brought down this unnecessary trouble, which intelligence had warned about, on the tranquil civilians between the two oceans.

The recent past has taught the Iranians that the Americans, like cold business people [olr short-sighted politicians, ed.], tend to cut their losses and get rid of failed investments. They were defeated and they surrendered after the takeover of the embassy in Tehran. Two attacks on the embassy in Beirut and one on the Marines at the airport at Khaldeh expelled the Sixth Fleet from Lebanon's shores. The kidnapping of its citizens led the Americans, with Israel's help, to sell arms to the Iranians in their war against the Iraqis. You don't have to be Pavlov to recognize a behavior pattern here.

I'm sure Washington is disgusted, as it should be, at the Israeli government's ineptitude in failing to destroy Hezbollah last Summer.

Preferred Customer:
Not defending ineptitude of any kind, but how could the Israeli government have destroyed "sleeper cells" that are waiting inside the United States?

Hezbollah, Iran and Syria are big problems. As this report illustrates (if it is true), these issues extend far beyond Lebanon. Expecting a limited military incursion into Lebanon to "destroy" Hezbollah, given its backing by Iran and Syria, is exactly the kind of mistaken thinking that led Israel to mount that disastrous incursion in the first instance.
7.25.2007 10:29am
Hoosier:
My blog-monitoring has me convinced that this is all a conspiratorial plot, anyway. Bush has set these guys up to 'do some crimes,' just now when we are focusing on the presidential race. He'll then use the attacks to declare martial law and cancel the elections.

The neocons of ZOG told him to do so. Do you think it was an /accident/ that Israel failed to destroy Hezbollah?

And what about the '69 Mets?
7.25.2007 10:39am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Preferred, without an operational base in S. Lebanon, Hez wouldn't be a threat. From what I've read, the IDF had a longstanding contingency plan to attack Hez from the North and South simultaneously, but Olmert refused to allow it, because (1) his chief of staff told him Hez could be defeated by air power alone; and (2) fear of civilian casualties/world opinion.
7.25.2007 10:45am
Spitzer:
Yes, David, the proper attitude is to blame Israel for our problems. The ayatolla would be pleased.
7.25.2007 10:48am
law clerk (mail):
It is now clear (as if it wasn't then) that Olmert and Co. mismanaged the Lebanon war last summer. I assume that David wasn't "blaming Israel for our problems" as much as blaming Israel's incompetent prime minister and his crew for missing the chance to eliminate Hezbollah for good. That's a perfectly valid criticism, and one that is shared by many, as Olmert's single-digit approval ratings in Israel demonstrate.

Whether success in Lebanon would have hurt Hezbollah cells in the US is unknown - perhaps those cells take orders from Nasrallah, but perhaps from Iran directly. Who knows?
7.25.2007 10:59am
Adeez (mail):
I wonder when people are gonna wake up and realize, once and for all, that peace is the way. Perhaps when the entire earth is scorched.

By the way, Hoosier might be onto something. I was wondering what the July 17th Executive Order was all about.
7.25.2007 11:01am
chris c:
the notion that the US would respond to attacks on US soil by shrinking away is unpersuasive. The incidents cited by Haaretz - the US embassy, Beirut - all occurred overseas, and so played into the common American sentiment of 'screw them, let's leave these lunatics to kill each other off.'

attacks on US soil - Pearl Harbor, 9/11 - tend to trigger different reactions. (I concede the 93 WTC bombing could have encouraged a diff point of view but the reaction to 9/11 should have corrected that misimpression about US sentiment.)

the smart terrorist who wants to shoo the US from the Mideast would focus on raising costs by attacking US interests in the Mideast and encouraging isolationist sentiment here. attacking us here is most likely to result in your death or early retirement to somewhere in pakistan's NW Frontier.
7.25.2007 11:05am
Deoxy (mail):
"I'm sure Washington is disgusted, as it should be, at the Israeli government's ineptitude in failing to destroy Hezbollah last Summer."

Excpt that they were, IIRC pressuring Israel to quit going after them at all...

Of course, I wish they HAD finished the job, but I wish ANYONE would finish that job - the world would be a better place.

Adeez - "peace is the way"?!? Allow me to give you an old quote: "It needs but one foe to breed a war, not two, Master Warden, and those who have not swords can still die upon them." We can have peace only when thre aren't people dedicated to killing us all. You're talking to the wrong side about peace.
7.25.2007 11:22am
Cornellian (mail):
The expected trigger for Hezbollah attacks, both in the secret assessment and the censored version, is if America or Israel crosses what McConnell calls a "red line" as far as Hezbollah is concerned: an attack on Iran. A response to this will shed American blood.

I'm sure Washington is disgusted, as it should be, at the Israeli government's ineptitude in failing to destroy Hezbollah last Summer.


So Hezbollah would be so outraged at an attack on Iran as to retaliate inside the United States, but an attack on Hezbollah itself in Lebanon would not trigger any such retaliation? They care about the Iranians more than they care about themselves?
7.25.2007 11:23am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
So Hezbollah would be so outraged at an attack on Iran as to retaliate inside the United States, but an attack on Hezbollah itself in Lebanon would not trigger any such retaliation? They care about the Iranians more than they care about themselves?
Except that the U.S. is unlikely to attack them in Lebanon, leaving that to (hopefully) the Israelis.

And what has to be kept in mind is that they are Iranian proxies. They are funded, armed, and trained by the Iranians. And they do what the Iranians tell them to do.

Besides, the one reality that they would face with an attack on us on U.S. soil is that we would go after them in Lebanon. Iran is still very problematic, but these two situations are very different in magnitude. We probably don't have the ground troops right now to take on Iran on the ground, even if we weren't involved in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Hizb'Allah is a much smaller target, and the Israelis presumably have enough intelligence on them that we would likely have a decent chance on pulling it off.

I do though think that it would be strategically unwise for Iran to unleash them on us here if only the Israelis were involved. But then, they probably wouldn't be, even if only Israelis attacked Iran, since they would likely have to fly through U.S. controlled air space to pull off the attack.
7.25.2007 11:38am
Justin (mail):
How about, ya know, not attacking Iran? It has the added benefit of NOT BEING ABSOLUTELY INSANE as a matter of policy.
7.25.2007 11:39am
Steve:
Bob Graham was warning the public about Hezbollah sleeper cells way back in 2003.

Bob Graham voted against the Iraq war because he believed Hezbollah should be the priority in the war on terror.

But others just "knew" Saddam had to be our top priority. Oh, the lengths they went to in order to convince everyone Saddam was the top priority. And so it goes.
7.25.2007 11:44am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
A CIA report? Must be slam dunk accurate then.
7.25.2007 11:46am
Jeek:
how could the Israeli government have destroyed "sleeper cells" that are waiting inside the United States?

By activating their own sleeper cells in the US, of course! =)

without an operational base in S. Lebanon, Hez wouldn't be a threat

Their operational base in Lebanon is only a threat to Israel. They don't need it to threaten the US. If it had been completely eliminated last summer, that would not prevent Iran from establishing sleeper cells here.

the one reality that they would face with an attack on us on U.S. soil is that we would go after them in Lebanon

Iran would just love that. America stuck to yet another piece of flypaper and thus even more unable to go into Iran itself. American troops getting shot up by yet another guerrilla force, and floundering around ineffectively with no prospect of actual victory. America blowing up yet more Arabs live on al Jazeera. Yup, what a great plan. That's so brilliant, the administration might actually do it.
7.25.2007 11:55am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
An example of the deleterious effect that video games have had on public policy arguments is the tacit (and erroneous) assumption that the game can always be resolved in victory, whether it's killing the most evil Boss in World of Warcraft or defeating Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Clue up: Real life doesn't come with cheat codes.
7.25.2007 12:12pm
Justin (mail):
"Clue up: Real life doesn't come with cheat codes."

But it does come with 50,000 or so extra lives.
7.25.2007 12:14pm
ejo:
if you consider "real life" to be leaving the capabilities of an enemy to kill enormous amounts of your citizens intact, perhaps you should play some more video games.
7.25.2007 12:19pm
Jeek:
In January 2009, Bush and Cheney are going to see "4% complete... 3 of 1,000 possible achievements unlocked" flashing on their screens.
7.25.2007 12:22pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I will reserve my outrage for the US authorities who attempt to gather electronic intelligence in order to locate these sleeper cells. But, I'd also like to reserve some outrage for FBI sleepers who infiltrate mosques and Arab organizations in the US in an attempt to locate those cells.
7.25.2007 12:40pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

I'm sure Washington is disgusted, as it should be, at the Israeli government's ineptitude in failing to destroy Hezbollah last Summer.

I'm sure they are. They shouldn't be, as it was never going to be possible to destroy Hezbollah in its entirety unless they were willing to occupy Lebanon. They should be disgusted at themselves for greenlighting Israel's over-reaction to the kidnapping of its soldiers that resulted in Hezbollah being more powerful and highly regarded today than it was before the bombing.


Ostensibly, it is a considerable intelligence achievement if the Central Intelligence Agency has acquired information about Hezbollah's emergency plans.


I hate to have to say this, but I will be shocked if a) this is true and b) the CIA managed to discover that fact.
7.25.2007 1:23pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
Is there any way to simply not have the posts of certain contributors show up when one comes to this blog. [Ed: Try select a blogger under "Features" on volokh.com. Rest of post deleted for vitriol]
7.25.2007 1:30pm
Sigivald (mail):
Adeez: Hoosier was being sarcastic. Notice the "'69 Mets".

And while "peace is the way", there's the slight problem of how you achieve peace with people who want you dead.

Note that technically one can achieve "peace" by killing every last one of your enemies; I don't think you mean to propose that, and I suggest it only as a last resort.

Remember that there was going to be peace in Europe no matter how WW2 ended; as it happened, we got the "peace" where the Nazis didn't control the entire continent with an iron fist and mass-exterminations. But if they'd won? It'd still have been "peace", after all!

Just a reminder that while peace is the goal, what sort of peace is relevant, and not all peaces are the same - the peace of the grave is not so eagerly desired.

(And I'm with Chris C. contra Iran on the likely reaction to Hizbollah attacks in the US; I think the reaction is less likely to be "Oh, we should just leave Iran alone because they killed a bunch of our civilians" and more likely to be "Why haven't we leveled Tehran yet?")
7.25.2007 1:41pm
Al Maviva (mail) (www):
Lukasiak, the only person on this thread who is equating Hezbollah with all "muslims/arab/palestians" is you, in your indictment of Bernstein.
7.25.2007 1:51pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
paul lukasiak asks "Is there any way to simply not have the posts of certain contributors show up when one comes to this blog[?]"

Yes, there is. The managers have explained it several times over the years, but I didn't write it down, since I prefer to read them all. What we need is:

a. Something in the right margin linking to those instructions.

b. Some way to have certain commenters not show up when we are reading comments.
7.25.2007 1:52pm
David Drake:
Elliott123 said: I will reserve my outrage for the US authorities who attempt to gather electronic intelligence in order to locate these sleeper cells. But, I'd also like to reserve some outrage for FBI sleepers who infiltrate mosques and Arab organizations in the US in an attempt to locate those cells

I don't understand what you mean. Are you expressing outrage against the asserted ineptitude, or against the attempt itself? If the latter, how would you propose that the U.S. locate these sleeper cells (if they exist)?
7.25.2007 1:53pm
Avatar (mail):
Lazarus, the game you mentioned doesn't come with cheat codes either. Defeating anything is a matter of close cooperation between a group of people and an acceptance of casualties... ;p
7.25.2007 2:10pm
cathyf:
The recent past has taught the Iranians that the Americans, like cold business people [olr short-sighted politicians, ed.], tend to cut their losses and get rid of failed investments.
I think that this is not just recent past, either, as long as you understand that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were how we cut our losses after Pearl Harbor.

There is another side to it as well. If the US were to attack Iran without any more provocation than exists today, then the Iranian civilian population would rally to their flag. If Iran were to attack the US (either directly or through a proxy) then far more Iranians would see US response as being caused by their own government. The more dramatic and effective the attack on the US is, the more Iranians would blame their own government for the resulting counterattack.

The American self-image is that of Indiana Jones in the battle in the bazaar. Where the guy with the 2 giant swords comes up and brandishes them dramatically, and Indy looks disgusted, pulls out his gun and shoots the guy. The more successful the attack, the more public support there will be in the US for a nuclear counterattack. This is the fatal conceit of the terrorists -- that we respond the way we do because we are terrified by them. We respond the way we do because we are bored and fickle and inconstant and impatient, and the terrorists' behavior hasn't actually broken through our self-absorption and we aren't (yet) reacting to them at all.
7.25.2007 2:24pm
Elliot123 (mail):
David,

I was expressing clumsy sarcasm, something I probably shouldn't do while talking on the phone about a completely different subject. Walking and chewing gum comes to mind. Sorry.

On a more serious note, I have to wonder if it really is possible to defeat such an enemy while maintaining our current standards of privacy. I suspect the answer is unknown since we don't have any experience with this type of enemy.
7.25.2007 2:37pm
Preferred Customer:

Preferred, without an operational base in S. Lebanon, Hez wouldn't be a threat. From what I've read, the IDF had a longstanding contingency plan to attack Hez from the North and South simultaneously, but Olmert refused to allow it, because (1) his chief of staff told him Hez could be defeated by air power alone; and (2) fear of civilian casualties/world opinion.


Since Hezbollah is funded by (and, indeed, is a creature of) Iran and Syria, why would driving them out of S. Lebanon eliminate them as a threat? If, in fact, there are "Hezbollah" sleeper cells in the US, wouldn't these cells simply be activated by Iranian or Syrian agents? Or, at the very least, if Hezbollah could be destroyed in Lebanon, wouldn't these sleeper cells simply extact vengeance for Israel's destruction of Hezbollah by carrying out their planned attacks?

My point is simply this: the problem with Hezbollah, whether we are talking about S. Lebanon or notional sleeper cells in the US, is not Hezbollah. It is Iran, and to a lesser extent, Syria. Unless you solve *those* problems, you can't make Hezbollah go away.
7.25.2007 2:43pm
Adeez (mail):
Sigivald, just for the record, I got the sarcasm. But thanks.

And I'm still wondering what that July 17 E.O. was all about.

And Peace IS the way. Oddly enough, this is coming from someone who lives in the bullseye that is NYC. So, when people wanna trample the Constitution and lose our moral high ground (assuming we still have it) b/c of outright FEAR that "America" is gonna be attacked, it's really a fear mostly borne by those in my hood. DC, SF, and Chicago too, to a lesser extent. And they all tend to share my sentiments. Go figure.
7.25.2007 3:23pm
Lloyd George:

Preferred, without an operational base in S. Lebanon, Hez wouldn't be a threat. From what I've read, the IDF had a longstanding contingency plan to attack Hez from the North and South simultaneously, but Olmert refused to allow it, because (1) his chief of staff told him Hez could be defeated by air power alone; and (2) fear of civilian casualties/world opinion.





Preferred, without an operational base in S. Lebanon, Hez wouldn't be a threat. From what I've read, the IDF had a longstanding contingency plan to attack Hez from the North and South simultaneously, but Olmert refused to allow it, because (1) his chief of staff told him Hez could be defeated by air power alone; and (2) fear of civilian casualties/world opinion.



Since Hezbollah is funded by (and, indeed, is a creature of) Iran and Syria, why would driving them out of S. Lebanon eliminate them as a threat? If, in fact, there are "Hezbollah" sleeper cells in the US, wouldn't these cells simply be activated by Iranian or Syrian agents? Or, at the very least, if Hezbollah could be destroyed in Lebanon, wouldn't these sleeper cells simply extact vengeance for Israel's destruction of Hezbollah by carrying out their planned attacks?

My point is simply this: the problem with Hezbollah, whether we are talking about S. Lebanon or notional sleeper cells in the US, is not Hezbollah. It is Iran, and to a lesser extent, Syria. Unless you solve *those* problems, you can't make Hezbollah go away.



It is likely that Olmert rejected the northern approach against Hezbollah since that just might possibly involve a clash with Syria and Olmert wasn't ready for that. Although I do remember some discussion of the possibility.
7.25.2007 3:32pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
okay, I changed by bookmark to read

http://volokh.com/?exclude=DavidB

that didn't work. It turns out that its case sensitive...and that while the instructions note that there are three "davids" (identified as "DavidB, DavidK, and DavidP") you have to enter only lower case letters-- otherwise, there is on impact.

[MAZEL TOV! ed.]
7.25.2007 3:47pm
Bruce:
This wasn't "news" from Ha'aretz, it's some sort of opinion column. The guy sounds like the Israeli version of Charles Krauthammer.
7.25.2007 4:27pm
Dick King:

The American self-image is that of Indiana Jones in the battle in the bazaar. Where the guy with the 2 giant swords comes up and brandishes them dramatically, and Indy looks disgusted, pulls out his gun and shoots the guy.


I have an amusing anecdote that may have implications for this discussion.

I understand that the script originally called for an extensively choreographed physical fight that Prof. Jones would have won -- but that the actor, who does his own stunts, was feeling travelers' stomach and couldn't "put out" on the appointed day, so they altered the script to have him get past the swordsman in an equally decisive but less demanding manner.

If it's not true, it should be. Read into this incident the analogy you will, for the current situation.

-dk
7.25.2007 5:27pm
Kelvin McCabe:
So you can kill an ideology engrained into a relatively large segment of a specific society with bombs, bullets and blood? Wow. If only Isreal had really let them have it... we could put an end to these crazy "ideas" once and for all. If anything in the middle east for the last 100 years is true, its that nobody else still left living after the overwheling response would hold a grudge.

Unbelievable.
7.25.2007 6:56pm
Anoncommenter (mail):
"So you can kill an ideology engrained into a relatively large segment of a specific society with bombs, bullets and blood?"

Yes, see, e.g., WWII killing off Naziism, the Civil War killing off southern secessionism, and so forth and so on.
7.25.2007 7:17pm
Gaius Marius:
Ceterum censeo, Persia delenda est!
7.25.2007 7:37pm
Crunchy Frog:
Wow... everyone here just assumes that the leveling of Detroit would be a Bad Thing.

Just a thought.
7.26.2007 4:41am
Kelvin McCabe:
Anon- now thats funny. A guerilla group of religous extremists is the equivalent of the german reich or the southern confederacy. Hezbollah has its own country and government now? I thought they were stateless actors with State support, but if you want to grant them such legitimacy, go on ahead.

In reality, as remarked above by another commenter, all the blood, bombs and bullets do is energize the populations so affected to give more support for hezbollah. Which in turn causes more terrorist attacks (from their perspective, either avenging the deaths of their innocent or legitimate response to agression) on Isreal, which in turn causes more self-defense from Isreal on Lebanon, ad infinitum.

Whats the old saying, if everyone practiced the theory of an eye for an eye, eventually the whole world would be blind??? I think thats apropos to this situation.

Even if you wipe out all of hezbollah in Syria, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, etc... another group not yet dead would simply replace them. Muslim brotherhood, Islamic Jihad, whatever. And the cycle continues. There is no easy solution to this major problem, but brute force, as is demonstrated overwhelmingly in Aghanistan and Iraq, simply aint cutting it. Unless the goal is incitement and recruitment for endless war. Then its a success by all stretches of the imagination.
7.26.2007 3:08pm
Enoch:
all the blood, bombs and bullets do is energize the populations so affected to give more support for hezbollah.

If this were true, no guerrilla group could ever be defeated. Yet many - in fact, most - insurgencies are defeated.
7.27.2007 2:20am