[DEBATE] : war on gangs/war on terror: both making things worse
tony roshan samara
straightup00us at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 19 15:36:19 BST 2007
You'd almost think there was a lesson here ...
Report: Gang suppression doesn't work By ANDREW GLAZER, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 2 minutes ago
Anti-gang legislation and police crackdowns are failing so badly that they are strengthening the criminal organizations and making U.S. cities more dangerous, according to a report being released Wednesday.
Mass arrests, stiff prison sentences often served with other gang members and other strategies that focus on law enforcement rather than intervention actually strengthen gang ties and further marginalize angry young men, according to the Justice Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank that advocates alternatives to incarceration.
"We're talking about 12-, 13-, 14-, 15-year-olds whose involvement in gangs is likely to be ephemeral unless they are pulled off the street and put in prison, where they will come out with much stronger gang allegiances," said Judith Greene, co-author of "Gang Wars: The Failure of Enforcement Tactics and the Need for Effective Public Safety Strategies."
The report is based on interviews and analysis of hundreds of pages of previously published statistics and reports. And though it is valid and accurate, the ideas raised in it are not new, said Arthur Lurigio, a psychologist and criminal justice professor at Loyola University of Chicago.
"These approaches, although they sound novel, are just old wine in new bottles," he said. "Gang crime and violence in poor urban neighborhoods have been a problem since the latter parts of the 19th century."
Lurigio, other academics and gang intervention workers have echoed elements of the report that found gangs need to be viewed as a symptom of other problems in poor communities, such as violence, teen pregnancy, drug abuse and unemployment.
The report says Los Angeles and Chicago are losing the war on gangs because they focus on law enforcement and are short on intervention.
It cites a report this year by civil rights attorney Connie Rice, who was hired by Los Angeles to evaluate its failing anti-gang programs. Her report called for an initiative to provide jobs and recreational programs in impoverished neighborhoods.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William Bratton both commended Rice's report. But in February, they unveiled a strategy that focused on targeting the city's worst gangs with arrests and civil injunctions that prohibit known gang members from associating with one another in public. Rice describes the city's policy on arresting the city's estimated 39,000 gang members as "stuck on stupid."
Wes McBride, executive director of the California Gang Investigators Association, dismissed the findings of the report, which he said was written by "thug-huggers." The investigators association is a professional organization for police officers.
"Are they saying we can't put a thief in jail, we can't put a murderer in jail, that we should spank them, put a diaper on them, pat them on the bottom, hug them and let them go?" McBride said. "It's obviously a think tank report, and they didn't leave their ivory tower and spend any time on the streets."
"Gang Wars" also criticizes politicians who overstate the threat of criminal gangs and seek tougher sentences.
Greene specifically criticized a bill introduced by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that would make it illegal to be a member of a criminal gang and would make it easier to prosecute some minors as adults.
But Feinstein spokesman Scott Gerber said the bill also calls for spending more than $400 million on gang prevention and intervention programs, which he said would be the largest single investment of its kind.
Associated Press writer Dan Strumpf in Chicago contributed to this report.
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July 18, 2007
Six Years After 9/11, the Same Terror Threat By SCOTT SHANE
WASHINGTON, July 17 Nearly six years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives expended in the name of the war on terror pose a single, insistent question: Are we safer?
On Tuesday, in a dark and strikingly candid two pages, the nations intelligence agencies offered an implicit answer, and it was not encouraging. In many respects, the National Intelligence Estimate suggests, the threat of terrorist violence against the United States is growing worse, fueled by the Iraq war and spreading Islamic extremism.
The conclusions were not new, echoing the private comments of government officials and independent experts for many months. But the stark declassified summary contrasted sharply with the more positive emphasis of President Bush and his top aides for years: that two-thirds of Al Qaedas leadership had been killed or captured; that the Iraq invasion would reduce the terrorist menace; and that the United States had its enemies on the run, as Mr. Bush has frequently put it.
After years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq and targeted killings in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere, the major threat to the United States has the same name and the same basic look as in 2001: Al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri, plotting attacks from mountain hide-outs near the Afghan-Pakistani border.
The headline on the intelligence estimate, said Daniel L. Byman, a former intelligence officer and the director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University, might just as well have been the same as on the now famous presidential brief of Aug. 6, 2001: Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.
The new estimate does cite some gains; known plots against the United States have been disrupted, it says, thanks to increased vigilance and countermeasures.
But the new estimate takes note of sources of worry that have arisen only since 2001. The Iraq war has spawned Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia as the most visible and capable affiliate of the original terrorist group, inspiring jihadists around the world and drawing money and recruits to their cause. The explosion of radical Internet sites has created self-generating cells of would-be terrorists in many Western countries. Lebanese Hezbollah, rarely considered likely to attack in the United States, now may be more likely to consider doing just that in response to a perceived threat from American forces to itself or its sponsor, Iran.
And if there had been progress after 9/11 in isolating and immobilizing Al Qaedas leaders in the tribal areas of Pakistan, some of it has come apart in the past year, with Pakistani troops abandoning patrols in North Waziristan and allowing greater freedom of movement to Al Qaedas core.
All told, despite the absence of any new attack on American soil since 2001, the conclusion that Al Qaeda will continue to enhance its capabilities to attack the United States suggests some miscalculation in the administrations basic formula against terrorism: that attacking the jihadists overseas would protect the homeland.
I guess we have to fight them over here even though were fighting them over there, said Steven Simon, a terrorism expert who served in the Clinton administration and is the co-author of The Next Attack.
Democrats proclaimed the document a devastating indictment of Bush administration policies, in the words of Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a presidential candidate. The documents pessimism was striking; it may reflect a determination of the intelligence agencies, accused of skewing some reports to back the presidents Iraq invasion plans in 2003, to make clear that their findings have not been tailored to suit the White House this time around.
But Max Boot, a security analyst who has generally supported the president, said the estimate cuts both ways politically. Even if some administration policies have been ineffective or have backfired, the estimate also concludes that Al Qaeda will probably try to capitalize on the network built up by its affiliate in Iraq, lending some support to the argument that a rapid exit from Iraq might prove dangerous for American security, said Mr. Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of War Made New.
It makes clear that the threat from Al Qaeda in Iraq is not just to Iraqis its to the U.S. homeland as well, he said.
The new assessment in some respects harks back to a National Intelligence Estimate in July 1995, which predicted terrorist attacks in the United States, specifying Wall Street, the White House and the Capitol as potential targets. It described a worldwide network of training facilities and safe havens.
An update of that N.I.E. in 1997 was the last such assessment issued before Sept. 11, a gap that the 9/11 commission decried in its review of the attacks. A new estimate earlier in 2001, as the spy agencies alarm about a possible attack increased, might have better focused government efforts to detect a plot, the commission argued in its report.
An estimate of the global terrorist threat last September described the emergence of the Iraq war as a cause célèbre for jihadists around the world. But that document also highlighted American actions it said had seriously damaged the leadership of Al Qaeda and disrupted its operations.
The bleak new assessment relegates almost to an aside those achievements, saying that Al Qaedas ability to attack is constrained and that the United States is now seen as a harder target. And it does not emphasize the absence of successful new strikes against the United States, a development that few security experts would have dared predict in late 2001.
The dreary judgment reflected in the new estimate emerged in part from Britains discovery in August 2006 of a major plot to take down trans-Atlantic airliners, said Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown University, who has studied terrorism for three decades. Mr. Hoffman said that there were indications that Qaeda leaders may have had a role in the plot, adding, It became impossible to ignore Al Qaedas evolution and resilience.
But the same plot underscored one of the notable bright spots for the United States: jihadist sentiment has so far turned out to hold little attraction for American Muslims, by contrast with those in Europe generally and the United Kingdom in particular, with its large population of South Asian immigrants.
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