Colleagues: We received a number of commentaries relating to policies/measures that should be taken in response to the Paris bombings and the surge in terrorism globally. Those policy recommendations were all written by folks who have served in law enforcement or been involved with counter-terrorism activities.

We asked Dr. Richard Siegel, emeritus professor from UNR, to provide another perspective, one that focuses more on the need to adhere to policies that protect our civil liberties while effectively countering terrorism. Here is his perspective:




  • By Richard Siegel

Those committed to civil liberties as a preeminent set of values recognize that they lose ground after each major terrorist attack. Yet our main points are made well by human rights organizations and even by President Obama.   The State of the Union speech placed some emphasis on the right to privacy even if the president`s willingness to make a major shift from the wholesale collection of American`s electronic records seems very unlikely.

The best argument for civil liberties in this sphere centers on the centrality of core American values to our vital soft power. Rejection of torture is something the U.S. accepted both in federal statutes and as a rectifier of the global Convention against Torture. The willingness of our government to condone torture under the rubric of enhanced interrogation methods is a lasting wound to the reputation of the United States.  We committed ourselves to no use of torture.  And the human rights conventions that the U.S. ratified require the investigation and prosecution of those responsible based on the usual standards of due process.   Further, our courts must be available to adjudicate claims of individuals who are harmed by certain counterterrorism measures although they have no relation to terrorism.  But the National Security Doctrine prevents most cases of violations of rights through counterterrorism to be blocked from court review at any level.

Each kind of watering down of the basic constitutional rights of Americans involves different considerations. Yes, the Constitution, and our international human rights obligations, should not be seen as a suicide pact.

But the standard of using the least restrictive measures necessary is reasonable.  This applies to interrogation and mass surveillance.  Conservatives apply that standard to most areas of regulation. Civil libertarians understand that they have allies on the right, especially the conservative libertarian right, in relation to the effects of counterterrorism methods on basic civil liberties.

Civil libertarians also strongly agree that those who would seriously erode the Bill of Rights for unproven and arguably unnecessary programs are playing a game that extremists want us to play.   Detention of Moslems and others without due process, and the collateral damage from some drone strikes (and other military measures) are among many counterterrorism measures that feed extremism and may well weaken our overall posture.

If respect for human rights and basic American liberties does not secure the readers’ support, the consequences of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo should.  We can be, and often are, our own worst enemy, especially when we fail to prevent and challenge American violations of rights and excesses that cannot be justified.

Dr. Rich Siegel, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and author of books and articles on International Human Rights and civil liberties,  UNR 

My Reflections on President Obama’s Visit to India

Atul V. Minocha

                                                      Professor at Hult International Business School                                                                                                             Partner & Consultant at Chief Outsiders                                                                  Founder at CrazEconomics

As I write this, President Obama is on the last leg of his 3-day visit to India.  At Ty Cobb’s request I am penning down my thoughts and observations on this historic visit – the first time a US president attended India’s Republic Day parade as its chief guest, and the first time a US president has visited India twice.  I must confess, I have been glued to my computer and iPad, watching the proceedings “live”!

There are two dimensions along which we can take measure of this visit.  One, we can assess it for its symbolism and what it achieved here in the US as well as in India.  And two, we can take stock of the key substantive issues that were on the table before and during this visit.

In my opinion, both of these dimensions are equally important.

On the symbolic front, this was a huge success in both India and the US.  Based on what I read in the Indian press and my direct conversations with family and friends in India, Michelle and Barack Obama struck the right notes in the minds and psyche of Indians at large.  They felt honored and proud at the same time.

The importance and success of symbolism was perhaps best summed up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he went off-script at the joint press conference and remarked (in Hindi), that “chemistry is more important than commas and full-stops on paper” in any relationship between nations.  Breaking protocol, PM Modi received the president at the airport.  Add a few spontaneous bear hugs, and this newfound but genuine and warm connection between the two leaders was obvious.

President Obama, from his side, made note of the significance of chai pe charcha (loosely translated as “discussion over tea”) during which PM Modi personally made and served tea to the president.  Later, at the state dinner, President Obama did not hesitate to make some warm and affectionate remarks about the prime minister that only close friends would feel comfortable making.

On substantive issues, at first glance, there seem to be some unfinished business.  But that is perhaps more a matter of unfettered expectations than reality.  After all, in democracies, leaders can only propose and negotiate ideas.  Actual acceptance and implementation is dependent on support of the majority of representatives of the people, including those in opposition.  And that takes time.

Let’s examine the four key issues that were on the table.

Nuclear Reactors:  The much-touted nuclear “deal” struck between PM Singh and President Bush (predecessors of Modi and Obama, respectively) in 2008 was stuck in neutral due to some key details around “traceability of materials” and “liability” in case of an accident.  US has now withdrawn its demands and has accepted that India will only need to conform to IAEA safeguards already in place.  On the liability front, in an ironic twist not uncommon in functioning democracies, PM Modi was put in a position to work around legislation that was brought about by his own party when they were in opposition.  Partnership between public sector insurance companies in India and the government of India will create a satisfactory level of insurance pool to address this potential liability.  For all intents and purposes, it’s game on for American nuclear energy suppliers.

Defense related trade:  It has been an oddity that as world’s largest international arms buyer, India’s defense related trade with the world’s largest international arms supplier, the United States, has not been of greater significance.  Until now, that is.  The fact that much of the defense equipment including missiles, tanks and fighter jets paraded before its esteemed chief guest from the United States came from Russia, France and the United Kingdom was likely not lost on president Obama or anyone else watching the parade.  As a result, US and India have now agreed to “co-development and co-production” of Raven mini-drones, C-130 transport aircraft, mobile hybrid power plants, and Uniform Integrated Protective Ensembles that guard against chemical and biological warfare.  All this will make the US India’s largest defense supplier.

Climate Change:  Coming at the heels of a landmark deal between China and the US, there was some expectation of something similar to emerge during this visit.  It did not.  For one, India’s contribution to global pollution is only about 1/5th that of China’s.  Second, India has always maintained its need to focus on economic development and growth and has been justifiably reluctant to sign up for anything that might hamstring its growth ambitions.  That said, both leaders were wise to discuss “clean energy, energy security, and climate change” as a package and an appropriate MoU was signed.  US has also agreed to help India achieve its goal of 100 GW of solar power by 2022.

Regional Security:  Somewhat surprisingly, “Pakistan” and “China” were not mentioned in any public forum or official statements during the visit.  In my view, that speaks to the maturity of the leaders and the relationship the two are forging between the nations.  Clearly, India has set its mind well above the usual neighborly bickering and squabbles that have been observed before, during and after such visits in the past.  That said, it is interesting to note that leading Pakistani and Chinese papers are still dismissive of the significance of this visit with an unmistakable flavor of sour grapes.

In closing, I want to comment on what some in the US media have dubbed as “the end of India’s non-alignment”.  In my opinion, India has never confused its “non-aligned” stance with “isolationism” or “with-us/against-us dichotomy”.  Instead, it has always tried to reach out to all nations that were able and willing to deal with India on an equal and mutually beneficial basis.  Just to put this in perspective, President Obama’s historic and significant second visit to India was preceded by equally heralded visits by Prime Minister Abe, President Xi Jinping and President Putin – all occurring within the last 6 months.

Atul Minocha, born in India, is currently living in Nevada.

Colleagues: I asked a few experts from the law enforcement and counter terrorism communities to provide policy recommendations or thoughts regarding what the United States should do to counter the growing threat from Islamic jihadists.  Their responses are below.  Obviously, given the authors’ association with LE and CT activities their recommendations tend to lean in favor of increased surveillance and other steps to counter these threats.  I will ask others who come from a background closer to wanting to protect civil liberties to do a follow up piece.


A Few Words on Countering the Terrorist Threat

Please remember there is no magic bullet that will solve the problem with one shot.  We are dealing with a complicated problem. On the other hand, the problem is not insoluble….Most of the terrorist groups that were functioning during the 1970s and 1980s have passed from the scene or abandoned terrorism for non-violent activity. The IRA in Northern Ireland and the Muslim separatists on Mindanao in the Philippines are cases in point.

It seems to me that the best way of tackling the problem is by distinguishing between long range solutions and more immediate ways of thwarting terrorist plans.

Long Range Solutions:  The French now require Imams to take courses on French culture and civilization. The Dutch require Muslim newcomers to learn something about morality and culture in the Netherlands. In other words, there are techniques for better integrating immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa into their surroundings.  We should be especially sensitive to second generation Muslim citizens since this group is the one for whom ISIS and al-Qaeda have the strongest appeal.  Saudi Arabia and some of the Persian Gulf sheikdoms should be encouraged to withdraw support from the Salafist/Jihadi cause. It would probably help,too, if the United States reduced its ‘footprint’ in the Muslim world.

Dealing with immediate problems: Improve human intelligence. The bigger the terrorist group, the easier it should be to penetrate (in the case of terrorism, success typically  breeds  failure). Offer a way out. In a number of countries (Italy, Colombia), offering individuals some way out has produced significant numbers of defectors. Also, even with a group of presumed religious fanatics, money sometimes talks. Bribery is not out of the question.  Do a better job of countering jihadist propaganda on the Internet.

  • Leonard Weinberg, Foundation Professor Emeritus, UNR is a recognized international expert on terrorism.


These latest events highlight the end of the nation-state which has been dying since the third and fourth Yugoslav Wars and the growth of globalization.  The rest of the world has basically shifted to the market state, but Islam is still centuries behind and clings to its ideological state – the umma.  Islam does not recognize national borders or nationality but wants the entire world eventually to be part of the Islamic caliphate.  It is all a bad joke since they cannot agree among themselves, but it is a powerful propaganda tool to attract adherents.  As Marco Polo observed, “The militant Muslim is the person who beheads the infidel, while the moderate Muslim holds the feet of the victim.”  This Muslim exclusiveness and refusal to integrate creates the potential of 5th columns in non-Muslim countries, thereby threatening modern civilization.  This ideology must be eliminated or drastically changed to bring it into the 21st Century (The calls for reformation by Presidents al-Sisi of Egypt and Essebsi of Tunisia are starters).  In the meantime, there will be constant threats of violence.

It is premature for the US to become involved militarily in this Muslim civil war, but we will be affected by their actions and we need to put mosques, Islamic organizations, and people under surveillance and shut down any sedition or treason.  Since it is impossible to protect every soft site from our power grid to stadiums to synagogues to shopping malls, it appears that the only solution is armed people, permitting the open carry of weapons (as in Israel) to deter attacks or deal with them immediately.

  • COL/Dr Richard Hobbs is a prolific writer on Islamic topics, including his recent book, “World War IV: Islamofascism, the Third Jihad, and Other Threats to the U.S.A.“


The most important investigative tools in our efforts  to combat Islamic Terrorism or Muslim extremism, or whatever the US Administration wishes to call these increasingly violent attacks worldwide, are the ability of US Intelligence Agencies to develop and maintain long term intelligence assets – both physical and electronic.  Physical asssets ( ie. A mole in these various terrorist cells) are extremely hard to develop due to a cultural bias against anyone not a native  born Muslim and a direct family member.  A good one is a treasured resource and his or her identity must be protected at all costs.   Sharing of valuable intelligence from such sources between the US and our most trusted allies ,while essential, is often fraught with danger as it takes only one indiscrete slip to undermine years of development effort.  Therefore, an ongoing challenge for the US will be to insure that we have the proper safeguards in place to protect the identity of assets and perhaps win back some of the lost confidence of our allies that we are able to do so.  The same goes for information coming from some of our own assets and shared with our allies so as not to alert the enemy to our methods and tactics.

This is not easy in a society such as ours where leaks are aggressively pursued by the press and Congressional members and staffers are targeted for the inside scoop.  We as a Nation of Laws must trust our Intelligence agencies to be aggressive in this battle and never give encouragement to the enemy by passing restrictive regulations and then publicizing what our agents can and cannot do in Terrorism investigations.  Stating publically,  for example, that we will investigate and bring to trial Government agents who are considered “overly aggressive”  in defending our country is sheer MADNESS.

  • Robert Gast formerly served as Assistant Director of the FBI


“Terrorism is theater. The true target is the audience watching.”

Bryan Jenkins – RAND Corporation, International Terrorism Bureau.


No nation, the USA included, has the resources to protect all possible terrorist targets. Thus the USA must focus on probable targets. However, this in itself would stretch America’s security forces to their limits. “Probable targets” would include symbolic sites or places where mass casualties could occur. Terrorism is like water, it follows the path of least resistance!

In the 60’s and 70’s the USA was faced with Marxist ideological “revolutionaries.” Today we face Islamic extremist ideologues. Their goals are the same; to change our nation to make us bleed. The main difference between the two extremist groups is that the Jihadists are fully prepared to die for their cause. In fact, they target civilian society, after significant planning, with the expectation of being killed by security forces.

So how does the USA protect itself against terrorists intent on killing as many citizens as possible before being exterminated by the police or military?

  1. Read their mail. In other words, use all means, HUMINT or technological, to access what is being sent out via Al Qaeda and Islamic State electronic communications. Identify the publishers of these death manuals. Hack them. Distort their messages. If possible, determine who is reading these manuals on how to spread death and destruction. The Boston Bombers learned how to make pressure cooker bombs from “Inspire”, the AQ magazine. Follow the electronic trail.
  1. Focus on possible Jihad suspects. This includes the wannabes and those who have traveled to the Middle East. Put resources into surveillance and when necessary pressure these individuals. Put them on the defense. It is an old LE (law enforcement) technique. Putting pressure on a suspect often causes them to make a mistake. Then you act. This may mean drawing resources off of “probable” targets, but the French learned recently that they had too few personnel trying to monitor too many possible Jihadists in their midst. Lastly, develop confidential informants. There are several covert means LE can use to establish CI’s. Use whatever it takes.
  1. Playing only defense against today’s domestic terrorists is a losing game plan. Law enforcement must aggressively investigate and pursue today’s terrorists. For every attack that is carried out, regardless of the deaths of the perpetrators, in the world of Islamic extremism, that is a victory against the infidel! Every “victory” against the West brings in more recruits and more money. Get laws implemented that will allow for playing offense against our domestic Jihadists that do not violate Constitutional limitations. However, keep in mind that our Constitution is not a suicide pact!
  1. Mumbai, Nairobi, Peshawar: All major victories in the eyes of the extremists pulling the strings behind these horrific attacks. And the world was watching. Yet the terrorists were killed, save one in Mumbai. The end result–many deaths and major media coverage. More recruits and funding.
  1. Our prison system is a major source of recruiting converts. The prisons are required in most states and federal to provide religious services to inmates. A shortcoming reported numerous times in the media and before Commissions has been that the Imams allowed to preach have not been thoroughly vetted. Are Muslim extremists being allowed into our prisons to convert and recruit Jihadist terrorists? The findings are – yes. Two potentially dangerous groups come to mind. Many of the members are “converts” from our various prison systems.
  1. Monitor questionable Mosques that permit Imams to preach violence against America and the West. I was advised by FBI agents, just before the first World Trade center bombing, that they were banned by the then Attorney General from surveillance of a Mosque in Washington, DC, that was known to bring into the USA extremist Imams preaching destruction to the West. These types of restrictions must end.

We are a nation of Constitutional protections. Even for those who would do us harm. However, Congress can provide the legal means or fine tune the Patriot Act to allow for law enforcement to fight the terrorist threat – that is growing worldwide.

  • Lawrence Martines is a former Commander of an anti-extremist unit in a major US law enforcement agency.

Save the date for a most interesting presentation on….


More proliferation or real reductions of nuclear arsenals?


Keith Hansen

Former National Intelligence Officer for

Nuclear Weapon Programs and Non-Proliferation

The Ramada, 9:00 a.m., Thursday, February 19th

Keith Hansen will briefly trace the growth of offensive strategic nuclear weapon arsenals over time, with particular focus on US & Soviet/Russian balances. He will cover efforts to reduce those arsenals (SALT/START/INF, etc), which might be in jeopardy given the deteriorating relationship today between Moscow and Washington. Hansen will also look at what other nuclear states currently hold and assess international efforts to halt the further proliferation of nuclear weapons (e.g. NPT/CTBT).

Hansen will also discuss the utility of nuclear weapons in meeting today’s threats and the viability of their total elimination (which Reagan endorsed) particularly in light of advances in conventional munitions.  Finally he will address the threat of terrorist groups obtaining and employing nuclear weapons.

No need to RSVP now—just mark this date down on your calendars. In early March we also hope to have a briefing on strategic defensive system designed to counter the offensive forces Hansen will discuss.

Summary of the Program on….

The Geostrategic Ramifications of

the Surge in Global Oil Production

National Security Forum participants were treated to a timely and provocative analysis of the impact of the surge in global oil production and the concomitant severe drop in oil prices.  The price of oil has fallen by over 40%, today below $46– down from a high of $115 not that long ago.

The amount of oil that has come online just this year is staggering.  Production has soared in the U.S., and other major exporters have not decreased production in order to stabilize prices.  Today’s participants examined the geostrategic implications of these changes, highlighting that there are clear winners and losers.

Dr. John Scire noted that the key changes in the world oil picture relate to amount of oil produced, the collapse in prices, and how much it has changed in the US. Global oil production since 2009 is up by 2.2 billion barrels per year, and the price per barrel has dropped from $144 in August of 2008 to $46 today. At the same time US production has grown 62%.  A full 26% of that new US production is from the oil shales.

The United States is at a point that it will soon blow past its previous Peak Oil production of 9.6 million barrels per day achieved in 1970. US oil imports have dropped from 65% of consumption to 45%, and most of that is now coming from the Western Hemisphere. The US only imports 7% from the Middle East and can stop importing oil from anywhere outside of the Western Hemisphere by 2016. The positive economic impacts of this increased US oil production are widespread throughout all levels of the US economy.

Dr. Jerry O’Driscoll provided an economic analysis of falling oil prices. At the macro level, countries who are net producers of oil will suffer while countries who are net consumers (importers) of oil will benefit. The United States will benefit overall, though less so than it did in the 1980s. It remains the largest consumer and importer of oil, but is also now the largest producer of it. Eight states are net energy producers, and will suffer. He also analyzed how other selected countries will be affected.

He argued that low energy prices and likely North American energy independence puts us in a position to reconsider our military strategy in the Middle East. We no longer depend on the region’s oil. Our military involvement there has been counterproductive. It has made the region an even more dangerous neighborhood for Israel. It has not advanced, and may even have hindered, the war on terrorism.

Dr. Tyrus W. Cobb pointed out that Russia more than any other country has been severely crippled by the rapid change in oil/gas production and prices.  He stressed that this is a country that is heavily dependent on oil/gas revenues, not just for hard currency earnings but as a major underpinning of its budget.  Russia was doing extremely well with oil at $140; its budget requires petroleum to sell at least at $110; at $45 the Russian economy goes into “free fall”.  Coupled with sanctions imposed over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in Eastern Ukraine, Moscow will have to import at least 40% less goods from the West– mainly food.  Inflation is soaring; interest rates have risen to 17%; capital is flying out of the country.

Despite these developments, President Vladimir Putin’s popularity has soared, primarily due to the elimination of dissenting views and a concentration of power among those closest to Putin himself (the “Siloviki”).  Cobb concluded that Russia is unlikely to institute the badly reforms needed, but will continue on its increasingly authoritarian and nationalist path.  This “Wounded Bear” may be more dangerous than a rich one!

One of our participants shared this graph prepared by UBS that starkly illustrates the winners and losers:

January Chart

Scire and Cobb’s PowerPoint’s are attached.  Given the interest and importance of this topic we have asked all three to consider providing us with a longer analysis reflected in their presentations.

PowerPoint: January Meeting PowerPoint