TIME conflict

“Murder in Munich”: A Terrorist Threat Ignored

19720918 cover
The September 18, 1972, cover of TIME TIME

September 5, 1972: Terrorists kidnap and kill Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics

Police psychologist Georg Sieber imagined 26 ways the 1972 Summer Olympics could go terribly wrong. Commissioned by organizers to predict worst-case scenarios for the Munich games, Sieber came up with a range of possibilities, from explosions to plane crashes, for which security teams should be prepared.

Situation Number 21 was eerily prescient, as TIME would describe many years later. Sieber envisioned that “a dozen armed Palestinians would scale the perimeter fence of the [Olympic] Village. They would invade the building that housed the Israeli delegation, kill a hostage or two (“To enforce discipline,” Sieber says today), then demand the release of prisoners held in Israeli jails and a plane to fly to some Arab capital.” The West German organizers balked, asking Sieber to downsize his projections from cataclysmic to merely disorderly — from worst-case to simply bad-case scenarios. Situations such as Number 21 could only be prevented by scrapping the Olympics entirely, they argued. Instead of beefing up security, they scaled back their expectations of threat.

So they were unprepared when, early this morning in 1972, an attack unfolded almost exactly according to Sieber’s hypothetical specifications. Eight men affiliated with the Palestinian terrorist group Black September broke into the Israeli apartment before dawn and took 11 athletes and coaches hostage.

Thanks to lax security — exposed decades later when a classified report was made public in 2005 — it was a relatively easy task for the terrorists. They were seen scaling the fence, but, wearing tracksuits, were taken for athletes and ignored. Getting into the Israelis’ housing was even easier: Among other departures from Sieber’s recommendations, the team had been assigned rooms on the ground floor. Once inside, the terrorists killed two hostages almost immediately and demanded the release of 234 prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for the rest. While the world watched, West German officials launched into poorly planned, ineffectual action. First, they dismissed Sieber, telling him his services were no longer needed. Then they botched a rescue mission that culminated in the deaths of all the remaining hostages, a German officer and five of the eight commandos. The three who survived were captured but later released in exchange for a hijacked Lufthansa plane.

Sept. 18, 1972,
A diagram of the events in Munich, from the Sept. 18, 1972, issue of TIME

The tragedy was also devastating to the Germans, who had hoped that being gracious Olympic hosts would distract from the memory of Nazi propaganda at their last games, the Berlin Olympics in 1936. They had given the 1972 Olympics the official motto Die Heiteren Spiele, which translates variously as the happy games, the cheerful games or the carefree games. That phrase presented a stark contrast to reality — and a grim reminder that merely hoping for the best will not prevent the worst.

Read TIME’s Sept. 18, 1972, cover story about the attack: Horror and Death at the Olympics

TIME Nigeria

As Boko Haram Strengthens, Terrified Locals Flee Major Nigerian City

Internally displaced persons, who are victims of Boko Haram attacks, stay at the IDP camp at Wurojuli
Internally displaced persons, who are victims of Boko Haram attacks, stay at the IDP camp for those fleeing violence from Boko Haram insurgents at Wurojuli, Gombe State Sept. 2, 2014. Reuters

Nigerian troops have floundered against the Islamist militants

Hundreds of people are believed to have fled the capital of Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state as Boko Haram militants continue to sweep unabated through the region and terrified locals doubt that the deflated Nigerian military will be able to protect them.

Nigerian officials are increasingly warning that the Islamist militant group might advance on Maiduguri, capital of the besieged state, and home to some 2 million people, the New York Times reports. Boko Haram, waging a barbarous campaign of violence, has over the summer quickly collected several municipalities in the northeast, some of which officials say could be used as bases from which the militants could close in on Maiduguri.

In an alarming harbinger earlier this week, Boko Haram fighters captured the town of Bama, about 45 miles from Maiduguri and a linchpin in the jihadists’ campaign to vanquish all of Borno. Government forces had rebuffed the militants during an initial siege on Monday, but the extremist group returned en masse the following day to overwhelm the town, according to Reuters.

A soldier who fought at Bama also told Reuters that government air reinforcements botched an air strike near the end of the battle, dropping bombs on parts of the town and killing everyone there — including insurgents, but also Nigerian troops.

Boko Haram fighters patrolling Bama have since prevented anyone from burying the dead, and bodies are rotting in its streets, the BBC reports. More than 26,000 people are believed to have fled the fallen town.

Meanwhile, a recent report from Chatham House, a London-based policy group, said the Nigerian army is failing, and will continue to fail, to battle back Boko Haram fighters, in large part because locals do not trust the national armed forces. Amnesty International has accused government troops of war crimes, including torturing suspected Boko Haram loyalists.

In late August, Boko Haram declared an Islamic caliphate in the land it has so far gathered up in northeast Nigeria, near the nation’s border with Cameroon. The group, dovetailing the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria’s ominous promises for the towns and cities it has taken in the Middle East, has said the claimed territories will be ruled under strict Islamic law.

Hundreds of schoolgirls from Chibok, also in Borno, are still missing, almost five months after they were snatched by Boko Haram militants.

TIME Books

I Grew Up the Son of an Islamic Jihadist

El-Sayyid A. Nosair, alleged assassin of Rabbi Meir Kahane. Nosair was charged with murder.
El-Sayyid A. Nosair, alleged assassin of Rabbi Meir Kahane. Nosair was charged with murder. AP

My father assassinated a rabbi and helped plan the first bombing of the World Trade Center

On November 5, 1990, an Arab gunman assassinated Rabbi Meir Kahane during a speech at Marriot Hotel in New York City. My mother woke me up the minute she saw the breaking news on TV, and we fled the house in a terrified daze. I was 7 years old at the time—a shy, chubby New Jersey kid in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pajamas. The gunman was my father.

My father’s despicable act decimated my family. It tipped us into a life of death threats and media harassment, nomadic living and constant poverty. Kahane had been a pro-Israel militant and the founder of the Jewish Defense League. When he killed him, my father, El-Sayyid Nosair, became the first known Islamic jihadist to take a life on American soil. He worked with the support of a terror cell overseas that would ultimately call itself al-Qaeda. And his career as a terrorist was not yet over.

In 1993, from his prison cell at Attica, my father helped plan the first bombing of the World Trade Center with some old associates from a Jersey City mosque, including Omar Abdel-Rahman, whom the media dubbed “the Blind Sheikh.” Their horrible hope was that one tower would knock over the other and the death toll would be stratospheric. They had to settle for a blast that tore a hole 100 feet wide through four levels of concrete, the injury of more than a thousand innocents, and the deaths of six people, one of them a woman seven months pregnant.

The fact that my father went to prison when I was 7 just about ruined my life. But it also my made my life possible. He could not fill me with hate from jail. And, more than that, he could not stop me from coming into contact with the sorts of people he demonized and discovering that they were human beings—people I could care about and who could care about me. Bigotry cannot survive experience. My body rejected it.

When I was 18 and had finally seen a little bit of the world, I told my mom I could no longer judge people based on what they were—Muslim, Jewish, Christian, gay, straight—and that starting right then and there I was only going to judge them based on who they were. She listened, she nodded and she had the wisdom to speak the six most empowering words I have ever heard: “I’m so tired of hating people.”

She had good reason to be tired. Our journey had been harder on her than anyone else. For a time, she took to wearing not only the hijab that hid her hair, but also the veil called the niqab that cloaked everything but her eyes: She was a devout Muslim and she was afraid she’d be recognized.

My father is now in the United States penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, having been sentenced to life plus 15. I have not visited him in 20 years. Every so often, I’ll get an e-mail from the prison saying that he would like to initiate correspondence. But I’ve learned that even that leads nowhere good. He lied to us for so many years about what he’d done that one time I e-mailed him and asked, flat-out, whether he murdered the rabbi and plotted to attack the World Trade Center. I told him, I’m your son and I need to hear it from you. He answered me with an indecipherable, high-flown metaphor. It made him seem desperate, grasping—and guilty.

One of the many upsides to not speaking to my father anymore is that I’ve never had to listen to him pontificate about the vile events that took place on September 11th. He must have regarded the destruction of the Twin Towers as a great victory for Islam—maybe even as the culmination of the work he and the Blind Sheikh began years earlier.

For what it’s worth—and I’m not sure what it is worth at this point–my father now claims to support a peaceful solution in the Middle East. He also claims to abhor the killing of innocents, and he admonishes jihadists to think of their families. He said all this in an interview with the Los Angeles Times last year. I hope his change of heart is genuine, though it comes too late for the innocents that he himself helped murder. I don’t pretend to know what my father believes anymore. I just know that I spent too many years caring.

As for me, I’m no longer a Muslim and I no longer believe in God. It broke my mother’s heart when I told her, which, in turn, broke mine. My mother’s world 
is held together by her faith in Allah. What defines 
my world is love for my family and friends, the moral conviction that we must all be better to one another and to the generations that will come after us, and the desire to undo some of the damage my father has done in whatever small ways I can. I am convinced that empathy is stronger than hate, and that our lives should be dedicated to making it go viral.

Zak Ebrahim was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on March 24, 1983, the son of an Egyptian industrial engineer and an American schoolteacher. He dedicates his life to speaking out against terrorism and spreading his message of peace and nonviolence. Jeff Giles has written for The New York Times Book Review, Rolling Stone, and Newsweek, and has been a top editor at Entertainment Weekly. His first novel for young adults will be published by Bloomsbury in 2016. From The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice by Zak Ebrahim and Jeff Giles. Copyright © 2014 by Zak Ebrahim and Jeff Giles. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

TIME politics

Rand Paul: ‘I Am Not an Isolationist’

Rand Paul, Rod Blum
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. listens he is introduced to speak by Iowa Republican congressional candidate Rod Blum, left, during a meeting with local Republicans, Aug. 5, 2014, in Hiawatha, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall—AP

If I had been in President Obama's shoes, I would have acted more decisively and strongly against ISIS

Some pundits are surprised that I support destroying the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militarily. They shouldn’t be. I’ve said since I began public life that I am not an isolationist, nor am I an interventionist. I look at the world, and consider war, realistically and constitutionally.

I still see war as the last resort. But I agree with Reagan’s idea that no country should mistake U.S. reluctance for war for a lack of resolve.

As Commander-in-Chief, I would not allow our enemies to kill our citizens or our ambassadors. “Peace through Strength” only works if you have and show strength.

Our recent foreign policy has allowed radical jihadists to proliferate. Today, there are more terrorists groups than there were before 9/11, most notably ISIS. After all the sacrifice in Afghanistan and Iraq, why do we find ourselves in a more dangerous world?

And why, after six years, does President Obama lack a strategy to deal with threats like ISIS?

This administration’s dereliction of duty has both sins of action and inaction, which is what happens when you are flailing around wildly, without careful strategic thinking.

And while my predisposition is to less intervention, I do support intervention when our vital interests are threatened.

If I had been in President Obama’s shoes, I would have acted more decisively and strongly against ISIS. I would have called Congress back into session—even during recess.

This is what President Obama should have done. He should have been prepared with a strategic vision, a plan for victory and extricating ourselves. He should have asked for authorization for military action and would have, no doubt, received it.

Once we have decided that we have an enemy that requires destruction, we must have a comprehensive strategy—a realistic policy applying military power and skillful diplomacy to protect our national interests.

The immediate challenge is to define the national interest to determine the form of intervention we might pursue. I was repeatedly asked if I supported airstrikes. I do—if it makes sense as part of a larger strategy.

There’s no point in taking military action just for the sake of it, something Washington leaders can’t seem to understand. America has an interest in protecting more than 5,000 personnel serving at the largest American embassy in the world in northern Iraq. I am also persuaded by the plight of massacred Christians and Muslim minorities.

The long-term challenge is debilitating and ultimately eradicating a strong and growing ISIS, whose growth poses a significant terrorist threat to U.S. allies and enemies in the region, Europe, and our homeland.

The military means to achieve these goals include airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. Such airstrikes are the best way to suppress ISIS’s operational strength and allow allies such as the Kurds to regain a military advantage.

We should arm and aid capable and allied Kurdish fighters whose territory includes areas now under siege by the ISIS.

Since Syrian jihadists are also a threat to Israel, we should help reinforce Israel’s Iron Dome protection against missiles.

We must also secure our own borders and immigration policy from ISIS infiltration. Our border is porous, and the administration, rather than acting to protect it, instead ponders unconstitutional executive action, legalizing millions of illegal immigrants.

Our immigration system, especially the administration of student visas, requires a full-scale examination. Recently, it was estimated that as many as 6,000 possibly dangerous foreign students are unaccounted for. This is inexcusable over a decade after we were attacked on 9/11 by hijackers including one Saudi student who overstayed his student visa.

We should revoke passports from any Americans or dual citizens who are fighting with ISIS.

Important to the long-term stability in the region is the reengagement diplomatically with allies in the region and in Europe to recognize the shared nature of the threat of Radical Islam and the growing influence of jihadists. That is what will make this a comprehensive strategy.

ISIS is a global threat; we should treat it accordingly and build a coalition of nations who are also threatened by the rise of the Islamic State. Important partners such as Turkey, a NATO ally, Israel, and Jordan face an immediate threat, and unchecked growth endangers Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Gulf countries such as Qatar, and even Europe. Several potential partners—notably, the Turks, Qataris, and Saudis—have been reckless in their financial support of ISIS, which must cease immediately.

This is one set of principles. Any strategy, though, should be presented to the American people through Congress. If war is necessary, we should act as a nation. We should do so properly and constitutionally and with a real strategy and a plan for both victory and exit.

To develop a realistic strategy, we need to understand why the threat of ISIS exists. Jihadist Islam is festering in the region. But in order for it to grow, prosper, and conquer, it needs chaos.

Three years after President Obama waged war in Libya without Congressional approval, Libya is a sanctuary and safe haven for training and arms for terrorists from Northern Africa to Syria. Our deserted Embassy in Tripoli is controlled by militants. Jihadists today swim in our embassy pool.

Syria, likewise, has become a jihadist wonderland. In Syria, Obama’s plan just one year ago—and apparently Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s desire—was to aid rebels against Assad, despite the fact that many of these groups are al-Qaeda- and ISIS-affiliated. Until we acknowledge that arming the Islamic rebels in Syria allowed ISIS a safe haven, no amount of military might will extricate us from a flawed foreign policy.

Unfortunately, Obama’s decisions—from disengaging diplomatically in Iraq and the region and fomenting chaos in Libya and Syria—leave few good options. A more realistic and effective foreign policy would protect the vital interests of the nation without the unrealistic notion of nation-building.

Paul is the junior U.S. Senator for Kentucky.

TIME Media

Don’t Look: Beheadings, Stolen Nudes and Choosing to Be Decent

Just because you can look at something doesn't mean you should.

We live in the age of the image as weapon. Sometimes the crime is petty and lurid, as when, over Labor Day weekend, a cache of nude photographs of female celebrities was released online and spread through social media. Sometimes the crime is horrific and deadly, as on Tuesday, when ISIS released a video of the beheading of Steven Sotloff, the second journalist the group murdered on tape in recent weeks. (Disclosure: Sotloff contributed reporting to TIME.)

The two acts, clearly, are not nearly the same. One is theft, one is murder. One is a digital violation, one is physical violence.

But they have something important in common: the reliance on technology that makes it seamless to spread an image, almost instantly, across the world. And the reliance on an older piece of machinery to complete the violation: The human eye. The human brain. You.

It’s not just a matter, in either case, of someone doing a horrible thing and you witnessing it later. Here, the witnessing completes the act. That’s not to say that you, looking at your device, are the same as the terrorist or the hacker. But you are completing their aim: that many eyes, many places, see what they did, whether to terrorize or humiliate.

You didn’t swing the blade or hack the photos. But there is something you can do. You can choose not to look.

After the celebrity nudes were exposed, I saw variations on several arguments why it’s fine to look at them. “They shouldn’t have taken nude selfies.” Not your business. “They should have been more careful.” So what? If I leave my bike unlocked, you’re still a thief if you ride off on it. “They wanted someone to see them naked.” Not you. And not recognizing why that matters is pretty much the definition of being a creep. “I didn’t hack the pictures.” No; but someone did it with the intention of exposing their subjects before millions of people. You’re finishing the job for them.

With the beheadings, and videos of terrorist acts in general, the arguments are different. There was an argument, made forcefully after 9/11, that we shouldn’t whitewash terrorist violence. That we have not just a right but a duty to confront, say, the images of people jumping from the burning World Trade Center towers to remember the horror of what happened, to know what we we up against. But while the 9/11 attacks were in part a media spectacle, that’s a different thing from a deliberately filmed murder, a grisly performance meant explicitly to be shared for effect. The aim of the beheading videos are that you see them; watching them literally completes their purpose.

I’m not saying you’re evil if you watch one of these videos, or peep a stolen celebrity nudie. It’s about something less grandiose than evil, less widely discussed–but at least as important: decency. Decency, at least a very big part of it, is knowing that you are permitted to do a thing–it’s physically possible, it’s not illegal, no one can stop you–yet you shouldn’t anyway.

And it’s about something that probably every one of us who uses the Internet loses sight of sometimes: that at the other end of all these views and comments and transactions, there is, or was, an actual human person. That something is on video doesn’t make it a movie; that you’re seeing someone on your device doesn’t make them a video game character; that this naked person is an actress does not make looking at her against her will an entertainment.

These days, you can see almost anything. A lot of bad people know that and count on it. Sometimes the most powerful, most decent thing you can do is not to look.

TIME Military

Why the U.S. Won’t Buckle Under ISIS Pressure

IRAQ-UNREST
Kurdish fighters inspect an ISIS vehicle, bearing a jihadist flag, after it was hit by a U.S. air strike in northern Iraq last month. Ahmad Al-Rubaye—AFP/Getty Images

The murder of two journalists only highlights the terrorists’ weakness

In the clash between Islamic militants and the West, Steven J. Sotloff was an innocent player caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. But the shock of Sotloff’s murder, announced Tuesday in a video released by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), only serves to highlight the weakness of those who killed him.

It’s a classic case of what the Pentagon calls asymmetric warfare—where one side in the fight is so outgunned that it resorts to unorthodox—and sometimes inhuman—tactics to try to even the odds, scrambling the rules of war that have guided nations for centuries.

Over the past month, the U.S. military has launched more than 100 air strikes against ISIS targets in northern Iraq. While U.S. officials have publicly justified the attacks on humanitarian grounds—as well as protecting U.S. interests—they also have obliterated dozens of ISIS vehicles and checkpoints, and those manning them.

There is no way ISIS can counter U.S. air strikes. It has no air force and apparently has few, if any, anti-aircraft weapons. Its ground forces, once identified, are easy targets for American laser- and GPS-guided bombs and missiles.

Unable to thwart the attacks, ISIS has tried to derail them by murdering a pair of journalists it was holding in captivity. The first, James Foley, a freelance reporter for the GlobalPost website, was allegedly killed by a black-clad man speaking with an English accent in a video released Aug. 19. ISIS released a second video 14 days later, purportedly showing the same man murdering Sotloff, who had freelanced for Time.

War, at least between states, is guided by international law, which prohibits intentionally killing innocent civilians. But non-state actors have long been willing to resort to terrorism and murder to make their points. The masked man who killed Sotloff used a knife, but the video was the real weapon—a broadcast attempt to overcome impotence on the battlefield. “I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State, because of your insistence on continuing your bombings and in Amerli, Zumar and the Mosul Dam, despite our serious warnings,” the man said.

Because ISIS can’t stop the bombing by matching U.S. weaponry, it is trying to stop it by horrifying the American public in hopes they will compel President Obama to stop. That hope shows how little ISIS understands the American body politic: there is no indication the killings have put political pressure on Obama to slow his attacks on ISIS—if anything, the killings have increased support for the bombings.

Speaking to reporters in Estonia on Wednesday, Obama said, “Whatever these murderers think they’ll achieve by killing innocent Americans like Steven, they have already failed. They have failed because, like people around the world, Americans are repulsed by their barbarism. We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists.”

That said, horror isn’t the only way to win an asymmetric war: sometimes the points non-state actors want to make are as much political as military, and through their patience and resolve they can prevail over stronger foes.

“We’ve been going after terrorist networks in that part of the world for more than a decade, with very good success,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said Tuesday. “The real measure of success is that their ideology is ultimately defeated, and the only way that’s going to be done is through good governance. And we’ve said that time and again, but I think it’s worth repeating. There’s not going to be a military solution to this.”

But there too ISIS is showing weakness. Its rampaging militants have stormed towns and cities across much of Syria and Iraq, slaughtering civilians as they go and imposing the harshest form of religious law on territory they control. In more than a few places, the U.S. military intervention has not only hurt ISIS it has won support from their beleaguered victims.

In the latest recorded murder, the man threatened to kill another captive if the American bombings continue. “Just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people,” the man said. But ISIS is beginning to run out of hostages. The U.S. will never run out of missiles. And if ISIS continues its brutal tactics on the ground in Iraq, soon enough it will run out of local supporters, too.

TIME Military

The U.S. Should Not Wage War Against ISIS Like Afghanistan and Iraq

Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite militias advance towards town of Amerli from their position in the Ajana
Some of the Iraqi security forces who helped free the town of Amerli over the weekend with help from U.S. air strikes Reuters

But those two campaigns offer clues on how it should be done

The U.S. waged two effective short-term wars following 9/11. Unfortunately, the nation then grafted them onto far more ambitious enterprises that not only drove their costs, in American blood and treasure, through the roof, but also sowed the seeds for failure.

That’s the key takeaway to keep in mind as President Obama weighs what to do about the rampage now being conducted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in both of those nations.

Over the Labor Day weekend, U.S. airpower, combined with Iraqi help on the ground, broke a two-month ISIS siege of the village of Amerli in northern Iraq. The militants had been tightening a noose around the farming town, cutting off water, food and power, and residents had begun dying. Finally, beginning late Saturday, a handful of U.S. air strikes let Iraqi forces and militias break the siege.

While President Obama said the strikes would be “limited in their scope and duration,” their success offers a template, in miniature, for a broader U.S.-led campaign against the Islamist militant group.

It would mark a departure from recent U.S.-led wars. “No one is advocating unilateral invasion, occupation or nation-building,” Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina wrote in a weekend op-ed column in the New York Times, urging stepped-up U.S. military action against ISIS. “This should be more like Afghanistan in 2001, where limited numbers of advisers helped local forces, with airstrikes and military aid, to rout an extremist army.”

In Afghanistan, the U.S. waged a monthlong campaign that drove the Taliban from Kabul. It relied on U.S. airpower and special operators on the ground, working with local anti-Taliban forces. Then, the U.S. launched a 13-year effort, still under way, to build an Afghan government immune to the Taliban.

Many Taliban fled to Pakistan, where they continue to plot to retake power in Afghanistan once U.S. combat units pull out at the end of 2014. There’s an echo of that Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan in ISIS’s presence in Syria. Any beefed-up campaign against ISIS militants is going to have to attack their targets in both nations.

In Iraq, the U.S. military pushed Saddam Hussein from Baghdad less than three weeks after invading the country. But the U.S. soon became mired in an eight-year nation-building effort that failed to build a nation. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S., despite its best intentions, helped install leaders who have done little to lead their countries to a better place.

And that exposes the futility of the so-called Pottery Barn rule. Retired Army general and then Secretary of State Colin Powell summed it up by saying the U.S. had responsibility for the nations it invaded: “If you break it, you own it.”

But war isn’t always about creating something better. Sometimes it’s simply about ridding the world of terrorists whose zealotry compels them to kill innocents.

For a warrior-diplomat renowned for his earlier guidelines on going to war — the so-called Powell doctrine required a clear and obtainable objective before the first bombs fell — the Pottery Barn rule proved daunting.

Actually, Pottery Barn doesn’t have such a rule. If a customer stumbles into a vase and sends it crashing to the floor, the company writes it off as a cost of doing business. It’s past time for the U.S. government to scrap its misinterpretation of the so-called rule.

War isn’t a positive experience for anyone, and all involved are ill served by pretending otherwise.

If the U.S. deems ISIS to be a threat to U.S. national security, the U.S. military, backed by presidential order and a congressional declaration, should wage unrelenting attacks against it. Instead of embracing Powell’s view, the nation would be better served thinking of war as 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes viewed human life without government: “nasty, brutish and short.”

TIME Crime

Boston Bombing Suspect Requests Trial Delay

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev FBI/AP

The trial is currently scheduled to begin in November

Lawyers for Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev filed a petition Friday asking a federal judge to delay the start of his bombing trial to September 1, 2015 or later. The defense argues that it needs more time to prepare given the volume of evidence to sort through and the severity of the charges.

“The trial in this case is currently scheduled to begin just 16 months after the defendant was indicted,” the petition said. “It is critically important that any trial be fair, which means giving both sides, not just the government, enough time to uncover and present all relevant evidence.”

Earlier this month defense lawyers argued that media coverage in Boston would unfairly harm Tsarnaev’s defense and asked that the trial be moved from Boston.

Tsarnev is accused of carrying out the April 15, 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon with his brother Tamerlan. Three bystanders were killed and hundreds were injured during the bombing. A police officer died in subsequent shootings, and Tamerlan died after he was shot in the head during a manhunt for the two brothers.

The trial on charges of using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death is currently scheduled to begin in November.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: August 25

1. Slavery’s long shadow is inextricably linked to modern income inequality in the south.

By Stephen Mihm in the Boston Globe

2. Superdistricts in the House of Representatives could end the tyranny of incumbency in Congress.

By Katrina vanden Heuvel in the Washington Post

3. Yelp the Police: Georgia teens build an app to rate law enforcement interactions.

By Rebecca Borison in Business Insider

4. The new Egyptian government’s policies of repression and exclusion could push citizens into the arms of extremist groups.

By Michele Dunn and Scott Williamson at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

5. Transforming oil and gas rigs into artificial reefs could save the delicate ecosystems formed around the structures.

By Amber Jackson in Huffington Post

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Military

The Rescue That Wasn’t

Part of a damaged helicopter is seen lying near the compound where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad
The tail of a downed Special Ops helicopter inside bin Laden's compound in Pakistan in 2011. The pilots who led that successful mission belonged to a unit created because of a failed rescue effort in Iran 31 years earlier. REUTERS

If you're waiting for perfect intelligence to guarantee success, you'll never launch a military rescue mission

The Pentagon spoiled Americans with its near-perfect grab of Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Save for a wrecked helicopter, Operation Neptune Spear went off without a hitch (assuming, as many Americans did, that taking bin Laden alive was never a top priority).

But the Navy SEALs drew to an inside straight that night in Abbottabad, Pakistan. All the practice in the world can’t trump bum intelligence. And the U.S. intelligence community’s estimates that bin Laden would be in the compound where he died ranged from 30 to 95%. If bin Laden hadn’t been there, the raid would have been deemed a failure, and would perhaps still be a secret.

The Pentagon only confirmed the failed July raid to rescue James Foley, whose murder was made public in a video released by Islamic militants on Tuesday, and several other U.S. hostages in Syria, after word began to leak out late Wednesday. “Unfortunately, the mission was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon’s top spokesman, said in a statement.

Such misses have happened before.

In 1970, 56 U.S. troops raided North Vietnam’s Son Tay prison camp to rescue the estimated 55 U.S. POWs believed to be there.

Technically, Operation Ivory Coast succeeded: the U.S., using more than 100 aircraft to support the operation, seized the camp. Unfortunately for the U.S., the North Vietnamese had moved the prisoners a day earlier due to North Vietnamese concerns that the camp was too close to a river that might flood. Two U.S. troops were injured during the mission.

Perhaps the most infamous rescue attempt since then was 1980’s Operation Eagle Claw, the aborted mission to bring home the 52 U.S. hostages held in Tehran after Iran seized the U.S. embassy there. They had been held for six months when President Carter ordered eight choppers on a risky two-night mission to rescue them. But sandstorms and mechanical woes grounded three of them on the first day, forcing the military to scrub the mission. As they withdrew, one of the helicopters hit a refueling plane at the Desert One staging site in the Iranian desert, killing eight U.S. troops.

The fiasco doomed any chance Carter had of winning a second term—Iran released the hostages shortly after Ronald Reagan took office—and led Congress to create the U.S. Special Operations Command to coordinate such efforts in the future. It also led the Army to create the Night Stalkers of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the unit whose pilots flew the Navy SEALs to bin Laden’s lair.

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