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>When is a little bit of contact too much?

>For many years the Los Angeles Police Department battled to control the activities of the Crips, a notorious gang with roots extending back to the late 1960s. The Crips’ main activities include dealing drugs and undertaking robberies. They protect their turf by intimidating opponents and murdering those that overstep the mark. Over the years an unwritten ‘agreement’ between the Crips and the LAPD meant that as long as the Crips confined their activities to the area south of the river the police would only take action against those that went too far or strayed out of their territory. For many years this arrangement held and the majority of people tended to forgot about the Crips, especially those that didn’t live in their area.

In the late 1990s the LAPD became aware of a new gang, the Creed, led by the charismatic Tupaq Obin. The Creed was quite different to gangs that had existed previously. It was much more focused, organised and well led by a small group of talented individuals that employed a new strategy with different tactics that the LAPD had not encountered previously. Unlike the Crips, whose activities occurred on a daily basis, the Creed confined itself to large scale robberies and contracted killings, on an irregular basis. The small, secretive nature of the organisation made it impossible for the police to penetrate and gain intelligence into its activities. The public quickly became aware of the Creed due to the fact that they were much more violent than other gangs and, after one particularly egregious incident, the cry went up to do something about them.

The LAPD set out to infiltrate the Creed or any associates, no matter how tenuous the links, in order to gain the intelligence they needed. Despite minor early successes it took some years before they started to piece together a picture of the Creed and its associates – and what they saw was profoundly disturbing for it appeared that the Creed were forming links with the Crips with a view to expanding their strength and influence. Most of this intelligence came from within the Crips and indicated that while direct contact between Tupaq Obin and the Crips’ leadership hadn’t taken place – basically, they hadn’t yet built up a basis for trust – there was an increasing link between lieutenants on either side. The LAPD understood the profound consequences of a combined Crips-Creed gang and stepped up efforts to deal with the threat.

Naturally, the LAPD was under heavy pressure from politicians and the media for greater success against the increased lawlessness on the street and, on the basis of increasing activity by the Crips and their links to the Creed, chose to deal with the threat by reducing the Crips’ ability to operate. Their method was to significantly increase the number of police operating south of the river and, indeed, achieved notable success when they captured significant members of the Crips’ leadership. Upon further investigation it turned out that the LAPD had read too much in to the intelligence and, while there was certainly some contact between the two groups, there was little evidence of co-operation in any operational sense.

Of course, I made all of that up to make a point.

For the Crips substitute Iraq, for the Creed, Al Qaeda, and Tupaq Obin is Osama bin Laden.

In my construction, is it reasonable for the LAPD to have been concerned with what it saw as a significant threat due to the activities of the Creed and their contact with the Crips? Of course it is. At what point does contact between the two become concerning? Surely, any contact has to raise a red flag when you’re trying to fight organised crime?

The Washington Post of 6 April headline is Hussein’s Prewar Ties To Al-Qaeda Discounted: Pentagon Report Says Contacts Were Limited. This is based on a new Pentagon Report in which the CIA attempts to write down some of its pre-war analysis of co-operation between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda.

What does “Limited” mean? Why wouldn’t that be of concern to intelligence agencies? The CIA does not at all suggest that there was no contact between the two even though there was no long term relationship.

The CIA report proves that there was contact between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. The answer that those discounting the importance of that contact is – why did it exist at all?

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