Jul 31, 2007

New IO Initiative From Fatah

This fits in so perfectly with our strategic GWOT PSYOP program, it is difficult to imagine that Fatah is not receiving a little help here from their friends.

(Fatah member and professor who teaches about Islam and Society at Al Rawda College Sheikh Sad Sharaf) is trying to convince Fatah to establish a council of religious scholars that will be able to counter the rhetoric coming from Hamas.

He criticizes Hamas's advocacy of violence against Israeli civilians as well as its violent takeover of Gaza last month, which most Palestinians opposed.

"The Prophet Muhammad says, 'Don't kill those who don't use weapons against you. Don't kill a woman. Don't kill a baby,' " says Sharaf, who says he's a Sufi Muslim, a branch of Islam known for its theological mysticism and moderation.

A preacher in one of Nablus's central mosques and the host of an Islamic radio and television program, Sharaf says a growing number of Palestinians have sought him out for advice since the Hamas takeover of Gaza.

Although Sharaf says he believes in the religious idea of the creation of one Islamic kingdom as laid out in the Koran, the modern experience with states dominated by Islamic dogmatists have been negative, he says.

"Look at Sudan, Somalia, and the Taliban," he says. "Palestine should not be isolated from the international situation. The Islamic rule needs a long time before it can be effective."

The Sheikh complains that Fatah politicians have so far ignored his advice to enlist religious scholars for help. Palestinians inside and outside Fatah say installing a religious council within the party is the wrong strategy. ...

Recognizing the Palestinian society's traditionalist leanings, Mohammed Dajani, a political science professor at Al Quds University, argues that the only way to challenge Hamas is by setting up a separate religious party that will push interpretations of Islam that back non-violence and tolerance.

Mr. Dajani named his party Wasatia – a term used in the Koran that means moderation. His party is reaching out to schoolteachers and Muslim clerics in a bid to counter Hamas.

"What we want to do is change the culture of the people," he says. "Our goal is to teach youth that suicide bombing is not Islam."

Jul 30, 2007

Still Shocked, Still Awed

It would seem to appear that even (pdf) certain NGOs had their Deep Greens up and running by '03. -M1

The violence in Iraq is overshadowing a humanitarian crisis, with eight million Iraqis – nearly one in three - in need of emergency aid, says a report released today by international agency Oxfam and NCCI, a network of aid organizations working in Iraq.

The agencies' report "Rising to the Humanitarian Challenge in Iraq" (pdf) says although the appalling security situation is the biggest problem facing most ordinary Iraqis, the government of Iraq and other influential governments should do more to meet basic needs for water, sanitation, food and shelter.

According to the report:

* Four million Iraqis – 15% - regularly cannot buy enough to eat.
* 70% are without adequate water supplies, compared to 50% in 2003.
* 28% of children are malnourished, compared to 19% before the 2003 invasion.
* 92% of Iraqi children suffer learning problems, mostly due to the climate of fear.
* More than two million people – mostly women and children - have been displaced inside Iraq.
* A further two million Iraqis have become refugees, mainly in Syria and Jordan.

Jeremy Hobbs, director of Oxfam International, said:
"The terrible violence in Iraq has masked the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Malnutrition amongst children has dramatically increased and basic services, ruined by years of war and sanctions, cannot meet the needs of the Iraqi people. Millions of Iraqis have been forced to flee the violence, either to another part of Iraq or abroad. Many of those are living in dire poverty."

And now for a little coincidental history - a Voice of America interview with Paul Sherlock of Oxfam back in January... 2003. (archived courtesy of GlobalSecurity.com)

HOST: Since the beginning of the resumption of weapons inspections in Iraq late last year -- the United States has warned of military action if Baghdad fails to comply with U-N resolutions on disarmament. But the aid agency Oxfam fears a possible war against Iraq would be devastating for the country -- where it says the water and sanitation infrastructure is already on the verge of collapse after years of under-funding, and lack of repair and spare parts. Malnutrition is also widespread and life for people on a day-to-day basis is extremely tough.

Paul Sherlock is a water and sanitation expert with the aid agency Oxfam. He says Oxfam is working on the assumption that war is not necessarily inevitable. But he tells VOA News Now's Rebecca Ward that like any other responsible aid agency, Oxfam is looking into what it might do in case of military action in Iraq.

MR. SHERLOCK: We had a visit, both inside of Iraq and then a visit around the border countries of Iraq, with the exception of Turkey -- and I shall be in Turkey next week~-- to see what the U.N. agencies and what the government and what we might be doing.

Now, in two of these countries, in Iran and in Jordan, we have a little office already. So, we've been around to look at the plans and look at the preparation work of both the United Nations and work of the government, and also to see how we as Oxfam can fit into those plans. Because one of the things that worked that we've done over the years is that we've specialized in doing refugee water and sanitation. And in the last Gulf crisis we had a very high profile in providing water in Jordan and also supporting work inside of Iraq.

MS. WARD: Any figures, maybe based on the last Persian Gulf War, of how many refugees might be flooding into areas like Jordan and Syria?

MR. SHERLOCK: Well, it's all speculation of course, and it is difficult to get at, because clearly it is going to be very different from what happened in the Gulf War in 1991. Because this will be an attack on Iraq, and therefore people will possibly move out more than what they did before. Before, one of the largest bulk of refugees that came out were actually domestic workers who came out through Jordan. They were Egyptians and there were a whole range of Asians, and a certain number of refugees went into Iran and a certain number went into Turkey.

This time we think it is going to be very, very different. Because, one, there isn't those domestic workers in the same numbers there, and this time we feel that if pressure gets really put on Iraq, if there is a major attack, then obviously a lot of people, a lot of Iraqis themselves, will up and move. The speculation, I think the overall speculation, of the numbers of people that are coming out, I think the United Nations are using a figure of maybe 2 million people. But in fact that is a figure which they won't publish at the moment, because obviously the U.N. are being very careful.

So, in countries like Jordan there is a speculation that maybe between 20,000 and 50,000 people might come out.

MS. WARD: How draining would that be on resources already in Jordan?

MR. SHERLOCK: The biggest drain would be on the sorts of water resources in Jordan, because Jordan is a very dry country, like Syria. And if those people came into Jordan, then one of the major things you have to do for anybody to survive is obviously the provision of water. Sanitation is another issue, but that is about health. But in a country like Jordan, the provision of water, say, for 50,000 people is actually a lot of water. So, one of the major, major problems in Jordan will be the provision of water supply to any sort of camp, or in fact for any sort of number that comes in.

MS. WARD: Did you have a chance to talk with any Iraqis about how they feel about the possibility of war?

MR. SHERLOCK: Well, yes, in the context that I was in on a visit where the security is fairly tight and all the rest of it. Therefore, you can only openly talk with people who you know reasonably well. Because otherwise people are reluctant to say too much.

My feeling when I came out was that all the people that I spoke to were very, very worried. They were very, very worried and they were very concerned about what might happen. And even though they had lived through a crisis over the last 12 years -- and of course they lived through the first of the Gulf Wars, or what we call the main Gulf War, of 12 years ago -- most people felt that this was going to be a much more severe crisis and, therefore, in themselves, were very frightened about it.
The relevant intel on Iraq was excellent back in the day. Even corduroyed Oxfam had a pretty good idea of what might shake out in the sandbox should circumstance go kinetic. (Their only miscalculation was believing the war was still only a possible.)

Perhaps a couple of new courses can be added to standard fare intelligence studies programs: Moving your most excellent product during a period of global climate change (2nd year) and Coercive cognitive intubation and other force-feeding strategies for the enlightenment of fundamentalist nut-cases and dissonant moles of pivotal influence (Advanced Studies, of course).

China - So Soft, So Cuddly

[I]f China at home is like America during the Industrial Revolution - struggling to develop rules for its chaotic factories - China abroad resembles the US of that time, too: a far more influential nation than other existing powers (19th century Britain, or today's United States) care to admit.

Beijing has launched a soft power offensive, which focuses on public diplomacy and cultural outreach. It will build some 100 Confucius Institutes, Chinese language schools at leading local universities from Melbourne to Nairobi, and it has begun offering large scholarships for students from developing nations to come to China for university. It has created a new breed of diplomats, retiring older, more ideological envoys and replacing them with younger English speakers willing to interact with local media, like in Thailand, where the Chinese ambassador frequently appears on Thai talk shows.

China then backs up this on-the-ground diplomacy with frequent visits by top officials. Wen Jiabao and Hu Jintao have been visiting Africa nearly every year - in sharp contrast to most American cabinet officials.

Chinese officials are skilfully playing the trade game. In Asia, it has taken the lead on trade negotiations from Japan, pushing through a free trade agreement with ten Southeast Asian nations even as both Tokyo and Washington struggle to hammer out trade deals in Asia. In Africa, it has become the continent's third-largest trading partner, its massive demand for commodities has revived African economies like Zambia, and it has created a state investment fund that might plow some $200bn into companies in other nations. In Latin America, the traditional backyard of the United States, China has signed a free trade deal with Chile and launched a strategic economic partnership with regional giant Brazil.

Some of these efforts are paying off. In a recent study by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, most people polled in Africa and Latin America said that China had a more positive impact on their nation than the United States.

Even in Australia, a longtime US ally, a study by the Lowy Institute showed nearly 70% of Australians viewed China positively; only half the Australians polled had positive feelings about the United States.
-Jacked & Hacked Joshua Kurlantzick

"War Made Easy"

From a review of Norman Solomon's new documentary film, "War Made Easy":

While analysing the George W. Bush administration's lead-up to the Iraq invasion, Solomon plays a news clip of Eason Jordan, a CNN News chief executive who, in an interview with CNN, boasts of the network's cadre of professional "military experts". In fact, CNN's retired military generals turned war analysts were so good, Eason said, that they had all been vetted and approved by the U.S. government.

"I went to the Pentagon myself several times before the war started and met with important people," he said. "We got a big thumbs up on all of [the generals]." ...

(T)he relationship between the press and government in the U.S. during times of war is changing. In Solomon's film, it is just one example of the collusion between the government and the mainstream news media. ...

"War Made Easy" does not dispute the idea that the press is self-correcting, is willing to investigate its own reporting lapses (as the New York Times did after the Judith Miller WMD scandal), and issue apologies and retractions. But it warns against the ostensible collusion between press and government. In Solomon's view, the U.S. mainstream news media is cast as part and parcel of the Bush administration's war apparatus, an echo chamber that packages, builds support for, and, through the vehicle of "leaked misinformation," sells the war to the U.S. public.

For example, in the lead-up to "Operation Iraqi Freedom," CNN chairman Walter Isaacson sent a memo to his anchors and reporters asking them to "remind viewers why they are watching the war." As video of the clean-up at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan rolls across the screen, one can't help but thinking about Sep. 11.

Solomon also labors over the parallels between U.S. government propaganda and how the rhetoric is now filtered into a more sophisticated media campaign, yet for all intents and purposes, fulfills the same goal. In short, it is more insidious than ever.

In one scene, he describes how a Hollywood set designer was hired to build a news set (with polished backdrop and sleek high-definition televisions) for the public relations arm of the U.S. military during the Iraq war. Presentations by military commanders and officials resemble news broadcasts. There is no discussion of the facts, and what the government says is accepted without question.

None of these revelations are exactly new, but the historical parallels between Vietnam and the Iraq war are becoming increasingly clear as the U.S. remains for a fifth year in Iraq. "War Made Easy" offers a timely criticism of the media, and portends an ominous future for the U.S. news viewing public should they sit back and accept without question the pronouncements of political leaders and evening news anchors.

Jul 28, 2007

Mountain Runner Breaks Out

[T]his post seems as good as any to create a new category on "public affairs" to focus on IO focused on US domestic audiences, a topic I had lumped into PD [public diplomacy] for simplicity.

Ken Silverstein follows up on a previous post of his about...

a program run by the Pentagon’s Office of Public Affairs. This program seeks to bypass the mainstream press by working directly with a carefully culled list of military analysts, bloggers, and others who can be counted on to parrot the Bush Administration’s line on national security issues.

I'm a milblogger, off the beaten path, but still a milblogger. Heck, I'm even card-carrying (not much a profile, I know, but still...). Well, perhaps I won't parrot somebody's line (unless I agree 100%), so I might not have what Silverstein sees as entry creds.

Not to restate the obvious, but OPA isn't practicing "Public Affairs" as much as "Private Affairs" because, well, they aren't exactly reaching out the public. I remember debates within the "public diplomacy" crowd that said if it ain't wide open, it ain't "public diplomacy". We know there are similar debates in the PA community. Remember OSI?

If PA is used to speak directly to the US public (PA officers speak to foreign publics, but nevermind that for now) and they have an inherent responsibility to tell the truth, what part of the truth is absent from the OPA conference calls that a simple guy like me can't be in on?

What does this say about the current purpose of PA? Where does it fit into Strategic Communications, that concept that may be DOD's answer to Public Diplomacy, a concept that is so poorly defined and executed that a new "theory" of "smart power" is required to return PD to its roots? But perhaps I digress....

- All of the above shamelessly jacked & slightly hacked from Mountain Runner. Also of interest is the lagging commentary...er, droopy lidded Cannoneerisms aka blepharoptosis sententia supervacuus found at the post's original locus.

And don't miss out on Mountain Runner's follow-up post.

Blogs and Military Information Strategy

The linked Washington Post article doesn't explicitly identify the study, so I will do so.

Blogs and Military Information Strategy (9 page PDF) by James B. Kinniburgh, Major, USAF, and Dr. Dorothy E. Denning. From IOsphere, the publication of the Joint Information Operations Center. Summer 2006.

Here, in a study published in June 2006 by the military's Joint Special Operations University, two "information warfare" specialists mull over how the U.S. armed forces and intelligence agencies might influence opinion overseas through foreign bloggers:

[I]t may be easy for foreign audiences to dismiss the U.S. perspective with "Yes, but you aren't one of us, you don't really understand us."

In this regard, information strategists can consider clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers or other persons of prominence already within the target nation, group or community to pass the U.S. message. . . . Sometimes numbers can be effective; hiring a block of bloggers to verbally attack a specific person or promote a specific message may be worth considering. On the other hand, such operations can have a blowback effect, as witnessed by the public reaction following revelations that the U.S. military had paid journalists to publish stories in the Iraqi press under their own names. People do not like to be deceived, and the price of being exposed is lost credibility and trust.

An alternative strategy is to "make" a blog and blogger. The process of boosting the blog to a position of influence could take some time, however. . . .

There will also be times when it is thought to be necessary, in the context of an integrated information campaign, to pass false or erroneous information through the media . . . in support of military deception activities. . . . In these cases, extra care must be taken to ensure plausible deniability and nonattribution, as well as employing a well-thought-out deception operation that minimizes the risks of exposure.

And from part of the IOsphere article that the Post neglected to cite:

Some of the possible techniques we have explored in our discussion of the military use of blogging require a certain degree of subtlety, finesse, and yes, covert action. By giving military blog-based operations to the Intelligence and special operations communities, these uses become less risky and more feasible. However, military operations must necessarily remain only a part of a larger effort. Given the current state of US and international law, and the distribution of the necessary authorities among many (often competing) government agencies, any future conduct of influence operations through the blogosphere will require a truly integrated interagency approach, and thus belongs properly at the national level as a part of an over-arching strategic communication effort.

One of the significant limitations of this article, as an initial foray into military use of the blogosphere, is that much of the information available concerns American blogs, run by Americans, largely for an American audience. Military use of the blogosphere must necessarily focus on foreign blogs, bloggers and audiences. However, because some factors, such as the scale-free nature of the Internet and the psychological basis of influence are universals, we hope to lay a general basis for military use of the blogosphere that can be adapted to specific tactical circumstances by information operators.

Jul 27, 2007

The Cardboard Dumpling Deke

China's propaganda ministry has taken to wielding the contrivance of the self-inflicted refutable slander to precondition their public against truthful allegations of embarrassing and intractable problems.

An explosion of negative news -- tainted food exports, slave labor at brick kilns, political challenges and even supposed cardboard dumplings -- has pained party censors and renewed demands for ideological and political discipline among China's journalists.

"News publishing professionals must resolutely instill a Marxist concept of news, maintain party principles, firmly uphold professional ethics and voluntarily commit themselves to upholding the sacred mission and glorious responsibility bestowed on them by the party and the people," said an order issued Monday by the party's main propaganda organizations.

The order was handed down in response to a high-impact Beijing Television broadcast this month reporting that a fast-food restaurant had mixed cardboard with pork in stuffing its steamed dumplings. The report caused a sensation among Beijing residents, who cherish their dumplings and who were already sensitized by weeks of reporting on food safety concerns.

But authorities quickly branded the broadcast a hoax. The reporter, identified as an inexperienced temp called Zi Beijia, was jailed, and party propaganda officials scolded journalists loudly for lax ethics and needlessly stirring up worries among the public.

In the minds of authorities and Chinese who follow the party line, the scandal was a way to undermine weeks of other reporting on tainted food and drugs, including numerous dispatches by foreign correspondents. In their view, such reports were vastly overblown. ..

Chinese authorities have been particularly sensitive recently about how the party is portrayed. In part, the concern has arisen from a desire to radiate a good image for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But more important, officials have begun the countdown to a crucial party congress in the fall during which Hu is expected to cement his leadership, establish his ideological credentials and stack party organizations with his supporters. Against that background, the rash of negative news has been particularly unwelcome.

After a meeting of top Beijing propaganda officials, for instance, the capital's newspaper editors and television news directors last week were handed a list of newly off-limits subjects, Beijing journalists reported. The list included food safety as well as riots, fires, deadly auto accidents and bloody murder cases, they said.

The people who would believe the Party explanation that an "inexperienced temp" could have had the wherewithal to unilaterally get an inflammatory exposé onto Beijing Television are living examples of the requisite gullibility of the masses necessary to the functioning of a well-controlled society.

Jul 26, 2007

Fudged Map, PsyOp'ted Probe - Shatt al-Arab Smackdown

A BRITISH map of the northern Gulf where Iran seized 15 naval personnel in March was not as accurate as it should have been and Britain was fortunate Iran did not contest it, a review into the crisis said.

The parliamentary report also said Britain's Foreign Office should name the person who let two sailors sell their stories to the media, a decision widely criticized for handing a propaganda coup to Britain's enemies and embarrassing serving troops.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized 15 British personnel in the northern Gulf in March sparking a 13-day standoff that ended when Iran's President freed them, a day after Larijani spoke to a senior adviser to then Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Britain and Iran provided different coordinates for the location of the capture.

The report did not make a definitive conclusion on the accuracy of the map or whether the sailors were in Iraqi or Iranian waters.

It quoted Martin Pratt, director of research at the International Boundaries Research Unit at Durham University, as saying that if the British coordinates were correct, it was difficult to see how Iran's claim could be legitimate.

“Nevertheless, there are sufficient uncertainties over boundary definition in the area to make it inadvisable to state categorically that the vessel was in Iraqi waters,” he was quoted as saying.

He said the map was “certainly an oversimplification” and could be regarded as “deliberately misleading”.

The Foreign Office said it was pleased the report praised its overall approach.

It was considering some recommendations and leaving others for the Ministry of Defence to address.

The Ministry of Defence also said it would study the report. ;)

Compiled by members of parliament, the report said it was “wholly unsatisfactory” that a previous report into the affair had been unable to say who was responsible for authorising payment for the stories of the personnel after they were freed.

“We recommend ... the (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) set out who specifically took the decision to authorise the naval personnel to sell their stories to the media,” it said.
-Hacked Excerpts of a News.Com.AU Article

Unintended Consequence?

The anti-Iran Perception Management campaign is working wonders -- if nowhere else -- in the battlespace of U.S. domestic politics.

As US and Iranian diplomats met in Baghdad on Tuesday for a second round of talks on Iraq, the domestic US political climate appeared decidedly more supportive of an aggressive US posture toward Iran than existed just a few months ago, reflecting the apparent triumph of the Bush administration's narrative on Iran's role in Iraq.

That new narrative threatens to obscure the bigger picture of Iranian policy toward Iraq, widely recognized by regional specialists. Iran's strategic interests in Iraq are far more compatible with those of the United States than those of the Sunni regimes in the region with which the US has aligned itself.

Contrary to the official narrative, Iranian support for Shi'ites is not aimed at destabilizing the country but does serve a rational Iranian desire to maximize its alliances with Iraqi Shi'ite factions, in the view of specialists on Iranian policy and on the security of the Persian Gulf region.

Symptomatic of the toughening attitude in the US Congress toward Iran was the 97-0 vote in the Senate last week for a resolution drafted by its leading proponent of war against Iran, Senator Joe Lieberman, stating, "The murder of members of the United States Armed Forces by a foreign government or its agents is an intolerable act of hostility against the United States." The resolution demanded that the government of Iran "take immediate action" to end all forms of support it is providing to Iraqi militias and insurgents.

That vote followed several months of intensive Bush administration propaganda charging that Iran is arming Shi'ite militias in Iraq, and characterizing Iranian financial support and training for Shi'ite militias as an aggressive effort to target US troops and to destabilize Iraq.

But this administration line ignores the fact that Iran's primary ties in Iraq have always been with those groups who have supported the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, including the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and Da'wa Party and their paramilitary arm, the Badr Corps, rather than with anti-government militias. That indicates that Iran's fundamental interest is to see the government stabilize the situation in the country, according to Professor Mohsen Milani of Florida International University, a specialist on Iran's national-security policies.

Milani argues that Iran's interests are more closely aligned with those of the US than any other state in the region. "I can't think of two other countries in the region who want the Iraqi government to succeed," said Milani.

He believes the Iranians are so upset with the efforts by the Saudis to undermine the Shi'ite-dominated government that they may try to use the talks with the US on the security of Iraq to introduce intelligence they have gathered on Saudi support for al-Qaeda and Sunni insurgents.

Trita Parsi, author of a new book on Iranian-Israeli security relations, agrees that Iran's support for the Maliki government stands in contrast to the attitude of the leading US Sunni ally in Middle East, Saudi Arabia. "Look at what the Saudis are calling the Maliki government - a puppet government," he observed. "You're not hearing that from Iran."

James A Russell, a lecturer in national-security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and a specialist on security affairs in the Gulf region, agrees that Iran and the US do indeed share common strategic interests in Iraq, at least in terms of rational, realist definitions of strategic interest.

The problem, Russell said, is that the history of the relationship and domestic political constituencies pose serious obstacles to realizing those common interests. Two such obstacles are "the very powerful political constituency for attacking Iran" and support for Israel, said Russell.

James Dobbins, former US ambassador to Afghanistan and director of the Rand Corporation's International Security and Defense Policy Center, agrees that Iran is not trying to destabilize Iraq. "They have been supportive of the government and hope it prevails," he said. As for the chief source of instability in Iraq, the Sunni-Shi'ite conflict, Dobbins noted that "Iranians don't see anything to be gained by Sunni-Shi'a conflict in Iraq".

Jul 24, 2007

A Whole Lot of Hurt To Hide (To Win Those Fickle Hearts & Minds)

Lazily devoting some margarita-ized thoughts to unintentional impacts of remote targeting and killing on the psychology of friend, foe, and neutral, I came across two items that caught my tequila'd attention.

First out is a somewhat truncated piece jacked from Afghanistanica.

While the Soviet-Afghan War more often than not provides the NATO/US forces with lessons on what not to do, occasionally it provides an excellent example of counter-insurgency skill.

I came across a few pages in the late Russian journalist Artyom Borovik’s book The Hidden War about a young Soviet officer who gained a reputation as a COIN specialist:

His name is known in every kishlak [village] in the province of Kunduz. Zakharov is a legend. […] Zakharov, who turned twenty-eight on May 27, came to Afghanistan a year ago. He spent the first four months exploring the territory and learning the customs and traditions of the local peasants. It’s impossible to fight the dukhi [literally: ghosts] successfully without such knowledge. [page 29-30]

Captain Zakharov’s relations with the locals was surprisingly good. Zakharov shared supplies and fuel with them from resources that were meant for his unit. Unlike Soviet forces elsewhere, he refused to mine the trails and small roads that are used to reinforce the mujahideen for fear of killing or wounding non-combatants. He checked with local farmers regarding planting and harvesting schedules so that his combat operations did not interfere with their livelihood. And his refusal to engage the local mujahideen commander Gayur under certain circumstances was remarkable. Zakharov commented on this strategy when Gayur intentionally tried to bring about civilian casualties:

“Then the rascal thought of something else. As a way of forcing the peasants [who were friendly with Zakharov] to leave Afghanistan, he began to fire at my position straight from the neighboring kishlaks [villages] in an effort to draw our return fire. The provocations were repeated every day, but our guns remained silent. I refused to fire on peaceful civilians.” [page 30-31]

Aside from putting a large price on Zakharov’s head and failing to bribe Zakharov himself, Gayur also attempts to feed Zakharov malicious intel through his agents. Zakharov thanks these “well-wishers” for their very valuable information and then checks with his own sources:

“I checked the information quickly through other channels. I have many friends among the local population, so there are people to ask. I get along well with the peasants who live in the kishlaks here. Never do I deceive them…” [page 28]

Zakharov was kept quite busy since his post was on both a strategic northern transport corridor for weapons from Pakistan and on a gas pipeline from the USSR. However, Zakharov met every challenge from the mujahideen thanks to his intel and counter-intel capabilities. One one occasion false intel was provided to Zakharov about a convoy of weapons that would be passing 5Ks from his position. Zakharov vetted this intel with the locals and found it to be false. So at dawn his sent out his main force to ambush the non-existent convoy. And then under cover of darkness the men from the ambush force returned to base. Of course a large force of 600 mujahideen attacked the base expecting to find very few men left behind. Zakharov’s full force met them head-on and forced Gayur to retreat all the way to Baghlan.

Gayur then retried the same tactic in reverse, feeding intel to Zakharov about an imminent attack on the base. But instead of sitting and waiting for a non-existent attack, Zakharov went out with his main force and destroyed a Mujahideen weapons convoy that included about a hundred pack animals and a dozen Toyotas.

When Artyom Borovik left Zakharov’s base Zakharov was contemplating a strategy to counter Gayur’s tactic of punching holes in the pipeline and lighting it up:

“Now its been done for sure. They hope to divert my forces into distinguishing the fires while they try to lead another caravan to Gayur. So let’s postpone our talk…” [page 31]

The Soviets later inflict heavy casualties on Gayur’s forces. Gayur then spreads false rumours of his own death. And so on and so forth…..

Further reading can be had in the Russian army’s self-critique that was translated into The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan or in the description of mujahideen tactics in The Other Side of the Mountain: Mujahideen Tactics in the Soviet Afghan War.

Second out is a streaming audio broadcast
of an episode of This American Life featuring a story about the controversialized Iraq mortality study.

It includes interviews with both Mark Garlasco, former chief of high-value targeting on the Joint Staff and a fascinating account by Iraq mortality study co-author Les Roberts of how the study was conducted inside Iraq.

More Les Roberts AV on the study: interview on DN (streaming audio) and lecture (YouTube video) given at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Deep Green

DARPA (The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is asking the IT world for proposals to create a state-of-the-art automated battlefield decision-making system. (50 page pdf)

The scene in Dr. Strangelove where Gen. Ripper and Group Captain Mandrake discuss the mid-20th century paradigm shift from the politicians to the generals vis à vis the capability of and responsibility for strategic military thought comes to mind.

The implication of the envisioned new system (called "Deep Green" by DARPA) is that it is time now for the generals to pass the baton to the computers.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Information Processing Technology Office (IPTO) seeks strong, responsive proposals from well-qualified sources for a new technology program called Deep Green. Deep Green will build a battle command decision support system that interleaves anticipatory planning with adaptive execution. Deep Green must be capable of addressing the full spectrum of joint and combined arms capabilities available to the modular brigade commander, drastically increasing the option and future space. This will allow the commander to think ahead, identify when a plan is going awry, and help develop alternatives "ahead of real time." The commander (and his support staff) is involved in essentially two major asynchronous functions: generating options and making decisions. The goal of this program is to create a commander-driven system to assist the commander and his support staff in generating options or Courses of Action (COAs).

Deep Green will aid in battle command and commander’s visualization by creating technologies that make it easier for the commander to articulate options to consider and anticipate the possible futures that result from those options. This proactive analysis will help predict which possible futures are becoming more likely – before they occur. Given that information, the commander can make better decisions and focus planning efforts (the generation of future branches and sequels) on where they can be the most useful. To accomplish this, Deep Green will focus on the following functional components: The Commander’s Associate (which consists of Sketch to Plan and Sketch to Decide), Crystal Ball, and Blitzkrieg.

There are six (6) tasks under the envisioned Deep Green program:
Task 1: Commander’s Associate (Sketch to Plan and Sketch to Decide)
Task 2: Blitzkrieg
Task 3: Crystal Ball
Task 4: Automated COA Generation
Task 5: Integration
Task 6: Test and Evaluation


The United States has a compelling need for reliable information affecting military command, soldiers in the field, and national security.

Today’s technical barriers include the following issues:
■ New technology is needed for machine induction of intuitively expressed plans.
■ Multi-modal (sketch and speech) collaborative technologies must be extended to incorporate modern learning technology that induces plans and the user’s intent from intuitive, coarse-grained plan descriptions.

■ Existing AI planning & monitoring systems
■ are largely deterministic in nature, while the battlefield is inherently stochastic;

■ focus on full automation rather than commander-driven plan generation; and

■ are reactive in nature, re-planning after the plan has broken

■ The current generation of combat models
■ run slowly,

■ generate a narrow spread of possible outcomes, and

■ require significant manual intervention.

The overall goal of Deep Green is to provide a technology that allows the commander
■ generate and analyze options quickly, including generating the many possible futures that may result from a combination of friendly, enemy, and other coursesof action;

■ use information from the current operation to assess which futures are becoming more likely in order to focus the development of more branches and sequels; and

■ make decisions cognizant of the second- and third-order effects of those decisions.

Deep Green is composed of tools to help the commander rapidly generate courses of action (options) through multimodal sketch and speech recognition technologies. Deep Green will develop technologies to help the commander create courses of action (options), fill in details for the commander, evaluate the options, develop alternatives, and evaluate the impact of decisions on other parts of the plan. The permutations of these option sketches for all sides and forces are assembled and passed to a new kind of combat model which generates many qualitatively different possible futures. These possible futures are organized into a graph-like structure. The commander can explore the space of possible futures, conducting “what-if” drills and generating branch and sequel options. Deep Green will take information from the ongoing, current operation to estimate the likelihood that the various possible futures may occur. Using this information, Deep Green will prune futures that are becoming very improbable and ask the commander to generate options for futures that are becoming more likely. In this way, Deep Green will ensure that the commander rarely reaches a point in the operation at which he has no options. This will keep the enemy firmly inside our decision cycle.


Security classification guidance on a DD Form 254 (DoD Contract Security Classification Specification) will not be provided at this time since DARPA is soliciting ideas only and does not encourage classified proposals in response to this announcement. However, after reviewing incoming proposals, if a determination is made that contract award may result in access to classified information, a DD Form 254 will be issued upon contract award. If you choose to submit a classified proposal you must first receive the permission of the Original Classification Authority to use its information in replying to this announcement.

Jul 23, 2007

Girls of Riyadh

Smutty (by Wahhabist standards) romance novels are being permitted by Saudi authorities in an unsaid acknowledgment of the need for them to let off a little of the steam that has been allowed to build up in the pressure cooker of their repressive society.

Too little, too late -- however -- may be the operative paradigm.

Saudi Arabia has seen a literary explosion in the last two years after the success of "Girls of Riyadh," a taboo-breaking novel that this month went on sale worldwide in English.

Rajaa Alsanea's insight into the closed world of Saudi women and their disappointments in love caused a storm in the conservative Islamic state where the Beirut-published book was at first banned, although it is now available.

But strikingly, Saudi Arabia's literary output doubled in 2006, with half of the authors women, and publishing industry insiders suggest the growing interest is partly due to Alsanea's book, which centers on four women from affluent homes who must navigate a minefield of rules and taboos on sex, marriage and social caste to get and keep their men.

"I see 'Girls of Riyadh' as a turning-point for readership in Saudi Arabia," said Hassan al-Neimy, a short story writer who heads a group of Saudi literati called Hewar, Arabic for Dialogue. "The boldness of the book got women writing in the same style, publishing their own daily experiences."

Around 50 novels were published in 2006 compared with 26 in 2005, al-Neimy said. Exact figures are hard to establish since some were published outside Saudi Arabia and are hard to obtain.

Novelists publishing inside Saudi Arabia normally submit their work to the ministry of information in advance. Only a handful are technically banned, but many writers resort to Arab publishers outside Saudi Arabia and leave individual bookstores inside the country the choice of whether to risk importing them. ...

Critics have noted that sexual relationships dominate in the output of the new writers, with sensational titles such as "al-Hobb fil Saudiyya," Arabic for "Love in Saudi" and "Fosouq," which means "Debauchery."

One example is "al-Akharun" ("The Others") by a woman using the pen name Siba al-Harz. It has attracted attention because of its dark treatment of lesbianism, guilt and marginalization among Saudi Arabia's minority Shi'ite Muslims, as well as its sophisticated use of classical Arabic.

Al-Harz described the book as "a long response to pain and alienation" in an interview with an Arabic newspaper. ...

(T)he communications revolution since then has given a new push to literary expression, [one publisher] said. Saudi Arabia's native population has doubled since 1990 to 17 million, and official statistics show some 60 percent are under 21 years old.

"Society has been opened wide to changes outside the region. It's a generation that has opened its eyes to rapid changes and the novel is a reflection of these changes on society," he said.

Jul 21, 2007

Outing the IO - EFFWIT & M1 Dump

Last year the Jesse MacBeth story broke.

It broke and went viral.

Not long after that
Haditha hit the MSM.

Now it would appear a
new Jesse MacBeth IO is breaking: The Scott Thomas IO.

Last year, Swedish Meatballs Confidential's call from scratch was that the Jesse MacBeth story was a slick IO designed to soften the pending MSM splash of Haditha. (A year later the following corroborating documents were unclassified) The inevitable trashing of MacBeth and the veracity of his claims would serve to mitigate the impact of any imminently pending, and substantive!, claims of atrocities perpetrated by U.S. troops in Iraq.

We wrote the following as a comment at the Protein Wisdom blog and it was subsequently picked up and converted into posts at yet other blogs. I'm reprinting it here again because of it's relevance to the IO exposé coming down the track at the end of this windy preamble:

(...and just to contextualize a tad for the quote below: So as to post examples of the predictable reactions from the blogosphere to the unmasking of the MacBeth fraud, SMC randomly chose a somewhat popular blog's reaction-cloud (Protein Wisdom) to exemplify our point - and we also rather spitefully ended up posting the comment below there just to rile up the spunk quaffers.

Needless to say, the folks squirting and swallowing the protein at PW weren't pleased to have been picked & painted as prime examples of unwitting yet abetting chumps. They went quite O'Reilly on us and finally Protein Wisdom deleted all trace of our ad hominem exchanges. Well, we knew PW was a puss. We were just rather unprepared for the blatant revelation that PW's Stud d'Oz Jeff Goldstein (he wrote a smug piece about the gullible anti-war left based on the MacBeth deflowering and that piece is what swept him into our crosshairs) was in fact but a Closet Wuss. (It's the closet bit we have lingering issues with. Anyhow, on to the quote.))

This video is definitely a must see as Goldstein's entertaining post and its trailing comments are a must read.

The MacBeth Op's been run like a classic info-op, setting up a straw man with which to mine against the return to areas of inquiry harboring legitimate claims and grievances. It's 101 stuff right out of one of my skullduggerous freshman textbooks.

Most of the responses here prove my point and are the very reactions sought after per operational design. It's successes like this, as demonstrated by your unrestrained glee of solving the puzzle, that makes info-ops like this so entertainingly rewarding to work with. Your very exposé, and its limited depth of comprehension, comprises the actual honey trap.

Those that take unbridled pride in the inevitable exposition of an enigma designed for easy elucidation, and draw far reaching and boisterous conclusions about the validity of everything else critical, are in fact the honeytrapped - not the reasonably gullible that originally clung to MacBeth's revelatory promise.

Judging by the blog's post and the ensuing comments I dare say that most everyone here now has sticky feet.

Thanks for making this line of work so easy for my successors.

Now, a day or so ago I stumbled upon the following fishy piece (per way of its crude baiting, re:chumming) by Michael Goldfarb at The Weekly Standard.

My immediate kneejerk reaction was that I was staring down the barrel of a Jesse MacBeth redux, but that this time around the IO's operators didn't rely on the potency of the basic formula but instead hypergored the trap like the overly eager amateurish rookies (or was it that arrogance again?) they must be accused of being.

And, eventually, we reached the bones. All children’s bones: tiny cracked tibias and shoulder blades. We found pieces of hands and fingers. We found skull fragments. One private, infamous as a joker and troublemaker, found the top part of a human skull, which was almost perfectly preserved. It even had chunks of hair, which were stiff and matted down with dirt. He squealed as he placed it on his head like a crown. It was a perfect fit. As he marched around with the skull on his head, people dropped shovels and sandbags, folding in half with laughter. No one thought to tell him to stop. No one was disgusted. Me included.

So I got on the ham radio and gave EFFWIT a call (July 20):

- M1:
Hey, you think this could be another Jesse MacBeth "water softener" story for some nasty shit about to break down the road?

Naw, I think the stories are pure BS. Not info-op material.

And I can't imagine what good this sort of stuff could do. Unlike the quite specific and believable allegations of young Jesse.

Your call on Jesse was pure gold, but I have real doubts about these incidents as being a harbinger of anything at all. If it's an IO, it's being run by monkeys.

They are totally Apocalypse Now...something from Tales from the Crypt.

The stories were just too perverse. Sometimes too much embellishment on a story can be a giveaway.

Then earlier today my ham radio squelched like a spooked Ozark pig:

Your nose for detecting PSYOP-y skullduggery is truly astounding.

I had blithely scoffed at the possibilities of those outrageous allegations about the soldiers in Iraq that you sent me.

M1 was spot on correct with his call.

The amateurish exaggeration that so offended my sense of info-oppy propriety was an inherent part of the plan.

The narrative that is being spun revolves around the perfidy of the "Liberal" [sic, read NeoCon] magazine The New Republic having published a faked slanderous attack upon our troops in Iraq.

The entire liberal media and blogosphere is supposed to be painted as treacherous and is now supposed to watch what they publish about Iraq.

Goddamn brilliant. And great call, my friend. (I hadn't grokked that angle because I do not view TNR under NeoCon war supporter Marty Peretz as being liberal.

I just Wiki-ed TNR and discover that Peretz sold the mag in Feb 2007 to a group including the right-wing Asper family. He remains Editor in Chief.

Here's the giveaway about the info-op. Bloggers Raise Red Flags Over New Republic's 'Baghdad Diarist'

And that my friends is how we roll the occasional meatball. It's not a science. It's an artsy fartsy process and at times it gets considerably spunky.

Now the only question is: what bad news à la Haditha are we imminently in store to hear about?

Captain Renault at the Casino

Mr Lavrov is shocked, shocked to discover that the operative narrative now is the breakdown of U.S./Russian relations.

Russia's foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, has pulled an article he submitted to Foreign Affairs magazine, the influential journal of international relations, saying the editors there changed his writing to the point of censorship, an accusation the magazine denies.

In a bristling statement on Thursday, coming after a week of heightened tension with the West on a range of matters — including the Kremlin's decision to suspend its participation in a treaty limiting conventional forces in Europe — the Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the magazine for editing that verged on "the worst features of the Soviet censorship."

"As a result of the excruciating and sluggish exchanges with the editors, the likes of which could only be found in diplomatic history, it was decided to give up trying to place Sergey Lavrov's article in Foreign Affairs," the Russian statement said.

Mr. Lavrov's article, called "Containing Russia: Back to the Future," was submitted in May for publication in the September and October issue, the Russians said. The magazine regularly publishes articles written by foreign leaders.

Mr. Lavrov's essay, posted this week on the Foreign Ministry's Web site, broadly criticized American foreign policy on Iraq and other issues. It also protested what Mr. Lavrov described as a backlash in the West against Russia's efforts to assume a larger role in world affairs, a theme often repeated in Moscow these days and sometimes described here as an effort to counterbalance the United States' global power.

"It is one thing to respect American culture and civilization; it is another to embrace Americo-centrism," Mr. Lavrov wrote. Mr. Lavrov had been motivated to write for the magazine to articulate Russia's positions on current issues and "ensure a positive development of U.S.-Russian relations," the statement said. Editors at the New York-based magazine said they had been blindsided by the decision to withdraw the article. James F. Hoge Jr., the editor, said in a telephone interview that he had edited it for clarity and to eliminate redundancies.

The changes in the 4,000-word essay, he said, had all been previously approved by Russian officials — some of whom even complimented him on the editing — with the exception of the wording of a subtitle. The Russian ministry statement contended that editors wanted the subtitle "Averting a New Cold War," or "A Conflict Between Russia and America."

Mr. Lavrov, the statement said, had objected to the use of the phrase "cold war" because "in Moscow we assume that no new cold war" is possible today. ...

Appended to the Foreign Ministry statement was a copy of the article, minus the disputed subtitle. The ministry said it had made the article available to show that "in Sergey Lavrov's article there is nothing that will be harmful for adult Americans to read."

"This tough experience reminded of the worst features of the Soviet censorship past, which it appears some in the U.S. would like to repeat," the ministry statement said, in slightly broken English. "It is a pity, indeed, that in parts of the U.S. media there exists a trend of 'state protection,' which narrows intellectual resources of America. We are convinced the U.S.A. deserves better," the statement said.

Jul 20, 2007

IO Friday: Tipton Enough

Info Ops, Iranian-Style

The U.S. government tried over the last ten days through diplomatic and other channels to persuade the Iranian government not to broadcast a two-part television program that detailed allegations of spying and American covert destabilization of the Islamic Republic.

Our effort to prevent the broadcast failed.

Using methods that hark back to the years following Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, Iranian state-run television on Wednesday night broadcast what it called "confessions" of two Iranian-American academics accused of undermining the regime.

Called "In the name of Democracy," the 50-minute film deftly spliced images of "velvet" revolutions in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan with segments of interviews with the two dual citizens. The film sought to portray the detained activists' work for American think tanks and civil-society groups as a tool for a US policy of regime change in Iran.

The documentary comes amid one of the most comprehensive crackdowns on political activism since the revolution. Confronted with $75 million worth of pro-democracy funding set aside by the US Congress – and frequent rhetoric about regime change – Tehran is taking a page from its old playbook to fight what it sees as a mounting threat to political stability.

"The impetus comes from die-hard people around [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, the former Revolutionary Guards, people who now dominate the intelligence services," says Ervand Abrahamian, an Iran expert at the City University of New York. "They practiced this under Khomeini, so they are really going back to the old methods [that] did work."

In the film, Haleh Esfandiari, head of Middle East programs at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, spoke of facilitating scholarly exchanges, networks of Iran experts, and meetings at international conferences. Ms. Esfandiari, looking pale and drawn, sat on a couch in a black head scarf and robe beside a plant – not in her cell at Tehran's Evin prison, where she has been held in solitary confinement since May 8.

"What was my role here?" she was heard to ask while describing her work identifying experts. "In the course of these years, when you put these number of meetings back to back, you would come to the conclusion that, willingly or not, a network of connections would be formed," said Esfandiari.

Other segments showed Kian Tajbakhsh, a US-educated urban planner, speaking with notes about his work in Tehran with the Soros Foundation. Mr. Tajbakhsh sat in what appeared to be a wood-paneled office instead of his prison cell. He spoke of an "overt" Soros program, and then other "dimensions" that included creating nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and bringing Iranian contacts to Europe.

A third academic, Canadian-Iranian Ramin Jahanbegloo, who was held for four months last year and released, said the Wilson Center "receives most of its money ... from the US Congress," and spoke of conferences where he met Americans and some Israelis "who were mostly intelligence agents." ...

"They didn't say anything that would amount to a confession," says an Iranian analyst in Tehran who asked not to be named. "However, when put together with the [velvet revolution] documentary, very, very professionally, with the comments of [all] the individuals, it did give you a feeling: 'Ah, these guys were working together in a network, that is so extensive and [well established] that it would be able to topple the regime.'" ...

The Bush administration has spoken frequently of regime change, and includes Iran as part of an "axis of evil." The vitriol has prompted fears among security forces in Iran of an East European-style "velvet revolution."

In the film, Mr. Bush is seen during a speech saying "the untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world." The movie also shows President Vladimir Putin of Russia – which has clamped down on NGOs over concerns of similar, Western-sponsored unrest – complaining about such pro-democracy efforts.

After showing scenes of street violence abroad, and then in Iran, the narrator asks, "How are velvet revolutions led? Which country is next?"

Jul 19, 2007

Then Becometh This: Frequent Wind Danish

Then That

Baltic and Nordic Headlines

A press review with summaries of asylum and refugee-related articles in regional media. Thursday 28 to Friday 29 June 2007 -External Relations Unit,UNHCR Regional Office for the Baltic and Nordic Countries, Stockholm (pdf)


Ministry of Foreign Affairs admits its bad practice in the interpreter issue
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs admits having made a mistake in not informing the Minister of Development Cooperation Ulla Tørnæs about the murder of an Iraqi interpreter working for the Danish troops. On Thursday Tørnæs presented the Ministry’s report on the reasons why the Minister for Foreign Affairs or Minister for Development Cooperation were not informed about the murder in December last year. From now on all murders of earlier employees of the Danish troops will be reported to the Minister of Development Cooperation. Earlier deaths have been reported only if they were directly caused by the service for the Danish troops.
-Berlingske Tidende 28 June 2007

Iraqi interpreters have to were masks when on duty
Several Iraqi interpreters have searched for a refuge at the Danish military camp.
They are afraid to be killed as revenge for having helped the Danish soldiers. When on duty with the Danish troops, the interpreters use scarves, sun glasses and helmets to mask themselves. They wish to receive either asylum or permission to stay in Denmark until Iraq becomes more secure.
-Politiken 28 June 2007
Iraqi interpreters can apply for asylum in Denmark
The government has made a decision concerning the immediate future of the 22 interpreters who have served Danish forces in Iraq. As Denmark prepares to withdraw all its troops in August the government coalition has hammered out a deal with the Danish People’s Party which allows the interpreters to seek asylum in Denmark along with their families. A further 130 Iraqis who have worked for the Danish troops over the past four years will also be offered the possibility of coming to Denmark with their families. The three-party agreement signals a complete turnaround by the Danish People’s Party.
-Politiken 29 June 2007

Also Afghan interpreters wish to get asylum in Denmark
An interpreter helping the Danish troops in Afghanistan says the Danish government cannot provide protection to the interpreters in Afghanistan. According to Essa Habibi the only way to protect them is to give them asylum in Denmark. Spokesperson Mogens Lykketoft from the Social Democrats demands now that the agreement on Iraqi interpreters is extended to include the Afghan interpreters as well.
-DR 28 June 2007

Now This (Still Breaking...)

Denmark has completed the secret evacuation of 200 Iraqis out of Basra this morning.

Iraqi employees (and nearest of kin) of various Danish contingencies in Basra have been covertly airlifted out of Basra this week in three separate Hercules flights. The third and final of the top secret flights will touch down in Denmark this morning (CET).

The operation represents the largest ever evacuation of people out of a war zone by the Danish Armed Forces.

The mission commenced last January when Danish soldiers publicly called upon their government to make provisions for safe haven to Iraqis providing critical services and facilities to Danish operations in Basra.

The presence of the Iraqis within the Danish base west of Basra was believed to be the cause of the recent increase in intensity of attacks against it.

Somebody smarter please, should these be considered tactical or strategic airlifts - or just Euro-desperate airlifts? I'm not buying humanitarian...that's just too mushy heading in to a weekend.

Enemy IO Exploit in Iraq Detailed

Not exactly "Cyber-Herding", but interesting nonetheless:

"(Alleged AQI figure Khalid al-Mashhadani) confirms that (Supposed AQI leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri) and the foreign leaders with whom he surrounds himself, not Iraqis, make the operational decisions" for al-Qaeda in Iraq, (Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner, the top American military spokesman in Iraq) said.

Bergner said that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, described in insurgent statements as leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, was a fictional creation of Masri. He called the Islamic State, announced by al-Qaeda affiliates last year in what intelligence analysts described as a ploy to draw more Iraqis to their cause, a "virtual organization in cyberspace."

Following its establishment, the al-Qaeda name disappeared from statements emanating from Iraq. But while some other insurgent groups declared themselves part of the Islamic State, others denounced it -- as did U.S. intelligence -- as nothing more than a front for al-Qaeda in Iraq.

"The rank-and-file Iraqis in AQI believe they are following the Iraqi al-Baghdadi. But all the while they have been following the orders of the Egyptian Abu Ayyub al-Masri," Bergner said, using the military's abbreviation for al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The general's briefing was part of an American effort to counter the psychological aspects of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia’s campaign as well as the military ones. The news conference seemed tailored to rattle the 90 percent of the group’s adherents who are believed to be Iraqi by suggesting that they were doing the bidding of foreigners.

General Bergner said that Mr. Masri's ploy was to invent Mr. Baghdadi, a figure whose very name was meant to establish an Iraqi pedigree, install him as the head of a front organization called the Islamic State of Iraq, and then arrange for Mr. Masri to swear allegiance to him.

Jul 18, 2007

Enlisting Madison Avenue

There is a new RAND Corporation paper -- prepared for the United States Joint Forces Command -- on Strategic Influence strategies for use in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Enlisting Madison Avenue: The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation (241 page pdf):

Shaping, in traditional U.S. military parlance, refers to battlefield activities designed to constrain adversary force options or increase friendly force options. It is exemplified in the U.S. landing at the Port of Inch’on, which caused the redeployment of North Korean forces threatening the city of Pusan and dramatically altered the course of the Korean War. Recent analysis of field requirements and joint urban doctrine has expanded the concept of shaping to include influencing resident populations in military operational theaters. These populations constitute a significant component of stability operations, particularly through their decision to support friendly force objectives or those of the adversary.

Virtually every action, message, and decision of a force shapes the opinions of an indigenous population: how coalition personnel treat civilians during cordon-and-search operations, the accuracy or inaccuracy of aerial bombardment, and the treatment of detainees. Unity of message is key in this regard. The panoply of U.S. force actions must be synchronized across the operational battlespace to the greatest extent possible so as not to conflict with statements made in communications at every level, from the President to the soldier, sailor, marine, or airman in the theater of operations. Given the inherent difficulty in unifying coalition messages across disparate organizations, within and across governments, and over time, shaping efforts must be designed, war-gamed, and conducted as a campaign. The goal of such a shaping campaign is to foster positive attitudes among the populace toward U.S. and allied forces. These attitudes, while not the goal in and of themselves, help decrease anticoalition behaviors and motivate the population to act in ways that facilitate friendly force operational objectives and the attainment of desired end states.

This study considered how the United States and its coalition partners can shape indigenous attitudes and behavior during stability operations via the character of those operations and the behavior of coalition armed forces and those responsible for communication. While successes have been achieved in this regard, U.S. forces stand to benefit from the application of select, proven commercial marketing techniques. As such, we consider successes and missteps from the marketing and advertising industries and how lessons from those events might assist U.S. military men and women. We also present recommendations based on observations and insights from previous operational endeavors, including ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. All recommendations are predicated on a discussion of the challenges posed in developing effective shaping efforts. ...

Information fratricide, or the failure to synchronize and deconflict messages, puts a great burden on U.S. shaping initiatives. Synchronization is a particular problem for public affairs (PA), civil affairs (CA), and information operations (IO) and its psychological operations (PSYOP) component. Contributing factors include overlapping PSYOP and IO portfolios, limited PSYOP access to commanders, and negative PA and CA perceptions of PSYOP. PA, PSYOP, and IO also suffer from limitations in funding and personnel. Training underemphasizes the impact these functions can have on operations and their potentially vital role. Prohibitions against even inadvertent PSYOP targeting of U.S. civilians further confound U.S. shaping efforts. Other challenges beset PSYOP efforts in the theater: It is exceedingly difficult to identify target audiences in complex and dangerous operating environments, and there is often a lack of access to segments of a population critical to conducting message pretesting.

Jul 17, 2007

Old Baltic News: Early SMC Statement on Estonian Cyber-Hype

From a previous SMC comment at Government Executive, May 23, 2007. Since then, wiser minds have caught up with our gin-pickled collective wisdom

It is an act of war from scratch - that at least is how the national security wonks specializing in cyberwar/IOs have been pitching similar, albeit projected, scenarios to policy makers for the past 10 years.

How and when to respond offensively to such attacks is another matter, primarily a political matter unless the situation degrades to a point where lives and limbs are actually being lost - but Estonia is far from such a state.

At the moment, the attacks on Estonia correlate well to standard war game scenario parameters/inputs, minus the scripted degradation of actual life-supporting infrastructure - a common resultant/assumption in most war game scenarios played by various national security entities.

The extent to which such a massive and widely distributed attack against Estonia actually wreaks havoc on life, and life supporting facilities - that is what I find interesting about the Estonian episode. How well do the inputs and assumptions of standard cyberwar scenarios compare to this in vivo run?

Are babies dying in their incubators? Are local bourses crashing and investors fleeing Estonia? Is there still water to drink?

-Replicated Comment from Government Executive Posted Anew @ Danger Room

New NIE On Terrorist Threat to U.S. Homeland

This morning, the office of the Director of National Intelligence released a declassified version of a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) titled The Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland (7 page pdf):

Key Judgments

We judge the US Homeland will face a persistent and evolving terrorist threat over the next three years. The main threat comes from Islamic terrorist groups and cells, especially al-Qa’ida, driven by their undiminished intent to attack the Homeland and a continued effort by these terrorist groups to adapt and improve their capabilities.

We assess that greatly increased worldwide counterterrorism efforts over the past five years have constrained the ability of al-Qa’ida to attack the US Homeland again and have led terrorist groups to perceive the Homeland as a harder target to strike than on 9/11. These measures have helped disrupt known plots against the United States since 9/11.

• We are concerned, however, that this level of international cooperation may wane as 9/11 becomes a more distant memory and perceptions of the threat diverge.

Al-Qa’ida is and will remain the most serious terrorist threat to the Homeland, as its central leadership continues to plan high-impact plots, while pushing others in extremist Sunni communities to mimic its efforts and to supplement its capabilities. We assess the group has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability, including: a safehaven in the Pakistan Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), operational lieutenants, and its top leadership. Although we have discovered only a handful of individuals in the United States with ties to al-Qa’ida senior leadership since 9/11, we judge that al-Qa’ida will intensify its efforts to put operatives here.

• As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment.

We assess that al-Qa’ida will continue to enhance its capabilities to attack the Homeland through greater cooperation with regional terrorist groups. Of note, we assess that al-Qa’ida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland. In addition, we assess that its association with AQI helps al-Qa’ida to energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks.

We assess that al-Qa’ida’s Homeland plotting is likely to continue to focus on prominent political, economic, and infrastructure targets with the goal of producing mass casualties, visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks, and/or fear among the US population. The group is proficient with conventional small arms and improvised explosive devices, and is innovative in creating new capabilities and overcoming security obstacles.

• We assess that al-Qa’ida will continue to try to acquire and employ chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material in attacks and would not hesitate to use them if it develops what it deems is sufficient capability.

We assess Lebanese Hizballah, which has conducted anti-US attacks outside the United States in the past, may be more likely to consider attacking the Homeland over the next three years if it perceives the United States as posing a direct threat to the group or Iran.

We assess that the spread of radical—especially Salafi—Internet sites, increasingly aggressive anti-US rhetoric and actions, and the growing number of radical, self-generating cells in Western countries indicate that the radical and violent segment of the West’s Muslim population is expanding, including in the United States. The arrest and prosecution by US law enforcement of a small number of violent Islamic extremists inside the United States— who are becoming more connected ideologically, virtually, and/or in a physical sense to the global extremist movement—points to the possibility that others may become sufficiently radicalized that they will view the use of violence here as legitimate. We assess that this internal Muslim terrorist threat is not likely to be as severe as it is in Europe, however.

We assess that other, non-Muslim terrorist groups—often referred to as "single-issue" groups by the FBI—probably will conduct attacks over the next three years given their violent histories, but we assess this violence is likely to be on a small scale.

We assess that globalization trends and recent technological advances will continue to enable even small numbers of alienated people to find and connect with one another, justify and intensify their anger, and mobilize resources to attack—all without requiring a centralized terrorist organization, training camp, or leader.

• The ability to detect broader and more diverse terrorist plotting in this environment will challenge current US defensive efforts and the tools we use to detect and disrupt plots. It will also require greater understanding of how suspect activities at the local level relate to strategic threat information and how best to identify indicators of terrorist activity in the midst of legitimate interactions.

"I've Got Nothing To Hide"

From a new paper on government surveillance and data mining by George Washington University Law School Professor Daniel J. Solove, 'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy (25 page pdf):

Far too often, discussions of the NSA surveillance and data mining define the problem solely in terms of surveillance. To return to my discussion of metaphor, the problems are not just Orwellian but Kafkaesque. The NSA programs are problematic even if no information people want to hide is uncovered. In The Trial, the problem is not inhibited behavior, but rather a suffocating powerlessness and vulnerability created by the court system's use of personal data and its exclusion of the protagonist from having any knowledge or participation in the process. The harms consist of those created by bureaucracies – indifference, errors, abuses, frustration, and lack of transparency and accountability.

One such harm, for example, which I call "aggregation," emerges from the combination of small bits of seemingly innocuous data. When combined, the information become much more telling about a person. For the person who truly has nothing to hide, aggregation is not much of a problem. But in the stronger less absolutist form of the "nothing to hide" argument, people are arguing that certain pieces of information are not something they would hide.

Aggregation, however, means that by combining pieces of information we might not care to conceal, the government can glean information about us that we might really want to conceal. Part of the allure of data mining for the government is its ability to reveal a lot about our personalities and activities by sophisticated means of analyzing data. Therefore, without greater transparency in data mining, it is hard to claim that programs like the NSA data mining program will not reveal information people might want to hide, as we do not know precisely what is revealed.

Moreover, data mining aims to be predictive of behavior. In other words, it purports to prognosticate about our future actions. People who match certain profiles are deemed likely to engage in a similar pattern of behavior. It is quite difficult to refute actions that one has not yet done. Having nothing to hide will not always dispel predictions of future activity.

Another problem in the taxonomy, which is implicated by the NSA program, is the problem I refer to as "exclusion." Exclusion is the problem caused when people are prevented from having knowledge about how their information is being used, as well as barred from being able to access and correct errors in that data. The NSA program involves a massive database of information that individuals cannot access. Indeed, it was kept secret for years. This kind of information processing, which forbids people's knowledge or involvement, resembles in some ways a kind of due process problem. It is a structural problem involving the way people are treated by government institutions. Moreover, it creates a power imbalance between individuals and the government. To what extent should the Executive Branch, and an agency such as the NSA, which is relatively insulated from the political process and public accountability, have a significant power over citizens? This issue is not about whether the information gathered is something people want to hide, but rather about the power and the structure of government. ...

A related problem involves "secondary use." Secondary use is the use of data obtained for one purpose for a different unrelated purpose without the person's consent. The Administration has said little about how long the data will be stored, how it will be used, and what it could be used for in the future. The potential future uses of any piece of personal information are vast, and without limits or accountability on how that information is used, it is hard for people to assess the dangers of the data being in the government's control.

Therefore, the problem with the "nothing to hide" argument is that it focuses on just one or two particular kinds of privacy problems – the disclosure of personal information or surveillance – and not others. It assumes a particular view about what privacy entails, and it sets the terms for debate in a manner that is often unproductive.

It is important to distinguish here between two ways of justifying a program such as the NSA surveillance and data mining program. First is to not recognize a problem. This is how the "nothing to hide" argument works. It denies even the existence of a problem. The second manner of justifying such a program is to acknowledge the problems but contend that the benefits of the NSA program outweigh the privacy harms. The first justification influences the second, for the low value given to privacy is based upon a narrow view of the problem.