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Don't open any 'storm' attachments - or other socially engineered gems

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Don't open any 'storm' attachments - or other socially engineered gems as "U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza..." and "A killer at 11, he's free at 21 and..."

For readers following European weather, you know that hurricane force winds have battered Europe, killing many (also here). Into this breach poured a botnet Trojan masquerading as a storm update. It spread rapidly across Europe but by the time it hit the US in significant numbers, the major AV vendors had added it to their watch list. But many individuals live in a highly connected world and so had already received the tainted traffic from Europe.

In the US, the storm worm is circulating under titles referring to SecState Rice and murdering juveniles. The worm's key, especially in its storm and Rice variants, is its close coupling to current events. You WANT to click that link...

Johannes Ullrich, chief technology officer of the SANS Institute, said that virus writers capitalizing on current media events is not necessarily unique to the Storm Worm. He pointed out that a Saddam-related virus began to spread in the wake of the former dictator's execution. That virus popped up in e-mail inboxes only two days after his death with what appeared to be video of his hanging... [Virus] writers have begun responding more quickly to top news headlines, rather than using sex and celebrity as a means to ensure their viruses get activated.

An easy prediction and two observations:

  1. Bank on the next major storm or shattering political event in the US to see this Trojan re-released here, but with a different signature.
  2. THINK BEFORE you click! - If it is something you know is designed to short circuit your good judgment, you are likely right.
  3. Remember that you already have news feeds that are unlikely to be taken over by spoofers. Use them, not something that you get in an attachment. Even from me.

As I was adapting this item from an earlier internal note to colleagues and clients, the prediction came quickly true:

Joining only two previous states, the US and USSR, the PRC "successfully carried out its first test of an antisatellite weapon" by downing "an aging Chinese weather satellite" in low earth orbit - the same orbit that many US reconnaissance satellites inhabit. With a potential "antisatellite arms race" in the offing, we shortly received two satellite-related items on Friday evening:

Chinese missile shot down Russian satellite
Mathilda V. Lloyd [owol@planbgroep.nl]
Friday 19 January, 2007 19:42
No message save for attached file "video.exe"

Russian missle shot down USA satellite
participant [oxo@auto-letzi.ch]
Friday 19 January, 2007 23:07
No message save for attached file "Full Video.exe"

While Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN) is in the news as he leaves the Senate and mulls a run for governor, he is not dead. That did not prevent us from receiving two notes, same title, different apparent senders, claiming that terrorists had attacked the Supreme Court and that Dayton was dead on Saturday morning:

The Supreme Court has been attacked by terrorists. Sen. Mark Dayton dead!
Carroll Cordelia [yfonpk@mpanell.com]
Friday 20 January, 2007 06:09
No message save for attached file "Read More.exe"

The Supreme Court has been attacked by terrorists. Sen. Mark Dayton dead!
Woodard Olivia [jccig@twisted-wonderland.com]
Friday 20 January, 2007 06:10
No message save for attached file "Full Text.exe"

And on Saturday evening, this misspelled item:

The commander of a U.S. nuclear submarine lunch the rocket by mistake.
Alexander [jpvyzc@improve-knit.com]
Friday 20 January, 2007 20:43
No message save for attached file "Read News.exe"

All had that sense of urgency and great events. All had the worm payload. See Déjà vu and A rather significant outbreak.

New 'Storm Worm' Pummels PCs
By Lindsay Martell
Newsfactor.com
January 20, 2007 10:00AM

Storm Worm' rages across the globe
By Dawn Kawamoto, CNET News.com
Published on ZDNet News, January 19, 2007, 8:15 AM PT

Hurricane-Force Winds Hit Northern U.K.
Hurricane-Force Winds and Heavy Downpours Hammer Northern Europe, Killing 27 People
By DANICA KIRKA and RAPHAEL G. SATTER
AP/ABC News
LONDON Jan 19, 2007 (AP)

Europe reels as storms kill at least 47
AP/CNN
POSTED: 1:28 p.m. EST, January 19, 2007

Flexing Muscle, China Destroys Satellite in Test
By WILLIAM J. BROAD and DAVID E. SANGER
New York Times
January 19, 2007

Déjà vu
Authentium Virus Blog
Authentium Malware Information Exchange Portal
January 19th, 2007

A rather significant outbreak
Authentium Virus Blog
Authentium Malware Information Exchange Portal
January 18th, 2007

Gordon Housworth



Cybersecurity Public  InfoT Public  Strategic Risk Public  

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4GW Iraqi insurgents Using Google Earth to target, then mortar, 2-3GW UK conventional forces

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In a set piece example of a smaller, more nimble 4GW asymmetric attacker using Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) tools to surprise a larger, conventional 2-3GW defender, Iraqi insurgents used Google Earth to conduct 'aerial reconnaissance' of the British Royal Green Jackets, then used the Google data to mortar the English positions.

The only surprise was that the British could possibly be uncertain if it was happening:

The British security services are concerned that terrorists will be able to examine in detail sensitive infrastructure such as electricity stations, military basis, and their own headquarters in London.

and that the British could think that they could restrain the open source leveling increasingly available to asymmetrical attackers:

Soldiers from the Royal Green Jackets based at the Basra Palace base said they had considered suing Google Earth if they were injured by mortar rounds that had been directed on the camp by the aerial footage.

The British has only to review Google Earth 4.0 becomes a poor man's surveillance and targeting tool, 7/9/2006:

Google Earth 4.0 has become a poor man's surveillance and targeting tool, offering to an individual or a small distributed group what was once the purview of a few nation states. Within a month of releasing this as a private advisory last June [2006], clients advised me that they were able to significantly improve their defensive analysis and their external surveillance…

Benefits that accrue to real estate, architectural engineering and state and local planning applications also accrue to the asymmetric attacker. Military and homeland defense assets that rarely venture beyond their classified, multi-spectrum battlefield Command & Control (C2) systems will forget that the asymmetrical attacker now has a "good enough" C2 targeting and surveillance system available courtesy of the global web browser interface. For those who doubt, in Google's own words…

And before that, Improving COTS availability of open source mapping, imagery and GPS data, 10/21/2005, painted the improving access to overhead and oblique imagery:

Imagery that was historically limited to a few nations is now increasingly available on demand, at your PC, at little or no cost. (While there is dedicated imagery available for purchase from US, Russian and European sites, it comes at a price and with potentially traceability.) Imagery that offers a general overhead view of a desired facility in concert with GPS coordinates is available for operational planning purposes. The Register pointed out naval facilities, airfields (and here), airfields and revetments, intelligence, command and chemical facilities, boomers (nuclear ballistic missile submarines) at dockside, nuclear facilities and aircraft carriers at dockside. States such as India and South Korea have protested Google Earth "on the grounds that the globetrotting online service shows sensitive military installations laid bare in a way which might benefit North Korea."

Expect targeting information to be increasingly available as Google forges more commercial sharing relations such as that proposed with commercial real estate's largest data provider, CoStar Group, who "tracks more than 200 bits of data on commercial buildings in the 80 or so biggest markets in the United States and plans to expand to the top 200 markets… sends out teams in specially equipped vans to photograph buildings and use lasers to measure them and calculate their exact centers for mapping… [and using a Google map] drill down into specific information on a given building, not just see it on a map.'' CoStar holds "tenant information [that] includes details on who they are, what they do, how much they pay in rent, when their leases expire and all the phone numbers in buildings."

Interestingly, the same week that saw insurgents targeting the British, Google Earth appeared prominently in the Alaska Volcano Observatory's dynamic monitoring of active volcanoes and the EPA's publishing of "areas known or suspected of releasing contaminants, pollutants and other hazardous substances.

Mankind made maps because they were one of the richest ways in which to transmit dense information. Topographic maps made elevation and depth possible while retaining relative position. Thematic maps added means with which to interpret unique characteristics, and so forth. Google Earth and its brethren have extended both richness and analytic possibilities of geospatial information.

The combination of graphics mapping programs such as Google Earth, commercially available imagery, GPS data, and other forms of geospatial and alphanumeric information, often combined in mashups to achieve a particular analysis, have brought the capacity of a working C2 - and in combination with the web and IRC chat lines, a working C3 - system into the hands of even a neighborhood adversary, much less a determined asymmetrical attacker.

The only surprise is not that asymmetricals are using Google Earth, but that semi-custom C2-C3 mashups have not been produced for distribution among insurgents and jihadists. By standardizing the underlying databases, 4GW opponents can exchange 'battlefield' imagery and information.

It is this lack of imagination and familiarity with COTS capabilities and dual-use applications that leave conventional military forces constantly vulnerable to asymmetrical attack.

Find toxic wastelands via Google Earth
EPA takes first step in effort to make data about polluted sites more accessible to online mapping applications and the public at large.
By Anne Broache
CNET News.com
January 17, 2007, 3:18 PM PST

Volcanoes Erupt on Google Earth
By Elizabeth Svoboda
Wired
02:00 AM Jan, 17, 2007

Terrorists 'use Google maps to hit UK troops'
By Thomas Harding in Basra
Telegraph (UK)
Last Updated: 2:06am GMT 13/01/2007

Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS): A Survey
Prepared by: Maurizio Morisio and Nancy Sunderhaft
Contract Number SP0700-98-D-4000
Data & Analysis Center for Software
Prepared for: Air Force Research Laboratory, Information Directorate (AFRL/IFED)
December 2000

Gordon Housworth



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Deducing IP collection targets among military, commercial and dual use applications from Chinese science and technology core competencies

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The id
entification and analysis of the science and technology core competencies of China permits much deduction, from a targeting standpoint, of Chinese interest against foreign military, commercial and dual use technologies. A first in the unclass area, this Office of Naval Research (ONR) comparative effort contrasts the impact/quality of all of China's research (versus India and Australia) and research investment emphases/strategy (versus the US); Its algorithmic data is of interest to those of us interested in automated search.

This analysis has rising interest as China surpassed Japan in 2006 to "become the world's second highest investor in R&D after the United States":

China's spending on R&D as a percentage of GDP, known as R&D intensity, has more than doubled from 0.6% of GDP in 1995 to just over 1.2% in 2004. In current prices, this represents an increase from just over USD 17 billion in 1995 to USD 94 billion in 2004. And it is growing even faster than the economy which is growing by between 9 and 10% a year.

Less widely reported, save for certain European sites, was that China surpassed "Germany as the 5th world largest supplier of patent applications."

The ONR's "bibliometric" study of Chinese scientific publications shows that the PRC is
making significant strides in science and technology areas related to national security and commercial enterprise:


In addition to identification of the technical structure and infrastructure of the Chinese science and technology literature, two unique approaches were developed to compare characteristics of China's science and technology output with that of other countries. First, a novel method was used to compare the impact/quality of all of China's research with that of two other countries, India and Australia. Second, a unique approach was used to compare China's research investment emphases/strategy relative to that of the US:


The study proceeds from a series of straightforward observations and analyses to several increasingly dense methodological appendices that are likely unintelligible to non-specialists.

Read the initial and summary sections.  Leave the "dense methodological appendices" to automated text mining and ranking - which will interest a couple of us.

Patent Review, Back to the Future?
IPEG
posted by IPEG at Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Japan's auto makers focus on key markets
By Hisane Masaki
Asia Times
Jun 2, 2006


The Structure and Infrastructure of Chinese Science and Technology
by Ronald N. Kostoff, Michael B. Briggs, Robert L. Rushenberg, Christine A. Bowles, Michael Pecht
Office of Naval Research
2006

China will become world's second highest investor in R&D by end of 2006, finds OECD
OECD
04/12/2006

Services, R&D attract rebounding FDI in China
Asia Times
Feb 22, 2006

Gordon Housworth


InfoT Public  Intellectual Property Theft Public  Strategic Risk Public  

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Staking out an Iraq sitrep

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In a rare opportunity to delve below the level of sound bites, I have two three-hour presentations on 16-17 January to groups of CEOs on Islamic issues and their implications. An assumption that attendees would ask for an Iraqi sitrep (situation report) was confirmed when the group leader distributed Iraq reverberates across globe analysis as part of the briefing package.

I may tinker with this Iraq sitrep before Tuesday, but only to extend it, not to alter it. Following the sitrep is the abstract and 'benefit to members' of the presentation:

Iraq Sitrep:

Key points:
  • "Victory" post-2004 was, and remains, political sloganeering
  • Dispense with idea that we are in control, can command the outcome
  • Problem long ceased to be a military matter; we've never engaged the necessary political issues
  • Professional military, notably Army and Marines, voice unusually high degree of opposition to a military surge option
  • There are now no good alternatives or "right" choices for the US, just varying degrees of less-bad options
  • Even good practice, in the hands of able commanders and skilled diplomats, has small chance of modest 'success'
  • Window for even modestly larger troop commitment has closed; "necessary" troop levels are not available
  • Full-fledged Iran-Saudi Arabia proxy war in Iraq may be unavoidable, and has likely already started
  • Afghanistan scuttled (again) by shifting troops to Iraq; NATO cannot defeat the Taliban
  • American prestige and the perception of military power suffering a second "Vietnam," but now there are real dominos
  • Administration pursuing a 'pre-November plan' with 'post-November' collapse of trust and limited resources, coupled with heightened Congressional scrutiny
The Nelson Report summed it:


Dates of interest to me:
  • 2002 was pivotal: US had national unity, extraordinary global support and financial surplus
  • 2003: As an occupying power, US assumed the responsibilities of occupation, including the economy, domestic peace and order, and state integrity; US failed in all areas
  • 2004: Administration in denial, elements of willful civil war underway (Sunni on Shia), global criteria for civil war met
  • 2006: Sunnis succeed, driving Shias into full scale civil war, state fractures
  • 2007: US along for the ride without knowing when and where it gets off
Concerns:
  • Endure casualties and deteriorating geopolitical position to put Iraq on next President's watch
  • Shift blame to "Iraqis" (in reality, Shiites) who are being tasked with an "impossible mission"
  • Attack Iran to "change the subject," widen the conflict and mute political dissention
Recommendations:
  • Democrats should - and this is hard to sell to those who don't understand 4GW - devise an "adaptive" policy, since no one can predict how events will unfold
  • Democrats should not be trapped into offering specific proposals; the administration is already partially doing this without strategy and benchmarks, new (renewed) focus on counterinsurgency not withstanding
  • Administration uses 'political surge' rather than military surge; US can bring more assets to bear and sustain them far longer than military option
  • Political surge must include Iraqi and regional issues and players, with conversations specifically tailored to each participant
  • Listen to KSA, heeding their counsel, so as to minimize regional geopolitical damage
  • Political surge and regional negotiations can occur with current troop levels in place, i.e., there is no specific need to surge troop levels or, conversely, withdraw troops from in-country
As I write this, my concern of administration baiting of the Iranians in order to make a wider counterstrike rises with the US raid on a flagged and clearly marked Iranian consulate in Irbil. Note that I do not quibble with the assertion that the consulate was involved in illicit activities given the activities of certain Iranian assets into Iraq. My concern is the precedent on entering sovereign soil in so obvious a manner. If it was a military necessity, why not a night raid? UPDATE: It was a night raid, but even then a major embarrassment for the Iraqi government, a tense standoff with usually friendly Kurds and a disagreement with the Kurdish interior minister. It has not helped that the US stated that "the Iranian office in Erbil was not technically a consulate, but rather a liaison office which also provided some consular services."

I believe that VPOTUS continues to press for a strike against Iran, and that his appointees within government will facilitate information flowing to support such a mission (and we know that the Israelis are cheering for it, lest they perceive that they must undertake a
unilateral strike). The extraordinary hardening of the wider Iranian opinion against the US is bleak to contemplate, but for the purposes of this note, I believe that the best Iranian response to a US limited strike (the baiting strike) is not to make a peer state response, even though it could, but to make an asymmetric response against both the US and GCC states. Iran should not admit to its asymmetric response lest that admission lead to a US counter-response, but should immediately go to the UN as the  aggrieved rational party, denying the US its entry to a wider strike (the weapons strike). The upshot will be a further deterioration of the US diplomatic position, a heightening of Iran's position and further praise to Iran from the Arab street (the same praise that flowed to Hezbollah after its victory over Israel in Lebanon).

Listen to Brzezinski very closely for strategic overview while ignoring the modestly embarrassing Mead. Read Lang for the killing flaw in "Counterinsurgency = Counter-guerrilla operations + Political Action + Civic Action." (No surprise here to the thoughtful.) Read Robb for understanding why "country-wide chaos" will shift into "social disintegration," with the implication that "building a stable Iraq would require a level of effort that is beyond our ability to provide."

Following is the session abstract and the benefit to members statement:


Abstract: The monumentality of the task of defeating al Qaeda, its adherents and inheritors cannot be underestimated. Strategic options reduce to “Cure, kill, or contain," none of which are cheap or quick. All options possess great threats and as yet indefinable secondary effects. Unlike Cold War targets "that were easy to find but hard to kill," the modern, well armed terrorist only "presents targets that are hard to find but relatively easy to kill."

The weapons systems and tactics of WWII, Korea, even Vietnam, are inappropriate and as often counterproductive in attacking this class of asymmetrical opponent. The intelligence satellites forming the backbone of "national technical means of collection" against the Soviets was far less effective in producing the human intelligence or "humint" needed to interdict close-knit tribal and sectarian groups. The increasing availability of "first world" weaponry provides a startling force multiplier to "third world" attackers - witness Hezbollah's recent victory over Israel. These asymmetrical opponents often had better intelligence on us than we had on them.

US and Israeli counterattacks on the core leadership group and the highly connected operations leaders have made large operations more difficult by decentralizing the network. Unfortunately, the opportunity for smaller operations is growing as are the number of potential actors.

September 11, 2001, was executed by the core leadership and operational cadres whereas the July 7, 2005 London bombings were likely carried out by loosely coupled third tier actors. We are facing diminishing returns as we create more volunteers to the Islamist cause than we kill. Smaller teams armed with increasingly available means of producing chemical and "designer" bioagents offer the specter of swarm attacks.

Value to Members: Participants will leave with an understanding of the actors and drivers propelling confrontation between Islamist groups, the West and local Arab governments; what drives them and what does not; who is more likely to become a terrorist; the divisions of Islam and the difference between political and traditional Islam; the Arab exploitation of the West (US) and the Soviets, and when the USSR imploded, the Arab decision to take matters into their own hands; the generations of warfare and how small terrorist groups, Islamic and otherwise, are using Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW) against the West as well as their local governments; how increasingly lethal weaponry is improving the ability of even small groups to carry out crisis-level attacks; the dangers of the "Arc of Instability" and "Trashcanistan;" Islamists skillful exploitation of Western communication tools and the Internet; how US direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated radical Islamists while diminishing support for the US; how Israel is the linchpin of Arab - and increasingly Muslim - anger against the US; that not all Muslims are enemies; and how Hezbollah has the chance to unite Sunni and Shia, creating an Islamist movement.

Did the President Declare "Secret War" Against Syria and Iran?
Steve Clemons
Washington Note
January 11, 2007 04:14 PM

Plan to Increase Troop Numbers Comes Under Broad Scrutiny
JIM LEHRER interviews Zbigniew Brzezinski, now CSIS, and Walter Russell Mead, now CFR
NewsHour
January 11, 2007

The Fatal Flaw…
Patrick Lang
Sic Semper Tyrannis 2007
11 January 2007

JOURNAL: Surge?
Posted by John Robb
Global Guerrillas
January 11, 2007 at 07:42 AM

Report: U.S. Troops Raid Iranian Consulate in Iraq
By Howard Schneider and Joshua Partlow
Washington Post
January 11, 2007

Iran Summons Swiss, Iraqi Diplomats
The Associated Press
January 11, 2007; 6:57 AM

Mideast Skeptics Blast Bush's Iraq Plan

By MAGGIE MICHAEL
The Associated Press
January 11, 2007; 9:17 AM

Bush's New Plan for Iraq Echoes Key Parts of Earlier Memo
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post
January 11, 2007

Bush to Add 21,500 Troops In an Effort to Stabilize Iraq
By Michael Abramowitz and Robin Wright
Washington Post
January 11, 2007

The Nelson Report on Bush's Iraq War Escalation Plans and Condi's Iraq Testimony
Steve Clemons
Washington Note
January 08, 2007 04:18 PM

The Smart Surge: Diplomacy
By Wesley K. Clark
Washington Post
January 8, 2007

US failure to talk to Iran is a key contributor to the region's instability
By Trita Dr Parsi
FT
Published: January 3 2007 02:00 | Last updated: January 3 2007 02:00

Partitioning Iraq?
John Robb
John Robb's Website
October 31, 2006

Gordon Housworth


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A Chinese Catch-22: the implausibility of plausible denial

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If you or your firm does business in China, successfully or relentlessly in pursuit of profit, your firm and likely yourself or one or more individuals in your reporting stream is guilty of violating the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The only barriers to discovery are a Chinese arrest of your counterparty for reasons internal to the Chinese, perhaps an anti-corruption drive or an official's fall from favor, and a US warrant against you or your firm for actions with Chinese entities that are deemed illegal under US law.

In a perfect Catch-22 (also here), it is highly likely that you can't even operate in China without violating the Act, especially so when one understands the pervasive nature of purchasing favor in China, even among Chinese. Rich Kuslan offers a nice introduction (and also has a good money laundering series, parts 1, 2, 3):

The idea that one must buy favor permeates Chinese society, even down to the lunch offered by a family member asking for assistance. But bribery and the [FCPA] do not mix well. Since most commercial transactions can not be accomplished in China without the former, in one form or another, the latter tends to suffer when sales figures must be met. As to the actual payment of moneys, most corporations in China who fork it over do not do so directly, but instead make use of third (and fourth) parties -- often foist upon them by potential customers, but sometimes selected. Payments may be made within China or even overseas through a wide range of entities that may help mask the payment. One can be as sure of crisp US $100 bills in a satchel as often as numbered Swiss accounts.

An important note: the use of agents does not necessarily shield the American executive from prosecution. Actual knowledge that a payment or a promise to pay will be forwarded to an official is not required: constructive knowledge -- you "should have" known, given the facts -- can make the exec just as liable.

And is it even debatable that [Zhang Enzhao at China Construction Bank] is an official for the purposes of the FCPA, when the CCB is a quasi-governmental organ of the state of China? The [principal purchaser] in China remains the state. How does the exec defend foregoing a big sale to a quasi-governmental organ and a payment to its key decision-maker in a market your headquarters believes will save the company?

For those of us with a long history with the FCPA, 1998 separates what many call FCPA I and FCPA II. The essence is plausible deniability in connection to a prohibited act. Among the "Prohibited foreign trade practices by domestic concerns" there had long been statute, to wit:

(3) any person, while knowing that all or a portion of such money or thing of value will be offered, given, or promised, directly or indirectly, to any foreign official, to any foreign political party or official thereof, or to any candidate for foreign political office, for purposes of-- influencing... inducing...

The 1998 amendments to what is now called "FCPA I" strengthened the definition of "knowing" such that "FCPA II" removed plausible denial with:

(A) A person's state of mind is "knowing" with respect to conduct, a circumstance, or a result if--
(i) such person is aware that such person is engaging in such conduct, that such circumstance exists, or that such result is substantially certain to occur; or
(ii) such person has a firm belief that such circumstance exists or that such result is substantially certain to occur.

All accounts indicate that DoJ is ramping up its enforcement efforts. In 2005, Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wray flagged a rise in FCPA cases:

Even today, attitudes toward that kind of conduct vary widely among executives around the world and, unfortunately, right here at home. Some folks persist in thinking that bribery is just a cost of doing business in certain countries. The problem is, these bribes undermine exactly what the Corporate Fraud Task Force is intent on restoring: public confidence in the integrity of American business. Under-thetable bribes distort the playing field and hide the truth from the public...

First, the SEC has significantly stepped up enforcement of the FCPA's civil provisions against publicly held companies... Second, we're seeing more cooperation from anti-bribery investigators and prosecutors around the world. That kind of cooperation is essential because these are often tough cases to make. Evidence of the bribe is often located abroad - sometimes in the very country whose officials have been bribed. And these matters are almost always politically sensitive. Our investigators rely on the good graces and cooperation of our international partners... Finally, we're seeing many more companies disclose FCPA violations voluntarily [as] companies are getting the message that we're serious about rooting out illegal corporate conduct...

As a theater operator, I'd often seen the situation that Rich describes as:

[When] senior management passes out copies of the FCPA -- with the notation in biro "read this and make sure you do not violate this law," [it] does not mean they care whether you violate the law, but just that they don't.)

Given the propensity of DoJ to prosecute corporately and individually, I think that it is no longer be sufficient to attempt to remain at arm's length while leaving subordinates at risk. Given the FCPA risks of doing business in China, I think that it will be increasingly difficult to satisfy Rich's admonition:

If you have not seriously considered it before, now is the time to give serious consideration to the value of risky behavior in light of the demands presented by the FCPA, the DOJ and, now, it appears, the Chinese government.

My export sales operated extensively under FCPA I. I think it reasonable to assume said work would not pass FCPA II scrutiny for plausible denial. By the same token, I do not believe that any current Chinese operation could withstand the rigorous scrutiny of FCPA II. The result is discretionary enforcement waiting to happen from either Chinese or US authorities; the counterparty becoming collateral damage to the exposure.

General comments on compliance with FCPA and other statutes

My commercial dealings in Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Indonesia painted an intriguing picture of financial compensation through a 'supply chain' of actors in which one could obey FCPA I with modest effort. Most interestingly, China was not then an issue for us as we possessed a high value technology (Computer Aided Design (CAD)) slowly emerging from embargo coupled with then nascent commercial IP collection. In fact, we had competing suitors within China to secure a commercial relationship with us. (The issue rose to the point that these competing groups would, in turn, call me to the embassy in Washington to berate me for dealing with the other party.) Contrasting our preferential treatment, even in the 80s, I saw what happened when the Chinese considered a product more a commodity than a specialty. The commercial terms offered to those vendors were immediately tough.

I have a special memory of the landing of the first space shuttle, STS-1 Columbia, on 14 April, 1981, as I spent the day in Brasilia being hit up for a bribe by a government functionary who became increasingly more exasperated and blunt as I feigned no understanding of his real request. I could afford to be politely obtuse as I already had the means to get our systems past the clutch of Brazilian customs. One would have to be derelict not to understand the empire that was Brazilian customs, or to be unaware of the elegant apartment blocks outside Rio that housed ostensibly low level customs officers. The fact that my client was another government agency made no difference to customs, but it did offer a workaround. We shipped the systems to an airbase in the US where it was transferred to a Brazilian military aircraft which delivered the equipment to an airbase within Brazil. A domestic flight back to the coast outflanked Brazilian customs. One may surmise that there were costs associated with that transit but they were opaque to me and were considered acceptable by all local parties on our side.

Save for the Republic of South Africa (RSA) then under Apartite government and possessed of its own special issues, there was no country in Africa that was free of extralegal payment demands. I sympathize with anyone doing business on the continent as, even with layers of intermediaries, I would not like to endure an FCPA II deniability cross-examination. Regardless of your opinion of FCPA, it is does limit freedom of maneuver by US firms, advances US extraterritoriality, and makes it easy for states such as China gain a commanding position in state to state agreements on the continent. By contrast, French extralegal efforts in the energy sector were easier to deal with as they could be threatened with exposure if they did not limit certain activities.

Reflecting on my operations on many continents, I again submit that FCPA II and its tightened rules on plausible deniability puts a tier of managers, and likely their companies, in a Catch-22, i.e., if you are truly competent at your craft in the region, you will know things that violate FCPA II.

I also believe that the US government can, and has, regularly put commercial firms in the breach between US diplomatic intent and FCPA and export guidelines. Citing private notes from 2004, I submit my commercial experience in the Republic of South Africa (RSA) as an example of skimming the rim of plausible deniability in FCPA I and other statutes:

On my [first] commercial visit to RSA, I was to make a presentation to CSIRO [Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation] in Johannesburg, [with] some 600 in attendance. My [demonstration choice] was a kinematic model of an M-60 machine gun [that I had built to show 3-D interference checking as the round was stripped and chambered - not an easy thing to do with the wire frame models of the day]. I had memorized enough Afrikaans to open the presentation and then shifted to English. My distributor said that the hall [fell] silent... No one instructed me to take military examples. It was just my reading of the reality on the ground...

As CoCom (Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls) was then governing export licenses to COMECON states, the PRC and other states considered suspect for embargoed use or diversion, I became aware of what I described as a special tilt towards certain governments based upon the degree of difficulty or permissiveness in securing an export license.

I came to see a very favorable tilt towards Pretoria that was at odds with then current state department pronouncements which in hindsight could have been at odds with FCPA:

I [believe that I] was party to a special tacit arrangement to RSA in the late 70s and early 80s [during] which my firm received a blanket $7 million export license to Pretoria for all our CAD/CAM systems. Export seven million and reapply for another seven. [At the same time] COCOM was raking me over the coals on a case by case basis to export technology that was then five year old to the PRC and Czechoslovakia. The RSA economy could not justify sole commercial use of our size of CAD systems [then 75K USD per station]. Every thing we sold was dual use. I took down [unclass] demo models based on proof of function for China Lake [Weapons Test Center], Draper Labs, as well as for the French Superphénix (SPX) reactor series. [In the case of the Superphénix demo, I later learned that I had] sold the CAD systems that went into Valindaba [enrichment] and Pelindaba [weapons design and production] along with enough spares to build a third... Almost every prospect meeting had me presenting to folks who asked questions but never identified themselves. I never took down a commercial example. Things got looser over time as I surmised that my distributor was advising clients that I was not a hostile.

A valid end-use certificate came up from Joberg for every system, and while we did not visit RSA client installations save, if memory serves, for a small manufacturer of excavating equipment, one had to ponder ultimate use. We later learned that this small excavator manufacturer which had purchased a one-terminal system to design tungsten carbide cutters for excavators also designed and fabricated tungsten carbide cores for armor piercing rounds. As noted, everything seemed to be dual use, a functional capacity mandated, as it turned out, by Pretoria as part of its policy of autarky. I would not liked to have been under FCPA II for those efforts. I think it all too easy for an enterprising attorney to build a case of breaching plausible denial.

As an aside, in defense of export license sales to contested states such as the PRC and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria was a major site of advanced design and manufacturing for the USSR):

I even testified at the Pentagon to a foreign technology diversion group telling them how the Soviets, Czechs, and even the Chinese were already making LSI scale chips by stitching together designs produced by a UK system supposedly limited to PCB (Printed Circuit Board) design density. [The process was utter simplicity: the chip design was sectored such that each segment would fit the PCB system, and each sector had defined I/O points to adjacent sectors. Giving up some silicon was an easy trade for otherwise unattainable low volume military production.] They were astonished. Another sign of the fallacy of looking for a mirror-image enemy with mirror-image technology/weapons/tactics. [My testimony] may have made them smarter but it did not ease my export licenses. If memory serves, this was when Richard Perle was in his heyday at export [control].

China's Crackdown on Corruption Still Largely Secret
By Edward Cody
Washington Post
December 31, 2006

Charges of Bribery in a Chinese Bank Deal
By DAVID BARBOZA
New York Times
November 29, 2006

Rare Look At China's Burdened Banks
By DAVID BARBOZA
New York Times
November 15, 2006

The Cost of "Free Trade" in China: Corruption and the FCPA
Posted by Richard at 4:07 PM
Asia Business Intelligence
November 8, 2006

China's bank corruption doesn't faze investors
The multi-million-dollar scandals are a footnote in the floats, write Tom Mitchell and Justine Lau
Tom Mitchell and Justine Lau
The Australian-FT Business
June 05, 2006

Basics of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
What Every General Counsel, Transactional Lawyer and White Collar Criminal Lawyer Should Know
By: Robert W. Tarun
Latham & Watkins
April 2006 Edition

REMARKS TO THE ABA WHITE COLLAR CRIME LUNCHEON
CHRISTOPHER A. WRAY
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, CRIMINAL DIVISION
UNIVERSITY CLUB, WASHINGTON , DC
FEBRUARY 25 , 2005
Note: Mr. Wray frequently speaks from notes and may depart from the speech as prepared.

Opinion Procedure Release No .: 04-03
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Review
June 14, 2004

Anti-Bribery Provisions of The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
COMPARISON OF S.2375 (AS PASSED) WITH THE CURRENT FCPA
[Redline comparison of FCPA to the final version of  S. 2375]
UNITED STATES CODE ANNOTATED
TITLE 15. COMMERCE AND TRADE
CHAPTER 2B--SECURITIES EXCHANGES
§ 78dd-1. Prohibited foreign trade practices by issuers
1998 Amendments

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)
Department of Justice, Criminal Division

Gordon Housworth



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Iraqi state hanging revealed as Shia gang lynching; Saudis, moderate states and the Arab street blame the US

  #

Think of the propriety of executing Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. As you're trying to absorb the wisdom of this act, first presented in sanitized still frame, you're exposed to a video in which Santa is taunted and harried by the Grinch who is seen to execute Santa as he is talking about toys for tots.

Worse, you have been blamed for allowing it to happen, even charged with engineering both the act and its timing.

I submit this analogy useful to Westerners to grasp the impact on Sunni Muslims of Saddam's execution on the eve of the 'Eid Al-Adha holy period that concludes the Hajj. Worse, Sunnis have placed the blame upon the Americans and the Persians (codeword for non-Sunni, non-Arab Iranians). I had thought that we could not have descended further in Iraq and in Muslim eyes, but I was mistaken.

Non-Muslims need to know why the timing of Saddam's hanging was so offensive to so many Sunnis and even Shias not of Iraqi background. Eid al-Fitr (Festival of the Breaking of the Fast) and Eid Al-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice) are the two most holy Muslim festivals. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and its fasting while Eid al-Adha "celebrates the completion of the hajj (pilgrimage) rites at Mina, Saudi Arabia, but is celebrated by Muslims throughout the world. Eid Al-Adha begins on the 10th of Dhu'l-Hijja, the last month of the Islamic calendar, and lasts for three days."

`Eid Al-Adha is a symbol of obedience. It signifies submission to Allah. On this day, we commemorate together the acts of obedience and submission performed by Prophet Ibrahim and his family when he was commanded to take Hajar and their son Isma`il [Ishmael] to an uninhabited, barren, distant land and leave them there alone. He submitted and obeyed. When Hajar realized what was happening, she cried out, "Ibrahim! [Abraham] Are you going to leave us in this valley where no people live?" She repeated the question yet she received no answer, so she asked him, "Did Allah order you to do this?" He replied, "Yes." So she said, "Then Allah will not let us perish." Thus she submitted.

Furthermore, when his son Isma`il became older, Ibrahim received a command from his Lord to sacrifice him. He submitted and so did his son. The family of Ibrahim was a family of obedience and submission. They were tested and tried again and again, but the result was always submission and obedience.

The act of Muslim sacrifice and submission in Eid al-Adha is Isma'il (Ishmael) whereas in Jewish and Christian faiths, it is Ishmael's brother Isaac.) Eid al-Adha "commemorates the God's gift of the ram" in place of Isma'il. "During the festival, families that can afford to do so sacrifice an animal such as a sheep, goat, camel, or cow, and then divide the meat among themselves, the poor, and friends and neighbours."

The Sunni observance of Eid al-Adha commences a day before its observance by Shias. Technically, the Shias could and did execute Saddam prior to the commencement of their observance but, in general practice, the execution of such a noted personage would not be carried out in the run-up to the festival or during it.

Make no mistake; the House of Saud is not happy. Here is the Saudi Press Agency, the usually politic official voice of Riyadh (who always speaks in CAPS) speaking on 30 December during what I call the 'still frame period' shaped by soundless stills and video snippets released by the Maliki government which temporarily preserved the fiction of a solemn Iraqi state hanging (also here):

SAUDI, ARAB, AND ISLAMIC CIRCLES HAVE WATCHED WITH CONCERN THE NEWS OF THE EXECUTION OF FORMER IRAQI PRESIDENT SADDAM HUSSEIN ON THE MORNING OF THE FIRST DAY OF THE OF THE HOLY DAYS OF BLESSED EID AL-ADHA, AND HAVE FOLLOWED UP THE REACTIONS AFTER THE EXECUTION WHICH OSCILLATED BETWEEN SUPPORT, DENUNCIATION, RESERVATION, AND DETRACTION…

MANY OF THOSE CONCERNED AND FOLLOWING THE EVENT EXPECTED THE TRIAL OF A FORMER PRESIDENT, WHO RULED IRAQ FOR DECADES, TO TAKE A LONGER TIME, EXTENSIVELY DETAILED LITIGATION, AND STRONG AND FINE LEGAL PROCEDURES SECURE AGAINST ANY POLITICIZATION.

A SENSE OF BEWILDERMENT AND DISAPPROBATION PREVAILED AS THE EXECUTION OF THE SENTENCE COINCIDES WITH THE HONORIFIC MONTHS OF BLOOD INTERDICTION AND WITH THE FIRST OF THE HOLY DAYS OF THE BLESSED EID ALADHA WHICH EMBODIES THE UNITY AND CONVERGENCE OF MUSLIMS. ON THIS DAY MILLIONS OF PILGRIMS MEET AT MOUNT ARAFAT SEEKING UNITY RATHER THAN A REMINDER OF DISPERSION. AND MILLIONS OF MUSLIMS EXPECT THAT ALL THE WORLD, NOT ONLY POLITICAL LEADERSHIPS IN ISLAMIC COUNTRIES, WOULD LOOK RESPECTFULLY AT THIS GREAT OCCASION, ITS DIGNITY AND POSITION IN THE HEARTS AND CONSCIENCE OF MUSLIMS, RATHER THAN DISREGARD IT.

Saudi-based, Arab News carries many individual bylines but make no mistake that it prints with the oversight and approval of the House of Saud. Weighing in on the following day, the 31st:

The [SPA] criticized the timing of the execution of Saddam Hussein [saying that] the execution has drawn strong disapproval of observers because it took place during the holy month of Dul Hijjah, besides being on the first day of Eid Al-Adha. "It is an occasion which is respected by the entire Muslim population"...

Dispensing with Iraqi and US efforts to craft a demonstrably legal trial for Saddam, i.e., to satisfy both law and public perception as did the Nuremberg Trials:

"Observers had expected that the trial of the former head of the Iraqi government who ruled for a considerable length of time would last longer with sophisticated legal and court procedures without politicization of the affair"…

Recognizing the commencement of Saddam's conversion from monster to martyr:

Saddam’s execution struck a chord of sympathy in many Saudis, although they did not deny the crimes he committed. "We all know that Saddam was a dictator who led his country to one disaster after another, but still his trial was illegal. What we saw on TV were more scenes of black comedy rather than objective trial."

Repeating a refrain heard in nominally friendly Arab capitals concerned that their statesmen could be later hauled into the dock:

[The] trial was based on the Dujail incident, in which Shiite villagers were executed for plotting against Saddam, and that it was neither enough nor convincing, as Saddam was not dealing with entirely innocent citizens. "What would any Arab leader do if he knew of an assassination plot? They would all do exactly what Saddam did, maybe more."

While the reality is that the US is a rider being drug behind a runaway Shia horse, it is the US that was instantly branded as instigator and master puppeteer:

[Saddam] was merely a tool in the hands of Americans and when his role was done they sacrificed him on the Eid day. The choice of the execution day is no mistake and it surely is an American message that mocks our defeat and surrender."… [The] Americans are not naïve and they chose the day on purpose. "They wanted to implant in the minds of Muslims that the Shiites of Iraq chose the sacrifice day to kill Saddam as a challenge to Iraqi Sunnis."

[The] sentence of death was passed 55 days ago and the Americans knew that by choosing the morning of Eid Al-Adha to execute him would upset all Muslims, even those who acknowledge Saddam’s cruelty. "America’s claims of restoring peace in Iraq proved to be nonsense today. They only make things worse by inciting Sunnis against Shiites and fueling the division"

Same day, Arab News flagged the fact that Hajj pilgrims from across the Muslim world were displeased:

They either hated him or loved him, but almost everyone here in the tent city of Mina was outraged at the hanging of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Eid Al-Adha. The hanging was viewed by most pilgrims as a corruption of the occasion.

Those who had been the victims of his brutality welcomed his hanging [but] there were many who were shocked that Saddam paid the ultimate price for taking an unflinching stand against the United States. While it was announced that the timing of the death was the decision of the Iraqi government alone, many pilgrims had their doubts. They believe that Saddam’s execution was done at a convenient time in regards to security for the coalition forces, whose diplomatic missions are closed worldwide for the New Year’s holiday.

"Would it be OK if the president of the United States were hanged on Dec. 25?" shouted Anmar Al-Khodair, an Iraqi pilgrim from Anbar. When it was pointed out to him that it was the Iraqi government not the US government that executed Saddam, his reply was: "This Iraqi government is a puppet government. It is the US that is responsible for security and all other aspects in Iraq. The Iraqi government is based in the US-protected Green Zone in Baghdad and the writ of the government is confined to the Green Zone in Iraq. Go ask anybody. He was, is and will remain our hero."...

It is not only Arab pilgrims who had the execution of Saddam in their thoughts, pilgrims from nations far removed from Iraq were worried about what effect the ousted president’s execution would have. "Throughout his rule Saddam claimed to be a Baathist and a secularist," said a female pilgrim from Nigeria. "We saw though that during his trial before the kangaroo court he repeatedly invoked verses from the Holy Qur’an. That was enough for us to know that he was a Muslim and the way he was treated should be of concern to all Muslims."

Discussions to this point still operate under the assumption of a state trial, but on 1 January, what I call the 'live video period' commences with a two-minute video snippet with audio, likely from a cell phone, that lays bare a sectarian lynching, virtually destroying any hope of Sunni-Shia reconciliation.

"Yes, he was a dictator, but he was killed by a death squad… What’s the difference between him and them?"… It was supposed to be a formal and solemn proceeding carried out by a dispassionate state. But the grainy recording of the execution’s cruel theater summed up what has become increasingly clear on the streets of the capital: that the Shiite-led government that assumed power in the American effort here is running the state under an undisguised sectarian banner...

The video was particularly disturbing for Sunni Arabs, who accuse the government of willfully allowing militias to remain in the ranks of its security forces. It left the impression that the government cared more for revenge than for justice, Sunnis said. "Either it’s terrible incompetence or it’s an act of revenge — a vendetta," said Adnan Pachachi…

To make matters worse, it fell just as the first day of the Id al-Adha holiday dawned for Sunnis — a day before the Shiites’ observance was to begin. Shiite politicians did not apologize and some even reveled in the timing.

But none of the Western English reports that I've read relay the level of profanity and venom that have so incensed Sunnis. Only when the reader goes to the Saudi-based Arab News does one get the full velocity of an exchange that elevates a mass murderer while deflating his executioners:

In a video footage of the execution, apparently captured on a mobile phone and spreading across the Internet yesterday, members of the party carrying out the hanging can be heard chanting "Moqtada, Moqtada, Moqtada!"

The reference is to Moqtada Sadr, a Shiite leader whose uncle Mohammed Bakr Sadr was murdered in 1980 by Saddam’s agents, and who has risen to prominence since Saddam’s fall as a politician and militia leader. One of the execution party calls: "Long live Mohammed Bakr Sadr!"

"Go to hell," Saddam seems to respond, although the sound is not clear.

One of the guards becomes angry. "You have destroyed us," the masked man yells. "You have killed us. You have made us live in destitution."

Saddam is scornful: "I have saved you from destitution and misery and destroyed your enemies, the Persians and Americans."

The guard curses him: "God damn you!"

Saddam shoots back: "God damn you!"

As Saddam drops through the metal trapdoor, his final prayer, the profession of faith, is caught short: "There is no God but God, and Muhammad..."

Noise erupts in the room as the filmmaker struggles to get a shot of Saddam’s face, hanging lifeless to one side. "The tyrant has fallen, damn him!"

Given the heightened levels of torture and mutilation exhibited by so many Sunni victims of Shia death squads, I was bracing for signs of disrespect to Saddam's body. Luckily, there were none:

The head of Saddam’s Albu-Nassir clan said the body showed no signs of mistreatment. "We received the body of Saddam Hussein without any complications. There was cooperation by the prime minister and his office’s director," the clan chief, Sheikh Al-Nidaa, told state-run Al-Iraqiya television. "We opened the coffin of Saddam. He was cleaned and wrapped according to Islamic teachings. We didn’t see any unnatural signs on his body."

I believe that there is a Saudi-US back channel story yet to be told in which the Saudis were imploring the US to defer this execution, a feeling that is heightened by the comments of US questioning of the Maliki rush to justice.

Part two will address what has been forgotten, rendered moot and some likely outcomes.

Rush to Hang Hussein Was Questioned
By JOHN F. BURNS and MARC SANTORA
New York Times
January 1, 2007

For Sunnis, Dictator’s Degrading End Signals Ominous Dawn for the New Iraq
By SABRINA TAVERNISE
New York Times
January 1, 2007

Jeers and Taunts for Saddam
Arab News
Agencies
1, January, 2007 (12, Dhul Hijjah, 1427)

In Hussein's Last Minutes, Jeers and a Cry for Calm
By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post
December 31, 2006

Saudi Arabia dismayed; Egypt regrets timing
Gulf News (UAE)
Published: 31/12/2006 12:00 AM (UAE)

Spirit of Sacrifice Comes to Fore
M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan & K.S. Ramkumar
Arab News
31, December, 2006 (11, Dhul Hijjah, 1427)

‘Haj Highlights Islamic Tolerance, Equality’
Syed Faisal Ali
Arab News
31, December, 2006 (11, Dhul Hijjah, 1427)

Pilgrims Unhappy at Saddam Execution on Eid
Siraj Wahab
Arab News
31, December, 2006 (11, Dhul Hijjah, 1427)

Outrage at Timing of Execution
Ebtihal Mubarak
Arab News
31, December, 2006 (11, Dhul Hijjah, 1427)

Arab World Surprised at Speed of Execution
Linda Wertheimer
Weekend Edition Saturday, NPR
December 30, 2006

Palestinians Angered by Saddam Execution
by Eric Westervelt
Weekend Edition Saturday, NPR
December 30, 2006

SPA COMMENTARY ON SADDAM'S EXECUTION
SAUDI PRESS AGENCY (SPA)
DEC 30, 2006

Iraqis Consider Fate of Hussein's Body
By MARC SANTORA
New York Times
December 30, 2006

Dictator Who Ruled Iraq With Violence Is Hanged for Crimes Against Humanity
By MARC SANTORA, JAMES GLANZ and SABRINA TAVERNISE
New York Times
December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein Is Put to Death
Former Iraqi President Hanged Before Dawn in Baghdad to Divided Reaction
By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post
December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein Executed
Former Iraqi Leader Hanged for Crimes Against Humanity
By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post
December 29, 2006

Iraq Prepares to Execute Hussein
By MARC SANTORA
New York Times
December 29, 2006

`Eid Al-Adha: A Symbol Of Obedience
By Gyasi Abu Umar Mckinzie
Islam Online
26/12/2006

Eid Al-Adha: Festival of the Sacrifice
Religion Facts

Eid Al-Fitr
Religion Facts

Gordon Housworth



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The ventriloquist, the ventriloquist's dummy and SecState Rice

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Diplomatic capital shares many characteristics with its more fungible financial cousin. It is invariably less expensive to raise when it is not needed, when the cost of capital is low. Often the act of attempting to raise it under adverse circumstances devalues the applicant, placing it in a less advantaged position. Arbitrarily placing key assets outside a deal or restricting the class of instruments by which one can raise capital can be seen as daft, even specious, and so cause the deal to delay, even collapse.

While SecState Rice's tenure has not been as feckless, even counterproductive, as Karen Hughes' embarrassing effort as Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, I am increasingly struck at Rice's failure to acquire and build US diplomatic capital; it is not enough to be a less obdurate face than then SecDef Rumsfeld or less confrontational than VPOTUS, or offer marginally better guidance than did OSD, which was Beltway shorthand for "strong guidance from Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, [and] William Luti."

With each of Rice's missteps or lost opportunities, I vacillate between describing her role as the ventriloquist or the ventriloquist's dummy. I have the rising feeling that she takes the former role outside the administration and the latter role inside it.

I note issues of interest to me in three parts, Flat Wrong, External Ventriloquist and Internal Dummy:

Flat Wrong

While agreeing with Rice's opinion that Rumsfeld was adversely delaying the departure of Jay Garner, sited in Kuwait, to Baghdad, Rice misapplied a lesson from the USSR to Iraq. When she learned that "government workers, including oil workers, could not be found," she concluded that there "was a brittleness in the country but:

As a Soviet expert she had studied what happens to totalitarian systems when they collapse. She recalled reading about the 1953 death of Joseph Stalin. For five weeks the Soviet Union ceased to function. Nobody could do anything because everybody counted on direction from the very top. Iraq seemed to have cratered in the same way or worse. But history predicted it would be temporary. In the end, she was confident, order would reassert itself, as had happened in the old USSR.

But Iraq was not the USSR; its conditions were vastly different and order did not reassert itself. Brent Scowcroft diplomatically notes that Rice's "expertise is in the former Soviet Union and Europe. Less on the Middle East." Subsequent US actions only made the problem worse, effectively guaranteeing that order was unattainable.

Rice fell victim to a keystone of executive profiling, the concept of successfully revisiting a previous decision area. Executive profiling shows that individuals have a 95% chance of repeating successful behavior and avoiding unsuccessful behavior even if the conditions surrounding the decision are different. The emotional pull of repeating the good feeling and avoiding the bad feeling short-circuits the analytic process.

Compounding this propensity, I believe that Rice is trapped in an anti-Soviet viewpoint; many of her analogies continue to spring from that period. While she has accomplished much, in a study of "seventeen national security advisers serving ten American presidents," Rice was not "a towering academic figure... Also a career academic administrator, Rice did little serious research after publishing her dissertation."

While the feds had long used profiling to slot Politburo members, Strategic Rocket Corps (SRC) commanders and boomer (ballistic missile submarine) captains into gaming scenarios, Cheryl A. Condon (married name Poirer) was, to my knowledge, the first to commercialize the process. Her boss, Jan Herring, connected Cheryl to Dr. Jerrold Post, founder of the CIA's psychological profiling unit (Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior) and creator of 'political psychological profiling.'

As an aside, in 1993, Cheryl told me that she'd just done a profile on IBM's Lou Gerstner and her research turned up a remarkable, earlier document in which "you could do a global-search-and-replace on Amex with IBM." Given the 95+% probability of a person repeating successful behavior, the article's profile of Gerstner's plans at Amex TRS was a strong indicator of his future actions at IBM. Executive profiling has many benefits, e.g., it repeatedly shows that the use of warfighting and sports analogies marks linear, sequential thinking, whereas parallel, concurrent thinking is often marked by the use of biologic, organic analogies. Organizations as well as individuals can be profiled. Cheryl favored Bridges' The Character of Organizations to address the problem.

BREAKING RANKS does a nice job in summarizing Rice's break from the Bush41 advisors, her estrangement from her mentor, Scowcroft (who "found her bright—"brighter than I was"—and personable, and he brought her all the way inside, to the Bush family circle"), and her conversion to a Bush43 mindset ("many of her ex-colleagues from the [Bush41] National Security Council say that it is rooted in her Christian faith, which leads her to see the world in moralistic terms, much as the President does"). Your mileage may vary, but as a proponent of Scowcroft, Rice's descent makes sad reading. Contrast that to Scowcroft and Berger's In the Wake of War.

Rice was "concerned," but insufficiently critical as "the signs of chaos increased in 2003 and 2004." Rice "never lost faith" but I think it applicable that both she and POTUS were thinking 'nation state' instead of 'unwound tribal and sectarian partisanship', i.e., they had the wrong state paradigm despite the recent lessons of Bosnia and Kosovo:

IN THE RARE MOMENTS Rice had time to read, she read about the Founding Fathers to remind herself that the United States of America should never have come into being. In particular, she was affected by David McCullough's 1776, about the darkest times of the American Revolution… [Bush43 asked Andrew Card:] Where's the leader? Where's George Washington? Where's Thomas Jefferson? Where's John Adams, for crying out loud?...

Rice maintained to colleagues that neither she nor the president felt any equivalent distress. "Tough sledding," she said, but Bush had told her, "I see the path on Iraq."

Late in 2005 in the face of now modestly bipartisan criticism, Rice was still offering comments such as "we have made significant progress" to senators.

External Ventriloquist

This author was especially annoyed at Rice's recent news briefing that "emphasized the positive in a year that saw the radical Islamic groups Hamas and Hezbollah gain strength in the region, Iran shrug off international demands to suspend its nuclear program, and Iraq teeter on the edge of civil war." (The only amendment that I'd make to this is that Iraq is already in a state of civil war. See Tangible statistical evidence of the long denied civil war in Iraq and Is it a civil war, or isn’t it?) She attributed the setbacks to "counterrevolutionary forces" seeking to undo U.S. success in the region."

What success? The attending reporters apparently didn't ask.

Only a listener with no memory of the postwar historical record, or blighted by unbounded credulity, would agree with this Rice analogy:

Rice, who frequently makes historical analogies, likened the current period to the challenges faced by the United States after the end of World War II. "Go back and put yourself in that time," she said. There were "things that could have gone very badly and thrown the whole beginning of the Cold War in a completely different direction," she said, ticking off the gains made by French communists, the civil war in Greece, the victory of Chinese communists and other setbacks. "Does it look that much better than it looks now in the Middle East? I don't think so," Rice said.

No, it does look better then than it does today. Yes, the threats Rice listed were real enough, but she omits the very different conditions that allowed us to deal with them. Here are a few off the top:

  • The US had emerged from WWII victorious, a recognized global protector against National Socialism, Fascism and the Imperial Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere
  • Leaving aside French annoyance at being marginalized, the US was the recognized first among equals in the West
  • We remembered that we had allies, and we used them to good effect
  • The UN was our creation and it largely did our bidding, subject to periodic Soviet threat of veto
  • The "China" in that UN was the Republic of Taiwan
  • We were feared by some but respected by more
  • Our adversaries were a limited number of identifiable, targetable state actors
  • Occupied Germany, Japan and Italy were quiet and absent of asymmetrical nonstate actors (Rice is wrong about the German "Werewolves" and should know better)
  • Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons production were only within the purview of state actors
  • Asymmetrical actors could not achieve force parity against the military forces of principal state actors
  • We had a diplomacy grounded in realism, not a neocon Wolkenkuckucksheim
  • We had diplomats seemingly everywhere; we had ground truth - humint - not yet narrowed by 'national technical means of collection'
  • We had not yet gelded our ability for covert operations and the collateral intel it brings (referring to the impacts of the Church Committee and the Levi Guidelines)
  • The US was now a global power supplanting the UK as the principal naval power; force projection was relatively unconstrained
  • We had a million man plus military under arms
  • We had the draft to replenish our manpower needs and our citizens were accustomed to its call
  • The Democratic Party was the "Fighting Democrats" of Roosevelt and Truman
  • The US and the UK owned Middle East and Persian littoral petroleum production; North American and Venezuelan production was still rising
  • Problems in oil producing states were limited to exploration, lifting, refining and transport; terrorist threats were largely nonexistent
  • The US economy was rapidly expanding due to pent-up postwar demand and Marshall Plan exports; we could fund many efforts and fight a multifront war - and that included timely replenishment of men and materiel.
  • China did not exist as a global competitor in diplomatic, military and resource spheres
  • We were not isolated diplomatically; we understood the value of talking to our adversaries, if nothing else to gain intelligence

Rice has been a point person for the administration's "Hear No Evil" approach to diplomacy in which we refuse to talk to confrontation states, a policy that denies us so much advantage that it is remarkable that we have to urge our administration to do so. I urge readers to James Dobbins on correcting US missteps in vision and implementation in the Middle East, then the op-ed pair by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann (here and here) that form an extension on Dobbins and flag what can charitably be called policy censorship, and finally Leverett's earlier Dealing with Tehran: Assessing U.S. Diplomatic Options Toward Iran, that contains approved text that describing the areas censored in the later work.

If you traverse this material as opposed to, say, Fox News, you will wonder how reporters, even lay listeners, give Rice a free pass in refusing to consider talks with either Iran or Syria for fear of US interests being linked to Iranian or Syrian national interests. This writer thinks it smacks of 'What's mine is mine, and what's yours is negotiable.' I got that from the Soviets and didn't like it. Why would the Iranians or Syrians think any better of it?

But if you read Ron Suskind's The Tyrant Who Came In From the Cold, the back story of covert conversations between Ben Bonk, a career CIA operative and a deputy director of the CIA’s Counter-Terrorist Center, and Musa Kousa, a deputy head of Libyan intelligence and a planner of both the PanAm Lockerbie and UTA 772 bombings, beginning with their mutual interest, even passion, of Michigan State University (MSU) basketball, you might want to shout at Rice, how dare you not talk. The Bonk-Kousa discussions led to Kappes-Gadhafi talks that dealt equally with matters of substance and concrete measures to allow all sides to "save face." All impossible unless you talk.

Libya is also an example of the damage and delay that preconditions bring to the diplomatic process. While the US would achieve its first success in perception management, that Libyan dismantling of its WMD capability was tangible evidence of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), the reality was different:

Iraq may have been a modest contributing factor, [to the many drivers already propelling Gadhafi to the bargaining table, but if the US] hadn’t long insisted that the financial settlement be completed before getting to disarmament, Gadhafi might have made this move years ago.

Rice appears to evince a cavalier attitude common to neocons whereby destabilizing changes or shocks can be initiated without any reasonable analysis of consequences. The concept that the Middle East had so stagnated that only external "shocks" could prevent continued regional stagnation is called "constructive instability." As late as November 2006, Rice could answer a question about Iraq being a "moment of crisis":

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think it's a moment of challenge, it's a moment of testing and it's a moment also of enormous opportunity -- big historical changes like the ones that are happening now, particularly in this region… Look, these are huge changes in a region that's -- that the very stagnation in this region -- people call it stability, I call it stagnation -- the stagnation in this region had produced a circumstance in which the -- an al-Qaida and extremist forces were growing and growing and growing unchallenged really by healthy moderate political forces in places like Iraq and like the Palestinian territories. Those forces are now coming into their own. Yes, they have determined enemies. Yes, we are seeing a clarifying moment between extremism and moderation. That is bound to be difficult.

This kind of talk leaves me feeling that there is no understanding of, or interest in, the consequences of blowback, the secondary and tertiary effects on today's decisions.

Internal Dummy

When Larry Wilkerson, Powell's chief of staff from 2002-2005, uncloaked in his 19 October, 2005, speech and Q&A at NAF, it was "clear that Wilkerson's Axis of Evil is Cheney and Rumsfeld whom he has dubbed a cabal (also here) so strong that it rolled over an "extremely weak" Rice [first as national security advisor and then at SecState] and dominated US policy to the exclusion of other federal departments, not the least of which was State." Wilkerson was not alone in making the case that Rice "made a decision that she would side with the president to build her intimacy with the president," "dropping her role as honest broker," and so adding to the "dysfunctionality" of her role as national security advisor.

Rice's reticence had been flagged far earlier in 2003 around the creation of the White House Iraq Stabilization Group. Although the press had a certain "infatuation" with Rice, "the very need to restate her formal duties in an interagency memo confirms that she has failed to perform the most basic functions of a national security adviser":

Rather than coordinate the positions of the State and Defense departments, Rice has been overpowered by them. On Iran, North Korea, the United Nations, and Iraq, the United States has not one, but two policies. As a result, issues that normally would be settled far down the bureaucratic food chain often go unresolved until they capture the attention of cabinet-rank officials in principals' meetings. And, even then, administration officials claim that Secretary of State Colin Powell and Rumsfeld routinely revert to their respective and diametrically opposed positions as soon as they walk out the door. Compounding the problem has been Rice's reluctance to delegate to NSC staff members, and her apparent inability to balance her role as the president's adviser with her role as interagency referee. No doubt, the statures of Powell and Rumsfeld make her task more difficult. And, no doubt, when it comes to the particulars of postwar Iraq, the president may not evince much in the way of firmly-held convictions. Still, Rice has been on the job for nearly three years.

Yes, Rice's former counselor, Philip Zelikow, produced position papers for Rice "that often depart sharply from the Bush administration’s current line"; e.g. describing "the potential for Iraq to become a "catastrophic failure," calling for changes in detention policy that State felt was doing "tremendous harm" to the US, proposing "new diplomatic initiatives" to the DPRK and the Middle East, etc. The more I read about these protected counter-administration concepts, the more I long to see more effect from them in Rice's internal efforts.

ADDENDUM: A very skilled inside-the-beltway player has suggested this note be summed as "Infernal dummy equals internal Rummy".

What We Wanted to Tell You About Iran
By FLYNT LEVERETT and HILLARY MANN
Op-Ed Contributors
New York Times
Published: December 22, 2006

Redacted Version of Original Op-Ed
By FLYNT LEVERETT and HILLARY MANN
Op-Ed Contributors
New York Times
December 22, 2006

Secretary of State Rice Places Conditions on Iran, Syria for Talks
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice re-asserts President Bush's need to seek input on Iraq strategy from a variety of sources beyond the Iraq Study Group and explains the president's hesitation to engage in talks with Iraq's neighbors, Iran and Syria.
MARGARET WARNER interviews CONDOLEEZZA RICE
NewsHour
Originally Aired: December 21, 2006
RealAudio
MP3

Rice Stresses the Positive Amid Mideast Setbacks
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post
December 20, 2006

Dealing with Tehran: Assessing U.S. Diplomatic Options Toward Iran
Flynt Leverett
Century Foundation
Dec. 4, 2006

More on Condi's Instability Fetish
Posted by Shadi Hamid
Democracy Arsenal
Security and Peace Initiative is a joint initiative of the Center for American Progress and The Century Foundation.
December 04, 2006

Interview With Brian Williams of NBC News
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
US Department of State
Dead Sea, Jordan
November 30, 2006

Did the Bush Administration Take History into Account Before Attacking Iraq? What Woodward's Book Suggests
By HNN Staff
History News Network, GMU
10-30-06

Rice’s Counselor Gives Advice Others May Not Want to Hear
By HELENE COOPER and DAVID E. SANGER
New York Times
October 28, 2006

The Tyrant Who Came In From the Cold
Gadhafi gave up his WMDs not because we scared him, but because we talked to him.
By Ron Suskind
Washington Monthly
October 2006

Is it a civil war, or isn’t it?
By Monica Duffy Toft
Nieman Watchdog ASK THIS
July 28, 2006

Former Powell Aide Says Bush Policy Is Run by 'Cabal'
By BRIAN KNOWLTON
New York Times
October 21, 2005

Colonel Finally Saw Whites of Their Eyes
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post
October 20, 2005

WEIGHING THE UNIQUENESS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION’S NATIONAL SECURITY DECISION-MAKING PROCESS: BOON OR DANGER TO AMERICAN DEMOCRACY?
WITH COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, USA (RET.) FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 2002-2005
Moderated by Steven Clemons, Director, American Strategy Program
New America Foundation
American Strategy Program
Policy Forum
WASHINGTON, D.C., OCTOBER 19, 2005
Transcript by: Federal News Service, Washington, D.C.
Entire talk with Q&A is 95:59.
PDF
MP3

In the Wake of War
Getting Serious about Nation-Building
Brent Scowcroft & Samuel R. Berger
THE NATIONAL INTEREST
Number 81, Fall 2005

The Academic Elite Goes to Washington, and to War
Critics of the academy have lambasted faculty doves. History shows that academia has roosted a flock of hawks.
By Lionel Lewis
Academe
January-February 2005, Classroom Cultures

Failing Upward
by Lawrence F. Kaplan
TNR Online
Post date 10.09.03

The psychological assessment of political leaders: with profiles of Saddam Hussein and Bill Clinton
Jerrold M. Post
University of Michigan Press
ISBN-10: 0-472-06838-5 (Paper); 0-472-09838-1 (Cloth)
2003

Psychology and the CIA: Leaders on the Couch
Thomas Omestad
Foreign Policy, No. 95 (Summer, 1994), pp. 104-122
doi:10.2307/1149426

Personality Intelligence: Anticipating Your Competitor’s Decisions
Cheryl Poirer
Competitive Intelligence Review 3(3,4): 35-37, 1993

Personality Intelligence: Anticipating Your Competitor’s Next Move
Cheryl A. Poirer
Manage, 44(4): 22-24, 1993

The Character of Organizations; Using Jungian Type in Organizational Development
by William Bridges
Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.
ISBN-10: 0891060529, ISBN-13: 978-0891060529
September 1992

Profiling Rival Decision Makers
By Walter D. Barndt, Jr.
The Journal of Business Strategy 12(1): 8-11, 1991

Contained in:
The Demand Side of Competitive Intelligence: The Missing Link
By Walter D. Barndt, Jr.
SCIP, ISBN-10: 0962124168
July 1, 1997

Lou Gerstner
By John J. Kao
Harvard Business School
Case (Field) 9-485-176
Publication Date: Apr 22, 1985, Revised: Nov 5, 1987

Gordon Housworth



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Cheney: an extraordinary Vice President

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Whatever one's opinion of VPOTUS may be, admiring or grudging, Cheney is singularly one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful vice president that the US has had. Joan Didion has recently done a substantive article, Cheney: The Fatal Touch, drawn from sixteen books all of which are listed in her review (a process that I approve and have used for quite some time as I like readers to be able to skim the cited sources).

As the promised Cheney expansion from Demeanor aside, it's hard to imagine Gates being less than incendiary in regards to Iran, I have excerpted text under four themes important to me: extending executive privilege, marginalizing congress, intelligence shaping and maintaining emcon (emission control): While Didion's review is far longer, and both admirers and detractors will find much of interest, these themes typify the scope and intensity of Cheney, his office and his appointees in the policy and defense community. If your course of action is not to his liking, you have your work set out for you.

On extending executive privilege:

The question of where the President gets the notions known to the nation as "I'm the decider" and within the White House as "the unitary executive theory" leads pretty fast to the blackout zone that is the Vice President and his office. It was the Vice President who took the early offensive on the contention that whatever the decider decides to do is by definition legal. "We believe, Jim, that we have all the legal authority we need," the Vice President told Jim Lehrer on PBS after it was reported that the National Security Agency was conducting warrantless wiretapping in violation of existing statutes. It was the Vice President who pioneered the tactic of not only declaring such apparently illegal activities legal but recasting them as points of pride, commands to enter attack mode, unflinching defenses of the American people by a president whose role as commander in chief authorizes him to go any extra undisclosed mile he chooses to go on their behalf.

"Bottom line is we've been very active and very aggressive defending the nation and using the tools at our disposal to do that," the Vice President advised reporters on a flight to Oman last December. It was [Cheney] who maintained that passage of Senator John McCain's legislation banning inhumane treatment of detainees would cost "thousands of lives." It was [Cheney's] office, in the person of David S. Addington, that supervised the 2002 "torture memos," advising the President that the Geneva Conventions need not apply. And, after Admiral Stansfield Turner, director of the CIA between 1977 and 1981, referred to Cheney as "vice president for torture," it was the Vice President's office that issued this characteristically nonresponsive statement: "Our country is at war and our government has an obligation to protect the American people from a brutal enemy that has declared war upon us."

Addington, who emerged into government from Georgetown University and Duke Law School in 1981 [is] an instructive study in the focus Cheney favors in the protection of territory. As secretary of defense for [Bush41]. Bush, Cheney made Addington his special assistant and ultimately his general counsel. As vice-president for [Bush43], Cheney again turned to Addington, and named him, after the [Libby] indictment [in] connection with the exposure of Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife as a CIA agent, his chief of staff. "You're giving away executive power," Addington has been reported to snap at less committed colleagues. He is said to keep a photograph in his office of Cheney firing a gun. He vets every line of the federal budget to eradicate any wording that might restrain the President. He also authors the "signing statements" now routinely issued to free the President of whatever restrictive intent might have been present in whichever piece of legislation he just signed into law. A typical signing statement, as written by Addington, will refer repeatedly to the "constitutional authority" of "the unitary executive branch," and will often mention multiple points in a single bill that the President declines to enforce.

Signing statements are not new, but at the time Bill Clinton left office, the device had been used, by the first forty-two presidents combined, fewer than six hundred times. George W. Bush, by contrast, issued more than eight hundred such takebacks during the first six years of his administration. Those who object to this or any other assumption of absolute executive power are reflexively said by those who speak for the Vice President to be "tying the president's hands," or "eroding his ability to do his job," or, more ominously, "aiding those who don't want him to do his job."

On marginalizing congress:

"I have repeatedly seen an erosion of the powers and the ability of the president of the United States to do his job," the Vice President said after one year in office. "We are weaker today as an institution because of the unwise compromises that have been made over the last thirty to thirty-five years." "Watergate—a lot of the things around Watergate and Vietnam, both, in the '70s, served to erode the authority, I think, the President needs to be effective," he said to reporters accompanying him on that December 2005 flight to Oman...

On intelligence shaping:

What the Vice President was doing with the intelligence he received has since been characterized as "cherry-picking," a phrase suggesting that he selectively used only the more useful of equally valid pieces of intelligence [but the reality was rejecting the intel and] replacing it with whatever self-interested rumor better advanced his narrative line. "Cheney's office claimed to have sources," Ron Suskind was told by those to whom he spoke for The One Percent Doctrine.

And Rumsfeld's, too. They kept throwing them [at the CIA]. The same information, five different ways. They'd omit that a key piece had been discounted, that the source had recanted. Sorry, our mistake. Then it would reappear, again, in a memo the next week.

The Vice President would not then or later tolerate any suggestion that the story he was building might rest on cooked evidence. In a single speech at the American Enterprise Institute in November 2005 he used the following adjectives to describe those members of Congress who had raised such a question: "corrupt," "shameless," "dishonest," "reprehensible," "irresponsible," "insidious," and "utterly false." "It's not about our analysis, or finding a preponderance of evidence," he is reported by Suskind to have said in the November 2001 briefing during which he articulated the doctrine that if there was "a one percent chance" of truth in any suspicion or allegation, it must be considered true. "It's about our response."

On maintaining emcon (emission control):

Cheney leaves no paper trail. He has not always felt the necessity to discuss what he plans to say in public with the usual offices, including that of the President. Nor, we learned from Ron Suskind, has he always felt the necessity, say if the Saudis send information to the President in preparation for a meeting, to bother sending that information on to Bush… Since November 1, 2001, under this administration's Executive Order 13233, which limits access to all presidential and vice-presidential papers, Cheney has been the first vice-president in American history entitled to executive privilege…

His every instinct is to withhold information, hide, let surrogates speak for him… He runs an office so disinclined to communicate that it routinely refuses to disclose who works there, even for updates to the Federal Directory, which lists names and contact addresses for government officials. "We just don't give out that kind of information," an aide told one reporter. "It's just not something we talk about."…

IN CHENEY'S SHADOW
By Paul Starobin, Reply by Joan Didion
In response to Cheney: The Fatal Touch (October 5, 2006)
Volume 53, Number 17, November 2, 2006

Cheney: The Fatal Touch
By Joan Didion
Review
New York Review of Books
Volume 53, Number 15, October 15, 2006

Gordon Housworth



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Demeanor aside, it's hard to imagine Gates being less than incendiary in regards to Iran

  #

A foundation piece for a forthcoming item on the less than monolithic Iranian bogeyman, this note deals with Robert Gates' policy leanings towards Iran.

While I would not go so far as McMahon's Resetting U.S. Policy in the Middle East in saying that the bipartisan Iraq Study Group (ISG) report is creating "an intense round of consultations" within the administration, I do agree that Bush43 is "hearing from top advisers and Iraqi leaders that the path to this goal involves everything from "surging" U.S. military forces into the country to massive increases in reconstruction aid to turning over large areas of control to Iraqi forces" but in the absence of extreme outside drivers expect changes "to be tactical rather than tectonic." If that conclusion is correct, I expect the regional situation in Iraq and Iran to deteriorate for the administration.

With glib conclusions flying, I recommend Jay Rosen's Retreat from Empiricism: On Ron Suskind's Scoop to quantify the administration's resistance to outside stimuli. A "press critic, an observer of journalism’s habits," Rosen drew off Ron Suskind's Without a Doubt: Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush which has been called an "intellectual scoop" or what I would call pattern detection from the parts:

Suskind was not talking about an age old conflict between realists and idealists, the sort of story line that can be re-cycled for every administration. It wasn’t the ideologues against the pragmatists, either. He was telling us that reality-based policy-making—and the mechanisms for it—had gotten dumped. A different pattern had appeared under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. The normal checks and balances had been overcome, so that executive power could flow more freely. Reduced deliberation, oversight, fact-finding, and field reporting were different elements of an emerging political style. Suskind, I felt, got to the essence of it with his phrase, the "retreat from empiricism."

Rosen believes that Suskind's interview with "a senior adviser to Bush" was seminal:

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality."... "We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Rosen describes this as "Action vs. behavior":

The alternative to facts on the ground is to act, regardless of the facts on the ground. When you act you make new facts. You clear new ground. And when you roll over or roll back the people who have a duty to report the situation as it is—people in the press, the military, the bureaucracy, your own cabinet, or right down the hall—then right there you have demonstrated your might...

The contrast I would draw is between the actions of Bush, a political innovator, and the behavior of previous presidents, Republican and Democrat. (The distinction between action and behavior is originally Hannah Arendt’s.) In everything bearing on national security, the Bush Government has been committed to action first, to making the world (including the map of the Middle East) anew, to a kind of audacity in the use of American power. It simply does not behave as previous governments have behaved when presented with the tools of the presidency, which includes the media, and the greatest public address system in the world: the White House podium and backdrop.

While I believe this analysis has merit to POTUS and newer members of the White House, I think that it does a disservice to VPOTUS as it does not fully explain his position, bureaucratic mastery and defense of the executive branch and its privilege at the expense of congress. See Cheney: an extraordinary Vice President for a deeper dive.

Also outside the scope of this note is Rosen's observations as to how the administration discredited the press in ways that "the press has not fully appreciated." Rosen's suggestions on things that "the press have done differently" is recommended.

Robert Gates is a new outside stimulus; many are wondering how he will respond to external events and to administration figures such as Cheney. I noted in Implications of Gates I and Gates II at CIA on Gates as SecDef:

Gates has been "privately critical of the administration’s failure to execute its military and political plans for Iraq, and he has spent the last six months quietly debating new approaches to the war, as a member of the Iraq Study Group." Although Gates left ISG upon his nomination as SecDef, I find it hard to believe that ISG will present recommendations at odds with Gates' thinking. Co-chaired by Brzezinski and Gates in 2004, Iran: Time for a New Approach offered a then refreshing approach to negotiating with Iran, suggestions that have yet to be implemented. Gates noted that, "One of our recommendations is that the U.S. government lift its ban in terms of nongovernmental organizations being able to operate in Iran… Greater interaction between Iranians and the rest of the world sets the stage for the kind of internal change that we all hope will happen there."

McMahon believes that the substantive Middle East issues up for discussion in the wake of the ISG report are Iraqi security, Iraq’s economy, Iraq’s politics, Arab-Israeli peace process, Iran and Syria.

I thought it useful to return to the 2004 Iran: Time for a New Approach co-chaired by Brzezinski and Gates, as if Gates remains true to its vision, he will clash with both Bush43 and Cheney. Change will have to "tectonic" unless Gates departs prematurely. From Iran: Time for a New Approach:

The United States’ long lack of direct contact with, and presence in, Iran drastically impedes its understanding of Iran’s domestic, as well as regional, dynamics. In turn, this reduces Washington’s influence across the Middle East in ways that are manifestly harmful to its ultimate interests. Direct dialogue approached candidly and without restrictions on issues of mutual concern would serve Iran’s interests. And establishing connections with Iranian society would directly benefit U.S. national objectives of enhancing the stability and security of this critical region.

Dialogue between the United States and Iran need not await absolute harmony between the two governments. Throughout history, Washington has maintained cordial and constructive relations with regimes whose policies and philosophies have differed significantly from its own, including, above all, in its relationship with the Soviet Union. By its very definition, diplomacy seeks to address issues between nations, and so it would be unwise (and unrealistic) to defer contact with Tehran until all differences between the two governments have evaporated…

[We] advocate that Washington propose a compartmentalized process of dialogue, confidence building, and incremental engagement. The United States should identify the discrete set of issues on which critical U.S. and Iranian interests converge and must be prepared to try to make progress along separate tracks, even while considerable differences remain in other areas.

Instead of aspiring to a detailed road map of rapprochement, as previous U.S. administrations have recommended, the executive branch should consider outlining a more simple mechanism for framing formal dialogue with Iran. A basic statement of principles, along the lines of the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué signed by the United States and China, could be developed to outline the parameters for U.S.-Iranian engagement, establish the overarching objectives for dialogue, and reassure relevant domestic political constituencies on both sides. The effort to draft such a statement would give constructive focus and substance to a serious but realistic bilateral dialogue. Should that effort reach stalemate, dialogue should still move forward on specific issues.

In engaging with Iran, the United States must be prepared to utilize incentives as well as punitive measures. Given Iran’s pressing economic challenges, the most powerful inducements for Tehran would be economic measures: particularly steps that rescind the comprehensive U.S. embargo on trade and investment in Iran. Used judiciously, such incentives could enhance U.S. leverage vis-à-vis Tehran. One particularly valuable step, which should be made conditional on significant progress in resolving one or more of the chief concerns with respect to Iran, would be the authorization of executory contractslegal instruments that permit U.S. businesses to negotiate with Iranian entities but defer ultimate implementation of any agreements until further political progress has been reached. Commercial relations represent a diplomatic tool that should not be underestimated or cynically disregarded. Ultimately, the return of U.S. businesses to Tehran could help undermine the clerics’ monopoly on power by strengthening the nonstate sector, improving the plight of Iran’s beleaguered middle class, and offering new opportunities to transmit American values.

In dealing with Iran, the United States should relinquish the rhetoric of regime change. Such language inevitably evokes the problematic history of U.S. involvement with the 1953 coup that unseated Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq. For these reasons, propounding regime change simply invites nationalist passions that are clearly unconstructive to the cause such a policy would seek to serve. Rather, Washington’s positions and policies must clearly communicate to the government and citizens of Iran that the United States favors political evolution: the long-range vision is an Iran that ushers in democracy itself in a meaningful and lasting manner.

Brzezinski and Gates make five recommendations for US policy "to address the most urgent issues of concern" (and Gates does not offer a dissenting opinion as do some other participants) that fly in the face of administration positions:

  1. [O]ffer Iran a direct dialogue on specific issues of regional stabilization. This should entail a resumption and expansion of the Geneva track discussions that were conducted with Tehran for eighteen months after the 9/11 attacks. The dialogue should be structured to encourage constructive Iranian involvement in the process of consolidating authority within the central governments of both Iraq and Afghanistan and in rebuilding their economies. Regular contact with Iran would also provide a channel to address concerns that have arisen about its activities and relationships with competing power centers in both countries…
  2. [P]ress Iran to clarify the status of al-Qaeda operatives detained by Tehran and make clear that a security dialogue will be conditional on assurances that its government is not facilitating violence against the new Iraqi and Afghan governments or the coalition forces that are assisting them. At the same time, Washington should work with the interim government of Iraq to conclusively disband the Iraq-based Mojahideen-e Khalq Organization and ensure that its leaders are brought to justice.
  3. [I]mplement a more focused strategy to deal with the Iranian nuclear program. In the immediate future, Iran should be pressed to fulfill its October 2003 commitment to maintain a complete and verified suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. While this suspension is in effect, the United States and other members of the international community should pursue a framework agreement with Iran that would offer a more durable solution to the nuclear issue. Such an agreement should include an Iranian commitment to permanently renounce uranium enrichment and other fuel-cycle capabilities and to ratify the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Additional Protocol, an expanded set of safeguards intended to verify the peaceful intentions of its nuclear program. In return, the United States should remove its objections to an Iranian civil nuclear program under stringent safeguards and assent to multilateral assurances that Tehran would be able to purchase fuel at reasonable market rates for nuclear power reactors as long as it abided by its nonproliferation commitments…
  4. [R]esume an active involvement in the Middle East peace process and press leading Arab states to commit themselves to providing genuine, substantive support for both the process and any ultimate agreements. Iranian incitement of virulent anti-Israeli sentiment and activities thrives when there is no progress toward peace. Efforts to curtail the flows of assistance to terrorist groups must be coupled with steps to offer a meaningful alternative to the continuing cycle of violence. A serious effort on the part of Washington aimed at achieving Arab-Israeli peace is central to eventually stemming the tide of extremism in the region.
  5. [A]dopt measures to broaden the political, cultural, and economic linkages between the Iranian population and the wider world, including authorizing U.S. nongovernmental organizations to operate in Iran and consenting to Iran’s application to begin accession talks with the World Trade Organization. Iran’s isolation only impedes its people’s ongoing struggle for a more democratic government and strengthens the hand of hard-liners who preach confrontation with the rest of the world. Integrating Iran into the international community through formal institutional obligations as well as expanded people-to-people contacts will intensify demands for good governance at home and add new constraints on adventurism abroad.

By training and temperament, Gates is the inverse 'Behavior vs. action' to the White House's "Action vs. behavior."

The Robert Gates Riddle
By Dan Froomkin
Washington Post
December 19, 2006; 1:16 PM

Retreat from Empiricism: On Ron Suskind's Scoop
By Jay Rosen
PressThink
December 18, 2006

Resetting U.S. Policy in the Middle East
Robert McMahon
Council on Foreign Relations
December 18, 2006

Without a Doubt: Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush
By RON SUSKIND
New York Times
October 17, 2004

Iran: Time for a New Approach - Council on Foreign Relations
Director:  Suzanne Maloney
Chairs:  Zbigniew Brzezinski & Robert M. Gates
Council on Foreign Relations Press
ISBN 0-87609-345-4
July 2004
PDF

Gordon Housworth



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The continuing strategic failure to address our slide in Pre-K through 20+ education

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During the preparation of Islamic flashpoints: Even adjustments may be outside Western control, December 1, 2006, which was a requested deeper dive on Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine from the survey of Colonial/Western-Arab relationships in Islamic territory from North Africa to South Asia: No solutions, only adjustments, September 8, 2006, I found myself frequently thinking of vital national issues that have been neglected as Iraq continues to divert US attention, manpower, diplomacy and money to Baghdad:

  • China's growing mercantile net
  • Russia's kleptocracy class armed with the energy weapon
  • Eclipse of US dominance of technologically sophisticated, major weapons systems
  • Pre-K through 20+ education
  • Conservation policy and conservation technology
  • While it is transient - resolving the Republican struggle from the Bush Family struggle

In keeping with my view that 'The hole is as good as the donut,' that is, a thoughtful observer needs to look at what is missing as well as what is present, I opened the presentation with these six issues as I felt that they increased the gravity of the Iraqi situation in particular and the Middle East in general. It is one thing to be succeeding in Iraq, Afghanistan (we were, but we relocated attention and assets to Iraq and have likely lost it as well) and the Middle East so that one could argue that the tradeoff was worthwhile, but it is quite another to be singularly failing in those conflict areas as well as neglecting strategic areas of need.

Education gap of domestic students (those who will stay in the US) continues to gape

I urge readers to start with The US needs a "No Nation Left Behind" program - for itself which forms an effective preamble to this note. "No Nation" highlights the continued dwindling of US engineering and technical cadres for both the defense and commercial sectors:

My attention was arrested by the gap - more a failure to address with no systemic solution in sight - between two reports by the Defense Science Board, Future Strategic Strike Forces, Feb 2004, and Future Strategic Strike Skills, March 2006. Both deal with US strategic strike force capabilities, the first being a statement of strategic strike needs out to 2030 and the second describing the systemic breach in human assets, commercial valuation that attracts those assets, and education capable of producing the skills needed in order to achieve those strike goals.

I take this gap as a metaphor of our failure to properly incent and educate an entire class of technologists be it for military or commercial applications. Considering that many of our weapons systems are aging, designed twenty or more years ago by engineers that graduated fifteen or more years earlier, we are increasingly unable to revise and extend existing systems or design future systems...

Strike Skills makes appalling reading, noting that the "personnel required for the development of such systems should be highly innovative [but that] attracting such individuals may be difficult due to the lack of financial incentives associated with civilian industry's efforts." "[I]t appears that a serious loss of certain critical strategic strike skills may occur within the next decade." Whereas Strike Forces itemized "well known" deficiencies in command and control networks; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and battle damage assessment; delivery systems; and payloads, the five findings of Strike Skills paint the picture of a dwindling industrial base...

"The future workforce is here, and it is ill-prepared"

Improving our entire Pre-K through 20+ is worthy of a Moonshot mandate (also here); I'd go so far as to say it is the Moonshot mandate that will allow us to address other challenges. The Conference Board's recently released Are They Ready to Work? shows that our desired education levels for high school, 2-year and 4-year college graduates are about as far away as the moon: "Less than intense preparation in critical skills can lead to unsuccessful futures for America's youth, as well as a less competitive U.S. workforce. This ultimately makes the U.S. economy more vulnerable in the global marketplace."

I found it interesting that business overwhelmingly valued applied skills over basic skills such as the three "R's":

Applied Skills refer to those skills that enable new entrants to use the basic knowledge they have acquired in school to perform in the workplace. Applied skills include those based on cognitive abilities such as Critical Thinking/Problem Solving, as well as more social and behavioral skills such as Professionalism/Work Ethic. Some of the other applied skills, such as Oral Communications and Teamwork/Collaboration, combine both cognitive abilities and social skills.

While K-12 (high school), K-14 (two-year graduates) and K-16 (four-year graduates were substandard when measured against business expectations, there was a painful performance gap in the top five applied skills, ranked "very important," for high school graduate entrants, 2-year and 4-year college graduates:

  • Critical thinking/problem solving (high school, 2-year and 4-year)
  • Oral communications (high school, 2-year and 4-year)
  • Written communications (2-year and 4-year)
  • Teamwork/collaboration (high school, 2-year and 4-year)
  • Professionalism/work ethic (high school, 2-year and 4-year)
  • Ethics/social responsibility (high school)
  • Diversity
  • Information technology application
  • Leadership
  • Creativity/innovation
  • Lifelong learning/self direction

Individual careers and national competitiveness obey the KANO Model just as do products and services

Applied to products and services since the early 1980s, Noriaki Kano's customer satisfaction model applies equally to individual career attractiveness and by extension to the products, ideas and services on offer from the nation of those individuals. The competitiveness of a nation is just as susceptible to decay as the value of an individual contributor or a product.

By the mid-1990s I was informally applying the Kano Model to career development as I counseled colleagues. I saw that individuals entered the marketplace with an attractive, perhaps even exciting, balance of skills (abilities divided by salary) but as time elapsed many individuals did not improve their skills yet claimed higher wages. No wonder that some unpleasantly found themselves both 'expensive' and 'out-of-date' when compared to new entrants.

Kano commenced consumer satisfaction research in the 1970s that soon identified both perceived and latent, or unexpressed, customer needs:

Konica camera company realized that to remain competitive its new camera must be something completely different from what was available at the time. However, when the R&D and Sales departments began talking to customers, it sounded like they were asking for only minor modifications in the existing model. When they went to a photo processing lab, however, they saw that there were many failures - such as blurry images, under and over exposures, and blank rolls. Working to solve these problems led to many features available in cameras today (such as auto focus, builtin-flash, automatic film winding). [The] key to success was to not just listen to what customers were saying but to develop a deep understanding of the customers' world and then to address these latent [unexpressed] needs.

The fundamental concept of "attractive quality" was the result. Kano went on to create three classes of attributes, excitement, performance and basic:

  • Excitement or "surprise and delight" characteristics: "unexpected attributes that, when provided, generate disproportionately high levels of customer enthusiasm and satisfaction." Customers rarely express a need or desire for them until they see them, but immediately cherish them when they do.
  • Performance characteristics: attributes exhibiting "a linear relationship between perceptions of attribute performance and customer satisfaction." I think the best way to describe this class of attributes is that they are the 'spoken' or verbalized in a product brochure.
  • Threshold or basic characteristics: "essential or "must" attributes of performance [that] do not offer any real opportunity for product differentiation. Providing threshold attributes and meeting customer expectations for them will do little to enhance overall customer satisfaction, but removing or performing poorly on them will hurt customer satisfaction, lead to customer complaints, and may result in customer defections." A product or service must have these features just to play in the market.

The Kano Model does not explicitly state the overwhelming contribution of Delight and Performance to the total feature set: The excitement features that captivate the buyer account for 5% or less of total features. Performance features account for approximately 15% of the total feature set. Basic, or must-be, features account for the balance of 80% of the total feature set.

As customer's requirements change over time, features initially generating excitement migrate downward to an expected or assumed category as the market approaches saturation. "In time, excitement quality will become a performance item and with the passage of time, quite possibly a basic requirement." Electric starting, pneumatic tires, and automatic transmissions initially generated excitement as each made vehicles easier and more comfortable to drive. Each progressively slid to a performance feature in which customers would rank certain designs better than others. Over time, each declined to an assumed or basic quality item from which customers demanded flawless performance. Comment occurred only when they failed.

This feature cascade can be stated as:

  • Customer is delighted because of an expected feature (excitement)
  • Customer is capable of evaluating vendors' features (performance)
  • Customer is disappointed if a feature is not present (basic)

To see Kano in diagrammatic form, go herehere and for comprehensive coverage, here. Substitute 'career' or 'national competitiveness' for 'product' here to see how easily you and your nation can become a commodity.

Failing to continue learning, fixing the 'half-life' value of education, is a recipe to slide from excitement to commodity

I found it depressing that the Conference Board respondents ranked "Lifelong learning/self direction" so low, ranking it 9 of 11 for high school graduates, 8 of 11 for two-year college graduates and 10 of 11 for four-year college graduates. Even considering employers' focus on short term remedial needs, the ranking indicates a general failure of business to understand that the 'half-life' of the content of a baccalaureate degree is measured in a few years - often four or less. Businesses need perpetual learners. To not understand this and plan for it is to orchestrate one's slide down the Kano model into uncompetitiveness.

Educating the Engineer of 2020: Adapting Engineering Education to the New Century noted that:

The B.S. degree should be considered as a preengineering or "engineer in training" degree. Engineering programs should be accredited at both the B.S. and M.S. levels, so that the M.S. degree can be recognized as the engineering "professional" degree... Colleges and universities should endorse research in engineering education as a valued and rewarded activity for engineering faculty and should develop new standards for faculty qualifications. In addition to producing engineers who have been taught the advances in core knowledge and are capable of defining and solving problems in the short term, institutions must teach students how to be lifelong learners. Engineering educators should introduce interdisciplinary learning in the undergraduate curriculum and explore the use of case studies of engineering successes and failures as a learning tool... Institutions should encourage domestic students to obtain M.S. and/or Ph.D. degrees.

The report does a creditable job of painting the need for growth, learning and flexibility:

If the United States is to maintain its economic leadership and be able to sustain its share of high-technology jobs, it must prepare for this wave of change. Although there is no consensus at this stage, it is agreed that innovation is the key and engineering is essential to this task; but engineering will only contribute to success if it is able to continue to adapt to new trends and provide education to the next generation of students so as to arm them with the tools needed for the world as it will be, not as it is today...

Although certain basics of engineering will not change, the explosion of knowledge, the global economy, and the way engineers will work will reflect an ongoing evolution that began to gain momentum a decade ago. The economy in which we will work will be strongly influenced by the global marketplace for engineering services, evidenced by the outsourcing of engineering jobs, a growing need for interdisciplinary and system-based approaches, demands for new paradigms of customization, and an increasingly international talent pool...

Engineering 2020 speaks to the fragility of initial knowledge. One of the discussion threads of the breakouts dealt with the short "shelf life" of knowledge in today's world (and what shelf life might be in 2020). Students needed to "develop the skills and attitudes that foster lifelong learning and that technology advances that allow distance and asynchronous learning could be key enablers to support that learning":

The half-life of cutting-edge technical knowledge today is on the order of a few years, but globalization of the economy is accelerating and the international marketplace for engineering services is dynamic...

I have seen figures stating that a top-tier lifelong student will have to retrain themselves four to five times in their career to retain currency against new domestic and foreign entrants. Those numbers become very believable when one sees how consistently short half-life periods are defined:

2005: "The half-life of knowledge has become miniscule in many fields. Having once undergone training or holding a degree or degrees is not enough. Lifelong learning is essential to competitiveness."

The American Academy of Political and Social Science "estimated the half-life of an engineer's skills in 1986 at 2.5 years in software engineering, 5.0 years in electrical engineering..."

IN 2001 "the half-life of an engineering degree is now projected to be something like seven years"

IN 2002, Penn State noted that "the half-life of one's Internet/Web knowledge obsoletes every two years"

"Where technologies and training once changed every 20 years, today the half-life of rapidly advancing technologies may be anywhere between three and five years. Such rapid development requires the education of current workers and professionals in the latest technological advances and related applications."

Put the failure of solving career half-life decay into the Kano Model and solve for your value. Individually and as a nation, we desperately need to teach early, teach thoroughly, teach consistently and as important, teach how to learn. It is our next Moonshot.

Most Young People Entering the U.S. Workforce Lack Critical Skills Essential for Success
Conference Board
Press notice
Oct. 2, 2006

Are They Really Ready to Work?
Employers' Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Marketplace
Jill Casner-Lotto, Linda Barrington
Report Number:  BED-06-Workforc
October 2006

MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR BEATING THE COMMODITY MAGNET
P.V. (Sundar) Balakrishnan
University of Washington
September 2006

Future Strategic Strike Skills
Defense Science Board (DSB)
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense For Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
Washington, D.C. 20301-3140
March 2006

Educating the Engineer of 2020: Adapting Engineering Education to the New Century
Committee on the Engineer of 2020, Phase II, Committee on Engineering Education, National Academy of Engineering
National Academy Press
ISBN: 0309096499
2005

2005 Proceedings
Association for Continuing Higher Education
67th Annual Meeting
Madison, Wisconsin
October 29 -
November 1, 2005

Kano Taxonomy of Customer Needs
Posted by Gene Smith on Nov 15, 2004
Atomiq

Future Strategic Strike Forces
Defense Science Board (DSB)
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense For Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
Washington, D.C. 20301-3140
February 2004

The Evolution of a B.S. Internet/Web Program at Purdue University Calumet
Charles R. Winer and John Maniotes
Purdue University Calumet, Hammond, IN
June 2002

THE TOP TEN REASONS WHY COMMUNITY COLLEGES ARE AMERICA'S PREMIER INSTITUTIONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
DR. KATHERINE BOSWELL
Center for Community College Policy, Denver, Colorado
July 2001

Evaluating Customer Satisfaction with Media Products and Services
An Attribute Based Approach
By Randy Jacobs
European Media Management Review
Winter 1999

A special issue on Kano's Methods for Understanding Customer-defined Quality
Center for Quality Management Journal
Vol 2, number 4, Fall 1993

Higher-Education Partnerships in Engineering and Science
Lionel V. Baldwin
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 514, Electronic Links for Learning (Mar., 1991), pp. 76-91

John F. Kennedy Moon Speech - Rice Stadium
John F. Kennedy
Johnson Space Center, NASA
September 12, 1962

1961: Kennedy pledges man on Moon
On This Day
BBC
25 May, 1961

Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs.
John F. Kennedy
The American Presidency Project
May 25th, 1961

Gordon Housworth



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