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The US needs a "No Nation Left Behind" program - for itself

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The current state of this nation leaves me exceedingly cross. The implications of COBRA II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq confirm a blighted command structure while American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century "presents a nightmarish vision of ideological extremism, catastrophic fiscal irresponsibility, rampant greed and dangerous shortsightedness" that is incapable of solving the nation's challenges.

I'll save those for later, preferring to focus first on the strategic implications of our having ignored our engineering and technical base. For a primmer, see my notes:

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.

Trends in the availability of engineering personnel in the defense sector mirror the commercial sector, except that defense is worse. Strike Skills stated that:

In the early days of the Cold War, urgent national defense problems drew on the services of a significant percentage of U.S. professional engineers. Today most of the country’s engineering talent is concerned with civilian developments, and only a small fraction is devoted to DoD problems. Currently, work related to strategic strike systems is not considered to be a desirable career path by engineering personnel, particularly when exciting and potentially lucrative careers are available in new technological areas such as computer/internet systems, quantum communications and computation, nanotechnology, etc.

The result has been that in many strategic strike critical skill areas, experienced personnel are nearing retirement with few replacements. This situation could lead to the potential loss of critical strategic strike systems knowledge.

Strike Forces describes a spectrum of contingencies out to 2030 comprising "Urgent emerging threats" such as "rogues and terrorists" with and without WMD and "Future major power adversaries with WMD." A strategic response in return was defined as ""a military operation to decisively alter an adversary’s basic course of action within a relatively compact period of time" and can be either "an isolated event" or "part of a military campaign." DSB found that if the US was to provide effective strike options against these future threats "it must reorient its nuclear arsenal away from "large, high-fallout weapons delivered primarily by ballistic missiles" toward smaller, more precise nuclear weapons that can be used for a variety of special missions." Beyond nuclear weapons, DSB assertained that the US must address "non-nuclear weapons, the systems that are needed to deliver weapons of both kinds, and the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems required to identify targets."

In the intervening two years "relatively little additional action has taken place [in strategic strike systems], either with regard to next-generation (evolutionary) systems or in connection with new types of systems (revolutionary) for future objectives.

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:

  1. The DoD has not provided specific direction regarding next-generation strategic strike systems. Consequently, the industry and government talent base:
    • Are already marginally thin in many of today’s current systems, and
    • May not be available for potential next-generation systems.
  2. The exploration of new concepts and technologies for strategic strike of challenging targets in the long-term is inadequate and will require access to a new talent base with different skills.
  3. The strategic strike area most at risk today is ballistic missiles:
    • Current skills may not be able to cope with unanticipated failures requiring analysis, testing, and redesign;
    • A large number of skilled military, civil service, and contractor personnel are nearing retirement;
    • Design skills are rapidly disappearing, both for major redesigns of current systems and for the design of new strategic systems; and
    • Applications programs are necessary, but not sufficient to maintain skills; moreover, they have never been funded at the required levels.
  4. DoD and industry have difficulty attracting and retaining the best and brightest students to the science and engineering disciplines relevant to maintaining current and future strategic strike capabilities. The National Defense Education Act (NDEA) program has the potential for attracting personnel to government; however, it currently does not have strategic strike element.
  5. Human capital management systems and strategies for identifying, tracking, and retaining critical skills are not being implemented effectively across all of the strategic strike constituent organizations.

The Strike Skills recommendations for these five broad systemic deficiencies demand attention, strategic vision, operational excellence and money. It is not clear that the current military posture and deployment permit any of this to occur.

While Russia can sit on its energy supplies, and China and India continue to industrialize, the US continues to overreach, and does so in a manner that squanders its assets, without the means and the economy to support its ambitions. I have already covered the trajectory of Pax America in this series:

Cobra II : The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
by Michael R. Gordon, Bernard E. Trainor
Pantheon, March 2006
ISBN: 0375422625

American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century.
By Kevin Phillips
Viking, March 2006
ISBN: 067003486X

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

MOVING FORWARD ON LONG-RANGE STRIKE
By Barry D. Watts
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
September 27, 2004

Defense Science Board report released
Defense AT&L
July-August, 2004

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

Gordon Housworth



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Before Dubai Ports World there was China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co.

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The purchase of Britain's declining transport line of empire, Pacific & Orient Steam Navigation company (P&O Lines) by Dubai Ports of the World (Dubai Ports World), a state firm owned by the United Arab Emirates, was a perfectly acceptable commercial transaction that met the economic and diplomatic needs of the US. The US will come to regret its hasty decision to thwart the transaction as it comes to confront more formidable opponents:

Today, Dubai’s main business is commerce, not dwindling oil. Dubai’s royal family wisely invested in scores of future-oriented businesses that are an example of smart business to the Arab World and Africa. Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, of which it is a member, are increasingly enriched by brains and entrepreneurship rather than oil.

"Dubai Ports enjoys an international reputation in its field… has been a leader in joining initiatives to secure American containers… [and had] agreed to adhere to existing security levels in US ports, retain employees, and share information on operations and employee backgrounds with the US government."

Of critical US infrastructure, the maritime infrastructure is most owned by foreign firms. US firms dwindled in the 1970s under competition from foreign firms with less rigorous regulatory constraints and cheaper crews. By the 1980s they were gone. Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines bought American President Lines (APL) while Maersk bought Sea-Land from CSX Corp.

There is an important reason why terminals are usually managed by foreigners: The shipping companies themselves are largely foreign, and they have generally sought to control terminals so that they can be certain of having the most reliable, efficient facilities possible for loading and unloading their vessels quickly to reduce costly time in port. That arrangement has suited local port authorities; they want to ensure that their ports will draw enough traffic to generate revenue and employment.

It is unlikely that the US at either national or state level can fund the forecast doubling of trade by 2020. Eighteen million containers will demand new and upgraded terminals and ports (dredging, real estate, gantry cranes, bridges, roadways, and rail heads). While other issues affecting the administration's recommendation may yet be made public, Bush43 was wise to support the Dubai Ports purchase (before Rove killed it).

Lebanon's Al-Hayat paid Bush43 a left-handed compliment in his support of the UAE purchase by described it as Ayoon Wa Azan or "Bush's First Wise Position" as it excoriated the "hateful combination of ignorance, racism and lies" that sank the deal. Yes, there is a measure of Republicans having to look out for themselves and Democrats seeing an opportunity to get the right of the administration, but it still seemed that morons abounded. Given that the majority of US ports and terminals are in foreign hands, and that "13 out of 14 cargo firms at Los Angeles Port are foreign, from countries like China, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore," Barbara Boxer (D – CA) "declared that all foreign companies should be banned from working at US ports" while Charles Schumer (D – NY) said that the US "should be very careful before we outsource such sensitive homeland security duties." (I might add that Al-Hayat also noted that Schumer "has never objected seeing Israeli companies tasked with sensitive security tasks" and I might add the US paid dearly for that in regards to sensitive official phone systems.)

"Most U.S. ports are owned by public or quasi-public authorities [which] frequently lease their terminal spaces to terminal operating companies. P&O is one such operating company, and a quick review of U.S. port facilities reveals that, like P&O, many terminal operating companies active in the United States are either foreign-owned or are subsidiaries of foreign conglomerates."

Among all the reasons to fret about vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks, the nationality of the companies managing the terminals is one of the least worrisome.

The US has done "an abysmal job in assisting ports in the developing world in improving security to even minimal acceptable standards." While the US "has arranged for customs officials to work in 42 foreign ports with rights to inspect containers before they head for U.S. shores," fully 20% of containers bound for the US enter from developing states where safeguards are nonexistent. Wide open ports lacking even the pretence of fencing, lighting and supporting security procedures need attention now. Just considering al Qaeda’s entrenched presence in West Africa (drawn there for laundering blood diamonds) should have lawmakers’ hair on fire but it is over the horizon.

Back in the US, aviation security has claimed "almost $20 billion" in federal grants while port security is below $700 million. Transferring ownership from Britain's P&O to Dubai Ports World does not affect local terminal arrangements.

It is not the port or terminal operator’s problem that Customs and Coast Guard staff are "not usually present" and that "private terminal operators are almost always responsible for guarding the area around their facilities" and sometimes X-raying incoming containers for manifest matching. Even then, the guards and longshoremen are locals.

"The security personnel employed by the terminal companies vary from port to port, but according to several companies, the guards are often supplied by local private security firms." Stephen Flynn notes, "The lowest-paying jobs on the waterfront are security people."

The shipping industry faces relatively few "Dubai Ports" events, taking for granted the global world in which it lives, and so was taken aback by the criticism from federal and state legislators. Most now forget that in a different political climate, the previous "Dubai Ports" event was the proposed leasing of the Long Beach Naval Station to an ocean carrier owned by the Chinese government, China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co. (COSCO). Left destitute by downsizing at the Long Beach Naval Station, the city of Long Beach was desperate to lease the abandoned port to COSCO on highly advantageous terms.

Unlike the COSCO deal which apparently had no federal oversight or examination, the Intelligence Community Acquisition Risk Center, which performs a threat analysis of foreign commercial entities that seek commercial relations with US intel agencies, approved the Dubai Ports World acquisition to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). A sister firm of Dubai Ports World, Istithmar, had already purchased the British firm Inchcape Shipping Services, a transaction that CFIUS had apparently "determined that approval was not required."

The 105th Congress was as active on China-related issues as it was anti-Clinton issues into which some China-related items were lodged:

[P]pending human rights legislation [including] prison conditions and prison labor exports (H.R. 2195, H.R. 2358); coercive abortion practices (H.R. 2570); China’s policies toward religion (H.R. 967, H.R. 2431); more general human rights issues (H.R. 2095)… China’s missile proliferation activities (H.Res. 188), Radio Free Asia broadcasting to China (H.R. 2232), China’s participation in multilateral institutions (H.R. 1712, H.R. 2605),… activities of China’s military and intelligence services (H.R. 2647, H.R. 2190) [and] several multiple-issue bills, such as the Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 3616), the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 1757), the China Policy Act (S. 1164), and the U.S.-China Relations Act (S. 1303), which combine some, or even most, of these issues.

After the Port of Long Beach was "officially stripped of their ability to lease the former Navy land to COSCO", a local harbor commissioner said, "Congress has thrown two years of effort out the window due to a ridiculous political climate." This was at a time when COSCO was being described elsewhere as "a front for the People's Liberation Army and Beijing's intelligence arm."

(It did not help that in 1996, a COSCO vessel, Empress Phoenix, attempted to smuggle 2000 Chinese-made fully automatic AK-47 assault rifles into the port of Oakland, CA. The intended recipients were Los Angeles street gangs. "Operatives nabbed after the seizure told investigators that they were ready to smuggle in everything from grenade launchers to shoulder-fired Red Parakeet surface to air missiles, which they boasted could "take out a 747."")

COSCO continues to operate at Long Beach, belying local fears that its tenant would move across the harbor to the Port of Los Angeles (who had presented COSCO with a proposal). Although it was barred from relocating to the former Naval base, other firms did move there, freeing land adjacent to COSCO’s facilities enabling it to expand.

Few remember the brouhaha when Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa took over management of the Panama Canal. If one were to be interested in any of the current foreign port operators it would be the Chinese who have done an excellent job of following the 18th century British model of gaining port and tideside rights around the globe. Some have already described the Port of Long Beach as a Chinese exclave. If it had the slightest curiosity, Congress could glace over Chinese facilities in the Caribbean and South America rather than pounding on Dubai Ports.

Burning Allies -- and Ourselves
By David Ignatius
Washington Post
March 10, 2006

Overseas Firms Entrenched in Ports
By Paul Blustein
Washington Post
March 10, 2006

Chinese shipping aims for global leadership
By Michael Mackey
Asia Times
March 1, 2006

Are good business relationships good for security?
By Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.)
The Hill
March 1, 2006

THE GREAT DUBAI PORT DRAMA
Eric Margolis
Posted by Eric Margolis on February 28, 2006 05:17 PM

Ayoon Wa Azan (Bush's First Wise Position)
Jihad el Khazen
Al-Hayat
Beirut, Lebanon
27/02/06

U.S. Intelligence Agencies Backed Dubai Port Deal
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post
February 25, 2006

Port Problems Said To Dwarf New Fears
By Paul Blustein and Walter Pincus
Washington Post
February 24, 2006

Growing Criticism Puzzles Many in Shipping Industry
'We haven't done a good job of explaining how we work'
by Meredith Cohn
The Baltimore Sun
February 22, 2006
Arab American Institute

CHINESE AMBITION
By Lynn A. Stover, Major, USMC
Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
April 2000

'Dirty' war in Panama
Congressional investigators say China to wreak havoc in Central America
By Charles Smith
WorldNetDaily
December 8, 1999 1:00 a.m. Eastern

The Panama Canal in Transition
Threats to U.S. Security and China's Growing Role in Latin America
Al Santoli
An American Foreign Policy Council Investigative Report
June 23, 1999

China: Pending Legislation in the 105th Congress
Kerry Dumbaugh
Specialist in Asian Affairs
CRS 97-933 F
Updated June 19, 1998

SEC. XX01. SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING APPOINTMENT OF INDEPENDENT COUNSEL TO INVESTIGATE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION.
House Report 105-567 - PROVIDING FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 2183, THE BIPARTISAN CAMPAIGN INTEGRITY ACT OF 1997

Proposal raising plenty of eyebrows
By Karen Gullo and John Solomon
Associated Press
Date likely March, 1997 (The Washington Times (3/10/97) was quoting the same texts.

Cited in: 'They Were Against Foreign-Run Ports Before They Were For Them'
The Political Mine Field
February 27, 2006

Long Beach won't give up on COSCO
Congress kills bid by Chinese to take over naval base
By Joseph Farah
WorldNetDaily
September 21, 1998

Chinese Port Operator Linked to Weapons Smuggling
NewsMax
Feb. 28, 2006 11:45 a.m. EST

Pending lease of Navy base to Chinese firm questioned
Associated Press
March 9, 1997

Cited in 'The Democrats: Weak on Port Security and Sell-outs to Red China'
(Emphasis added by Levin)
Mark Levin
March 1, 2006

Gordon Housworth



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Symbiotic and predatory relationships between immigrant migration chains and supply chains

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As migration patterns have long been a staple of ethnographic research, I have begun to extend the term 'Migration Chain' as an analog to Supply Chain in that they form symbiotic relationships and can be another predictor of future events. Reflecting over the Latin migrations into the US which I am coming to broadly class as legal, illicit (immigration), and illegal (criminal), while admitting to some fuzzy boundaries between legal and illicit, if nothing else, for getting in illicitly and then having one's child born here.

These migration patterns have both sheep and wolves. Here are the sheep:

  1. Older agricultural migrant variation -- which until further research was largely self-propelled, i.e., no criminal transportation wrapper
  2. Newer, more urban, and increasingly suburban, food processing and preparation variant -- which is now a blend of legal and illicit, the latter often wrapped in criminal transportation.
  3. Construction and heavy labor class, probably linked to (2) and anecdotally seems to have a high illicit percentage and thus I would think the criminal wrapper

And the wolves:

  1. Older drug cartel variation, highly compartmentalized around high value product sold to the general market as opposed to other Latins
  2. Human smuggling operations that brought in the illicits, again anecdotally, treating their cargo with increasing contempt
  3. Ultra-violent gangs (or maras) from Mexico and El Salvador that sit as a middle tier between the high-end drogistas and the sheep

The links between migration and supply are reentrant, e.g., the maras started as legal and illicit migration bound social clubs and morphed into the monster before us -- what I call the American Chechen (see Maras: the Chechens on our doorstep); the human smugglers served a desire for better economic opportunity from their cargo; the maras now peddle meth along the necklace of legals and illicits locked into mind-numbing 'chicken chopper' jobs; etc.

As with all distribution mechanisms, once established, they can add new products with increasing efficiency and profit while picking up new suppliers/wholesalers and clients. And taking a page from disease vectors of, say, SARS and Avian Flu that can hop species, I see cooperative ventures between the criminal groups, both within and without their ethnic background. In fact, were I criminally minded, I might do just that when the risk was acceptable such that I could break the authorities' surveillance chain.

These interlocking patterns create another barrier to entry for police and law enforcement not unlike with the Muslim community: ethnic flags such as language, dialects, appearances, traceable blood/clan relationships, and customs -- which in the case of the maras include very visible tattoos and need for demonstrable violence to gain status.

Reflecting on these patterns, I kept resorting to 'supply chain' as a shorthand description and found the confusion among listeners high. The concept of Migration Chain made it much easier to look for cause and effect, and to think about predictors, i.e., Supply Chains materialize to both serve and prey upon Migration Chains.

I think that the model is applicable to all immigrant migration chains, especially those with a high percentage of illegals and/or those with a built-in distribution mechanisms such as convenience stores and gas stations. The fact that many of those stores are both within the "ethnic region" (and so harder to surveil) and increasingly on "high street addresses (especially gas stations in suburban and interstate locations) makes them an especially inviting mechanism.

I think that it is not too hard a leap to see interaction between supply chains and, in the case of the maras, possess the violence and disenfranchisement needed to bring anything into the US.

Remains a work in progress, but the idea is still holding through further analysis.

Gordon Housworth



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Placing SoCom Military Liaison Element assets in the position of both hunter and hunted

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I can remember when a Military Liaison Element (MLE) was an innocuous unit. It has come to describe small groups of SoCom military personnel attached to embassies "in Africa, southeast Asia and South America [where] terrorists are thought to be operating, planning attacks, raising money or seeking safe haven." Reporting to the  US combat commanders in the region and Special Operations Command (and not to the ambassador or CIA station chief), the MLE mission is "to gather information to assist in planning counterterrorism missions, and to help local militaries conduct counterterrorism missions of their own." Intelligence gathering, called situational awareness, is high on their agenda.

"USSOCOM Plans, Directs, and Executes Special Operations in the Conduct of the War On Terrorism in Order to Disrupt, Defeat, and Destroy Terrorist Networks That Threaten the United States, Its Citizens and Interests Worldwide." These are individuals of remarkable capability. The essence of their tradecraft was inherent in penetrations by Red Cell of fully alerted bases such as the Naval Submarine Support Facility (NSSF), part of the Naval Submarine Base New London, "destroying" a nuclear sub in the process, and the Point Mugu Naval Air Station, "destroying" the base's fighter contingent and Air Force One. Drawn from various spec ops resources, Red Team was created with the overt purpose of testing naval base security and the covert purpose of global covert counterterrorist missions.

The public record differs as to whether Red Cell carried out its cover mandate with one site saying "a portion of the unit would deploy overtly to a given Naval base to carry out its security mandate, while a small element would covertly infiltrate a foreign nation to carry out whatever counterterrorist activity was required" while another noting that ""Naval Special Warfare Development Group, (formerly known as MOB 6, SEAL Team SIX, and MARESFAC) [is reported to be] one of only a handful of US units authorized to conduct preemptive actions against terrorists and terrorist facilities (NOTE: Red Cell once shared this charter, although it was never put into practice before the unit was disbanded). The former site stated that "aggressive neutralization" of terrorists as practiced by the UK and Israel was a tool, but if not Red Cell then certainly other SoCom elements.

These SoCom assets either deploy from safe havens or insert covertly. Attachment to an embassy compound or expat housing is anything but covert. Leaving aside the opportunity for unilateral action or covert actions independent of other intelligence agencies, turf and coordination issues between DoD and CIA, angering host nations and the possibility of little bits of El Salvador left to "find, fix, finish and follow-up" on troublesome personnel, no where do I see mentioned anything about defensive measures for the MLEs. What keeps the MLEs from becoming targets while in country?

As the MLEs do not operate under cover, "do not hide the fact that they are military personnel," and must work from hotels and embassy facilities, what keeps the bad guys from attacking the MLEs, turning SoCom's rules against them:

  • Method: Find, Fix, Finish, and Follow Up
    • Find Using Full Range Of Sensors, ISR, Analysis, HUMINT, …
    • Fix Using Superior Fires, Mobility, Agility, and Pervasive Communications
    • Finish Terrorists Wherever They Are Operating
      • Eliminate Safe Havens, Leadership, Training, and Membership Via Lethal/Direct Action Capabilities
    • Follow Up to Achieve Stability and Erosion of Base for Future Terrorists
  • Very Good at Finishing - Need to Improve Find and Fix

MLE staff could be all too easy to find and fix. The case of an attempted robbery of two MLE staffers in Paraguay eighteen months ago could just as easily have been a counterstrike by hostile assets:

"One official who was briefed on the events, but was not authorized to discuss them, said the soldiers were not operating out of the embassy, but out of a hotel… two military personnel on temporary duty in Paraguay [were] attacked by two men, one of them armed with a pistol, when the taxi came to a stop… The attackers were disarmed after a brief struggle, but one of the assailants picked up a piece of wood and tried to continue the attack… "One of the service members was armed and when the attacker continued the service member shot him.""

Would that all the detractors of the MLE program and all the political infighters jockeying for turf, spend some time thinking about MLE assets operating without cover from insecure forward bases, very possibly under hostile surveillance.

Elite Troops Get Expanded Role on Intelligence
By THOM SHANKER and SCOTT SHANE
New York Times
March 8, 2006

US placing special operations troops in embassies
By Will Dunham
Reuters
6:35pm ET

US has intelligence gatherers at select embassies
Times of Oman - International News
March 09, 2006

THE SOF WARRIOR: A DISRUPTIVE FORCE IN A COMPLEX ENVIRONMENT
J. Frank Wattenbarger
Advanced Technology Directorate
3 February, 2005

Regional Defense Counterterrorism Fellowship Program (CTFP)
Scott W. Moore
Joint Special Operations University

Gordon Housworth



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Failing the Manwaring paradigm: Surprise over jihadist targeting Muslim oil transport and refinery assets

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The wide surprise over the public posting of a two year old jihadist document sanctioning the targeting of Muslim oil transport and refinery assets is a failure on multiple levels:

  • Failure to read already published jihadist strategy documents
  • Failure to see the rising capacity of the "new jihad"
  • Failure to transpose the value to insurgents of attacking Iraqi electrical and oil infrastructure to other Muslim "near enemy" regions
  • Failure to grasp the value of a "twofer" attack against a neutral or "near enemy" state in which the attack damages the local apostate government while damaging US and European firms indirectly -- where an attack on US soil would be prohibitive
  • Failure to understand the impacts of the Manwaring paradigm to both attacker and defender

In June 2004, I addressed an infrastructure attack in Exceeding $100 USD a barrel in a stroke: attack Ghawar, Abqaiq, and Safaniya which drew on three items by John Robb at Global Guerrillas:

In March 2005, I noted the rising sophistication of jihadist strategists in Jihadist strategy formulation reaches maturity, uniting tactics, fulfilling doctrine to address grand strategy rather than mere tactical assault methods. The Management of Barbarism specifically "outlines future desired 'crusader and infidel' targets within and outside current Islamic lands, i.e., soft targets, economic interests, and petroleum facilities." Anyone not aware that petroleum pipelines, refineries and tideside shipping assets was ignoring a variety of jihadist websites and high street press articles, one of which is Alexander Zaitchik's It's the Pipelines, Stupid: How to bring down a giant, one blood vessel at a time., 27 January, 2005.

Robb has also done two more post-Abqaiq items of note:

The Manwaring paradigm is extraordinarily useful in understanding the threat and opportunity in Low Intensity Conflict (LIC)  - "Political-military confrontation between contending states or groups below conventional war and above the routine, peaceful competition among states... Low intensity conflicts are often localized, generally in the Third World, but contain regional and global security implications."

In asking "Why has Islamist extremism been so pervasive, so easily franchised, and so difficult to extinguish?", Sherifa Zuhur observes that a "new Islamist discourse, produced by the Islamic awakening (sahwa Islamiyya) since the 1970s, has influenced and been influenced by a "new jihad," which has coalesced and evolved since the mid-1980s and 1990s. The new jihad, in turn, qualitatively has affected the capabilities of extremist leaders and the behavior of combatants."

Zuhur describes a New Jihad that is capable of strategic grasp, tactical excellence and rapid response to asymmetrical countermeasures:

It posits a World Islamic Front, promoting and aggrandizing battle against Western nations and local "apostate" governments, without sparing civilians. Members of this Front may appear at will... No-one need carry a card, or provide the authorities with recordings of cellular telephone calls to Afghanistan or Pakistan; instead... "they need to understand, al-Qa’ida is inside [in the heart]."

It is malleable and opportunistic, utilizing new types of alliances. Groups who aim at the "far enemy" (the United States, other Western nations, and Israel) may ally with groups seeking local autonomy, or with moderates.

It is not anti-modern. [Skipping philosophical underpinning] We can see quite clearly that today's jihadists are Western trained and possess technical and analytical skills. They use the Internet, cellular messaging, chat rooms and e-linked faxes more adeptly than larger organizations with physical recruitment centers. The pathologizing of terrorism causes us to say that their minds "work differently" than ours - when the issue is really one of different values and disassociative techniques. In other words, the jihadi believes, or convinces himself, that his immoral acts of violence are moral, but this in no way impairs the modern logic patterns of his brain.

In the face of this adaptation, what have we done beyond largely conventional applications of force of arms?:

The US has not taken stock of all the knowledge previously acquired about Islamist terrorists. Why not? 1) They have been too busy facing insurgents every day and simultaneously attempting to rebuild and reconstruct Iraq. 2) Those of us on this side of the great water have been too busy squabbling about whether Islam or "Islamic culture," as opposed to Islamist miscreants. Our lack of clarity is in part due to political factors; the stakes are high, if one teleologically addresses the issue, stronger arguments may be made for particular recommendations as opposed to others; and, 3) security studies, gravitating to current conflicts, had ignored regionally-produced assessments of Islamist threats. It seems they are too laden with detail, too bound by the specificities of particular movements to reveal, or expose the strategies of smaller-scale threats and relevance of local regime responses.

Yet we've had masters such as Max Manwaring repeatedly explaining that "the ultimate outcome of any counterinsurgency effort is not primarily determined by the skillful manipulation of violence in the many military battles that take place once a war of this nature is recognized to have begun." What has become the Manwaring paradigm rose as the SWORD model in the late 1980s.

The SWORD model states "that even though every conflict is situation specific, it is not completely unique [i.e., that] there are analytical commonalities at the strategic and high operational levels." The SWORD model is symmetric, applying equally "for a besieged government and its allies, and for a violent internal challenger and its allies." A series of dependent variables "determine the success or failure of an internal war" and may be "considered "wars within the general war." Every successful strategy on either side of the conflict spectrum has "explicitly or implicitly taken into account all the following strategic dimensions - or wars within the general internal war":

(1) a legitimacy "war" to attack or defend the moral right of an incumbent regime to exist; (2) a more traditional police-military "shooting war" between belligerents: (3) "wars" to isolate belligerents from their internal and external support; (4) the closely related "war to stay the course" - that is, the effort to provide consistent and long-term support to a host government; (5) intelligence and information "wars"; and (6) "wars" to unify multidimensional, multilateral, and multiorganizational elements into a single effective effort.

Protagonists violate the Manwaring paradigm to their peril, but perhaps one can excuse lay readers in missing the likelihood of oil field attacks. Consider Phil Battaglia (also here) casting his Iraqi experience in the Manwaring paradigm, observing that "coalition efforts are hampered by a lack of host government legitimacy, inability to limit outside support to the insurgents, weak host country military actions, and lack of unity of effort at various levels."

At every level, we have to recapture preeminence in executing the Manwaring paradigm. Our adversaries are ever expanding their capacity and their willingness to push the envelope. Closing with Zuhur:

The new jihad has broken with classical doctrines of jihad and "the law of nations" (siyar) as well as Muslim modernist or reformers' reconstructions of jihad in the 19th and 20th centuries. The classical doctrines of jihad specified the most permissable form to be between Muslims and polytheists or unbelievers waged "in the path of God... " However, strict rules applied to jihad; under the siyar, the Muslim "law of nations," it might be an individual duty as opposed to a collective duty, and was differently governed if it applied to land controlled by Muslims or non-Muslims. Ethics and rules of conduct were meant to limit brutality and the cycles of vengeance it could unleash, and yet we see today's jihadis engaged in vicious kidnappings, beheadings, and wide-scale attacks on civilians that would be forbidden under classical understandings of jihad.

Saudi Qaeda idealogue sets rules for oil war-Web
Reuters
Mar 2, 2006 10:50 AM GMT

Document: al-Qaida Encourages Oil Attacks
By MARIAM FAM
Associated Press/Guardian (UK)
March 2, 2006 4:31 PM

Al Qaeda idealogue sets rules for oil war
Daily Times (PK)
March 03, 2006

EGYPT: AL-QAIDA HAS ENCOURAGED FOLLOWERS TO ATTACK OIL PIPELINES
By Andnetwork .com
Sapa-AP /rm
March 2, 2006

Saudi Oil Facilities: Al-Qaeda's Next Target?
By John C.k. Daly
Terrorism Monitor
Jamestown Foundation
Volume 4, Issue 4 (February 23, 2006)

Interview with Glenn Zorpette (Re-engineering Iraq)
NPR Science Friday
February 10, 2006
The hour starts with a medical discussion and then proceeds to Zorpette

Re-engineering Iraq
By Glenn Zorpette
Executive Editor
IEEE Spectrum
Feb 2006

A HUNDRED OSAMAS: ISLAMIST THREATS AND THE FUTURE OF COUNTERINSURGENCY
Sherifa Zuhur
Publication 636
ISBN 1-58487-225-0
Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
December 2005

Warding off Violence
Oxford Business Group
Kuwait, Volume 23
June 21, 2005

SAUDI SECURITY FORCES DETAIN TWO SUSPECTS FROM THE DEVIATING GROUP.
THE SECURITY FORCES ARREST ABDUL AZIZ AL-ANZI.

Ain-Al-Yaqeen
Article 5
May 13, 2005

America's Irregular Enemies - XVI Annual Strategy Conference
USAWC 16th Annual Strategy Conference titled America's Irregular Enemies: Securing Interests in an Era of Persistent Conflict
Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, PA, 12-14 April 2005.
Listed panels and available briefs for download

A Dozen Osamas: Islamist Threats and the Future of Counterinsurgency
Sherifa Zuhur
(Draft. Contact author for updated drafts,
sherifa.zuhur@carlisle.army.mil)
Presented to "America's Irregular Enemies: Securing Interests in an Era of Persistent Conflict," U.S. Army War College (USAWC) Strategy Conference, 4/12-14, 2005

AL-QA'IDA BOOK ON MANAGING SAVAGERY
Isralert.com source: Isralert subscriber/intelligence analyst Bruce Tefft
Isralert
Source-Date: 03/08/2005

IT'S THE PIPELINES, STUPID
How to bring down a giant, one blood vessel at a time.
By Alexander Zaitchik
New York Press
Volume 18, Issue 4
1/26/2005 - 2/1/2005

The Manwaring Paradigm and the Iraqi Insurgency
Phil Battaglia
Low Intensity Conflict & Law Enforcement
Volume 12, Number 2/Summer, 2004, pp 37-51

THE INESCAPABLE GLOBAL SECURITY ARENA
Max G. Manwaring
ISBN 1-58487-087-7
Publication 292
Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
April 2002
If you must, a lighter version is here

INTERNAL WARS: RETHINKING PROBLEM AND RESPONSE
Max G. Manwaring
Studies in Asymmetry
Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
ISBN 1-58487-068-0
September 2001
Mirror

Lethal Airpower and Intervention
By Mark A Bucknam
School of Advanced Airpower Studies
Air University
Maxwell Air Force Base
June, 1966
Neither Original or FAS mirror is responding
Cache retrieved on Feb 6, 2006 00:12:26 GMT

COPING WITH CHAOS: PROMOTING DEMOCRACY & REGIONAL STABILITY IN THE POST-COUNTERINSURGENCY ERA
Joseph N. McBride
April 30, 1993
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
NWC IRP 93-004

Low-Intensity Conflict: Old Threats in a New World
Edwin G. Corr and Stephen Sloan, eds.
Westview Press, 1992
Review by Ernest Evans
Book

Gordon Housworth



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Threats to PDAs and smart phones will rival, even dwarf, PC infections

  #

While there are some 150 viruses targeting cell phones today, most target smart phones in Europe and South East Asia using the Symbian operating system. That will soon change:

  • Cusp of rampant growth of smart phones and PDAs
  • Ascendance of keylogging, possibly rivaling phishing in volume
  • Multiple infection paths via multiple PDA functions of which the phone is one
  • PDAs displacing PCs for many tasks, more so in the developing world
  • Social engineering works as long as people are in the loop

Five simple rules apply for today's Bluetooth enabled smart phones (those most prone to infection):

  1. Do not answer 'yes' to an attempted message send, especially from an unknown user (just walk out of Bluetooth range)
  2. Do not swap memory cards (no matter how much you want that song)
  3. Do not download things (no matter how alluring that ring tone or game appears)
  4. Do not accept Multimedia Message Service (MMS) transmissions (even a known white list respondent could have violated rules 1,2, or 3)
  5. Disable Bluetooth or at least switch off the feature that lets your phone be detected by other Bluetooth devices

Unfortunately, users cannot disable themselves and so violations of rules 1, 2, 3, and 4 will certainly thrive amongst a growing user base. That conclusion tilts my support to Gartner's belief that the criteria for a pandemic scale worm or virus attack against mobile phones "will converge by the end of 2007" on the following:

  • Wide adoption of smart phones
  • Ubiquitous wireless messaging
  • Dominant operating system

Any mobile device that can receive, store and transmit pictures, music, games and videos can receive and transmit viruses and Trojans. One of the more insidious attacks against both PDAs and PCs will be silent keylogging:

In most cases, a keylogger or similar program, once installed, will simply wait for certain Web sites to be visited — a banking site, for instance, or a credit card account online — or for certain keywords to be entered — "SSN," for example — and then spring to life. Keystrokes are saved to a file, Web forms are copied — even snapshots of a user's screen can be silently recorded. The information is then sent back to a Web site or some waiting server where a thief, or a different piece of software, sifts through the data for useful nuggets…

keylogging programs exploit security flaws and monitor the path that carries data from the keyboard to other parts of the computer. This is a more invasive approach than phishing, which relies on deception rather than infection, tricking people into giving their information to a fake Web site...

"These Trojans are very selective [monitoring] the Web access the victims make, and start recording information only when the user enters the sites of interest to the fraudster."

The potential for serious attacks are already cascading down from smart phones to less capable phones. A proof-of-concept Trojan now circulating in Russia, posing as an app offering the ability to use text messages to visit mobile Internet sites in lieu of a Net connection, can "infect any cell phone capable of running Java applications," not just smart phones. (Seeking to gain something too good to be true, social engineering kicks in to lure users to download and launch.) Another proof-of concept virus has bridged the gap between PCs and mobile devices. Replicating each time the PC is booted, the virus waits for an ActiveSync session used to synchronize data between a PC and mobile device. The virus then copies itself to the device, deleting files.

What I find interesting in such an environment is that, unlike European cellular providers, US cellular firms are resisting antivirus agents on phones in their network:

Cell phone operators have typically focused on their network, rather than phones, as the place to try to thwart mobile virus threats. In moves invisible to users, they scan messages moving from one device to another to filter out malicious programs.

Gartner supports centralized scanning but I disagree with their contention that "installing antivirus software on cell phones would be a mistake" and that on PCs "antivirus tools became largely ineffective... when e-mail surpassed floppies as the dominant transmission mechanism for viruses." Our work takes us to grey area sites for which we depend on antiviral protection, firewalls and current patches - along with stripped down, isolated probe PCs.

"The mobile world should not repeat the mistakes of the PC world. Malware protection services should be built into the network first, and device-side protection should be the last resort."

I believe that Gartner's "last resort" case is much closer to hand, primarily because of what Bruce Schneier calls proxies (persons or organizations acting on your behalf):

Proxies are a natural outgrowth of society, an inevitable byproduct of specialization. But our proxies are not us and they have different motivations -- they simply won't make the same security decisions as we would...

Sometimes proxies act in our behalf simply because we can't do everything. But more often we have these proxies because we don't have the expertise to do the work ourselves. Most security works through proxies. We just don't have the expertise to make decisions about airline security, police coverage and military readiness, so we rely on others. We all hope our proxies make the same decisions we would have, but our only choice is to trust -- to rely on, really -- our proxies.

Here's the paradox: Even though we are forced to rely on them, we may or may not trust them. When we trust our proxies, we come to that trust in a variety of ways -- sometimes through experience, sometimes through recommendations from a source we trust. Sometimes it's third-party audit, affiliations in professional societies or a gut feeling. But when it comes to government, trust is based on transparency. The more our government is based on secrecy, the more we are forced to "just trust" it and the less we actually trust it.

I do not trust that cellular proxies will protect me, that they will understand every flaw in the hardware variations they put on their networks, that they will be capable of frequent zero-day exploit protection, that they will anticipate the applications and uses to which users will increasingly put these "digital do-it-all" smart phones. I categorically do not expect them to think like a criminal, an attacker, but more as a defender so thereby remain a step behind.

When the incentive for organized crime to accelerate its interest in mobile devices occurs "once people start online banking using their mobile devices or using mobile devices as debit cards or the authentication method of choice," I want access to a slimmer version of the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) security chip designed for PCs, the ability to install my specific point/perimeter protection yet not compromise the non-phone functions of the PDA.

New virus can pass from PCs to mobile devices
By Jeremy Kirk
IDG News Service
February 28, 2006

Russian phone Trojan tries to ring up charges
By Joris Evers
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
February 28, 2006, 1:21 PM PST

Cyberthieves Silently Copy Your Passwords as You Type
By Tom Zeller Jr.
New York Times
February 27, 2006

Protecting Yourself From Keylogging Thieves
By Tom Zeller Jr.
New York Times
February 27, 2006

Is your cell phone due for an antivirus shot?
By Joris Evers
CNet
Story last modified Fri Feb 24 11:25:22 PST 2006

U.S. Ports Raise Proxy Problem
Commentary by Bruce Schneier
Wired
02:00 AM Feb, 23, 2006 EST

Invasion of the Computer Snatchers
By Brian Krebs
Washington Post
February 19, 2006

Your smart phone has a dumb virus
By Robert Vamosi
CNET Reviews
February 17, 2006

Cisco CEO to use 'holistic' security
By ELLIOT SMILOWITZ
United Press International
Feb. 17 2006

Brazilian police bust hacker gang
AP/The Age
February 15, 2006 - 4:37PM

More worries about Google Desktop 3
By Elinor Mills, CNET News.com
ZDNet News: February 15, 2006, 1:52 PM PT

Microsoft Would Put Poor Online by Cellphone
By JOHN MARKOFF
New York Times
January 30, 2006

New security proposed for do-it-all phones
By Joris Evers
CNET News
September 27, 2005, 4:00 AM PDT

It rings, it plays, it has TV
First there were TVs. Then came PCs. Now, mobile phones are becoming the 'third screen' for viewing video.
By Gregory M. Lamb
Christian Science Monitor
July 21, 2005

Battling for the palm of your hand
From The Economist print edition
Apr 29th 2004

The Disappearing Computer by Bill Gates
Reprinted from "The World in 2003," The Economist Group
2003

How Real Is the Internet Market in Developing Nations?
By Madanmohan Rao
E-OTI (On the Internet)
March/April 2001

Gordon Housworth



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When Tehran goes nuclear, will Riyadh's bomb be American, Chinese, or Pakistani

  #

Despite the vitriol emanating from Tehran towards Israel, where Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called the Holocaust into question and suggested that Israel be struck off the planet (along with the US), and in 2001, former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani "speculated that a Muslim state that developed a nuclear weapon might use it to destroy Israel," I maintain that the major target of Iranian nuclear and military might are regional Arab, and mostly Sunni, states rather than Israel.

I've previously noted that "I think that the parallels of China and Iran as two proud ancient states now seeking to restore what they perceive as the historic spheres of influence has much merit. In the case of Iran, I agree with the opinion that its nuclear weapons program is aimed not at Israel but at its Arab and Muslim neighbors." I've also signaled my deep respect that I have for Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed [sometimes translated as Rashid], general manager of Al-Arabiya television. Here al Rashed speaks to Iranian targeting:

[Al Rashed] reflected the concerns of some Arab commentators who still regard Iran as a traditional foe and perceive the reconciliatory tone adopted by the Iranian reformist wing headed by Khatami with suspicion. In "Is Iran serious about attacking Israel?" Abdel-Rahman Al-Rashid rejected the notion, expressing worries that Iran's weapons might be directed towards its Arab neighbours instead. Al-Rashid wrote in Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday that Iran's history does not support the view that the weapons it is amassing are for fighting Israel. He listed confrontations Iran had had, with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Iraq. He concluded that Iran's presumed nuclear capability was aimed at targeting neighbouring countries, basing his assumption on the fact that there has never been a single clash between Israel and Iran. Iran does not share borders with Israel and has had no direct conflict with it. It supports forces that are against Israel although its weaponry cannot be sent to these parties. "Then who is at the receiving end of these [Iranian] sophisticated weapons? There is only one logical answer: [Arab] neighbouring countries."

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is described as a member of "ideologically conservative veterans of the Iran-Iraq war" who are attempting to create a political force apart from older "hard-liners." Ahmadinejad is "resurrecting the priorities of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, chastising the West at every turn and striving to forge a distinctly anti-Western national identity while re-establishing Iran's revolutionary influence across the Muslim world." In this world, the US is now the "world oppressor" rather than the Great Satan. He is "looking beyond Iran, seeking to fashion himself as a pan-Islamic leader [influenced by a mentor, Muhammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi], much the way Ayatollah Khomeini did."

Ahmadinejad certainly has the capacity for incandescent oratory that has an ability to incite the disenfranchised and the pious while exciting nearly all other regional heads of state, notably Sunnis. Whereas Iranian MehrNews spoke of Ahmadinejad's presence at the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Mecca in glowing terms, that "the ground has been prepared for upgrading the already extensive level of cooperation between Iran and Saudi Arabia," Ahmadinejad's comments of day two of the summit that "the Holocaust might not have taken place and that Israel should be moved to Europe" infuriated the Saudis and made a hash of Riyadh's effort to place a moderate face on Islam:

Three senior Saudi officials complained in private that the comments completely contradicted and diverted attention from the message of tolerance the summit was trying to project. One Saudi official compared Ahmadinejad to ousted Iraq president Saddam Hussein and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, whose renegade statements frequently infuriated other Arab leaders and have targeted the Saudis in particular. "The Iranian president seems to have lost his direction," said Gilan al-Ghamidi, a prominent commentator in Saudi media. "Iran should be logical if it wants to receive the support of the world. The president didn't score any points. He lost points."

The Saudis have much to fear from a resurgent Iran now that the US has done what a decade of Iraqi-Iran war could not; humble Baghdad:

Iran’s population at 70 million is three times that of Iraq’s and it has one of the youngest populations in the world. Iran’s standing army is estimated by the CIA to be 520,000-strong, but each year 817,000 17-year-old Iranian boys are potentially available for military service. That is an awful lot of martyrs or suicide bombers. The Iranians are Persians, not Arabs, a consideration entirely absent from most neoconservative analyses of Iran’s supposed weakness. Persian imperial dynasties date back to Cyrus the Great, around 530BC, and Xerxes, 486-465BC, who plagued the Greeks. Unlike the chaotic Arab shambles of Saddam’s Iraq, Iran remains a hierarchical society where the vast majority live in rigid terror of the authorities above them, religious or imperial, and will utterly obey their commands.

Iran is trying to "become a regional superpower seeking to fill the void left by the collapse of Arab nationalism and by the absence of any one dominant nation [especially Iraq]." In the words of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: "The Islamic Republic of Iran is currently the axis of a tireless international identity, which relies on religious faith and challenges the global arrogances":

"If Iran acted like an Islamic power, just Islam without Shiism, then Arabs would accept it as a regional Islamic power," said Sheik Adel al-Mawada, a deputy speaker and member of the Sunni fundamentalist Salafi bloc in the parliament of Bahrain. "But if it came to us with the Shia agenda as a Shiite power, then it will not succeed and it will be powerful, but despised and hated." Bahrain has a restive Shiite population.

The concept of a unified Arab world is often called into question when leaders gather for Arab League meetings, which seem to highlight their differences. Stepping back, the suggestion that one Islamic Middle East could unite behind a set of social, political and economic goals becomes even more far-fetched especially when the net includes the Iranians... 

"As a gulf area, we don't want to see Iran as the major power in the area," said Muhammad Abdullah al-Zulfa, a member of the Shura Council of Saudi Arabia. "And we don't want to see Iran having this nuclear weapon where it will be a major threat to the stability of the gulf area and even to the Arab world altogether."

"If Iran developed a nuclear power, then it is a big disaster because it already supports Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Syria and Iraq, then what is left?" said Essam el-Erian, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. "We would have the Shiite crescent that [King Abdullah II of Jordan] warned against." 

I concur with those Iranians that believe that if Iran "goes too far and builds a bomb... that it could set off a regional arms race and push states like Saudi Arabia to make their own bombs."

Short of a sustained series of military strikes on Iranian facilities or, more attractive, a series of Gerald Bull-style targeted assassinations against the development and enrichment human assets (a more forceful variant that the manner that Israel used to dissuade German scientists from working in Egypt on surface to surface missiles), the Iranians will build a fissile package. My question is then, who will deliver the opposing bomb to Riyadh? (For many reasons, I do not see the Saudis building their own.) My first three candidates are the US (over Israeli objections), the Chinese or the Pakistanis.

Bizarre as it may seem, I also toy with the idea of an Israeli nuclear umbrella over Sunni states against a Shi'ite threat. Think of it; what a stroke of diplomatic gain by Tel Aviv to protect Sunnis against the Shia.

Iran the Great Unifier? The Arab World Is Wary
By MICHAEL SLACKMAN
New York Times
February 5, 2006

A New Face in Iran Resurrects an Old Defiance
By MICHAEL SLACKMAN
New York Times
January 30, 2006

Iran leader's comments attacked
BBC News
Last Updated: Thursday, 27 October 2005, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK

Profile: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
BBC News
Last Updated: Thursday, 27 October 2005, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK

Text of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Speech [The World Without Zionism]
Speech to an Islamic Student Associations conference on "The World Without Zionism."
Iranian Interior Ministry, Tehran
October 26, 2006
Text in Persian at the
Iranian Student News Agency
Translation by Nazila Fathi, The New York Times Tehran bureau
Bracketed explanatory material from Nazila Fathi
October 30, 2006
Mirror

Ahmadinejad draws ire of Saudis, Iranians, West over Israel remarks
Compiled by Daily Star staff
Daily Star (Lebanon)
December 10, 2005

Ahmadinejad, Saudi king hold high-profile meeting
MECCA, Dec. 9, 2005
MehrNews (MNA)
RS/HG

A million martyrs await the call
Kevin Toolis
The Times
November 19, 2005

Mortal man
Al-Ahram
26 August - 1 September 2004
Issue No. 705

Project Babylon Supergun / PC-2
Global Security

Dr. Gerald Bull: Scientist, Weapons Maker, Dreamer
CBC (Canada)

Iran's Security Policy in the Post-Revolutionary Era
By: Daniel Byman, Shahram Chubin, Anoushiravan Ehteshami, Jerrold D. Green
RAND, 2000
ISBN: 0-8330-2971-1
Chapter Four, Major Security Institutions and Their Composition

Gordon Housworth



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Redirecting focus and content of, and interpretation by, the nation's captive news

  #

Part 4

(3) Interference in Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS

The efforts of then chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, to reshape the corporation, PBS and its programming was an effort to "aggressively [press] public television to correct what he and other conservatives consider liberal bias, prompting some public broadcasting leaders - including the chief executive of PBS - to object that his actions pose a threat to editorial independence." The CPB is a "private, nonprofit entity financed by Congress to ensure the vitality of public television and radio. Tension is hardwired into its charter, where its mandate to ensure "objectivity and balance" is accompanied by an exhortation to maintain public broadcasting's independence."

Disclaimer: I am on record in Shouters and charlatans that "In an environment where… broadcast anchors admit to self-censorship in an effort to avoid commercial attack, the only TV news that I seek out is PBS (Lehrer, Moyers, Frontline et al), [otherwise relying] on primary source materials -- the stuff from which the high street press is crafted, and a broad spectrum of offshore sources."

Tomlinson frequently spoke of the need for "objectivity and balance," yet he increased partisanship on the CPB board to the point of polarization, repeatedly "criticized public television programs as too liberal overall" with a "tone deafness to issues of tone and balance," urged appointment of a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee as CPB president and chief executive, hired the director of the White House Office of Global Communications as a senior staff member while "she was still on the White House staff [to] review the content of public radio and television broadcasts," contracted an outside consultant, without the knowledge of his board, to track the political leanings of guests on "Now With Bill Moyers," and was instrumental in securing Paul Gigot's "The Journal Editorial Report" to offset Now:

Public television executives noted that Mr. Gigot's show by design features the members of the conservative editorial board of The Wall Street Journal, while Mr. Moyers's guests included many conservatives, like Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition; Richard Viguerie, a conservative political strategist; and Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

PBS refused to sign a contract with CPB when it argued that PBS's own journalistic standards were not sufficient to achieve the "objectivity and balance" language in the charter, arguing that agreement could give CPB "editorial control, infringing on its First Amendment rights and possibly leading to a demand for balance in each and every show." Tomlinson's comments that "that we're not trying to put a wet blanket on this type of programming," were offset by public comments to broadcasters that "they should make sure their programming better reflected the Republican mandate."

Tomlinson resigned in the wake of a CPB IG report that alleges that "Tomlinson violated federal law" and "violated statutory provisions and the Director's Code of Ethics." Gigot has moved to Fox. Although it has scrolled off C-SPAN to their paid tapes, it is very much worth listening to Bill Moyers' 9 December 2005 keynote speech for the 20th anniversary of National Security Archives Conference on Secrecy and National Security. It is remarkable on many levels, spanning forty years from the Johnson administration, the Tonkin Gulf decision and the creation of the FOIA, a very nip and tuck affair as it turned out, concluding with his relating of the Gigot-Tomlinson back channel cooperation.

Gigot to Tomlinson: "[T]hank [you] for defending the importance of balance and diversity on public television"
Media Matters for America
Dec 6, 200512:25pm EST

Media: The PBS Paradox
By A.B. Stoddard, CQ Columnist
Congressional Quarterly WEEKLY
July 4, 2005 – Page 1800

A Battle Over Programming at National Public Radio
By STEPHEN LABATON
New York Times
May 16, 2005

Republican Chairman Exerts Pressure on PBS, Alleging Biases
by Stephen Labatan, Lorne Manly and Elizabeth Jensen
New York Times
May 2, 2005
Fee archive
Mirror

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Censorship of federal research and support functions

  #

Part 3

Shifting from attacks upon the scientific base, many of those in the scientific community at large, this note addresses:

(2) Attacks upon federal research and support functions

Demotion of Lawrence Greenfeld, director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is a low-profile agency within DoJ, producing reports "on issues like crime patterns, drug use, police tactics and prison populations and is widely cited by law enforcement officials, policy makers, social scientists and the news media. Located in an office separate from the Justice Department, it strives to be largely independent to avoid any taint of political influence," yet BJS statisticians have noted worsening political pressure, one stating that "in this administration, those tensions have been even greater, and the struggles have been harder" while another said that "We've seen a desire for more control over B.J.S. from the powers that be…"

On the eve of announcing results of a "major study on traffic stops and racial profiling":

Political supervisors within the Office of Justice Programs ordered Mr. Greenfeld to delete certain references to the disparities [as to how racial groups were treated once they were stopped by the police] from a news release that was drafted to announce the findings, according to more than a half-dozen Justice Department officials with knowledge of the situation… Mr. Greenfeld refused to delete the racial references, arguing to his supervisors that the omissions would make the public announcement incomplete and misleading. Instead, the Justice Department opted not to issue a news release on the findings and posted the report online. Some statisticians said that decision all but assured the report would get lost amid the avalanche of studies issued by the government. A computer search of news articles found no mentions of the study.

Then acting assistant attorney general, Tracy A. Henke, overseeing the BJS, personally sought to delete the notations to "higher rates of searches and use of force for blacks and Hispanics [crossing them] out by hand, with a notation in the margin that read, "Do we need this?" A note affixed to the edited draft, which the officials said was written by Ms. Henke, read "Make the changes," and it was signed "Tracy."

Amid the debate over the traffic stop study, Mr. Greenfeld was called to the office of Robert D. McCallum Jr., then the third-ranking Justice Department official, and questioned about his handling of the matter, people involved in the episode said. Some weeks later, he was called to the White House, where personnel officials told him he was being replaced as director and was urged to resign, six months before he was scheduled to retire with full pension benefits… After Mr. Greenfeld invoked his right as a former senior executive to move to a lesser position, the administration agreed to allow him to seek another job…

Greenfield has moved to a lesser position while Henke was nominated "to a senior position at the Department of Homeland Security." Many BJS statisticians say that "their independence in analyzing important law enforcement data has been compromised."

Multiple attacks upon the Congressional Research Service

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a "legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress" that is the "public policy research arm." of the US Congress. Congress created CRS in 1914 so as to have "its own source of nonpartisan, objective analysis and research on all legislative issues":

CRS staff comprises nationally recognized experts in a range of issues and disciplines, including law, economics, foreign affairs, public administration, the information, social, political sciences, natural sciences. The breadth and depth of this expertise enables CRS staff to come together quickly to provide integrated analyses of complex issues that span multiple legislative and program areas.

CRS comprises five interdisciplinary research divisions: American Law; Domestic Social Policy; Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade; Government and Finance; and Resources, Science and Industry. The Knowledge Services Group provides "research support services to CRS analysts and attorneys in providing authoritative and reliable information research and policy analysis to the Congress."

CRS amounts to an in-house consultancy and research group that is considered so reliable and nonpartisan that its researchers are often called upon by various protagonists to research and testify on issues of interest to a particular faction. Sad to say that State places Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports and Issue Briefs under its Foreign Press Centers

Muzzling of Louis Fisher (also here), specialist in separation of powers

Fisher is one of the doyens of the CRS research community, a unrivaled specialist in separation of powers and US government, "the foremost expert on the constitutional law of the presidency." He is one of those remarkable individuals whose analysis is so refined that he is tasked by opponents over a given subject, but things have not gone well in questioning administration policies. While his books include Presidential War Power, Nazi Saboteurs on Trial: A Military Tribunal and American Law, Constitutional Conflicts Between Congress and the President, and Religious Liberty in America, Louis wrote Deciding on war against Iraq: institutional failures for Political Science Quarterly in 2003.

Deciding on war against Iraq was not revolutionary given current and subsequent writings on OIF, but it was supremely balanced in analysis. From the PSC abstract:

Louis Fisher analyzes the performance of U.S. political institutions in authorizing the war against Iraq in October 2002. He finds that the Bush administration failed to provide correct information to Congress to justify the war and relied on tenuous claims that were discredited on many occasions. He also argues that Congress failed in its institutional duties both by voting on the Iraq resolution without sufficient evidence and by drafting the legislation in such a way that it left the power to initiate war in the hands of the President, exactly what the Framers had tried to prevent.

Unfortunately that tame analysis drew a shot-across-the-bow in the form of a Director's Statement from CRS Director Daniel Mulhollan titled Outside Activities: Preserving Objectivity and Non-Partisanship. Readers can judge for themselves, but this analysis read it as a 'Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt' memo designed to make CRS analysts more circumspect in their work in and out of government. (Fisher can write outside of government with a disclaimer that the text is his personal view.)

 In what is one of the best notes that I have ever read on the purpose and mission of an investigative support arm, Louis responded to Mulhollan with CRS Standards for Analysis. I recommend it unreservedly.

I sympathize with Fisher when he says "if the front office puts the emphasis on neutrality, balance, and even-handedness, there is little room for careful, expert analysis." Our clients want an informed answer; they want us to take a position. They do not want bland, safe verbiage that strips the client of the ability to act. In the condition that Fisher and fellow analysts finds themselves they can never be certain when too pointed an argument, even if it is true, will draw unspecified penalties.

Matters appeared to float along in a Mexican standoff until Fisher was quoted in a 2006 GovExec article, Report finds government whistleblowers lack adequate protections. Having written National Security Whistleblowers for CRS, Fisher was the go-to guy for the topic. Fisher was quoted as saying that "he believes that things have become worse for whistleblowers since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks because Congress and the courts have overly deferred to the executive branch when it comes to punishing whistleblowers or suppressing information. "I get the picture that people can do really awful things inside agencies and they never pay any price at all, and that's really scary."

That was enough to draw a 13 January nastygram for CRS Assistant Director, Robert Dilger, that while I do not have a copy, seems over the top from the parts Fisher cites in his 18 January letter response to Mulhollan. Again, Fisher is worth reading. GovExec says that, "Now both sides are keeping mum about what happens next." At 71, Fisher has 36 years in service, and I do not see him backing down.

Mau-mauing other analysts at CRS

US political speech has adopted the verb mau-mau as "to attack or denounce vociferously, especially so as to intimidate." I agree with Steven Aftergood's use of the term in describing assaults on CRS when their analyses disagree with administration desires. It is my opinion that pressure is placed upon CRS precisely because of the quality of their work and the weight that it carries.

Legislative Attorneys, Elizabeth Bazan and Jennifer Elsea, authored Presidential Authority to Conduct Warrantless Electronic Surveillance to Gather Foreign Intelligence Information on 5 January, while Alfred Cumming, Specialist in Intelligence and National Security, authored Statutory Procedures Under Which Congress Is To Be Informed of U.S. Intelligence Activities, Including Covert Actions on 18 January.

The "broad agreement" over the former article stating that the NSA surveillance operation "does not seem to be as well-grounded" as the administration professes while the latter stating that the decision to restrict congressional notification to eight Congressional members as is done in the case of covert actions "would appear to be inconsistent with the law" given that the NSA surveillance effort was not a legally designated "covert action" drew significant backlash from administration backers, notably chairman of the House Permanent Select on Intelligence, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich).

Hoekstra "did not merely suggest that the CRS might be wrong; he claimed that the agency was actually biased against Bush Administration policy":

[Hoekstra] said both reports were based on speculation about the program, and "clearly advocated and supported a specific position with respect to the legal issues" raised by it. In two blistering letters to the service's director, Hoekstra complained about an analysis of the administration's legal argument for the president's authority to conduct the program; and about a subsequent report on the legality of the notification process the administration used in briefing Congress about it.

The reports questioned the legal reasoning the administration has employed to justify both the program and the way that only a handful of senior lawmakers from both parties were briefed on it. Both were "flawed and obviously incomplete ... seemingly intended to advocate the erroneous conclusion that the president did not comply with the relevant law," wrote Hoekstra, who said Tuesday he had received no response as yet.

Hoekstra had to be corrected by his own party, that it was Hoekstra "who misunderstood and misrepresented the requirements of the law":

Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) put the matter plainly at a February 6 Senate hearing on the NSA surveillance program, explaining that the statute which permits limited notification to eight members of Congress is relevant only to covert actions, and not to the NSA program.

"When you look at that section [50 USC 413(b)], the only thing this references as far as what this Group of Eight does is receive reports in regard to covert action. So that's really all it is. It does not cover a situation like we're talking about here at all," Sen. DeWine said

One still has to sympathize with CRS researchers who must be nearly shell-shocked.

Nick Turse has a running series (now up to three) of what he calls the "Fallen Legion" of individuals that have fallen prey to bureaucratic conflict. His fallen now number 243, yet his first post in the series was October 2005. Lawrence Greenfeld of the BJS is a fallen in the third. I have scanned the list and quibble with some but find substantive merit with many.

Part 5

Muzzling a Researcher
GovExec Daily Briefing
14 February, 2006
9:13 a.m. ET

Tomgram: Nick Turse on Guerrilla Warfare in Washington
Nick Turse
TomDispatch.com
posted February 12, 2006 at 7:27 pm

More Turmoil at the Congressional Research Service
Posted by Steven Aftergood
 Secrecy News
February 9, 2006 02:49 PM

Expert on Congress's Power Claims He Was Muzzled for Faulting Bush
By YOCHI J. DREAZEN
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
February 9, 2006

Hoekstra attacks CRS 'bias' on spy program
By SHAUN WATERMAN
UPI Homeland and National Security
Feb. 8, 2006

Letter to Daniel P. Mulhollan, Director, CRS from Peter Hoekstra, Chairman, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
REF: Alfred Cumming's memorandum of 18 January, 2006
February 1, 2006

Probable Cause, Reasonable Suspicion, and Reasonableness Standards in the Context of the Fourth Amendment and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
Congressional Research Service
American Law Division
January 30, 2006

Statutory Procedures Under Which Congress Is To Be Informed of U.S. Intelligence Activities, Including Covert Actions
Alfred Cumming
Specialist in Intelligence and National Security
Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division
CRS
January 18, 2006

Letter to Daniel Mulhollan, Director, Congressional Research Service from Louis Fisher, Senior Specialist in Separation of Powers
Ref: Robert Dilger's memo on January 13, 2006, regarding "Comments Appearing in Government Executive"
January 18, 2006

Report finds government whistleblowers lack adequate protections
By Chris Strohm
GovExec
January 10, 2006

Presidential Authority to Conduct Warrantless Electronic Surveillance to Gather Foreign Intelligence Information
Elizabeth B. Bazan and Jennifer K. Elsea
Legislative Attorneys
Congressional Research Service
American Law Division
January 5, 2006

National Security Whistleblowers
Louis Fisher, Senior Specialist in Separation of Powers
Government and Finance Division
CRS RL33215
December 30, 2005

Tomgram: Nick Turse on Bush's Expanding "Fallen Legion"
Nick Turse
TomDispatch.com
posted November 27, 2005 at 5:56 pm

Tomgram: Nick Turse, Casualties of the Bush Administration
Nick Turse
TomDispatch.com
posted October 14, 2005 at 10:02 am

Profiling Report Leads to a Demotion
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
New York Times
August 24, 2005

CRS Standards for Analysis
Louis Fisher
Senior Specialist in Separation of Powers
Letter to CRS Director Daniel P. Mulhollan
REF: Mulhollan's 23 January Director's Statement
January 31, 2004

Outside Activities: Preserving Objectivity and Non-Partisanship
Director's Statement
CRS Director Daniel P. Mulhollan
January 23, 2004

Deciding on war against Iraq: institutional failures
Louis Fisher
Political Science Quarterly
Vol 118, No 3, September, 2003

Gordon Housworth



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Grasping the third rail of administration and Christian censorship

  #

Part 2

Touching administration and Christian censorship invites attack from those who are all too ready to condemn Muslim censorship, but failure to address censorship at home while condemning it abroad is hypocrisy.

Bob Barr, former Republican congressman and former Clinton impeachment manager, is enduring just such hypocrisy at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) where he is being ostracized by fellow conservatives for stating that "President Bush is breaking the law by eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without warrants." ("Whether it's a sitting president when I was an impeachment manager, or a Republican president who has taken liberties with adherence to the law, to me the standard is the same." Barr's issue was essential, "whether or not we will remain a nation subject to and governed by the rule of law or the whim of men." Barr then proceeded to force one of the authors of the USA Patriot Act, Viet Dinh, to admit that the administration's argument rested on faith.)

Readers should not presume to position me leftward of my center-right position. My issue is accurate, free flows of information, constrained and distorted by none.

The White House Staff: Inside the West Wing and Beyond states that a president controls "over 6,400 appointments to the executive and judicial branches… 1,800 of whom will be subject to scrutiny and confirmation by the Senate." Beyond that, the White House staff will "oversee closely the choice of some or all of the 2,148 full-time, noncareer jobholders appointed by his cabinet and agency heads. By vetting the candidates, balancing the pluses and minuses, the Office of Presidential Personnel helps prepare the chief for his decisions."

The White House Appointments page states, in part, that:

One of President Bush's top priorities is to select men and women of the greatest ability and highest ethical and professional integrity to serve in policymaking and key administrative positions in his administration... "I will look for people who are willing to work hard to do what is best for America, who examine the facts and do what is right whether or not it is popular. I will look for people from across the country and from every walk of life..."

The vetting process is excruciatingly detailed. One expects that an administration gets largely what it wants from its appointees. I am distressed by a pattern of administration shaping and shielding of information executed by these appointees that is an issue not of national security but of political party preference and advantage. (These actions have risen to the point that one wonders if the administration thinks of the quid pro quo of an eventual change in leadership.) This note is largely devoted to this form of censorship. In no particular order:

(1) Attacks upon the scientific base

[P]olitical action by scientists has not been so forceful since 1964, when Barry Goldwater's statements promoting the deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons spawned the creation of the 100,000-member group Scientists and Engineers for Johnson.

"Unlike previous administrations, Republican and Democratic alike, the Bush administration has ignored unbiased scientific advice in the policy making that is so important to our collective welfare," said 48 Nobel laureates in 2004. The critics include members of past Republican administrations.

Scientists in and out of federal service have criticized the administration with rising intensity, "saying it has selected or suppressed research findings to suit preset policies, skewed advisory panels or ignored unwelcome advice, and quashed discussion within federal research agencies." Complaints about the "administration's approach to scientific information are coming even from within the government. Many career scientists and officials have expressed frustration and anger privately but were unwilling to be identified for fear of losing their jobs."

I agree with the administration's position that the "executive branch has every right to sift for inconsistencies and adjust the tone to suit its policies, as long as the result remains factual." I also agree that medical and environmental issues face difficult trials in the policy arena due to the complexity of their disciplines. All sides agree that "the war between science and the administration is a culture clash." My opinion is that the pertinent facts are being subsumed by policy such that the facts put forward are 'policy friendly.'

Yes, there may be "unrealistic expectations" on the part of some researchers" while others may be bitter over "their being excluded from policy circles that were open to them under previous administrations," but I think that the latter condition is another symptom of a lack of interest on the part of the administration to reach out for legitimate dialog. Following are themes in the distortion of science:

  • Cherry picking data to suit policy

Dr. James E. Hansen, NASA's premier climate expert, has said that the "Bush administration [is] they're picking and choosing information according to the answer that they want to get, and they've appointed so many people who are just focused on this that they really are having an impact on the day-to-day flow of information."

Disputes between scientists and the administration have erupted over stem cell policy, population control and Iraq's nuclear weapons research. But nowhere has the clash been more intense or sustained than in the area of climate change. There the intensity of the disagreements has been stoked not only by disputes over claimed distortion or suppression of research findings, but on the other side by the enormous economic implications.

Several dozen interviews with administration officials and with scientists in and out of government, along with a variety of documents, show that the core of the clash is over instances in which scientists say that objective and relevant information is ignored or distorted in service of pre-established policy goals. Scientists were essentially locked out of important internal White House debates; candidates for advisory panels were asked about their politics as well as their scientific work; and the White House exerted broad control over how scientific findings were to be presented in public reports or news releases.

  • Touting bogus information

In March 2001, the White House used a single flawed Department of Energy (DoE) economic analysis to permit Bush43 to sidestep a campaign pledge to restrict power plant discharges of carbon dioxide. (Other branches of DoE drawing different conclusions were ignored as were Environmental Protection Agency climate experts at the was sought but also ignored.):

None of the authors was a scientist. The team consisted of Cesar Conda, an adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and now a political consultant; Andrew Lundquist, the White House energy policy director, who is now an energy lobbyist; Kyle E. McSlarrow, the chairman of Dan Quayle's 2000 presidential campaign and now deputy secretary of energy; Robert C. McNally Jr., an energy and economic analyst who is now an investment banker; Karen Knutson, a deputy on energy policy and a former Republican Senate aide; and Marcus Peacock, an analyst on science and energy issues from the Office of Management and Budget. They concluded that Mr. Bush could continue to say he believed that global warming was occurring but make a case that ''any specific policy proposals or approaches aimed at addressing global warming must await further scientific inquiry.''

The administration has not changed its position despite subsequent reaffirmation of the "scientific consensus that recent warming has human causes and that significant risks lie ahead."

  • The shell game of assumptions

Critical differences exist between the Clinton and Bush 43 administrations in that while both "tried to skew information to favor [their climate] policies," the Clinton administration revealed all its underlying assumptions while the "Bush administration drew contorted conclusions but never revealed the details." Combine a dearth of assumptions with selected data and all manner of mischief is possible.

  • Sexing up the text

Political appointees incrementally remake fact to fit policy:

Political appointees have regularly revised news releases on climate from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, altering headlines and opening paragraphs to play down the continuing global warming trend. The changes are often subtle, but they consistently shift the meaning of statements away from a sense that things are growing warmer in unusual ways.

Titles such as "Cool Antarctica May Warm Rapidly This Century, Study Finds" are softened to "Study Shows Potential for Antarctic Climate Change;" "NOAA reports record and near-record July heat in the West, cooler than average in the East, global temperature much warmer than average" becomes "NOAA reports cooler, wetter than average in the East, hot in the West."

More significant than such changes has been the scope and depth of involvement by administration appointees in controlling information flowing through the farthest reaches of government on issues that could undermine policies.

Jeffrey Ruch, who runs Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a network for whistle-blowers who identify government actions that violate environmental laws or rules, said the Bush administration had taken information control to a level far beyond that of its predecessor... It's very controlled in the sense that almost no decision, even personnel decisions, can be made without clearance from the top. In the realm of science that becomes problematic, because science isn't neat like that."

  • Litmus tests/loyalty oaths for participation

Another area where the issue of scientific distortion keeps surfacing is in the composition of advisory panels. In a host of instances documented in news reports and by groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists, candidates have been asked about their politics. In March 2003, the American Association for the Advancement of Science criticized those queries, saying in a statement that the practice ''compromises the integrity of the process of receiving advice and is inappropriate.'' Despite three years of charges that it is remaking scientific and medical advisory panels to favor the goals of industry or social conservatives, the White House has continued to ask some panel nominees not only about their political views, but explicitly whether they support Mr. Bush.

Nominated for the Arctic Research Commission, a panel of appointees dealing with Arctic issues "including the debate over oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge," Sharon L. Smith was called by the White House office of presidential personnel. The first question was, "Do you support the president?" Never having been asked such a question in her career, Smith replied that she was not fond of the administration's economic and foreign policies. "That was the end of the interview. I was removed from consideration instantly."

  • Muzzling and censoring in-house scientists

James E. Hansen, a physicist and "longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies" and the "top climate scientist at NASA" has publicly stated that the "administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture… calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming."

Since 1988, he has been issuing public warnings about the long-term threat from heat-trapping emissions, dominated by carbon dioxide, that are an unavoidable byproduct of burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels. He has had run-ins with politicians or their appointees in various administrations, including [Bush41 and Clinton]. Hansen was invited to brief "Cheney and other cabinet members on climate change [after officials voiced interest in his findings] showing that cleaning up soot [was] was an effective and far easier first step than curbing carbon dioxide."

[Hansen] fell out of favor with the White House in 2004 after giving a speech… before the presidential election, in which he complained that government climate scientists were being muzzled, and said he planned to vote for Senator John Kerry. But Dr. Hansen said that nothing in 30 years equaled the push made since early December [2005] to keep him from publicly discussing what he says are clear-cut dangers from further delay in curbing carbon dioxide. [Hansen] was particularly incensed that the directives affecting his statements had come through informal telephone conversations and not through formal channels, leaving no significant trails of documents."

After Hansen gave a 6 December speech stating that the "administration's policy [to] use voluntary measures [will] slow, but not reverse, the growth of emissions" but that "significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles," followed by his releasing data "that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly phoned public affairs officers, who relayed the warning to Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued, those officers and Dr. Hansen said in interviews."

Hansen has stated that he will ignore the restrictions. Others are not so fortunate:

At climate laboratories of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for example, many scientists who routinely took calls from reporters five years ago can now do so only if the interview is approved by administration officials in Washington, and then only if a public affairs officer is present or on the phone.

  • Reverse the decision, or make the decision before analysis is complete

The FDA's "own nonprescription drugs advisory committee and its review staff recommended approval" of an "application by Barr Laboratories to sell its Plan B contraceptive over the counter [OTC] without restrictions." In May 2004, the FDA's former acting director, Dr. Steven Galson, rejected that application in an unusual decision process that the GAO described as "the Plan B decision was not typical of the other 67 proposed" changes from prescription to over-the-counter sales that the agency received from 1994 through 2004:

On May 6, 2004, the Acting Director of CDER [Center for Drug Evaluation and Research] rejected the recommendations of FDA’s joint advisory committee and FDA review officials by signing the not-approvable letter for the Plan B switch application. While FDA followed its general procedures for considering the application, four aspects of FDA’s review process were unusual.

Uncommon indeed:

  • FDA senior management was more involved in the review of Plan B than in other OTC switch applications.
  • Directors normally responsible for signing the Plan B action letter, including the Director of the Office of New Drugs, disagreed with the decision and did not sign the not-approvable letter for Plan B.
  • GAO "suggested that top F.D.A. officials had discussed turning down the application for over-the-counter sales of Plan B as early as December 2003, even though its advisory panels had not yet weighed in."
  • Rationale for the Acting Director’s decision was "novel and did not follow FDA’s traditional practices."

Plan B has "been available with a prescription since 1999, but over-the-counter status would increase access to this time-sensitive contraceptive. If available over the counter, Plan B could prevent half of the three million unwanted pregnancies that occur every year in the United States and significantly reduce the number of abortions." Detractors say that politics and religious sentiment weighed heavily in the rejection.

Part 4

Bob Barr, Bane of the Right?
By Dana Milbank
February 11, 2006
Washington Post

NASA Administrator Calls for Openness in Statement to Staff
By Christopher Lee
Washington Post
February 5, 2006

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him
By ANDREW C. REVKIN
New York Times

January 29, 2006

F.D.A.'s Rejection of Contraceptive Is Questioned
By MARIA NEWMAN
New York Times
November 14, 2005

Decision Process to Deny Initial Application for Over-the-Counter Marketing of the Emergency Contraceptive Drug Plan B Was Unusual
General Accounting Office
GAO-06-109
November 2005

What Went Wrong: A Primer on How Vetting Is Supposed to Work
By Justin Rood, CQ Staff
CQ Homeland Security
Congressional Quarterly
December 13, 2004
Mirror on Page Fifteen

Bush vs. the Laureates: How Science Became a Partisan Issue
By ANDREW C. REVKIN
New York Times
October 19, 2004

Scientific Integrity in Policy Making [Update]
Investigation of the Bush administration's abuse of science
By The Union of Concerned Scientists
Update - July 2004

Scientific Integrity in Policy Making
Investigation of the Bush administration's abuse of science
By The Union of Concerned Scientists
March 2004

Why Has Critique Run out of Steam?
From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern
by Bruno Latour
Critical Inquiry
Volume 30, no. 2
Winter 2004

The White House Office of Presidential Personnel.(selecting presidential staff)
Article from: Presidential Studies Quarterly [HTML]
by Bradley H. Patterson, James P. Pfiffner
September 2001

The White House Staff: Inside the West Wing and Beyond - Book Review
White House Studies, Fall, 2002 by Robert P. Watson

The White House Staff: Inside the West Wing and Beyond
Bradley H. Patterson
Brookings Institution Press, 2000

Gordon Housworth



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