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US electorate's oversight: Iraqi opinions as to their condition and their perceptions of US/Coalition occupation - part 2

  #

Part 1

In June 2004, al Jazeera used ICRSS polling to point out when Iraqis were asked to "rank 17 prominent religious and political leaders. Iyad Allawi, Prime Minister of the interim government [who took] over administrative power from the Coalition Provisional Authority… finished in sixteenth place [while seventeenth place] Ghazi al-Yawer [who was] named president of the interim government. Al Jazeera also noted that earlier ICRSS surveys indicated that Alawi and al Yawer were already slipping in Iraqis' estimation at the time of their elevation.

Iraqis have a poor opinion of Alawi. Sadoun al-Dulame, executive director of the ICRSS, pointed to one reason: "Every newspaper that has reported about his appointment has mentioned his CIA connection." Although Alawi has sniped at the U.S.-led occupation in recent months, it's his ties to Langley that seem to have registered with Iraqis. (His organization, the Iraqi National Accord, is funded by the CIA.) "He's a CIA man, like [Ahmed] Chalabi," said Raed Abu Hassan, a Baghdad University political science post-grad. "In this country, CIA connections are political poison." It doesn't help that the Shiite Alawi is also a former Baathist, and a returning exile.

Not unsurprisingly, al Jazeera drew attention to ICRSS data noting that leading candidates were Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Ibrahim al-Jaafari (Shiite Da'wah party), and Adnan Pachachi (Sunni elder statesman).

By June 2004, ICRSS surveys such as The Results Of the Public Opinion Poll in Iraq were showing that rising violence (and mass violence of car bombings) that while some two-thirds of Iraqis still opposed the presence of the US-led military and increasing number feared that a Coalition departure would create greater violence, reversing polling as late as April 2004. A majority replied that Iraq was moving away from peace and stability and towards rising violence, noting that conditions had worsened since April.

Although the collapse of security is the population's top concern, most of those surveyed felt that the problem would be best handled by Iraqi forces and that the presence of foreign armies attracted more violence. Almost 70% said that if foreign armies remained in Iraq after an elected government took office in January attacks against Iraqi police and government officials would increase.

Iraqis remain conflicted over the presence of US troops, a large majority feeling that the US could not improve the situation, that Iraqi troops were preferable by far but were not yet skilled to the task.

Asked if they would support a party which wanted foreign forces to stay until Iraq's army and police were adequately trained and equipped to face threats of violence, only 16% said yes.

ICRSS's al-Dulaimi, now Iraq's Defense Minister, opined that the reversal had to do as much with rising violence as with the realization that the post-CPA government was "an extension of the previous governing council" as opposed to an "Iraqi government of technocrats and experts who would handle the country's problems with an iron hand."

Pained tolerance of Coalition forces becomes, and remains, a combination of resignation, fear of violence and fear of the unknown.

A poll by the Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies (IIACSS), an Iraqi independent scientific research institute which focuses on social issues, the first after Abu Ghraib, showed a stunning collapse of faith in foreign institutions:

  • Coalition forces were 2, 8, -6, and -81%
  • CPA was 2, 9, -7 and -78%
  • UN, interestingly, was 8, 21, -9, and -57%

Contrast that to the opinions toward:

  • Iraqi police at 47, 29, -6, and -16%
  • Iraqi Army at 33, 29, -9, and -20%

Upon seeing Abu Ghraib's prisoner abuse, 71% were surprised while 22% were not. Surprised Iraqis felt humiliated, found it unethical, did not expect same from CF and felt the US a hypocrite. More than half of Iraqis felt that "all Americans were like this." Coalition Forces have suffered a massive image deterioration and are now seen as occupiers (by 92%), a liability whose presence makes things more dangerous, and whose push for expulsion is now that the CF "are occupiers."

Compared to 3 months prior, the opinion of Moqtada al-Sadr was 81% up, between Better and Much better. Incidentally, only half of Iraqis felt safe in their own neighborhood. In response to which entities contribute most to Iraqis' sense of security, Neighbors and friends, family and Local police comprise 89%. Coalition forces, even including combined Coalition forces & Iraqi patrols, were only 2%.

The CSIS methodology used in the September 2004 Progress Or Peril? Measuring Iraq’s Reconstruction charts four quadrants, a Viable Zone (green in upper right) and Danger Zone (red in lower left) separated by two Gray Zones. In the update that followed, Security, Services, Education and Health care were all in the Danger Zone while Governance and Participation cycled between the Danger Zone and the adjacent Gray Zone. The kindest thing to say about Health care is that it tanked:

The data suggest the following findings:
1. Iraq has still not passed the tipping point, as defined in Progress or Peril, in any of the five sectors of reconstruction reviewed.
2. Iraq’s reconstruction continues to
stagnate; it is not yet moving on a sustained positive trajectory toward the tipping point or end-state in any of those sectors.
Within the areas of security, governance and participation, economic opportunity, services, and social well-being, there has been little overall positive or negative movement; there has, however, been some regression or progress within particular indicators reviewed… The health care sector has seen the most dramatic decline over the past few months.

In November 2004, The Lancet was reporting that Coalition aerial bombing may have killed upwards of 100,000 Iraqis, many of whom were civilians and many of those women and children. While the UK Prime Minister's Official Spokesperson (PMOS) "dismissed the study since its methodology was, he claimed, inappropriate" in that "methodology that had been used… appeared to be based on an extrapolation technique rather than a detailed body count", the "methodology of this study is very tight, but it does involve extrapolating from a small number and so could easily be substantially incorrect. But the methodology also is standard in such situations and was used in Bosnia and Kosovo."

Yes, the results are based upon extrapolation, and yes, there may be some exaggeration, but I submit that the true number is vastly more than the 16,000 dead which is derived solely from counting all fatalities as reported in the Western press, which it is charitable to say is only a portion of the true number. Iraq Body Count, whose database tracks 26-30,000 Iraqi dead, including some 7,350 dead from coalition military action during the "major-combat" phase prior to May 1st 2003, from all causes such as combat collateral, breakdowns in civil order, health and sanitation, is most reasonable in comparison (yet even it is disputed by Coalition authorities). I cannot resist commenting that after declining to publicize body counts of either combatants or collaterals, that US forces have revived combatant body counts to demonstrate the value of counterinsurgency ops.

The point that I am after here is that Iraqis have a wholly different opinion of the effects of Coalition bombardment and that we should be aware of it but are not.

The fall 2005 CIPE/Zogby business survey can represent the traditional Iraqi resourcefulness and entrepreneurship as it continues to reflect earlier, unrelated, polling that separates business opportunity from political conditions on the ground. One wonders what such firms want to say to foreign pollsters for foreign consumption. Iraq is a cash economy of overwhelmingly small companies with fewer than 20 employees. Sole proprietorships and family-owned businesses predominate. The majority say that they are optimistic, expecting growth in the national economy. In terms of sales, employment, and profits, newer companies, not unexpectedly, are more optimistic than older ones. Security and basic services such as water and electricity continue as major problems.

Apart from security, the most commonly perceived obstacle to economic growth is Iraq’s "lack of legal and regulatory enforcement." I have qualms over the survey when the question, What do you see as the major sources of corruption?, lists "weak property rights" as the leading answer across the board, beating out "Government discretion/extraction of bribes." I note that the last question in the survey, What are the three (3) main clauses you would like the new constitution to include?, varied widely depending where the respondent was located (Baghdad, Hilla, Arbil, Basra or Kirkuk), thus indirectly skirted religious and sectarian divides.

The as yet unreleased UK MOD report has already been covered above.

The Brookings Iraq Index is continuously updated, latest 27 Oct, 2005. The estimated strength of insurgency nationwide remains consistent: 15,000 by May 2004, 20,000 from July 04, to July 05, "neither gaining strength nor weakening appreciably" (with some estimates indicating higher numbers). The estimated number of foreign fighters in the insurgency has consistently held between 750 and 1,000 from Q4 2004 to date, save for the Sept 2005 jump to 750 and 2,000.

As to whom can improve the situation in Iraq:

  • Iraqi National Guard: A great deal/Quite a lot: 70+%
  • US military forces: Not very much/None at all: 76+%
  • The armed national opposition: Not very much/None at all: 55%

The issues most concerning the daily life of Iraqis are, in descending order: Inadequate electricity, Ethnic tensions, Presence of Multi-National Forces, Religious Tension, Lack of adequate housing, High prices, Corruption, Insurgent Violence, Unemployment, Crime, Low wages, Ensuring minority rights, National Security, Influence of Iraq's Neighbors, Healthcare, Water, Monthly Food Rations, Writing an acceptable constitution.

Iraqanalysis.org has an extensive page Opinion Polls in Iraq for those who wish to dig deeper.

The point is that the US/UK are not doing well in a hearts and minds campaign, that Iraqis are not happy with us, and that there is ample and sustaining anger on the part of Sunni and Shia alike to support a continuing insurgency against Coalition forces. Mao Zedong observed:

Because guerrilla warfare basically derives from the masses and is supported by them, it can neither exist nor flourish if it separates itself from their sympathies and cooperation…. Many people think it is impossible for guerrillas to exist for long in the enemy’s rear. Such a belief reveals lack of comprehension of the relationship that should exist between the people and the troops. The former may be likened to water and the latter to the fish who inhabit it.… (Mao Tse-Tung 2000: 44, 92-93)

The fish in Iraq have a deep pond.

Iraq Index
Tracking Variables of Reconstruction & Security in Post-Saddam Iraq
Michael E. O’Hanlon and Nina Kamp
Brookings Institution
Updated October 27, 2005
For full source information for entries other than the current month, please see the Iraq Index archives

Secret MoD poll: Iraqis support attacks on British troops
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 23/10/2005)
Telegraph (UK)

Business Leader Attitudes Toward Commercial Activity, Employee Relations, and Government in Iraq
By The Center for International Private Enterprise & Zogby International
Fall 2005

Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey
The Lancet, Volume 364, Issue 9448, Pages 1857-1864
L. Roberts, R. Lafta, R. Garfield, J. Khudhairi, G. Burnham
19 November 2004
Abstract
Related background material

Scientists: 100,000 Iraqis have died since war
AP/Reuters
October 29, 2004 - 2:24PM

Vicious Circle: The Dynamics of Occupation and Resistance in Iraq
Part One. Patterns of Popular Discontent
Project on Defense Alternatives Research Monograph #10
Carl Conetta
Project on Defense Alternatives
18 May 2005

Iraq: Recent Developments in Reconstruction Assistance
Curt Tarnoff
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service
CRS RL31833
Updated May 12, 2005

Progress Or Peril? Measuring Iraq’s Reconstruction
Frederick Barton, Bathsheba Crocker
September 2004
CSIS
No longer on CSIS site but mirrored
here, here, and here

Progress Or Peril? Measuring Iraq’s Reconstruction
Frederick Barton, Bathsheba Crocker
Iraq Update, August-October 2004
CSIS
No longer on CSIS site but mirrored here

Public Opinion in Iraq: First Poll Following Abu Ghraib Revelations
Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies (IIACSS)
15 June 2004

80% of Iraqis want US to stop patrolling cities
Jonathan Steele in Baghdad
Guardian
June 29, 2004

Why Iyad Al Alawi?
Al Jazeera
6/7/2004 7:07:00 AM GMT

The Results Of the Public Opinion Poll in Iraq
The Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies (ICRSS)
June 2004

Iraqis Report Deepening Doubts About Legitimacy of the US-led Occupation
by Hannah Allam
Knight-Ridder
May 9, 2004
Original
has scrolled off
Google cache
here
Mirror here

Poll: Iraqis out of patience
By Cesar G. Soriano and Steven Komarow
USA TODAY
Posted 4/28/2004 3:32 PM
Updated 4/30/2004 6:54 AM

Nearly 3 Million Iraqis, Sunni and Shiite, Approve of attacks on Americans
Juan Cole
Informed Comment
April 6, 2004

Poll: Most Iraq Shia Arabs Oppose Attacks
Associated Press
Posted on Mon, Apr. 05, 2004
Original scrolled off
Google cache

Results of Public Opinion Poll #3
The Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies (ICRSS)
23 October, 2003

Iraqi Public Has Wide Future Political System
Opinion Analysis
Office of Research
Department of State
(DoS commissioned ICRSS (approved by the CPA) in Baghdad to carry out the fieldwork)
M-151-03
October 21, 2003

Gordon Housworth



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US electorate's oversight: Iraqi opinions as to their condition and their perceptions of US/Coalition occupation

  #

A review of Iraqi opinions as to their condition and their perceptions of US/Coalition occupation was merited as it is this writer's opinion that our position in an Iraqi hearts and minds campaign is perilous yet those opinions are remote from what is generally reported in the US high street press.

Having last covered Iraqi opinion surveys in May 2005 in Tribal and religious impacts among Iraqi and foreign Muslim elements, continued which reached back to a CSIS poll and its update, and an ICRSS poll of June 2004, the driver for this review of 2003-2005 polls was a secret UK Ministry of Defence poll executed nationally by an "Iraqi university research team [in August 2005] that, for security reasons, was not told the data it compiled would be used by coalition forces." Shattering any illusion of a successful hearts and minds campaign, the poll's most arresting conclusion was that "up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks" against British forces and that less "than one per cent think Allied military involvement is helping to improve security":

The report profiles those likely to carry out attacks against British and American troops as being "less than 26 years of age, more likely to want a job, more likely to have been looking for work in the last four weeks and less likely to have enough money even for their basic needs".

The Tory shadow defence minister, Andrew Robathan, said that "the poll clearly showed a complete failure of [UK] Government policy." Other points from the poll:

  • 45% of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified, up to 65% in British-controlled Maysan province and down to 25% in Basra
  • 82% are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops
  • Less than one % believe coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security
  • 67% feel less secure because of the occupation
  • 43% believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened
  • 72% do not have confidence in the multi-national forces

Responses on infrastructure reconstruction were no better:

  • 71% rarely get safe clean water
  • 47% never have enough electricity
  • 70% say their sewerage system rarely works
  • 40% of southern Iraqis are unemployed

One of the few Iraqi polls to gain lay coverage in the UK and US, it comes as little surprise to seasoned poll watchers. As this UK poll has not been formally released, unlike other polls over a three year period, we do not know sample size and demographics, exact dates and precise questions, but comparison to other polls show remarkable continuity. As Juan Cole noted, an April 2004 USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll showed similar results - and it was taken before the fighting in Fallujah and Najaf between insurgents and US forces. The question was:

To what extent can you personally justify the following actions morally: can be completely justified; can be somewhat justified, can be justified sometimes, sometimes cannot; somewhat cannot be justified; cannot be justified at all:

A. U.S.-British military action in Iraq
B. Current attacks against US forces in Iraq
C. Attacks and bombings targeting Iraqi police

Back to Cole: Then, 57 percent of Iraqis wanted coalition troops out immediately, and about half said that there were circumstances in which it was legitimate to attack US troops. Attitudes now are more negative, but the attitudes revealed in the British Ministry of Defense poll have been there for some time on about the same orders of magnitude.

Let's walk from 2003 forward, keeping in mind Ackerman's caveat that caution should be attached to "Iraqi polling [that] occurs in a climate of chaos, so its results should be understood as impressionistic rather than precise."

The last poll that was modestly favorable to US forces (then the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)) was an October 2003 Department of State Office of Research opinion analysis, Iraqi Public Has Wide Future Political System, which commissioned the Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies (ICRSS) - a group approved by the CPA - in Baghdad to carry out the fieldwork. ICRSS polls, pro and con, have gravitas as they were led by now Minister of Defense, Sadoon al-Dulaimi, a Sunni native of Ramadi, a former officer in Hussein's General Security Directorate, fled to the UK where he earned a PhD in socio-psychology, joined the Iraqi opposition, returning to Iraq to run ICRSS in 2003. Much of the ICRSS polls have shown "Iraqis' unfavorable views of the U.S. presence in their country."

On 5 April, 2004, the AP reported out a poll conducted by Oxford Research International as Poll: Most Iraq Shia Arabs Oppose Attacks which allows the casual observer to think things are going well, but Juan Cole dug deeper:

An opinion pole taken in late February showed that 10 % of Iraq's Shiites say attacks on US troops are "acceptable." But 30% of Sunni Arabs say such attacks are acceptable, and fully 70% of Anbar province approves of attacking Americans. (Anbar is where Ramadi, Fallujah, Hadithah and Habbaniyah are, with a population of 1.25 million or 5% of Iraq--those who approve of attacks are 875,000).

Given that Iraq's 25 million people are 65% Shiites and 16% Sunni, the number of those who dislike Americans enough to approve of attacks are 2.8 million, with Shiites leading in absolute numbers by virtue of their numbers. That is substantive support from which Baathists, jihadists, nationalists and religious actors can draw upon for their attacks.

By April-May 2004, ICRSS polls such as Results of Public Opinion Poll #3 were summarized as:

Outside of officialdom, there is little appetite for allowing Americans to stay. Anyone still talking about liberation is shushed as disingenuous, especially now that the image of a Saddam Hussein statue crashing to the ground is no longer symbolic of the coalition's intentions. Instead, many Iraqis said, today's American presence is best summed up in photos of a laughing female American soldier leading a nude Iraqi prisoner by a dog leash.

[Dulaimi's] grim poll doesn't even take in the prisoner scandal's effects. It was conducted in mid-April in seven Iraqi cities [and had not been made public as of this article]. [Dulaimi stated that] prisoner abuse and other coalition missteps now are fueling a dangerous blend of Islamism and tribalism. For example, while American officials insist that only fringe elements support the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr, a majority of Iraqis crossed ethnic and sectarian lines to name him the second most-respected man in Iraq, according to the coalition-funded poll. [Dulaimi said] "I don't know why the (Coalition Provisional Authority) continues in these misguided decisions… But if they pack and leave, it's a disgrace for us as Iraqis and for them as Americans. Their reputation will be destroyed in the world, and we will be delivered to the fanatics."

Conetta's May 2005 Vicious Circle: The Dynamics of Occupation and Resistance in Iraq from the Project on Defense Alternatives has not gotten enough attention in my estimation as Conetta deals with drivers of popular oppositional sentiment, variations in public opinion by region and community, coercive occupation practices, presence and behavior of foreign forces, opposition by Sunni and Shia sects, patterns of Coalition activity during and after "major" combat operations. There is thoughtful poll analysis and copious footnoting.

Opposition sentiment is driven by:

  • A typical nationalist or patriotic response to foreign control, amplified by differences of culture, religion, and language; and
  • A reaction to the coercive practices of the occupation, including military, policing, and penal operations.

Conetta's opinion is that the insurgency "is now driven substantially by the occupation, its practices, and policies" and that results of repeated polling of Iraqi attitudes have been ignored in the US "public discourse on the Iraqi mission" such that it "imperils US policy. His analysis is that:

  • On balance, Iraqis oppose the US presence in Iraq, and those who strongly oppose it greatly outnumber those who strongly support it.
  • US troops in Iraq are viewed broadly as an occupying force, not peacekeepers or liberators.
  • On balance, Iraqis do not trust US troops, think they have behaved badly, and -- one way or another -- hold them responsible for much of the violence in the nation.
  • There is significant popular support for attacks on US forces, and this support probably grew larger during the course of 2004, at least among Sunni Arabs.
  • A majority of Iraqis want coalition forces to leave within a year or less. Formation of a permanent government early in 2006 is the "tipping point" after which a very large majority of Iraqis may desire immediate withdrawal.

Part 2

Iraq Index
Tracking Variables of Reconstruction & Security in Post-Saddam Iraq
Michael E. O’Hanlon and Nina Kamp
Brookings Institution
Updated October 27, 2005
For full source information for entries other than the current month, please see the Iraq Index archives

Secret MoD poll: Iraqis support attacks on British troops
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 23/10/2005)
Telegraph (UK)

Business Leader Attitudes Toward Commercial Activity, Employee Relations, and Government in Iraq
By The Center for International Private Enterprise & Zogby International
Fall 2005

Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey
The Lancet, Volume 364, Issue 9448, Pages 1857-1864
L. Roberts, R. Lafta, R. Garfield, J. Khudhairi, G. Burnham
19 November 2004
Abstract
Related background material

Scientists: 100,000 Iraqis have died since war
AP/Reuters
October 29, 2004 - 2:24PM

Vicious Circle: The Dynamics of Occupation and Resistance in Iraq
Part One. Patterns of Popular Discontent
Project on Defense Alternatives Research Monograph #10
Carl Conetta
Project on Defense Alternatives
18 May 2005

Iraq: Recent Developments in Reconstruction Assistance
Curt Tarnoff
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service
CRS RL31833
Updated May 12, 2005

Progress Or Peril? Measuring Iraq’s Reconstruction
Frederick Barton, Bathsheba Crocker
September 2004
CSIS
No longer on CSIS site but mirrored
here, here, and here

Progress Or Peril? Measuring Iraq’s Reconstruction
Frederick Barton, Bathsheba Crocker
Iraq Update, August-October 2004
CSIS
No longer on CSIS site but mirrored here

Public Opinion in Iraq: First Poll Following Abu Ghraib Revelations
Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies (IIACSS)
15 June 2004

80% of Iraqis want US to stop patrolling cities
Jonathan Steele in Baghdad
Guardian
June 29, 2004

Why Iyad Al Alawi?
Al Jazeera
6/7/2004 7:07:00 AM GMT

The Results Of the Public Opinion Poll in Iraq
The Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies (ICRSS)
June 2004

Iraqis Report Deepening Doubts About Legitimacy of the US-led Occupation
by Hannah Allam
Knight-Ridder
May 9, 2004
Original
has scrolled off
Google cache
here
Mirror here

Poll: Iraqis out of patience
By Cesar G. Soriano and Steven Komarow
USA TODAY
Posted 4/28/2004 3:32 PM
Updated 4/30/2004 6:54 AM

Nearly 3 Million Iraqis, Sunni and Shiite, Approve of attacks on Americans
Juan Cole
Informed Comment
April 6, 2004

Poll: Most Iraq Shia Arabs Oppose Attacks
Associated Press
Posted on Mon, Apr. 05, 2004
Original scrolled off
Google cache

Results of Public Opinion Poll #3
The Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies (ICRSS)
23 October, 2003

Iraqi Public Has Wide Future Political System
Opinion Analysis
Office of Research
Department of State
(DoS commissioned ICRSS (approved by the CPA) in Baghdad to carry out the fieldwork)
M-151-03
October 21, 2003

Gordon Housworth



InfoT Public  Risk Containment and Pricing Public  Strategic Risk Public  Terrorism Public  

discussion

  discuss this article

Wilkerson and Scowcroft: uncloaking is not limited to Romulan and Klingon birds-of-prey

  #

As first Romulan and then Klingon birds-of-prey created mischief for Federation forces by their ability to uncloak and suddenly attack, so have the increasingly public and strident disclosures of Lawrence Wilkerson and now Brent Scowcroft bedeviled the Bush43 administration.

While Brent Scowcroft's interview in the New Yorker (not yet on line but best summary here) has gained the most notoriety, emerging as he does like some ancient Yoda, connecting the dynastic line between Bush41 and Bush43 and reminding current conservatives and neocons alike that the father disowns the son's foreign policy and national security team, many of the mechanical issues of the utter debacle of governance between State, Defense and the White House are better covered by Wilkerson in his speech and Q&A to the New American Foundation (see various formats below).

One wonders who else will uncloak. Rich Armitage still appears to prefer cloaking, working behind the scenes, performing what Steve Clemons' describes as the role for Powell that Alexander Hamilton did for George Washington, deftly maneuvering to clear the "space for moderate Republicans, sensible "ethical realists" who care believe that American national interests coincide with credible global engagement."

Culminating a long association with Powell, Wilkerson served as Powell's chief of staff from 2002-2005 and was thus intimately involved in attempting to vet the "Chinese menu" from which Powell was to make his Iraqi WMD presentation to the UN.

While Wilkerson first began to uncloak in April-May 2005 during the hearings on the Bolton nomination, clearing his views with Armitage before offering testimony to the Senate foreign relations committee, by August 2005 he was describing his participation in the 2003 Iraqi WMD speech as "I wish I had not been involved in it. I look back on it, and I still say it was the lowest point in my life." No doubt, as Powell was not told that the mobile bioweapon lab was sole-sourced from an Iraqi defector, Curveball, whom the CIA had never interviewed and the DIA had branded as a "fabricator." Wilkerson points to the slow collapse of the Tenet-Powell relationship in summer 2003 as no Iraqi WMD data fell apart and Tenet had to tell SecState that the biolab was a fabrication.

Wilkerson came out fully in his 19 Oct NAF speech and Q&A, and all the print and interview items that I have seen to date are derivatives or summaries of that speech. (While Wilkerson is said to say what Powell thinks, Wilkerson notes that his public statements have estranged his relationship with Powell given the former's attachment to loyalty.) It is clear that Wilkerson's Axis of Evil is Cheney and Rumsfeld whom he has dubbed a cabal (also here) so strong that it rolled over an "extremely weak" Rice and dominated US policy to the exclusion of other federal departments, not the least of which was State. Bush43 is held culpable for failing to intervene or rein in this team whose "national security decision-making process" exceeded any of the "aberrations, bastardizations, perturbations, [and] changes" that Wilkerson had seen in 31 plus years of federal service as a military officer and diplomat. The disconnect between Washington and Baghdad is indeed startling.

I would also point readers to Holbrooke's WP op-ed piece that notes:

presidents get the advice they deserve, from the advisers they pick. Those advisers never agree completely, nor should they. Bush was surely aware that there were two views in his administration on most critical issues, but the buck stopped on his desk. Apparently, Cheney's voice was often the most influential, but Bush made the final calls. As Les Gelb wrote about Vietnam with deliberate irony, "the system worked," but it produced the wrong outcome.

Leaving the reader to Clemons' lengthy excerpts of  Scowcroft in "Breaks Ranks" and Wilkerson's NAF commentary, I agree that the pair form a sustained and continuing indictment of US foreign policy that has, and will continue to, cost us dearly. The Chinese, Russians and Iranians (if for nothing else that we spent 200 billion dollars to achieve what the Iranians had bled themselves for a decade in attempting to accomplish) are among the many unintended beneficiaries of our errors. 

For my part, I will touch on some topics of particular interest to me.

For the French bashers among you, I thought Wilkerson's comments in the Q&A on the intense French support offered behind the scenes were instructive, as were the collective opinions of the WMD data (which is other sections was shown to be much stronger in chembio over nuclear), and Iraqi spoofing:

[Regarding the misinterpretation of Iraqi nuclear capacity] I can’t tell you why the French, the Germans, the Brits and us thought that most of the material, if not all of it, that we presented at the U.N. on 5 February 2003 was the truth. I can’t. I’ve wrestled with it. I don’t know – and people say, well, INR dissented. That’s a bunch of bull. INR dissented that the nuclear program was up and running. That’s all INR dissented on. They were right there with the chems and the bios. Carl Ford and I talked; Tom Finger and I talked, who is now John Negroponte’s deputy, and that was the way INR felt…

[Explaining apparent Iraqi spoofing of their chemical weapons capacity, perhaps using Iraqi 'reactions' to UN inspections as proof of deliverable reserves] Well, Saddam Hussein really cared about deterring the Persians – the Iranians – and his own people. He didn’t give a hang about us except on occasion. And so he had to convince those audiences that he still was a powerful man. So who better to do that through than the INC, Ahmad Chalabi and his boys, and by spoofing our eyes in the sky and our little HUMINT, and the Brits and the French and the Germans, too…

The consensus of the intelligence community was overwhelming. I can still hear George Tenet telling me, and telling [Powell that] the information we were delivering [which had convinced Tenet and John McLaughlin] was accurate. And contrary to what you were hearing in the papers and other places, one of the best relationships we had in fighting terrorists and in intelligence in general was with guess who? The French. In fact, it was probably the best. And they were right there with us…

The French came in in the middle of my deliberations at the CIA and said, we have just spun aluminum tubes, and by god, we did it to this RPM, et cetera, et cetera, and it was all, you know, proof positive that the aluminum tubes were not for mortar casings or artillery casings, they were for centrifuges. Otherwise, why would you have such exquisite instruments? We were wrong.

Wilkerson demolishes any fiction of Rumsfeld/DoD in having a legitimate postwar occupation plan. I draw readers' attention to Abrogating an established government tradition of preparing for postwar duties and The annoying realism of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), foreign and domestic which discussed the State Department's Future of Iraq effort comprising seventeen working groups "designed systematically to cover what would be needed to rebuild the political and economic infrastructure of the country" and parallel CIA war-gaming that indicated that an "Iraqi government couldn’t be assembled by the [process] being used for Afghanistan as the "rivalries in Iraq were so deep, and the political culture so shallow, that a similarly quick transfer of sovereignty would only invite chaos.":

State’s implication was that Iraq demanded a long and substantial US commitment even as it inculcated the concept of "resentful dependence" of weaker states upon the stronger, i.e., wanting US support without US control and oversight, and so stated that "the military occupation itself had to be brief" and that US nationals must be seen as assisting Iraqis, not employing them.

All working groups emphasized "how disorderly Iraq would be soon after liberation, and how difficult it would be to get the country on the path to democracy… [the] period immediately after regime change might offer these criminals the opportunity to engage in acts of killing, plunder and looting."

Wilkerson had this on the lack of postwar contingency planning:

Read George Packer’s book, "The Assassin’s Gate," [named for the main point of entry into Baghdad’s Green Zone] if you haven’t already. [Get a taste from Packer's WAR AFTER THE WAR in the New Yorker.] George Packer... has got it right. I just finished it, and I usually put marginalia in a book, but let me tell you, I had to get extra pages to write on… And I wish I had been able to help George Packer write that book. In some places I could have given him a hell of a lot more specifics than he’s got… But if you want to read how the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal flummoxed the process, read that book. And of course there are other names in there: Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, whom most of you probably know Tommy Franks said was the stupidest blankety, blank man in the world. He was… Let me testify to that. He was. Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man… And yet – and yet – and yet, after the secretary of State agrees to a $40 billion department rather than a $30 billion department having control, at least in the immediate post-war period in Iraq, this man is put in charge. Not only is he put in charge, he is given carte blanche to tell the State Department to go screw itself in a closet somewhere. Now, that’s not making excuses for the State Department; that’s telling you how decisions were made and telling you how things got accomplished. Read George’s book.

[In the Q&A] Again, I recommend to you "The Assassins’ Gate." George Packer gets this right. There was simply no plan, other than humanitarian assistance and a few other things like protection of oil and so forth, with regard to post-war Iraq. There was no plan.

The postwar disaster that we now have in Iraq is laid squarely at the feet of OSD which "is Washington shorthand [for] strong guidance from Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, [and] William Luti."

The magnitude of that disaster and the strategic aspect of Iraq are coupled strongly:

Another scenario is an Afghanistan in Iraq – essentially a terrorist breeding ground in Iraq. And people who criticize that opinion on my part say, well, it already is. The French are saying [that] they’ve actually got a conduit going from Paris or somewhere in France to Iraq and back again, training in Iraq and then coming back to Paris to blow up – kill Parisians and French in general. [See also Don't Ignore Western Europe, Terrorism Expert Warns U.S.]

We can’t leave Iraq. We simply can’t. I can make that case. No one in this administration has made that case. They have simply pontificated. That’s all they’ve done. Now, I’m not evaluating the decision to go to war. That’s a different matter. But we’re there, we’ve done it, and we cannot leave. I would submit to you that if we leave precipitously or we leave in a way that doesn’t leave something there we can trust, if we do that, we will mobilize the nation, put 5 million men and women under arms and go back and take the Middle East within a decade. That’s what we’ll have to do. So why not get it right now? Why not get it right now? I don’t see any signs, other than signs of desperation – that is to say, the polls are falling, people are finally listening, to a certain extent, to the evidence that’s building up, and so people are getting desperate… I don’t see anything that looks coordinated because I think the decisions are still being made essentially in that small group [Cheney-Rumsfeld-OSD].

On the efforts of Karen Hughes and the Sisyphean challenges facing US public diplomacy, Wilkerson was characteristically direct on what the US has to sell in the way of ideas and how it is being received abroad:

Public diplomacy? Broken. Broken. But I will say this. I will say this. An Egyptian friend of mine said this to me: "It’s hard to sell shit." [text corrected to match the audio] And I think if I had Karen Hughes here or Margaret Tutweiler or Charlotte Beers – all of whom were undersecretaries of State for – or are undersecretaries of State for public diplomacy, they would say, "You’re right; it is hard."

Scowcroft may not feel compelled to write a book, but Wilkerson is working on one. If his NAF speech is any indication, it will be informative.

The White House cabal
Opinion
By Lawrence B. Wilkerson
LA Times
October 25, 2005

The Republican Rift
Q&A Interview with Jeffrey Goldberg
New Yorker
Issue of 2005-10-31
Posted 2005-10-24

'The System Worked'
By Richard Holbrooke
Washington Post
October 23, 2005

Brent Scowcroft "Breaks Ranks" with George W. Bush in Major New Yorker Article
Steve Clemons
The Washington Note
October 23, 2005

Breaking Ranks: What Brent Scowcroft tried to tell Bush
Jeffrey Goldberg
New Yorker
Issue of 2005-10-31
Posted 2005-10-24
Not yet posted to the web - longest abstract here

US policy and the 'Oval Office cabal'
By Jim Lobe
Asia Times
Oct 21, 2005

Both of the following FT articles (Cheney cabal article and Wilkerson transcript) are mirrored here:

‘Cheney cabal hijacked US foreign policy’
By Edward Alden
Financial Times
Published: October 20 2005 00:00
Last updated: October 20 2005 00:19

Transcript: Colonel Wilkerson on US foreign policy
Financial Times
Published: October 20 2005 00:17
Last updated: October 20 2005 00:17
Mirror

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

Total Disconnect On Iraq Realities
by Allen Pizzey
CBS News
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 20, 2005

WEIGHING THE UNIQUENESS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION’S NATIONAL SECURITY DECISION-MAKING PROCESS: BOON OR DANGER TO AMERICAN DEMOCRACY?
WITH COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, USA (RET.) FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 2002-2005
Moderated by Steven Clemons, Director, American Strategy Program
New America Foundation
American Strategy Program
Policy Forum
WASHINGTON, D.C., OCTOBER 19, 2005
Transcript by: Federal News Service, Washington, D.C.
Entire talk with Q&A is 95:59.
PDF
HTML
Film (MP4)
Film (WMV)
Audio (MP3)

Don't Ignore Western Europe, Terrorism Expert Warns U.S.
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post
September 8, 2005
Mirror

Former aide: Powell WMD speech 'lowest point in my life'
CNN
August 23, 2005; Posted: 10:44 a.m. EDT (14:44 GMT)

INTERVIEW OF LAWRENCE B. WILKERSON WITH REGARD TO THE BOLTON NOMINATION
Friday, May 6, 2005

The Long Arm of Richard Armitage in the Battle Over Bolton
Steve Clemons
The Washington Note
April 22, 2005

Powell Playing Quiet Role in Bolton Battle
GOP Senators Sought Views on Nominee
By Jim VandeHei and Robin Wright
Washington Post
April 22, 2005

U.N. pick portrayed as a bully
Bolton was abusive boss, ex- official says
Steven R. Weisman
New York Times
April 13, 2005

WAR AFTER THE WAR
What Washington doesn’t see in Iraq
by GEORGE PACKER
New Yorker
Issue of 2003-11-24
Posted 2003-11-17

Gordon Housworth



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A Syrian 'smoking gun' depends on what you're smoking

  #

Part 1

Ma’oz describes sanctions, military pressure, and occupation as 'Confrontation and Punishment' that will fail for much the same reasons, adding that:

Another possible repercussion of U.S. military pressure on Syria is that it could consolidate Bashar’s domestic backing and the support of Iran and Hezbollah for Bashar’s regime. Such a U.S. policy might also unleash anti-American terror and worsen the United States’ already unflattering image as a brutal power in the Arab and Muslim world and beyond...

The strongest popular movements in Syria are Muslim militants and conservatives, and they are certainly not pro-American or pro-Israeli.

Ma’oz reminds us that Bush41 and Clinton "demanded much less from Asad Sr., even though Asad Sr. was a far more brutal dictator than his son [Bashar] has proved to be." "Bashar is more open-minded than his father and can be encouraged over time to further liberalize his rule and modernize his society." That Bush43 is far "more ideologically motivated and influenced by conservative circles" than Bush41 makes it all the more difficult for the US to adopt Ma'oz's recommendation of an incremental approach of engagement and cooperation in which:

  • Bush43 "does not insist on a regime change in Damascus, or on fully democratizing the Syrian political system"
  • Sharon "drops his refusal to renew the peace process with Syria and is prepared in principle to return the Golan Heights"

It is also unlikely that Bush43 could implement this incremental policy as Ma'oz suggests "mainly through back channels while employing also the influence and good offices of countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and France. Such an approach may well prove to be the most realistic and workable way to avoid a U.S.-Syrian collision, which would be likely to destabilize the region and prejudice U.S., Israeli, and Syrian interests." Still, effective cooperation with Israel and the US removes Syria's "dual strategic threat—from the south (Israel) and the east (Iraq)" while offering Syria significant trade and economic aid, freeing it of having to depend upon Hezbollah and Iran for survival, and creating an environment permitting a reduction in WMD production.

With US options limited at home and in the Arab world where US credibility is subzero, it is tempting to hope that the US will let Europe do some heavy lifting in the Levant where "international sanctions" and "pariah state" status mean little unless Europe, especially France (moral suasion and trade) and Italy (significant trade), support an embargo in depth. Syria's ally other than France has been the Saudis who are furious with Syria over the assassination of Hariri who held dual Lebanese-Saudi citizenship. If the Syrian regime is shown to be the perp, and not Hezbollah and the Iranians, it is the Saudis that can make great mischief for the regime, hobbling the Shiites in the process.

I agree with the UK who believes that Bashar Assad will not "take the offer, not least because it would be regarded as a huge climbdown and a betrayal of Syria’s hardline policies established by his late father, Hafez al-Assad," and that his extended family would execute him. Brother-in-law, Asef Shawkat, runs military intelligence while his brother, Maher al-Assad, runs the presidential guard.

Yet none, individually or collectively, have the skills of the deceased father, Hafez Assad, a superb puppet master and fearsome disciplinarian who invoked what became known as the Hama Rules, established a chemical warfare capacity to pose a first strike equivalent to Israel's nuclear assets, and attained a political role for Syria that "often exceeding its military or economic might." Beyond them however is the utter absence of a viable opposition. Remove them and there is chaos of sorts, save for the Saudis stepping in with money, oil, and diplomatic backing for a replacement. (The Saudis want to sideline Hezbollah in any event.)

Short of a Saudi wild card, Syria "has calculated that it has the resources to survive for quite some time even if it is isolated [and that it can] manage the conflict until external pressures ease." It is not helpful that Syria predictably staged spontaneous mass rallies of civil servants and students to protest the Mehlis report and was exceedingly unhelpful that Mehlis "disclosed that there had been a number of "credible" threats against him and his 30-member team of international investigators [concluding that] they would consequently need greater security during the remaining months of their work." (One wonders if the Syrians could be so stupid as to harm Mehlis or his staff, in effect, duplicating the uproar over the Baghdad bombing that killed the UN chief envoy, Sergio Vieira de Mello, in 2003, but then plausible denial is an amazingly attractive fig leaf.)

Given that sanctions have been generally resisted by both China and Russia, and that Algeria, currently representing Arab states on the Security Council, will likely resist them, the US and France have a full plate, the Mehlis report not withstanding, in gaining significant leverage to pressure Syria's full compliance in assisting Mehlis. There is a second report due by Terje Roed-Larsen, UN special envoy to Lebanon, whose mandate is to examine the current Lebanese situation, filing a progress report on Syria’s implementation of UNSC 1559:

According to Haaretz, the report will accuse Syria of continued "indirect military intervention and direct intelligence intervention in Lebanon," including "arms shipments to various militias." Roed-Larsen’s report will reportedly state that "Damascus did not did not genuinely implement Resolution 1559, preferring instead to maintain its indirect military control of Lebanon through its agents in the Lebanese presidential palace, the army and intelligence organizations." And where the Mehlis report was unconvincing and inconclusive to some, Roed Larsen’s report will prove culpability by establishing a present and thus continuous pattern of criminal Syrian activity in Lebanon.

Whatever the US does, I hope that it remains collegial and/or behind the scenes. A common chant in the Middle East is "There is no god but God, and [insert the US or Israel] is the enemy of God." Even when Karen Hughes cannot remember basic Iraqi current history, is excoriated by Muslims for the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, for supporting Israel, and unproven claims of Iraqi WMD production, Syria has assumed pride of place such that the chant to be heard for the moment is "There is no god but God, and Syria is the enemy of God."

U.N. Seeks 'Cooperation' From Syria on Assassination Probe
By WARREN HOGE
New York Times
October 25, 2005

France and U.S. to Press U.N. to Demand Syrian Cooperation
By WARREN HOGE and STEVEN R. WEISMAN
New York Times
October 25, 2005

 Syrians Protest Hariri Report En Masse
By ALBERT AJI
The Associated Press
October 24, 2005; 5:38 PM

The denial and the other report
From Beirut to the Beltway
Sunday, October 23, 2005

Syria Feels Heat Over U.N. Report
Middle East Is Captivated By Findings in Hariri Killing
By Anthony Shadid
Washington Post
October 22, 2005

Washington and Damascus Between Confrontation and Cooperation
By Moshe Ma'oz
United States Institute of Peace
AUGUST 2005
SyriaComment.com
Oct 21, 2005

REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION COMMISSION ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1595 (2005)
Detlev Mehlis, Commissioner
UNIIIC, Beirut
19 October 2005
Online by section
PDF
MS Word Doc with tracking changes intact

'Hama Rules'
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
New York Times
February 17, 2005
Mirrored
here

Was Lebanon Bashar's mini 1973 War?
Joshua Landis
SyriaComment
September 12, 2004

Foreign Affairs; Hama Rules
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
New York Times
September 21, 2001
Scrolled to
archive
Mirrored
here and here

Gordon Housworth



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Syria temporarily replaces the US and Israel as the "the enemy of God"

  #

That al-Jazeera read its 54 pages "in its entirety," that "other stations broadcast hours of coverage [on it] Friday," the UN interim report on Rafik Hariri's assassination was potent currency in Levantine politics even as it "stopped short of directly blaming President Bashar Assad or members of his inner circle, where his relatives occupy the most sensitive posts [but] bluntly said that the investigation [pointed] directly at involvement by Syrian security officials in the assassination and insisted that Syria clarify unresolved questions." [Note that while the official UN text was released in PDF, its MS Word version was also released with the tracking changes enabled so that readers could see what names were excised from the text for public release. There is also an issue of PC clock timing which accounts for the 'release date' controversy of when the doc was presented to Kofi Annan.]

That the investigation was UN, not US, led and that it was overseen by a German prosecutor, Detlev Mehlis, rather than a US mission chief, made the findings all the more incriminating for the Syrians. Kais does a nice job of summarizing in Mehlis report summarized and adds a follow-up in ISF fingers Syrian intelligence in bombings. When the former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik al Hariri, was assassinated, I noted that it:

has implications for the Levant, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and the Middle East, thus it seems that every faction is out to lay blame for his death upon a variety of actors that include the US, Israel, Syria, Iran, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, "a jihadist of Palestinian origin," "rogue Syrian intelligence operatives, even factions among Lebanon's myriad religious groups." The response of the Lebanese government, a Syrian puppet, and the Syrians is that the perpetrator is a "suicide bomber," and a car bomber at that, that produced the explosion that decimated al Hariri's motorcade.

It was my unstated opinion at the time that Hezbollah and its supporters were the culprits as, in part, I found it very difficult to believe that the Syrians could be so daft. The pointers are now to the Syrians, part hubris and part perceived necessity.

To dig deeper, one should look to Joshua Landis' SyriaComment for Levantine politics as one looks to Juan Cole's Informed Consent for Middle East overviews. Landis describes the current state:

It is hard to see how a climb down can be managed now that the Mehlis Report has been published. It is grey, but Syria is clearly being implicated. No indictments have yet been made. Until indictments are made both sides will engage in a war of words to try to sway public opinion to their side. The hawks in the West and Lebanon will insist it makes a clear link to the highest levels of Syria's leadership. Syria will insist that it is murky and highly politicized, that there is no smoking gun, and that Syria is being implicated without proof.

Moshe Ma'oz gets to the underlying causes of distress between the US and Syria, but first the well known public points:

  • Bashar Assad "vehemently opposed the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003"
  • Logistical help to Baathist loyalists and permitting Arab combatants to cross into Iraq
  • Sponsorship of U.S.-designated terrorist groups as "national liberation movements"
  • Continued alliance with Iran and its military ties with North Korea
  • Continued control of Lebanon until April 2005 (where Syrian intel assets never withdrew and continue to manage their Lebanese appointees)
  • Absence of "greater freedom and democracy in Syria"

"Historically and ideologically, Damascus has thought of Lebanon as "Western" Syria, part of "Greater Syria," and has never had formal diplomatic relations with Beirut. Damascus has also regarded Lebanon, particularly the Biqa valley, as a vital strategic asset in case of a war with Israel, as well as highly valuable to the Syrian economy... Bashar can ill afford to give up all his influence in LebanonSyria’s strategic assetlest this also damage Syria’s economy and particularly Bashar’s own prestige at home."

Beneath these issues of local politics are intractable ideological disputes that have so far barred useful negotiation. Syria was shocked that Bush43 tilted to Israel and away from the approach of Bush41 and Clinton. Bush43 and Bashar Assad now view "the other as holding a belief system antithetical to his own. Bashar considers Bush to be anti-Arab and pro-Israel while Bush regards Bashar as anti-American and a terror sponsoring tyrant." Both Bush43 and Bashar "are heavily influenced by their conservative circles and their respective ideologiesBashar by pan-Arabism and his desire to enhance his legitimacy in the Arab world, and Bush by his religious beliefs and by the more conservative members of his party, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and Israel."

Landis believes that the US "has consistently refused to take "Yes" as an answer [ignoring Syria's efforts to try] to cooperate with the West on the Iraq border, on the issue of terrorism finance, on the issue of stopping Jihadists from getting into Syria, on intelligence sharing, and on stabilizing Iraq." Landis' sees the "only credible reason" for this approach is that the US "wants regime change in Syria" as part of its program of "reforming the Greater Middle East." Unfortunately this puts two US policies at odds with one another, i.e., stabilizing Iraq and reforming the greater Middle East.

If there is resonance there, it must make Syria wary of any US overture, including what is said to be a US-sponsored "Gaddafi deal" to Syria to forestall further international sanctions. I feel that its demands are nothing short of suicide for the regime and its principals in that, unlike Libya, there is no upside for the ruling elite:

  • Complete cooperation with the UN investigation of Rafik Hariri's assassination, surrendering any and all suspects for trial under foreign jurisdiction

While ceasing:

  • Further interference in Lebanese affairs, including the assassination of civil and political figures
  • Recruitment, funding and training of Iraqi insurgents, jihadist and Baathist alike, on Syrian territory
  • Support for militant groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine

Deeply distracted by the Plame affair which has many essential staffers under threat of indictment and the rationale for the Iraq being called into question, the Bush43 administration is more proscribed in initiating a wider assault upon Syria than it might have otherwise attempted, although the US would likely settle for a massive Syrian effort to pacify Iraq.

Pat Lang nicely summarizes four US options, none of which will work:

  • Economic Sanctions - Syria's "half statist economy" does not depend on US trade but that of Europe, and just as in Iraq, the nomenklatura will be able to take their money to Europe
  • Transportation Isolation - Private aircraft will get whoever and whatever needs to go, at least for the elites, nor does Land expect the US to bar Syrians entry to the US, noting that the US did not do so to Iraq under Hussein
  • Encourage "Democracy" demonstrations - Utterly no fertile ground for this and the security forces are fearsome.
  • Military Action - The US has its plate full "democratizing" Iraq and if we did attack, we are attacking the last Arab nation to stand up to Israel

Part 2

Resignations May Follow Charges
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post
October 24, 2005

Leak Case Renews Questions on War's Rationale
By RICHARD W. STEVENSON and DOUGLAS JEHL
New York Times
October 23, 2005

Syria is being Set Up to Fail: A Leaked Letter from Washington
Joshua Landis
SyriaComment.com
October 23, 2005

Syria and the Stone Wall
by Patrick Lang
Boorman Tribune
Sat Oct 22nd, 2005 at 09:53:15 PM EDT

Syria Feels Heat Over U.N. Report
Middle East Is Captivated By Findings in Hariri Killing
By Anthony Shadid
Washington Post
October 22, 2005

ISF fingers Syrian intelligence in bombings
From Beirut to the Beltway
Saturday, October 22, 2005

Washington and Damascus Between Confrontation and Cooperation
By Moshe Ma'oz
United States Institute of Peace
AUGUST 2005
SyriaComment.com
Oct 21, 2005

Mehlis report summarized
From Beirut to the Beltway
Friday, October 21, 2005

REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION COMMISSION ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1595 (2005)
Detlev Mehlis, Commissioner
UNIIIC, Beirut
19 October 2005
Online by section
PDF
MS Word Doc with tracking changes intact

America offers 'Gaddafi deal' to bring Syria in from the cold
By Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor and Nick Blanford in Beirut
The Times (UK)
October 15, 2005

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Improving COTS availability of open source mapping, imagery and GPS data

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Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) technology is a frequent topic on this weblog as it provides a great leveler that asymmetric attackers can use against larger, more established adversaries. We overlook this capacity at our peril. Some examples:

This note deals with the rising open source availability of mapping, imagery and GPS data to an asymmetric attacker.

The Register held a humorous competition to "Spot the Black Helicopter" from submitted Google Earth imagery (primarily overhead, not oblique). Imagery that was historically limited to a few nations is now increasingly available on demand, at your PC, at little or no cost. (While there is dedicated imagery available for purchase from US, Russian and European sites, it comes at a price and with potentially traceability.) Imagery that offers a general overhead view of a desired facility in concert with GPS coordinates is available for operational planning purposes. The Register pointed out naval facilities, airfields (and here), airfields and revetments, intelligence, command and chemical facilities, boomers (nuclear ballistic missile submarines) at dockside, nuclear facilities and aircraft carriers at dockside. States such as India and South Korea have protested Google Earth "on the grounds that the globetrotting online service shows sensitive military installations laid bare in a way which might benefit North Korea."

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

Independent spin-offs such as Flash Earth use satellite images from Google Maps or MSN Virtual Earth to attempt a better, more efficient rendering of Google Maps using Flash.

The winner of DARPA's Grand Challenge for autonomous (unmanned) vehicles to navigate a 132 mile desert terrain, Stanford's Stanley, used a COTS off-road vehicle and COTS sensors and computers. (The art was in the AI software that defined the vehicle's position, told it what was ahead, and what must be the appropriate response. The majority of competitors used Trimble GPS units capable of "subfoot (30 cm) GPS accuracy" which were "often coupled with an inertial measurement unit (IMU), which can determine speed and acceleration on all axes. An IMU can provide information about the location of the vehicle if the GPS gets interrupted."

Trimble also provides this accuracy in a ruggedized handheld that provides the "subfoot (30 cm) GPS accuracy required by electric and gas utilities, water and wastewater services, land reform projects, and other applications where accurate positioning is crucial."

Also good for targeting and/or ignition of "a GPS-augmented payload that would allow terrorists to track and detonate the payload at the appropriate position" with superior accuracy.

On the less commercial side, Trimble Outdoors has components for "communications and GPS software for your GPS cell phone [and] trip planning software with maps for your PC that can be used on its own or with your handheld GPS or GPS phone." Users can now easily geocache random GPS data, both producing and downloading TopoGrafix LOC or GPS Exchange Format files, that can be input to custom topographic files. (See also Geocaching.com.). It has elements of a battlefield C3 mapping capacity:

  • Research trips posted by other members
  • Plan and create trips on your personal computer using topographical, aerial or street maps of the US
  • Download trips to your GPS receiver or GPS cell phone
  • Use your GPS cell phone for route navigation and tracking
  • Personalize your trips with pictures and notes
  • Share trips with friends and family on-line

Trimble Outdoors navigation allows users to check locations at specific points in a trip while Trimble Adventure Planner allows a user to plan trips "with all the important navigation points marked, using aerial, topographic or street maps to perfectly plan your route… Once planned, you can download your trip to your Nextel phone. With Trimble Outdoors, you have everything you need in one light-weight device: cell phone, GPS receiver with complete GPS navigation capabilities, camera, and walkie-talkie."

Trimble Outdoors posts a trip from Swamp Pt to Monument Pt, Arizona, whose trip summary had 7 routes, 70 waypoints and 2 POIs (points of interest). Trip photos can be appended which in this case provides a means to follow an exciting canyon hike, but could just as easily provide surveillance validation information (trip summary, interactive map and elevation profile).

Trimble Outdoors has samples around urban areas as well - such as Washington DC. One had 53 POIs around the greater DC area (POIs and interactive map). Another was a trip around the Washington Mall, including a visit to the White House, a tour perhaps (way points and map).

Increasingly better and affordable maps and optics technology is making heretofore distant sites such as Area 51, long a source of interest to legitimate aerospace technologist and UFO conspiracist theorist alike, increasingly, albeit teasingly, visible. While Microsoft Virtual Earth has elected to excise overhead imagery of Area 51, leaving only a grayed-out section, Google offers a useful color overhead of Area 51. This image is a hybrid, i.e., a combination of both map and satellite data, but the area is so sparse that 'map' shows only one road approaching the facility at this resolution.

Another of what I call the committed collector community has produced one of the better oblique panorama collages of Area 51:

The panorama was assembled from 16 individual photos, taken with a Canon D-60 digital camera mounted to a Celestron C-5 spotting scope on a Davis&Sanford ProVista tripod with Bogen 410 geared head. The effective focal length was 2000mm [producing] 1/4-meter resolution (4-times higher than the [1/2-meter resolution] shown here [on the website]).

The panorama was "taken in the early morning hours of August 7, 2005" presumably to minimize atmospheric distortion and have the sun behind the camera from Tikaboo Peak which is the only unclass line of site (26 miles) to the facility after the closer "White Sides" and "Freedom Ridge" observation points were reclaimed by the feds in 1995. It is worth clicking onto some of the segments (click the 'skip' in upper right on the annoying screensaver advertisements to get quickly to the image). The images are annotated which makes the accompanying historical notes of building and construction activity more useful. As we have noted elsewhere, even partial 'time sequences' of properly described events provide:

a means of pattern detection, evidence of trend growth or attenuation, changes in underlying assumptions, and the emergence of new players or vulnerabilities.

As optics at all wavelengths improve and more sources of data emerge, it becomes increasingly more difficult to shield all activities all the time. One wonders how long the military will permit access to Tikaboo. [Note that the 'Maps & GPS' section in frame left offer some useful data for Area 51 as well as general topomapping sources.]

Kalam Concerned Over Google Earth
Techtree News Staff
Oct 19, 2005

Google Earth digs deeper
MAP SERVICE IN TALKS TO INCLUDE DETAILS FROM COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE DATA FIRM
By Jon Ann Steinmetz
Mercury News
Posted on Tue, Oct. 18, 2005

Robotic vehicle adapted human ways of learning
By Mike Langberg
Mercury News
Posted on Mon, Oct. 17, 2005

Google Earth: the black helicopters have landed
By Lester Haines
The Register
Published Friday 14th October 2005 15:55 GMT

Sensing their surroundings
Posted by: Wayne Cunningham
October 10, 2005, 4:12 PM PDT

MyTopo.com and Trimble Empower Outdoor Enthusiasts to Publish Custom GPS Overlay Maps
Trimble
Aug. 11, 2005

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Multisourcing: belated recovery of forgotten first principles, part 2

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Part 1

For those of us that come from a background of a Counterterrorism (CT) and Counterintelligence (CI) threat analysis, a Governance Model that Gartner belatedly embraces is the essence of effective performance definition, and the Design Basis Threat (DBT) becomes an integral, inseparable part of that governance model as the mechanism that informs the Command or Senior management of the types of threats it may face over time and allows them to define the threats that are in or out of scope, the level of deflection or defense that will be committed to each threat, and the cost for that level of deflection or defense. The commercial side could learn much the military in essential risk management starting with Field Manual FM 100-14, Risk Management, which is the commander's principal risk reduction process to identify and control hazards and make informed decisions:

  • Identify hazards
  • Assess hazards
  • Develop controls and make risk decisions
  • Implement controls
  • Supervise and evaluate

The discriminator in DBT design is that almost all conventional DBTs are a scenario-based risk process instead of a rigorous procedural analysis that:

  • Defines risk management objectives under an integrated Command vision
  • Balances efficiency vs. security
  • Provides exportable and testable guidelines
  • Mandates periodic review under changing threats

The false complacency that scenarios instill is so great that I am compelled to beat the drum one more time:

Scenario-based responses are dangerously omissive, driving clients to extraordinary cost and diversion, often without merit, but is prevalent in part because it is simple. It requires no procedural rigor or grounding in fact, only the ability to ask "What if?" endlessly, yet is virtually ineffective for deferring, deflecting, or interdicting an adversary's preparation.

Witness the events of the July 2005 mass transit bombings in London where the UK had had a thirty-year history of dealing with a variety of terrorist attacks and bombings, the "scenario" and "lessons learned" from the earlier transit attacks in Madrid, Spain, were well-known, yet proved little benefit to the British in interdicting the London attacks of July 2005.

Scenario-spinning has no logical end and provides no threat assessment, vulnerability assessment, or risk assessment that would normally be enshrined in a firm's Governance Model.

Scenarios were an Army staple until the terrorist truck bomb attack along the northern perimeter of Khobar Towers, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on June 25, 1996. (Khobar Towers was a facility housing U.S. and allied forces supporting Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, coalition air operations over Iraq.) The report by Wayne A. Downing, General, U.S. Army (Retired) which has become known as the Downing Report (Introductory Letter, Preface and Report), reinvigorated the uphill effort to substitute procedurally consistent threat and vulnerability analyses in place of scenario generation.

Without guiding bounds, scenarios proliferate endlessly, often crippling most well-intended, protective efforts (paralysis by analysis). Defenders must define a coherent view of their risk tolerance before they can craft a response strategy that can reasonably and consistently respond to the threats on offer.

Risk Management
FM 100-14
Field Manual Headquarters
No. 100- 14 Department of the Army
Washington, DC, 23 April 1998

Report to the President and Congress on the Protection of U.S. Forces Deployed Abroad
ANNEX A - The Downing Investigation Report
Downing Assessment Task Force
NMCC Room 2C890, The Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310
August 30, 1996
Annex A consists of following three documents:
The Introductory Letter - A two page letter from Downing.
The Preface
The Report - 68 pages of text and tables.

Gordon Housworth



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Multisourcing: belated recovery of forgotten first principles

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Having long held that "insultants" outnumber consultants, and mindful that certain consultancies prey upon the short attention spans of their clients even as certain clients use their consultant's opinions as 'security blanket' surrogates for omissive decision making, I am displeased that the consulting community has ridden the outsourcing pony for years and only now is actively turning on the outsourcing concept as its political and structural impacts are becoming increasingly obvious. In point of fact, the consulting community is beginning to issue a new prescription for a disease which they themselves helped to construct.

I would like to offer a realistic assessment of why and how firms outsource. Firms almost universally devolve the problem to a divisional or unit level, thus the means, omissions and results that are achieved will vary on a case-by-case basis. The upshot is that the same problem is solved in differing ways, as a colleague said, "to avoid some organizational consequence" such as cost savings, headcount reductions (which can be to protect existing staff or to get credit for any reduction), functionality (that is missing, failing or inconvenient), or at the personal level, a positive annual personnel rating (which may be measured against suboptimizing criteria). What is missing is a decision making framework that integrates global and national aspects of need, technology, business considerations, risks, scope, duration, cost implications and ultimately solutions (there is always more than one solution, depending upon the desired outcomes and the bounds of monies, mindshare, and timing available).

I am displeased that Gartner's Linda Cohen is now leading the charge to "stop outsourcing now" and is conveniently substituting 'multisourcing' in its place, which is nothing more than a return to first principles, to what outsourcing should have been in first instance.

Only now does Gartner say that "Most organizations are utilizing ad hoc approaches to outsourcing that are both short-sighted and ineffective. Successful outsourcing requires a new operational model - multisourcing - that seamlessly blends internally and externally delivered services, not just to cut costs or gain efficiencies, but to maximize growth, agility and bottom-line results."

Yes, Gartner has been honing this multisourcing idea for a while.  Gartner was flagging multisourcing in early 2003 even as it noted that "IT outsourcing has been a rare bright spot in a gloomy technology spending climate." By late 2004, Gartner was finally noting that industry needed a sourcing strategy that assesses a firm's "cultural, financial, contractual and statutory factors [so as to] be capable of fulfilling business objectives for the long term"... that "multi-sourcing is the "new normal"; senior executive involvement is gained and retained; and governance is regarded as a core competency." By mid 2005, they were noting that firms needed to "replace or retrain the executives responsible for managing outsourcing."

One has to ask, where were they back then, over the past decade, and did they, in effect, train those they now recommend for redundancy? Sun's Scott McNealy was already using multisourcing by Aug 2002.

"Outsourcing" should have been 'multisourcing" from the onset. Gartner is calling multisourcing a "new terrain" for outsourcing, but I agree with Farber that it is "more accurately a rational, common sense terrain" and one that should have been pressed years earlier. Gartner's eight "pervasive myths" and eight "outsourcing maladies" were predictable at the dawn of outsourcing.

Worse, neither Gartner or Forrester address the implications of essential information security and Intellectual Property (IP) security components both here and abroad. Protection of IP on the "sell side" of manufacturing must be matched on the "buy side" of consulting and outsourcing services. Rules applicable to outsourcing apply equally to manufacturing and the manufacturing supply chain, yet they are handled in isolation thereby creating more opportunities for corporate inefficiency and hemorrhage of IP. See Outsourcing obscured by distortion and fog.

Sidebar:

There are small ways to venture outside accepted norms in estimating outsourcing impacts and designing new work rule streamlining. We recommended that Northwest Airlines' streamlining of work rules (job redesign) and outsourcing was applicable to the business continuity interests of clients in other sectors with regards to their core labor unions in both outsourcing and manufacturing operations. We recommended that they put Northwest on their watch list for continuous examination so as to produce an AAR (After Action Report) for lessons learned by Northwest (NWA) and their applicability to each client's condition, i.e., assemble a cross-functional 'war room' to track and model Northwest actions against the client's situation, in effect gaming the NWA effort internally.

[History: I remember the 1998 UAW strike (here and here) against General Motors who then secretly trucked out stamping dies out of Flint, MI, to Mansfield, OH, to preserve production of profitable truck and SUV models, the resulting labor storm and production interruption that closed 27 of GM's 29 assembly plants and laid off some 200,000 of its work force, cost GM $2.2 billion, and then GM effectively folding after 53 days without gain. Remembering that GM's approach seemed mad, I thought that a Northwest approach is a workable means to plan-in-advance for a restructuring and use the inevitable strike as an opportunity to readjust without significant business interruption. (It has long been my opinion that the relatively buoyant automotive labor market was an anomaly due to pent-up demand after WW II and was (is) unsustainable, no matter what labor management wants for its aging members. Yes, management and engineering are going to have to design better, more desirable product, but labor must cooperatively work to produce it at most efficient cost. Yes, union membership might not/would not grow as much but I think that there would be more continuity and stability for those at work. Your mileage may vary.)]

Part 2

Gartner: Stop outsourcing now
Posted by Dan Farber @ 10:03 am
October 17, 2005

Gartner: Outsourcing managers must be retrained
Or given the chop...
By Simon Sharwood
Silicon.com
Published: Tuesday 7 June 2005

GARTNER: OUTSOURCING NEEDS STRONG RX
By Linda Tucci
CIO
04.05.2005

Well-Laid Plan Kept Northwest Flying in Strike
By MICHELINE MAYNARD
New York Times
August 22, 2005

Do it right, or not at all
By Maggie Macrae
CFO (Australia)
01 September 2004

GARTNER: OUTSOURCING DEALS WILL GO ON A DIET
By Barney Beal
CIO
02.26.2004

Gartner: IT outsourcing will disappoint
By Ed Frauenheim
CNET News.com
Published: March 25, 2003

Gordon Housworth



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Political denial and spinning as a direct application of distortion and fog

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Part 3

Open source analysis is problematic when media distortions comissively misinform, and underreporting omissively starve, the public record. While Media distortion and the underpinnings of 'Wag the Dog' and 'Fog facts' in both media and print were written from the context of skewed or deficient reporting that blunts open source analysis, the political dimension is undeniable. I had politics in mind when deciding to cite Beinhart's politics in 'Fog facts' with the intent to defuse partisan dismissal by recognizing that his politics may inform the examples that he puts forward but that his central message should not be dismissed.

Events that sadly typify the themes of these notes emerged as they were being written, one much more reported than the other but both of significance. Concluding with the most reported event that had wide administration hallmarks of pre- and post-spin manipulation:

Political denial and spinning as a direct application of distortion and fog

As chance would have it, I happened to be watching the video feed of Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Internal Communications, Allison Barber, stepping a handpicked group of nine US soldiers from the 42nd Infantry Division on duty in Tikrit, plus one Iraqi (who in my estimation had to be handpicked as he spoke in English and later told Bush43 that, "Thank you very much for everything. I like you."). I then watched the president proceed through his questioning with this group. It is one thing to read after the fact, but quite another to hear both the inadvertently released Barber feed and the White House official feed. To this analyst, the pair constituted blatant coaching that elicited answers that unfortunately do not come at all close to the reality of the Iraqi situation on the ground as commented upon in this weblog and other sources.

In my professional opinion, it was a flight from reality, and that is charitable even after reading the blog entry of the combat medic, Sgt Ron Long, "Speaking with President Bush." I have no doubt that Sgt Long believes what he wrote, and I empathize with his feeling of being in harm's way with little public support, but he and I depart on comments such as this (bold face and caps are his):

I know that we are fighting here, not only to preserve our own freedoms, but to establish those same freedoms for the people of Iraq. It makes my stomach ache to think that we are helping to preserve free speech in the US, while the media uses that freedom to try to RIP DOWN the President and our morale, as US Soldiers. They seem to be enjoying the fact that they are tearing the country apart. Worthless! The question I was most asked while I was home on leave in June was, "So...What's REALLY going on over there?" Does that not tell you something?! Who has confidence in the media to tell the WHOLE STORY? It's like they WANT this to turn into another Vietnam. I hate to break it to them, but it's not.

Were I seeking a sympathetic audience, I would certainly choose dedicated individuals such as this, but I am bothered that as these soldiers are being queued for upbeat messages, the administration is backing away from its 2+ year mantra that:

as democracy took hold in Iraq, the insurgency would lose steam because Al Qaeda and the opponents of the country's interim government had nothing to offer Iraqis or the people of the Middle East

And has replaced it with presidential comments that warn that:

that the insurgency is already metastasizing into a far broader struggle to "establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia [and while predicting victory] appears to be preparing the country for a struggle of cold war proportions."

In step with that are "administration officials" that are "beginning to describe the insurgency as long-lasting, more akin to Communist insurgencies in Malaysia or the Philippines, but with a broader and more deadly base." Where now are the platitudes of an easy Iraqi parallel to the Japan and Germany of WW II? Certainly not with former Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage,

Those who argued at the time that the acceptance of democracy in Iraq would be easy, and who drew on our experience with Japan and Germany, were wrong… Germany and Japan were homogeneous societies. Iraq is not. Japan and Germany were also highly developed industrialised economies. Iraq is not.

in the case of both Germany and Japan there were memories of democracy; flawed, to be sure, but people were at least familiar with the inner workings and mechanisms. And most important of all, both Japan and Germany had extremely competent and professional bureaucracies [and] they did it in a way that meant it was not a function of cronyism and corruption, as it was in Iraq.

in both Germany and Japan's case there were people who suffered during the war and who stayed in the country. They experienced the horror and were victims themselves and afterwards were prepared to take up the cudgels on behalf of democracy. In Iraq, the political class [were] part of the diaspora.

In Germany and Japan, the population was exhausted and deeply shocked by what had happened [but] the US is dealing with an Iraqi population that is un-shocked and un-awed".

Your mileage may vary, but I did not accept either the comments of Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita, "The soldiers were advised as to the issues they should expect to discuss, and decided among themselves who would speak to each issue as it may arise," of White House spokesman Scott McClellan, "I think all they were doing was talking to the troops and letting them know what to expect," or the DoD press announcement that "service members were excited about the opportunity to speak with the President. No one intended to tell them what to think or how to express themselves; going through likely questions in advance was meant solely to help the troops feel at ease during an obviously unique experience."

I very much agreed with the "senior Pentagon officials told FOX News that they are angry that soldiers were coached at all before the video conference went live" and the "senior military commander told FOX News that he's outraged by the way the young soldiers were coached."

Given the unscripted responses that US troops have offered senior commanders, I can see an administration wishing to have a more telegenic experience, but Barber's 45-minute practice run of the teleconference "tells the story of soldiers who were being 'scripted' and given answers that had been [in Barber's own words] 'drilled through'" and then attempted to pass it off as contemporaneous remarks.

In closing, it is difficult not to comment on the recurring administration effort to erase Bush43 comments as to religious motives, even direct guidance, of key presidential actions. As I am accepting of any religion that does not hold my death as one of its tenets, I do not place judgment on what an individual does or does not believe if it differs from my own views but I do find it interesting that Bush43 consistently "confuses groups as diverse as the Palestinians and the Amish" as to the religiously inspired motives for actions that affect the nation.

Comments of first party participants on these stark religious drivers are consistently spun off into the fog.

Administration's Tone Signals a Longer, Broader Iraq Conflict
By DAVID E. SANGER
New York Times
October 17, 2005

George W. Bush and the G-Word
By Al Kamen
Washington Post
October 14, 2005

Pentagon Denies Talk With Troops Was Staged
Fox News
Friday, October 14, 2005

Bush has a rehearsed tele-conference with US troops in Iraq
Wikinews
October 14, 2005

Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged
President Bush Teleconference With U.S. Troops Was Choreographed to Match His Goals for Iraq War
By DEB RIECHMANN
The Associated Press
Oct 14, 2005

President Addresses U.S. Troops in Iraq in Video Teleconference
White House
October 13, 2005, 9:54 A.M. EDT

Cut & paste: If only Richard Armitage said this before the Iraq war
Maxine McKew interview with Rich Armitage
The Australian
October 07, 2005

Gordon Housworth



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Outsourcing obscured by distortion and fog

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Part 2

Open source analysis is problematic when media distortions comissively misinform, and underreporting omissively starve, the public record. While Media distortion and the underpinnings of 'Wag the Dog' and 'Fog facts' in both media and print were written from the context of skewed or deficient reporting that blunts open source analysis, the political dimension is undeniable. I had politics in mind when deciding to cite Beinhart's politics in 'Fog facts' with the intent to defuse partisan dismissal by recognizing that his politics may inform the examples that he puts forward but that his central message should not be dismissed.

Events that sadly typify the themes of these notes emerged as they were being written, one much more reported than the other but both of significance. Starting with the underreported but monumentally important:

Outsourcing obscured by distortion and fog

Manufacturing & Technology News (MTN) reported that its FOIA request for a Commerce Department report on IT service-sector and high-tech outsourcing produced a bland, short document, Six-Month Assessment of Workforce Globalization In Certain Knowledge-Based Industries,  that "has not been posted on the [Commerce] Technology Administration's Web site and is not available to the public." The copy that Business Week obtained (which appears identical to the MTN copy in comparison of each cited quotation) has no header or footer information, and none of the usual description and document identification of a released federal paper.

Mercury News, in the heart of the US venture capital sector, described it as "pollyana-ish" document "that does little more than parrot earlier reports by business groups" concluding "that outsourcing is nothing but good for the U.S. economy… this kind of report does a great disservice to the American public and ultimately to the cause of free trade."

MTN states that the FOIA document carried a July 2004 date but was "completed well before the November 2004 presidential election but was delayed for clearance [due to its being a "contentious campaign issue, particularly in the swing states"] by the White House and the Republican-controlled Congress due to the controversial nature of the subject." Furthermore, this report bears no resemblance to the original report produced by Technology Administration analysts that addressed such issues as Indian outsourcing growth, outsourcing strategies adopted by IBM, HP, Microsoft and Google, which IT jobs will go and which will stay, and that "knowledge work can move offshore more quickly and cheaply than manufacturing." In contrast, the released report said that federal data "can offer only very limited insight into the extent and impact of workforce globalization," and that "it was not possible to determine whether the shift of U.S. work to non-U.S. locations resulted in jobs losses for U.S. workers."

This is a grim and misleading report both omissive and comissive, if it MTN's assertions are correct that it was "crafted by political appointees at Commerce and at the White House." Outsourcing is a major US strategic issue that has been left to private hands and is one that this list has often addressed:

Worse still, the US is lacking a cohesive national outsourcing response and in this case, lags far behind the UK where Tony Blair's anointed successor, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, has outlined a strategy using government assistance to transform the manufacturing sector instead of "abandoning… or surrounding it with protectionist barriers." Offshoring is also a European concern as the European Union recognizes that European industrial jobs are under threat from emerging economies and that the "assumption that Europe could offset its loss of traditional manufacturing jobs by retaining a lead in knowledge-based industries and exporting higher-value goods to emerging economies" is unwarranted.

In the face of such a challenge to our manufacturing and technology, it is unconscionable that at the federal level the US sweeps the matter under the rug.

Part 4, political staging and manipulation

We can't hide from downside of offshoring jobs
Mercury News Editorial
Posted on Thu, Oct. 13, 2005

China is targeting hi-tech jobs, EU warns
David Gow in Brussels
The Guardian
October 13, 2005

Political Appointees Re-Write Commerce Department Report On Offshore Outsourcing; Original Analysis Is Missing From Final Version
Manufacturing & Technology News
BY RICHARD McCORMACK
October 12, 2005, Volume 12, No. 18

Six-Month Assessment of Workforce Globalization In Certain Knowledge-Based Industries
Technology Administration (US)
July 2004
Note: This copy has no header or footer information, none of the usual description and document identification of a released federal paper

U.K. Leads; U.S. Lags
KENAN PATRICK JARBOE
GUEST EDITORIAL
Manufacturing & Technology News
July 8, 2005

Gordon Housworth



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