Contrast in torpor and agility: DHS-DoD-DoJ and Abu Maysara al Iraqi
- Gordon Housworth [ 10/3/2004 - 11:57 ] #
The redacted DHS Challenges in Consolidating Terrorist Watch List Information is damning enough in its conclusion that failed DHS oversight and poor interagency cooperation have failed to produce a single consolidated watch list, but a leaked FOUO copy makes it clear than more essential basics are not being covered. The redactions are as much example as specific blunder. Redaction examples in bold face:
A number of additional challenges, such as [such as identifying links between violent criminals and terrorism], privacy, [and duplicative federal activities related to watch list programs], could be pursued in the context of a centrally coordinated approach to watch list management.
Although TIPOFF data was being shared, the extent of sharing was inconsistent among other watch list systems. [Very little terrorist information was shared with state and local law enforcement.] Where information was shared, it was not supported by common architectures because individual agencies developed and implemented interfaces with other federal agency watch list systems on an ad hoc basis.
It is worth reading both versions split screen to see what was considered appropriate for exclusion. If we cannot shoot straight in this seemingly straightforward area, how can we presume to detect and preempt the genuinely dangerous?
Contrast our DHS-DoD-DoJ performance to the unified masterpiece of propaganda, public relations, and enlistment of Abu Maysara al Iraqi, or father of Maysara the Iraqi, a person or persons unknown to US authorities. Abu Maysara continuously evades US efforts to silence him/them while delivering the jihadist message, acting as a spokesman for Abu Musab Zarqawi, while building a cult following for Zarqawi. For Arabs, it is Abu Maysara that controls the propaganda war with the US by issuing frequent reports so that the jihadist message "does not become lost in the media blackout that America imposes in order to deceive its people and its allies."
Messages follow a rigid format, "always in Arabic [opening] with a standard greeting such as, "In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful," [then] the heart of the message [of the event or the attack], written in flowery language [that favors] ellipses, half-sentences" and mixing incident details with religious invocations.
Adulatory responses go unanswered. "He doesn't respond to requests for information… never replied … never gets involved in the discussion [and] never explains himself."
Abu Maysara is the apogee of terrorist/jihadist use of the internet, going beyond clandestine target research, communication, planning, and fund raising to attaining "direct control over shaping their own image and that of their foes" outside the control of established (enemy) news feeds. Peter Bardazzi echoes my comments in Beheadings as ascendant psywar that jihadists are using items such as the beheading videos to show jihadist dominance and opposition humiliation while drawing adherents, specifically noting that "the videos were changing popular sentiment about the war in Iraq the same way the images of fighting during the Vietnam War affected public opinion."
First appearing in January 2004 in the password-protected Muntada Al-Ansar and Islah chat rooms, Abu Maysara has continually moved his/their website around the world, the US included, often to unsuspecting hosts so as to provide a continuous presence to a widening audience that has forced him/them to solve thorny technology issues such as the ability to widely disseminate relatively dense video images that evade suppression by the authorities.
The application of YouSendIt of Campbell, California (originally designed to help families and colleagues trade pictures, videos, and multimedia presentations) to jihadist video propagation is inspiring in its brilliance. By the time officials are aware that a video is in the wild, compressed versions have already been anonymously distributed to global chatrooms beyond the reach of recovery.
It also appears that Abu Maysara can learn and adapt when it hears a good suggestion. A reader's idea that the Englishman, Kenneth Bigley, be made to beg for his life may have been the first time that Abu Maysara reshaped his/their agenda as within days Bigley did not follow the Americans Armstrong and Hensley, but was begging on video, in the orange jumpsuit of execution, in chains, in a cage, for his life.
Talk about mastery of medium and message, defining dominance and impotence in a stroke. And we can't get out a single bad guy list.
From a Virtual Shadow, Messages of Terror
By Ariana Eunjung Cha
October 2, 2004
DHS Challenges in Consolidating Terrorist Watch List Information
Leaked FOUO and Federal redacted
Office of Information Technology
OIG-04-31 August 2004
Effort to Create Terror Watch List Is Falling Behind, Report Finds
By ROBERT BLOCK and GARY FIELDS
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
October 1, 2004
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The G-24 and the IMF; foxes vie for control of the henhouse
- Gordon Housworth [ 10/2/2004 - 14:08 ] #
The Group of 24 ministers (G-24) attacked an International Monetary Fund (IMF) surveillance proposal even before the IMF could issue a press release. The IMF's intent was to "issue public praise for countries that follow sound economic policies and don't want to borrow from the agency" for those countries who wished to volunteer for the rating. In what was a shield for continued corrupt practices, the G-24 said the proposal would minimize lending to low-income countries and while the "instrument has been presented as 'voluntary,' there is a high probability that it would in fact become a requirement for lending, grants, and debt relief."
It is the understatement of the quarter century for the IMF to note that it "has historically had problems with that requirement - blowing the whistle on a country with poor policies might help avert a financial crisis by spurring reforms. But it might also trigger a crisis by frightening investors." (The 1999 Contingent Credit Lines program offering states "with sound economic policies that were at risk of financial "contagion" from similar countries with poor policies" expired in 2003 with few takers due to fears of being seen as weak.)
It is most interesting to see who the G-24 are and how its member rank on Transparency International's 2003 Corruption Perceptions Index.
The G-24 or the Intergovernmental Group of Twenty-Four on International Monetary Affairs and Development was established in 1971 with the objective "to concert the position of developing countries on monetary and development finance issues." G-77 member state are welcome to attend G-24 meetings as observers while the People's Republic of China "enjoys the status of "Special Invitee" and addresses the plenary sessions of the G-24." G-24 member states are drawn from three regions: Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia.
G-24 member countries are as follows:
- Region I (Africa): Algeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Region II (Latin America and the Caribbean): Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.
- Region III (Asia and developing countries of Europe): India, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Syrian Arab Republic.
It is instructive to track the G-24 member states on Transparency International's 2003 Corruption Perceptions Index.
TI's 2003 Corruption Perceptions Index measures perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people, academics and risk analysts, and ranges between 10 (highly clean) and 0 (highly corrupt). On 133 countries rated, the cleanest, Finland was 1, and the worst was Bangladesh at 133. "Seven out of ten countries score less than 5 out of a clean score of 10, while five out of ten developing countries score less than 3 out of 10… Nine out of ten developing countries urgently need practical support to fight corruption."
As the Corruption Perceptions Index has been, like the Economist's Big Mac index, a reliable comparative measure, it is interesting to see how the G-24 faired, or failed as the case may be. Note that certain countries tie, such as Columbia and Peru at 59.
By CPI rank, then country:
43 Trinidad and Tobago; 48 South Africa; 54 Brazil; 59 Colombia, Peru; 64 Mexico; 66 Sri Lanka, Syria, China (not a G-24 member, but as it is granted Observer status); 70 Egypt, Ghana; 78 Iran, Lebanon; 83 India; 88 Algeria; 92 Argentina, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Philippines; 100 Guatemala, Venezuela; 118 Cote d’Ivoire, 132 Nigeria.
Unrated by TI as there were only two reports, but this author would mark them towards the bottom, with the DRC below Nigeria, especially as the DRC is a major blood diamond exporter through al Qaeda channels:
Gabon; Democratic Republic of Congo
That said, and knowing China's efforts to build diplomatic favor among world's weaker but still instrumental regional states, China's Xinhua statements take new meaning when it urges the IMF "to develop effective lending facilities to assist countries in the prevention of financial crisis," i.e., not this one, and in the "absence of appropriate crisis prevention mechanisms, [the IMF] should play a much larger role in reserve accumulation," i.e., make more funds available for "shrinkage."
Think what fun it will be if Wolfensohn does not seek another five-year term at World Bank. The foxes will demand "greater clout within the IMF and the World Bank." It is not too difficult to imagine a structure in which funds of developed economies are eased into grey area coffers.
IMF Plan To Promote Good Economic Policy Gets Cool ReceptionWorld Bank Development News
2 October 2004
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China, the US, and the International Criminal Court
- Gordon Housworth [ 10/1/2004 - 20:15 ] #
A colleague asked in response to China reverses a half-century on diplomatic non-intervention, what is the statute of limitations before the court and what jurisdiction would the Hague court have over alleged human rights abuses within China?
I'll expand the reply to include the US. The 1998 Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) has a long reach as Article 29, Non-applicability of statute of limitations, states that "crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court shall not be subject to any statute of limitations." There is no wiggle room.
The ICC will initially have jurisdiction over "war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity" and will add "the crime of aggression" as agreement is reached on its definition. The ICC invokes the principle of complementarity which allows jurisdiction when the states that would normally have national jurisdiction are unable, or unwilling, to exercise it. It's principles of criminal law are drawn from different legal systems in an attempt to insure due process. While there is no retroactivity, i.e., no jurisdiction over acts committed prior to the statute’s entry into force, it does recognize the principle of "individual criminal responsibility" so as to prosecute individuals for serious violations of international law and hold them responsible for the actions of subordinates. The death penalty is excluded, leaving the ICC with term imprisonment, life imprisonment, and fines.
The US is attempting to sign bilateral agreements, using Article 98, Bilateral Immunity Agreements (BIAs), with countries where US forces are serving to ensure that American personnel won’t be subject to ICC prosecution. Some accuse the US of using the Article 98 as a trapdoor out of the Rome Statute whereas the US insists that the article permits it to engage in agreements over the conditions of surrendering, more precisely the consent of the sending state -- the US in this instance -- is required before an individual is transferred to the court.
I'm not alone in reading an implied threat in US comments that, while it will 'not shy away' from its global responsibilities, failure to achieve US satisfaction will force it to 'reevaluate' all significant deployments of US personnel and thus deflate the UN's ability to respond as even when US forces are not the significant boots on the ground, they are often the primary transporter.
Pierre-Richard Prosper, US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, said: "We believe that the court is a noble idea but it’s just flawed in it’s implementation. Therefore, we respect the rights of states to be a party to the court, we just ask that they respect our right NOT to be a party to the court and we decide to take this (inaudible) divorce and detach ourselves from the process so it’s not a source of tension or conflict between the United States and the Court and the United States and its allies who are parties to the court."
This kind of language is a source of tension and has branded the US as arrogant, above the law and open to acting with impunity, especially as the US wants blanket protection for all (present, former, and future) US officials and US personnel, but not all US citizens. The US takes issue with the ICC's ability to not only review a domestic prosecution but to disagree with it and reassert jurisdiction, even over what is a good faith prosecution in the US with which the ICC has made a subjective opinion that it wasn’t genuine. The ICC could also disagree with admissibility of evidence, pro or con.
Many Europeans and others are mystified over the huge expenditure of US political capital to address potential cases which many find hypothetical in the extreme. The US counters that it does not see this as remote or hypothetical, believing that there is the genuine possibility that someone will use the ICC "for political purposes, exploit the process, in order to use it as a weapon or a tool to attack the United States personnel and/or its policies" and that there are insufficient safeguards as yet in place to address that.
All that is very likely true but it is increasingly robbing us of allies and support on a wide spectrum of issues. The Chinese, on the other hand, will finesse the matter, agree to jurisdiction (of sorts) as they have in trade agreements, negotiate their way out of a future contretemps, and ultimately sacrifice individuals should it prove to politically expedient. I would imagine that the guilty would likely not reach the embarrassment of an ICC trial. We are talking about a nation that still executes some seven to nine thousand common criminals a year and harvests organs on-site for resale. I am not making a value judgment, but pointing to the firmness that China can exert when it feels it in its interests to do so.
The Chinese routinely take immediate umbrage at anything they interpret as intrusion into their internal affairs. Witness their actions in Tibet, Mongolia, Tiananmen, and the Falun Gong and their responses to foreign criticism. I do not see a condition in which the PRC would allow an internal reach whatever documents it signs. My original reference was to serving Chinese official and military engaged in a peace keeping operation.
The Rome Statute has been ratified by 97 states while 16 have ratified the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities (APIC) which extends "certain privileges and immunities" to officials and staff of the court. I do see the need to protect the court from reprisals, especially as members, staff, and investigators travel and transport evidence, but it is fodder for the conspiracy theorists that the ICC is protected while US and other officials are not.
COMPILATION OF CORE DOCUMENTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
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China reverses a half-century on diplomatic non-intervention as it becomes a model UN citizen
- Gordon Housworth [ 9/30/2004 - 21:05 ] #
As China's Public Security Ministry assembles its specially trained People's Armed Police for a peace-keeping contingent in Haiti under UN auspices, we are on the eve of a Chinese renaissance that moves Beijing from a revolutionary agent attacking the global status quo to a cooperative world statesman that achieves a larger role in global affairs and which strengthens its regional rise in Asia. It must come with some relish to the Chinese that they embark on their initiative in the Caribbean just off the US coast.
I submit that this sea change should be viewed within the context of the notes 'Peaceful Rise' overcoming 'China Threat', Testing and strategic encirclement versus force on force, bluffing and risk-taking, and The fall of Peaceful Rise, or has it?. Remember that China's regional and global diplomatic initiative, "peaceful rise" (heping jueqi), since changed to "peaceful development" (heping fazhan), is a masterful endeavor that will free the PRC from the US defined "China threat" as it transforms Beijing to a patient, nuanced global diplomatic partner. The hallmarks of peaceful rise-peaceful development are:
- Diplomatic drive for regional acceptance of PRC's expanding sphere of influence
- Enshrining China as Asia's predominant economic force
- Leveraging economic cooperation into political influence over Southeast Asia
- Offsetting and eventually diminishing US influence
- Regional and international acceptance of China as the Asian superpower with hegemony over the region
While this riot police unit is small, only 125 staff, it is the "first Chinese police officers to serve as full-blown U.N. peacekeepers and as an integrated unit, with their own commander, logistics and support."
Until now, China's soldiers and police have largely been sprinkled through other countries' battalions or limited to duties such as medical care and road building. Now China has taken the next step with its plans to send off an integrated riot control unit that will operate in Haiti as a Chinese entity under U.N. command to respond to security needs.
China will drop its historic postwar diplomatic stance of non-interference in other countries. I find the comment of Tan Jun, head of peacekeeping at the Public Security Ministry, that "I believe China will make even greater contributions in the future" to be masterly understatement. I also found Tan's comment that China's decision to send a force to Haiti had nothing to do with China's national diplomacy to be a diplomatic nicety. Yes, China's formal reply came in response to a public UN appeal on Haiti's behalf, but such is the nature of public-private negotiation at the UN. It is a matter of record that China has consistently given financial aid and attention to all states that maintain a relationship with Taiwan and not China. Such specific attention meshes closely with Beijing's global policy agenda in the case of Haiti.
I should imagine that these troops were handpicked for operational skill, English and French language facility, and their ability to adapt and not embarrass China or Hu Jintao as he assumes the troika of chairman of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), president of China, and military commander-in-chief. I would expect members of this troop to rise to command their own units.
I submit that China will expand its UN peacekeeping role as rapidly as world demands permit, and that they will best the US by agreeing to be bound by The Hague international criminal court. Without direct confrontation they will reflect a more attractive international face that the US has shown in recent years.
China Readies Riot Force For Peacekeeping in Haiti
By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, September 30, 2004; Page A21
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Maras: the Chechens on our doorstep
- Gordon Housworth [ 9/29/2004 - 16:37 ] #
The crime scene itself was another story. The body was found on July 17, 2003, by a fisherman and his son. It was badly decomposed, lying contorted in the underbrush near a brier patch on the west bank... The age, sex and race of the victim were difficult to determine, but the body appeared to be that of a young woman. Her throat had been slashed so violently that her head was almost completely severed.
Iraq, Chechnya, Afghanistan you may assume, a victim of terrorism. No, it was Shenandoah County, Virginia, and the victim was a teenage Latina, age 17, a federal witness against a Salvadorian street gang, Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.
While US police departments have identified Latin gangs as a top crime problem, they have not identified them as a potential terrorist problem. Readers of my private list can attest that I called the threat of Muslim terrorism years before the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. I now make another forecast that the maras, Central American and Mexican gang members named after a species of aggressive swarming ants, are the Chechens on America's doorstep, only a step or so away from wreaking the same havoc within the US that the Chechens visit seemingly at will with equal ferocity within Russia and CIS.
Traditionally a function of immigration and labor-migration patterns, gangs "have been a fixture of urban life in the United States for more than 150 years, making their presence known in inner-city ghettos and poor immigrant neighborhoods ever since the Irish settled the Five Points district of New York."
If you live in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico, you are already aware of the effects of some 70,000 to 100,000 gang members that saw neighborhoods "plundered by violent turf wars waged by volatile young men armed with machetes and homemade pipe guns" and has "spread like a scourge across Central America, Mexico and the United States, setting off a catastrophic crime wave that has turned dirt-poor neighborhoods into combat zones [eliciting] an equally virulent crackdown that has left thousands of gang members dead, in jail or [fleeing north to the US], moving with and preying on the waves of illegal migrants who travel to the United States."
These gangs are now well ensconced in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington DC, driving crime in those areas and now going rural as hillbangers where law enforcement is weak. Metropolitan Los Angeles "remains the world capital of street gangs, with an estimated 700 different cliques and more than 110,000 gang members," accounting for half of all homicides. The FBI believes MS-13 to be "active in 31 states in the United States, from Alaska to Oklahoma, the Carolinas to Colorado, [with] thousands of members in Honduras and El Salvador," engaged in drug trafficking, extortion, prostitution, and other criminal activities.
This is large scale, ruthlessly enforced, organized criminal enterprise that predates Hispanic immigrants in industries such as food-processing. Honduras and El Salvador call the maras "as big a threat to national security as terrorism is to the United States." I submit that only a subtle shift, either internally driven or externally paid, is required to move them directly into terrorism.
In While we're looking the other way -- tunnels? I've asked whether terrorists could, for a price, be permitted to smuggle weapons, components, and personnel into the US. If illicit drugs and aliens can be brought across, then terrorists or WMD components can also come across. I debate with colleagues as to whether drogistas would compromise a million dollar asset and its lifecycle revenue for a one-shot 'rental,' when terrorists could simply not identify themselves or their cargo and so pass through as one more illegal alien. The maras appear to sit as a extremely violent, less restrained middle band between those who are their clients and targets, and the upscale drug lords. I can see maras either being paid to make mischief or forming an alliance for criminal purposes. I see many parallels in their growth to the early growth of what became Chechen terrorism.
I do not expect the maras situation to improve as the law enforcement tools on offer mimic that of terrorism, covert and overt military force, without the programs that address the social and economic forces that create the draw to gangs. The problem is already so great in Central America that states are reviving conventional military strength and counterinsurgency strategies along with extralegal paramilitary and vigilante enforcement, while adopting zero-tolerance laws that bypass rules of due process. Mechanisms once directed at leftists and political dissidents are now directed at gang members.
The largest gangs, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Mara 18, began in Los Angeles in the 1970s as support networks and social clubs for refugees and immigrants, turning into gangs, competitors, and then war whereupon the US deported them in mass to their home countries. While the US "immigration hammer" is now seen as having an effect against maras such as Mara Salvatrucha that are primarily led by foreign-born members (a US deportation is often used to justify a prison sentence), what will happen as US born members began to rise? The ability of the US to deport will be curtailed as will the gratis grounds for local incarceration. I see future native-born maras as being much more acclimatized to the US, more effective yet harder to excise. I see Central American states stepping up the number of desaparecidos and returning to old habits. If the transborder threat is sufficient, I can see the kinds of enemy combatant strictures being used against gang members.
Shuttling Between Nations, Latino Gangs Confound the Law
By Ginger Thompson
New York Times
September 26, 2004
By Matthew Brzezinski
New York Times
August 15, 2004
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Not the Neocon vision of Iraqi democracy and civil society
- Gordon Housworth [ 9/28/2004 - 19:14 ] #
I am most curious as to the veracity of a July-August 2004 survey on Iraqi political attitudes, i.e., I am not contesting the honesty of the interviewers but their ability to craft a legitimate cross cultural survey that a foreign and Iraqi poller can ask of Iraqi citizens sensitized to the powers of the state, wary of the possibility of reprisal, and who might presumably know the desired answer (such as how good is Allawi doing -- and who wants to speak poorly of a former Ba’athist strongman).
While it is commendable that interviews were conducted across all 18 governorates of Iraq, I am astonished that the surveyors could, in a Muslim country that is essentially patriarchal, reach a near male-female balance of respondents -- and of which "housewives" accounted for more than a third of total respondents. In a country where merely looking at a woman in her home is a travesty, much less interviewing her without a male present, would be a remarkable accomplishment.
The survey was carried out by the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the Independent Institute for Administrative and Civil Society Studies (IACSS), an indigenous Iraqi polling firm. The IRI is an NPO founded in 1983 after Ronald Reagan's 1982 Westminster speech noting that "we must be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings." I think that it is fair to say that IRI now draws a more narrow interpretation of its mission as a Republican, rather than a Democratic, prerogative.
I would be interested in the weighting that was said to be necessary to "more accurately breakdown poll results by governorate, religion and ethnic group" as well as the calculus of the margin of error.
The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, OpinionJournal.com, would have readers believe that "the people of Iraq are already looking forward to the opportunity of electing their own government [that more] than 77% of respondents feel that "regular, fair elections" would be the most important political right for the Iraqi people and 58% feel that democracy in Iraq is likely to succeed [and] above 75% felt that the elections would reflect the will of the Iraqi people."
Taking my own turn at divining the entrails of the Iraqi goat, factored by my own experience in the Middle East, I see a very different response, a polity at odds with a Neocon vision:
Form of government
- An overwhelming majority, some 70 %, want Islam and the Shari’a code as "the sole basis for all laws and legislation" in a new constitution, and want to "ensure the Islamic identity of Iraq."
- Religious and patriotic top the kinds of political parties that respondents wish to support. Desirable candidates should be pragmatic, traditional, and definitely religious.
- They want one party -- which they had for thirty years before the second Gulf War -- and its near second is a few parties.
- A strong Baghdadi central government leads a Baghdadi government comprising regional, tribal, and sectarian representatives. Both dwarf any delegation of powers. Kurds take note.
- Religious persons, university professors, and party leaders are the predominate choices for candidates. Dissidents against the regime and former exiles get short shrift.
- Current political parties (about a hundred now) are divisive, represent too narrow a spectrum, have too many points of disagreement, and should form coalitions.
- The respondents understandably want order and stability in which the four most personal, critical issues are crime, unemployment, infrastructure, and CF/CNF (coalition forces). All four precede terrorism. Corruption and federalism, interestingly, are at the bottom.
- Infrastructure rebuilding is very personal: in order, electricity, potable water, sanitation, roads, and oil transport. "Large public works programs" are the desired mechanism, not private enterprise.
- The leanings of the respondents are decidedly "socialist" in their feeling that the government is overwhelmingly responsible (three to one) for citizens’ welfare. While wealth is "the right of every person" and the state "must protect that right" there is an equal or larger sector that overwhelmingly feel that it s the role of the State to create that wealth and to "fairly and equally divided among the public by the State."
- Frontline states have a negative influence on Iraqi politics, with Syria the most balanced followed by Jordan. Iran, Kuwait, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia have the most negative effect.
Noted in passing
- TV's lock as an information mechanism is reflected in TV ads dwarfing all other means of the preferred choice for a political party to contact citizen. The power of al Jazeera will rise whereas the US sponsored al Hurra will stall.
- An overwhelming majority of respondents would not donate money to help a party or candidate that they supported.
I suspect that this is not the democracy that the Administration and Neocons had in mind. If the security situation continues to deteriorate, I would expect democracy as we know it to recede as Iraqis look to anyone who can wrest back stability.
Political Attitudes Survey of the Iraqi ElectorateIRI & IIACSS
July 24 – August 2, 2004
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Sidebar on Albert Mehrabian in Beheadings as ascendant psywar
- Gordon Housworth [ 9/27/2004 - 22:02 ] #
While the focus on Albert Mehrabian in Beheadings as ascendant psywar against the periphery of the coalition supply chain was for his Pleasure-Arousal-Dominance (PAD) Emotion Model, Mehrabian is best misremembered for the actions of amateurs who took from context his very narrow study addressing the situation "in which a listener is analyzing a speaker's general attitude towards that listener (positive, negative, or neutral)… the parties had no prior acquaintance [and] no context for their discussion."
A comment in this 1967 research noted, "The combined effect of simultaneous verbal, vocal and facial attitude communications is a weighted sum of their independent effects — with the coefficients of .07, .38, and .55, respectively." (Albert Mehrabian and Susan R. Ferris, "Inference of attitudes from nonverbal communication in two channels." Journal of Consulting Psychology 31 (1967): 248-252. )
That was twisted out of context into the generalized urban legend implication that in "face-to-face conversation, 38% of communication is inflection and tone of voice, 55% is facial expression, and only 7% is based on what you actually say." Yes, there is influence from non-verbal cues that combine into a visual, verbal, and vocal whole, but not at these lopsided percentages. (If those numbers were true, how could a phone call or a low bandwidth teleconference make any progress?)
On the contrary, I have opined, since the days of CompuServe forums long before the Web, that if you give me six months of online forum traffic to watch how an individual presents positions/opinions, develops their assumptions and conditions, engages dissent, defends his or her logic, refrains or engages in "flaming," and how he or she concludes a discussion, I can make a valid judgment of that person, sight unseen. I am actually stripped of the distractions that would lead me astray and left with the person's thinking.
And as people are generally far less restrained in 'remote print' discussions than in face-to-face encounters, good behavior in online conditions is a good indication of their personality and performance overall. This condition applies doubly to forum moderators for as Lord Acton observed "absolute power corrupts absolutely." Years ago as a moderator, I was pestered by a twit with whom I ended a tedious exchange with the comment that I'd engage him in a duel of wits but I do not fight unarmed men. A snappy riposte, yes, but one which I still regret as it was unfair given our unequal circumstances.
Every referral I have made in this online manner has worked whereas some done in the traditional manner have not. I am still working with colleagues that I "met" online a decade ago and have yet to meet in person, yet am even more certain in making a referral if the occasion arose.
Kill that 7% urban legend whenever you hear it as it is used as the false premise for far too many "training" efforts.
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Beheadings as ascendant psywar against the periphery of the coalition supply chain
- Gordon Housworth [ 9/27/2004 - 16:59 ] #
If the resolve of US forces are presumed unshakable, three reasons are on offer for the growing volume of beheadings accompanied by rising video production values:
- Frighten American and other foreign nongovernmental groups and civilian contractors -- truck drivers and barbers just as much as translators and security personnel -- that complete the extended supply chain that supports US operations in country
- Fuel recruitment by portraying jihadists as defenders of the faith
- Aid power struggles among jihadists, e.g., al-Zarqawi has never sworn allegiance to bin Laden and runs an independent operation
Comments such as those of Brigitte Nacos at Columbia University are at best insufficient to plumb the visceral, growing impact of these beheadings, i.e., "Terrorism, as I see it, is communications. Without the media communicating what they want to say, terrorism doesn't really make sense." [Note: the next three links take the reader to the individual videos.] While Nick Berg was decapitated on screen, much of the event was indistinct and the camera did not zoom in as it did with the killing of Eugene Armstrong, presenting the viewer with a sustained full-screen visual with high audio that captures every nuance of the response of the victim's body. It is not a sound like any other; it is unmistakable and unforgettable. Of the twelve executed Nepalese drivers, one was beheaded while the others were tossed alive into a pit, singly or in pairs, head-shot, then all laid out as so many sides of beef. Its protracted nature transcended any semblance of a military operation.
I submit that this is intended to go beyond mere communication and into the best of asymmetrical psywar ops by a small group designed to cow, even if indirectly, the actions of a larger force by aiming at its more vulnerable elements. It is designed to demonstrate absolute dominance on the part of the jihadists while instilling submissiveness on the part of the Iraqi and coalition personnel, and for that I turn to Albert Mehrabian.
Mehrabian developed the Pleasure-Arousal-Dominance (PAD) Emotion Model to describe emotions through a general three-dimensional framework for describing emotions that included Pleasure-Displeasure, Arousal-Nonarousal, and Dominance-Submissiveness plus eight major categories of emotion (exuberant, bored, relaxed, anxious, dependent, disdainful, docile, hostile).
Mehrabian had long done research in nonverbal communication in an attempt to address the "complexity and diversity of nonverbal cues, referents or meanings (e.g., inferences of emotions and attitudes of another based on the other's nonverbal acts) rather than symbols or discrete behaviors (e.g., movements, postures, voice quality)" of communication. Mehrabian discovered that his "coding rules (i.e., relations among symbols, on one hand, and referents, on the other) in nonverbal communication" mapped to the Evaluation, Activity, and Potency factors of the semantic differential model of Osgood et al. Thus Pleasure-Displeasure was the positive emotional correlate of Evaluation, Arousal-Nonarousal the positive emotional correlate of stimulus Activity, and Dominance-Submissiveness the negative emotional correlate of stimulus Potency. Non-verbal aligned with verbal.
"Pleasure-displeasure" distinguishes the positive-negative affective quality of emotional states, "arousal-nonarousal" refers to a combination of physical activity and mental alertness, and "dominance-submissiveness" is defined in terms of control versus lack of control. In PAD space, angry is (-.51, .59, .25) or "a highly unpleasant, highly aroused, and moderately dominant emotional state." Violent extends each axis to (-.50, .62, .38).
To my limited knowledge, most, if not all, PAD research has been on English speakers and, thus, I presume an assumption of literacy. Before proceeding, I suggest readers look at my earlier The media-driven perception void grows between Americans and Arabs for the basics, in part:
When you are raised near Mexico, and travel the third world, you are mindful that the 'gruesome and sensational' to an American readership are the informative norms of many other countries.
To the illiterate and uneducated who often vote their party on a recognized symbol, or for many for whom the wages of work in Iraq are otherwise irresistible, I believe that the jihadist dominance-submission goals of the these images are less directed at the US -- whose news media usually filter out such images -- than at the groups on the margin -- whose media usually print such images in detail. I fell that all three reasons are complementary and all are at play. I can only expect their occurrence to rise.
For Police Recruits, Risk Is Constant CompanionBy Steve Fainaru
September 27, 2004
Why Terrorists DecapitateFriday, September 24, 2004
Beheading video seen as war tactic
Terrorists attacking with grisly images, media experts say
Matthew B. Stannard
San Francisco Chronicle
May 13, 2004
InfoT Public Strategic Risk Public Terrorism Public
"Congregation for Propagating the Faith" to agitprop to oppo research; four centuries of manipulating public opinion, foreign and domestic
- Gordon Housworth [ 9/23/2004 - 17:41 ] #
Such manipulation has, of course, a far greater span and has worn many masks, e.g., the work of Livy were considered masterpieces of Roman state propaganda. In our era, the codification of "that which ought to be spread" got underway in earnest with Roman Catholic "pontifical administration charged with the spread of Catholicism and with the regulation of ecclesiastical affairs in non-Catholic countries." Propaganda fide for short, was not originally intended to refer to misleading information. It entered secular space about WW I, turning pejorative between the wars.
Scientific propaganda rose in the US with Walter Lippman, journalist, and Edward Bernays, psychologist, who proceeded to create intense anti-German sentiment in favor of joining the British in WW I. Everyone, from public relations to Goebbels, took notice. Whereas English used a single term propaganda, the Russian Bolsheviks distinguished propaganda ("dissemination of revolutionary ideas, teachings of Marxism, and basic economical knowledge, theoretical and factual") from agitation ("forming public opinion and stirring up political unrest").
Social psychology offers the means to create logical fallacies that are persuasive, yet false. "Information dissemination strategies only become propaganda strategies when coupled with propagandistic messages. Identifying these propaganda messages is a necessary prerequisite to studying the methods by which those messages are spread." Readers will recognize this stout list globally, nationally, and locally:
- Appeal to fear
- Appeal to authority
- Obtain disapproval
- Glittering generalities
- Intentional vagueness
- Common man/"plain folks" approach
- Testimonial/damaging quotation
- Stereotyping or Labeling
- Virtue words
My concern that a US electorate could withstand such tools was palpable in Imperial Rome became Italy; de Tocqueville's America becomes what?, a landscape that appears to struggle under:
- Arbitrary electoral outcomes carried by "slogans, misinformation, "fire alarms," "October surprises," random personal associations, and "gotchas.""
- Democracies as oligarchies with a populist face in which competing elites hold sway.
- Popular use of shortcuts, or "low-information rationality," to reach judgments about political candidates.
Rising in this environment is a sophisticated blend of tools called opposition research or "oppo" for short. A BBC Panorama documentary filmed in 2000 but never aired in the US described the skill of Republican researchers who bested all comers (Democrats included) in discrediting Al Gore. The transcript is worth the read.
An interesting recognition of, and use of, oppo research in deflecting Tim Russert's Meet the Press, noted that "Russert frustrates the candidates by knowing their positions on issues better than they do" and then lays out five rules that I must say are more practiced by Fox news anchors:
- Prepare for a Hostile Interrogation
- Anticipate Russert's Research
- Put Russert on the Defensive
- If That Doesn't Work, Concede the Point. Then Make Yours
- Interrupt Him. Interrupt Again. And Again
Democrats are waking up to Republican success. Rob Stein, a Democratic adviser, "wanted Democrats to know what they were up against, [wanted] them to stop thinking about politics only as a succession of elections [,to] start making long-term investments in their political ideas [and see that] the era of the all-powerful party was coming to an end, and political innovation [would] come from private-sector pioneers who were willing to take risks." Stein began to make the rounds with a short "presentation that laid out [in a] series of diagrams a ninth-grader could understand, how conservatives, over a period of 30 years, had managed to build a ''message machine'' that today spends more than $300 million annually to promote its agenda." Stein presents a "capacity gap" between the conservative and liberal infrastructures, details how conservative contributions flow to a web of think tanks, advocacy groups, media, and how the Leadership Institute trains young conservatives. One listener remarked, ''Man, that's all it took to buy the country?''
Expect a sophisticated, partisan no-holds-barred contest more among equals in 2008.
Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy
Digging the Dirt October 22 2000
By MATT BAI
July 25, 2004
BBC, 20 October, 2000 UK
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Invisible reallocation of supply chain vendors based on perceived threat to buyers
- Gordon Housworth [ 9/22/2004 - 21:40 ] #
A satisfied customer is not the same thing as a loyal customer. Walker Information, a 65-year-old firm that tracks customer loyalty, has tried to draw the distinction and today is releasing the results of a survey that determines which IT companies engender the most loyalty. The results... show a correlation between customer loyalty and financial performance [where] brands that scored high in customer loyalty had higher operating-profit margins, aggregated over three years, compared with negative profit margins for what the company calls the "loyalty laggards." Walker evaluated more than 50 brands in five categories: software, services, networking, servers and workstations, and storage systems.
Walker arrives at its rankings through detailed interviews that charted buyers' feelings on everything from product quality to customer service and post-sales support. Of all the IT buyers interviewed for the report, only 44 percent said they feel loyal to a majority of their suppliers, 30 percent feel "trapped" by at least some of their vendors, and almost 25 percent are actively looking to swap their IT providers for somebody different.
I wonder how this low loyalty to IT vendors, to the point of buyers feeling "trapped" by their current relationship with certain suppliers, transfers beyond the IT sector into the wider corporate supply chain.
It has been my experience that while many industrial firms have made a strategic IT commitment to the likes of Microsoft or Cisco in volume purchases that significantly lower the per seat product cost, they exhibit a very different -- lower and more transient -- loyalty to the suppliers in their product supply chains.
Based upon our work in the automotive sector, we can say that OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) -- or vehicle manufacturers -- in this relentlessly cost sensitive sector have less than rigid loyalty to suppliers and certainly feel "hostage" to certain suppliers, especially those suppliers who dominate the market in a specific part/subsystem or even a high percentage of overall industry production to all OEMs. OEMs are reacting by reallocating their part production awards to other than the industry leader, irrespective of that supplier's ability to provide a technically and financially acceptable component.
This does not mean that OEMs will award business to firms with substandard performance, quality, and robustness, but rather that they will select among a group of suppliers capable of providing a peer level of performance in order to reduce the dominance of particular suppliers in critical market subsystems. I hasten to add that "critical" may be based upon internal OEM criteria not available to the supplier who would otherwise presume that they have the business based upon being the incumbent supplier offering a competitive cost and functional bid for a subsequent model year.
Companies were then grouped into three categories: loyalty leaders, loyalty limbo and loyalty laggards.
Were I an automotive supplier, I would launch an immediate, sustained competitive tracking of all my competitors' current and forecast business with all OEMs, my competitors' percentage of business with each OEM, and of the buyers' opinions at each OEM of my firm in order to see which supplier was most likely to be given new business -- either at my expense if I am leader, or to gain a larger share if I am a new entrant or minority provider.
Also, I would be sensitive to my quarterly/annual profit announcements which, on one hand, are necessary to attract equity funding, but, on the other hand, draw the quiet rage of OEM personnel who feel that certain suppliers are making more money pro rata than they are. There is always a latent, "I am larger, I am the buyer, and due more deference" attitude on the part of the OEMs, but it is never more virulent than at the times of high profit announcements by suppliers or a supplier's refusal to lower prices. This reaction is especially apparent when the OEMs are under severe market pressure.
a company is setting a low bar for itself if it is measured only by customer satisfaction. "If you ask people if they're satisfied [with their provider], most would say, 'Yeah, sure, I'm satisfied.' But if you ask them would they buy again, increase their purchases [from that provider] or recommend them, that's a different story."
Any automotive supplier that is unaware that his major OEM customers are watching his firm's ability to prejudice or restrain an OEM's flexibility and profitability, or is not showing due deference to the OEM, or in some way placating the OEM with accelerated R&D, service, et al, is naive and can suffer in future bidding.
If this tenuous level of loyalty extends beyond the automotive industry into other equally cost sensitive markets able to make vendor selections from among a group of similarly able suppliers, it could be a contributor to OEM-supplier strife, outsourcing (to low cost but not low risk locations), or other supply chain dysfunctions.
Who do you love?
September 20, 2004: 1:34 PM EDT
By Paul R. La Monica
IBM Tops IT Loyalty Survey
Lisa DiCarlo, 09.20.04, 12:01 AM ET
Loyalty study zeroes in on tech stalwarts
By Matt Hines
September 19, 2004, 12:01 AM PT
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