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Abu Ghraib 800th MILITARY POLICE BRIGADE report now on-line

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An interesting copy of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse titled "ARTICLE 15-6 INVESTIGATION OF THE 800th MILITARY POLICE BRIGADE" is available here.

When I say interesting, it is because it is a native Acrobat copy and not a scan of a paper document, that only the first of its 53 pages is marked "SECRET/NO FOREIGN DISSEMINATION," that the NPR copy does not have any declassification notations, and that it is undated. It is almost as if a draft was obtained (but even a draft should carry full classification marks).

In any case it is the only ostensibly full copy out on the web at the moment:

ARTICLE 15-6 INVESTIGATION OF THE 800th MILITARY POLICE BRIGADE

A useful critique and summary of the report is here:

Command Errors Aided Iraq Abuse, Army Has Found
By JAMES RISEN
May 3, 2004
New York Times

Gordon Housworth



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European anti-terrorist arms likely "not winning" their struggle

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As the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) published its annual report for 2003, its Director General, Sybrand van Hulst, commented that the Netherlands can expect to live with the threat of Islamic terrorism for years to come, and that while 'some successes have been achieved in preventing attacks and disrupting terrorist networks, "those fighting terrorism are not winning. There is not even a prospect of winning."

Shortly thereafter, French authorities were furiously attempting to locate 1,100 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer that had been stolen over the Easter weekend from the port of Honfleur near the mouth of the Seine river "where large quantities of the fertilizer were stored at the port without any particular security measures."

"Sales of ammonium nitrate are strictly regulated in the European Union, where rules require that the fertilizer be produced with large, dense granules to prevent it from absorbing oil and being transformed into bomb material. But the granules can easily be broken up with commercial grinders."

So much for intent. Mixed with fuel oil, it produces the explosive power of the 1995 Oklahoma City and 2003 Istanbul bombings. In March 2004, British police seized more than 1,000 pounds of the same fertilizer in West London while raiding suspected Islamic terrorists.

Returning to the AIVD and Hulst, its 2002 and 2003 reports note that there is a constantly changing group of 150 people in the Netherlands with links to terrorist networks, but they are harder to catch. "The networks in question are becoming increasingly more autonomous, regional or even local in nature. Their members have already spent years living in the West. These networks are linked by an array of international and undefined relationships."

The AIVD is surveilling mosques of imams preaching a radical agenda as well as a larger group of imams who track to "old-style Islamic laws and stood aloof from the values of Western society in their teachings." On its face, it sounds like the situation facing British authorities who are having to deal with their imam extremists.

Back to France, authorities expelled its fifth cleric in 2004, having kicked out kicked out dozens since 2001. Across Europe there is a lack of domestically trained clerics to lead European-born Muslim congregations of Muslims, thus mosques have to rely on imported imams holding fundamentalist beliefs.

""The problem is that we have 1,500 imams, but the great majority of them don't have any knowledge of the land," said Azzedine Gaci, who heads the Muslim Council in the Rhône-Alps region."

While there is an attempt to protect civil liberties, perhaps stronger than in the US, it is difficult to see how the actions of authorities coupled with the fears of the non-Muslim majority will not result in increasing polarization. The French have the largest Muslim minority and is already at odds with it over cultural and religious symbols.

For the Dutch at least, terrorism is its top priority, pushing out traditional espionage. Van Hulst warned that terror groups had turned their attention to easily accessible soft targets. Like those in proximity to a thousand pounds of ammonium nitrate, or ten pounds of Semtex.  Controlled failure is not an enticing prospect.

Dutch security chief´s warning
by our Security and Defence editor Hans de Vreij, 28 April 2004
Radio Netherlands

Muslim terrorism will be around for years, says Dutch spy chief
Expatica
27 April 2004

France Struggles to Curb Extremist Muslim Clerics
By CRAIG S. SMITH
April 30, 2004
New York Times

Gordon Housworth



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Apocalyptic Islam

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Apocalyptic Islam is a vibrant strand of conservative Islam that is helping propel the terrorist effort. It is fair to say that David Cook at University of Chicago has hived off "apocalyptic," from whatever source, as his personal patch of research.

Islam is the quintessential apocalyptic tradition. Cook counts upwards of 5000 messiahs, or mahdis, in Islam. (While the messiah is a Jewish concept, as I understand it, the emergence of Christianity with its insistence on Jesus as the one true messiah, made messianic movements a bit unpopular among Jews.)

While Cook notes in the conclusion of "Islam and Apocalyptic" that, "Although the [apocalyptic] groups are frequently anonymous and unknown until they burst onto the world stage with some action, they cannot be accused of being secretive about their motives or beliefs. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books are available at every bookstand, and are frequently handed out in mosques," it is amazing as to how many Moslems are unaware of the tradition (and the same can be said of Christians and Jews when confronted by their apocalyptic believers).

As another researcher on the apocalyptic and millennial (generally those who "expect a time of supernatural peace and abundance here on earth"), Richard Landes observed:

"When I speak with Jews, Christians and Moslems about the apocalyptic traditions in their own religion, they very often cannot believe what they hear. It’s so foreign to them. They never learnt it as children, and they certainly do not feel it is part of their religion. Apocalyptics however, are recessive. For instance, I was interviewed on American radio and I mentioned Islam and some of the Islamic traditions that are apocalyptic. I then received an E-mail from a Moslem who was incensed that I said this was part of his religion. I spoke with him and forwarded him on to David Cook who gave him further facts. This was strange territory for him: it was not part of what he had learnt about in the normal course of his religion. This is also true of Christians and Jews. We are thus dealing with strange, unfamiliar material for [many]."

It is enlightening to read Landes' "MILLENNIALISM (MILLENARIANISM, CHILIASM)" and Thomas Scheffler's "Apocalypticism, Innerwordly Eschatology, and Islamic Extremism" to gain an insight to this implacable foe.

Apocalyptic groups require a belief in the imminent end of the world (lending them absolute conviction in their sole righteousness), a definite goal, and the impetus to excel beyond one's ordinary abilities. While Muslims at large believe that their successful rise up to 1688 was due to their absolute faith in Allah and the unifying nature of Islam, a third aspect -- the imperative to conquer the world before the expected Hour of Judgment -- was needed to initiate jihad:

"Muslims… did not try to conquer the world for the sake of domination, but because God commanded them to, before the imminent end of the world. In Islam we have the first example of what an apocalyptic group can achieve when given a limited time limit to accomplish an impossible task: world conquest."

Cook notes that it is irrelevant to say "that the apocalyptic nature of Islam has been dormant for hundreds of years," as when those latent tendencies reappear "then they are gradually going to influence everyone, whether consciously or not." The fact that, to paraphrase Bernard Lewis' analysis, Muslims later anguished as they tried to understand why things had changed, how they had been overtaken, overshadowed, and, to an increasing extent, dominated by the West is just grist for the mill.

Most modern Muslim apocalyptic scenarios start with the Arab-Israel conflict or the 1990 Gulf War in which a Muslim Antichrist called Dajal will gain control over most of the world save for a resistant group of anti-western Muslim nations and lead the West and Israel against Muslims. There are four themes:

  • Anti-Western attitudes (where the West and Christianity are identical)
  • Anti-US attitudes (where the US is the Great Babylon or Dajal)
  • Anti-Israel (unlike classical Muslim apocalyptics in which Jews are rarely mentioned)
  • Anti-Arab and anti-Muslim religious establishment (those not joining the believers are corrupt and declared to be infidels and collaborators with the west)

Remember that this material is "available at every bookstand, and are frequently handed out in mosques."

Islam and Apocalyptic
David Cook
Center for Millennial Studies (CMS), Boston University

MILLENNIALISM (MILLENARIANISM, CHILIASM)
Richard Landes, 1999
Draft for the Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of World Religions, 1999

Apocalypticism, Innerwordly Eschatology, and Islamic Extremism
Thomas Scheffler, 2001

Gordon Housworth



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Abu Ghraib debacle

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Before reading the Hersh's Torture at Abu Ghraib article in the New Yorker, I suggest that it is more instructive for you to first read some global responses to Abu Ghraib. This prison foolishness is simply stunning in its impact and if any of my domestic readers think that it can be easily overcome, I suggest that you are spending too much time in the US. Whether this was the work of a few or something systematic is not the issue that I am striking at; I am positing that we have crashed a generation of whatever Muslim sympathy or abeyance that we had -- and I mean 'had.' Al Qaeda and its allies will receive substantial assistance and efforts against them will move more slowly. Had we lined up prisoners and shot them, we could have hardly done worse.

We are perceived as hypocrites. Our administration is unaware of the impact of Abu Ghraib in areas of the world that will have an impact on our ultimate security. It is a stupendous blunder in first instance and another in our response to it -- so understated as to be a non-response.

The sad point is that only under a US umbrella could such news be released and be allowed to air. I fear that the anger on the Arab street and, I think, a goodly portion of the 'Asian street' (remember that the ordinary Chinese has not forgotten our bombing of their embassy in Belgrade and the EP-3 intercept incident off Hainan), is such that we shall pay a high price for this folly.

George Bush as Saddam Hussein
Abuse Photos Prompt Comparison to Former Iraqi Leader
By Jefferson Morley
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Monday, May 3, 2004; 2:06 PM

TORTURE AT ABU GHRAIB
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
American soldiers brutalized Iraqis. How far up does the responsibility go?
The New Yorker
Issue of 2004-05-10
Posted 2004-04-30

Gordon Housworth



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Cure, kill, or contain

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I developed a testing approach that I call "Cure, kill, or contain" to see where, and how far, a protagonist is willing to go in resolving an intractable issue. In this case my use of intractable is taken from Sir Harold Nicholson's description of diplomacy as "the understanding that for intractable problems there are only adjustments and not solutions." (The first intractable issue that I employed was securing a solution to the "urban blight of inner cities.")

If the protagonist is socialized and rational, he or she rarely has, or feels that they can muster, the sustained political will, human resources, and capital flow to enforce a Cure (solve root cause) or Kill (eliminate the problem) strategy and so reverts to the muddle of Containment.

It would seem that Islamic terrorists are prepared to die to enforce their Kill strategy. Bin Laden and his colleagues differ from many terrorists in that they have a messianic belief structure that brooks no compromise. Bin Laden keenly feels this Moslem alienation by the West and its implicit demand that Islam must integrate into the world economy on Western terms. He believes that the US prevents Islam from retrieving its former glory, that the US "occupies" and subverts the Saudi peninsula, defiling it, and that pro-US regimes in the Middle East must be ousted and all US troops removed from the region. When asked what could the US do to placate bin Laden, Yossef Bodansky replied, "Break up and move to another planet." So much for negotiation.

The West has not uniformly made the decision to enforce a Kill strategy and may settle for some form of attritive Containment that visits a form of IRA bombing in the UK upon the US and Europe. Certainly the English endured it with much pluck. Fortunately the IRA never graduated much beyond car bombs in size of explosive and remained 'conventional' in their use of weaponry. Al Qaeda prefers spectacular events and is on the hunt for more powerful and non-conventional weapons.

Speaking of the monumentality of the task, I wrote on 19 September, 2001 that, "The US believes that it is going to war with bin Laden, Al-Qaida, or some as yet unnamed group directly responsible for this week's attacks. But taking down the infrastructure supporting these groups will require the U.S. to identify and dismantle the larger, global network. The analogy of difficulty is akin to dismantling a major drug cartel, or perhaps even eradicating drug trafficking itself."

I still find this rings true, and if correct, I wonder what a Kill or Cure strategy would look like as I feel that the cost of attritive Containment, or controlled failure, will be too high a cost to endure.

Gordon Housworth



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Putting bin Laden into the perspective of Islam, Part II

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Part I here

Conservatives believe that Islam achieved its zenith somewhere in the past in the Medinian society under the guidance of Prophet Mohammed and the time of the four "rightly guided caliphs," encompassing the laws of the faith as developed during the early centuries of Islam, and so is rightly a closed cultural system that allows for no change. Modernists, in their attempt to make Islam relevant to modern society, attempt to insert a contemporary Western ethos into Islam, reinterpreting Islam’s fundamentals in such a way as to provide what amounts to a sanctioning forum for the introduction of new ideas and an authentication for adopting Western legal, social and economic institutions.

Both conservatives and modernists are unhappy with the present situation of Muslims. While they share a pride in the glory of the past and have confidence in the prospective of a better future, their views of past, present and future vary greatly. Conservatives believe the authority of the past is valid for the present and the future, i.e., the past is ideal, and if Islam were only to resuscitate it, it would regain its ascendancy in the world. Religion is not only the central part of life, it is the totality of life. Modernists see the past as crucially important for bringing an element of pride and dignity to the individual and endowing Islamists with the ability to function in the modern world.

Needless to say, there is much disillusionment and both conservatives and the modernists feel that the conditions of Muslims need reform. To the conservatives reform means resuscitation, requiring Islam is to eliminate, by force if necessary, all alien elements that have attached themselves to the faith and thus drained its life. To the modernists reform means creative innovation, removing Islam’s suffocating strictures that have not adjusted to changing realities and have arrested in its development and growth.

The US is seen as the pole star, the animus, of Moslem distress heaped upon it by the Western World. To bin Laden and his adherents, we are the Great Satan of which the Ayatollah Khomeini spoke. Islamist terrorist groups, while differing in motivation, objectives, ideologies, and levels of activity, remain the most active of all terrorist organizations, stating as their main objective "the overthrow of secular, pro-Western governments, the derailment of the Arab-Israeli peace process, the expulsion of U.S. forces from the region, or the end of what they consider unjust occupation of Muslim lands."

Conversely, the US has geopolitical and energy-related reasons for remaining in the region. Conflict cannot be negotiated or avoided between the US and this powerful minority.

Gordon Housworth



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Putting bin Laden into the perspective of Islam, Part I

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When living in the Middle East in the 1960s I would tell colleagues that, "The Arabs live in a past glory for which the West gives them no credit," that the Islamic world, Arabs included, have an extraordinarily rich tradition that rose parallel to Rome and saw Islam supporting knowledge, discovery, and learning while Europe plunged into the Dark Ages. Dismissing them as "rag heads," hijacking their nationalism, first on behalf of British Petroleum and then the Seven Sisters, and treating them as serfs in their own country, was not a path to popularity. It was not a popular opinion then, and besides I was told that we strong ally governments in Tehran and Riyadh…

It is hard to express the unhappiness of even centrist Islamists to what they perceive as the dominance, even hegemony, of the West over the Third World in which Western civilization -- based on a Judeo-Christian ethic -- is promoted as "the universal civilization." Pan-Arab hopes for a cultural and political revival upon the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and later upon the discovery of oil were each dashed in turn. It is doubly damning for Islamists to admit their dismal political and economic failure, a failure that fell so low in their view as to permit the establishment of a Jewish state in their midst and on sacred ground.

If you accept Keohane’s definition of hegemony in "After Hegemony" you can see why Arabs could be outraged: "The theory of hegemony, as applied to the world political economy, defines hegemony as preponderance of material resources. Four sets of resources are especially important. Hegemonic powers must have control over raw materials, control over sources of capital, control over markets, and competitive advantages in the production of highly valued goods." Add to that, the usurpation of cultural, military and technological matters and you have a recipe for seeking redress.

Arabs see our dominant Western systems as created to enforce the rules of an international economic order, the main purpose of which is to promote the interests of the dominant powers -- the industrialized West. Arabs astute in Western politics like to quote George Kennan, the doyenne of Soviet containment and postwar strategic policy from one of his policy planning studies: "[We] have about 50% of the world's wealth, but only 6.3% of its population....Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity .... To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality...We should cease to talks about vengeance and ...unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization."

"Arab unity" is a contradiction in terms, yet this growing resentment is a potentially reuniting force for an Islam that is decidedly not monolithic. It has its Sunni and Shia division paralleling our Protestant-Catholic divide (largely based upon whether you preferred the prophet’s trusted childhood friend and ally, Abu Bakr, or Ali, the husband of the prophet’s daughter, Fatima, to ascend to the Caliphate upon the death of Mohammed). It had its Martin Luther in Mohammed, and for much the same reasons. It had its conservative resurgence in the Whahabistic Renaissance that swept the Saudi peninsula as ibn Abdul Al Whahab sought to 'purify' Islam by returning to the sources of the religion -- a renaissance that remains the underpinning of the current government in Riyadh.

There is a wide spectrum of liberal (Egypt and parts of the Maghreb) to conservative (Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia) and the battle rages between their conservatism as much as between the theologies of Sunni versus Shia.

Part II

Gordon Housworth



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Watching the other end of the barn -- outgoing email

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With all the incoming threats, it is easy to overlook dangers in a firm's outgoing mail -- Intentional or inadvertent revealing of trade secrets, financial data or confidential client information to unauthorized individuals. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that placed strictures on release of sensitive information by financial companies is now matched by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (Hipaa) for health-care firms while Sarbanes-Oxley mandated that firms prevent unauthorized disclosure of any "material information."

Firms can trap or flag prohibited spam forwarding, inadvertent virus transmissions, and the results of key word/phrase/marker searches. False positives are an issue although it can be ameliorated by flagging for review over trapping and adjustments in search/filter criteria.

Expect a modest growth business in outbound filtering. I suspect that it will be expanded or merged with CRM tools as a means of managing a firm's interaction with the external world.

The Dangers in Outbound E-Mail
By MICHAEL TOTTY
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
April 26, 2004; Page R6

Gordon Housworth



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The value of toriaezu in dealing with concurrent processes

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The Japanese phrase toriaezu has great utility in dealing with concurrent processes. Unlike Industrial Age processes underpinned by a "factory" paradigm in which raw materials are sequentially transformed by a series of steps into finished goods; each step demanding completion before proceeding to the next step, Knowledge Age processes are much more fluid. Decisions have to made without an obvious or best answer at hand.

In order to escape bogging down, Knowledge Age processes must embrace provisional acceptance of incomplete steps in order to allow concurrent design. The Japanese speak of the approach as toriaezu, "OK for now."

Jim Breen's WWWJDIC Japanese-English Dictionary Server describes it as "at once; first of all; for the time being." Quick Japanese Lesson For Japanese Learners describes it as "for the present, first of all, temporarily." But I liked the nuance with which a weblog tagged it:

"I think "for the time being" or "for now" will do in most cases. It implies completion of doing something in later time, but because you can't think of any better alternatives for the moment, you'll do what you think is not so bad anyway - that's "toriaezu." I toriaezu translated it as "without any plan" in the entry even though I didn't think it would best suit the context. "Toriaezu" is a very convenient word that can often be used without meaning anything special. So, toriaezu, have I got through?"

toriaezu

Gordon Housworth



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Ackoff on Reductionism and Expansionism, Part II

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Part I here.

Using his theme of 'take it apart' or 'God as root cause,' Ackoff defines Reductionism as the process of taking a system apart, analyzing the parts, and trying to understand cause and effect among the parts. In Ackoff's hands, root cause is God. While others stop short of a deity, it is the most common form of systems analysis, managerial or technical, but while it is necessary, it is not sufficient to describe a system. Reductionism excludes the environment in which the system functions as if it had no effect on the system under study.

In "Toward a System of Systems Concepts," Ackoff defines a system as, "A system is a set of interrelated elements. Thus a system is an entity which is compose of at least two elements and a relation that holds between each of its elements and at least one other element in the set. Each of a system's elements is connected to every other element, directly or indirectly. Furthermore, no subset of elements is unrelated to any other subset."

Ackoff proceeded to describe three theorems in "The Second Industrial Revolution":

"If you take apart a system and take it apart to identify its components, and then operate those components in such a way that every component behaves as well as it possibly can, there is only one thing of which you can be sure. The system as a whole will not behave as well as it can...The corollary is this -- if you have a system that is behaving as well as it can, none of the parts will be."

"The second characteristic of a system is that any part that affects the whole depends on what at least one other part is doing. Or put another way, no part of the system has an independent effect on the whole."

"Now the third condition is the most complex one, and the most important. It says that if you take these elements and group them in any way, they form subgroups. These subgroups will be subject to the same first and second conditions as the original elements were; e.g., each subgroup will affect the performance as a whole and no subgroup will have an independent effect on the performance of the whole."

Ackoff describes this process as Expansionism. Both Reductionism and Expansionism are useful. Reductionism tells us how a system is assembled and something about how it works, but it is Expansionism that tells us what a system is likely to do and how it interacts with its components and its environment. Both are required to understand a system, but the great majority shift their problem solving skills, at their peril, towards Reductionism at the expense of Expansionism.

I cannot help but observe that our dealings with the World Bank and the IMF would proceed more smoothly if we understood Ackoff's distinction between growth and development. Ackoff refutes the common assumption that the terms are synonyms: "Growth is a concept concerned with size and expansion; development is a concept concerned with capacity and competence." In an outsourcing and rightsizing world, Ackoff would have us look more at developing new ways of thinking and taking advantage of irreversible changes rather than clinging growth of existing jobs. The former may be difficult but the latter is to book passage on the Ship of Fools.

In closing, the Ackoff Center at U Penn has released an interview originally published in Strategy & Leadership, Vol 31-3, in which Ackoff argues against consultant-driven sloganeering for systemic thinking considers problems in terms of how the interactions of the parts, and the parts with the whole and its environment, create the properties of the whole. Find this recommended read here.

Russell L. Ackoff, iconoclastic management authority, advocates a ‘‘systemic’’ approach to innovation
Robert J. Allio
Strategy & Leadership
August, 2003

Also, look at the Proceedings of RUSSELL L. ACKOFF and THE ADVENT OF SYSTEMS THINKING. Many good articles, but see Ackoff's "ON PASSING THROUGH 80," page 32.

Ackoff, R. (1971). "Toward a System of Systems Concepts," Management Science, 17 (1971), July, pp. 661-671.

Ackoff, R "The Second Industrial Revolution," Alban Institute Publication, Washington, D.C., 1975.

Gordon Housworth



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