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NEWS & EDITORIAL REFLECTIONS (June-December 2004 Archive)

12/30/04: Liberals who originally supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq are now justifiably feeling duped (though they are also themselves to blame for being too easily duped). It's in this spirit that the New Republic now presents a great daily critical BLOG called IRAQ'D. I recommend it. Today's IRAQ'D blog entry starts, "INSURGENT HUBRIS?: After last week's suicide bombing in a U.S. military mess hall in killed 22, The Washington Post's Karl Vick wrote that the assault "realized the worst fear of U.S. commanders." It raised the prospect that insurgents could try to overrun a base outright. Today insurgents in Mosul tried exactly that: Using a car bomb, they attempted to breach the barriers of a combat outpost in the city; drew a U.S. armored vehicle that sought to reinforce the barrier into a trap of roadside and car bombs; and attacked the outpost's U.S. personnel using a force of 50 fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades and semi-automatic weapons..." Read More.

12/29/04: Kang Je-Gyu's new film, "Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War", portrays the dark side of the Korean War while humanizing the communist enemy. It's anti-war, pro-unification message is catching on.

12/28/04: Cass Sunstein's forthcoming article, "Minimalism at War" (PDF), is now available for dowloading. Abstract: "When national security conflicts with individual liberty, reviewing courts might adopt one of three general orientations: National Security Maximalism, Liberty Maximalism, and minimalism. National Security Maximalism calls for a great deal of deference to the President, above all because of his authority as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Liberty Maximalism asks courts to assume the same liberty-protecting posture in times of war as in times of peace. Minimalism asks courts to follow three precepts: the President needs clear congressional authorization for intruding on interests having a strong claim to constitutional protection; fair hearings should generally be provided to those who have been deprived of their freedom; and courts should discipline their own authority through narrow, incompletely theorized rulings. Of the three positions, Liberty Maximalism is the easiest to dismiss; courts will not and should not adopt it. National Security Maximalism is far more plausible, but it is in grave tension with the constitutional structure, and it is built on excessive optimism about the incentives of the President. The most appealing approach is minimalism, which does remarkably well in capturing prominent decisions of the Supreme Court in World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and the war on terrorism." Review: Although this is an important piece of constructive jurisprudence, Sunstein does not adequately address the changing character of "wartime". It makes no sense to allow historically limited wartime provisions to set the constitutional standard for what can only be conceived as a permanent condition of counter-terrorism. Sunstein also does not adequately defend the assumption that counter-terrorism ought to proceed by more or less conventional methods of warfare (invasion & occupation) rather than by new, multi-lateral, quasi-military methods of international law enforcement (international forces targeting responsible parties for ICC prosecution). Consequently, Sunstein too easily dismisses the appropriateness of a principled juridical protection of civil liberties in present-day U.S. constitutional law. His Liberty Maximalist is a straw judge. And accordingly, his case for the Ginzburg-style piecemeal jurisprudence of his Minimalist judge is not well-made.

12/27/04:Jeff Vail offers the following in his x-mas eve blog entry: "Friday, December 24, 2004, DoD Propaganda Machine In Full Force

The latest issue of the magazine The American Enterprise (January/February 2005) printed a Letter to the Editor, ostensibly written by First Lieutenant Michael Erwin of the US Army. It reads like a run-down of Pentagon talking points carefully compiled by Army Public Affairs. In the letter, PA -- or, rather Lt. Erwin -- explains how great a victory the recent assaults on Najaf and Falluja were for the American people, and how despicable and evil the Iraqi insurgents are. Allow me to quote from this letter, and illustrate the bald-faced deceptions employed by the Pentagon PR machine. Hopefully Lt. Erwin won't take my commentary too personally--after all, he can point the finger at his friendly local Public Affairs officer:

American Enterprise intros the letter with a little commentary on the recent operations in Najaf and Falluja that Lt. Erwin participated in: "two of the trickiest and most successful combat actions carried out by the US military in the last half century". Given AE's standard bias on these matters, I'm not surprised by their assessment, or that they picked this letter for publication despite the fact that it clearly follows a list of talking points and key-phrases. Never-the-less, I would be remiss to allow such an assumption to pass unchallenged. The operation in Najaf was only finally settled when Hussein Sharistani brokered a deal by convincing al-Sadr that the Shi'a would dominate the country if he would back down and facilitate January's elections. Due to the US military's inability to handle the issue directly (because there were no adequately trained Iraqi forces to deal with Najaf), they gave Sharistani (and Sistani) the keys to the country. In the process, they created a future of Iranian influenced Iraqi policies in one fell swoop. Falluja was equally a failure, as it outraged Iraq's Sunni population and failed to crush any leadership or command structure of the insurgency--witness that attacks have picked up since the city was declared "under control" of the Marine Corps.

AE's editors also suggest that Erwin's letter sheds light on the "previously unreported revelation that Muslim holy warriors traffic in illicit drugs". Here are Lt. Erwin's actual words: "They also found large amounts of drugs--mostly speed and cocaine. Many of these jihad purists apparently drug themselves up for pleasure and to give themselves the boldness and stupidity to fight". Ignoring, for a moment, the unsupported assumptions on Erwin's part, let me point out that Lt. Erwin knows exactly why the insurgents take cocaine (a stimulant) and speed: to enhance combat alertness and performance over the many days that they must stay awake at one time. Not coincidentally, this is the exact same rationale that the US military gives for issuing "Go-Pills" to their soldiers. "Go-Pills" are actually Dexadrine. Dexadrine is the brand name for dexamphetamine, which is speed.

Erwin goes on to complain that "They [insurgents] placed snipers, mortar observers, and men armed with RPGs in the minarets of their mosques." According the US military, and the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) which they created and unilaterally decided to apply to the insurgents, this is not kosher. Erwin also states that the US military destroyed "any vehicle that had been parked in the same location for more than three days. We guessed they might be car bombs..." Having been through countless hours of LOAC training myself, I am well aware that both of these actions, one by the insurgents and one by the US military, violate the law. In my mind, both are smart moves--the hypocrisy lies in the fact that Erwin points out only the enemy's violations. Not to mention the general hypocrisy of attempting to apply one's own laws to another party which has not agreed to the former's social contract, a phenomena that I wrote about HERE.

Erwin continues with a statement demonstrating such ignorance that I am forced to either re-evaluate my esteem for his West Point education, or chalk it under the column of "Public Affairs actually wrote this letter":

"This city [Falluja] was the center of the resistance against the new Iraqi government."

The insurgents form an acentral, rhizomatic network. US military and CIA intelligence briefings both say this. Erwin apparently doesn't understand that a decentralized network doesn't have a center. Visit: for a lengthy discussion of this by a former military specialist in insurgent organization.

Next on Erwin's talking-points memo was this: "Some of the torture chambers were extremely gruesome. These insurgents are sick people." I wonder what kind of generalizations Erwin would be willing to make about all members of the US Army (of which he is part) given the abuses at Abu Ghraib??

As if he were trying to trip over every single ghost in the US military's closet one at a time, Erwin proceeds to begin arguing the merits of the Falluja operation based on body counts: "Over several days, American forces killed 1,200-1,600 insurgents." Someone should let this guy know how well Vietnam turned out for the US...

But the real icing on the cake came in Erwin's closing comments: "I see firsthand in Iraq that we cannot live peacefully back home right now unless we stay on the offensive against our enemies in their own backyards." Hubris, it seems, has no bounds. If I may humbly suggest that if we stopped killing, manipulating and exploiting people in far away lands, we may find ourselves finally at peace both at home and abroad. That seems a fitting comment on which to close these Christmas Eve comments..."

12/23/04: Is Alberto R. Gonzales, the man who would be U.S. Attorney General, a war crimes co-conspirator? Consider exhibit A, his memo to George Bush (made available here courtesy of Alternet and Michael Ratner & Ellen Ray's Guantanamo: What the World Should Know from Chelsea Green Publishing), in which he advises the president that the best way to avoid future prosecution under the 1996 War Crimes Act is to completely and consistently disregard the Geneva Conventions in the treatment of enemy combatants.

12/23/04: In "Courage as a Virtue", George Kateb questions the honors traditionally accorded to the courage of "comradeship unto death," preferring instead the courage of conscientious commitment to non-violence. My thanks to for supplying this link.

12/08/04: In "Optimal War & Jus ad Bellum, Eric A. Posner and Alan O. Sykes defend the Bush administration's post-9/11 policy of pre-emptive self-defense. They conclude that "There are good reasons for allowing preemptive self-defense, quite possibly without Security Council authorization... The potential proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction to rogue states and state sponsors of terrorism provides a rationale for invading dangerous states sooner rather than later." This form of argument attempts to justify international aggression by definitional fiat. The "rogue state" designation criminalizes enemy states and, accordingly, denies them standard protections of international law. Allowing every state to justify aggression in this manner is a clear recipe for international anarchy. The "rogue state" argument would substitute name-calling and unilateral aggression for the rule of international law. Within any legitimate legal order, there are no criminal persons or states, but only criminal acts. There is no such thing as a rogue nation. There are only roguish acts, such as the unprovoked and harmful invasion of another state.

11/30/04: The New York Times reports today on the International Red Cross' investigation of interrogation practices at Guantanamo Bay: "WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 - The International Committee of the Red Cross has charged in confidential reports to the United States government that the American military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The finding that the handling of prisoners detained and interrogated at Guantánamo amounted to torture came after a visit by a Red Cross inspection team that spent most of last June in Guantánamo.

The team of humanitarian workers, which included experienced medical personnel, also asserted that some doctors and other medical workers at Guantánamo were participating in planning for interrogations, in what the report called "a flagrant violation of medical ethics."

Doctors and medical personnel conveyed information about prisoners' mental health and vulnerabilities to interrogators, the report said, sometimes directly, but usually through a group called the Behavioral Science Consultation Team, or B.S.C.T. The team, known informally as Biscuit, is composed of psychologists and psychological workers who advise the interrogators, the report said.

The United States government, which received the report in July, sharply rejected its charges, administration and military officials said.

The report was distributed to lawyers at the White House, Pentagon and State Department and to the commander of the detention facility at Guantánamo, Gen. Jay W. Hood. The New York Times recently obtained a memorandum, based on the report, that quotes from it in detail and lists its major findings.

It was the first time that the Red Cross, which has been conducting visits to Guantánamo since January 2002, asserted in such strong terms that the treatment of detainees, both physical and psychological, amounted to torture. The report said that another confidential report in January 2003, which has never been disclosed, raised questions of whether "psychological torture" was taking place.

The Red Cross said publicly 13 months ago that the system of keeping detainees indefinitely without allowing them to know their fates was unacceptable and would lead to mental health problems.

The report of the June visit said investigators had found a system devised to break the will of the prisoners at Guantánamo, who now number about 550, and make them wholly dependent on their interrogators through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions." Investigators said that the methods used were increasingly "more refined and repressive" than learned about on previous visits.

"The construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture," the report said. It said that in addition to the exposure to loud and persistent noise and music and to prolonged cold, detainees were subjected to "some beatings." The report did not say how many of the detainees were subjected to such treatment.

Asked about the accusations in the report, a Pentagon spokesman provided a statement saying, "The United States operates a safe, humane and professional detention operation at Guantánamo that is providing valuable information in the war on terrorism."

It continued that personnel assigned to Guantánamo "go through extensive professional and sensitivity training to ensure they understand the procedures for protecting the rights and dignity of detainees...

The conclusions by the inspection team, especially the findings involving alleged complicity in mistreatment by medical professionals, have provoked a stormy debate within the Red Cross committee. Some officials have argued that it should make its concerns public or at least aggressively confront the Bush administration.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which is based in Geneva and is separate from the American Red Cross, was founded in 1863 as an independent, neutral organization intended to provide humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of war...

...The report said the Biscuit team met regularly with the medical staff to discuss the medical situations of detainees. At other times, interrogators sometimes went directly to members of the medical staff to learn about detainees' conditions, it said.

The report said that such "apparent integration of access to medical care within the system of coercion" meant that inmates were not cooperating with doctors. Inmates learn from their interrogators that they have knowledge of their medical histories and the result is that the prisoners no longer trust the doctors...

Leonard S. Rubenstein, the executive director of Physicians for Human Rights, was asked to comment on the account of the Red Cross report, and said, "The use of medical personnel to facilitate abusive interrogations places them in an untenable position and violates international ethical standards."

Mr. Rubenstein added, "We need to know more about these practices, including whether health professionals engaged in calibrating levels of pain inflicted on detainees."

The issue of whether torture at Guantánamo was condoned or encouraged has been a problem before for the Bush administration.

In February 2002, President Bush ordered that the prisoners at Guantánamo be treated "humanely and, to the extent appropriate with military necessity, in a manner consistent with" the Geneva Conventions. That statement masked a roiling legal discussion within the administration as government lawyers wrote a series of memorandums, many of which seemed to justify harsh and coercive treatment.

A month after Mr. Bush's public statement, a team of administration lawyers accepted a view first advocated by the Justice Department that the president had wide powers in authorizing coercive treatment of detainees. The legal team in a memorandum concluded that Mr. Bush was not bound by either the international Convention Against Torture or a federal antitorture statute because he had the authority to protect the nation from terrorism.

That document provides tightly constructed definitions of torture. For example, if an interrogator "knows that severe pain will result from his actions, if causing such harm is not his objective, he lacks the requisite specific intent even though the defendant did not act in good faith," it said. "Instead, a defendant is guilty of torture only if he acts with the express purpose of inflicting severe pain or suffering on a person within his control."

When some administration memorandums [sic] about coercive treatment or torture were disclosed, the White House said they were only advisory.

Last month, military guards, intelligence agents and others described in interviews with The Times a range of procedures that they said were highly abusive occurring over a long period, as well as rewards for prisoners who cooperated with interrogators. The people who worked at Camp Delta, the main prison facility, said that one regular procedure was making uncooperative prisoners strip to their underwear, having them sit in a chair while shackled hand and foot to a bolt in the floor, and forcing them to endure strobe lights and loud rock and rap music played through two close loudspeakers, while the air-conditioning was turned up to maximum levels.

Some accounts of techniques at Guantánamo have been easy to dismiss because they seemed so implausible. The most striking of the accusations, which have come mainly from a group of detainees released to their native Britain, has been that the military used prostitutes who made coarse comments and come-ons to taunt some prisoners who are Muslims.

But the Red Cross report hints strongly at an explanation of some of those accusations by stating that there were frequent complaints by prisoners in 2003 that some of the female interrogators baited their subjects with sexual overtures.

Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who commanded the detention and intelligence operation at Guantánamo until April, when he took over prison operations in Iraq, said in an interview early this year about general interrogation procedures that the female interrogators had proved to be among the most effective. General Miller's observation matches common wisdom among experienced intelligence officers that women may be effective as interrogators when seen by their subjects as mothers or sisters. Sexual taunting does not, however, comport with what is often referred to as the "mother-sister syndrome."

But the Red Cross report said that complaints about the practice of sexual taunting stopped in the last year. Guantánamo officials have acknowledged that they have improved their techniques and that some earlier methods they tried proved to be ineffective, raising the possibility that the sexual taunting was an experiment that was abandoned."

11/24/04: Please welcome to cyberspace the Network on Ethics and Justice in the Community of Nations at Roskilde University Department of Philosophy & Science Studies. The Network will be hosting its own conferences in international ethics and justice as well as promoting panels on related topics at academic conferences worldwide.

11/9/04: The Global Security Newswire reports today that the 9/11 Commission's recommendations have now been discarded for the sake of government secrecy. Read the full story here.

11/1/04: A game theoretic analysis of Osama Bin Laden/Al Quaida's terrorism strategy from the SCSU Scholars blog: "I don't often delve into international affairs and the politics of terrorism -- there are far too many blogs with writers more knowledgeable, including most of NARN -- but I think some people are going to overlook an intelligent point Craig Westover makes today. Regarding the diatribe/no-detonate behavior of bin Laden, Craig observes: There was a lot of speculation that there�d be a terrorist attack before the election, which hasn�t occurred with a day to go. We, and I number myself among the �we,� have credited the President�s policies, which I still believe are the best available course. But think about it. What would have a more powerful effect if you were Bin Laden. An attack before the election or after? An attack on U.S. soil after the election creates instant buyer�s remorse on the electorate and deepens the divide of the American people. If Bush wins, an attack �proves� his policies have failed to keep us safe. If Kerry wins, an attack �proves� the terrorist have been emboldened by Kerry�s weakness. In either case, an attack virtually ensures four more years of division and partisanship. Even for a new President Kerry, there�d be no unifying spirit that Bush experienced. I was trying to sketch this out in game-theoretic terms. Suppose OBL/AQ have one attack on U.S. soil that is still undetected and with a high chance of success. The nature of the attack is unimportant, but suppose it would be of similar magnitude to the Spanish attacks. The only decision available is timing of the attack: before or after the election? And of course there are two outcomes, Bush and Kerry. Think in terms of payoffs A [before/kerry], B [before/bush], C [after/kerry], and D [after/bush]. Many assume that Kerry is Osama's candidate. The Spanish story says that to get that outcome you should attack before. But we should recall that the Aznar government appeared to be rolling to victory before the attacks. AQ may have seen it plausible to tip the election by the attacks before the election and did so, but only because pressure from the attack could change many votes. Suppose, however, that you could not predict in the U.S. whether or not an attack before the election would move voters towards Bush (out of spite, or out of perceived Kerry weakness) or towards Kerry (out of a sense that Bush had failed.) Suppose as well -- as many believe, but not me -- that the electoral outcome is close. You thus need to meet three conditions to make A or B the most desired outcome: You know which way voters will move; Votes are responsive or elastic to terrorism on U.S. soil; and Without your attack, your less-preferred candidate will win. I think that amplifies the reasons Craig discusses for why the post-election attack may make more sense.

11/1/04: Here is the complete transcript of Osama Bin Laden's latest rant. May it be his last.

10/29/04: Although it has little or nothing to do with war or international law, I just couldn't pass up posting this article on Rhenquist's presidential gambling pool.

10/22/04: Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights, spoke yesterday to a packed audiorium at University of Michigan School of Law. Her main thesis was that "economic, social and cultural rights" (ESCRs) are not just a third world concern, but are "central to global consciousness." Despite the priority frequently given to the political rights of UN member states in implementation processes, ESCRs are the more fundamental elements of international law. Included under the broad rubric of ESCRs is (among other things mentioned and discussed) the concern of promoting "civil liberties in a time of terror." The suggestion is that there is a natural alliance between internationalists and civil libertarians. Among other examples, Robinson mentioned Justice Kennedy's recent citation of the EC's Norris v. Ireland (pdf) (in Lawrence v. Texas) to suggest that, depending upon the outcome of the next election, there might be an emerging internationalism in U.S. jurisprudence. U.S. courts might even learn how to draw upon standards of international law to defend an American culture of civil liberties against acts of congress and powers of the executive. In linking ESCRs and proper anti-terror policies, she cited Cass Sunstein's The Second Bill of Rights, and quoted FDR as saying that "Freedom from Fear is eternally linked to freedom from want." In short, national security depends upon economic and social security. Terror and insecurity tend to reign wherever citizens, individually and collectively, "lack the capacity to influence change." In language more hopeful and charming than I can muster, Robinson pointed out that U.S. ratification of the UN ESCR convention signed by President Carter would be the greatest aid (is the greatest obstacle) to the realization of global legal consciousness. When asked for a show of hands, nearly half of the audience of law students and professors confessed ignorance of the goals of international legal order set forth in the United Nations Millenium Declaration (<<< click here to do better). When asked about the U.S.-lead invasion and occupation of Iraq, she noted (1) that it interrupted an ongoing and effective process of international law, and (2) that none of the standards of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty had been met.

10/21/04: Please welcome The People's E-mail Network to the internet. The PEN is a tool for democratic participation, a means of directly communicating to Congress, the FCC, etc. Use it!

10/17/04: Although I was too busy to comment when the news was still fresh, French/American philosopher Jacques Derrida died last week. He left Hopkins before I arrived; so I never had a chance to know what his seminars were like. But his influence on graduate conversation there was tremendous, even as the popularity of publishable orthodox Derrideanisms thankfully waned. He was guilty of sometimes being unforgivably obscure in print. Ironically he inspired an entire form of academic discourse which, despite seeming explicitly devoted to the value of inclusiveness, was largely inaccessible to all but the initiated. His return visits to campus were popular, highly charged and stimulating spectacles, however. What impressed me most about him was how much love he got from people who knew him. He seemed like a warm, cheerful guy who was just having fun playing in the margins of language. So, it's sort of wierd how much earnest and nasty criticism has emerged in response to his death. It seems we have a much deeper civility problem in academia than we do in Washington (where Bush and Kerry have actually been unacceptably chummy, fawning over one another's wives, and doing everything civil short of publicly giving one another their fraternity "grip"). Derrida may have produced some arcane and frivolous works; but that hardly warrants such vitriolic condemnation. What's wrong with hide-and-seek? What's wrong with frivolity? Ease up, professors. To be fair, some of the posthumous encomiums have been even more ridiculous. It's also worth noting that Derrida did sometimes address serious issues and, when he did, the value of what he had to say came largely from his ability to unsettle our customary ways of speaking and writing. Consider, for example, his historico-theoretical deconstruction of the concept of "international terrorism," sampled in this book review.

10/17/04: Locals only: Noam Chomsky will be speaking about U.S. "Hegemony or Survival" at U Michigan Law School, next Thursday, October 28, 4-5 pm, 100 Hutchins Hall.

10/8/04: Just a quick announcement for locals. Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and first woman president of Ireland, will be speaking about "Advancing Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: A Timely Debate" at University of Michigan Law School on Thursday, Oct. 21st at 4 pm. Hutchins Hall room 100.

10/8/04: This just in from Lawrence Solum's legal theory blog (which is available on my links page): an upcoming conference with a LIVE INTERNET FEED! Pretty cool. "Conference Announcement: Law Enforcement & National Security in the Information Age -- The World Policy Institute at the New School and the Center for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology Policy present: LAW ENFORCEMENT AND NATIONAL SECURITY IN THE INFORMATION AGE: TECHNOLOGY, SECURITY, AND PRIVACY IN THE 'WAR ON TERROR' A panel discussion with: Barry Steinhardt, Director of the Technology and Liberty Program, ACLU Eben Moglen, Professor of Law, Columbia University Paul Rosenzweig, Senior Legal Fellow, Heritage Foundation, and Heather Mac Donald, Olin Fellow, Manhattan Institute, and Contributing Editor, City Journal Moderated by Kim Taipale, Executive Director, Center for Advanced Studies, and Director of the Global Information Society Project at the World Policy Institute To be held on October 14, 2004, at 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the Swayduck Auditorium, First Floor, 65 Fifth Avenue (between East 13th and 14th Streets), New York, NY. Admission is free. RSVP 212-229-5808 ext. 101 or email to reserve seating. Visit for a live webcast and online discussion. Event announcement, speakers bios, and links to background material available online at About this program : Security and liberty are not dichotomous rivals to be traded one for the other; rather, they are dual obligations of civil society each to be maximized within the constraints imposed by the other. How can these dual obligations of collective security and individual freedom, including privacy, best be achieved given current developments in information technologies and the threat of international terrorism? The panelists will offer their views on these and related issues. This panel discussion is the first in a series of public forums to be held as part of the Global Information Society Project�s Program on Law Enforcement and National Security in the Information Age. About the Global Information Society Project ( The Global Information Society Project is a collaborative research project between the World Policy Institute and the Center for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology Policy focused on information, communication and technology policy and related issues, especially as such policy impacts on the development of civil society, international relations, world trade, economic development, and national and global security. About the Program on Law Enforcement and National Security in the Information Age ( New information technologies have the potential to significantly change how information is collected, shared and analyzed by law enforcement and national security agencies in response to certain perceived threats posed by transnational terrorism, international organized crime, cross-border criminal gangs, and cybercrime. These technologies can enable remote observation or transaction monitoring (surveillance and identification), easy access to distributed data (information sharing), and efficiencies in processing and analysis (automated data and traffic analysis and data mining). Such developments, however, are challenging to political and legal systems, and social expectations, that are at least partially based on protecting certain civil liberties and individual freedoms by maintaining privacy through the �practical obscurity� of inefficient information access technologies and procedures. On the one hand there is a need to "connect the dots" through improved information sharing and analysis to provide for collective security and on the other hand the notion of individual liberty in free society is at least partially built on keeping the power to "connect the dots" out of the control of government agencies by maintaining or imposing inefficiencies through a system of checks and balances, due process and technical constraints. The Global Information Society Project�s Program on Law Enforcement and National Security in the Information Age seeks to examine these issues and to influence national and international decision makers at every level in both the public and private sectors by providing a forum for sound, objective analysis and discourse. In particular, the Program seeks to identify, examine, and articulate the key issues that lie at the intersection of technologically enabled change and existing practices in law enforcement and national security by presenting a series of public panel discussions, publishing articles in leading journals, and otherwise informing the public debate. The Program provides a non-partisan, independant forum for all viewpoints and is dedicated to working towards solutions that promote individual freedom, democracy and civil liberties while encouraging and protecting global and national security. About the World Policy Institute ( The World Policy Institute at New School University is a research and education policy center that seeks innovative solutions to critical problems facing the United States and the world. WPI has been a source of informed policy leadership for close to 40 years and is renowned for its cutting-edge analysis on managing the global market economy, constructing a workable system for collective security, and fostering civil society. About the Center for Advanced Studies ( The Center for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology Policy is a private, non-partisan research and advisory organization focused on information, technology, and national security policy and related issues. FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit the Global Information Society Web Site at or email info AT global-info-society DOT org"

10/02/04: (More thoughts about the partioning/disintegration of Iraq. See also my 9/04/04 blog entry.) According to The Weekly Standard, accepting and assisting in the political disintegration of Iraq may be one the unspoken pieces of Kerry's plan for ending the occupation. See Mathew Continetti's article, "Kerry, Iraq, and the New York Review of Books: Has John Kerry finally found a plan for Iraq in the writings of Peter Galbraith?"

9/18/04: Among academic pundits and inside-the-Beltway intellectuals there has recently been growing speculation about Bush administration "Straussians" (such as Seymour Hersh's piece in the New Yorker). But I, for one, don't buy it. Allan Bloom's _The Closing of the American Mind_ is supposed to be the intellectual link between U of Chicago political theorist, Leo Strauss, and such Republican insiders as Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. Yet, Bloom's work is stridently critical of the influence of cultural relativism in college curricula and American society; so, one would expect a purportedly like-minded Bush administration to ground its policies in appeals to universal human values. Instead, we get American exceptionalism justified in terms of a clash-of-civilizations rhetoric suggesting that the enemy is opposed to "American values". For a critical view of the Bush administration's rejection of universal human values, see Fred Halliday's piece in on The Crisis of Universalism: America and Radical Islam affter 9/11. Bush's counterterrorism strategies subvert the universal human values that have been inscribed within the international conventions of armed conflict. Moreover, if I could find a bookie to take it, I'd bet every American dollar I own that no one in Bush's administration has seriously considered Strauss's commentary on Xenophon's dialogue _On Tyranny_. For those who are interested in the Straussian question, here is some detailed commentary from the Claremont Institute.

9/04/04: In the early spring of 2003, I argued that the most likely outcome of a U.S./British invasion of Iraq was the eventual "partitioning" of that country. I imagined at that time a process over which the "coalition" forces had more control than the process currently unfolding. "Partitioning" no longer seems the appropriate word for the potential demise of Iraq's territorial integrity. In this connection, Chatham House has now published a relevant report (pdf) characterizing "civil war" and "fragmentation" as the "default scenario" in Iraq. The Chatham House scholars present two other well-drawn alternative scenarios for Iraq "holding together" or undergoing a unique sort of "regional remake".

8/27/04: Dahlia Lithwick's editorial in yesterdays New York Times, 'No Smoking Gun', does a nice job of explaining how the accountability gap over Abu Ghraib is a result of trading the rule of law for "intelligence". This is an especially bad bargain when the CIA, leading up to the invasion of Iraq, functioned more as a ministry of propaganda than a genuine intelligence agency.

8/20/04: This just in from the Leiter Report: Kerry now gaining on Bush in race to be U.S. warmonger-in-chief. As Helen Thomas reports in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Kerry stated last week that 'he would have "voted to give the president the authority to go to war" even if he had known there were no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction -- Bush's original justification for war on Iraq. Kerry explained that he believes a president should have the "authority" to go to war, and he voted accordingly. . . Bush has sarcastically told cheering Republican rallies, "After months of questioning my motives and even my credibility, Sen. Kerry now agrees with me."' Kerry's all-too-nuanced opposition to Bush's war in Iraq is limited to his claim that he would have been more patient and more successful in recruiting major European allies. In light of his refusal to distance himself from the basic tenets of Bush's war policies, it seems that a Kerry administration could be as dismissive of international law and U.S. constiutional law as the Bush administration has been. Sigh. I cherish my vote less and less with each passing day of this election campaign.

7/29/04: Is Darfur becoming another casualty of the war in Iraq? There is a case to be made. In the absence of Iraqi WMDs, U.S. and British counter-terrorism war rhetoric has emphasized our humanitarian aims and intentions. As Ian Williams argues, however, association with a globally unpopular occupation of Iraq has had the effect of discrediting humanitarian military intervention. Moreover, the occupation of Iraq has over-extended U.S. troop commitments, making genuine humanitarian intervention in Sudan appear overly burdensome to DOD planners.

7/27/04: In a Chicago Sun-Times Op/Ed piece today, we are once again invited to believe that our post-9/11 wars are making the world a safer place because "the Arab world understands power and strength". I've now heard this point being made too many times to let it pass without critical comment. The suggestion being made is that the Arab world knows little more than power because it cannot comprehend those paradigmatically American values of freedom and justice. There is, of course, an undeniable hint of cultural presumption or arrogance in this suggestion. But what may be worse is that the argument for embracing a naked force policy in the Arab world betrays a lack of reflective comprehension of the American values at stake. If WE understood better the values to which we pay lip service, then we would be able to conceive of the cause of freedom and (especially) justice as something more than whatever results from the aggressive exercise of OUR power and OUR strength. Better that we should have used our intelligence and realized that terrorism is a crime against international order, which calls for corresponding legal remedies, rather than the chaos of "Shock and Awe" (more shocking than awesome), fundamentalist backlash and perpetual occupation.

7/27/04: Finally, the Iraqis are truly liberated as Reality TV comes to Baghdad! Reconstruction of Baghdad proceeds at a pace akin to that of Detroit urban renewal, as families living in bombed out ruins are treated to "extreme home makeovers," one house at a time. TV executives have reason to predict that the show's success will continue for several seasons.

7/21/04: As I checked the news on this morning, I initially looked past the headline announcing "Saudis find head of slain U.S. hostage" without even raising an eyelid. After all, there was more interesting and hopeful national news about Hamtramck. Prejudice and protest notwithstanding, a local mosque's call to prayer will not be silenced. I'll be moving into a monstrous Hamtramck loft this fall, and I, for one, look forward to opening a window and hearing the Muslim call to prayer as it mingles with the peal of Catholic church bells, the boombox rhythms of Obie Trice, and whatever else is thrown up from, or out over the clamorous street below. But there is, of course, the possibility that violence may erupt in this community. Will weekend warriors from Ohio continue to drive all the way to Hamtramck to harrass Muslim shop owners? How long before someone gets hurt or killed in this clash of "cultures"? Isn't the advantage of being an American supposed to consist in freedom from intercultural and religious violence? In having the freedom not to belong to a culture, if one chooses to depart from tradition? Perhaps even in the possibility of viewing our cultures and their ancient hatreds as relics of our charming yet barbarous pasts (the now largely defunct melting-pot ideal)? And... wait... What was that about someone's HEAD being found in Saudi Arabia? There it was: The irresistable urge to learn about the head. Turns out it belonged to Paul M. Johnson Jr. and was found in someone's freezer in Riyadh. But what on earth were these people intending to do with Johnson's head? Is there a black market for that sort of thing? Probably. Were these Saudi militants intending to display Johnson's head publicly as a symbol of whatever it is that they imagine they stand for? Even more probable. It's wierd and unsettling, but dead bodies and body parts have become hot property in the global exchange of political images. Not only for terrorists, but for counterterrorists as well. Graphic photos of the corpses of Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, are readily available and often elaborately displayed on mainstream internet media sites. After all, for whatever reason, and probably also from pre-rational psychological compulsions, people (myself included) feel drawn to these displays. They are part of a disturbing growth industry. TV, well, of course, we know about TV. But internet media also deliberately use shock-value stories and images to drive traffic towards their sites, though few are reflective or honest enough to admit it. Small sites and blogs have caught on to this trick (again, mine included). Attention to political beheadings drives a lot of random internet traffic. I'm not going to suggest that anyone should lose interest in the gory details of political conflict, or that trafficking in those details is in itself a Bad Thing. But I do wish to step up to the moral podium long enough to issue a simple reminder that there are two basic and opposing political reasons for taking an interest in Johnson's missing head and Uday's bloated corpse. On one hand, dead bodies and body parts purport to proclaim small victories and foretell future ones. Such is the business of radical Saudi militants, Fox News, etc. But on the other hand, with a clearer head, we might choose to be attentive to all the nasty features of political violence for the failures they represent, from a sense of human frailty, and out of concern over the fragility of peace in a dissonant world. Let's hope no one loses their head in Hamtramck. ...P.S. My sincere condolences to Mr. Johnson's family and friends.

7/16/04: The latest polls indicate dwindling public support for the war in Iraq. A majority of Americans now think that it's a bad idea to attack countries that have not attacked us first. Perhaps a dawning awareness that political wisdom follows the way of just war theory?...

7/14/04: At long last, what was an obvious truth prior to the misguided invasion of Iraq is being prominently publicized by an anonymous CIA source, who points out that it was "a gift of epic proportions to Osama bin Laden." Anyone who knew anything about Iraq in the spring of 2003 could have told you that Osama would cheer the toppling of Saddam's regime, which arose and was maintained in opposition to the political aims of Islamic fundamentalists. As Richard Clark (counterterrorism chief under Bush I, Clinton and Bush II) has also confirmed, there were no known ties between Saddam Hussein's government and Al Quaida prior to 9/11. Yet, a radically destabilized Iraq is now a major Al Quaida recruiting ground. Conclusion: GW's foreign policy has made us and the rest of the world less safe from this pernicious terrorist threat than we were before 9/11. Will a Kerry administration be wiser? Perhaps not, but it could hardly do worse. Link here for a book review of the work of Mr. Anonymous.

7/9/04: According to the latest news, Washington is preparing a UN sanctions proposal against Sudanese militias and Khartoum is complaining that these sanctions would undermine the disarmament process. This complaint only betrays Khartoum's underlying lack of commitment to its disarmament agreements. The threat of UN sanctions against the Sudanese government is necessary to ensure its compliance. The Sudanese government armed the Janjawid militias in the first place and cannot be trusted to disarm and restrain them in the absence of international incentives. If Khartoum complains of its inability to control the militias, then the international community should offer (in the most forceful terms possible) the assistance of UN troops. For regular and reliable updates on humanitarian efforts in the Sudan, go to ReliefWeb. speaks out against Halliburton's no-bid contracts in Iraq: a failure of leadership.


More coming soon...

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