Monthly Archives: May 2006

Why Propaganda Matters

Nobody believes the official spokesman… but everybody trusts an unidentified source.

–Ron Nesen

 

Poem Inspired by Memorial Day

During the weekend, before Memorial Day, Jack Yoest wrote:

We drove back down Bradley Avenue — past a fresh grave covered by a tarp. In front of us, sparkling in the bright sunlight of a gorgeous day, stretched row after row of white marble markers, orderly, peaceful, some weathered, others new and crisply chiseled . . .I turned […] “I want you to look,” I said. “I want you to understand, that each one of these headstones represents someone who gave their life so that you could be free.”

I salute you who fight, you who have fought to defend our country. I am not one of you. I regret that I am not. My story isn’t important. Yours is.

Thank you to the soldiers of the war,
The quick and living and the resting dead.
You protected me and mine from evil men,
And for my freedoms fought and killed and bled.
I know that I’m not why you volunteered
To travel overseas and join the fight.
Thanks be to God that you are on my side
So my kids sleep safely in the peaceful night

Thanks a million!

On the Necessity of Data Mining

This is a cleaned up and expanded version of a comment I left on Eric Umansky’s site.

Eric Umansky writes:

And by the way, turns out NSA phone records sweeps are looking increasing TIA-ike. It’s not about afiliations with terrorists. As Noah Schachtman puts it, the latest details suggest: “It doesn’t matter who you know. It’s what you do that gets you in trouble. If you spend money and buy plane tickets like Mohammed Atta did, then maybe you’re a terrorist, too. Same goes for the kind, and frequency, of phone calls you make.”

As Douglas Farah at the Counterterrorism Blog notes

The coming shape of the Islamist jihad war is becoming clear: self-starting groups that are increasingly decentralized structure, linked by shifting networks and communicating almost exclusively through the Internet.

The chief architect of this strategy is the Spanish-Syrian strategist Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, the subject of a very nice piece in The Washington Post, whose 1,600 page treastise, `The Call for a Global Islamic Resistance,’ has been circulating on Web sites for 18 months.

In other words, one of the major shapes that terrorism will take in the future is individuals initiating and committing terrorist acts following templates of action such as those that are offered up in Setmariam’s work, and on various Internet Jihad websites.

A movement is envisioned of newby Mujaheddin each with 1,600 pages of detailed templates, written by experienced terrorists, about how to conduct terrorist attacks. They may not know any formally affiliated terrorists. In the dangerous case, they will meet other newby Mujaheddin at the mosque and incubate each others’ jihadist ambitions using the material in Jihad websites and especially “The Call for a Global Islamic Resistance.”

We have two choices, either (1) let them commit terrorist acts just like John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, or (2) stop them. If we let them kill at will, then we are sheep waiting to be slaughtered. If we are to stop them, how do we find them? The only way to find them is to look for suspicious behavior. Look at websites visited, phone calls made and received, special training, medical records, special materials, plane tickets, train tickets, van rentals, etc, and the patterns of all these things. Look at the things that TIA looked at.

All this knowledge is powerful. In the wrong hands it could be dangerous. In the hands of terrorists it would be really dangerous. Credit bureaus already have half of that information. Phone companies and medical insurers have the other half. Credit bureaus, phone companies, medical insurers are not secure against cyber attacks. It is not beyond belief that terrorists could get at this information. Let us make sure that our government pulls out all the stops to keep us safe where it can, and that it not use the information for anything other than the prevention of terrorist attacks and the prosecution and punishment of those who scheme to commit them. At the same time the data must be better secured against those who would use it to do us harm, both common criminals and soldiers of Jihad Terror. The credit bureaus need to clean up their act. With Data Mining, the distinction to make is between proper and improper use, not whether to allow or forbid it.

Also we have to remember that we are in a war against Jihad terrorists. Wars are not run by courts and judges, lawyers and policemen, they are run by strategists, commanders and troops, with a civilian Commander in Chief. Note that judges do not have a slot in the command structure.

War is all Hell.

–William Tecumseh Sherman

Nobody likes war, least of all those who are caught by their foes. In a war against those who hide among civilians and refuse to wear uniforms mistakes will be made. It is not the fault of a civilized military if civilians who harbor terrorists, or who are used involuntarily as shields by terrorists, are mistakenly imprisoned or hurt. It is the fault of the terrorists. This is why nobody likes terrorists. They are dangerous to everybody, including their allies and supporters.

Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

–attributed to George Orwell, as seen on Mudville Gazette

The proper place for judicial oversight is after military targets have been identified by data mining and neutralized by military action, not before the data mining takes place.

This will not be pretty.

Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and defeat.

–William Tecumseh Sherman

The best that can be done is to sort through those who are captured or killed after action, sock the guilty away in a deep hole for a long time, and let the innocent go with our apologies and a commendation for putting up with it. The innocent dead are casualties of war and should be buried with honors as the tragic heroes of war they are. They are true martyrs, unlike those who strap nailbombs around their torso and blow themselves up in a disco.

It is, I think, true to say that the intelligentsia have been more wrong about the progress of the war than the common people, and that they were more swayed by partisan feelings. The average intellectual of the Left believed, for instance, that the war was lost in 1940, that the Germans were bound to overrun Egypt in 1942, that the Japanese would never be driven out of the lands they had conquered, and that the Anglo-American bombing offensive was making no impression on Germany. He could believe these things because his hatred for the British ruling class forbade him to admit that British plans could succeed. There is no limit to the follies that can be swallowed if one is under the influence of feelings of this kind. I have heard it confidently stated, for instance, that American troops had been bought to Europe not to fight the Germans but to crush an English revolution. One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.

–George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism (1945)

What George Orwell described in World War II also happened in Vietnam, and it’s happening again.

Summing Up

Just like real mining, data mining is perilous. Real mining needs to be done with care, but we don’t let the dangers stop mining completely. There is a reason to be careful about how the information from data mining is used in the prosecution of this war, not a reason to stop data mining as we prosecute this war.

Or we could just give up and let the Jihadists conquer us for Islam. I’m sure that women won’t mind going back to being the chattel of men again. That prospect is a little too Slave Girl of Gor for me, but it might be to your taste.

Update 1: submitted to Mudville Gazette

Update 2: Technorati Tags
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Belmont Club and the War Against Sleep

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.
— George Orwell

In a terrific post at the Belmont Club, Wretchard ties together a sea change in the blogosphere with a theory about the purpose of introspection and prophecy in the bicameral mind.

He cites Julian Jaynes.

His [Julian Jaynes’] book, the Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind suggests that our ancestors were instructed by voices and visions.

Wikipedia quotes Jaynes

At one time human nature was split in two, an executive part called a god, and a follower part called a man.

Neither part was Consciously aware.[1]

Wretchard continues…

Jaynes’ theory intriguingly suggests that hunches, guesses and intuition may hold some validity. They are the end result of a logical process inaccessible to the waking mind. My own hunch is that in the last two or three months there’s been a change in the tone of the blogosphere. Nothing definite, simply a change in atmosphere in proportion to the degree of abstract tendencies of the blogger. Authors who trafficked in ideas and concepts have altered the most. Some have paused to take stock, pleading disgust or confusion; still others have returned to writing as seemingly different persons; others seem to be suffering a kind of nervous breakdown, obsessed with hatred for one or more public figures or inventing new words and finding conspiracies in everything they see.

I cannot count myself as perceptive as Wretchard. Few can. So I have not seen such a sea change in the blogosphere. However, I have noticed a change in myself. The sites I read, from Belmont Club to the various counter-terror blogs, milblogs, and the political sites, affect me as if we have hardened somewhat. Maybe it’s me. Maybe it is the sites. Perhaps that is the same sea change that Wretchard perceives.

How could this happen? Before 9/11 the western world was reaping the peace dividend, indulging itself with increasingly self-absorbed entertainments, and engaging in brutally partisan political attacks and counter-attacks. The outside world didn’t exist. Most newspapers and newscasts in the USA had no more than 2 or 3 minutes of world news. We of the west were asleep.

On 9/11 the rest of the world, and especially the festering sore of the Moslem world, sprang into sharp focus. We awoke to the threats and lashed out at them. Afghanistan was first in American sights.

Then those of us who cared about it, whose inclination was to try to understand the situation completely, began to explore our declared enemy. Multicultural assumptions were shattered by what we found. The bland face of universal, undiscriminating, uneducated tolerance blinked. Aroused, we realized that we as a people could not tolerate intolerance, murderous intentions toward us and ours, or the poisonous brew of totalitarian fantasy ideologies and capabilities for mass destruction.

Meanwhile the sleep continued in some, as demonstrated in airport security lines everday where little old methodist ladies’ shoes were removed and x-rayed.

Over the last five years we have become educated. Our tolerance has been tempered by knowledge. Now we know what may be tolerated, and what must be opposed. The exploration and abstract thinking has slowed, because we have learned enough from it.

Now we know enough to be able to act intelligently. Some are soldiers on the battlefield. Others have other skills. The propaganda battlefront awaits those bloggers who have understood that the Mujahedins’ weaknesses are their own words and beliefs when answered with ridicule, cartoons and poetry.

Clarity is the watchword. Wit is our weapon, and knowledge our ammunition. Propagandize safely.

As Wretchard insinuates in a following post, the time for auto-didacticism has ended. Now is the time to act.

H/T: Mudville Gazette

Israel’s Dilemma

Should Israel offer concessions to the Palestinian authority? Will anything good come of it or is it a fool’s game?

The dilemma: Whether to continue to make concessions to Palestinian demands when the only result of concessions is redoubled demands, suicide bombs, and U.N. condemnation, not of suicide bombers but of Israel. Is the possibility of UN approval worth the inevitable attacks, humiliations, and bad dealing by the Palestinians’ tyrannical representatives?

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Down in Judea

Down in Judea, twas commonly said,
That moslems all schemed for the jews to be dead.
The proof was in bombing, and killing, and preaching,
And the books and curriculum the schools were teaching,
To raise generations of kids who hate Jews,
Hardened in hatred by each charge and ruse,
That was preached at the mosque, or taught in the home,
Or written in papers, or whispered on the phone,
When moslem and moslem would imagine a plot,
That ran round the world that the zionists bought.
These anti-jew theories just couldn’t be tested.
The truth of an article of faith can’t be bested.

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Uncle Mo Says

Mohammed wants you To Murder a Jew,  A Christian, a Buddhist, And a Hindu. And if a Moslem child Should happen to stray Into the blast zone,   Then blow them away.

Ahmedinajad … Ahmanutjob … Ahmadamnutjob … Ahma-dayamn!-nutjob!

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