07 November 2011

Human Terrain Mapping: It's Still Scary and Troubling

In line with what we laid out in our last article, we have prepared for the public the relevant video clips, audio clips, PowerPoint slides, and transcript involving remarks made by Dr. Christopher A. King, Social Science Director of the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System, at a public conference hosted by Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Institute for Global Security Law and Policy, on September 23, 2011, along with comments made in response by Dr. David H. Price.

We would like to remind readers of the following:

First, "U.S. Copyright Law Title 17 § 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use":

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include — (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

[The complete, full-length copy of the original webcast of the session as a whole was taken offline on November 7, 2011]

Second, that Dr. Christopher A. King was performing in his official capacity as a government official, in the employ of the U.S. Army, at a public event. No expectations of either confidentiality or privacy attach to a public official speaking in public as part of his duties, and no “media release” whether signed or unsigned, agreed to or retracted, can serve as a gag order against the entire public.

Audio file of the above video:

Complete audio file for Dr. King's Presentation:

PowerPoint slides used by Christopher King:

TRANSCRIPT of the remarks in question:

Starting at 1 hour, 8 minutes, 24 seconds in the conference session:

I have a little bit of background in anthropology, linguistics, and Middle East Studies, and my question may be a little unfair because it doesn't relate to human terrain mapping and what not, in...in the counterinsurgency context, but actually right here at home. Because it seems like there is now a domestic, civilian application for this program abroad, in that The New York Times and the Associated Press over the last three weeks have talked about an extensive and detailed human terrain mapping of the Muslim, Arab, Pakistani, Moroccan community in New York, with dossiers on 250 mosques, studying coffee shops, barber shops, bookstores, street vendors, mosques, hookah bars, and the Moroccan community has recently basically said, "Look, this is our hair salon. We cut hair all day." But, um...this app...this has now come home. So what are the ethical considerations--the "do no harm," the voluntary consent, you know, the accessibility to these records--all these issues are now facing us square at home with our American Muslim community. And this is just very important to our community. Thank you.

1 hour, 9 minutes, 34 seconds:

On that topic there, yeah, yes, I don't know all the...I pretty much only know what you know on the use of that. But I actually find that pretty, uh, almost scary lines as well. The type of...the fine line that's being walked on there, and who's doing that work, for what purposes, is...yeah it is...it's pretty troubling, based on what we know and what I know from that New York Times article.

...[Dr. King answers another question about Instiutional Review Boards, ethics, etc;]

1 hour, 12 minutes, 56 seconds:

I'll just quickly, I'll just quickly respond to the question about the reports in The New York Times, which I would urge you all to hunt down, they are pretty disturbing. You know, Christopher said he also (turning to Dr. King)--I don't know if you used the word "disturbing" within, or "troubling"...

Yes, troubling, that's for sure--

I think the meaning of that, though, is that we're having the same techniques that we're doing to the Other, that we're doing in another culture, are hitting us in the face when we do them here at home. You have essentially a parallel situation that's going on, where domestic counterinsurgency is going on here in the United States, using many of these tactics that I and others are reacting to that are happening abroad. Roberto Gonzalez, in his book on Human Terrain, shows that the term itself actually comes from the 1960s in domestic, you know, counter-radical activities that were going, monitoring the Black Panthers and other internal groups. So it's really come full circle. So I, I thank you for that question.

1 hour, 14 minutes, 4 seconds:

(somebody in the audience says: "Nobody's mentioned the COINTELPRO...")

The what?


DR. KING (turning to Dr. Price)
The what?

DR. PRICE (turning to Dr. King and silenltly yet audibly explaining)
The FBI's COINTEL Program 

Oh. I don't know about it. Ok.
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