27 October 2011

New Book: The New Imperialism, Volume 2: Interventionism, Information Warfare, and the Military-Academic Complex

Just released, and available in hardcover, paperback, or as a free e-book, this newest volume from Alert Press focuses on humanitarian interventionism, invasion, occupation, information warfare, propaganda operations, and the military-academic complex. The case studies range from Canadian universities, to WikiLeaks, Iraq, Iran, and Libya. We examine topics such as the role of myth in justifying NATO's war against Libya; the attack on civilian infrastructure in Iraq; WikiLeaks and what it tells us about torture in Iraq; relations between the U.S. and Iran, and the role of propaganda; the depth of militarization of university research in Canada; the successes of WikiLeaks in making an impact on world affairs; and the (im)possibility of "humanitarian intervention" under imperialist conditions.

  • What are the prospects for humanitarian internationalism under imperial conditions?
  • Which countries does the U.S. select as targets and what are their characteristics?
  • What can we learn about "hard power" from the two wars against Iraq?
  • What role did myths play in justifying NATO's war against Libya?
Information Warfare
  • What impact has Wikileaks had in changing U.S. foreign policy?
  • Has Wikileaks lived up to its promise of "opening governments"?
  • What do we learn about torture and U.S. war crimes from Wikileaks' Iraq War Logs?
  • What is the role of national rhetoric in the mutual antagonism between Iran and the U.S.?
  • Why does the issue of moral hypocrisy matter when it comes to interventions that some justify on humanitarian grounds?
  • How does one align torture with the defense of liberal democracy?
The Military-Academic Complex
  • What are the processes, patterns, and agents behind the militarization of university research in Canada?
  • What is the nature of the militarization of the academy?
  • Can academic research be critical and ethical when funded by the military and private defence contractors? 
These are just some of the hotly contested questions addressed by the contributors to this, the second volume from our seminar series in The New Imperialism. The contributors to this volume are: Laura Beach, Jessica Cobran, Sabrina Guerrieri, MacLean Hawley, Natalie Jansezian, and Corey Seaton, with an introduction and chapter by the volume editor and several appendices consisting of "classics" in the field by such authors as Randolph Bourne, Smedley Butler, and Mark Twain.

22 October 2011

Hugh Gusterson On the U.S. Executing Its Own Citizens with Drone Strikes

First published as:

Death by drone

Anwar al-Awlaki was clearly not a nice person, but the manner in which he was killed on September 30 should trouble us all, regardless of our political orientation. Awlaki, a US citizen who once lived in Northern Virginia, was a Muslim cleric who took up residence in Yemen, where he incited anti-US sentiment -- until he was executed by a drone.

The mainstream media coverage of Awlaki's death barely scratches the surface of the ways this action should trouble patriotic Americans -- from Tea Partiers to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators. Insofar as US media coverage has been critical, it has largely focused on the disturbing fact that the Obama administration assumed the power to execute an American citizen solely on the basis of a secret process within the executive branch, despite the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment guarantee that no person shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

In 2010, David Barron and Martin Lederman of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel drew up a 50-page memorandum arguing that the United States had the right to kill Awlaki far from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan if it was impractical to arrest him. The New York Times cited anonymous officials' assurances that Awlaki's name was put on the death list after "a careful, if secret, review." The Washington Post, also content to give "officials" a free pass to issue bland assurances anonymously, told its readers that "none of the lawyers involved in the process, from across the government, dissented."

Since when does the executive branch, alone, get to decide which American citizens should be put to death? Didn't the United States fight a revolutionary war to put an end to that kind of autocratic abuse of executive power?

The Constitution guarantees the accused -- especially when facing the death penalty -- the right to confront his or her accusers and contest the evidence in a neutral judicial process. Awlaki was denied this right by his government. In the words of the American Civil Liberties Union's Jameel Jaffer (who, unlike Obama administration officials, has the courage and integrity to stand by his words on the record), "This is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without any judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public, but from the courts."

So far, President Obama, a former professor of constitutional law, has refused to explain the legal logic of the 50-page assassination memo or to make even a redacted version of it public. Conservatives quite rightly "accuse Obama of hypocrisy, noting his administration insisted on publishing [George W.] Bush-era administration legal memos justifying the use of interrogation techniques many equate with torture, but refused to make public its rationale for killing a citizen without due process." According to Obama, Republican torture memos have to be made public, but Democratic assassination memos do not.

But this is far from the only problem with the Awlaki execution. First, although media accounts made this a sidebar in their coverage, Awlaki was not the only American citizen killed in the drone attack of September 30. He was accompanied by Samir Khan, an American citizen living in Yemen and editor of Inspire, a magazine for jihadists. According to yet another anonymous Obama administration official quoted in The Washington Post -- why speak anonymously if you have nothing to hide? -- "The CIA did not know Khan was with Aulaqi [sic]."

This claim does not smell right. After all, in other contexts, American officials always stress the extensive surveillance of targets by their drones and the care with which officials determine who will die in an attack. So presumably the CIA knew others were in the car with Awlaki and that they would die with him. According to an eyewitness quoted by The New York Times, the car Awlaki and Khan were traveling in was so badly destroyed that it was hard to identify the bodies of the dead. So, how was the US government able to identify Khan as a dead fellow traveler in time for a US press conference later that same day? In the absence of an answer to this question, I, for one, am left wondering if Khan was knowingly killed by his government -- only without the benefit of even a secret review that resulted in the authorization to kill Awlaki.

Finally, and most troubling of all, there is the question of why Awlaki was put to death in the first place. The Times characterized the threat Awlaki represented to the United States in these terms:
It was, of course, Mr. Awlaki's very American qualities -- his fluency in the language and culture of the country where he spent half his life -- that made him such a dangerous radicalizing force. … His eerily calm religious justifications for violence, recycled across the Web for years, had a profound impact on a small number of young Muslims in the United States, Canada and Britain. In a score of plots since 2006, investigators discerned Mr. Awlaki as an important influence -- his written, audio and video sermons stored on hard drives, e-mailed among conspirators and treated as a clerical imprimatur for their deeds. … [H]e created an English-language Web site, blog and Facebook page that drew tens of thousands of visitors, putting out a message that grew steadily more approving of anti-Western violence. … Unlike Osama bin Laden, whose convoluted Web messages struck many Western Muslims as foreign and strange, Mr. Awlaki's unaccented English, sprinkled with colloquial Americanisms, often hit its mark. I quote this at some length, because these statements leave the ineradicable -- and deeply disturbing -- impression that the Obama administration decided to execute an American citizen for his speech acts. According to this logic, America’s enemies have the right to kill Glenn Beck. But what is more American than free speech? Even the most obnoxious and hateful speech is protected by the Constitution.
The Obama administration has never publicly said that Awlaki was killed because he gave speeches they disliked. In announcing the assassination, Obama called Awlaki "the leader of external operations for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula" -- the first time any US government official had publicly used that description of Awlaki. So how did Awlaki ascend from Internet instigator to the leader of external operations for Al Qaeda? Once again, unnamed American officials claim that Awlaki's role among the jihadists moved "from inspirational to operational" and that US intelligence had concluded that Awlaki "played a direct role" in the Christmas Day plot to blow up a plane over Detroit. (Of course, this is the same US intelligence that concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.) We are not told the nature of the evidence of Awlaki's "operational" role, though Reuters reports that unnamed officials "acknowledged that some of the intelligence purporting to show Awlaki's hands-on role in plotting attacks was patchy." In other words: not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but executed anyway.

No wonder the distinguished George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley recently said that "the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single-most devastating events in our history for civil liberties."

The assassination of Awlaki and the secret memo used to justify it are to the Obama administration what water-boarding and John Yoo's torture memo were to the Bush administration. Ultimately, both point toward a deeper bankruptcy in America's war against the jihadists. If the Bush administration fantasized that it could torture its way to victory, the Obama administration has fallen prey to the delusion that it can kill its way to victory. In Vietnam, first under Robert McNamara and then Richard Nixon, the United States believed it could win if it just killed enough people. In the Middle East, Obama has updated this delusion with the smart weaponry of the 21st century, seeking victory not through bulk killing but through the refined assassinations of jihadist leaders. The fantasy is that if the United States just kills the leaders -- as though there were only a finite number of leaders -- the rest will simply disappear.

The Obama administration was keen to sweep aside constitutional niceties and kill Awlaki, because they saw him as a root cause of jihadism who could be eliminated. But this is to confuse causes with results. As David Kilcullen, former adviser to General David Petraeus, has warned, the drone strikes recruit as many militants as they kill. New Awlakis will emerge, and the one we killed will live on as a martyr. In the words of yet another anonymous official, quoted in The Washington Post: "They are like bees. How many do you have to kill to get them all?" The answer is that we will never kill our way out of this problem.

Author addendum: Since this column was published, in the kind of action we associate with the mafia rather than disciplined military organizations, the US has killed Awlaki's 16 year-old son, Abdul-Rahman al-Awlaki, in yet another drone strike. The son was a US citizen and a minor. In its front-page coverage of the strike, The Washington Post repeated, without question, US government disinformation that the son was 21, and this time it did not even give a reason why another US citizen might be executed by his own government. No claims have been made that the 16 year-old was directing Al Qaeda operations. In just over two weeks we have apparently normalized the summary execution of American citizens, moving from some debate about the propriety of the first execution to a situation where The Washington Post and The New York Times can report with matter-of-fact brevity the Obama administration's execution of an American tenth grader without trial.

19 October 2011

Militarization, Decolonization, and Indigenous Sovereignty

(1) Winona LaDuke on the Militarization of Indian Country

(2) More on Domestic Counterinsurgency in Canada: Military Intelligence Unit Keeps Canadian First Nations Under Surveillance

From: "Military intelligence unit keeps watch on native groups," by Steve Chase, The Globe and Mail, 12 October 2011:
The Canadian military is keeping a watch on aboriginal groups through an intelligence unit that is meant to protect the Forces and the Department of National Defence from espionage, terrorists and saboteurs. 
The Canadian Forces’ National Counter-Intelligence Unit assembled at least eight reports on the activities of native organizations between January, 2010, and July, 2011, according to records released under access to information law. 
When told of the documents, one aboriginal leader said the thought of the military keeping tabs on natives was “chilling.” 
The Department of National Defence denies it obtained the intelligence itself, and says the information, which cites confidential sources with apparent inside knowledge of native groups, came from other government agencies. 
Referred to as Counter-Intelligence Information Reports, the documents alert the military to events such as native plans for a protest blockade of Highway 401, and the possibility of a backlash among aboriginal groups over Ontario’s introduction of the harmonized sales tax.
Continue reading here

This is an issue that we continue to monitor at AJP--see our previous posts on this subject:
  1. Counterinsurgency: From Afghanistan to First Nations Resistance in Canada - Jul 2, 2010 - Speaking at a senate hearing in May, Canada's top general in Afghanistan suggested that the country's counterinsurgency war in Kandahar and its "whole of government" strategy has helped prepare Canadian forces and its civilian partners for such eventualities. "If Canada were having an issue of insurgency," said Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance, "there would be a multi-discipline, multi-department operation with the government managing and directing carefully what its military and police forces would do". "We experienced a little of that ... with the events at Oka." But now, said Vance, "the government is engaged".
  2. First Nations Under Surveillance: Harper Government Prepares for First Nations “Unrest" - Jun 8, 2011 - Internal documents from Indian Affairs and the RCMP show that shortly after forming government in January of 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had the federal government tighten up on gathering and sharing intelligence on First Nations to anticipate and manage potential First Nation unrest across Canada.
  3. Spying on Indigenous Groups, Defending Mining Companies: The U.S. and Peru, What Wikileaks Tells Us - Jun 11, 2011 - A Wikileaks cable reveals the US Embassy in Lima, Peru, identified Indigenous activists and tracked the involvement of Bolivian President Evo Morales, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Bolivia Ambassador Pablo Solon, prominent Quechua activist Miguel Palacin Quispe and community leaders. 
  4. Domestic Counterinsurgency in Canada - Jun 14, 2011 - We have previously posted on Canadian counterinsurgency with an article by Jon Elmer--see: "Counterinsurgency: From Afghanistan to First Nations Resistance in Canada." Now we want to feature extracts from the controversial 2005 draft Counterinsurgency Operations manual (leaked in 2007) and the final 2008 version, both produced by the Department of National Defence (and available below). We will also underline some key points of public discussion that have transpired, which we think help us to understand the significance of these documents, and add some further analytical considerations of our own.
  5. For the Sake of Mining Interests and "Security": Canadian and U.S. Surveillance and Suppression of Indigenous Communities in the Americas, as Revealed by Wikileaks - Jun 29, 2011 - How Canada and the U.S. worked globally to undermine indigenous rights, engage in surveillance of aboriginal communities, and protect corporate mining interests, as revealed by Wikileaks.
(3) Decolonize Wall Street

“The ‘OCCUPY WALL STREET’ slogan has gone viral and international now. From the protests on the streets of WALL STREET in the name of ‘ending capitalism’—organizers, protestors, and activists have been encouraged to ‘occupy’ different places that symbolize greed and power. There’s just one problem: THE UNITED STATES IS ALREADY BEING OCCUPIED. THIS IS INDIGENOUS LAND. And it’s been occupied for quite some time now,” stated Jessica Yee (Mohawk), the executive director for The Native Youth Sexual Health Network, in a blog post originally posted on Racialicious.

“I also need to mention that New York City is Haudenosaunee territory and home to many other First Nations, ” Yee wrote.

Still, Yee clarifies that she supports the mission and integrity of Occupy Wall Street. “I’m not against ending capitalism and I’m not against people organizing to hold big corporations accountable for the extreme damage they are causing,” Yee wrote. “Yes, we need to end globalization. What I am saying is that I have all kinds of problems when to get to ‘ending capitalism’ we step on other people’s rights—and in this case erode Indigenous rights—to make the point.”

Yee goes on to excerpt a blog post from “An Open Letter to the Occupy Wall Street Activist” published by JohnPaul Montano in Unsettling America: Decolonization in Theory & Practice. Montano describes himself on his Twitter account as a “Nishnaabe-language acquirer na├»vely believing that multilingualism, JavaScript and respect for indigenous sovereignty lead to less crabbiness and more peace.”
I hope you would make mention of the fact that the very land upon which you are protesting does not belong to you – that you are guests upon that stolen indigenous land. I had hoped mention would be made of the indigenous nation whose land that is. I had hoped that you would address the centuries-long history that we indigenous peoples of this continent have endured being subject to the countless ‘-isms’ of do-gooders claiming to be building a “more just society,” a “better world,” a “land of freedom” on top of our indigenous societies, on our indigenous lands, while destroying and/or ignoring our ways of life. I had hoped that you would acknowledge that, since you are settlers on indigenous land, you need and want our indigenous consent to your building anything on our land—never mind an entire society.
The blog People of Color details the history of the occupation of Wall Street, in which enslaved African peoples constructed the wall “that barricaded the land white men had seized from native peoples.”

(4) Indigenous Sovereignty Week


Celebrating community victories - standing up to the Harper threat

Indigenous Sovereignty Week 2011, scheduled for Nov. 14-20, will be the third annual week of educational events on Indigenous issues called by Defenders of the Land, a network of First Nations in land struggle. This year we call on communities and supporters to celebrate, remember, and learn from community victories, recent and historic, while looking forward to discuss how best to organize against the threat to Indigenous Peoples posed by Harper’s anti-Indigenous rights agenda.

Murray Dobbin: Libya, the Lie

When the U.S. invaded Iraq riding a pack of lies and monstrous manipulation, the entire U.S. elite, including major news services, academics, and politicians from both “sides” of the spectrum, lined up to cheerlead and off they went to war. It was one of the most shameful chapters in the long history of shameful acts of U.S. imperial foreign policy.

But it actually didn’t take too long for dissenting voices to come out of the woodwork. The lies were exposed, the liars identified, the manipulation denounced.

Watching the sorry spectacle of media coverage of the tragic farce unfolding in Libya, one has to wonder if anyone will ever expose the lies and hubris that have run throughout this faux Arab spring.

To be sure, as more journalists, aid workers and human rights representatives arrive in the country the more some of the obvious facts trickle out. The “freedom fighters” — more like soccer hooligans with guns — have looted dozens of arms depots of the Libyan military. According to Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch, “Every time a city falls, they end up being looted. . . Every facility we go to where there were surface-to-air missiles, they’re gone.”
Just what will these lovers of democracy do with these weapons? The U.S. and E.U. might just start to worry that no matter who buys them on the black market, they will eventually end up in the hands of al Qaeda or other militant groups. As NATO knows full well, some of the so-called rebels have ties to al Qaeda. Or perhaps the missiles will end up in the hands of the Taliban where they will be used to shoot down U.S. helicopters. Talk about blowback. Too bad the Americans have never quite grasped the meaning of irony.

The photos of the revolutionaries give any thoughtful observer pause. Virtually every photo of the victorious rebels show aggressive, undisciplined, young men armed to the teeth holding their guns high in the air (often firing randomly).

And while the western media repeatedly imply that the Nation Transitional Council is in control of these dangerous thugs and thieves the truth lies elsewhere. Several rebel groups have denounced the NTC and said they don’t recognize its authority. So not only does the council not represent anyone, it doesn’t even control its own “army.” The NTC is little more than a group of greedy opportunists salivating at the thought of getting its hands on the billions in state funds that NATO is now handing over to them. Only with the constant disciplinary efforts of its NATO handlers does the council manage to maintain a semblance of decorum and credibility.

No one in the media mentions that Gadhafi didn’t have billions of dollars stashed in vaults around the world for his personal use as others such as Mubarak did. To be sure, Gadhafi and his family and closest associates lived in luxury. But the tens of billions illegally seized by Western countries was money belonging to the Libyan state and its national bank. NATO has effectively destroyed the Libyan government — not just Gadhafi’s regime. Tens of thousands of foreign workers have left the country, many of whom were critical to the running of the country. Rebels have been accused of randomly executing blacks, many of them students and workers. The contributions of these foreign workers are likely gone forever.

But none of this bothers the Canadian political elite and its intellectual hired guns. One of the most shameful examples — there are countless — is Lloyd Axworthy, the “highly respected” former foreign affairs minister under Jean Chretien. He penned an op-ed for the Globe and Mail which could have been written on contract for the cabal now in power in Tripoli. A more simplistic and deliberately obfuscating piece is hard to imagine. Axworthy’s article waxes on romantically about how the NATO bombing of Libya is a huge advance for the principle of Responsibility to Protect. This principle is NATO’s ideological weapon that permits it to do whatever it likes. Axworthy was a key figure in getting it established at the United Nations in 1999-2000.

According to Axworthy, “We are seriously engaged in a resetting of the international order toward a more humane, just world.” I predict that NATO’s grotesque manipulation of the UN mandate to impose a “no fly” zone to protect “civilians” (a violation Axworthy doesn’t even mention) will in fact do more damage to the responsibility to protect principle than any similar action to date. It will tarnish the UN, too, which has allowed its mandate to be used for imperial gain. The unseemly rush by France, Britain and Italy in particular, to get their hands on Libyan oil will soon be too obvious to cover up. The revolutionaries are no doubt busy signing deals handing over that previously nationalized resource to the neo-colonialists who put them in power — robbing the real civilians of their birthright.

Who will take the “responsibility to protect” Libyans from this new gang? Who will protect the people of Libya so that they continue to enjoy a literacy rate above 90 per cent, the lowest infant mortality rate and highest life expectancy of all of Africa, free medicare and education and the highest Human Development Index of any country on the continent? Do the boys firing their guns in the air even have a clue that their living standards — subsidized by nationalized oil — were among the highest in Africa? Who will they blame when medical care disappears and their kids have to pay to go to school? Western, free-market democracy will come to Libya at a very high price when designed and delivered by the neo-colonial powers.

It’s hard to know if the brain trust at NATO actually believed this whole thing would be over in a few weeks, but what they did know, and what the Canadian media refuses to tell us, is that Libya was the biggest obstacle to the continued super-exploitation of Africa and its vast resources. On a whole number of fronts, Libya was using its oil wealth to gradually close the doors to the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the hegemony of the U.S. dollar in the economic domination of Africa.

If you want to paint a picture of the back rooms of NATO before the genuine Arab spring burst forth, imagine the power brokers sitting around oak tables trying to figure out a way to stop Gadhafi from ruining their decades long — centuries, actually — bonanza. Then imagine the surprise arrival of the Arab spring. What a gift and delivered just in time.

Africa’s role as a giant pool of cheap resources was being threatened just as the U.S. and E.U. faced economic catastrophe because of their own financial deregulation policies. China is investing billions in Africa — and not just in resource extraction. It is helping African countries industrialize, the surest way to economic independence.

There’s nothing NATO can do about China. But the other side of the independence coin was Gadhafi’s determination to sever Africa’s oppressive ties with Western financial institutions. Gadhafi was not only in the process of creating the African Investment Bank (providing interest-free loans) and the African Monetary Fund (to be centred in Cameroon) eliminating the role of the IMF, it was also in the planning stages of creating a new, gold-backed African currency that would seriously weaken the U.S. by undermining the dollar. All the Libyan funds set aside for these Pan-African projects were frozen by NATO and will now be handed over — carefully, no doubt — to the neo-colonial puppets installed in Tripoli.

Gadhafi was also instrumental in killing AFRICOM, a new U.S. military command and control base intended to add military intimidation to American economic domination. Look for that initiative to be revived.

The implications of the conflict in Libya are thus just beginning to unfold. NATO will be mired in Libya for years to come to ensure its oil objectives are met and to manipulate “democratic elections” so its friends on the NTC can maintain control. While there has been a muted response so far from African countries and the African Union it will come sooner or later. They cannot fail to recognize that regime change in Libya was all about sabotaging pan-African unity.

16 October 2011

Beyond Public Anthropology

Keynote address by Maximilian C. Forte delivered by video to the 8th Annual Public Anthropology Conference, “(Re)Defining Power: Paradigms of Praxis,” American University, Washington, DC, 14-16 October, 2011.

01 October 2011

Anthropology at War: Human Terrain Social Science Director Admits Human Terrain Mapping is Scary, Troubling

Dr. Christopher A. King,
Human Terrain System
Perhaps two of the more stunning, and yet brief, moments to come out of a panel recently held at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, was when the Social Science Director of the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS), anthropologist Dr. Christopher A. King, essentially condemned his own program with what in hindsight he may call a careless admission. The moment comes in response to comments from an American Muslim audience member, that begins at the 1:08:24 mark. She raises the point about how human terrain mapping has been brought back home, and is applied to Muslim communities in New York City. In response, Dr. King clearly states that he finds this “scary” and then says it is “pretty troubling”, later repeating “troubling, that’s for sure”. As a co-panelist, Dr. David H. Price, anthropologist at St. Martin’s University, noted this (see the 1:12:56 mark), he remarked that it seems to be fine to apply the techniques against “Others” abroad, but suddenly it is not so good when applied domestically. What Dr. King thus leaves open is that locals in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, in their homes, are justified in viewing HTS as scary and troubling, the same way that critics have observed it is scary and troubling. After years of public debate, we owe thanks to Dr. King for finally confirming that what we knew all along was correct, now even from his own perspective.

The second striking moment comes toward the very end of the first video below, when Dr. King admits, audibly, to Dr. Price, that he does not know what COINTELPRO is and has never heard of it before (see the 1:14:07 mark), even though it arguably provides many of the foundations for HTS itself.

The event at which these remarks were made was “The University and National Security after 9/11”--Panel II: “Academics at War: Anthropologists and other Social Scientists in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the Framing of Counterinsurgency Doctrine” (Arthur W. Fiske Memorial Lecture, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Institute for Global Security Law and Policy, September 23, 2011):

Moderator: Professor Pete Moore, Case Western Reserve University.
Christopher King, PhD; Director, Social Science Director, Human Terrain System, U.S. Army.
Paper read for absent Professor George R. Lucas, Jr., Class of 1984 Distinguished Chair in Ethics, U.S. Naval Academy.
Professor David Price, Department of Anthropology, Saint Martin's University.

Some other notable points:

Prof. Lucas’ paper was a bit diffuse, but one point that stood out was his observation of the contradiction in U.S. military policy between the high-touch (cultural understanding) and the use of high-tech (drones, robotics).

Dr. Christopher A. King (HTS):
  • HTS is working with the U.S. Army’s Human Research Protection office to develop ethical standards;
  • King restates the doctrine of cultural understanding that is sought to inform actions and decisions in the war zones, what he calls, “sociocultural capability”, and here he largely restates the Counterinsurgency Field Manual;
  • HTS is now out of Iraq altogether (it once had 26 teams there), but has 31 teams in Afghanistan (four to five persons each);
  • at 22:40 King provides us with what we might call the HTS global domination map;
  • HTS has funding through FY 2015, funded via CENTCOM in Tampa--(subsequent clarification sent via email from Dr. King: "HTS, as an enduring capability, is funded by the Department of Army and not CENTCOM. This funding includes positions for individuals who work in the U.S. which includes HTS Project Management, reachback research, team training, and knowledge management (including MAP-HT & data respositories). Funding for all individuals/teams deployed in Afghanistan comes from CENTCOM. The funding through FY15 is for positions in the U.S. Funding from CENTCOM to work in Afghanistan is on a year by year basis")--however, in the video, King does in fact say that CENTCOM pays for the Human Terrain Teams deployed in Afghanistan;
  • HTS is no longer proof of concept, it is an enduring capability, a line-item in the budget;
  • four anthropologists with a PhD, and seven with a MA in anthropology, are currently employed by HTS, a small minority overall;
  • In a year HTS produces around 1,000-1,200 information “products” per year;
  • For a program not about “targeting,” as it likes to say, one of the slides indicates that one of HTS’ objectives is to identify key figures of influence at the local level, power dynamics, tribal leaders, etc., which of course would be useful knowledge in any targeting process, unless that targeting is utterly random and haphazard;
  • HTS IS doing a pilot project for AFRICOM--(subsequent clarification sent by Dr. King via email: "HTS is NOT doing a pilot with AFRICOM. HTS is doing a pilot with U.S. Army Africa (USARAF) which is a U.S. Army service component command of AFRICOM but located in Vicenza, Italy"); 
  • HTS is working with ABCA (American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand) militaries in developing standard procedures for information gathering, developing centralized training for the militaries of those nations in terms of improving their “sociocultural capability”, providing training materials;
  • Otherwise, little in the way of novel revelations, or responses to criticisms--but 12-14 articles are coming out in Fort Huachuca's MIPB (Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin) journal this December.
Dr. David H. Price: 
  • Some background to his research, to the ways the FBI would seek information on anthropologists and the work they were doing;
  • He also speaks of the way contributions by anthropologists employed by the national security state were selectively ignored when they went against desired institutional outcomes;
  • The separation between politics and ethics is an artificial one; 
  • Price looks at three issues, ethical, political, theoretical, and how they impact how anthropologists work in counterinsurgency; 
  • “war is a force that gives anthropology ethics”
  • Price provides an overview of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and the evolution of its position on HTS;
  • Anthropologists are very worried by the neocolonial implications of current military engagement;
  • AAA members deal with political issues, beyond minimal ethics ones; 
  • Theoretical models used by HTS will not work, will be counterproductive;
  • HTS is bringing in many people from disciplines where ethical reflections are minimal to nonexistent.
Pete Moore:
  • Moore reminds the audience of Daniel Pipes, and his Campus Watch, performing hostile surveillance on American academics who fail to toe the ideological line in the War on Terror;
  • He discusses attempts to deny faculty tenure and promotion;
  • He was asked by the FBI and CIA when at the University of Miami to inform on any Arab students that seemed suspicious, and to debrief local CIA officials when returning from field research;
  • Moore says there are numerous examples of field researchers who were actually government agents, and provides the example of Israelis in the West Bank posing as Canadian academics; and,
  • Moore asks: what constitutes a “colleague,” just having a PhD? How do HTS people qualify as colleagues? 
One questioner, a professor at Case Western’s Law School, remarks that most of what King described by HTS would not pass a review by a university’s Institutional Review Board.

The video was removed from the Internet on November 7, 2011

The second video below is also from: “The University and National Security after 9/11”--“How the Culture of Surveillance and Security Has Saturated The Culture of Higher Education”. Arthur W. Fiske Memorial Lecture, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Institute for Global Security Law and Policy, September 23, 2011

Speaker: Professor Emeritus Cary Nelson, Department of English, University of Illinois, President, American Association of University Professors.

Cary Nelson’s broad and interesting address includes discussion ranging from government impediments to academic freedom; manipulation of visa policies to keep out radical academics; and in general, the impact of the national security apparatus in transforming the lives of academics, including those who serve it. He also mentions the warrantless customs searches of computer files from academics returning from travel abroad, and other cases where academic freedom is curtailed by the state, including the persecution of American Indian scholar Ward Churchill. Nelson addresses the question of self-censorship, and while seemingly contradicting himself early on, he comments that the “dominant emotion ruling campus life today is fear”. The climate affecting campus is one of intimidation by the national security state. Then, expanding on the multiple “measures” and hostile reactions against academia, Nelson talks about the anti-tenure diatribes in the press, among the multiple forces working against faculty, all of which, he argues, are held together by the glue of “national security”. Much of the remainder of his address describes the “surveillance campus,” in broad terms, focusing heavily on measurement and accounting methods that seek to quantify academic productivity and impact in meaningless and arbitrary fashions. He finds similarities between Nazi exterminationist rationale, as the dark side of the Enlightenment, expressed in the abstraction of reason, planning, enumeration, and value, as today also expressed by the national security state and its foreign policy. Calls to “rein in” and “supervise” academia are part of the broader impact of the surveillance and security climate.

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