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May 17, 2009

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This is possibly the worst graphic design I've ever seen. I'm a little surprised Rummy didn't use Comic Sans.

Cheney and the rest of the old Nixon cabal chose Bush as their sock-puppet because he was lazy, easily manipulable, gullible, and a dry-drunk. He was putty in their hands. they obviously pandered to his vanity, his pride, his lack of curiosity.

Bush NEVER was "in" on the planning of anything, though Cheney and his boot-lickers probably made him THINK he was the genius.

Cheney was the de facto "president," for every minute after 9/11, and for most of the time before it.

I mean, presidents don't fly off to Florida to sit in 2nd Grade classrooms. Vice-Presidents do that...

@Josh: {LOL!}

See, that's why it was so convenient to have Shaffer do it. Plausible deniability for it all, including the graphic design!

This is possibly the worst graphic design I've ever seen. I'm a little surprised Rummy didn't use Comic Sans.

Oh, crap, am I ever in trouble. I even have Comic Sans as my default font in Matlab.

I wonder why some documents have part of the secrecy designation redacted, while others do not.

I'm also curious who leaked these.

Oh, crap, am I ever in trouble. I even have Comic Sans as my default font in Matlab.

You're in trouble all right, but only because you're using Matlab and not a real language. Try out Numpy and IPython. Third rate languages lead to third rate thinking and Matlab has made great strides backwards in language design.

Frankly, I'm happy we didn't have to see the "humorous" cover sheets -- ha ha, it's the National Intelligence Estimate! Oy.

You go to war with the Scriptures you have--not the Scriptures you might want or wish to have at a later time.

"National Intelligence Estimate"

At risk of being picky, these weren't NIEs, which are specially produced reports on specific subjects, representing the combined views of all the intelligence agencies.

These documents were, instead, the daily intelligence brief put together by the Defense Department.

Which is not to be confused with the PDB, the President's Daily Brief, which was created and done by the CIA for the President, although now this is done by the Director of National Intelligence's office, which is presented to the president, er, daily. Which is not to be confused with the formerly-CIA, now DNI's, National Intelligence Daily, which goes to a wider audience than just the president.

Yes, I know it's a bit bewildering, and I've probably read too much about this stuff over too many years. But they are significantly different documents (although the NID overlaps heavily with the PDB).

The most famous PDB has to be a golden oldie you all remember: "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US."

"Third rate languages lead to third rate thinking and Matlab has made great strides backwards in language design."

I use Matlab for writing data-processing and -analysis scripts, which I don't confuse with "programs". Matlab is a tool, much as Fortran was a tool.

I may check out your links, particularly if they lead to tools that are free of charge.

At risk of being picky, these weren't NIEs, which are specially produced reports on specific subjects, representing the combined views of all the intelligence agencies.

I know -- it just seemed more funny/morbid to say NIE.

It's anterior to the point in any case -- "humorous" cover sheets for intelligence briefings in some ways strikes me as worse than Scripture quotes; at least the latter shows some appreciation for the gravity of the subject matter.

The most famous PDB has to be a golden oldie you all remember: "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US."

Yes.

"Bin Ladin Determined To Deploy Jackalopes of Mass Destruction in US" wouldn't have been taken more seriously than the non-humorous PDB, as it turns out, though.

"Bin Ladin Determined To Deploy Jackalopes of Mass Destruction in US"

All right, Gary, you've covered your ass now!

This is sort of odd phrasing by the writer of the GQ piece: "Major General Glen Shaffer, a director for intelligence serving both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense."

The JCS has only one G-2 (Director of Intelligence), whose reports naturally also go to the Secretary of Defense, as well as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs; there aren't multiple directors, and that the JCS and Chairman report to the SecDef is more than obvious.

I have no larger point; it's just an odd -- poor, that is -- sentence to make it into such a major publication.

Some background on Shaffer, if anyone is interested, by the way.

I should perhaps highlight: "He is a member of the Bracken Christian School Board of Trustees and Chairs the Board of Trustees for Son Shine Ministries of Azle, Texas."

That the Air Force Academy has produced lots of militant Christians is an old story, of course.

"'Bin Ladin Determined To Deploy Jackalopes of Mass Destruction in US' wouldn't have been taken more seriously than the non-humorous PDB, as it turns out, though."

Less seriously, drat it.

I wonder why some documents have part of the secrecy designation redacted, while others do not.

It might be that the classification included codewords that were themselves classified. It's just one of the oddities of Special Compartmented Information. The classification would vary depending upon the intelligence assets involved.

The last word on Comic Sans.

I don't find the scripture part surprising: the Christian component of the military is very strong, and I think for the most part they don't find it odd. In the past 19 years I have seen that kind of stuff often, and even had scriptures read at me during staff meetings, and a battalion commander who told me at our first meeting that "the most important thing you need to know about me is I am a Christian."


I blame it on kicking ROTC off campus from more liberal institutions, leaving the Military to the religious conservatives.

@Gary,

The reason that some of the tags are blocked on the secrecy designation is that it can show what other countries/ departments in the US goverment may have been privy to the document. Classifications can be secret noforn (no foreign) or have designations that allow brits, australians, canadians, but no one else, or specify particular nations that we share with. In the top secret realm I suppose there are further designations, but I am not privy to that. My conjecture would be that it is departmental as well as specific nations that we work with.

So I suppose that they did not want to admit who had this information, or they did not want to admit the organization itself exists.

I blame it on kicking ROTC off campus from more liberal institutions, leaving the Military to the religious conservatives.

An important point, IMO. Not necessarily the kicking ROTC out part, although that's a manifestation of the bigger issue.

But the second part.

If I understand correctly, military enrollment is not very broadly based in the US right now. That's not a good thing, IMVHO.

I don't find the scripture part surprising: the Christian component of the military is very strong, and I think for the most part they don't find it odd.

The Christian component of society in general is pretty large but most people don't slap presentations to their bosses with explicit religious references. If this is common in the military, then our military is lacking in basic professionalism.

I blame it on kicking ROTC off campus from more liberal institutions, leaving the Military to the religious conservatives.

Scholars have researched this issue and at least some of them have concluded that removing ROTC programs from more liberal colleges did not have a significant effect. A better explanation is that the US military officer corps has always been heavily concentrated in the south. After the political realignment of the 60s and 70s that saw the south become dramatically more Republican, those same changes were reflected in the beliefs of American military officers. As a result, the US military officers are significantly more conservative than their civilian peers and significantly more Republican as well. See here for more information.

Regarding ROTC at liberal colleges, I'd add a few points. First, many such liberal colleges have long since resumed their ROTC programs. Harvard students can participate in ROTC (albeit by traveling down the street to MIT, but both schools offer a remarkably flexible cross-registration system). Secondly, elite liberal colleges don't handle very many students: you might wish to look at the dramatic rise in ROTC programs at schools in the south (rather than the decline at northern liberal schools). Finally, the rate of enlistment in liberal parts of the country isn't very hot either suggesting that university ROTC programs really aren't the driving force for these trends.

@Turbulence and Russell,

From what I have seen working in various capacities in ROTC for a decade is that the more elite universities do not make it very easy to be a cadet: they make it possible, but definitely not easy. For example, at many schools, you can get credit for your coursework in ROTC, but not at many of the more elite universities. Having to travel to another university for course work is a logistical problem. Many catholic universities will match an ROTC tuition scholarship with room and board, which is rare elsewhere. When recruiting students, it does not take much imagination to think that those cadets will choose the best economic options.

What then happens in the Army is that generally officers perform equally well at the lower ranks regardless of the institution that they came from. However, when you look at those who end up running the Army, they tend to be from more elite universities.

I think that the military as a whole would be better off with a greater cross section of leaders from elite universities. It is a hard thing to argue when you look at the performance of LTs and CPTs, but when the focus is on the higher ranks, I think it becomes more clear.

Unfortunately the focus of the Army is on producing junior officers at the lowest cost. Getting the Army to look at the 20-30 year picture is hard, especially because every university is in a Congressional district and they do not want to hear that the students they produce are not equal to others. I produced papers showing that while school 1 produced 30 officers a year, and school 2 only produced 10, school 2 also produced 4 general officers, while school 1 produced none.

But ROTC is not in the business of producing general officers, it produces lieutenants. So there is no institutional emphasis on putting in the effort to overcome the barriers at elite schools to ensure that we have a smart cross section of leaders.

"If this is common in the military, then our military is lacking in basic professionalism."

I take it you didn't read my several-years-old link about the Air Force Academy, or any of the numerous other news articles in the past decade about the prevalence of militant proselytizing Christians at the Academy, and the resulting lawsuits.

"It might be that the classification included codewords that were themselves classified."

"Classifications can be secret noforn (no foreign) or have designations that allow brits, australians, canadians, but no one else, or specify particular nations that we share with."

Yes, I'm quite aware of both these things, not to mention that, naturally, all the documents include "noforn" as part of their classification listings. It just seemed curious that all the documents have, in fact, the same exact set of classifications, save for the ones from April 7th, 8th, and 11th. Maybe those dates indeed used some additional code word classifications, but judging from the identical spacing of all the documents, it appears they did not. After all, the hypothetical additional code word classifications wouldn't replace the "normal" classifications, but would only be additional, no?

So what it looks like is that the redactions were either: a) arbitrary, or b) possibly the result of the documents comeing from different sources.

It still makes me wonder a bit, because little niggling questions bug me.

From what I have seen working in various capacities in ROTC for a decade is that the more elite universities do not make it very easy to be a cadet: they make it possible, but definitely not easy.

In my experience, elite universities do not make just about anything easy. That's why we call them "elite" universities. If you want to argue that elite universities should bend over backwards to give ROTC students special privileges because they're not tough enough to handle the regular workload, by all means, go ahead.

Also, easy compared to what? Easy compared to going for a five mile run through the woods with 11 of your best friends while carrying a telephone pole every day during the summer? Because that's what we expect ROTC candidates going into the Marines to do.

For example, at many schools, you can get credit for your coursework in ROTC, but not at many of the more elite universities.

But this discrepancy has nothing to do with ROTC. Elite universities in general are far stingier about granting credit for work done at other schools. In addition, the nature of ROTC coursework has changed over time: over the last few decades the content has shifted away from liberal arts towards standard military education. There's nothing wrong with that per se, but it means that you can't be surprised when elite schools refuse to grant you credit: I could acquire all manner of professional programming certifications but MIT isn't going to award me a single credit for them because technical skills are not what the university is in the business of instilling.

Having to travel to another university for course work is a logistical problem.

It all depends. In some cases, this is not true. Harvard and MIT are a 20 minute walk down the street. There is a bus line and a subway with stops on both campuses. MIT students who want to take advanced classes at a medical school don't bitch about the logistical nightmare of having to schlep over to Harvard Med School so I'd hope that people affiliated with a ROTC program could achieve the same level of perspective.


Did you look at my cite at all? Again, to reiterate, the statistical data we have suggests that a few elite northeastern universities dropping ROTC programs was not a significant factor in the officer corp's growing conservatism and Republicansim. Other theories provide much better explanations.

Specifically, all but those three document with the redaction are labeled "TOP SECRET/HCS/COMINT-GAMMA/ORCON,NOFORN/EXDIS/X1,X6"

April 3rd, though, is "TOP SECRET/HCS/COMINT//" and the rest is blacked out, while April 8th is "TOP SECRET/HCS/COMINT-GAMMA//" with the rest blocked out, as is April 10th.

"EXDIS" is "Exempted Distribution," meaning it's not given the usual distribution. "HCS" is "HUMINT Control System," meaning it contains intel from HUMINT (a human source). ORCON is "Dissemination & Extraction of Information Controlled by Originator."

I've actually read a fair amount about intelligence over the decades, as I believe I've mentioned before.

"X1" and "X6," though, I don't know. Some special access program, perhaps? Anyone?

I'm in favor of ROTC on campuses. But I do want to echo Turb's point: elite universities are very, very, very stingy about counting other university's courses. The courses that transfer students bring in: OK, provided they are academic in nature. If you admit someone after 2 years of college elsewhere, as a transfer student (as opposed to admitting them as a freshman), fine: the university has decided to admit this person in that status, and therefore counts his or her courses. Likewise, courses at study abroad programs accredited by the university: there, the vetting takes place when the program is vetted. But it is very, very rare for us to count other courses under other circumstances. That's not a ROTC-specific thing.

How come they didn't have a slide on Gitmo with Acts 25:16?

Turbulence: It's kind of irrelevant to your point so I'm just being pedantic, but Harvard Medical School is not on the main Harvard campus. It's about the same distance away in a different direction, but it's not "down the street" and taking the subway requires you to transfer at Park Street. There's still a bus which runs pretty regularly which goes in something close to a straight line between MIT and Harvard Medical, though.

"It's kind of irrelevant to your point..."

I understood it to *be* part of his point: If there are students willing to make the trip from MIT to HMS for something they care about, you'd think that students who cared about ROTC might be willing to make the much easier trip between Harvard Square and MIT.

Of course, Turbulence can speak for himself if he's still awake. ;)

@CharleyCarp: If they'd had a Guantanamo scripture cite, that sure wouldn't have been it!

Have seen this, CC? (Video of a Navy defense lawyer at Guantanamo expressing his disappointment at the administration's plan to revive the military commissions)

I have had it with TypePad! Not to mention these m_f_ snakes on this m_f_ plane.

Url:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNc1D_BPSl0

X1-X6 are codes for when the information can be declassified. From the national archives website:

Notwithstanding the fact that use of “X1” through “X8” markings on the “Declassify On” line for originally classified information has been prohibited since September 22, 2003, use of these markings persist. As a consequence, ambiguity as to the duration of classification is created, placing classified information at needless increased risk. The following guidance is intended to remove such ambiguity and is effective immediately.

Digging up what they meant gives you, and I apologize for the horrible formatting from the original site:
A. "X1" INTELLIGENCE SOURCE, METHOD, OR ACTIVITY, OR A CRYPTOLOGIC SYSTEM OR ACTIVITY.
B. "X2" INFORMATION THAT WOULD ASSIST IN THE DEVELOPMENT OR USE OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.
C. "X3" INFORMATION THAT WOULD IMPAIR THE DEVELOPMENT OR USE OF TECHNOLOGY WITHIN A UNITED STATES WEAPONS SYSTEM.
D. "X4" UNITED STATES MILITARY PLANS, OR NATIONAL SECURITY EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PLANS.
E. "X5" FOREIGN GOVERNMENT INFORMATION.
F. "X6" INFORMATION THAT WOULD DAMAGE RELATIONS BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND A FOREIGN GOVERNMENT, REVEAL A CONFIDENTIAL SOURCE, OR SERIOUSLY UNDERMINE DIPLOMATIC ACTIVITIES THAT ARE REASONABLY EXPECTED TO BE ONGOING.
G. "X7" INFORMATION THAT WOULD IMPAIR THE ABILITY OF RESPONSIBLE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TO PROTECT THE PRESIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT, AND OTHER INDIVIDUALS FOR WHOM PROTECTION SERVICES, IN THE INTEREST OF NATIONAL SECURITY, ARE AUTHORIZED.
H. "X8" INFORMATION THAT WOULD VIOLATE A STATUTE, TREATY, OR INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT.

That X8 sure is interesting. You'd think it would be sprinkled liberally around documents being forced out now and in the future from 2002-3.

I am not sure what is more offensive -- a Secretary of Defense who could care less about the separation of church and state or that Rummy played to the President's religious zealotry.

Most troubling of all is that scores of lives -- Iraqi, American, British -- have been lost in a war that was manufactured and fabricated, in its run-up and beyond.

Woody's dead-on comment at the start of this thread allows that George W. Bush's incompetence and incoherence open the door for what essentially became a bloodless modern-day coup. (Hopefully, the American public will never again select a President based on the candidate they'd rather have a beer with.)

Thanks muchly, DecidedFenceSitter!

Not a problem - I deal with this stuff day-in, day-out. And regularly curse out the people who use the X1-X8 tags still.

I'm in favor of ROTC on campuses.

I'm kind of surprised by this. Why? The armed forces seem solidly on the wrong side of non-discrimination policies at the moment, and non-discrimination policies seem to be worthwhile endeavors overall. Or at least, they certainly seem value-neutral, the kind of thing that an organization can't be faulted for choosing if that's what it wants to say about itself.

"Why? The armed forces seem solidly on the wrong side of non-discrimination policies at the moment, and non-discrimination policies seem to be worthwhile endeavors overall."

One can be fully opposed to the current anti-gay discrimination in the armed forces without being opposed to the armed forces.

If we're opposed to having ROTC because of the military's wrongful (which it is) discrimination, it follows that we could/should be equally opposed to people being recruited into the military at all, and it equally follows we should oppose having a military at all until it's reformed.

Again, unless one is a pacifist, this seems like a bad idea, and a case of letting the perfect be the enemy of, if not the good, at least the necessary.

If we're opposed to having ROTC because of the military's wrongful (which it is) discrimination, it follows that we could/should be equally opposed to people being recruited into the military at all, and it equally follows we should oppose having a military at all until it's reformed.

I don't see what this has to do with the current situation. Is anyone "opposed to having ROTC" (whatever that means)? Not that I can see. Cyrus raised the question of whether ROTC groups operating on campuses should be given special privileges to violate the rules that all other groups operating on campuses must obey. This has nothing to do with whether ROTC programs should exist or whether the military should exist.

I imagine many people believe that ROTC organizations on campus should be excused from obeying the rules that everyone else must adhere to because Americans in general believe that the military is a special domain where rules need not be enforced. That's why there have been very little in the way of prosecutions for detainee torture and abuse.

"I imagine many people believe that ROTC organizations on campus should be excused from obeying the rules that everyone else must adhere to because Americans in general believe that the military is a special domain where rules need not be enforced."

I can imagine many things, myself, but not that this has anything to do with what I wrote.

Gary, can you explain who here is opposed to having ROTC exist? I'm still trying to figure out who is so opposed....

Cyrus?

"Gary, can you explain who here is opposed to having ROTC exist?"

Cyrus wrote of " ROTC on campuses": "I'm kind of surprised by this. Why?"

Does ROTC exist somewhere besides on campuses?

ROTC:

The Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) is a college-based, officer commissioning program, predominantly in the United States. It is designed as a college elective that focuses on leadership development, problem solving, strategic planning, and professional ethics.
If someone is opposed to having "ROTC on campuses," they're opposed to ROTC, are they not? Or are you suggesting that Cyrus has a hidden, unspoken, agenda of recreating ROTC as some sort of based-otherwise organization, where people are trained in factories and offices? Or what?

Now, can you explain who here are among the "many people [who] believe that ROTC organizations on campus should be excused from obeying the rules that everyone else must adhere to because Americans in general believe that the military is a special domain where rules need not be enforced"?

I'm still trying to figure out who here believes this. Your response quoted and responded to me: why did you address this flight of imagination to me?

Americans in general believe that the military is a special domain where rules need not be enforced

In skimming a book Gary linked to yesterday -- this one, I think -- I saw something about how one of the differences between how the US military and US civilians see things is that the military thinks they should be subject to *more* discipline and *more* clear rules than civilians do. Not surprising to me, given that the #1 military virtue, even more than bravery, is Discipline. What I think hasn't been talked about enough is why so many civilians think the military should be above or outside the rules, instead of more strictly *inside* them.

If someone is opposed to having "ROTC on campuses," they're opposed to ROTC, are they not?

No. There are many universities that do not have strong anti-discrimination policies in place today. When someone advocates that those universities that do have such policies enforce them with respect to ROTC programs, that does not mean that they are advocating the elimination of ROTC. If Harvard enforces its non-discrimination policy and prevents students from participating in ROTC programs, that does not mean that Bob Jones University must eliminate its on-campus ROTC program. Now, the military may not care for this outcome, but it is something that could very easily be dealt with by advocating for the elimination of DADT. In fact, this is just the sort of social pressure that might make it easier to effect that outcome.

Moreover, even if one did advocate eliminating ROTC programs in general, it does not follow that one must advocate for the elimination of the military. Other nations train officers in postgraduate programs and that seems to work fairly well. ROTC-style officer development programs are not an essential requirement for military services.

I'm still trying to figure out who here believes this. Your response quoted and responded to me: why did you address this flight of imagination to me?

My apologies. I've often encountered this response in real world discussions with people but I did not mean to impute it to you (or anyone else here).

"In skimming a book Gary linked to yesterday"

No, although I've written a fair amount in the past about the gaps between the military and civilians, that was someone else's link here yesterday.

"My apologies. I've often encountered this response in real world discussions with people but I did not mean to impute it to you (or anyone else here)."

Thank you.

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