Monthly Archives: February 2015

Gen. McChrystal on information dissemination

Stanley McChrystal makes a crucially important point: A bureaucrat who hoards information is more dangerous than a leaker. Secrets are “secret” to protect sources and methods, not to keep the information gathered by government employees from being shared. I would also add that secret agreements are not meant to protect government employees from responsibility for illegal actions, like torture and abuse.

I will add this, too: The American intelligence bureaucracy is both a marvel of technical prowess and an engine of distraction for its operators, much a reflection of technology in our society. So it’s not so much that crucial information doesn’t get spread around as it is that the one piece of information that should raise an alarm bell gets casually dismissed in view of the overload. Bureaucrats become absorbed in the processing of bits rather than in the solving of the puzzle.

Mindfulness: The key to becoming a good interrogator

Interested in this field? (Note: The following is the opinion of the editor of this site.) Many qualities make up a strong interrogator. Foremost, I believe, is learning how to become a more mindful person. There are plentiful books written in our era about this subject. However, I recommend this 2,000 year-old philosophical treatise by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, his Meditations, as a solid starting point:

 

9/11 Commission Report warned us not to torture

The 9/11 Commission warned that accusations of abuse make it more difficult to win conflicts. From page 380:

“Coalition warfare also requires coalition policies on what to do with enemy captives. Allegations that the United States abused prisoners in its custody make it harder to build the diplomatic, political, and military alliances the government will need. The United States should work with friends to develop mutually agreed-on principles for the detention and humane treatment of captured international terrorists who are not being held under a particular country’s criminal laws. Countries such as Britain, Australia, and Muslim friends, are committed to fighting terrorists. America should be able to reconcile its views on how to balance humanity and security with our nation’s commitment to these same goals.”

“Recommendation: The United States should engage its friends to develop a common coalition approach toward the detention and humane treatment of captured terrorists. New principles might draw upon Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions on the law of armed conflict. That article was specifically designed for those cases in which the usual laws of war did not apply. Its minimum standards are generally accepted throughout the world as customary international law.”