• ThumbnailHere is my post from Friday at Emptywheel: Scary, color-enhanced electron micrograph of Ebola virus particles. Creative Commons license courtesy of Thomas W. Geisbert, Boston University School of Medicine. With the death toll now over 700 in an Ebola outbreak that has been building since February, Americans are suddenly up in arms about the virus, but only because [...]

  • Big thank yous to Juan, Anand and Bev for a terrific discussion.

  • Continuing on my earlier line about prisoners taken under false pretenses, I was very intrigued by the material at the end of chapter 6, where you mention that when US forces were not involved, disputing warlords weren’t able to have their rivals arrested on trumped up charges.

    You mention the US drive to prosecute the war on terror several times as being involved in these intelligence failures, but I keep wondering how our intelligence programs could have been hoodwinked so many times so spectacularly. Do you see one particular agency as the big problem in this, like DIA or CIA, or was this a uniform problem for all our troops merely taking uncorroborated accusations against someone as true?

  • Anand. I want to commend you for your incisive work in this book. Taking the time to truly get to know people on various sides of the conflict and then presenting their stories so clearly made for very quick page turning.

    What really stood out for me were the frequent passages where you would spend a few paragraphs documenting in detail the folly behind so many prisoners who were sent to Guantanamo under false pretenses. Your deconstruction of official DoD biographies on these prisoners was powerful.

    Have you considered a similar treatment on the prisoners that Afghanistan freed from Bagram back in February? The New York Times reprinted the DoD side on the 37 “worst” of these. I can’t help thinking that for at least some of these prisoners, their stories are likely very different in reality. I would bet that from your extensive network of contacts and work on the Gitmo prisoners, you already know several of the stories.

  • Thanks again, Steve, Hayes and Bev.

    Sorry I dropped out for a bit, but my last question is idle speculation that just occurred to me. We have seen pretty tense relations between the US and Germany over the Edward Snowden revelations. How do you think it would be received at NATO if it were revealed that NATO internal communications were being monitored, especially given your description that opinions of the NAC are announced as consensus to mask disagreements among members?

  • One detail that caught my eye was your mention (page 38) of trainers being a major part of staffing shortfalls in late 2010 and into 2011. That jumped out at me because that period marked the beginning of the serious escalation of green on blue attacks. As noted in the study “A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility“, which the military attempt to retroactively classify, trainers during that time were 150 times more likely to be murdered by ANSF than police in their home country were to be murdered by suspects. And this was separate from the overall risk of death in an active war theater. Did green on blue attacks on trainers come up in your discussions of the staffing shortfalls for trainers, and was that a reason for staff not being assigned?

  • Actually, there has been a separate track for a NATO Status of Forces Agreement for post-2014. And on Monday, Karzai tweaked the US by calling for NATO to finalize their agreement, even though the plan all along has been for the Bilateral Security Agreement with the US to be finalized first.


  • Hi Steve and Hayes, thanks so much to both of you for doing the Salon. And, as always, a huge thanks to Bev for all the magic she works with the salons.

    Steve, I’m curious about the discussion that starts on page 42 regarding the chain of command. I follow the part about countries (A in your figure 2.3) that have restricted their forces to less than what is called for in the overall North Atlantic Council plan and how NATO can work with the countries to assign their troops to aspects of the mission that don’t exceed what their domestic permissions allow.

    But in the case of those countries who wish to do more than the stated mission (B in the figure), you point out how countries, especially the US, can deploy troops under a different umbrella of control from home. But since, as you point out, the US often carries out these missions that go beyond the NAC plan with special operations troops.

    I realize that the book doesn’t deal explicitly with special forces, but in this case what I find bothering is the clandestine nature of much of the work of special forces and what that means for the coalition. If these forces are carrying out secret missions that go beyond the NAC plan, but doing so secretly, doesn’t this create opportunities for the NATO mission to be undermined? In other words, have any of the coalition folks you talked to expressed frustration that they could be blamed for doing things they are expressly forbidden to do?

  • Jim White commented on the diary post THINK LAB: May 1st by PeasantParty.

    2013-05-01 09:03:53View | Delete

    Don’t let him bury the lies!

  • Jim White commented on the blog post GOP: Obama Budget “a shocking attack on seniors”

    2013-04-10 15:11:50View | Delete

    Time to rattle Barry’s chain. His chained CPI, that is.

  • The good news that has developed since I wrote this post yesterday is that multiple sources now report that the one patient who was being monitored as possibly infected through person-to-person contact definitely does not have H7N9, so we still have no cases of such transmission.

    Reuters just put up a story where the researchers involved in the work that led NSABB to go through their security theater now are saying that this virus vindicates their research:

    Scientists in the Dutch city of Rotterdam know precisely what it takes for a bird flu to mutate into a potential human pandemic strain – because they’ve created just such mutant viruses in the laboratory.

    So as they watch with some trepidation the emergence in China of a strain of bird flu previously unknown in humans, they also argue it vindicates their controversial decision to conduct these risky experiments despite fierce opposition.

    Above all else, what the world needs to know about this new strain of H7N9 bird flu is how likely it is to be able to spread efficiently among human populations.

    And according to Ab Osterhaus, a world leading flu researcher who is head of viroscience of the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, studies his team and another in the United States have been doing are the best way to find out.

  • Jim White commented on the diary post John “Scarecrow” Chandley, RIP by Jane Hamsher.

    2013-01-22 15:24:45View | Delete

    The unique combination of solid intellect, steadfast moral concern for all of humanity and indefatigable effort that was John Chandley was a true inspiration to me, and, I suspect, to nearly everyone with whom he came into contact. He will be sorely missed, but we are so enriched by having known him.


  • Jim White commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Black Tulip

    2013-01-14 17:44:24View | Delete

    I’m curious about the wedding portrayal. I was fascinated by the signing of a written dowry agreement as the ceremony got started. But then I was shocked by the bride and groom stuffing wedding cake into each others’ mouths. That seemed very American to me. Was this an attempt to portray some American customs being adopted through such a prolonged US presence or does that really happen at Afghan weddings?

  • Jim White commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Black Tulip

    2013-01-14 17:19:41View | Delete

    I’m a little confused about when the story in the film is supposed to take place. The post here says it was in 2001 but I thought the graphics in the opening said 2010.

    A related question is that the post says the film is based on a true story and yet the credits at the end had a disclaimer along the lines of saying none of the characters were meant to portray real people. Is there an underlying true story, and is it well known? If so, does the underlying story have the same ending, because I find parts of the ending a bit hard to believe (won’t go into this if folks don’t want spoilers in the comments).

  • Jim White commented on the blog post FDL Movie Night: Black Tulip

    2013-01-14 17:09:21View | Delete

    Was it difficult to find funding to put the film together? It looks like it was a very large undertaking.

  • Jim White and PictureDWBartoo are now friends

    2012-12-09 08:59:12View | Delete
  • Jim White commented on the diary post our good friend by OmAli.

    2012-10-30 05:20:02View | Delete

    Peace, brother. You will be missed.

  • Jim White commented on the diary post Good Wishes for an Old Friend: Sending Our Love to Scarecrow by Jane Hamsher.

    2012-10-23 13:57:47View | Delete


    I really like that “you will start to feel better” bit. Listen to your doctors very carefully on that point, please.

    Your contributions to the community here and to world are very much appreciated.

  • Thanks for a terrific discussion, Neil and thanks one more time for your service.

    Thanks for hosting, David. There could have been no other choice.

    And Bev, thanks one more time for the miracles you work on a daily basis.

  • But it almost doesn’t matter. What matters is the presumption in the market that we will bail them out, which will incentivize more risk and lead us to another crisis. What matters is that next time the policy makers will once again believe that they will have to bail them out, so they will. Wash, rinse, repeat, or as Simon Johnson calls it, the doomsday cycle. It is why the republicans claim that they just won bail ‘em out again is laughable. To avoid bailouts, you have to remove the threat NOW. And that can only be done by breaking them up.

    As you described so well in the past, this process of the banksters knowing that they will not be the ones to bear the burden when their risky behavior causes losses is the definition of “moral hazard”.

    Thank you so much for putting that phrase into the public discussion.

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