Terror Database a Giant Mess

by Steven R. Corman Ars Technica reported yesterday on a letter sent by Congressman Brad Miller to the Inspector General of the Director of National Intelligence.  Miller, who is Chairman of a House subcommittee on technology oversight, sounded the alarm over a current initiative called “Railhead,” which is designed to upgrade the central database that contains information on suspected terrorists. Miller claims that the upgrade process is flawed, and if allowed to continue will actually […] Read more »

You got it wrong, Congressman

by Steven R. Corman About a month ago, I wrote a post critical of a vote in the House of Representatives on an amendment offered by Rep. Hoekstra to H.R. 5959 to deny DHS and NCTC the ability to expend any funds in their efforts to discourage use of words like “jihad” in U.S. strategic communication. Since my own Congressman, Harry Mitchell of Arizona’s 5th District, voted in favor of the amendment, I wrote him […] Read more »

Public Diplomacy Lessons Learned

by Steven R. Corman Bruce Gregory has just released a new essay at Small Wars Journal that should be of interest to COMOPS Journal readers.  In it he identifies five lessons learned from recent experiences in U.S. Public Diplomacy: Abandon message influence approaches Drop the “war on terror” language Leverage civil society Emphasize net-centric perspectives Rethink media strategy The teaser for the piece notes unheeded calls in our own National Defense Strategy documents from 2002 […] Read more »

Real vs. False Distinctions in Rethinking Smith-Mundt

by Steven R. Corman Matt Armstrong recently posted  an essay on the Smith-Mundt Act that has been getting a lot of attention.  In it he claims that the Act has outlived its usefulness, and I am on record as agreeing with him. Sharon Weinberger over at Danger Room has just finished posting a three part critique of Matt’s paper.  Her response is thoughtful and impassioned, the kind of discussion we should be having about this […] Read more »

Bashir is Moving On, Not Going Away

by Mark Woodward in Yogyakarta Indonesia As was reported last week, on August 6 Abbu Bakar Bashir announced his resignation as Amir of the Islamist organization Majelis Mujahid Indonesia or Indonesian Council of Jihad Fighters (MMI). His announcement, only days before the organization’s general convention, came as something of a surprise. It may lead some to believe that there is serious dissension with in the ranks of Indonesian Muslim radicals, and that the movement is […] Read more »

Of Military Bands and Diplomats

by Bud Goodall What would you rather have for your tax dollars? (A) A first-class military band that can play funky versions of “The Stars and Stripes” and “Hail to the Chief.”  (B) A world-class communicatively and culturally savvy diplomatic corps that can reduce tensions, build support for U. S. foreign policies, and improve our status around the globe. If chose option A, then congratulations.  You, too, can join in the Congressional chorus now refusing […] Read more »

ESISC Worries About Ramadan Attacks in West

by Steven R. Corman In the past couple of days I have received email alerts from ESISC, an independent European group based in Brussels that describes itself as doing observation and analysis of international terrorism and related strategic issues. The emails indicate concern that the Bad Guys are planning attacks during the upcoming Ramadan (which this year exactly occupies the month of September). The first alert from two days ago says that a forum (unnamed), […] Read more »

Heavy Metal as Islamist Counternarrative?

by Steven R. Corman Nothing you can do will hurt me, I am indestructible. Black Sabbath, “Kiss of Death” One of the more interesting stories I’ve heard lately is about Heavy Metal music becoming big in the Muslim world.  Earlier this week, Mark Levine posted a guest blog on the subject at Post Global.  Levine, who is a  Professor of Middle Eastern history, culture and Islamic Studies at UC Irvine, has written a whole book […] Read more »

Extremist PSYOP Baits U.S. YouTube Viewers

by Steven R. Corman I recently talked to Capt. David Faggard, who is Chief of the Air Force New Media and Emerging Technologies team. His newly-formed group is an Air Force contribution to the effort by the U.S. to catch up to their “war of ideas” opponents in the use of New Media. Though it is only his third week on the job, he has noticed what appears to be a PSYOP campaign by the […] Read more »

Rumors of Zawahiri’s Demise Questionable

by Steven R. Corman The U.S. Predator strike in South Waziristan earlier this week is reported to have killed not one but two important al Qaeda operatives.   Some are hopeful that it bagged a bigger prize.  Yesterday CBS news reported that the strike may also killed or seriously wounded Ayman al Zawahiri. Before you pop the champagne corks, there are good reasons to take the news with a grain of salt.  Bill Roggio at […] Read more »