Col. Davis’ Dereliction of Duty Report Lands Online; Investigation Starts Just About Now

Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis reportedly submitted a classified report to members of Congress, arguing that the Department of Defense has intentionally and consistently misled the American people and Congress when it comes to measuring progress and conduct in Afghanistan. Lt. Col. Davis has also written an 80+ page unclassified version, which the DOD has not cleared for public release. Below is Lt. Col. Davis and Matthew Hoh with the Center for International Policy discuss.

If video doesn’t play, click Officer Blows Whistle on Afghan War, Part2

According to RollingStone’s Michaell Hastings, Colonel Davis submitted the unclassified report –titled “Dereliction of Duty II: Senior Military Leader’s Loss of Integrity Wounds Afghan War Effort” – for an internal Army review last month.  U.S. military officials familiar with the situation told the reporter that the Pentagon is refusing to do so. Rolling Stone has now obtained a full copy of the 84-page unclassified version. You can read it here (pdf). It is long but a must read. Here is an interesting excerpt:

A bunch of dudes in bed sheets and flip-flops.

But before anyone else underestimates these gentlemen, consider also the path they’ve travelled to get to this place. The Taliban initially formed in the chaotic aftermath of the post-Soviet period and by 1996 had captured Kabul, where they ruled until October 2001 when the United States unleashed its post-9/11 sword. Less than four months after the first US airstrike in Afghanistan the military and political organization of the Taliban had all but ceased to exist. They were as decisively crushed psychologically as they were physically. Yet from this virtual grave they slowly reconstituted themselves in the 2003-04 time-frame and in 2005 re-emerged on the Afghan scene.

On paper, the imbalance between the two forces couldn’t be greater and ought to have resulted in a rapid and crushing defeat for the insurgent force. But wars aren’t fought on paper. An unbiased analysis of the tactical situation on the ground in Afghanistan and even a cursory observation of key classified reports and metrics leads overwhelmingly to the conclusion that over the past two years, despite the surge of 30,000 American Soldiers, the insurgent force has gained strength, the number of attacks has increased considerably, and the number of American casualties has skyrocketed. The Afghan people demonstrate an alarming lack of faith in their government and security forces and according to multiple sources, despite ISAF claims to the contrary, Taliban morale is so strong that most are reported to be utterly convinced they have already won.

Despite overwhelming physical evidence of our failure to succeed on the military front, senior US and ISAF leaders inexplicably continue a steady stream of press releases and public statements that imply the exact opposite. Far from positively influencing the target audiences in the region, our words and actions unequivocally work to our disadvantage, as it causes both our friends and foes to question what we say. One Washington, DC-based foreign diplomat with whom I recently talked, explained that diplomats from other countries whom he knew shared his view: the problem isn’t so much they have lost confidence in the truthfulness of our public statements, but possibly something worse – they suppose we genuinely believe what we’re saying, but our ability to accurately assess difficult foreign problems is flawed.

Michael Hastings @mmhastings  tweets “I hear Pentagon officials pushing story Davis is being investigated for “possible security violations.”

Well, that’s not very smart, is it? Pentagon officials pushing the story that Davis is a subject of investigation?  The report hits online today, and he’s now the subject of investigation? Man, that “investigation” should have been “leaked” last week, dudes, not today, because now it sounds utterly suspicious.  Where do you think we are, in Jupiter?

ISAF Media, where are you when we need you?

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State Dept Sponsors Online Tag Game: Locate “Jewel Thieves” and Win $5,000

The Challenge: Locate and photograph five “suspects,” members of a mock gang of jewel thieves in five different cities in the United States and Europe

When:  Saturday, March 31. Contest begins at 8:00 am, local time, in each of the respective cities. The contest will start in Bratislava and Stockholm at 8:00 am Central European Time, or 2:00 am US Eastern Time.

Where: Washington, D.C., New York City, London, Stockholm, and Bratislava

Below is an excerpt from the tag challenge presser:

The 2012 Tag Challenge calls on technology enthusiasts from several nations to set their sleuthing skills loose on a mock gang of jewel thieves in an international search contest to take place Saturday, March 31.

The social gaming contest will have participants use technological and social resources to locate and photograph five “suspects” in five different cities—Washington, D.C., New York City, London, Stockholm, and Bratislava—based only on a picture and a short description of each one.

The first person to upload pictures of all five suspects to the Tag Challenge website will earn international bragging rights—and a cash prize of $5,000.

The fake suspects include Freddie “Four Fingers,” who is a demolitions expert. Originally wanted for his role in an audacious heist to steal a Faberge egg from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg by firing it from a 19th century Tsarist cannon in an adjacent showroom and onto a waiting motorboat in the Baltic Sea. [Really? A Tsarist cannon?]  The ringleader thought to be a resident of Bratislava, Chuck Lytton is known for his audacious plans and schemes. Apparently, this one once trained a band of indigent marathon runners to divert the route of the Olympic flame for sale on the black market.  Another suspect, called a technical expert is Teresa Bay who was arrested in 2001 for counterfeiting Starbucks gift cards in an attempt to amass one billion reward points, redeemable for the “Grandissimo” VIP status that entitles its holder to unlimited coffee.

The press statement quotes Gary Anderson who served as the first Director of the Marine Corps’ Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities praising the tag challenge saying, “It is ‘out of the box’ thinking at its best.” He also said that, “This experiment could give us new insights on tracking terrorists and finding missing children.”

Marion Bowman, formerly a Deputy Director in the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy said: “It has become increasingly obvious over the past few years that open source information, especially in an age of social networking, can be at least as valuable as classified information.”

The organizers? This is what the website says:

“Tag Challenge was conceived and organized by a group of graduate students from six different countries, the outcome of a series of conferences on how social media could be used to improve transatlantic security. Funding and support were provided by the US State Department and the US Embassy in Prague, in association with the Institute of International Education.”

I can’t tell from browsing the website how many graduate students from which different countries worked on this project. And besides the prize money of $5,000, there is no way to tell upfront how much is the total cost of this online game.

The tag challenge website is here:  http://www.tag-challenge.com/

Contest rules are here: http://www.tag-challenge.com/about-the-contest/contest-rules/

 

US Embassy Sweden: Ambassador Brzezinski Visits Facebook Server Site

Via US Embassy Sweden/Flickr: On February 2, 2012 Ambassador Mark Brzezinski concluded his tour of Norrbotten by having lunch at Governor Per-Ola Eriksson’s residence in Luleå, visiting the site of the Facebook servers, a visit to Aurorum Science Park together with the Mayor of Luleå Karl Petersen and visiting Swerea MEFOS, a metallurgical research institute.  Photo #22 shows the brick with his name on it at the server site construction.

Photo from US Embassy Sweden/Flickr
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