It’s shaping up to be a rough winter here, two major ice storms and power outages, snowing at the moment…all sort of slowing me down. I’m hoping to get back to some topical posting but in the meantime I wanted to post a link to this past week’s two hour interview with Charles Ochelli. A two hour interview is pretty challenging but Chuck is a fine host and we covered a broad range of subjects related to both Surprise Attack and Shadow Warfare. One of the themes for the discussion was identification of “patterns” related to American deniable and overt military actions over the past sixty years. As Charles noted, just reading the subtitle of Surprise Attack leads to the obvious question of what in the world would be common to Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and Benghazi – given the time span, the evolution of international affairs and the differences in the events themselves. Its not an easy question to answer but fortunately this sort of extended interview allows the time to at least begin to do it some justice.
Another area we spent a good deal of time on is one that particularly concerns me, as evident to anyone who has read Shadow Warfare. The privatization of military operations, first seen in Iraq and Afghanistan has a number of negative consequences, and the practice is increasingly buried in the new integration of multi-agency, multi-unit covert operations. Stu Wexler and I coined the term “gray warfare” to describe it, because it crosses the lines between not only military and private participants but even more importantly the lines between actions covered under Title 50 and Title 10, the legal codes that support declared military action with participants subject to the Unified Code of Military Justice to the much more nebulous interpretation of what is permitted under the national security acts of 1947 and 1948. What is of special concern is that its now clear that the “privatization” is being extended to both intelligence collection and even to scientific developments related to military challenges. Its important to remember that the entire post 9/11 water boarding fiasco was based on the opinions of a couple civilian consultants who ended up applying highly questionable techniques, wielding amazing influence and overriding the experience and opinions of virtually all career combat officers involved in actual military interrogation work. And when you see a higher level DIA office take something like the Jasons away from DARPA , making a scientific advisory group even darker and seemingly under even less oversight as to both their selections and assignments, there are questions to be asked (just search for “Jasons” and “research group” if none of that made sense to you) . We managed to tilt open the lid on Pandora’s Box in the 1950’s, how far its being opened now is a real concern and I have a sense that the oversight has become increasingly personalized, and sketchy.
In retrospect, it the scope of the interview was obviously considerable and hardly does it justice – but if these subjects are new to you it would be a place to get started: