Tuesday, November 22, 2005

How Broadcast Television Will Survive in an On-Demand World

“November 2005 may have been the month when the major broadcast networks finally 'got' the Internet.

On November 7th, both CBS and NBC cut deals with digital television providers to allow viewers to buy 99-cent downloads of a few popular shows.

Later that week, CNN rolled out a 'final beta' of CNN Pipeline, its streaming media service that delivers unique content via the Web.

Meanwhile, ISP-cum-portal AOL began offering a range of television shows in a digital format on the Web, while Tivo incorporated Yahoo's interactivity with its cable-box service.

Earlier this year, Yahoo also announced they had hired popular video journalist Kevin Sites to report on war zones across the world.

Industry pundits agreed that traditional broadcast networks were busily searching out new revenue streams to buffer falling TV ad returns, while portals were capitalizing on increased broadband connectivity and Internet fluency among consumers.

"The computer has crashed into the Internet," said Brian L. Roberts, CEO of Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable operator, to BusinessWeek.

He sure a s hell doesn't ‘get it.’

Nor does Sony, the RIAA or the MPAA, but that's all right. The internet's got them.

They're busy fighting the last war. Their trenches and pillboxes are in place. But the net will trat them as damage and the packets will route around them and all their schemes will in the end lead to unconditional surrender.

We will become the media, because the computers are the presses, the

stations, the studios, and we own them. The barriers to entry get lower. Year by year, day by day, and even, minute by minute. Storage is virtually free. New distribution systems are becoming dominant, and they are also ours.

Time is running out for strategies of obstruction. The blitzkrieg has already bypassed them.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Does Torture Work?

“Erroneous information connecting Iraq and Al Qaeda—and used to bolster support for military action against Iraq—was likely the result of torture.

Newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency report—released last Friday by Michigan Senator Carl Levin—show that DIA analysts had doubts about the evidence provided by an Al Qaeda member held prisoner by U.S. personnel.

The New York Times' Douglas Jehl writes:
The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, "was intentionally misleading the debriefers" in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda’s work with illicit weapons.

The story of al-Libi's capture and interrogation has been in the news before (as noted by Laura Rozen and Atrios). In June, Newsweek described al-Libi as "the subject of a bitter feud between the FBI and the CIA over how to interrogate terror suspects." The FBI favored "a carrots-and-no-sticks approach," the Newsweek report explained, while some in the CIA favored "bolder methods." After initially being questioned by FBI officers, al-Libi was handed over to the CIA and taken to Cairo, where he was apparently subjected to "bolder methods" and subsequently produced his false testimony about ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq.

In July's American Prospect, reporter Jason Vest (a 2003 Dart Ochberg Fellow) took an in-depth look at the FBI's approach, interviewing retired veteran FBI agent Jack Cloonan.

Vest writes:
Based on his experiences interviewing Islamist radicals everywhere from New York City to Khartoum, Cloonan believes that interrogations can gather intelligence that’s both operationally actionable and court admissible (“nothing that shocks the conscience of the court,” as he puts it), and holds that torture -- by hands American or foreign -- is rarely ever useful or necessary. Cloonan and a New York Police Department detective secured actionable intelligence from a suspect in the foiled millennium-bombing plot in just six hours on December 30, 1999 -- by following FBI procedure, and by encouraging a suspect to pray during his Ramadan fast. The suspect even agreed to place calls to his confederates, which led to their speedy arrests.

Cloonan cited al-Libi's case as an example of "how uninformed and counterproductive notions have come to dominate the post–9-11 environment." Cloonan told Vest that FBI agents were getting good results using non-coercive methods—"... they start building rapport. And he starts talking about Reid and Moussaoui. They’re getting good stuff ..."—but then the CIA took over:

What Cloonan’s agents told him happened next blew his mind. “My guys told me that a Toyota Tundra with a box in the back pulls up to the building,” he recalls. “CIA of?cers come in, start shackling al-Libi up. Right before they duct tape his mouth, he tells our guys, ‘I know this isn’t your fault.’ And as he’s standing there, chained and gagged, this CIA guy gets up in his face and tells al-Libi he’s going to fuck his mother. And then off he apparently goes to Cairo, in a box.”

Cloonan says CIA of?cials he later spoke with furiously denied al-Libi was actually put in the box. But he seems to consider this at best a matter of hairsplitting, as there was no question as to what kind of situation al-Libi was being delivered to in Egypt.

Related: From May 2004, a Dart Center article, "Bad Apples, Bad Command, or Both?" looks at the psychological roots of atrocities. Experts on war crimes and war psychology discount the notion that abuse and torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib was the work of a few "bad apples." ”


Frontline: The Torture Question [Real Player, pdf, Windows Media Player]


Experts and pundits continue to debate the myriad of strategies deployed by the United States in the effort to combat terrorism around the world and internally. The Frontline program on PBS has created this website to complement a special edition of their show. This show focused on the question of whether torture is a viable way to obtain effective results in combating terrorism. Visitors can dive right in by watching the program in its entirety, or they may also wish to visit one of the sections providing supplementary information. One particularly compelling area is the section that provides information on how the current administration of President George W. Bush has created a protocol for conducting such investigations. Another very useful section is titled “Behind the Wire” and offers visitors an inside look
into the
U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Perhaps the most moving and intense portion of the site is the discussion section, where visitors can leave feedback and read the impassioned opinions of others who have seen the program.

>From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2005. http://scout.wisc.edu/

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

If Persistance is Devilish are We Becoming Satanic?

When you justify with belief instead of fact, you've already done more damage than Al Qaeda could ever do to a society you nor they will ever comprehend.

In early 2002, the Bush administration got word from a foreign intelligence service—thought to be Italy’s—that Saddam Hussein had sought uranium in Niger. Mr Cheney’s office took an interest, seeking to consolidate the case for war. It asked the CIA to follow up, and Joseph Wilson, a retired diplomat, was sent to Africa. He found no evidence for the claim, and after the war wrote as much, angrily, in the New York Times. In the ensuing flap, two “senior administration officials” talked to Bob Novak, a columnist. He wrote that Mr Wilson was sent at the request of his wife, Valerie (née Plame), a CIA “operative” working on weapons of mass destruction. Ms Plame had been an undercover spy. Though by the time of Mr Novak's column she had been based safely in Virginia for several years, the article nonetheless blew her cover. The resulting investigation sought to determine whether someone broke the law in outing her.From The Economist Global Agenda http://www.economist.com/agenda/PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=5104737

A top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.

The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, “was intentionally misleading the debriefers’’ in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda’s work with illicit weapons.

The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi’s credibility. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi’s information as “credible’’ evidence that Iraq was training Al Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.

Among the first and most prominent assertions was one by Mr. Bush, who said in a major speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that “we’ve learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases.’’

The newly declassified portions of the document were made available by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Levin said the new evidence of early doubts about Mr. Libi’s statements dramatized what he called the Bush administration’s misuse of prewar intelligence to try to justify the war in Iraq. That is an issue that Mr. Levin and other Senate Democrats have been seeking to emphasize, in part by calling attention to the fact that the Republican-led Senate intelligence committee has yet to deliver a promised report, first sought more than two years ago, on the use of prewar intelligence. Report Warned Bush Team About Intelligence Doubts , http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/06/politics/06intel.ready.html?hp&ex=1131339600&en=0d091794b0c89f27&ei=5094&partner=homepage

If Watergate taught Americans that it wasn't the crime but the coverup. The Plame game should teach us that when you want to believe something in the worst way, you can tell untruths in the worst way.

When you decide you aren't going to let details like the facts or the truth get in the way of what you decide is right. When you've predetermined the outcome of what's supposed to be an independent investigation. You've already chosen coverup and crime.

When you justify with belief instead of fact, you've already done more damage than Al Qaeda could ever do to a society you nor they will ever comprehend.

Alfred Ingram…

con·cept: November 2005