Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stratfor, you're full of crapfor...

I suppose there are benefits to having to analyze public policy analysis from all angles while doing my "day job." I get exposed to the briefings and reports of groups like Strategic Forecasting, Inc., or Stratfor, a self-described deeply connected mystery of a think tank whose very declaration on a crisis, controversy, or question serves as its own evidence.

For example--did you know that the release of the torture memos caused a "chilling effect" on U.S. counterterrorism? Never mind that what the U.S. has essentially admitted to utilizing techniques designed to produce false information.

The article goes to great lengths to evade the fact that it is begging the question. The techniques in question did not produce vital information. It doesn't work that way--CIA analysis willing to actually identify themselves insist that torture in general yields false information. And these particular techniques were even designed to yield false information. In this case, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, hell-bent on establishing a connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq, conscientiously living outside of the "reality-based community," authorized techniques that would yield whatever they decided was real in the first place.

Moreover, the publicity Stratfor decries was inevitable. You can't tell me, with a straight face, that perceptions of the U.S. abroad, or the ability of fundamentalist or cynical demagogues to exploit public knowledge of U.S. torture hinges on the release of what amounts to a little more specific information. The article itself admits this:
The memos’ release will not have a catastrophic effect on U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Indeed, most of the information in the memos was leaked to the press years ago and has long been public knowledge. However, when the release of the memos is examined in a wider context...

Translation: The catchy premise that pulled you into reading this article is bull****, but we want to paint an ideological picture of the poor, shackled intelligence community, so keep reading.

But then, who needs evidence when you lead the article with "our contacts in the intelligence community report that the release of the memos has had a discernible 'chilling effect' on those in the clandestine service who work on counterterrorism issues."

I'm calling BS on that, Stratfor. Or better yet, my numerous contacts in the intelligence community, who you can't see because they're invisible, tell me that everything is hunky dory, because they typically get off on torturing one another anyway, so's they can extract some false information about your mama. You just need to trust me on this.

It's important to remember that those whose ideological (and material) interests are served by asserting the unlimited right to brutality will resort to any means to keep insisting that they are the mainstream on the torture question. They're not. They don't even have the support of experts on international security or law enforcement. They don't have the support of their own analysts and field workers. That's why they have to make stuff up.

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