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28 April 2011


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Michael Brenner

Adam Silverman

With due respect, I find the fine distinctions that you build into your taxonomy of rehabilitation a classic case of reified scholasticism.

You write that "TF 134 was interested in disaggregating the actual extremists from the non-extremists," (When it wasn't out in the field disaggregating the living from the dead generated by their raids, while ignoring the innocents in the latter category - or collecting the harvest from their operational partners). Then " the goal was to rehabilitate and reconcile the non-extremists and get them back into Iraqi life. .... there was interest in doing the same for the extremist elements." But "they were not engaging in what Dr. Ashour would call de-radicalization of jihadis."
How do you, how did TF134, how does the Army today differentiate among these categories of elements?;between 'deradicalization" and the something else that TF134 was trying to do? What are the criteria? What clinical work are they derived from? What is the competence of the practitioners of TF134 to apply these distinctions in making critical judgments? How did the good General Stone monitor the behavior of those more or less rehabilitated as the basis for his declarations of success? What is the time frame for recording recidivism?

Without persuasive answers to thse questions, there is reason to believe that the exercise was another case of American hubris in creating virtual worlds of political and/or professional convenience.

This is not a personal indictment since I have only the scantest evidence of how you participated in any aspect of this program. It is proper skepticism earned by the record of the serial self-delusory practices we have engaged in there in Iraq and elsewhere during the 9/11 decade.

William R. Cumming

Helpful clarification.


Off topic:

They're burning the midnight oil over at AIPAC.

"But she said that the blockade of the border with Gaza and Egypt’s previous enforcement of it were both “shameful,” and that Egypt intended soon to open up the border “completely.”"


Adam L. Silverman

Professor Brenner: I never participated in ant aspect of TF 134's assigned mission. I was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team/1st Armored Division and had nothing to do with detainee operations for my BCT or anyone else. What I know about TF 134's operations comes from the sources I linked to in the original post and reading through an assessment that Rand did of TF 134.

And there's no scholasticism here: Ashour's book wasn't published until a year after Maj. Gen. Stone moved to a new assignment and makes no mention of detainee operations or 3rd Party COIN. So unless someone at TF 134 had a time machine, they really could not have been trying to de-radicalize jihadis in the manner that Ashour describes in his book about groups in Egypt and Algeria - not Iraq.

Michael Brenner

Adam Silverman

Thank you for the clarifications.

For purely informational purposes, it would be instructive to learn who in TF 134 actually conducted the program. Were they Americans? Did they speak Arabic? Some perspective is needed on these programs. Imagine the full implications of having an Iraqi General representing an invading, occupying, repressing army setting up shop in a prison for captured supposed insurgents somewhere outside of Washington. His team of Iraqis(?) sets out to rehabilitate the detainees so that they might reenter American society as remolded according to Iraqi standards.

As the kids say: let's get real.


Dr. Silverman,

There are many innate human behaviors that are universal; mating, railing against injustice, fear of strangers, banding of brothers, and the denial of reality. The United States is especially guilt of the last. Instead of invasions, America should have promoted secure borders, stable political states, economic growth and education for women. But, then there’s no money to be made in doing what is right.

For every soul converted in jail, the younger brother, sister, nephew, and cousin was radicalized by the chaos of war created by “the Jews”. This is why talk of permanent US bases in Iraq sounds so ridiculous to me. I still believe once the USA starts its withdrawal from the Middle East the 30,000 mercenaries guarding the Bagdad Embassy will have to fight their way out. It’s human nature.

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