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24 May 2012


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Paul Fussell died.


"They knew that in its representation to the laity, what was happening to them was systematically sanitized and Norman Rockwellized, not to mention Disneyfied. "


Just imagine if back in World War 2, Washington had been so open about Enigma:

Hillary Clinton: Hey Adolp, we know how to crack your most secret codes. BTW, Hideki, wipe that grin off your face 'cos we have also broken your most secret codes.


William R. Cumming

"Black" can me a program, function, or activity in a classified budget annex. But given this program may also have been properly classified, what department or agency or both were involved in conducting the activity? My guess is not a STATE Department "Black" activity but some other unit of government but could be wrong.

Barack Obomber

how about just telling the TRUTH, instead of 'propagandizing' the world for US geostrategic advantage? it's little wonder America is the most hated country in the world.

Neil Richardson

The Chicago Tribune did try its best to compromise Magic after Midway.


What a perfect distraction from the recent legislation to allow domestic propaganda by DoD.



I spent a couple of days with Fussell at a conference. We were on the same panel. He was a sad, indeed tragic man. He said I reminded him of his regimental commander in WW2. I asked if that was good. He claimed that it was. He told me that the thing he most regretted in life was the death of an old Regular Army sergeant in his platoon. He blamed himself. This was the "survivor's guilt" that so many know. pl


What a great distraction from the recent domestic propaganda legislation.
What award is being given to McRaven? Those look like dress whites, otherwise I can't understand why he's wearing more salad on his chest than came with my dinner last night.

The Moar You Know

This is one of those things that I'm absolutely unwilling to take at face value. The United States suffers from a staggering lack of offensive capability in cyberspace, but to suggest that we're so poorly off that the best we can do is to have a cadre of folks sitting around trolling blogs in the Mideast beggars belief.

I call misdirection.


I think if you're not versed in IT security, this seems a whole lot more sophisticated than it is. It's easy to hack most websites. Here's an overview of website hacking techniques, if you're interested:


Bill H

ROFL. Unfortunately, "trolling blogs" might very well be the best we can do.


I would liked to have met him. He, Manchester, James Jones and EB Sledge.

The Twisted Genius


Black propaganda is a technique where information, true or false, is disseminated in a manner to appear that the source is someone other than the true disseminator. It's a totally different concept from black program or black budget. This falls under the rubric of information operations and, in this case, cyber operations. There are a lot of players in these fields in our government, including the State Department. Anything of this scope would probably be coordinated with the other players. It could have also been a cooperative effort.

The Twisted Genius


This is an example of why I think that legislation is such a bad idea. It's bad enough that 90% of internet content is bullshit. This legislation would just up the percentage.

The Twisted Genius


It's probably some silly joke award like that reset button with the bungled Russian that Hillary gave to Lavrov. McRaven is wearing mess dress whites with miniature medals. If the medals were ribbons, the fruit salad would not appear so large. Traditionally, the Navy is much more conservative in giving medals than the Air Force or Army.


I would argue that the issue is less--much less--determining what the level of sophistication is in this hack...

Rather, it is the brazen announcement that these morons are--most likely-- violating the law.

This is truly the proverbial slippery slope. But so be it, I guess. Now we can sit back and watch this grow beyond our wildest, and I mean "wildest", dreams.


I also thought the boast, such as it is, was too blatant not to be deliberate, but you never know.

Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory is a classic. The WWII book is almost as good although it did get Fussell into some trouble. You weren't supposed to say those things about the Good War.

Allen Thomson

> I also thought the boast, such as it is, was too blatant not to be deliberate, but you never know.

True, you never know. But Hillary is no dummy and I wouldn't be surprised if her revelation were intended to mess with the jihadists' heads.

Tension, apprehension, And dissension have begun.
Paul Deavereaux

Great tip on the link to Paul Fussells Atlantic article. Many thanks. The tone reminds me of another fine tell-it-like-it-was book titled "The G.I. War 1941-1945" by Ralph G. Martin. Its a series of anecdotes/personal recollections with no editorializing. Long out of print but a great read for any 18 year old thinking of joining up.

Shook the John Wayne view of the battlefield right off me.


I remember when it came out. I tried to find it for years and then it popped up on the innertubes after he was on "The War".


How effective would it be if some jihadi Salafists were to hack into FOX News - and Zawahiri were to smugly announce how clever he is?

What was in Hillary's Cartegena beer? Equally serious, how have educated Americans come to see serious foreign policy matters in terms of frat pranks?

Bill H

Thanks for the update. Indeed, Hillary is well advised to pat herself on the back on this. We are meeting them for discussion on their own turf. Neat.

The Twisted Genius

Dr. Brenner,

Hackers of all kinds, including Salafist jihadist hackers, have been breaking into and inserting their messages on web sites for almost as long as web sites existed. No matter how serious the intent of these hactivists may be, the result is best described as the cyber equivalent of toilet papering someone's house.

The effort that Hillary was referring to is very different than this web site whacking. The initial AP report on Hillary's remarks in Tampa did not properly describe this effort.This is a serious, long term program of engagement and counter narrative that requires knowledge of the target audience and the ability to convey a coherent argument to that target audience to be effective. The executive order at the link below kicked off this program. I wish we started this years ago.


Bill H

Interesting term, "strategic counterterrorism." I hope we hear this term used a lot more and "tactical counterterrorism" in the form of drone strikes and such a lot less. The latter may have it's place, but tactics without strategy is a losing proposition.

I feel vulnerable making statements like that in this crowd...

Medicine Man

I wonder who's brainchild this was? Someone in the National Security Council?

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