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Thread: Dr. Lani Kass

  1. #21
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    I think we get that you don't like what you believe to be Dr. Kass' political and policy views. There's nothing wrong with that of course, but your ad hominem-based arguments aren't very convincing when the basis for your opposition to her is so transparent.

    As someone who's held a high-level security clearance for the better part of two decades now, Dr. Kass' history does raise some questions in my own mind, but I'm in no position and I see no evidence that the decision to grant her a clearance was inappropriate. The clearance adjudication process and rationale is a bit opaque by design. At the end of the day, however, the information collected by investigators on Dr. Kass or anyone else is protected in this country, so there is no way to independently verify what you believe to be true without someone violating a lot of laws and the privacy of Dr. Kass, her family, friends, associates and neighbors.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

  2. #22
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    May 2007

    Default Hard headed Americans may be lacking in couth but

    we also may not be as dumb as many seem to think. Including some Americans...

    First, clarification points of which you may or may not be cognizant.

    In the US there are those who are committed supporters of Israel and those who wish its destruction. My sensing is that most Americans fall between those poles and are broadly supportive of Israel without being enamored of it, realize that there are errors on the part of Israelis and of Palestinians (and the supporters of both) and really wish the problem would just go away. They realize that it will not and are resigned to that. Make no mistake, supportive does not mean a surrender of US interests. Not at all.

    Secondly, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is by law an adviser to the SecDef and the President. Neither he nor the service Chiefs are in the chain of command to combatants. That line is Prez-SecDef-Combatant Commander (ala Petraeus for the ME).
    My point is that Dr. Kass is Principal advisor on the Middle East. that implies that there is no further filter between Adm. Mullen and her good self.
    That is a rather simplistic view that neglects the facts that ADM Mullen (a) is probably not stupid. (b) is aware of Kass' background and loyalties almost certainly to a far greater extent than are Lang Giraldi or the rest of us. (c) has dozens of Advisers, many of whom will be virtually enemies of Dr. Kass and will share the views of you and Lang and quite probably are even more opposed to Israeli influence (and the five billion plus dollars they and Egypt get annually as a result of Carter stupidity). (d) has no command authority, is an adviser himself and thus Kass is advising an Adviser who must defer to the SecDef on all things.

    That SecDef is also advised by dozens of advisers, many of whom will be opposed to Kass' views and one of whom is his direct subordinate for the ME, David Howell Petraeus. Between Kass and CincCent Petraeus, who do you think has more clout with Gates? Consider both proximity and the law -- which will trump proximity.
    I am also making the assumption here that senior commanders rely on the advice of their advisors when making decisions, and that Obama makes his decisions exactly the same way.
    A valid assumption. Do not discount the number of those advisers and the number of alternative views presented. Also, do not discount the by design dysfunctional US political process with numerous checks and balances which severely constrains the actions the Executive may take. Also consider the clout of Petraeus -- I mean, you cited him...
    That fact gives advisors enormous power which is exactly why the lobbying industry flourishes.
    Here we disagree. First, Lobbyists and advisers work in different ways. Both depend on 'expertise' to an extent but Lobbyists do things for their targets -- advisers do not (there's more...). Second I've been in the position of having numerous advisers provided by the system -- I had to put up with all, I listened to few. I respected even fewer. I also had subordinate leaders or commanders working for me -- their input counted about 50X that of advisers and staff weenies. I also didn't give a few really smart PhD types nearly as much credibility as their position would seem to indicate they deserved due to either their hidden agendas (as I believed) or, more often, their lack of common sense (as duly evidenced).
    I do not buy the argument that Dr. Kass is lost in the noise, or that Dr. Kass is one of many with competing viewpoints that will all balance out and leave a sensible bureaucratic answer.
    Your prerogative. I live here, worked for that government for over 45 years in one capacity or another and I find fear of an individuals influence in all that bureaucratic milieu almost comical. Each must be considered on his or her own merits. I've considered this one and I'm not at all concerned. You may be so if you wish, of course but I suggest you're letting a perception and possibly a lack of knowledge of the US skew your assessment. Lang does that all the time...
    I base that statement on the simple fact that a small group of like minded individuals working together convinced America to invade Iraq when all sane professional intelligence indicated such an act was totally unnecessary.

    To put it another way, and I know it is rude, but what if Dr. Kass is another Douglas Feith?
    Your presumption is, I think, incorrect. That is not what happened. George W. Bush decided the ME needed a message to stop attacking US interests world wide as they had been doing since 1979. Iraq was selected as though not directly involved in any attacks on the US, it was geographically central in the ME as the point of attack, because it was a pariah state, it would not disrupt the world oil supply and it was presumed it would be fairly easy (THAT was the big intel failure, the WMD bit was actually totally ancillary and solely for public consumption -- Boy, did that dumb Wolfotwits idea backfire as he later acknowledged...).

    Bush was not a Neocon, he simply saw some value in adopting part of their foolishness to do what HE wanted to do. It was a great strategic move, unfortunately, DoD and the US Army screwed up the execution (mostly due to having poorly navigated all those checks and balance I mentioned above).

    I also think Kass is perhaps smarter than was Fido Feith or his leader, Wolfotwits -- neither of whom had nearly as much influence on US policy as they (and the left) like to think. They had some, no question and much of it was not beneficial but they also did a few good things. They just melded into the bureaucracy and got attention due to US domestic politics. Both got where they were due to US domestic politics as did and do many others. US Domestic politics play far too large a part in US international affairs; bad lick, I don't like that but it's not going away. Still, on balance, the system works.
    Are the conflicts of interest being managed, and if so by who?
    Why, by the Byzantine US bureaucracy, of course. Has to be seen or experienced to be believed.
    To put it yet another way, I, and others would dearly like to know State Departments view of this matter for obvious reasons, but I am unlikely to find out.
    True, likely would depend on who you talked to at State and his or her personal position on Israel -- and as I said, there are numerous variations on that theme, inside and outside government. Inside State and DoD included. Inside the WH as well...

    Not that anything would be different if you and those others did find out. this is the US -- it will change in an eye blink in any event...
    Some indication that Dr. Kass is not breathing fire and brimstone into the Admirals ear, or news that he has an asbestos Balaklava would be suitable mollification for me.
    Again we differ. I don't give a fig about what anyone in a political position -- and the CJCS is such a position -- says, I care about what they DO. I care even less about advisers because they are always counterbalanced by others with diametric positions.

    With regard to the CJCS, I also know what most can do and the numerous constraints on their actions. Further, I know that at those levels, I may disagree with their positions on issues but I also know they aren't stupid (Congress is an exception to that last).

    Been my observation that most Four Star Flag Officers have asbestos ears...

  3. #23
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    I have to say that the cyberwarfare ppt is really, really, dumb. That doesn't mean that Dr Kass is dumb, but it does suggest that she has a fairly low opinion of her audience. If someone asked me to watch that under the guise of professional development I'd walk out early on and have some choice words for somebody. Of course I've never been in the military or worked for the Government... possibly this sort of thing is normal in that environment? One hopes not...

    Have to note that the alleged comments on Islam, while less than impressive, are second hand. It would be more convincing to cite some work that comes from Dr Kass herself. The potential for divided loyalties is of course a concern; we all know the Israelis spy on the US when they can and do what they can to influence US policy in support of their interests (just like everybody else). I assume there are procedures in place for vetting and monitoring in cases where the potential for divided loyalty is obvious.

  4. #24
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    Jun 2007
    Melbourne Australia


    Ken, thank you for your long post on the Byzantine Washington bureaucracy.

    I hope you are right about the beneficial effects it has in moderating conflicting viewpoints. I have no personal issues whatsoever with Dr. Kass, how could I?

    As long as Washington recognises the context of her advice all will be well, but why did the Air Force pull their bio of her?

  5. #25
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    May 2007

    Default Perhaps simply because she no longer worked for the Air force?

    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    ...but why did the Air Force pull their bio of her?
    Or it could be that the Air forces is paranoid -- lot of speculation about that up here...

    Dunno. Since there's plenty about her on the web, I doubt it was an attempt to hide anything.

  6. #26
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    Belly of the beast


    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    I fail to understand her qualifications having anything to do with cyberwarfare, and I speak as someone who drifted into the field of information technology without a computer engineering qualification, and I have the scars to prove it. I've given powerpoint presentations about "seamless integration of technology to produce a magic customer experience" myself. I smell the same paradigms in that presentation.

    To put it another way, being an expert on the Russian weltschmerz does not translate into being an expert on middle eastern affairs, let alone computer networks and cyber warfare.
    There are very few academic experts in cyber warfare. The defining principles have not even been agreed upon. Currently you have information operations proponents, electronic warfare proponents, computer network defense/attack proponents, and very few warfare experts.

    The result is a biased tumult response to the issues we know about. There is also a conflation/subterfuge of placing information assurance and security in the same bucket as cyber warfare. That is kind of like putting generic law enforcement in the same realm as high intensity armor and air war.

    I have been a critic of Dr. Kass' views on cyber warfare as proposed through the Air Force and I talked to her for a moment at the Air War College a few years ago. She seemed open and interested in the topic to me at that time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Olive Oyl View Post
    Also: It's easier to self identify as an expert in a field that is in such nascent stages. There simply isn't a critical mass of established pros to deny another's expertise in cyberwarfare yet (although there is some emerging genius; it'll be interesting to watch this woman's work on cyberterrorism develop). :
    The example of the NDU professor is evidence of the issues in how information operations and intelligence gets mixed with cyber warfare. SITE and the professors work was great but it is not cyber warfare.

    There are a lot of hobbyists that are relatively new to the topic and for some reason they get substantially more press than people who have been studying the topic for decades. Many excellent professionals have entered the field with credibility in other disciplines and rely on the halo effect. There is a "whoa classified hide under the table the NSA reads your email" grand wizard effect that permeates some organizations. And air power will win every war right?

    The fact people think cyber war is nascent is an example of the ignorance surrounding the topic more than the reality of the discipline. Someday we'll be able to have real conversations about the realistic expectations of actual capabilities in actual contexts.

    Summary: Cyber warfare is not computer security; Cyber warfare has a long history of research; many people have followed the money; when the water clears real experts will be here plugging away just like the last go around on this topic (10 years ago).

    But, what would I know?
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