Thursday, October 11, 2007

Credibility and Communication

I would like to thank Col. Boylan for agreeing to be interviewed by the Newshog crew. He knew he would be facing a rather skeptical crowd and some pointed questions and he took the time to answer them. I appreciate his follow-up on the two questions that were not answered in the first round, although some of the answers are a bit mealy mouthed, particuraly the nature of the refugee crisis of four million displaced individuals and resettlement contigent on desired location as not being part and parcel of 'ethnic cleansing.'

However one area where he dodged was on the credibility of American military reports and intelligence. I am writing about this partially because these credibility questions were one of my main areas of contribution to the question list, and secondly, un-credible intelligence and blind trust in certain military statements was one of the things that got us into the mess in the first place.

Yesterday, Cernig started on this line of follow-up concerning Iranian EFPs, and I would like to continue a bit more concerning generic information operations. Col. Boylan repeatedly asserts that the US military has excellent intelligence on the Iranian government supplying EFP components and knowledge to Iraqi groups. He stated that this physical evidence has been repeatedly shown to the press, and if the US military was completely credible, the debate and doubt would be minimal at that point.

However Col. Boylan is operating in conjuction with an institution, the US government intelligence community, that has a credibility problem concerning weapons in Iraq --- most notably the amazing lack of nuclear weapons activity and the eventual finding of insignificant quantites of Botox precursor materials. Remember, the intelligence that was displayed to journalists and Judy Miller before the war was stovepiped through the WHIG and other non-factually concerned actors. Repeated claims of victory or at least lights at the end of the tunnel that were not attached to unanticipated freight trains over the last four years have been uttered and then disproving one or two Freidman units later. Throw in the fact that the current DoD information operations doctrine on not shoving propaganda at Americans is an attempt in counting angels on the head of the pin due to the global information networks as there is no prohibition on distributing propoganda and information operations to foreign conduits that will dump the material straight back into the States.

Credibility is hard to achieve, and when the initial claims of active Iranian government smuggling of significant quantities of weapons into Iraq were revealed to be dubious, credibility is harder to maintain. For instance last winter, the US military's named expert, Maj. Weber claimed that only Iranian backed groups such as Hezbollah used IR triggers and EFPs while numerous non-Middle Eastern groups have used similiar set-ups. One theory has the basic IR trigger to a shape charge weapon being disseminated via the IRA and originating with British intelligence.

Col. Boylan has a damn tough job as his office and his predeccessors are operating under a cloud of incredibility. I am pulling up the EFP is coming from Iran story line as that is the one with the highest probability of causing serious negative repercussions in the form of active, overt and large scale US-Iranian military actions especially as there is a Washington faction that is pushing for war against Iran irrespective of any facts that actually do emerge.

I was interested in how he and his colleagues do their job when operating in an occassionally adverse environment once the message that they deliver has been critically scrutinized. I wonder this because credibility and basic trustworthiness are very valuable assets that are very difficult to recover if lost or perceived to be lost, yet the Colonel in the EFP example speaks as if US military intelligence should be accepted as immediately credible.

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