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Ex-Intelligence Officers, Others See Plusses in WikiLeaks Disclosures
WikiLeaks has teased the genie of transparency out of a very opaque bottle, and powerful forces in America, who thrive on secrecy, are trying desperately to stuff the genie back in. The people listed below this release would be pleased to shed light on these exciting new developments.
How far down the U.S. has slid can be seen, ironically enough, in a recent commentary in Pravda (that’s right, Russia’s Pravda): “What WikiLeaks has done is make people understand why so many Americans are politically apathetic … After all, the evils committed by those in power can be suffocating, and the sense of powerlessness that erupts can be paralyzing, especially when … government evildoers almost always get away with their crimes. …”
So shame on Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and all those who spew platitudes about integrity, justice and accountability while allowing war criminals and torturers to walk freely upon the earth.
Tag Archives | Intelligence
Bacteria can distinguish “self” from “other,” and between their relatives and strangers. They can communicate, prey in packs, and have social intelligence. Are microbes far more sentient than we give them credit for? Miller-McCune writes:
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Strictly by the numbers, the vast majority — estimated by many scientists at 90 percent — of the cells in what you think of as your body are actually bacteria, not human cells. In fact, most of the life on the planet is probably composed of bacteria.
These facts by themselves may trigger existential shock: People are partly made of pond scum. But beyond that psychic trauma, a new and astonishing vista unfolds. In a series of recent findings, researchers describe bacteria that communicate in sophisticated ways, take concerted action, influence human physiology, alter human thinking and work together to bioengineer the environment. These findings may foreshadow new medical procedures that encourage bacterial participation in human health.
Interesting article from Robert Alison in the Winnipeg Free Press earlier in the year:
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Sleep is a fundamental component of animal biology. New evidence confirms that, in humans, its timing reflects intelligence. People with higher IQ’s (intelligence quotients) tend to be more active nocturnally, going to bed later, whereas those with lower IQ’s usually retire to bed sooner after nightfall.
The precise function of sleep is arguable. But, accumulating evidence shows that lack of sleep in humans and animals can result in obesity, high blood pressure and reduced life spans. Drowsiness impairs mental performance. For instance, 37 per cent of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by drowsy motorists, according to a University of Pennsylvania study. Even minor sleep deficiencies impact on body chemistry.
According to Juliette Faraco of Stanford University, sleep loss generates a proportionate need for “sleep rebound”. One of the most controversial and significant recent findings is the correlation in humans between the earliness/lateness of sleep preferences and intelligence.
I must admit, I considered facetiously titling this “Women Are Collectivists, and Collectivism Works.” From ScienceDaily:
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Many social scientists have long contended that the ability of individuals to fare well on diverse cognitive tasks demonstrates the existence of a measurable level of intelligence in each person. In a study published Sept. 30, in the advance online issue of the journal Science, the researchers applied a similar principle to small teams of people. They discovered that groups featuring the right kind of internal dynamics perform well on a wide range of assignments, a finding with potential applications for businesses and other organizations.
“We set out to test the hypothesis that groups, like individuals, have a consistent ability to perform across different kinds of tasks,” says Anita Williams Woolley, the paper’s lead author and an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business. “Our hypothesis was confirmed,” continues Thomas W.
Lawrence Wright spent five years conducting hundreds of interviews in at least ten countries in order to write “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11”. The book, a best-selling history about Islamic fundamentalism, weaves the stories of terrorists, intelligence officers and government officials in a remarkable narrative that helps to explain both the cult of Osama bin Laden and the flaws in American intelligence that let him get away with murder. “When I finished my book,” Mr Wright said in an interview with Prospero, “I had countless people asking me ‘What were they like?’ and ‘How did it affect you?’” He ultimately answered these questions in his one-man play, “My Trip to al-Qaeda”, a gripping personal account of the people he met and what it all felt like. On September 7th HBO will premiere Alex Gibney’s elegant screen adaptation, which mixes theatrical footage with more photographs and videos to help tell Mr Wright’s story about the lure of radicalism in the Islamic world.
Great, now all we need is some virus to kill all the cats and dogs on the planet, so we start taking primates as household pets and they become smarter. Thanks scientists for helping to create our eventual Ape Overlords. Slippery slope, real slippery slope. Matt Walker writes on BBC Earth News:
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Across Africa, people often lay snare traps to catch bushmeat, killing or injuring chimps and other wildlife. But a few chimps living in the rainforests of Guinea have learnt to recognise these snare traps laid by human hunters, researchers have found.
More astonishing, the chimps actively seek out and intentionally deactivate the traps, setting them off without being harmed.
The discovery was serendipitously made by primatologists Mr Gaku Ohashi and Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa who were following chimps living in Bossou, Guinea to study the apes’ social behaviour.
Snare injuries to chimps are reported at many sites across east and west Africa where chimps are studied, with many animals dying in the traps.
The investment arms of the CIA and Google are both backing a company that monitors the web in real time — and says it uses that information to predict the future. The company is called Recorded Future, and it scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents — both present and still-to-come. In a white paper, the company says its temporal analytics engine “goes beyond search” by “looking at the ‘invisible links’ between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events.”
The idea is to figure out for each incident who was involved, where it happened and when it might go down...
The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work. These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight...
The Washington papers show no love for each other… here the Washington Times accuses its more fabled neighbor the Post of getting in the way of national intelligence, showing this memo:
Nick Baumann and Daniel Schulman tell how human rights advocates investigating torture ended up snooping on the CIA—and in hot water with the feds, in Mother Jones:
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The CIA probably doesn’t want you to know this, but unmasking its covert operatives isn’t as hard as you’d think. Just ask John Sifton. During a six-year stint at Human Rights Watch, the attorney and investigator was hot on the trail of the CIA and some of its most sensitive Bush-era counterterrorism programs, including extraordinary rendition, secret Eastern European detention sites, and the legally dubious and brutal methods used to extract information from detainees. “Even deep-cover CIA officers are real people, with mortgages and credit reports,” Sifton once told CQ Politics. For researchers with a trained eye for the hallmarks of a CIA alias, there are obvious giveaways: “A brand new Social Security number, a single P.O. box in Reston, Virginia. You disregard those and focus on the real persons who lie behind, and you can find them.”
Sifton’s talent for uncovering the CIA’s secrets may have served him well—but now, it also has set off a firestorm in the human rights community, prompted a backlash from congressional Republicans, and helped trigger a federal investigation headed by none other than Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame affair.