The United States launched its latest Earth observation satellite Monday atop an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, NASA said. The Landsat Data Continuity Mission satellite was the latest in a line of satellites used to continuously gather imagery from space of the…
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This week’s Family Dinner Table Talk, from HuffPost and The Family Dinner book:This Monday, Barack Obama will officially begin his second term as president of the United States, after his swearing-in outside the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The Inauguration is a chance for the American people to come together after the election and congratulate the new president. It’s also a celebration of democracy, representing the peaceful transfer of power from one group of leaders to the next (or in this case, the continuity of one presidency). Read More…
More on The Obama Family
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Noted this morning at
Reason 24/7, the independent Accountability Review Board
investigating the terrorist attack on The U.S. Consulate in
Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three
others has released its findings. Perhaps unsurprisingly by this
point, they find plenty of
blame in the leadership of the State Department.From the full
Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at
senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department (the
“Department”) resulted in a Special Mission security posture that
was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the
attack that took place.
Security in Benghazi was not recognized and implemented as a
“shared responsibility” by the bureaus in Washington charged with
supporting the post, resulting in stove-piped discussions and
decisions on policy and security. That said, Embassy Tripoli did
not demonstrate strong and sustained advocacy with Washington for
increased security for Special Mission Benghazi.
The short-term, transitory nature of Special Mission Benghazi’s
staffing, with talented and committed, but relatively
inexperienced, American personnel often on temporary assignments of
40 days or less, resulted in diminished institutional knowledge,
continuity, and mission capacity.
Overall, the number of Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS)
security staff in Benghazi on the day of the attack and in the
months and weeks leading up to it was inadequate, despite repeated
requests from Special Mission Benghazi and Embassy Tripoli for
additional staffing. Board members found a pervasive realization
among personnel who served in Benghazi that the Special Mission was
not a high priority for Washington when it came to security-related
requests, especially those relating to staffing.
Further in the report:
Communication, cooperation, and coordination among Washington,
Tripoli, and Benghazi functioned collegially at the working-level
but were constrained by a lack of transparency, responsiveness, and
leadership at the senior levels. Among various Department bureaus
and personnel in the field, there appeared to be very real
confusion over who, ultimately, was responsible and empowered to
make decisions based on both policy and security
The report also makes it clear there was no protest against the
Innocence of Muslims YouTube video prior to the
attack.Maybe now when outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says
not interested in running for president in 2016, people will
listen. The Associated Press
reports that the State Department’s security chief and two
others resigned today in the wake of the report. … Read More
http://www.youtube.com/v/BgszQYRltZU?version=3&f=videos&app=youtube_gdata More here: Listening Post – The great China handover
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The incoming Dutch finance minister said on Thursday he would push ahead with budget cuts at home and take a tough line on the euro zone crisis, ensuring policy continuity.
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Attempts to predict the occurrence or the likelihood of extreme acts of terrorist violence on the scale of 9/11 should be discouraged because the available data are too sparse to permit the reliable modeling of such “rare events,” according to a new report to the Pentagon (pdf) from the JASON defense advisory panel.
In a nutshell, “it is simply not possible to validate (evaluate) predictive models of rare events that have not occurred, and unvalidated models cannot be relied upon.”
On the other hand, the JASONs said, it may be possible and useful to assume that rare events are correlated with more frequent, observable events which can be reliably modeled. If one assumes that “rare events events occur on a continuum with more frequent events,” then the latter can be used to help predict the former.
In this way, the JASONs calculated that the probability of another 9/11-scale event in the world could be about 7% in the next ten years. But for reasons they went on to enumerate, the underlying assumption of continuity between rare and frequent events is not demonstrably correct.
“Much of the work on [anticipating] rare terrorist events seems to take for granted that ‘the truth is out there’ and we can discover it in a sufficiently timely fashion with the right mixture of motivational assessment, social network analysis, capability measures, etc.” This may not be true, they indicated.
The JASONs offered suggestions for improving the modeling process, and they stressed the need for “good, large datasets of [terrorist] events and incident data” that currently do not exist or are not widely available. It is “surprisingly hard to obtain primary datasets” even on “straightforward” questions of terrorist event frequency and magnitude.
They cautioned that the complexity of the problem and the presumed urgency of the threat have “led some to advocate the suspension of normal standards of scientific hypothesis testing, in order to press [predictive] models quickly into operational service.” But “while appreciating the urgency, JASON believes such advice to be misguided…. Experience in the development of many other scientific fields shows the importance of adhering to rigorous scientific standards, so that small successes are tested, communicated, critically examined, reproduced, and built upon.”
“Although patient husbandry of a long-term research program may fall short of addressing the immediate operational needs, JASON believes it is the best way forward for success in the long term.” A copy of the new JASON report was obtained by Secrecy News. See “Rare Events,” October 2009.
The post JASON Cautions on Predicting Terrorist Events appears on Secrecy News from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy. … Read More