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Curious DOCEX Revelation

A very interesting report from the USMA CTC on what can be learned from captured documents:

One of the best ways to learn about al-Qa’ida is to read the papers, manuals, and other documents which al-Qa’ida leaders have written to guide and discipline their own enterprise. Many of these documents have been captured by military and law enforcement forces and can provide insight into the way the organization works. Other key references are readily available on the World Wide Web. The Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point was given 28 recently de-classified documents from the Defense Department’s “Harmony” database, which consists of literally thousands of documents . . .

Why did I turn down the chance to attend? Oh yeah, I was going to get out after my first hitch. Idiot . . .

Anyway, the point is made: There is no more sure-fire way to understand what is/isn’t, was/wasn’t going on inside the heads of/in the domain of your adversary than to see what they’ve committed to paper (often via a computer). This presumes that your adversary is not named King, Ludlum, Clancy, or Grisham.

Funny how military scholars seem to have no problems getting their hands on such materials, but journalists with the same kind of motivations keep running into walls.

My own thoughts on how we might address a similar situation with Iraqi media here and here.

Update: Steve Hayes fires a round of bird-shot.

Update II: CT Blog & Kent’s kids check in.

Update III: Dan Darling reinforces the importance of moving forward smartly in this area.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.