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Wikileaks weak on graphics

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — interested in close, not far-fetched, analogies ]

A while back in 2011, Aaron Zelin picked up on a tweet by Aaron Weisburd and retweeted:

the cover of Inspire 5 is remarkably similar to a wikileaks logo, e.g. http://goo.gl/2wibr coincidence I’m sure…

I posted about it here on Zenpundit, and to me eye the match does have something to be said for it:

wikileaks inspire


But c’mon, baby.

I was reading through today’s pretty harsh Intercept piece, What Julian Assange’s War on Hillary Clinton Says About WikiLeaks — amazing, considering the origins of the Intercept in the work of Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras — and came across another purported similarity, this one claimed by Assange himself.

Only this one really just doesn’t work at all:

wikileaks clinton


Did Assange invent arrows?

I’m sorry, but that’s just ridiculous.

In any case, Hilary got it from Netflix, where they’re airing the Glenn Close series Damages, with John Goodman playing Howard T Erickson, the boss of High Star, a private security firm..

clinton damages

Case closed.

Point counter point: Aaron Zelin & Phillip Smyth

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a simple jeu d’esprit ]

It’s actually rather sweet, and possibly a matter of GMTA, but Aaron Zelin and Dan Byman both favor a word I’m fond of myself: archipelago.

SPEC DQ Zelin Byman


Aaron noted the commonalities of topic and phrasing, and tweeted:

to which Phillip Smyth responded:


Phillip’s example of imitation / flattery involves a pun on the name of the Prophet’s first battle, that of Badr:

SPEC DQ Smyth George


Please note that there is absolutely nothing to be gained from these juxtapositions but sheer delight — there’s no “actionable intelligence” therein — yet two extremely sharp analysts nevertheless find them of sufficient interest to exchange tweets about them.

An eye for symmetries, similarities, parallelisms and oppositions will not always come up with useful correlations, but it’s nonetheless an aspect of mind that’s close to both creativity (see Arthur Koestler) and what bin Laden analyst Cindy Storer (in Manhunt) called “magic” —

not the analysts doing it, but other people who didn’t have that talent referred to it as magic.



  • Aaron Zelin, The Islamic State’s Archipelago of Provinces
  • Daniel Byman, The Islamic State Archipelago

  • Phillip Smyth, Hizballah Cavalcade: Breaking Badr
  • Suzannah George, Breaking Badr
  • The useful analysis is in the sources, and the useful description of analytic magic is currently easily accessible at the 9’14” point in HBO’s Manhunt on YouTube.

    Twitter games: chess and war

    Friday, June 5th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — more for the fun and war games file ]

    There’s Aaron Zelin‘s piece,


    Then there’s this DoubleTweet from Daveed Gartenstein-Ross:

    and (brilliantly played!) Phineas Fahrquar:


    Both the linked pieces are worth your while:

  • Aaron Zelin, The Islamic State’s Saudi Chess Match
  • Giorgio Bertolin. Why chess is not the right metaphor for human conflict
  • Yes and no — but by analogy with innocence, yes?

    Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and those black banners again — I’m just curious ]

    Judy Clarke, an attorney specializing in death penalty cases, addresses the Tsarnaev jury in the closing statement for the defense:


    Clark is right that the flag is a religious flag, but whether or not for Dzhokar Tsarnaev it had further, specifically jihadist or even eschatological implications is open to question. As you know, black banners commonly signify apocalyptic jihad.

    By analogy with the presumption of innocence, though, this flag should be presumed to be purely religious (ie without jihadist implication) unless demonstrated otherwise, no?


    Incidentally, Aaron Zelin dealt carefully with a similar question about essentially the same flag — the calligraphy differs slightly in detail — in a tweet regarding the Sydney incident:


    And in any case, while we’re waiting for the verdict in the Boston trial, I’m just curious.

    How does the law deal with issues such as this? To what extent is non-definitive circumstantial evidence contextual and cumulative?

    OODA’s Revenge

    Saturday, March 7th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — when being up to the minute is no longer enough – Berger, Boko and IS ]

    JM Berger, as I’ve noted many time before and am far from alone in noting, is one of our very best analysts, and someone with a remarkable finger on the pulse of terror. They say the world is speeding up around us — a dubious position philosophically, perhaps, but one that many of us can’t help thinking is somehow correct, even if the phrasing could use some refinement.

    Even JM, it seems, can’t blink without one thing becoming another. A few minutes ago, he tweeted:

    — followed, I believe it was 26 seconds later, by this:


    Also worth noting, while we’re on the topic of our most astute analysts:


    JM Berger and Aaron Zelin — if it was Friday, I’d say, as I have before, #FF Follow Them!

    But it’s Saturday, alas, and I’m too late.

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