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Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, conclusion, second point

[ by Charles Cameron — all too important, all too easily overlooked, Daveed G-R nails it ]


I thought Daveed Gartenstein-Ross made an exemplary point in his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee session on the State of Al Qaeda, its Affiliates, and Associated Groups: View From Outside Experts, when in the second of four points in his Conclusion: Al-Qaeda and U.S. Policy (five in his testimony as delivered orally) he said:

This testimony has outlined two competing views of al-Qaeda, and it’s worth noting that public discussion of the jihadist group is impeded by the fact that open-source analysts lack basic information about the al-Qaeda network that can be found in such primary source documents as those recovered after the raid that killed bin Laden in Abbottabad. The seventeen Abbottabad documents that the U.S. government released in 2012 represent less than 1% of the total cache of information, and they don’t even contain a single complete correspondence. To improve public sphere discussion about al-Qaeda, declassification of those documents should be hastened.

A number of analysts have been saying the same thing for a while in blog posts and tweets, though in the present budget-cutting atmosphere they have been ignored and the program to continue declassification and analysis shelved — but Daveed brought the issue, pointedly and courageously I thought, to the House Committee itself.

If anything can turn things in a positive direction as far as that cache of documents is concerned, Daveed’s direct testimony will. As he put it:

Better harnessing the talents of open-source analysts has the potential to sharpen U.S. counterterrorism policies and alert policymakers to possible pitfalls.



  • HASC testimony, video
  • CTC West Point, Letters from Abbottabad: Bin Ladin Sidelined?
  • 5 Responses to “Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, conclusion, second point”

    1. larrydunbar Says:

      What happens if that meme just doesn’t turn out to be that interesting to be maintained? That would be a big blow to anyone following the narrative in the decision making. In other words, no Tempo (http://www.tempobook.com/glossary/#tempo). 

    2. Charles Cameron Says:

      Could you say more, Larry? I’m not sure I follow you.  

    3. larrydunbar Says:

      Well, if you are going to roll the stone away from the mouth of the cave that OBL is buried in at sea, and let him once again walk the earth, then perhaps we should know more about him. The video where he “confesses” to 9/11 didn’t look that credible to me.

      However, if you are going to let the sleeping dog lie, then we don’t really need to know that much more about the narrative he was using in his decision making.

      I would hate to disappoint his fans. He was an Icon, but I am not sure if his base is really into icons.

    4. Charles Cameron Says:

      Hi Larry:
      I’ve found the existing 17 documents provided to the CTC very helpful, and imagine the remainder of the cache may similarly supply points of considerable interest.

    5. larrydunbar Says:

      My point exactly, and you are only one point. Two points you have a line, three points you have the area on a plane, and we haven’t even gotten to the edges if we are playing your game. Apparently He said visiting Iranians needed to be protected. So civil war is uniting Arabs, but if Iran is behind the narrative in #8, where does the edge between #2 and #3 cross? I think the U.S. lost that position in Iraq. 

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