readersKnowing how to read documents in a sensitive and analytical manner is a skill that has wide application in career and personal situations. Many of the techniques that help us evaluate documents can also be used to interpret objects of material culture and art. Here are 20 questions that can help one analyze documents.  While they can be applied systematically, using them randomly in brainstorming fashion may lead to even more rewarding outcomes.

  1. What kind of document is this?
  2. When and where was it written?
  3. Who is the author,  or what can we infer about an anonymous author? Continue reading »
Tags: , , , , ,

kennedyUnfinished business in a nation’s history can undermine citizens’ trust in government and sense of participating in a meaningful collective life.

In the case of fatal moments such as assassinations and terrorist attacks, the damage adds to the impact of the attacks and helps the attackers achieve their goals of demoralizing the people and fraying the social fabric. Compounding the problem, government agencies and the media often show reluctance to reveal what they learn because they lack 100% assurance of its validity, because they fear the public reaction, or because they are covering up their own mistakes. As a result, people often believe that certain crimes remain unsolved or are even unsolvable when in fact they have already been solved but the information is being denied to the public. Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

In World War I Imperial Germany faced the daunting task of fighting Great Britain, France, and Russia at the same time.  Mindful of the unfairness inherent in passing judgment in hindsight, we can usefully ask whether Germany might have won the war even against these odds had it not made too many serious mistakes.  “What if?” history of this sort can help us understand better what actually happened, and it can provide precautionary lessons for the future.  Here is a list of key German mistakes, omitting errors at the battlefield level, in this colossal human tragedy. Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

jdeyIt is a curious fact that, after extensive investigations accompanied by intensive media coverage, the United States Government has failed to get to the bottom of any of the three major attacks launched against it by al Qaeda in the autumn of 2001.

Three attacks?

Yes, and therein lies part of the problem.

When we speak of intelligence failures, we ordinarily refer to the mistakes made by intelligence agencies in the time leading up to an event. But there is another kind of intelligence failure: Retrospective Intelligence Failure (RIF). Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

jdey[In a 2004 leak of a top secret Canadian Security Intelligence Service report, an al Qaeda detainee said that Abderraouf Jdey, a Canadian citizen of Tunisian origin, used a shoe bomb to cause the November 12, 2001 crash of American Airlines #587 from Kennedy Airport. Circumstantial evidence suggests that Jdey was also the mailer of the anthrax letters. See the analysis at the article Was Abderraouf Jdey The Anthrax Mailer?. The arguments below regarding the use of a Stinger-like missile and a northern New Jersey location of the Mailer are incorrect, but they are not being changed so that readers may follow the logic that led to the identification of Jdey as the likely Mailer. Information from October 2006 that the water used to prepare the anthrax was from the northeastern United States rules out a UK origin, as incorrectly argued below.] Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , ,

bush

Anomalous Mistake-driven Opportunity Creation (AMOC) occurs when a government official charged with a certain problem commits an extraordinary errorone so inconceivable that no one can imagine that he/she has perpetrated it. And therefore the official gets away with it. Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

On November 12, 2001 American Airlines Flight #587 crashed in Queens, New York shortly after take off, killing 265. Some observers were quick to suggest that terrorists had brought the aircraft down. But the October 26, 2004 official report by the National Transportation Safety Board blamed the crash on the co-pilot, who jerked the rudder back and forth in an effort to correct for turbulence from a preceding jet.

The crash was soon eclipsed by the repercussions of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the anthrax mailings, and the war in Afghanistan. Yet suspicions lingered. Many eyewitness accounts, for instance, seemed consistent with an on-board explosion, yet the report brushed them aside as contradicting each other and generally unreliable. Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , ,

There’s a gaping hole in the FBI’s argument that U.S. Government scientist Bruce Ivins was the Anthrax Mailer.

In addition to the hundreds of scientists with access to virulent anthrax from Ivins’s flask whom the FBI claims to have ruled out, one unauthorized individual had a special kind of access–the kind you get when you steal something. Hovering in proximity to an unlocked refrigerator with the anthrax at George Mason University was Islamic ideologue Ali al-Timimi, who in early 2001 was studying for a Ph.D in computational biology. Al-Timimi has since been arrested and sentenced for inciting Muslims in Virginia to travel to Pakistan to fight against U.S. forces.

(Note: The GMU researchers used what is known as Delta Ames.) Continue reading »

Tags: , , , ,

jdeyAs is spelled out in “Was Abderraouf Jdey the Anthrax Mailer?“, the real Anthrax Mailer was not dedicated, patriotic, psychologically vulnerable U.S. Government scientist Bruce Ivins, as FBI so unpersuasively claims. Much more likely than not, the Mailer was in fact Abderraouf Jdey, a known al Qaeda operative based in Montreal who had been detained, then released, in the summer of 2001.

Tags: , , , , ,

jdeyAmid the twists, turns, and baffling uncertainties of the 2001 anthrax mailings case, many observers have managed to hold fast to one conviction: that the anthrax letters can’t possibly have been the work of al Qaeda.  But are they right? One way to find out would be to identify the actual Mailer. That may prove easier than often thought—if one looks in the right place. Another approach would involve analyzing each of the objections to determine its merits. Let’s try that.

Objections, Objections Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

anthraxThe FBI investigation of the 2001 anthrax mailings may well have been the most extensive criminal investigation in world history. According to FBI, which closed its investigation on February 19, 2010, the Mailer was U.S. Government scientist Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide in July, 2008. But the evidence FBI has adduced is so weak that skepticism is widespread among scientists, other observers of the case, and the public at large.

Many observers find it impossible to believe that the Bureau could persuasively rule out the other hundreds of scientists who had access to the virulent strain of anthrax from the flask Ivins kept. Few doubt that the anthrax in at least some of the letters came originally from this flask, but critics charge that FBI has no valid reason to claim that Ivins was the one who prepared the anthrax and put it into the envelopes. FBI has also not addressed the possibility that someone stole the anthrax, even though researcher Ross Getman has identified several university labs and a bioscience company where al Qaeda sympathizers could have had access to anthrax originating in Ivins’s flask. Continue reading »

Tags: , , , ,

anthrax

As readers of Was Abderraouf Jdey the Anthrax Mailer? will appreciate, more likely than not Canadian al Qaeda operative Jdey was indeed the person who mailed the anthrax letters of 2001. But we must ask: How did al Qaeda gain access to the anthrax? Continue reading »

Tags: , , , ,
Copyright © Scientia Press, 2019
© 2009 Designed by Sayontan Sinha Wordpress Themes