Interagency failure: DHS detains VOA reporter for 10 days

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security detained a Voice of America reporter for 10 days. The man, Rahman Bunairee, had the proper visa and documentation to show he was coming to the US for a year – the primary reason of which was to escape Taliban threats. But the DHS completely disregarded both the paperwork and the requests – including formal petitions – from the Broadcasting Board of Governors to release Bunairee.

Even after his release – helped by intervention from the State Department – DHS revoked his ability to work here, leaving a critical member of America’s information team to counter Taliban and Al Qaeda information on the sidelines. Worse, the BBG nor any other part of the Government can help him financially because of DHS’s decision.

The situation has not changed after a month. Imagine if DHS made what amounts to a unilateral decision on a member of our military – uniform or civilian? The is beyond a failure of interagency cooperation.

This beyond-boneheaded decision undermines not only our ability to engage in the struggle for minds and wills played out primarily in AM and FM in Afghanistan and Pakistan – the “market” Bunairee used to work and had to physically escape from – it also sends a message to other reporters currently and potentially working for America.

I recommend you read Jeffrey Hirschberg’s column in The Washington Post for more.

DHS S&T Conference: Post Mortem

As you know, I was at the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Conference in DC where I has the opportunity to chair two panels at the request of DHS. My panels were different than the rest, not just because I was the only “outsider”, but neither panel was on the one of the two main messages of the conference:

  1. Come check out the new and improved Science and Technology Directorate
  2. Let me tell you about a problem so you can make money with a solution

More on the panels in a moment. The general sessions were primarily about topic #1 above. Perhaps the best illustration of this was the session titled “A World in Change: A View from the Hill”. While “A World in Change” was intended to speak to the “new” threat environment, it also fit the new S&T under the Honorable Jay M. Cohen, Under Secretary, Science & Technology, DHS, formerly of the Office of Naval Research (as is much of DHS S&T who followed Admiral Cohen to the new post). For a short time more, video of the general sessions are available here and I suggest, if you’re interested in the politics of DHS, you watch the beginning (warning: the streaming video is high quality but doesn’t stream well at all) of the general from the Congressional staffer. He goes on about how bad thing were and why the Congress cut funding, etc, comments that were paired with praise with Cohen and the new S&T.

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DHS and Sigma

I’m in Hawaii this week on a family vacation, so obviously it’s very light on the posting (and thinking). I didn’t complete my post on the DHS conference to my satisfaction before leaving the mainland, so I never posted my comments on that and related subjects.

In the gap of my post on the DHS conference, some brief comments on my two panels (Science as Diplomacy and Blogging on Technology), and my two+ hours w/ the guys (and gal) from Sigma, read Jason, Paul, and Michael’s posts on Sigma until I return next week.

I’ll have that Mai Tai now…

Quick post: ONR and Science Diplomacy, Nagl and COIN

I’m having some connectivity issues while in DC so posting yesterday’s event will be later today or even tonight along with a report on today’s events.

Briefly on yesterday, interesting conference sessions with on Science and Technology for expeditionary warfare, assymetric warfare, sea warfare, etc. (see the right side of the ONR page for topics yesterday). Some reporting on this will appear here later.

Also had an opportunity for a 20min interview with the Commanding Officer for ONR-Global which was surprisingly (to me) an excellent example of public diplomacy (better name: science diplomacy) in action. This 20min meeting went 60 minutes when I had to leave, and already late for, John Nagl’s presentation on Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, as part of the Rethinking seminar series. Good information came from that in the Q&A, including a question about private security companies, and from sharing a cold beer with John and others after the seminar.

More to come later.

Day One At the Naval S&T Conference 2006

This week is the 2006 Naval Science and Technology Partnership Conference at the Wardman Park Marriot in Washington, D.C. This conference is put on by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), in partnership and with technical support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). The conference’s slogan should give you an idea of the topics to be covered over the next four days: “The Navy After Next… Powered by Naval Research”.

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