Multidisciplinary Blog – Eugenie de Silva

Welcome!

This page is dedicated to providing daily analyses of on-going events across the globe. I, Eugenie de Silva, am the primary author for all blog posts. All statements are personal analyses that are not representative of Virginia Research Institute. Additionally, posts are subject to updates as and when more information is released. If you feel that you can actively and professionally contribute to the discussions on this page or have requests of any topics to be analyzed, then feel free to send a message through the Virginia Research Institute’s Contact Us page and ensure that you explicitly make clear your message is for the Multidisciplinary Blog. If you wish to use any information published on this page, please request written permission through our Contact Us page.

The Girl Behind the Posts

I’m Eugenie de Silva and I act as the sole author of the posts on the Multidisciplinary Blog. I hold a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Intelligence Analysis (4.0 GPA – Summa Cum Laude) from the American Military University. As a student at Harvard University, I am in the final stages of completing my second Master’s which is in the field of Legal Studies. I am also a Ph.D. student at the University of Leicester in England. I have presented and won eight oral presentations in fields ranging from psychology to intelligence studies. I have also co-authored a research book titled, “Multidisciplinary Research for College Students,” and have published two children’s book titled, “The Adventures of Princess Eugenie – Part 1 & 2.” I’ve been the assistant coach for a U-10 boys’ soccer team and I am also a self-taught pianist. Oh, and I’m only sixteen years old by the way. I’m a teenager with a Master’s degree exploring the diverse world in which we all live. This blog is devoted to providing unique analyses from my perspective as one who was exposed to the political arena and intelligence field at a young age. I write my blog posts based on my own background and experiences, yet I always try to base all discussions on scientifically proven facts. This  blog is for academic purposes, thus, it is hoped that the analyses will help individuals of all ages understand on-going events from a perspective different than that which is continuously highlighted in the popular media. Enjoy!

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September 28, 2014

Propaganda

In the media, you will commonly hear individuals using the term, “propaganda,” without any actual, in-depth knowledge of the concept. Propaganda is more than what you hear about in the news or in movies. Accordingly, this was written to provide a brief description of how propaganda was used in the past.

Prior to any analysis, a brief definition of propaganda has been provided. Within this article, propaganda is defined as techniques which are utilized to spread “ideas, information, or rumor” in an effort to further a group’s ideas and influence other individuals (Cottam, Uhler, Mastors, & Preston, 2010, 341). Propaganda tactics can be employed through various forums as is exemplified later in this work.

Firstly, in the case of Northern Ireland, it is necessary to focus on one former radical organization of the nation that specifically utilized the psychological concept of propaganda. This major radical organization within Northern Ireland that is commonly discussed was the Irish Republican Army (IRA). This organization within Northern Ireland was influenced by its own social identity. The social identity is defined as the “part of a person’s self-concept that is determined by the groups to which the person belongs” (Cottam, Uhler, Mastors, & Preston, 2010, 342). Accordingly, the IRA was an organization that fought for what it believed to be just. Furthermore, in an effort to broaden its horizons and recruit more members, the organization utilized propaganda techniques such as those that were published in the IRA Army Green Book. This book outlined all the basic principles for the members of the IRA, while also providing readers with logically-deduced reasoning behind the comments. For instance, at one point in the handbook, it was denoted that “The nationhood of all Ireland has been an accepted fact for more than 1,000 years and has been recognised internationally as a fact” (“IRA Green Book”). The manual also utilized quotes from professionals, such as researchers and professors, in order to gain credibility for its ideas while influencing its readers to believe that the ideas that were professed were true and should be accepted as valid. This propaganda technique was clearly a focused approach to ensure that individuals agreed with the ideas, and then consequently joined the organization.

The Shining Path is a terrorist organization that was formed in Peru. Over the course of a twenty year civil war, the group fought against the “Peruvian armed forces in an attempt to subjugate the country and institute a revolution like the one carried out by Mao in China” (“Shining Path”). For this group, propaganda played a role in its indoctrination process. Indoctrination refers to the process in which terrorists officially recruit new members. This process primarily relies on the use of propaganda to ensure successful efforts. For instance, in certain cases, individuals will have existing motivations to join the terrorist organization; however, many a time, terrorists will have to subtly influence or radicalize individuals to ensure that they align with the ideologies of the group and join. This process, whereby terrorists apply propaganda techniques to influence individuals to accept the group’s ideas, is known as a “pull” (Cottam, Uhler, Mastors, & Preston, 2010, 279). The pull serves as a way for terrorist groups to broaden their member bases while also ensuring conformity amongst new recruits. Accordingly, conformity is “the tendency to change one’s beliefs or behaviors so that they are consistent with the standards set by the group” (Cottam, Uhler, Mastors, & Preston, 2010, 73). The propaganda process thus seems to result in conformity which can strengthen the infrastructure of a terrorist group. Moving forward, the Shining Path utilized propaganda in several instances, but mainly by providing classes to inmates within Lima’s Canto prison, in addition to initiating “an almost military discipline in which the prisoners marched, gave inflammatory speeches, and sang subversive songs” (“Shining Path”). These techniques continuously reinforced the ideas of the Shining Path, which subsequently radicalized and subtly influenced individuals to agree with the ideas by accepting them as the norm or status quo.

These forms of propaganda were also key tools in the Hamas group. The terrorist group spread its ideas through an online website which continuously uploaded information that was aligned with the group’s beliefs. The website, which was first formed in 2002, even went to the extent of dehumanizing Jewish individuals in an effort to prepare “young readers for future action” (Manor & Mizrahi, 2010). Accordingly, this website also continuously uploaded information that highlighted suicide bombing in a positive light to make these actions seem as though they were laudable and components of the status quo (Manor & Mizrahi, 2010).

In terms of Hezbollah, propaganda is a vital component of recruitment. Since the time of its first formation, Hezbollah utilized various forms of propaganda techniques in order to gain more members. For instance, in one report it was denoted that Hezbollah even began to release video games to subtly influence individuals to agree with Hezbollah’s ideologies. According to Richard Engel, the video game that Hezbollah released allowed players to “destroy Israeli tanks, shoot down helicopters and destroy warships; killing Israeli soldiers earns bonus points” (2007). These video games reinstated and reinforced Hezbollah’s ideology against Israelis and also provided players with opportunities to also virtually be involved in such activities. This form of propaganda consequently would cause individuals to subconsciously agree with the ideas and could eventually radicalize players to join Hezbollah in its fight against Israel.

In conclusion, propaganda has been utilized as a key component in recruiting new members and subtly influencing individuals to agree with the ideas put forth by many terrorist organizations. Propaganda is a dangerous tactic that can slowly, yet steadily alter the ways in which an individual views a particular event.

© Eugenie de Silva, 2014

References

Cottam, Martha L., Dietz-Uhler, Beth, Mastors, Elena, & Preston, Thomas. Cognition, Social Identity, Emotions, and Attitudes in Political Psychology. Introduction to Political Psychology. New York: Psychology Press, 2010.

Engel, Richard. “Hezbollah Game Celebrates War vs. Israel.” World Blog. NBC News. Last modified on August 16, 2007. Accessed September 28, 2014.http://worldblog.nbcnews.com/_news/2007/08/16/4376799-hezbollah-game-celebrates-war-vs-israel?lite

Herald Tribune. “Shining Path Indoctrination School Dismantled in Lima Jail.” Latin American Herald Tribune Venezuela Links. Accessed September 28, 2014. http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=349466&CategoryId=14095

“IRA Green Book.” Irish Republican Army, vol. 1 & 2: 1-19. Accessed September 28, 2014. https://edge.apus.edu/access/content/group/security-and-global-studies-common/NSEC614/Content/Irish_Republican_Army_Green_Book.pdf

Manor, Yohanan and Mizrahi, Ido. “Hama’s Web School for Suicide Bombers.” Middle East Quarterly (2010): 31-40. Accessed September 28, 2014. http://www.meforum.org/2675/hamas-web-school-suicide-bombers


July 6, 2014

Legal Issues & Cyber Operations

Imagine that you were asked the question, “What are the challenges that the legal issues regarding cyber operations pose for cyber intelligence activities?” Would you be able to answer this question? No worries, if you can’t. For this post, I have highlighted the general answer to this question based on currently, available data.

Within the intelligence field, it is of the utmost importance that personnel follow the legal regulations that have been established. Of course, these legal boundaries limit the extent to which officials can actually carry out their activities. With regard to cyber intelligence activities, officials must strictly follow the guidelines that have been implemented to ensure that no legal, political, or even social repercussions ensue. There are several challenges to cyber intelligence activities that are posed with regard to the legal issues in cyber operations.

One of the challenges that is posed relates to the availability of information that would aid in the effort to protect the United States (U.S.) against cyberthreats. Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), if businesses release information to the government, there may be a possibility of that information being released to the public (Liu, Stevens, Ruane, Dolan, Thompson, & Nolan, 2013, 7). Therefore, since access to “confidential business information of owners and operators of the nation’s critical infrastructure and of private sector entities” is vital in gathering data to protect against cyberthreats, the operations of cyber security activities may be limited if such owners and operators feel reluctant to provide the information (Liu, et. al., 2013, 7). Au contraire, the Critical Infrastructure Information Act of 2002 (CIIA) was established to ensure that information that was voluntarily provided to the government would be protected from disclosure to the public; however, this act does also have its limitations in terms of the extent to which the information could be safeguarded under certain situations (Liu, et. al., 2013, 8). If those within field cannot conduct their cyber activities due to a lack of information, then the probability of falling victim to cyber attacks may significantly rise.

Another challenge that is posed is the fact that there are legal limitations placed on which electronic communications can be monitored and accessed by personnel within the government. As per the 2013 Congress report, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in addition to the National Security Agency (NSA) have “incrementally ramped up monitoring of federal government networks over the past decade to identify and prevent cyber attacks” (Liu, et. al., 2013, 10). Therefore, for those within the field, the statutory limitations that have been implemented by Congress would clearly restrict government officials in their pursuit to predict, and then prevent cyber attacks. These limitations are also established through the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. The amendment explicitly protects an individual’s right to be safe against “unreasonable searches and seizures” (Liu, et. al.., 2013, 12). Therefore, programs such as EINSTEIN, which monitors federal government network systems, would be subject to reasonable and substantial observations and restrictions. Due to the nature of the EINSTEIN program, personal communications amongst federal employees and private individuals are also monitored (Liu, et. al., 2013, 16). Overall, there are constitutional limits that are placed on cyber activities; accordingly, these limitations can substantially impact the efforts of cyber security officials.

The third challenge that is highlighted in this work pertains to legal regulations that affect information sharing. Within the fields of intelligence and law enforcement, information sharing is that which cannot be over-stressed. By sharing information, personnel can remain updated about current events and can continuously improve systems. This is also true within the field of cyber intelligence; however, under laws and statutes such as the Fourth Amendment, the Telecommunications Act of 1934, and/or other state laws that may have been enacted, limits are placed on the information that can be shared (Liu, et. al., 2013, 19). By sharing certain information, government officials may ultimately be subject to “civil and criminal liability” (Liu, et. al., 2013, 19). Of course, it would seem only logical that those within the field would prefer to conduct activities that do not result in harsh legal consequences; thus, personnel may feel restricted in the opportunities that they are provided to share information that could be vital to preventing cyber attacks.

Another final challenge that could be identified is the convergence trend. This trend poses one major challenge with regard to cyber activities. For example, it was denoted that the convergence trend “undermines the existing legal architecture along the rule-of-law dimension by exposing latent confusion and disagreement regarding with substantive constraints apply to military and intelligence operations” (Chesney, 2012, 540). It was also denoted that this trend has been recently highlighted in the media by reports that discuss confusion over which intelligence agency was to be responsible for certain activities (Chesney, 542). This trend further confuses the extent to which cyber activities can be carried out while remaining within the legal boundaries that have been accordingly established.

In its entirety, the legal issues regarding cyber operations pose three main challenges for cyber intelligence activities. Due to the legal limitations that have been established through various legal statutes, mandates, and state laws, cyber security officials must ensure that they can gather the necessary data from business owners and private sector operators. Accordingly, personnel must take into consideration the Fourth Amendment with regard to respecting the rights to be secure against unreasonable searches. Furthermore, personnel must ensure that the information that is received or shared has not been prohibited under any legal acts.

© Eugenie de Silva, 2014

References

Chesney, Robert. “Military-Intelligence Convergence and the Law of the Title 10/Title 50 Debate.” Journal of National Security Law & Policy (September, 2012), vol. 5:539: 539 – 629. Accessed July 6, 2014. https://edge.apus.edu/<wbr />access/content/group/security-<wbr />and-global-studies-common/<wbr />Intelligence%20Studies/<wbr />INTL647/647-wk4-Military-<wbr />Intelligence%20Convergence%<wbr />20and%20the%20Law%20of%20the%<wbr />20Title%2010-Title%2050%<wbr />20Debate.pdf

Liu, Edward C, Stevens, Gina, Ruane, Kathleen A., Dolan, Alissa M., Thomspon, Richard M., and Nolan, Andrew. “Cybersecurity: Selected Legal Issues.” Congressional Research Service (April, 2013): 1-28. Accessed July 6, 2014.https://edge.apus.edu/<wbr />access/content/group/security-<wbr />and-global-studies-common/<wbr />Intelligence%20Studies/<wbr />INTL647/647-wk4-CRS-<wbr />Cybersecurity-Selected%<wbr />20Legal%20Issues.pdf

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May 15, 2014

Evolving Challenges

It’s 2014, and almost everywhere you look you will see someone using some type of technology or mobile devices. However, our technological advances seem to have slightly backfired. Through our developments, we can now connect with individuals from across the globe within a few seconds; au contraire, novel technology has also provided more opportunities for criminals to attack the very fabric of U.S. society.

On a daily basis we sit at home chatting through FaceBook and texting our friends on our latest cell phones, but we must also realize that criminals use these devices for their nefarious crimes, too! For instance, a terrorist organization can now use laptops, computers, and cell phones to quickly and easily disseminate propaganda, while recruiting new individuals to fight for their cause. Additionally, it is also possible for criminals to take part in money laundering through the use of the Internet. Social networking sites have even made it easier for criminals to influence individuals from across the globe. Remember last November when the breaking story was about the son of an alleged drug kingpin who was using his Twitter to flaunt his drug money, brag about his lifestyle, and recruit new individuals to the gang? This is just a small example of criminals using novel technology and social media to gain support for illegal activities.

It was in 2013 that James R. Clapper, our Director of National Intelligence in the U.S., stated, “We judge that there is a remote chance of a major cyber attack against US critical infrastructure systems during the next two years that would result in long-term, wide-scale disruption of services, such as a regional power outage” (1). Clapper further explained that most actors would not have the level of sophistication or capabilities to carry out such a large-scale attack, yet he reminded us that there still remains the possibility of other isolated or non-state actors initiating and executing smaller scale attacks against the U.S. (Clapper, 2013, 1).

Clearly, our government has taken the time to address the challenges that are currently faced with regard to cyber security. Accordingly, there are individuals across the country who are endlessly working to safeguard our national cyber systems. Nonetheless, we still remain vulnerable to cyber attacks whether they are large-scale or small-scale.

Thus, ladies and gentlemen, when we think about technology, social networking sites, or online forums in general, we must remember the dire need for heightened security. Yes, you may not want a random officer from the NSA reading your FaceBook posts, but we do still need more security. The notion of more security shouldn’t be associated with an infringement on one’s privacy, but should be synonymous with a safer nation in which every individual can enjoy peace without the possibility of a major attack that could devastate the country and each of our lives.

© Eugenie de Silva, 2014

Reference

Clapper, James R. “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community.” Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (March, 2013): 1 -29. Accessed May 15, 2014. http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/130312/clapper.pdf

Read More: http://www.businessinsider.com/alleged-twitter-of-mexican-cartels-2013-11