Robert Young Pelton: Crowd-Funding the Hunt for Jospeh Kony (Full Text – Foreign Policy October 2013)

Peace Intelligence
Robert Young Pelton
Robert Young Pelton

ROBERT STEELE: I’ve known RYP for over a decade, perhaps more. I first learned of him when CIA was handing out his book, World’s Most Dangerous Places, as the best available primer for case officers going into darkness without bodyguards or armor (which is what real case officers do, don’t get me started on the clowns surrounded by protein shakes with ink).  This is a guy that can get kidnapped in the middle of the Darien Gap, and by the time his captors get him to the chief, the chief knows who he is, apologizes, and begs for an interview. A self-made man in every possible sense of the word, a brother in arms tried and true, RYP is one of the most educated, versatile, and accomplished people in the real world. It merits comment that it costs up to $2.1 million a year to keep one US soldier in the field with all the generals, aviation, logistics, and so on that one US soldier brings with them.  $450K for one man, one hunt is a BARGAIN.

Printable (4 Pages with Links): So Crazy It Just Might Work

So Crazy It Just Might Work

Swashbuckling journalist Robert Young Pelton is crowdfunding a mission to hunt down Joseph Kony. Is it genius or folly?

BY ELIAS GROLL

FOREIGN POLICY, OCTOBER 29, 2013

Robert Young Pelton thinks he can do what no one else has done: find the fugitive warlord Joseph Kony. And he wants your help in doing it.
Pelton, a journalist-cum-adventurer, has traveled the world tracking down and interviewing the world’s most dangerous men. He was in Grozny hanging out with Chechen rebels while the city was getting pounded by Russian forces. He linked up with Liberian rebels during their assault on Monrovia. And he tracked down and interviewed Francis Ona, the leader of a separatist movement on the island of Bougainville in the South Pacific.

Now he’s turning his attention to the most wanted man in Africa. Together with two filmmakers, Pelton is planning an expedition to central Africa, where he will attempt to track down Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), in the jungle wilderness. Where activists and African troops — aided by U.S. Special Forces — have failed, Pelton believes he can succeed and find the man responsible for the kidnapping as many as 66,000 children and pressing them into service in his rag-tag army or as sex-slaves.

So is Pelton completely crazy? Or is he, maybe, just crazy enough to pull it off?

Continue reading “Robert Young Pelton: Crowd-Funding the Hunt for Jospeh Kony (Full Text – Foreign Policy October 2013)”

Robert Young Pelton: Crowd-Funding and Crowd-Sourcing the Hunt for Joseph Kony — with Public Lessons Learned

Crowd-Sourcing, Innovation, Sources (Info/Intel)
Robert Young Pelton
Robert Young Pelton

As some of you know, I like to find people who don’t want to be found. Since the mid 90’s I have located and connected with over two dozen terrorist, criminal, jihadi and drug groups. The alphabet list of people I have tracked down and lived with include the taliban, FARC, LURD, al Qaeda, BRA, GIA, MILF, ABB, AUC, HEK, Haqqani, Shining Path, ADF, Chechens along with various mafyia, gang and drug groups. My resume includes correctly identifying the location of bin Laden and Zawahiri in 2003. I have spent significant time tracking the exact location and condition of hundreds of kidnap victims in Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Colombia. I don’t come to this task lightly

I am trying a new concept. Crowd-funding and crowd-sourcing a real search for a dangerous group. Your dollars supports an expedition led by myself along with professionals on the ground. Our task is to locate Joseph Kony along with understanding and communicating why Kony has not been found. Then we also need to communicate our efforts, discoveries and lessons learned in an open transparent way. Only then can criminals realize that there is no place left on earth to hide.

Phi Beta Iota:  Crowd-funding is raising money from an infinite diversity of sources.  Crowd-sourcing is aggregating information from an infinite variety of sources.  They are different.  They go well together.  This is an example of public intelligence in the public interest funded by the public, of, by, and with the public.

We will go deeply into how $200 million spent by charities and U.S. tax dollars have not resulted in the locating or capture of Kony . Our goal is not to critique but to enlighten our followers so that we can apply this model to other expeditions.

Continue reading “Robert Young Pelton: Crowd-Funding and Crowd-Sourcing the Hunt for Joseph Kony — with Public Lessons Learned”

Who’s Who in Peace Intelligence: Robert Young Pelton

Alpha M-P, Peace Intelligence
Robert Young Pelton

Robert Young Pelton is one of just two speakers demanded by the international audience attending the annual conference on National Security & National Competitiveness: Open Source Solutions.  The other was Stephen E. Arnold.  RYP is the single most sensible, qualified, courageous, and plain honest journalist we know, across the creative and investigative spectrum.

DuckDuckGo on RYP
Gone Fishing.....

See Also:

Search: robert young pleton (sic) pelton

Journal: NYT to Robert Young Pelton–Sorry, Our Bad

08 Wild Cards, 10 Security, 11 Society, Cultural Intelligence, Media, Military, Peace Intelligence

Setting the record straight on ‘contractor’ spies

The Washington Post Spy Talk    Jeff Stein

Robert Young Pelton spent years investigating counterterrorism mercenaries, so the last thing he expected was to be branded one himself.

Yet there he was on the front page of the New York Times on March 14, his color picture flanked by photos of legendary ex-CIA official Duane R. Clarridge and Michael D. Furlong, a Pentagon psychological warfare official.

The headline: “Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants.”

Today the Times corrected the story.

FULL STORY ONLINE

Robert Young Pelton's Web "Come Back Alive"

Robert Young Pelton comments:

I am happy to report that the New York Times has done the right thing and corrected their depiction of me in their recent series of articles about Afghanistan and “rogue” contractors.  Although I have no personal or ethical problem with DoD contractors, information operations,  intelligence activity  covert operations or any other programs funded by the Department of Defense to protect our citizens here and overseas. I was not a DoD contractor nor was my company or were my employees  involved in any spying, clandestine or illegal activity.

I do have a problem with the illegal use of contractors for espionage, breaking laws or stepping across clearly identified moral boundaries in the use of journalists. But I did not make these allegations, the source for the current activity (almost half a year after we were told the DoD would not be a subscriber) is a leaked memo and DoD insiders. Not my company.

Continue reading “Journal: NYT to Robert Young Pelton–Sorry, Our Bad”

Search: robert young pleton (sic) pelton

Searches
Robert Young Pelton

Although this search produces the below hit, his name is mis-spelled and since he is one of the platinum award winners and a true class act, we’ve run the search with the correct spelling and below are the other hits.

2006 Pelton (US) Recommends The Changing Face of Global Violence

See also:

Who’s Who in Public Intelligence: Robert Young Pelton

Journal: Worth a Look–the Echo Chamber Project

Review: Licensed to Kill–Hired Guns in the War on Terror (Hardcover)

Threat Archives on Public Intelligence (1992-2006)

2004 Pelton (US) Value-added Citizen Blogs, Forums, and Wars

2003 Pelton (US) World’s Most Dangerous Places

Review: Robert Young Pelton’s The World’s Most Dangerous Places: 5th Edition

Who’s Who in Public Intelligence: Robert Young Pelton

Alpha M-P
Robert Young Pelton
Robert Young Pelton

PLATINUM LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Robert Young Pelton

Mr. Robert Young Pelton is perhaps the greatest journalist-adverturer on the planet.  This is a man that gets kidnapped by accident, is recognized by the leader of the kidnappers, and is promptly released with apologies and an honor guard.  His book World’s Most Dangerous Places and his TV series Come Back Alive are among the most extraordinary “ground truth” offerings available to the public and admired by the spies.  In his every waking moment, in his every action, in his every report, he embodies the true spirit of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT).

Journal: Worth a Look–the Echo Chamber Project

Collaboration Zones, Communities of Practice, Historic Contributions, Methods & Process, Reform, Technologies
Kent Bye
Kent Bye

Echo Chamber Project: Interviews at OSS ’06

Praise for this effort

Submitted by Robert David Steele (not verified) on Sat, 2006-03-11 18:48.
I have never, in 18 years of OSINT advocacy, seen a more professional and intelligent endeavor to understand and report on what we are trying to do. This is absolutely world-class, and my admiration is unbounded. This creative individual has a lifetime free pass to our conferences. His technical, legal, and people skills are of the highest order.
+ + + + + + +
Kent’s photo links to the ten video interviews he did at OSS ’06, the last conference before it was stolen and consequently destroyed  by an individual that broke his promise (one of several) and is fortuitously no longer responsible for anything of significance. All of the interviews are recommended, but then Congressman Simmons, now running for Senator in place of Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticutt, is especially noteworthy.  No one in government has, in the twenty one years we have been fighting this fight, gotten a better grip not just on the idea of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) as a separate discipline, but on OSINT as a means of revitalizing American education, improving decision-support to every Congressional jurisdiction (most get NOTHING from the secret intelligence world), and helping the President and the Cabinet Secretaries manage Whole of Govenrment Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Operational Campaigns.
Among those interviewed that we hold in very high esteem are Michael Andregg, Carolyn Stewart, Mats Bjore, Ralph Peters, Robert Young Pelton, Stephen E. Arnold, and Peter Morville.  There is also an interview with Robert Steele, who is not tagged within this website.
Below is a direct link to Kent Bye and a collage of clips from each of the people he interviewed.  We consider this the single best most brilliant piece of citizen journalism on the concept of OSINT.
Overview Video
Overview Video
Below are the currently available links for audio only for all those interviewed:

Michael Andregg on Secrecy and Insanity

Stephen E Arnold on Technology

Mats Bjore on Globalization

Peter Morville on Ambient Findability

Robert Young Pelton on Hearing all Sides

Ralph Peters on Wars of Blood and Faith

Rob Simmons on the Big Picture for America

Robert Steele on Washington Running on 2%

Carolyn Stewart on Information Operations

Below links directly to the Simmons interview, use the photograph link above to select any of the others.  NOTE: the video portion appears to have been disabled for all of them, you get audio only right now, we are working on this with Kent, it is vastly better to see these individuals in full multi-media form.

Rob Simmons
Rob Simmons

Review: Licensed to Kill–Hired Guns in the War on Terror (Hardcover)

5 Star, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Iraq, War & Face of Battle

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

THE Reference on Private Military Contractors and Those Who Hire or Fear Them,

August 29, 2006
Robert Young Pelton
I was the guy that did the threat study that put private military contractors on the official targeting list for the US Government, establishing them as legitimate targets who needed to be understood by all available (secret and open) means as either belligerents or at least relevant actors in any situation.

Robert Young Pelton, whom I know personally and admire as one of the most honest, courageous, and mature investigative journalists and adventurers (see my review of his Robert Young Pelton’s The World’s Most Dangerous Places: 5th Edition (Robert Young Pelton the World’s Most Dangerous Places), is without question the best reporter and observer in the world of the “dogs of war.” He ranks up with and above Robert Kaplan, Seymour Hersh, and John Fialka, three intrepid and intellectual reporters who help define the extraordinary talents and veracity of this author, Robert Young Pelton.

When I received his book I dropped everything and offer here a few of the highlights:

He distinguishes carefully between Mercenaries (soldiers for hire) and Private Military Contractors (PMC) who are security for hire.

Blackwater, the best of the (PMC can train 35,000 men in a year, and delivers a lighter, faster, smaller (and more effective) security force than the U.S. Army.

He recounts the history of CIA money into Special Operations Forces (SOF) black operations, which in turn created PMCs. Just as CIA funded the jihad in Afghanistan, so also has it funded–perhaps ignorantly in both cases–the emergence of the PMCs.

Telling early story: before 9/11, lawyers reduced CIA and other action elements of the US Government to wimpy toast. It took 9/11 to frost the lawyers and unleash the real men in the USG and elsewhere.

EDIT: Prior to 9/11, the lawyers were piss-ants such as those who advised the ABLE DANGER team to destroy evidence discovered pre 9-11 of two hijackers, instead of turning it over to the FBI. CIA lawyers, with a couple of exceptions, are also piss-ants. Real men include the guys that went into Afghanistan (see my reviews of Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA’s Key Field Commander and First In: An Insider’s Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan), and the guys at US Special Operations Command who are on their own all over the world. I never imagined that NSA and CIA would simply turn the lawyers off and violate ALL of our civil liberties, including warrantless wiretapping and rendition (kidnapping to export for torture) and the denial of habeas corpus to US and UK and Australian citizens, among others.

His overall account makes it clear that the new breed of PMC warrior is better in all respects (stronger, faster, smarter, better shot, more tech savvy) than the past SOF heroes, but FAILS in one important respect: tactical combat decision-making. He explains that communications has robbed the field men of all initiative, and they are now nothing more than risk takers for fat-assed pasty-faced Rear Echelon Mother Fryers (REMF) with too much rank, too much air conditioning, and not enough character to make it in the field.

This book will be, for some time, the basic reference for those who wish to be PMCs, manage PMCs, or employ PMC companies. On the one hand, he documents the rates and the profits ($500 a day per man, billed at $1500 a day per man, with $500 for overhead and $500 for profit PER DAY), but he also points out that at 24/7 ops tempo, this can come out to $25 an hour, or worse. He points out that SOF and other skilled uniformed professionals earn $50K a year, while PMCs can earn $200K a year–the contrast explains why SOF is hemorrhaging personnel. He discussed the 90 days on, 30 days off, but also notes that a third of the candidates do not make the grade in training, while half of those who are sent to the field do not make the grade under combat conditions and are Ordered Home.

In passing he notes that CIA tends to stink at local level relations, throwing money at locals to get intelligence, which is consequently generally bad and useless.

He also warns those who receive USG funded PMCs that as was the case in Haiti, the withdrawal of US funding for PMC security can be capricious and sudden.

He related the rise of the PMC to the political desire in the US of limiting the uniformed head counts in combat conditions, and this in turn not only supports PMCs with guns instead of uniformed military with guns, but also turning over all logistics to PMCs, some of which are unrealizable (and thus leave our troops without water and food and shower points in the clinch).

The book adds further to the documented view of Paul Bremer as a dictator no better than Saddam Hussein (who at least provided electricity and water and stability).

This thoughtful study notes that the Rules of Engagement (ROE) have not been well developed for PMCs, and that the seam between PMCs and the US military and the US Department of State are thoroughly screwed up to non-existent.

He notes that in addition to Iraqi disdain for Paul Bremer, there is acute Iraqi consciousness for the fact that in Iraq, PMCs are the top of the food chain and have everything, including jobs, which Iraqis have not received in the so-called “peace.”

This author and this book SMASHES both the Rolling Stone article on “Heavy Metal Mercenaries” and the self-promoting and largely false book The Hunt for Bin Laden: Task Force Dagger.

Passing comments document the different “tribes” in the PMC world, the fact that many PMCs are paying their US citizens with offshore accounts that evade taxes, that laptops not guns are the focus for many individuals (their lifeline to family and reality), that London is the center of gravity for PMC activity, that over 400 PMCs have been killed in Iraq (contract this with 2,500 from US military), and that the bottom line for PMCs is that they are largely ethical, moral, professional, and committed.

I especially liked the author’s closing contrast between the British PMC model “it’s about minimum force, Old Boy” and the US model, “high tech max force” approach.

Immortal quote on page 227: “The post 9/11 world opened up a Pandora’s box of prospects for adventurers, conmen, and opportunists….”

I will end with three points the author brings out:

1) PMC Blackwater is smart, focused on the bomb makers not the bomb deliverers.

2) Everybody is making money in Iraq (that is a US citizen) EXCEPT the US uniformed soldiers actually fighting the war.

3) PMCs are, like guns, something that can be used for good or bad.

Robert Young Pelton is extraordinary, and this book is the cutting edge of reality: PMCs. He is unique for his preparation and for walking in the PMC shoes.

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Vote on Review

Threat Archives on Public Intelligence (1992-2006)

Threats

2004

NO

Threat Bjorgo Root Causes of Terrorism

2004

US

Threat Kaplan The Saudi Connection to Terrorism

2004

US

Threat Knapp Al Qaeda and the Mass Media (PSYOP Briefing)

2004

US

Threat Knapp Al Qaeda and the Mass Media (Reference)

2004

US

Threat Knapp Distortion in Islam and Jihad

2004

US

Threat Knapp Diversity in Islam

2006

US

Threat Daly Al Qaeda Against Saudi Oil

2006

US

Threat Johnson Battle of Algiers and Its Lessons

2006

US

Threat Seagraves Gold Warriors: New Epilogue, Further of US Theft of WWII Gold Loot

2006

US

Threat Seagraves Gold Warriors New Chapter Seventeen

2006

US

Threat Steele Who Is to Blamce?  The Vice President and Us

2006

US

Threat Stern Al Qaeda Approach to US Muslims

2006

UK

Threat Story Crunch Time for CIA, Banks, and Related Thieves of $742 Trillion

2005

US

Threat Ellis Scenarios for Next Generation Crises in Latin America

2005

US

Threat GAO GAO Report: US Not Addressing Islamic Fundamentalism

2005

US

Threat OSS Somalia Piracy Quick Report

2005

US

Threat OSS Report on Remote Detonation of Improvised Explosive Devices

2005

US

Threat OSS PRC Trade in Latin America

2005

US

Threat Ray & Gross The Perfect Storm

2005

US

Threat Steele Worksheet for Book Review on Crossing the Rubicon

2005

US

Threat Steele Mother Nature as Terrorist

2005

US

Threat Steele 9-11: Who’s To Blame?  One Man’s Opinion

2005

US

Threat Thompson Is the Terrorism Threat Over-Rated?

2004

US

Threat Daly Globalization & National Defense (Ecological Economics)

2004

US

Threat Louisiana Pre-Hurricane Katrina Study and Conclusions

2004

US

Threat Palmer The Real Axis of Evil: 44 Dictators

2004

US

Threat Peters Early Warning of Disease From Pattern Analysis

2004

US

Threat Seagrave Transcript of Video on Stolen Gold Held by US Treasury & Citi-Bank

2004

US

Threat Vlahos Attachment to the Muslim Renovatio Memorandum

2004

US

Threat Vlahos The Muslim Renovatio and U.S. Strategy

2004

US

Threat Vlahos The Muslims Are Coming

2004

US

Threat Vlahos Insurgency Within Islam

2003

US

Threat Danzip Countering Traumatic Attacks

2003

PRC

Threat OSS PRC Treaty & Trade Penetration of Latin America

2002

US

Threat Emerson & Steele American Jihad Map

2002

US

Threat Steele ACFR, 19 Cities: 9-11, U.S. Intelligence, & the Real World

2000

US

Threat Steele Georgetown/AWC: Non-Traditional Threats

1998

US

Threat Steele TAKEDOWN: Targets, Tools, & Technocracy

1994

US

Threat Steele 6th National Threat Symposium: New Directions in Information Sharing

2005

NGO

Threat NGO Changing Face of Global Violence

2005

NGO

Threat NGO Human Security Audit

2004

US

Threat Pelton Robert Young Pelton on Dangerous World

2004

US

Threat Steele Three Book Review Relevant to Global War on Terror (GWOT)

2003

US

Threat Copeland Analysis of the New Paradigm for Terrorism

2003

US

Threat Manwaring Street Gangs: New Urban Insurgency

2003

US

Threat Manwaring War & Conflict: Six Generations

2003

US

Threat Pelton Summary of Presentation on World’s Most Dangerous Places

2002

US

Threat Betts The Next Intelligence Failure: The Limits of Prevention

2002

NL

Threat Jongman World Conflict and Human Rights Map 2001-2002

2002

US

Threat Wheaton Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: A Model

2002

US

Threat Wheaton Virtual Afghanistan: Modeling a Transition from Authoritarian Rule

2001

US

Threat Godson Governments and Gangs

2001

US

Threat Heidenrich Early Warning & Complex Monitoring of Ethnic Genocide (Slides)

2001

US

Threat Heidenrich Early Warning & Complex Monitoring of Ethnic Genocide (Text)

1998

US

Threat Transnational Enemies: Threats Without Names

1998

US

Threat Glaebus Metaphors & Modern Threats: Biological, Computer, Cognitive Viruses

1997

US

Threat Fialka War by Other Means: Economic Espionage In (Against) America

1997

US

Threat Schwartau Information Warfare: The Weapons of the Information Age

1997

US

Threat Tenney Cyber-Law and Cyber-Crime: Spamming Methods and Costs

1996

US

Threat Keuhl School of Information Warfare Threat and Strategy: Shifting Paradigms

1996

US

Threat O’Malley Countering the Business Intelligence Threat

1996

US

Threat Strassmann U.S. Knowledge Assets: The Choice Target for Information Crime

1996

US

Threat Winkler Electronic Industrial Espionage: Defining Ground Zero

1994

US

Threat Whitney-Smith Refugees: Weapon of the Post Cold War World–Counter Offensive: IW

2004 Pelton (US) Value-added Citizen Blogs, Forums, and Wars

Civil Society, Collective Intelligence, Historic Contributions

Robert Young Pelton
Robert Young Pelton

Robert Young Pelton at IOP ’06 17-19 January 2006,

Sheraton Premiere, Tysons Corner, Virginia

notes..? :)))  I like to keep it simple.  My presentation was simply on using value-added nodes to attract and nurture intel providers. Examples were the world of Blogs and forums to generate ground intel

Examples:

www.comebackalive.com a chat site for a wide spectrum of adventurers, mercenaries, jihadis, travelers, students and others. Example was instructions on how to get into Grozny took three days and only about 5 entries to nail it.

www.kathryncramer.com a housewife from New York who did extraordinary reporting on the coup in Equatorial Guinea from her kitchen, while changing diapers

Yahoo forums pmc Group PMC <PMCs@yahoogroups.com> where 600 people register, about two dozen post and around 300 or journos hover to snatch up tidbits from private military contractors.

The information/disinformation battle going on between Keith Idema at www.superpatriots.us/ versus stuporpatriots.blogspot.com/  and Idema’s use of proxy bloggers like Caosblog.com to create a sense of false support

Then I talked about America’s Most Wanted, reality shows and how the US government could harness this form of value added node (and of course the web) to hunt down criminals like Bin Laden.

Finally I challenged government, intel and big corporations to harness these new forms of intel networks to make the world a smarter, safer place!

RYP

PS thanks for having me, it’s always a pleasure to hang out with the odd and educated!

2003 Pelton (US) World’s Most Dangerous Places

Communities of Practice, Cultural Intelligence, Earth Intelligence, Historic Contributions, Methods & Process, Peace Intelligence

Robert Young Pelton
Robert Young Pelton

PLATINUM LIFETIME AWARD, Robert Young Pelton

Mr. Robert Young Pelton is perhaps the greatest journalist-adverturer on the planet.  This is a man that gets kidnapped by accident, is recognized by the leader of the kidnappers, and is promptly released with apologies and an honor guard.  His book World’s Most Dangerous Places and his TV series Come Back Alive are among the most extraordinary “ground truth” offerings available to the public and admired by the spies.  In his every waking moment, in his every action, in his every report, he embodies the true spirit of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT).

This extraordinary person may well be the prototype for engaged citizen investigative journalism.  Below is the summary of his presence at OSS ’03, and links to his two most important websites.  The photo above links to his Wikipedia page.

Pelton at OSS '03
Pelton at OSS '03
Come Back Alive Web Site including Dangerpedia
Come Back Alive Web Site including Dangerpedia
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Review: Robert Young Pelton’s The World’s Most Dangerous Places: 5th Edition

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Atlases & State of the World, Country/Regional, Future, Games, Models, & Simulations, Geography & Mapping, History

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars 5th Edition Even Better–Valuable to Business and Government,

June 19, 2003
Robert Young Pelton
I’ve heard Robert Young Pelton speak, and he is, if anything, even more thoughtful and provocative in person. He has written an extraordinary book that ordinary people will take to be a sensationalist travel guide, while real experts scrutinize every page for the hard truths about the real world that neither the CIA nor the media report. The 5th Edition is even better than the earlier version that I distributed to all the professional intelligence officers attending the annual Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) conference, so I am going to distribute the new improved version.Unlike clandestine case officers and normal foreign service officers, all of them confined to capital cities and/or relying on third party reporting, Robert Young Pelton actually goes to the scene of the fighting, the scene of the butchery, the scene of the grand thefts, and unlike all these so-called authoritative sources, he actually has had eyeballs on the targets and boots in the mud.

I have learned two important lessons from this book, and from its author Robert Young Pelton:

First, trust no source that has not actually been there. He is not the first to point out that most journalists are “hotel warriors”, but his veracity, courage, and insights provide compelling evidence of what journalism could be if it were done properly. Government sources are even worse–it was not until I heard him speak candidly about certain situations that I realized that most of our Embassy reporting–both secret and open–is largely worthless because it is third hand, not direct.

Second, I have learned from this book and the author that sometimes the most important reason for visiting a war zone is to learn about what is NOT happening. His accounts of Chechnya, and his personal first-hand testimony that the Russians were terrorizing their Muslims in the *absence* of any uprising or provocation, are very disturbing. His books offers other accounts of internal terrorism that are being officially ignored by the U.S. Government, and I am most impressed by the value of his work as an alternative source of “national intelligence” and “ground truth”.

There are a number of very important works now available to the public on the major threats to any country’s national security, and most of them are as unconventional as this one–Laurie Garrett on public health, Marq de Villiers on Water, Joe Thorton on chlorine-based industry and the environment–and some, like Robert D. Kaplan’s books on his personal travels, are moving and inspiring reflections on reality as few in the Western world could understand it–but Robert Young Pelton is in my own mind the most structured, the most competent, the most truthful, and hence the most valuable reporter of fact on the world’s most dangerous places.

What most readers may not realize until they read this book is that one does not have to travel to these places to be threatened by them–what is happening there today, and what the U.S. government does or does not do about developments in these places, today, will haunt this generation and many generations to follow. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who cares to contemplate the real world right now.

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Vote on Review