The latest media coverage of the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS) comes from Kyle Crawford at War News Radio: The Human Terrain. Those interviewed on the program include recently deposed HTS program manager, Steve Fondacaro; Catherine Lutz, Brown University anthropology professor and member of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists; Keith Brown, a colleague of Lutz’s who is affiliated with anthropology, and in the Watson Institute for International Studies; and, myself. As I expected, very little of Crawford’s interview with me was included, but so that listeners have an idea of what I communicated, it was essentially covered by everything Lutz said in the parts we hear from her.
Interesting to note in this program is that Steve Fondacaro confirmed that HTS was exempted from the Army’s guidelines for ethical research for human subjects, 32CFR219. He also repeated earlier claims that HTS was devising its own ethical code. That was what HTS told the American Anthropological Association a year ago, promising guidelines within a few months, and here we are in mid-2010.
In addition, Fondacaro used the metaphor of a “hammer” for explaining the purpose of HTS and “do no harm,” saying that when hammers are made, no one really knows for what dangerous purpose they may be used. Not very reassuring, and much more in line with what many of the disparate critics of the program have said all along. Indeed, not even among the sharpest critics has anyone chosen to describe HTS employees as hammers. If Fondacaro meant his words to be interpreted more innocently, then it’s an innocence that can no longer be forgiven or accepted, at the very least since the AfPax Insider scandal (see also “Information, Communications, and Targeted Killing,” by guest blogger Ishtar Enana).
When War News Radio contacted HTS, for clarification as to why Fondacaro was unseated, they were given no further details.
Also in the program, Keith Brown decides to resuscitate that tired old charge that anthropological critics of HTS “rushed to judgment” — which one would have thought had been abundantly debunked here, based on the historical record, and based on a logical understanding of the premises for the criticisms. One would hope that, in the future, the critics of the critics do their homework, ascertain the facts, and not rush to such facile judgments.
You can download the MP3 and listen to it at War News Radio, or you can hear the same file here: