Coming in March: CSD2014 Conference ‘Organised Crime in Conflict Zones’

CSD2014 WordCloud 302x300 Coming in March: CSD2014 Conference ‘Organised Crime in Conflict Zones’The CSD2014 Conference ‘Organised Crime in Conflict Zones’ will take place on the 6th of March, 2014. Organised by postgraduate students from the Conflict, Security and Development (CSD) programme at King’s College London (KCL) and supported by the War Studies Department, the conference will be held at the Great Hall of the Strand Campus.

The one-day event will focus on transnational organised crime, a multi-billion pound global business and an area of growing international concern. The programme will address the conflict-crime nexus and focus on three key areas of organised crime. These are drug trafficking, terrorist criminality and human trafficking. The conference objective is to address gaps in policy and scholarship, and to encourage research into this subject of growing relevance.

The event will benefit from contributions of leading policymakers, practitioners and academics in the field. Confirmed speakers include:

  • Dr. Mark Shaw, Director of Communities, Crime and Conflicts at STATT Consulting as well as Director of The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime. Dr. Shaw previously held many postings at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
  • Professor Mats Berdal, Professor of Security and Development at the War Studies Department of King’s College London.
  • Charlie Edwards, Senior Research Fellow and Director of National Security and Resilience Studies at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
  • Parosha Chandran, award winning human rights barrister at 1 Pump Court Chambers in London and co-founder of the Trafficking Law and Policy Forum. She was selected as one of the most influential lawyers in the UK by ‘The Time’s Law Panel’.
  • Nigel Inkster, Director of Transnational Threats and Political Risk at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) and Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Committee on Terrorism.

The total of 14 speakers will address the root causes of organised crime, connections to conflict, strategic responses and forward-looking policy implications.

For more information on the conference and our speakers, please visit our website at: http://csd2014.wordpress.com/speakers-profiles/

Preferential rates are available for students, to purchase tickets please go to http://bit.ly/1eNMmaY

For any queries please contact us at: csdc.kcl@gmail.com

For more please visit the CSD2014 Blog, Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.

Theodore W. Weaver: It’s Cold Out There

tww Theodore W. Weaver: Its Cold Out ThereTheodore W. Weaver is a former Intelligence Officer within the CIA’s National Clandestine Service and the Directorate of Science and Technology. He has close to a decade working as a Special Agent with several Federal agencies and has worked against counter proliferation, human trafficking/smuggling, child exploitation, Intellectual Property Rights violations and narcotics. You can follow him on Twitter or via the nascent Inglorious Amateurs website.

I was going to try and respond to the recent Associated Press / Washington Post article (authored by Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo) related to Robert Levinson and my views on news organizations breaking stories related to American citizens who are being held in captivity with as little condescension as I could possibly muster. The fact that I find myself having to contemplate this scenario at all leaves me severely disappointed. The truth is I have very little to add to that specific story. More over, the release of their article has opened the floodgates to a wash of stories from several other sources

I don’t want to come off sounding like some government crony who is completely anti-media. I believe the media has an incredible amount of power, especially in this current climate of sensitive information leaks and the inevitable post 9/11 – GWOT blowback. The fact that some journalists held their stories for over six years tells me however, they did know this was and is an extremely sensitive subject.

The essence of the debate and my heated response to the Levinson story can be distilled to one point. Robert Levinson is still out there; an American citizen and public servant for what turns out to be three decades. Exposing any info about him for personal gain is reprehensible. This isn’t a scandal; this is a crisis for him and his family. The basis of his employment and trip to Iran can be debated and pushed around the litter-box after he has been freed, but anything short of that is a self-serving, heartless mistake.

That out of the way, I’d also like to add that for once it would be nice to read a story that does not involve the words “speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized…” especially when it relates to matters of National Security (and obviously US citizens being held in captivity overseas).

Can we all agree that journalists are not national security professionals? I’m not saying they don’t have good contacts, or have a grasp of NatSec and related subject matter. What I am saying is they are not suited to decide what sensitive or classified information should be published for the entire world to read. When publishing stories I highly doubt the first thing out of an editor’s mouth is “how will this damage US intelligence assets and officers in the field?” or “would posting this get anyone killed?”

I’m not so callus as to say they don’t utter those words at all. Hell, I’ve seen HBO’s The Newsroom, I know there must be heated debates in glass walled offices about all this. After all, TV is like real life, right

So what about those “anonymous senior officials” who so gallantly dish scoops to the media? I suppose I wouldn’t be too popular if I said I’d like to see them uncloaked and held accountable would I? Personally I think anyone who gives classified or sensitive information to the media is just as likely to give it to a foreign intelligence service. And in some cases, its pretty much the same damage done.

I won’t be so dire and drab as to say, “loose lips sink ships” and put a clamp down on anyone talking without offering up an olive branch here. Could it be that the US Government has created this rampant use of “anonymous” conditional sources? If this is the case, I do believe our penchant for over-classification could be the culprit.

Its embarrassing to say, but during my time at the CIA, I’m not sure I ever really understood the how’s and why’s for our classification rules. If I am remembering correctly, we even had to fill in classification markings on inter-office emails. The system was/is bulky and pretty much everything needed to be classified. Obviously I can’t speak to specifics, but I know there were things I classified that did not need it. Somewhere there is likely a Lotus Notes server with gigabytes of classified “Meet at Woodie in 10?” and “Starbucks after the meeting?”…

So if I concede that there is a problem with over-classification in the government, can we all agree that the news media needs to seriously look in the mirror and figure out whose greater good they are trying to serve with their stories?

Back on topic, Robert Levinson is still being held in captivity. I cannot think of a viable or productive reason for the Associated Press, Washington Post, New York Times, et al to release their stories at this time. No doubt, if any of it were true, there would have been good reason to publish it after Levinson was released. Prior to securing his release it reeks of nothing but self-serving media masturbation. I for one am sick of the rub and tug.

Tracking Euromaidan: 23 Twitter Accounts You Should Be Following

The Euromaidan protests are here to stay but supporters have a difficult road ahead. These accounts are a great start for those looking to stay on top of the protests and political maneuvering in what is sure to be an extended fight for Ukraine’s position in Europe.

@KyivPost – The Kyiv Post is Ukraine’s leading English-language newspaper

@ChristopherJM – Editor at English-language newspaper @KyivPost. Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Ukraine)

@MaximEristavi – the Golos 106FM CEO & Editor-in-Chief

@dpeleschuk – Moscow-based journalist. Senior Correspondent, @GlobalPost. All things behind the Iron Curtain

@EEAP1 – Research journalism and news based in Tallinn Estonia, covering Baltic region, Eastern Partnership, EU & Eastern Europe

@myroslavapetsa – Foreign Correspondent at @5channel

@mashadanilova – Associated Press Correspondent in Ukraine

@Ukroblogger – Ukrainian politics, Battleground updates

@BalmforthTom – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent

@ZygisPavilionis – Lithuanian Ambassador to the United States and Mexico

@OdessaBlogger – Brit permanently in Ukraine

@MarkAdomanis – Consultant by day, Russia watcher, blogger, and commentator by night

@VostokCable – A Russia and East European Studies blog, founded by students at Oxford University but independent and volunteer-run

@BBCSteveR – Moscow Correspondent for BBC News

@BSpringnote – All things Ukraine

@JustHovensGreve – Freelance Journalist

@IvanBotoucharov – A European and a Europhile. Co-Founder and Co-President @One1Europe. Special adviser @GreaterEurope

@AlisaRuban – International Secretary of Democratic Alliance

@MaxRTucker – Writes for @Independent. Former Amnesty International on #Caucasus and #Ukraine

@sia_vlasova – Photojournalist at Kyiv Post

@maxseddon – Foreign affairs reporter without portfolio @BuzzFeed. formerly of @AP moscow

@shaunwalker7 – Moscow Correspondent of the Guardian

@UN_Ukraine – Official twitter account of the United Nations in Ukraine

The #Euromaidan and #Ukraine hashtags are also helpful in tracking events and identifying new sources. And of course I will be including Ukraine updates on @blogsofwar. If you think I’ve overlooked an important account please send me a note.