Saturday, June 28, 2008

Estimate of the Situation

Whenever I am asked to advise or intervene in social conflict, I ask myself, "What's the deal?" Because conflict is almost never what it seems.

Most activists don't do this. Most activists assume that conflict is based on misunderstandings or misguided good intentions, when in fact they usually involve malice and fraud.

As an example, the plethora of post-9/11 homeland security programs were never intended to address security, but were put forward as budget scams by agencies and political appointees to capitalize on public fear and confusion. That's why we always conduct background research on key players and their connections as the first step in developing an estimate of the situation.

The government is not intimidated by lawsuits. They do, however, fear anything that threatens their power or influence, i.e., losing out on an appointment, promotion or election that provides
them the ability to extort bribes (aka campaign contributions and other revolving-door perks).

Open source research (publicly available information) is the best place to start, and often provides leads for deeper digging. Few realize how easy and effective open source research can be, although it usually involves visits to public agencies rather than relying on the small amounts of information available online.

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