Friday, April 18, 2008

Human Terrain Teams in the Media

The human terrain system made an appearance in the mainstream media this past week. Newsweek published an article entitled, “A Gun in One Hand, A Pen in the Other” that details the military’s efforts to recruit experts for HTS. The story is largely critical of the program, and is reinforced by comments from past HTT members. A major criticism of HTS is the recruitment of candidates who lack any regional or linguistic expertise in the Middle East.

One of the main architects of HTS, Montgomery McFate, has already written a response to Newsweek that has been included, in full, on Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog.

The AAA has also written a letter to Newsweek expressing two concerns it has with the article. First, the AAA is continuing to take a proactive approach in examining the full spectrum of issues associated with HTS and other related security and intelligence programs. The Ad Hoc Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities was formed to address the potential ethical implications of the military application of anthropology. Second, the association highlights the fact that anthropologists only represent a small percentage of HTS members, and that ethical considerations associated with the program bear relevance to the entire social science community.

As always, readers are encouraged to express their thoughts on the intersection of ethics, anthropology, and the military in the comments section below.


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