Thursday, July 31, 2008

Montgomery McFate, Sock Puppet and Agent of Misfortune

After seeing multiple "hits" on our site from people looking specifically for information on one "Montgomery McFate," I decided to log in tonight and come up with some more information on her. Turns out, others have been doing that very same thing.
This should confirm many allegations that have been circulating concerning the role of Montgomery McFate as a spy, who in part traded on her credentials as an anthropologist. It should serve, on the other hand, as a wake-up call to those anthropologists who, perhaps a little young and naive, are not quite aware of what they are dealing with when dealing with McFate, who has made a career as a spy and recently puts on sockpuppet performances as her own best friend on blogs, calling herself “Dee,” the former “Pentagon Diva” with her anonymous blog that was pulled down as soon as news of the identity of the author was circulated more widely.

All I can say to that is, wow.

Almost exactly like our "pal", the "unknown soldier," Pentagon Diva's blog is gone, baby gone. Here's what's left, and I'm getting a screen shot for posterity:

You have to acknowledge the question though--was this really her? I don't know. But if you want to talk about a thickening plot, this has everything you're looking for if it's true.

The blog in question was called, childishly enough, "I luv a man in a uniform" and others noticed it had disappeared as well.

One of the things that I have a hard time believing is that the United States Institute of Peace is going to keep her profile up much longer as well:
A cultural anthropologist by training, Montgomery McFate’s work emphasizes the importance of sociocultural knowledge in the formation of national security priorities. Before joining the Joint Advanced Warfighting Program at the Institute for Defense Analyses, she served as an American Academy for the Advancement of Science fellow at the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR). She was awarded a Distinguished Public Service Award by the Secretary of the Navy for her work at ONR. McFate also worked at RAND as a social scientist, at the law firm of Baker and McKenzie in San Francisco as a litigation associate, and as a consultant to various government agencies.

She has published in the Journal of Conflict Studies, Military Review, and Joint Forces Quarterly, and has held grants from the National Science Foundation, Mellon Foundation, and Smith-Richardson Foundation, among others. She holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Yale University.


"Does Culture Matter? The Military Utility of Cultural Knowledge," Joint Forces Quarterly (No . 38, 2005).
"Anthropology and Counterinsurgency: The Strange Story of their Curious Relationship," Military Review (March/April, 2005).

Would you want to be associated with someone like this? That's up to that organization to decide.

Given her activities, does that cast any doubt on the veracity of her work? Perhaps. But if I were someone at the USIP, and I knew there was a double-dealing person who masqueraded as the "Pentagon Diva" and wrote mash notes on her blog to people like David Kilcullen, well, I'd be a little fucking nervous about who she was really working for and what she was up to. One of the posts she wrote on her now-deleted blog had a picture of Kilcullen getting smooched by some women. Oh, how much poorer are we that we have lost it for an eternity.

The reason why I think this matters is that when people are spying on others, their ethical reasons for doing so should be examined. Is it to make money? Is it to keep the country safe? Is it to gain an unfair advantage?

In the case of McFate's mother-in-law, as Mother Jones expertly explained, it was the infiltration of Mary McFate Sapone into gun control organizations on behalf of the National Rifle Association that caught the attention of many people who, while not in favor of gun control per se, nor the efforts of any of the organizations on either side of the divide, were simply outraged that this kind of thing was done.

With regards to Montgomery McFate, we see her as a professional researcher and writer, as a reputed sockpuppet, as purportedly the now-defunct blogger "Pentagon Diva," and someone associated with the USIP, as well as other entities and organizations. We know she applied anthropology to the Iraq insurgency, in a controversial manner, and had a hand in some of the work done on behalf of the US Army:
The concept for the current Human terrain System was suggested by Montgomery McFate Ph.D., J.D., and Andrea Jackson as described in their article, "an Organizational Solution for DoD's Cultural Knowledge Needs," Military Review (July-august 2005): 1821. Most of the practical work to implement the concept under the title Human terrain System was done by Cpt Don Smith, U.S. Army reserve, of the Foreign Military Studies Office, between July 2005 and August 2006. Under this concept, "human terrain" can be defined as the human population and society in the operational environment (area of operations) as defined and characterized by sociocultural, anthropologic, and ethnographic data and other non-geophysical information about that human population and society. Human terrain information is open-source derived, unclassified, referenced (geospatially, relationally, and temporally) information. It includes the situational roles, goals, relationships, and rules of behavior of an operationally relevant group or individual.

You can check out McFate's work here. I don't find anything original in what she's saying--her work merely extends the understanding gained, rather too late, during the Vietnam War that basically said that if you don't fucking understand why the enemy is fighting you, you'll never get him to stop fighting you. Her work is full of obvious conclusions about how important it is to understand the enemy. In a world where the military all but flushed the lessons learned from the Vietnam War down the collective mental toilet, the regurgitation of these theories by an academic is something easy and cleanly broken from the past to grab onto. She has no taint of having been a company commander in the shit, you see. She's not a David Hackworth-type, and gristled veteran who could explain (and did, before his untimely demise) why the US Army was unable to effectively fight a counterinsurgency. Had the military institutionalized and dealt with the lessons learned from Vietnam in a proper academic way--that is, taught it, retained experts on it, and rewarded the men who were most knowledgeable about it rather than stigmatize them (as it did with Hackworth), no one would care to read anything by McFate. Human terrain mapping is common sense, and the practitioners of "understanding the enemy" should have already been doing that. McFate's arrival with these ideas in the midst of the Iraq war merely exposed the fact that quite a few pseudo-smart people weren't doing their job, you see. So she became a star. A star that has now fallen?

Given all of that, why would anyone trust this person? Who is she really working for? How could anyone claim she has any credibility at this point? Or academic standing, for that matter?

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