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Description   |   Syllabus

War and Data: Telling Human Rights Stories Using Open Sources
UC Berkeley
Spring 2020

Description



Syllabus

War and Data

Telling Human Rights Stories Using Open Sources

Spring 2020 // Journalism 298 // Mondays 3 – 6 // North Gate 106

Mark Danner

With Michael Elsanadi*

 


Warriors murder civilians in the shadows. By their nature mass killings take place in war zones and other hard to reach places. Inaccessibility, lack of witnesses, conflicting stories: all of these help militaries and governments succeed in what they prefer to do, which is to lie and to deny. In human rights reporting confirmation is the Holy Grail. To this ancient fact the relatively recent advent of open source data has brought a true revolution. Images and videos posted from "citizen journalists" on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, together with publicly accessible satellite images, let journalists confirm an event thousands of miles away in areas thought impossible to reach. But these methods, powerful as they are, raise issues of their own. In this seminar, we will learn how to use open source methods, develop protocols for confirmation and come to a broad familiarity with classics in human rights reporting and with current human rights issues, including Syria, Venezuela, Chile, and the southern US border. Using open sources students will develop their own human rights reporting projects and bring them to fruition.


* Note that Michael Elsanadi, who has been been trained in Open Source reporting methods by Berkeley’s Human Rights Center, will serve as course assistant

 

Class Requirements This seminar will be a mixture of lecture, class discussion and workshops/assignments doing open source investigations, backed up by selected readings in human rights journalism. The most important requirements are that students

 

*Attend all class sessions

*Keep up with reading and writing assignments

*Participate in discussions

*Devise, pitch, and complete a work of human rights reporting

 

A student’s record of attendance and participation in class discussion, together with the quality of his or her project, will determine the success of our class and contribute the better part of the grade.

 

Schedule Note that classes will meet Mondays at 3 pm in North Gate 106.


Reading Our primary reading will draw largely from a number of books of human rights reporting, classic and contemporary. I strongly urge you to obtain these books in your own copies and in the edition specified, either from local bookstores or from online suppliers, so that you will be able to highlight and annotate them.

Tracking the News A significant part of the class will be given over to tracking and discussing human rights reporting and US foreign policy as it takes shape around ongoing conflicts. Following these events closely in various publications, beginning with the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other newspapers and websites, and getting to know the work of the leading contemporary war and human rights correspondents, is essential. Even if you are not a habitual newspaper reader, you must become one for this class.

Presentations Each student will make a presentation in class on his or her ongoing project. Use of multimedia and social media during the presentation is strongly encouraged. Students will present throughout the semester. 

Project The project will take up a major issue or event in contemporary human rights and conflict and report on it using, at least in part, open sources -- with an emphasis on blending those sources with traditional storytelling. Note that your pitch is due for your project no later than February 24.

Writing To bolster the clarity and vigor of your prose, I strongly suggest studying two works: George Orwell’s essay, “Politics and the English Language,” which can be readily found online, and Strunk and White’s little manual, The Elements of Style.

Office Hours I will count on meeting with each of you individually at least once during the course of the term. We will make these appointments on an ad hoc basis. I am best reached via email, at mark@markdanner.com. My office is North Gate 32. My writing, speaking and other information can be found at my website, markdanner.com.

For assistance with your projects and open source investigations assignments, Michael is happy to meet with you individually or as a group. Feel free to make an appointment by emailing him at melsanadi@berkeley.edu

 

Grading Students will be graded on their preparedness and their participation in class, the strength of their presentations and the quality of their written work, as follows:

 

Attendance         25 percent

Participation       25 percent

Pitch         25 percent

Project               25 percent

 

Performance on tasks assigned during trainings on open source investigations will be a part of your participation grade. Note that regular attendance is vital. Those who miss multiple classes will not do well in this course.

 

Films During the semester we hope to be screening a number of films that bear closely on the subject of human rights and covering conflict. We will hope to find evenings that work for everyone.

 

Syllabus and Texts Note the list of assignments and books below will certainly change during the semester. Many books we will read in excerpt, not in full. As the semester progresses some articles will replace books or supplement them.

  




Required Texts


Marie Colvin, On The Front Lines: The Collected Journalism of Marie Colvin (Harper, 2012)


Paul Conroy, Under the Wire: Marie Colvin’s Final Assignment  (Weinstein, 2013)


Dave Cullen, Columbine (Twelve, 2009)


Mark Danner, The Massacre at El Mozote (Vintage, 1994)

 

Mark Danner, Stripping Bare the Body: Politics Violence War

(Nation, 2009)

 

Dubberley, Koenig and Murray, Digital Witness: Using Open Source Information… (Oxford, 2020)

 

Dworkin, Gutman et al, Crimes of War 2.0 (Norton, 2007)


Zahra Hankir (ed.), Our Women on the Ground (Penguin Books, 2019)


Fergal Keane, Season of Blood: A Rwandan Journey (Penguin, 1997)



Films


Dror Moreh, The Gatekeepers


Joshua Oppenheimer, The Act of Killing

 

Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algiers

 

Barbet Schroeder, The Venerable W

 

  

Some Open Source Search Information


•OSINT Framework: https://osintframework.com/


•Amnesty Dashboard: https://citizenevidence.org/toolbox/


•Bellingcat Toolkit: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BfLPJpRtyq4RFtHJoNpvWQjmGnyVkfE2HYoICKOGguA/edit


•Intel Techniques: https://inteltechniques.com/forum.private.html


•AML Toolbox: https://start.me/p/rxeRqr/aml-toolbox?embed=1


•Darkness Gate: https://osint.link




















Tentative Syllabus

 

Note the emphasis here on “tentative,” for the list will change during the semester and likely some books and readings will replace others

 

January 27 – War and Data: The Struggle in Syria 

Leaping into the unknown. The blending of human rights storytelling and open source reporting: a new synthesis. What is human rights reporting? The importance of verification. The notion of consequences, and the differences between the journalist and the human rights investigator. L ooking more closely at how the Syrian conflict began, we will analyze the strong role played by social media in showing and amplifying the news of atrocities committed as originally  peaceful protests sparked into a civil war. How can we confirm the atrocities being committed on the ground when we no longer have physical access? Beginning with the Syrian conflict, how has online open source information been used to confirm and investigate human rights violations committed around the world? 


Required: 


“Marie Colvin’s Last Call to CNN,” CNN, February 22, 2012 https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2012/02/22/ac-marie-colvin-syria-baby-dies.cnn


Evan Hill and Christiaan Triebert, “12 Hours. 4 Syrian Hospitals Bombed. One Culprit: Russia,” The New York Times, October 13, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/13/world/middleeast/russia-bombing-syrian-hospitals.html 


Investigation by Aliaume Leroy and Ben Strick Produced by Daniel Adamson and Aliaume Leroy, “Anatomy of a Killing by BBC Africa Eye,” BBC News, September 23, 2018  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4G9S-eoLgX4&t=120s


“Cooper Remembers Final Colvin CNN Report,” CNN, February 22, 2012 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfrVJSRMuhs




February 3War in Syria: Sieges and Chemical Attack

What protections do journalists legally enjoy in a war zone -- and does it matter? How do you judge risk and danger in reporting on war and conflict? More specifically, what tactics have the Syrian and Russian governments used to regain territory lost to rebels and the Islamic state in Syria? We will look at what atrocities have been committed by both these governments in their attempt to rid the country of rebel groups. We will be answering the question of what new tactics armies are utilizing against themselves and civilians. We will also be answering how can we look for information showing or proving these illegal tactics.


Required: 


Malachy Browne, Christoph Koettl, Anjali Singhvi, Natalie Reneau, Barbara Marcolini, Yousur Al Hlou, and Drew Jordan, “One Building, One Bomb: How Assad Gassed His Own People,” The New York Times, June 25, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/06/25/world/middleeast/syria-chemical-attack-douma.html


Eliot Higgins, “The Douma Chemical Attack - Fake News About Fake News on Russia’s Fake News,” Bellingcat, April 13, 2018 https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2018/04/13/doumafakenews/


Ben Hubbard, “Dozens Suffocate in Syria as Government Is Accused of Chemical Attack,” New York Times, April 8, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/08/world/middleeast/syria-chemical-attack-ghouta.html


Jefferson Morley, “Douma Attack: Assad War Crime or ‘Managed Massacre?” Deep State Blog, December 29, 2019. https://deepstateblog.org/2019/12/29/no-the-douma-chemical-attack-was-not-a-managed-massacre/ 


Anne Barnard, “Syria Ordered to Pay $302.5 Million to Family of Marie Colvin,” The New York Times, January 31, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/31/world/middleeast/syria-marie-colvin-court-judgment.html


Marie Colvin, On The Front Lines: The Collected Journalism of Marie Colvin (Harper, 2012), Excerpts: Pages 369 - 540 

 

Paul Conroy, Under the Wire: Marie Colvin’s Final Assignment  (Weinstein, 2013)


“Journalists, Protection of,” “Journalists in Peril,” and “Legitimate Military Target” in Gutman et al, Crimes of War 2.0


Suggested: 


Rania Abouzeid, No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria (W. W. Norton & Company, 2018)


Marie Colvin, On The Front Lines: The Collected Journalism of Marie Colvin (Harper, 2012), Excerpts: Pages 189 - 214


[Interactive Map] Allison McCann, Anjali Singhvi, and Jeremy White, “How the New Syria Took Shape. Russia, Turkey and Bashar al-Assad carved up northern Syria as the Americans retreated,” The New York Times, October 30, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/30/world/middleeast/syria-turkey-maps.html


Jett Goldsmith, “Chemical Crises: A Timeline of Chemical Weapons Attacks on Syria’s Civil War,” Bellingcat, April 27, 2015  https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2015/04/27/chemical-crisis-a-timeline-of-cw-attacks-in-syrias-civil-war/


Adam Rawnsley, “Russian Trolls Denied Syrian Gas Attack - Before It Happened,” The Daily Beast, April 12, 2018  https://www.thedailybeast.com/russian-trolls-denied-syrian-gas-attackbefore-it-happened


Peter Apps, “Disinformation Files in Syria’s Growing Cyber War,” Reuters, August 7, 2012 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-crisis-hacking/disinformation-flies-in-syrias-growing-cyber-war-idUSBRE8760GI20120807 






February 10 – War in Syria: Hospitals and the Murder of Innocence

In this class, we will be looking at the current, and maybe final, stage of the Syrian conflict as Russian and Syrian government troops bomb and raid protected areas such as schools and hospitals. We will discuss the protections civilians legally enjoy in wartime -- and why those protections are routinely violated. In addition, we will learn how to verify an image or video potentially showing a human rights violation. 


Required: 

Keina Karam, “Syria Undone,” in Zahra Hankir (ed.), Our Women on the Ground (Penguin Books, 2019)


Shane Bauer, “Behind the Lines: Part One,” Mother Jones, May/June 2019 https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/06/behind-the-lines-syria-part-one/


Shane Bauer, “Behind the Lines: Part Two,” Mother Jones, July/August 2019 https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/06/behind-the-lines-syria-part-two/


Malachy Browne, Christiaan Triebert, Evan Hill, Whitney Hurst, Gabriel Gianordoli, and Dmitriy Khavin, “Hospitals and Schools are Being Bombed in Syria. A UN Inquiry is Limited. We Took a Deeper Look.” The New York Times, December 31, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/31/world/middleeast/syria-united-nations-investigation.html 


Evan Hill and Christiaan Triebert, “12 Hours. 4 Syrian Hospitals Bombed. One Culprit: Russia,” The New York Times, October 13, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/13/world/middleeast/russia-bombing-syrian-hospitals.html 


Robert F. Worth, “Aleppo After the Fall,” The New York Times Magazine, May 24, 2017 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/24/magazine/aleppo-after-the-fall.html 


Mark Danner, “Syria: Is There a Solution?” The New York Review of Books, November 7, 2013  https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2013/11/07/syria-is-there-a-solution/


“Civilian Immunity,” “Civilians, Illegal targeting of,” “Immunity from Attack,” “Chemical Weapons,”and “Collateral Damage,” in Gutman et al, Crimes of War 2.0


Suggested: 


Lina Sinjab, “Breathing Fear” and Zaina Erhaim, “Hurma” in Zahra Hankir (ed.), Our Women on the Ground (Penguin Books, 2019)


Rania Abouzeid, No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria (W. W. Norton & Company, 2018)


Charlotta Gall, “Like ‘Working in a Prison’: Six Years in the Hell of Syria’s Hospitals,” The New York Times, October 11, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/11/world/europe/syria-hospitals-surgery.html  


“Illegal Attacks on Healthcare in Syria,” Physicians for Human Rights,  

https://syriamap.phr.org/ 


“Out of Service: New Attack on Kafranbel Surgical Hospital,” The Syrian Archive, July 4, 2019 

https://syrianarchive.org/en/investigations/kafrnabel.html  




February 17 – President’s Day (No Class)


“Anatomy of a killing,” BBC News, September 23, 2018 https://youtu.be/4G9S-eoLgX4 


“Western Sahara Demonstrations,” Amnesty International, August 2, 2019 

https://youtu.be/7F8bW8PeYx4 


“Killing Jamal Khashoggi: How a Brutal Saudi Hit Job Unfolded,” The New York Times,  November 16, 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJ44spUo8Uk 


David Kirkpatrick, Malachy Browne, Ben Hubbard, and David Botti, “The Jamal Khashoggi Case: Suspects Had Ties to Saudi Crown Prince,” The New York Times, October 16, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/world/middleeast/khashoggi-saudi-prince.html 


“Hevrin Khalaf: Death of a Peacemaker,” BBC, January 13, 2020 https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-middle-east-51068522/hevrin-khalaf-death-of-a-peacemaker 


Nadine Dahan, Mahmoud Bondok “Libya Warlord Faces ICC Warrant: Is this the new era of open sourced Justice?,” The Middle East Eye, September 9, 2017 https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/libyan-warlord-faces-icc-warrant-new-era-open-sourced-justice 


Nick Turse, “New Video Shows More Atrocities By Cameroon, A Key U.S. Ally in Drone Warfare,” The Intercept, August 31, 2018 https://theintercept.com/2018/08/31/cameroon-video-execution-boko-haram/ 


“The U.S. Denies It Killed an Afghan Family, Our Investigation Found Otherwise,” The New York Times, June 3 2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUNihuiCp3o 


Mark Urban, “Skripal Poisoning: Third Russian Suspect ‘Commanded Attack,’” BBC News, June 28, 2019 https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-48801205 


February 24 – Death from the Air: Somalia and Yemen 

We will review the US and Arab coalition’s, involvement by drone in fighting terrorist groups in Somalia and Yemen. We will look more closely at what justifications governments use to target individuals and conduct supposedly preventative attacks. In reviewing these attacks, which commonly result in civilian deaths, we will learn and practice verifying full incidents solely from online media. 


Assignment Due: Have a partner for your final project. 


Required:


Amira Al-Sharif, “Yemeni Women with Fighting Spirits” in Zahra Hankir (ed.), Our Women on the Ground (Penguin Books, 2019)


Robert F. Worth and Lynsey Addario, “How the War in Yemen Became a Bloody Stalemate and the Worst Humanitarian Crisis in the World,” The New York Times Magazine, November 6, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/interactitot tu suuh ve/2018/10/31/magazine/yemen-war-saudi-arabia.html?module=inline


Dominique Lewis, “How Open-source Investigation Methods Helped Expose the Hidden US War in Somalia,” Amnesty International, March 1, 2019 

https://citizenevidence.org/2019/03/21/how-open-source-investigation-methods-helped-expose-the-hidden-us-war-in-somalia/   


Mike Dawson, “Zero Civilian Casualties,” Popula, March 19, 2019 

https://popula.com/2019/03/19/zero-civilian-casualties/  


“Executions, Extrajudicial,” “Humanitarian Aid Blocking Of,” and “Humanitarian Intervention” in Gutman et al, Crimes of War 2.0.


“The Middle East’s cold war, explained,” Vox, July 17, 2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veMFCFyOwFI 


Steven A. Cook, Jacob Stokes, and Alexander Brock, “The New Arab Cold War,” Foreign Policy, August 28, 2014 https://foreignpolicy.com/2014/08/28/the-new-arab-cold-war/ 


“Yemen: Events of 2018,” Human Rights Watch, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/yemen 


“Report of the Secretary General: Children and Armed Conflict in Yemen,” United Nations Security Council, June 3, 2019 https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_2019_453.pdf 


Suggested:


[Podcast] “60 Words,” RadioLab, WNYC Studios https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/episodes/60-words


“The Hidden US War in Somalia: Civilian Casualties From Air Strikes in Lower Shabelle,” Amnesty International, March 20, 2019

 https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr52/9952/2019/en/ 




March 2 – Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar

During this class, we will look closely at the genocide against the Rohingya population in Myanmar as well as the propogation of hate speech against them on social media platforms like Facebook. We will discuss genocide and its peculiar definition in international humanitarian law. We will also review the role of content regulation in affecting open source investigations. 


Note: Nahal Toosi will be visiting class as a special guest. Make sure to have questions about her Politico piece (below) and in general about reporting in Myanmar. 


Assignment Due: Submit your project pitch.  It should be three to four sentences and no more than one side of a double spaced page.


[Film] Joshua Oppenheimer, The Act of Killing


[Film] Barbet Schroeder, The Venerable W


Required:


Fergal Keane, Season of Blood: A Rwandan Journey (Penguin, 1997)


Nahal Toosi, “The Raid,” Politico Magazine, May 4, 2014 https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/osama-bin-laden-the-raid-106329


Nahal Toosi, “The Genocide the U.S. Didn’t See Coming,” Politico Magazine, March/April 2018 https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/03/04/obama-rohingya-genocide-myanmar-burma-muslim-syu-kii-217214


Nahal Toosi, “Leaked Memo Schooled Tillerson on Human Rights,” Politico, December 19, 2017 https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/19/tillerson-state-human-rights-304118 


Nahal Toosi, “State Department to Launch New Human Rights Panel Stressing ‘Natural Law,’” Politico, May 30, 2019 https://www.politico.com/story/2019/05/30/human-rights-state-department-1348014 


Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo, Simon Lewis, Antoni Slodkowski “Massacre in Myanmar: a Reuters Special Report,” Reuters, February 8, 2018 https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/myanmar-rakhine-events/


Simon Lewis and Shoon Naing, “Two Reuters Reporters Freed in Myanmar After More than 500 Days in Jail,” Reuters, May 6, 2019  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-journalists/two-reuters-reporters-freed-in-myanmar-after-more-than-500-days-in-jail-idUSKCN1SD056


Steve Stecklow, “Why Facebook is Losing the War on Hate Speech in Myanmar,” August 15, 2018 https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/myanmar-facebook-hate/  


Sergio Pecanha and Jeremy White, “Satellite Images Show More Than 200 Rohingya Villages Burned in Myanmar,” The New York Times, September 18, 2017 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/09/18/world/asia/rohingya-villages.html  


“Ethnic Cleansing,” “Rwanda,” “Genocide,” “Refoulment,” “Refugees, Rights of” and “Crimes Against Humanity,” and “Mass Graves” in Gutman et al, Crimes of War 2.0. 


Suggested: 


Casey Newton, “Hate Speech is Spreading on Facebook and India Again,” The Verge, October 30, 2019 https://www.theverge.com/interface/2019/10/30/20938311/facebook-avaaz-india-report-hate-speech-megaphone-warning


Kuwar Singh, “Social Media Censorship in India has Increased Over Five Fold Since 2016,” Quartz, November 20, 2019 https://qz.com/india/1753116/modi-government-ramps-up-twitter-facebook-censorship/  



March 9 –  Gaza: Mowing the Grass 

This class will review the dire situation in Gaza through texts that examine the human rights violations committed by Israel in the Palestinian territories. We will also review the ethics of open source investigations asking questions concerning consent in gathering openly available information online. 


[Film] Dror Moreh, The Gatekeepers





Required: 


Chris Hedges, “A Gaza Diary: Scenes from the Palestinian Uprising,” Harper’s Magazine, October 2001 http://www.bintjbeil.com/articles/en/011001_hedges.html

 

Conal Urquhart, “The Goldstone Report: A History,” The Guardian, April 14, 2011 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/14/goldstone-report-history 


Excerpts from “Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories: Report of the United nations Fact- Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict,” United Nations, September 25, 2009 https://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf 


Excerpt from Our Women on the Ground “Between the Explosions” in Zahra Hankir (ed.), Our Women on the Ground (Penguin Books, 2019)


David M. Halbfinger, “A Day, a Life: When a Medic was Killed in Gaza, Was it an Accident?” The New York Times, December 30, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/30/world/middleeast/gaza-medic-israel-shooting.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage 


“Israel’s Views...Gaza Strip” and “Occupation” in Gutman et al, Crimes of War 2.0.


Nathan Thrall, “How the West Chose War in Gaza,” The New York Times, July 17, 2014 https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/18/opinion/gaza-and-israel-the-road-to-war-paved-by-the-west.html


Nathan Thrall, “Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan Exposes the Ugly Truth,” The New York Times, Jan 29, 2020 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/29/opinion/trump-peace-plan.html 


Efraim Inbar and Eitan Shamir, “Mowing the grass in Gaza,” The Jerusalem Post, July 22, 2014 https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Mowing-the-grass-in-Gaza-368516


Caroline B. Glick, “Column One: Mowing the lawn in Gaza,” The Jerusalem Post, October 18, 2018 https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Column-One-Mowing-the-lawn-in-Gaza-569775 


Alex Ward, “Israel and Gaza may be on the verge of war. It could be worse than in the past.,” Vox, August 6, 2018 https://www.vox.com/world/2018/8/6/17644008/israel-hamas-gaza-war-palestine-protest


Maha Hussaini and Nada Nabil, “Gaza 2020: ‘Our worst nightmare is when it starts raining,’” Middle East Eye, December 10, 2019 https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/gaza-2020-what-palestinian-life-like-israeli-blockade 


Meron Rapaport, “Gaza 2020: Palestine’s crisis deepens - and still Israel sticks to its failed policies,”  Middle East Eye, December 12, 2019 https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/gaza-2020-palestine-crisis-why-israel-blockade-policies 


“The Israel-Palestine conflict: a brief, simple history,” Vox, January 20, 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRYZjOuUnlU


Suggested: 


David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner, “Israel, ‘Start-up Nation,’ Groans Under Strains of Growth and Neglect,” The New York Times, March 2, 2020 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/01/world/middleeast/israel-election-issues.html


Zack Beauchamp, “Netanyahu wins big in Israel’s elections - but not enough to secure full control,” Vox, March 4, 2020 https://www.vox.com/world/2020/3/4/21161281/israel-election-results-2020-netanyahu-gantz-march 


Bernard Avishai, “What Netanyahu and Hamas are Really Fighting for in Gaza,” The New Yorker, May 9, 2019 https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/what-netanyahu-and-hamas-are-really-fighting-for-in-gaza 



March 16 – Mexico: Battling the Narco-State

This class will cover the struggle between the Mexican government and cartels. Moreover, in this class, we will closely examine Culiacán and how open sources were used to verify violence in the area. 


Required:

Alma Guillermoprieto, “We are Not Sheep to be Killed,” New York Review of Books, November 5, 2014 https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2014/11/05/mexico-not-sheep-to-be-killed/ 


Anabel Hernandez, “Mexico: When drug violence 'turns into terrorism'” November 15, 2019 https://www.dw.com/en/mexico-when-drug-violence-turns-into-terrorism/a-51261916


Alan Feuer, “‘El Chapo’ Guzmán Sentenced to Life in Prison, Ending Notorious Criminal Career,” The New York Times, July 17, 2019  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/17/nyregion/el-chapo-sentencing.html


[TV] Director: Andrea Schmidt, “The Plan to Rescue El Chapo’s Son: Chaos, Guns and Fear,” The New York Times, November 15, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/15/the-weekly/el-chapo-guzman-son.html


Alma Guillermoprieto, “Mexico: The Murder of the Young,” New York Review of Books, January 8, 2015 https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2015/01/08/mexico-murder-young/?insrc=toc


“Paramilitaries” in Gutman et al, Crimes of War 2.0.


Suggested:


Azam Ahmed and Paulina Villegas, “He Was One of Mexico’s Deadliest Assassins. Then He Turned on His Cartel,” The New York Times, December 14, 2019  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/14/world/americas/sicario-mexico-drug-cartels.html


[Film] Matthew Heineman, Cartel Land


Kate Linthicum, “Inside the bloody cartel war for Mexico’s multibillion-dollar avocado industry,” The Los Angeles Times, November 21, 2019 https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-11-20/mexico-cartel-violence-avocados


Caitlin Dickson, “How Mexico’s Cartels Are Behind the Border Kid Crisis,” The Daily Beast, July 9, 2014 https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-mexicos-cartels-are-behind-the-border-kid-crisis 


“Criminal Violence in Mexico,” Council on Foreign Relations: Foreign Conflict Tracker, Last Updated March 12, 2020 https://www.cfr.org/interactive/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/criminal-violence-mexico 


Michael Jeter, “The Violence of Mexican Drug Cartels,” Visually and I Shot Him, January 16, 2013 https://youtu.be/OAfEq80YlWU 


“The Missing 43: Mexico’s Disappeared Students (Part 1, 2, and 3),” Vice, November 20, 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XxGDf56xoQ 


“Ayotzinapa: A Cartography of Violence,” Forensic Architecture, Equipo Argentino De Antropología Forense, and Centro De Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juarez, September 26, 2017 http://www.plataforma-ayotzinapa.org/


March 23 – Spring Recess (No Class)


 




March 30 - Coup or Revolution: Venezuela, Bolivia, and Chile 

We will closely examine the excessive use of violence against protesters in Central and South America. In this class, we will also practice monitoring and verifying information in real time and look at examples of when online collaboration between investigators was used to verify false information. 


Required:


Enrique Krauze, “Hell of a Fiesta,” The New York Review of Books, March 8, 2018 https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/03/08/venezuela-hell-fiesta/


Mark Danner, Stripping Bare the Body: Politics, Violence, and War (Nation Books, 2009), “Beyond the Mountains,” (Haiti) Part I.  


Mark Danner, The Massacre at El Mozote (Vintage, 1994)


Nicholas Casey, Christoph Koettl, and Deborah Acosta, “Footage Contradicts U.S. Claim That Nicolás Maduro Burned Aid Convoy,” The New York Times, March 10, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/10/world/americas/venezuela-aid-fire-video.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share


Max Fisher, “Bolivia Crisis Shows the Blurry Line Between Coup and Uprising,” The New York Times, November 12, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/12/world/americas/bolivia-evo-morales-coup.html


Camila Osorio, “As Protests Rock Chile, the People Consider Rewriting Pinochet’s Constitution,” The New Yorker, December 10, 2019 https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/as-protests-rock-chile-the-people-consider-rewriting-pinochets-constitution


Jon Lee Anderson, “An Unflinching View on Venezuela in Crisis,” The New Yorker, February 24, 2019 https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/an-unflinching-view-of-venezuela-in-crisis


Wil S. Hylton, “Can Venezuela be Saved?” The New York Times Magazine, March 1, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/01/magazine/can-venezuela-be-saved.html


“Levee en Masse” in Gutman et al, Crimes of War 2.0. 


Suggested:


Mark Danner, Stripping Bare the Body: Politics, Violence, and War (Nation Books, 2009), “Beyond the Mountains,” (Haiti) Parts II & III..  



April 6 – Crimea: The Hybrid War 

This class will closely look at the war and occupation specifically using the invasion of  Ukraine by Russia as an example. In reviewing this conflict, we will analyze open source investigations into violations committed during the conflict specifically the downing of the MH17 passenger aircraft. 


Required:


Bellingcat Podcast: “MH17, Episode 1 Guide: The People Who Fell From the Sky,” Bellingcat, July 17, 2019 https://www.bellingcat.com/resources/podcasts/2019/07/17/mh17-episode-guide-1/

 

Simon Ostrovsky, “Russian Roulette: Russia’s Little Green Men Enter Ukraine,” Vice News, March 3, 2014

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNKsLlK52ss


Arkady Ostrovsky, "Crimea Diary," Politico Magazine, March 28, 2014 https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/03/ukraine-revolution-crimea-diary-russia-105145 


Keith Gessen, "Waiting for War," The New Yorker, May 5, 2014 https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/05/12/waiting-for-war-2


Suggested:


“MH17 The Open Source Investigation Two Years Later,” Bellingcat,  July 2016, https://www.bellingcat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/mh17-two-years-later.pdf  

 

“Full Report: Skripal Poisoning Suspect Dr. Alexander Mishkin, Hero of Russia,” Bellingcat, October 9, 2018  https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2018/10/09/full-report-skripal-poisoning-suspect-dr-alexander-mishkin-hero-russia/





April 13 – Radicalization and Mass Shootings: 8chan 

Through open source investigations, we will take a closer look at the phenomenon of radicalisation and mass shootings in the United States. What role has the internet, and social media, played in fomenting and encouraging violence in the US? 


Dave Cullen, Columbine (Twelve, 2009)


Robert Evans, “The El Paso Shooting and the Gamification of Terror,” Bellingcat, August 4, 2019  https://www.bellingcat.com/news/americas/2019/08/04/the-el-paso-shooting-and-the-gamification-of-terror/ 


James Brooke, “Terror in Littleton: The Overview; 2 Students in Colorado School Said to Gundown as many as 23 and Kill Themselves in Siege,” The New York Times, April 21, 1999 https://www.nytimes.com/1999/04/21/us/terror-littleton-overview-2-students-colorado-school-said-gun-down-many-23-kill.html 


Malachy Browne, Natalie Reneau, Adam Goldman, Drew Jordan and Anjali Singhvi, “How the Las Vegas Gunman Planned a Massacre , in 7 Days of Video,” The New York Times, March 22, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000005794914/las-vegas-gunman-planned-massacre.html 


“Terrorism,” in Gotman et al, “Crimes of War 2.0.” 


Suggested: 


Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen 


“Removing More Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior From Iran and Russia,” Facebook, October 21, 2019 https://about.fb.com/news/2019/10/removing-more-coordinated-inauthentic-behavior-from-iran-and-russia/ 


Adam Entous, Craig Timberg, and Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Russian Operatives Used Facebook Ads to Exploit America’s Racial and Religious Divisions,” The Washington Post, September 25, 2017 https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/russian-operatives-used-facebook-ads-to-exploit-divisions-over-black-political-activism-and-muslims/2017/09/25/4a011242-a21b-11e7-ade1-76d061d56efa_story.html 

 

April 20 – Radicalization and the Islamic State 

In continuation with the previous class, we will be looking closely at the Islamic State and the radicalization of its affiliates utilizing online platforms. We will also critically examine the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism and other efforts to limit the spread of extremist content online. 


Max Fisher, “White Terrorism Shows ‘Stunning’ Parallels to Islamic State’s Rise,” The New York Times, August 5, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/05/world/americas/terrorism-white-nationalist-supremacy-isis.html 


“Next Steps for the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism,” Facebook, September 23, 2019 https://about.fb.com/news/2019/09/next-steps-for-gifct/ 


Dabiq - Issue 7 - “The Extinction of the Gray Zone” https://clarionproject.org/docs/islamic-state-dabiq-magazine-issue-7-from-hypocrisy-to-apostasy.pdf 


Andrew Griffin, “ISIS Militants ‘Using Twitter to Ask for Suggestions on How to Kill Jordanian Pilot’,” The Independent, December 30, 2014  https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/isis-polls-twitter-for-gruesome-suggestions-of-how-to-kill-jordanian-pilot-9949550.html 


“EXTREMELY GRAPHIC, ISIS Propaganda Video of Burning Jordanian Pilot Alive,” February 3, 2015 https://video.foxnews.com/v/4030583977001#sp=show-clips 












April 27 - China’s Concentration Camps 

Lastly, we will review in detail China’s imprisonment of its Uigher Muslims and how those outside of China are tracking its camps. We will look closely at the rise of the surveillance state and how it infringes on the human rights of its citizens. We will examine China’s Social Credit system as well as analyze its response to protesters in Hong Kong. 


Austin Ramzy and Chris Buckley, “‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How Much China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims,” The New York Times, November 16, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/16/world/asia/china-xinjiang-documents.html  


Isobel Cockerell, “Inside China’s Massive Surveillance Operation,” Wired, May 9, 2019 https://www.wired.com/story/inside-chinas-massive-surveillance-operation/


Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, et al. “Uyghurs for Sale,” Australian Strategic Policy Institute, April 2020 https://www.aspi.org.au/report/uyghurs-sale


Lily Kuo, “Revealed: new evidence of China's mission to raze the mosques of Xinjiang,” The Guardian, May 6, 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/07/revealed-new-evidence-of-chinas-mission-to-raze-the-mosques-of-xinjiang


Sigal Samuel, “Internet Sleuths are Hunting for China’s Secret Internment Camps for Muslims,” The Atlantic, September 15, 2018 https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/09/china-internment-camps-muslim-uighurs-satellite/569878/ 


Barbara Marcolini, Haley Willis, Javier C. Hernández, Tiffany May, Elsie Chen, Drew Jordan and Shane O’Neill, “Did Hong Kong Police Use Violence Against Protesters? What the Videos Show,” The New York Times, July 14, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/100000006602584/hong-kong-police-protest-video-investigation.html 


Photo editing by David Furst and Mikko Takkunen. Design and production by Matt Ruby, Rumsey Taylor and Josh Williams. Lighting design by Ian Kirby and Stuart Hendry. Additional reporting by Ezra Cheung, Austin Ramzy and Keith Bradsher, “Hong Kong: A City Divided,” The New York Times, November 23, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/23/world/asia/hong-kong-protesters-photos.html 


Louise Matsakis, “How the West Got China’s Social Credit System Wrong,” Wired, July 29, 2019 https://www.wired.com/story/china-social-credit-score-system/


Special Correspondent, “A Summer Vacation in China’s Muslim Gulag,” Foreign Policy, February 28, 2018 https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/02/28/a-summer-vacation-in-chinas-muslim-gulag/


James M. Millward, “What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State,” The New York Times, February 3, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/03/opinion/sunday/china-surveillance-state-uighurs.html 


“Concentration Camps” in Gotman et al, “Crimes of War 2.0.” 


Suggested: 


Karen Cheung, “Living in Dark Mode,” The New York Times, November 26, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/26/opinion/sunday/hong-kong-protest-elections.html









Annotated Syllabus

Notes by Michael Elsanadi

 

January 27 – War and Data: The Struggle in Syria 

Leaping into the unknown. The blending of human rights storytelling and open source reporting: a new synthesis. What is human rights reporting? The importance of verification. The notion of consequences, and the differences between the journalist and the human rights investigator. Looking more closely at how the Syrian conflict began, we will analyze the strong role played by social media in showing and amplifying the news of atrocities committed as originally  peaceful protests sparked into a civil war. How can we confirm the atrocities being committed on the ground when we no longer have physical access? Beginning with the Syrian conflict, how has online open source information been used to confirm and investigate human rights violations committed around the world? 


Class Recording: https://drive.google.com/file/d/12-G4qS1HrPvXpcNdjCv29AGtFa_vV2pf/view?usp=sharing 


Class Notes

Introduction


What Is Human Rights Reporting

Danner started writing about wars, massacres and violation of the laws of war

Conflicts that are going on in the world: what they are, where are they happening, what the roots are, what the human rights violations are

Grounding in international humanitarian law and other human rights laws

Why do people violate human rights laws? 

Push away from the idea of evil, very often in the conflicts and violations we are talking about is happening because somebody ordered it. 

Human rights reporting raises very quickly the issue of consequences. Very often in human rights reporting you are revealing something, or proving something. Very often it will be a violation of the laws, besides being a moral disaster. 

They have been bombing hospital for years in Syria. Why cover them now? With OSINT for the first time we can prove it. But why do it if it can’t change the policy? 


What is the difference between human rights NGOs and journalism? On the ground it seems they are similar, talk to people, protect sources. What is different is going into the area of consequences. In human rights work you might be thinking of court cases. In journalism, there is a widespread belief that if you expose wrongdoing someone is gonna do something about it. 


The goal of the class is telling stories using open sources, with an emphasis on the stories. How to combine open source reporting skills with storytelling? We want characters and people in the stories. 

Conflict

Protests

Bombings

Wildfires


The issue of failing authority: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/12/26/21004797/2010s-review-a-decade-of-revolt-martin-gurri


Marie Colvin 

CNN Link 


Classic anti-war propaganda? Or a paradigmatic piece of human rights journalism? Why? War is going on, using shelling, using general altitude bombs and attacking civilian neighbors. 


What is she doing there? Why was she pushing this? I’m there to “bare witness,” she said. 


Syrian War 

History. Someone lit himself on fire. Chief of staff in the Tunisian department. The days of French Revolution are over, you need a division. Wikileaks has a lot of documents on the depth of the corruption along with Americans. 


Mubarak was retired essentially when the United States pulled the plug on him. Elections in Egypt were overthrown by the military. 


Assad responded with very stark force almost from the start. In the event they responded with very heavy force, it quickly became a very interesting war from the media perspective. Very soon it became difficult to remain in Syria. Kidnappings and beheadings of journalists by ISIS. Things started as a public protests, which became very bloody very quickly Assad Al Bashar’s security forces opened fire and had casualties in the dozens quite quickly. It took 6-8 months to be a civil war. Once that happened you have everybody in the region involved. That’s why there are a lot of maps: area claimed by the government, by the kurds, by the X and Y. 


Government in Syria was and is a minority government. There is a very strong secular aspect to this war. Bashar Al Assad’s family, ruling since 1970 are members of the alawi sect, shia sect in Islam. Represent 10-20% of the population. It’s very similar to Sadam Hussein in Irak who was a Suni and represents 25% of the population. You have a very large population in Syria of Suni arabs essentially being repressed by a minority sect. 

What happens when a minority sect gets overthrown from power? A small group in a region of sunis. You have a majority fighting a minority. Not unlike civil wars you have outside players who are manipulating the situation and are funding arms, explosives, weapons. Syrians are contributing their blood. This war is being funded from outside and you’re getting the politics of the Middle East being contested in Syria itself. The access of contestation is Iran/Syria/Russia (shiia) vs. Saudis/Turks. A lot of regional players using the bodies of the Syrians to fight their wars. Just like Russians and Americans used their bodies of Salvadorans. 

Sectarian line of contestation: Muslim distribution map. You get really terrible wars when you are in that line. You get all the sias and sunnis from one side or the other trying to protect. 


1979: Republic of Iran. Became enemy of the US. Saudis have been allies of the US since 1945. 

The decision of invading Iraq was making this country a vessel of Iran. 


Russia entered the war in 2015. Assad was losing but then they have been doing better. A really intense air-raid campaign that is now destroying the country. As we’re reaching the end of the war we see them really pushing civilians to the brink. 


VIDEO: 12 hospitals.


The Attack on Kafranbel Surgical Hospital

The Background (Previous Attacks)

The Geolocation

The Chronolocation

Assesing What Happened. During conflicts, people lie. Everyone has a reason to lie.

The Flight Data 



What are the other stories getting told? 

Making life of civilians unbeareable

Go on the ground and report what’s going on 

Nailing down that the Russian did it

Fighting wars by making civilians bleed

Crisis of Medical Care in a part in Syria. How many people had not been attended because of hospital bombings?

Required: 


“Marie Colvin’s Last Call to CNN,” CNN, February 22, 2012 https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2012/02/22/ac-marie-colvin-syria-baby-dies.cnn


Evan Hill and Christiaan Triebert, “12 Hours. 4 Syrian Hospitals Bombed. One Culprit: Russia,” The New York Times, October 13, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/13/world/middleeast/russia-bombing-syrian-hospitals.html 


Investigation by Aliaume Leroy and Ben Strick Produced by Daniel Adamson and Aliaume Leroy, “Anatomy of a Killing by BBC Africa Eye,” BBC News, September 23, 2018  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4G9S-eoLgX4&t=120s


“Cooper Remembers Final Colvin CNN Report,” CNN, February 22, 2012 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfrVJSRMuhs







February 3War in Syria: Sieges and Chemical Attack

What protections do journalists legally enjoy in a war zone -- and does it matter? How do you judge risk and danger in reporting on war and conflict? More specifically, what tactics have the Syrian and Russian governments used to regain territory lost to rebels and the Islamic state in Syria? We will look at what atrocities have been committed by both these governments in their attempt to rid the country of rebel groups. We will be answering the question of what new tactics armies are utilizing against themselves and civilians. We will also be answering how can we look for information showing or proving these illegal tactics.


Class Recording: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1owIDBwTFRhvTVKNp2kEEvVCuBYoPZGRB 


Class Notes


Bracketing: indirect fire that military does to target. 


Decision-making in going to cover. 


Decision-making in going back. 


Decision-making in making those phone calls.



Islamic State developed a business of snatching journalists often working with smugglers who would lead various journalists who were then kidnapped. Their interest was in ransoms (rebels got millions of dollars Iraq 2004-2005), there is a market. Dressed in orange jumpsuits so it’s a reference to Guantanamo, and then they are beheaded when US doesn’t pay and make good propaganda. 


To enter Syria as a freelance unilateral (strings for various publications) is very dangerous. 


Why did the regime kill her? She was hurting them. Killing them was logical. It was reprehensible, unjustifiable. She went into a place where there was little reporting coming out. She is threatening by getting this stuff out. 

The more reporting you do, the better possibility of intervention.

“Nothing personal, it’s just business.” 


Obama said that the red line was using poison gas, therefore the regime had great interest in that. 


There’s a difference between “leaks out” and “CNN report.” Salvador was the same thing. That’s why el Mozote was so contested. If you get enough people pissed off about it, you exert pressure. It’s not only about “leaking out” for the magnitude of the reporting.


Documentary: Return to Holmes 


Sieged warfare – as old as war. A rag tag army hitting in a city among civilians and you blast the hell out of them. Rebels will not help them. They are also terrorizing the civilian population and making them frightened of having any contact with the rebels. 


According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs a “beseigned area is an area surrounded by armed actors with the sustained effect that humanitarian assistance cannot regularly enter, and civilians, the sick and wounded cannot regularly exit the area.”

You can kill civilians but it needs to be proportionate, and not as civilians. 

If put in international court, they would say this was proportionate. But targeting hospitals 


Initial Sieges 

Siege of Daraa (2011)

Siege of Aleppo (2012- 2016)

Siege of and around Damascus including eastern and western Ghouta


Most civilians die because they are crushed. After 2015 the weapons are mostly air, before it would be artillery guns and mortars. 

A major dynamic in this conflict is that Russians and now Syrians have aircraft. People in the ground do not. 


How to report without doing trauma porn? 

Report to an audience that could affect the war in Syria. If the report was not in international news media, she probably wouldn’t have been killed. 

How do we define news? If it bleeds it ledes. Usually the things which are the most violent are the ones covered. There are degrees. Should it not be there.


What is OSINT? 



Out three main focus. How to search differently



The Basics of Searching

Searching is like writing an equation but there are a lot of factorial enablers and hinderances that can influence your results. 


Required: 


Malachy Browne, Christoph Koettl, Anjali Singhvi, Natalie Reneau, Barbara Marcolini, Yousur Al Hlou, and Drew Jordan, “One Building, One Bomb: How Assad Gassed His Own People,” The New York Times, June 25, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/06/25/world/middleeast/syria-chemical-attack-douma.html


Eliot Higgins, “The Douma Chemical Attack - Fake News About Fake News on Russia’s Fake News,” Bellingcat, April 13, 2018 https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2018/04/13/doumafakenews/


Ben Hubbard, “Dozens Suffocate in Syria as Government Is Accused of Chemical Attack,” New York Times, April 8, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/08/world/middleeast/syria-chemical-attack-ghouta.html


Jefferson Morley, “Douma Attack: Assad War Crime or ‘Managed Massacre?” Deep State Blog, December 29, 2019. https://deepstateblog.org/2019/12/29/no-the-douma-chemical-attack-was-not-a-managed-massacre/ 


Anne Barnard, “Syria Ordered to Pay $302.5 Million to Family of Marie Colvin,” The New York Times, January 31, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/31/world/middleeast/syria-marie-colvin-court-judgment.html


Marie Colvin, On The Front Lines: The Collected Journalism of Marie Colvin (Harper, 2012), Excerpts: Pages 369 - 540 

 

Paul Conroy, Under the Wire: Marie Colvin’s Final Assignment  (Weinstein, 2013)


“Journalists, Protection of,” “Journalists in Peril,” and “Legitimate Military Target” in Gutman et al, Crimes of War 2.0


Suggested: 


Rania Abouzeid, No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria (W. W. Norton & Company, 2018)


Marie Colvin, On The Front Lines: The Collected Journalism of Marie Colvin (Harper, 2012), Excerpts: Pages 189 - 214


[Interactive Map] Allison McCann, Anjali Singhvi, and Jeremy White, “How the New Syria Took Shape. Russia, Turkey and Bashar al-Assad carved up northern Syria as the Americans retreated,” The New York Times, October 30, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/30/world/middleeast/syria-turkey-maps.html


Jett Goldsmith, “Chemical Crises: A Timeline of Chemical Weapons Attacks on Syria’s Civil War,” Bellingcat, April 27, 2015  https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2015/04/27/chemical-crisis-a-timeline-of-cw-attacks-in-syrias-civil-war/


Adam Rawnsley, “Russian Trolls Denied Syrian Gas Attack - Before It Happened,” The Daily Beast, April 12, 2018  https://www.thedailybeast.com/russian-trolls-denied-syrian-gas-attackbefore-it-happened


Peter Apps, “Disinformation Files in Syria’s Growing Cyber War,” Reuters, August 7, 2012 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-crisis-hacking/disinformation-flies-in-syrias-growing-cyber-war-idUSBRE8760GI20120807 





February 10 – War in Syria: Hospitals and the Murder of Innocence

In this class, we will be looking at the current, and maybe final, stage of the Syrian conflict as Russian and Syrian government troops bomb and raid protected areas such as schools and hospitals. We will discuss the protections civilians legally enjoy in wartime -- and why those protections are routinely violated. In addition, we will learn how to verify an image or video potentially showing a human rights violation. 


Class Recording: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1itO8ST8TmbZm7M4RLDqeRLTWb2jV7hE5/view?usp=sharing 


Class Notes

Idlib province, Syria

Most severe human rights crisis of our lifetimes

500,000 deaths estimated

High on civilian casualties

Due to siege warfare

“To clean out” certain areas

Get civilians out of there

Rebels should follow

If not, once civilians out, you can destroy the rebels

US did this in Vietnam

“strategic hamlets”

Half the population of Syria is displaced

Internally

Refugee camps

Externally

In countries bordering Syria

Syria pop: 27mil

Total IDPs: 6.6mil

Externally displaced

Turkey: 3.5mil

Lebanon: 1mil

Jordan: 661,000

Etc.

EU DG ECHO Daily Map of IDPs/refugees (ERCC = Emergency Response Coordination Centre)

Political consequences extreme; human consequences savage

Palestinian Diaspora

1948

Second wave in 1967

Sunni/Shia’a conflict

Drought

Effects on Dara’a

Climate change perhaps

Availability of water

Affecting MENA

Sheer difficulty of counting refugees/casualties/the dead

Bosnia: 250,000 killed

Cited many times

Now the number is 125,000

Not necessarily reliable

Later number probably more reliable

Marie Colvin

Broad point: the war is still going on

Idlib picture from one week ago

People fleeing their homes

Syrian gov’t retaking it

Last province not under gov’t control

Last rebel-held stronghold

Video

Al Jazeera

Idlib province

Barrel bombs

Continue dropping

White Helmets

Working

Rebels held town since 2012

Now Syrian soldiers patrol the streets

People heading north towards Turkey

UN: “bleak” conditions

Army is following people

Erdogan

Threatened to launch mil op if strikes continue

Anti-Assad

100,000 estimated left since December

Fought same way as in Baba Amr

Chemical weapons discussion later in class

Much of this warfare is against IHL

UN system

UNSC

5 permanent members (P5)

China

USSR now Russia

UK

France

US

Veto power

One of the P5 can block anything

Russia is ally of Syria

Combatant in Syria

IHL

Geneva Conventions

Obligation to make other states responsible

Top levels of Syrian mil officers and in gov’t

if they became exposed in another country

bracket this conversation for the time being

Issues when reporting on a war like this:

access/practical reporting

survival

get permission from gov’t or rebels

why is it important to do this reporting?

Marie Colvin answered this

In her life

In her reporting

“bearing witness”

CNN report as “trauma porn”

Reporters risk their lives

Show what world is going on

Try to shock the world into doing something

Part of their goal

If that is your goal, you are drawn to the worst trauma

These images aren’t “trauma porn”

At what point are you being exploitative? Showing what’s going on? Appeal to emotions?

What is wrong with that?

“I showed a lot of trauma. Is it trauma porn? I don’t know.”

Why are you there reporting?

What do you want to show?

What is your purpose?

Reporting and consequences

News culture in different countries

Germany is too conservative in news culture

Would never show dead boy

Photojournalists working freelance

Know you can’t sell this in Germany, yes in UK, etc.

Depends on country

Cultural differences

Michael: differences in journalists

Written from different lenses

Making assumptions that would provoke other people

Worth: pro-gov’t piece

Gov’t minders sit there while you interview sources; some people don’t want to talk; people who do talk don’t want to get in trouble with the gov’t

Bauer: took time to explain everything; written for different audiences

Bauer was behind gov’t lines

Bauer explained pretty well the convolutions in US gov’t policy; DoD v. CIA

Very complicated story

Charlotta Gall: how to make something good out of slender material; Egyptian doctor who went to Syria and spent six years working; Dr’s fiancé died; what can be made: can tell us a lot about Syria without being in Syria

Listening to your instincts

If feels too dangerous, it is probably too dangerous

Losing your mind in a warzone:

Not being able to make rational decisions

Colvin had an identity around being the only journalist in an area

The desk back home didn’t have that power over her

Breakdown of the system

Sophie: not feel comfortable enough understanding the conflict

Citizen from Aleppo

People from the outside don’t understand the complexity of the conflict

Don’t know the language; don’t have the religious background

Ceylen: Who do you surround yourself with once you are in the country?

Mother Jones article: surrounded by other Americans

Ceylen: I’m Turkish, so I can put on different hats

Kurdish border

Syrian upset about Turkish policy

Regardless of my personal convictions, my passport determines a lot

We all have certain POVs depending on our background

Attitude towards

MENA

Russia

Etc.

A lot of issues with POV

Danner: take issue with what Sophie said

Never going to have a complete understanding

Reporting

You have an idea of what’s going on

When you get there

Talking to people

Being denied by security people

“I don’t know anything.”

All those pieces I read were useless.

Sense impressions from other people.

I have to build my own view of what’s going on

you learn what is going on

competent reporter

important to have a background

if you go to these places, strip all of what you learned away and start again

Bosnia was as complicated as Syria

One of the other reporters took Danner’s map

Don’t think you are unworthy to go

You are never going to know enough

At the end of the day, you are reporting what you see

The value: your own ignorance and personality

Julie: Who you surround yourself is important

Background

Knowing the history is important

Haiti

Danner was almost macheted to death

Someone rescued him

This roadblock is always a roadblock during times of stress

If you had read the history, you would know that place was a hot place where they killed people

Can sometimes predict what is going to happen

Nothing equals time on the ground

Marie was very good at talking to anyone

Starting a conversation

Amazing what you can find out when you’re at the store or at the bus stop

Particularly in the MENA

End up in people’s houses

Recently

Americans retreated

Turks moved in

Kurds asked for protection of Bashar al-Assad

Americans are still there

But grouped around oil producing areas mostly

Syrian gov’t pushes to take back entire country

Just Idlib now

Still have ISIL forces there

But organized into smaller groupings

Trump has had a uniform policy of GTHO

Chemical weapons

Sarin gas

Nerve agent

Produced from pesticide from Germany in 1970s

Has no smell currently for weapons

Makes muscles spasm

Die easily from it from suffocation

Hard to make

lethal

Chlorine gas

Easy to make

Isn’t lethal

Only lethal in very high doses

Douma

In building

People suffocate

It lowers

It is heavier than air

If drop on apt building, it comes down

If people survive, they didn’t get a lethal exposure

Used more in Syria because easier to get/make

White Phosphorus

Burns at 1500 deg F

Not used as much in Syria

Burns right through human tissue

Belgium accidentally giving Chlorine to Syrian gov’t

Dual use

A lot of different uses

VX gas

Causes spasm and convulsions

Kim Jong Un’s half brother

Not used in Syria to our knowledge

Russian disinformation campaign

About CW attacks

“Useful idiots”

Buzzword phrase when talking about mis/dis info

The people who spread the false info = useful idiots

People who share the bad info

Doing the job of the gov’t

Gas attacks

Seymour M. Hersh

Legendary reporter

My Lai massacre

Rebels staged gas attack in order to provoke western involvement

Syria

The stakes are so high

It could provoke help from US

Hersh on Douma

LRB (London Review of Books) piece

Sources it USG

Who are saying that rebels did this

Not actively spreading disinfo

Has an instinct to go against the crowd

Open to this kind of manipulation

Why is someone w/in USG disputing these attacks?

Someone not wanting to get involved in Syrian war

Actively combatting it

Source high in USG intel

Complicated

“The First Casualty”

a history of war reporting


BREAK



projects

should be thinking about what to do

doesn’t have to be finished by the end of the semester

look at Michael’s “Greatest Hits of OSINT”

we want to aim for more story-oriented stuff

by Feb 24: pick partner

by March 2: one-paragraph statement saying what you will do

3 sentence summary, at most 4 sentences

Pitch will be in class

verbal

ideally: a finished piece

visual piece?

David Kirkpatrick-esque piece?

Doesn’t have to be international conflict

It has to have at least one aspect from the course title: War & Data

NYT Visual Investigations video on Douma chemical attack

Information from Orient News video

Steps for verification

1) locate original

SBI (search by image) keyframes on yandex

Amnesty Data Viewer: shows the time posted to YouTube

2) check out the source

3) get a lead

4) identify landmarks

5) visual analysis and comparison

6) more discovery on location or incident

7) record and visualize your findings

Required: 

Keina Karam, “Syria Undone,” in Zahra Hankir (ed.), Our Women on the Ground (Penguin Books, 2019)


Shane Bauer, “Behind the Lines: Part One,” Mother Jones, May/June 2019 https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/06/behind-the-lines-syria-part-one/


Shane Bauer, “Behind the Lines: Part Two,” Mother Jones, July/August 2019 https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/06/behind-the-lines-syria-part-two/


Malachy Browne, Christiaan Triebert, Evan Hill, Whitney Hurst, Gabriel Gianordoli, and Dmitriy Khavin, “Hospitals and Schools are Being Bombed in Syria. A UN Inquiry is Limited. We Took a Deeper Look.” The New York Times, December 31, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/31/world/middleeast/syria-united-nations-investigation.html 


Evan Hill and Christiaan Triebert, “12 Hours. 4 Syrian Hospitals Bombed. One Culprit: Russia,” The New York Times, October 13, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/13/world/middleeast/russia-bombing-syrian-hospitals.html 


Robert F. Worth, “Aleppo After the Fall,” The New York Times Magazine, May 24, 2017 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/24/magazine/aleppo-after-the-fall.html 


Mark Danner, “Syria: Is There a Solution?” The New York Review of Books, November 7, 2013  https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2013/11/07/syria-is-there-a-solution/


“Civilian Immunity,” “Civilians, Illegal targeting of,” “Immunity from Attack,” “Chemical Weapons,”and “Collateral Damage,” in Gutman et al, Crimes of War 2.0


Suggested: 


Lina Sinjab, “Breathing Fear” and Zaina Erhaim, “Hurma” in Zahra Hankir (ed.), Our Women on the Ground (Penguin Books, 2019)


Rania Abouzeid, No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria (W. W. Norton & Company, 2018)


Charlotta Gall, “Like ‘Working in a Prison’: Six Years in the Hell of Syria’s Hospitals,” The New York Times, October 11, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/11/world/europe/syria-hospitals-surgery.html  


“Illegal Attacks on Healthcare in Syria,” Physicians for Human Rights,  

https://syriamap.phr.org/ 


“Out of Service: New Attack on Kafranbel Surgical Hospital,” The Syrian Archive, July 4, 2019 

https://syrianarchive.org/en/investigations/kafrnabel.html  





February 17 – President’s Day (No Class)


“Anatomy of a killing,” BBC News, September 23, 2018 https://youtu.be/4G9S-eoLgX4 


“Western Sahara Demonstrations,” Amnesty International, August 2, 2019 

https://youtu.be/7F8bW8PeYx4 


“Killing Jamal Khashoggi: How a Brutal Saudi Hit Job Unfolded,” The New York Times,  November 16, 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJ44spUo8Uk 


David Kirkpatrick, Malachy Browne, Ben Hubbard, and David Botti, “The Jamal Khashoggi Case: Suspects Had Ties to Saudi Crown Prince,” The New York Times, October 16, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/world/middleeast/khashoggi-saudi-prince.html 


“Hevrin Khalaf: Death of a Peacemaker,” BBC, January 13, 2020 https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-middle-east-51068522/hevrin-khalaf-death-of-a-peacemaker 


Nadine Dahan, Mahmoud Bondok “Libya Warlord Faces ICC Warrant: Is this the new era of open sourced Justice?,” The Middle East Eye, September 9, 2017 https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/libyan-warlord-faces-icc-warrant-new-era-open-sourced-justice 


Nick Turse, “New Video Shows More Atrocities By Cameroon, A Key U.S. Ally in Drone Warfare,” The Intercept, August 31, 2018 https://theintercept.com/2018/08/31/cameroon-video-execution-boko-haram/ 


“The U.S. Denies It Killed an Afghan Family, Our Investigation Found Otherwise,” The New York Times, June 3 2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUNihuiCp3o 


Mark Urban, “Skripal Poisoning: Third Russian Suspect ‘Commanded Attack,’” BBC News, June 28, 2019 https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-48801205 







February 24 – Death from the Air: Somalia and Yemen 

This class will review the US’, and Arab coalition’s, involvement by drone in fighting terrorist groups in Somalia and Yemen. We will look more closely at what justifications governments use to target individuals and conduct preventative attacks. In reviewing these attacks, which commonly result in civilian deaths, we will learn and practice verifying full incidents solely from online media. 


Assignment Due: Have a partner for your final project. 


Class Recording: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1I5lA_57DldVpOdPJQsw-dzYru7GqZFyE/view?usp=sharing 


Class Notes

Yemen

A long time coming

Elements there were in conflict

Exacerbated by outside elements

Iranians/Houthis

Hold the capital

Saudis

They thought quick victory through airpower

US-backed

Weapons

Intel

No longer air refueling

2 aspects

Aerial bombardment

Saudis: goal of various powers in history for last 120 years

Win wars through air power

Kill a lot of civilians

Humanitarian embargo

Siege

Civilian casualties

Hospitals

School busses

NYT piece: bus destroyed from the air, killing 44 children and 11 adults

Siege: humanitarian disaster

Disease

Malnutrition

Lack of drugs

Lack of Drs

Lack of medical supplies

Starvation

UN: the largest humanitarian disaster in the world

Access by journos limited

Know the country already (Worth piece in NYT Mag)

Contacts

Where are dangerous areas

Very easy to get killed there

Houthis

2nd 3rd 4th Houthi war

They have their own complicated history

Worth: lack of ideology

No particular goal

Been fucked with too much

Isolated group now similar to Taliban

Country was hostile then said enough is enough

Reporting on Yemen

Huge access problems

Transparency also a problem

How to confirm things

OSINT can help with

Traditional reporting on the ground is now hard to do safely

Slightly nuts

Houthis

Very organized

They keep AQAP out

Somewhat centralized authority

ISIL and Taliban similarities

People like order

Afghanistan: some people welcomed the order and protection

Gov’t controlled

A misnomer

Different groups

Not centralized

Issues

Humanitarian attacks

Starvation

Blocking of humanitarian supplies

Illegal

A long list of targets not to strike

Saudis still strike hospitals and schools

Chosen from the air

Not vetted

List usually fails

Somalia

Continuation of the war against Al-Qaeda and GWOT

GWOT = Sept. 2001

Still being fought by US under AUMF

60 words

Sept. 17, 2001

Geo. W. Bush signed on Sept. 18

Makes all these wars possible

Drone attacks

Against AQ affiliates

Al Shabab

Amnesty Int’l report

Under Obama = light footprint (drones and SpecOps)

Decapitating AS

Track leaders of this group

Disrupt the group

Struggle

Replacement

Demob

Kill the multi-headed hydra

Contributes to radicalizing organizations

Duh

Under Trump

Presidential directive: high mil activity in Somalia

Changed its status

Obama = drone attack if almost certain it would risk no civilian lives

Wiped out under Trump

Increased drone attacks, now in 40s per year

Number of civilian deaths gone up

Trying to kill anyone who they think has ties with Al Shabab

Drone attacks

Electronic warfare

Attacking the phone signal

In this area of the Shabel at night

The Drone Papers

Book-length piece by The Intercept

How drone targets are selected

Identifying the cell phone and then launching attack on that signal

Lots of mistakes

Two different conflicts

Saudi-Iranian Cold War

US

Trying to withdraw from region

Diplomatically

Not troops

Trump wants to end wars

Killed Soleimani

Next conflict: Persian Gulf (Danner)

JCPOA

Both sides adhering to it

Trump tore it up

Went to max pressure campaign on Iran

Oil exports

Sabre rattling in the Gulf

Soleimani

Iranians attacking American airbase in Iraq

Injured 100 troops

Yemen

President seeking assistance from Saudis

He fled to Saudi Arabia

Int’l law becomes matter of opinion (Danner)

War could be illegal if UNSC declared it illegal

No decision by UNSC

US veto anything said in that regard

Hadi still the legal president of Yemen

Houthis not legally represented

Control over territory

De facto power

The war is full of activities that would be called war crimes

Humanitarian supplies blocked

Civilian killing

Aerial bombardment

Distinction

Proportionality

Soleimani

Uniformed member of Iranian officer corps

US not in state of hostility with Iran

No evidence that there was imminent attack against US

Easy to make a strong case that it was an illegal assassination

Int’l law

Who has the power in the venue and on the ground

Complicated by the fact that UNSC is designed not to work

Opposite sides have veto power

War crimes in Syria

Russia vetoes

War crimes in Yemen

US vetoes

Usage of drones

AUMF 60 words

GWOT

US involved in countries with drones

Yemen

USG conducting drone strikes to combat AQAP

Legal basis of the war is through AQ

Yemen

Saleh stepped down

Hadi stepped up

Houthis became militant group that assumed the msg of the protesters

Hadi fled to Saudi

Saudi involved itself

Houthis and Saudis blockades

Cholera outbreaks

Largest epidemic in history

Starvation

Yemen

Historical conflict

US involvement b/c of AQAP

Tried to design strikes in US

Attempted attack with printer packed with explosives

Saudis got tipped off

Underwear bomber Christmas Day 2009

Planned in Yemen

GWOT located in Yemen before Arab Spring

2nd American citizen killed by drone attack

His father sued the USG before the attack

Grandson also killed

Yemen story very complex and hard to report

Historical residue

GWOT

Arab Spring

Phenomenon of Iraq War

Somalia

OSINT piece in comic


BREAK



Mixture of methods

OSINT

Traditional reporting methods

Obama’s Yemen policy

pulled Lewis out

Limited sales of weapons

Trump opened up sales

Petro dollars

1973 Israeli-Arab War

Saudis, Kuwaitis, and others had up to trillions of dollars

Arms shipments

How to verify UGC to use it in a piece

Steps

Analyzing source of the original image

Getting a lead

Geolocation

Steps

1) Find original

2) Check out the source

3) Get a lead

4) Identify landmarks

5) Visual analysis and comparison

6) More discovery

7) Record and visualize

Get a lead

Clues in the description of the video on YouTube

Yemen v. Syria

Syria well documented

Yemen not so much

Where to look

Wikimapia

Identify landmarks

Sana’a, Yemen

Things that pop out on satellite imagery (often in the background)

Mosque

Patches of trees or land

Faraway buildings

Shadows

Fields

Empty spaces between trees and buildings

Building names and store signs

Tools

Google Earth Pro

Wikimapia

Sentinel Hub Playground

Required:


Amira Al-Sharif, “Yemeni Women with Fighting Spirits” in Zahra Hankir (ed.), Our Women on the Ground (Penguin Books, 2019)


Robert F. Worth and Lynsey Addario, “How the War in Yemen Became a Bloody Stalemate and the Worst Humanitarian Crisis in the World,” The New York Times Magazine, November 6, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/interactitot tu suuh ve/2018/10/31/magazine/yemen-war-saudi-arabia.html?module=inline


Dominique Lewis, “How Open-source Investigation Methods Helped Expose the Hidden US War in Somalia,” Amnesty International, March 1, 2019 

https://citizenevidence.org/2019/03/21/how-open-source-investigation-methods-helped-expose-the-hidden-us-war-in-somalia/   


Mike Dawson, “Zero Civilian Casualties,” Popula, March 19, 2019 

https://popula.com/2019/03/19/zero-civilian-casualties/  


“Executions, Extrajudicial,” “Humanitarian Aid Blocking Of,” and “Humanitarian Intervention” in Gotman et al, “Crimes of War 2.0.”


“The Middle East’s cold war, explained,” Vox, July 17, 2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veMFCFyOwFI 


Steven A. Cook, Jacob Stokes, and Alexander Brock, “The New Arab Cold War,” Foreign Policy, August 28, 2014 https://foreignpolicy.com/2014/08/28/the-new-arab-cold-war/ 


“Yemen: Events of 2018,” Human Rights Watch, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/yemen 


“Report of the Secretary General: Children and Armed Conflict in Yemen,” United Nations Security Council, June 3, 2019 https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_2019_453.pdf 


Suggested:


[Podcast] “60 Words,” RadioLab, WNYC Studios https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/episodes/60-words


“The Hidden US War in Somalia: Civilian Casualties From Air Strikes in Lower Shabelle,” Amnesty International, March 20, 2019

 https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr52/9952/2019/en/ 



March 2 – Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar

During this class, we will look closely at the genocide against the Rohingya population in Myanmar as well as the propogation of hate speech against them on social media platforms like Facebook. We will additionally review the role of content regulation in affecting open source investigations. 


Assignment Due: Submit your project pitch.  


Class Recording: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1t4EIL0JEHZEqQl3lGwAbGcWl6Giovr-9/view?usp=sharing 


Class Notes

In this Class, Nahal (Halley) Toosi discussed reporting on US foreign policy in regards to the Rohingya crisis. The class talked about the decision the Obama administration made in preserving and endorsing a new democracy in East Asia although its people were committing genocide. Toosi also emphasized the lack of coverage on the Rohingya crisis as well as institutions like the United Nations. She described the difficulties in reporting on human rights in the Trump Era given that the only threats to human rights that concern the administration is to religious freedom. The class, after Halley, also discussed chronolocation or how to use shadows shown in media found online to estimate the time a video was taken/the time of an event. The steps to chronolocating a video/image are:

Find a lead on when the incident shown in the video/image may have had. 

Compare that time with the earliest posts about the event and other later reports. 

Find a shadow in a geolocated picture or video of the incident. 

Use Suncalc to match the Sun’s position (and the subsequent shadow) with the shado shown in the media of interest. 

[Film] Joshua Oppenheimer, The Act of Killing


[Film] Barbet Schroeder, The Venerable W


Required:


Fergal Keane, Season of Blood: A Rwandan Journey (Penguin, 1997)


Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo, Simon Lewis, Antoni Slodkowski “Massacre in Myanmar: a Reuters Special Report,” Reuters, February 8, 2018 https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/myanmar-rakhine-events/


Simon Lewis and Shoon Naing, “Two Reuters Reporters Freed in Myanmar After More than 500 Days in Jail,” Reuters, May 6, 2019  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-journalists/two-reuters-reporters-freed-in-myanmar-after-more-than-500-days-in-jail-idUSKCN1SD056


Steve Stecklow, “Why Facebook is Losing the War on Hate Speech in Myanmar,” August 15, 2018 https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/myanmar-facebook-hate/  


Sergio Pecanha and Jeremy White, “Satellite Images Show More Than 200 Rohingya Villages Burned in Myanmar,” The New York Times, September 18, 2017 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/09/18/world/asia/rohingya-villages.html  


Nahal Toosi, “The Genocide the U.S. Didn’t See Coming,” Politico Magazine, March/April 2018 https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/03/04/obama-rohingya-genocide-myanmar-burma-muslim-syu-kii-217214


“Ethnic Cleansing,” “Rwanda,” “Genocide,” “Refoulment,” “Refugees, Rights of” and “Crimes Against Humanity,” and “Mass Graves” in Gotman et al, “Crimes of War 2.0.” 


Suggested: 


Casey Newton, “Hate Speech is Spreading on Facebook and India Again,” The Verge, October 30, 2019 https://www.theverge.com/interface/2019/10/30/20938311/facebook-avaaz-india-report-hate-speech-megaphone-warning


Kuwar Singh, “Social Media Censorship in India has Increased Over Five Fold Since 2016,” Quartz, November 20, 2019 https://qz.com/india/1753116/modi-government-ramps-up-twitter-facebook-censorship/  







March 9 –  Gaza: Mowing the Grass 

This class will review the dire situation in Gaza through texts that examine the human rights violations committed by Israel in the Palestinian territories. We will additionally review the ethics of open source investigations asking questions such as those concerning consent in gathering openly available information online. 


Class Recording: https://drive.google.com/file/d/10nzkBOpDju7M6CZiR1XbxAqY7CtQ0ilK/view?usp=sharing 


Class Notes 


The class discussed Gaza as a frozen conflict. An area stuck in a violent cycle which lends itself to be quite difficult to report on. One of the major questions confronted by the class is how you would report on the conflict in Gaza. Some suggested stories discussing politics in Gaza, others suggested living in southern Israel, the city of Ashkelon for example, and reporting on the conflict from there. Prof. Danner used the Chris Hedges “Gaza Diary” piece as a good example of on the ground, slice of life reporting. Moreover, the class discussed the USA-Israel relationship and the Trump Vision of Peace plan as a culmination of American policy regarding the Israel Palestine conflict. The class, as shown in the slides, watched videos from the first and second intifada. Additionally, as detailed in the slides, the class reviewed cyber security and discussed the realistic plans to make sure they are safe. This included using VPNs, encrypted messaging apps, and 2 Factor Authentication. All of which are detailed in the slides as well as the piece by Motherboard titled “The Guide to Not Getting Hacked.” 



[Film] Dror Moreh, The Gatekeepers


Required: 


Chris Hedges, “A Gaza Diary: Scenes from the Palestinian Uprising,” Harper’s Magazine, October 2001 http://www.bintjbeil.com/articles/en/011001_hedges.html

 Conal Urquhart, “The Goldstone Report: A History,” The Guardian, April 14, 2011 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/14/goldstone-report-history 


Excerpts from “Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories: Report of the United nations Fact- Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict,” United Nations, September 25, 2009 https://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf 


Excerpt from Our Women on the Ground “Between the Explosions” in Zahra Hankir (ed.), Our Women on the Ground (Penguin Books, 2019)


David M. Halbfinger, “A Day, a Life: When a Medic was Killed in Gaza, Was it an Accident?” The New York Times, December 30, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/30/world/middleeast/gaza-medic-israel-shooting.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage 


“Israel’s Views...Gaza Strip” and “Occupation” in Gotman et al, “Crimes of War 2.0.” 


Suggested: 


Bernard Avishai, “What Netanyahu and Hamas are Really Fighting for in Gaza,” The New Yorker, May 9, 2019 https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/what-netanyahu-and-hamas-are-really-fighting-for-in-gaza 






March 16 – Mexico: Battling the Narco-State

This class will cover the struggle between the Mexican government and cartels. Moreover, in this class, we will closely examine Culiacán and how open sources were used to verify violence in the area. 


Class Recording: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1XcKrCTje50GiIYchTHfZ_p2bsQ79Fy0d/view?usp=sharing 


Class Notes 


Mexico’s war on drug and cartels is like the U.S. war on terror with strong non state actors 

3 major cartels in mexico (check slides for map) with contested territories that places with the most amounts of violence

Multiple conflicts in Mexico’s/U.S’ war on drugs/cartels 

U.S and Mexican govt vs. Cartels

Cartels Vs. one another

In this conflict, the cartels have allies in the govt during wars 

Important note and dimension of this conflict is that the U.S. is funding both sides of the war 

US funding war on drugs 

Americans buying drugs produced by cartels 

US War on Drugs started in 2006 with very strong support 

US officials however did not realize the decadence of the Mexican state and its officials 

Learned that cannot defeat cartels with overwhelming violence 

CIA and DEA have differing objectives

CIA = gather information

DEA = get rid of cartels, stop drug production, etc. (enforcing the war on drugs) 

Reporting on the war on drugs is extremely dangerous, difficult to cover

Will not have sources that can speak 

Journalists are killed because of their stories on the cartels 

There is a colonial underpinning to cartel violence 

Price supported by us prohibition and consumption 

Alma’s story off the 43 disappeared students was used to show the social structure of mexico and how it interacts with the drug war 

She describes a day in the life of a reporter covering the disappeared students 

It’s a good example of how you can get a lot in a story by describing what you see 

Alma shows that there is an establishment that uses cartels to do their dirty work 

Vice story shows that govt and cartels are intertwined 

Cartels enforce class structures in mexico

In Crimes of War paramilitaries are supposed to adhere to same human rights as official armies 

Cartels aren’t really considered paramilitaries 

Culiacan piece is a reconstruction, tik tok piece of an event 

Shows what can be done through a combination of social media, traditional media, and witness testimony

Archiving

On the slides are a number of tools with differing trade offs for archiving 

Wayback machine

Saves webpages and is free

Twitterscraper 

Saves the text of tweets, not the images and is free

Check

A great tool built for journalists to preserve and verify content 

Perma.cc

Preserves links and prevents them from breaking 

X1 Social Discovery

An expensive but strong tool that preserves online content, and helps you search for it 


Required:

Alma Guillermoprieto, “We are Not Sheep to be Killed,” New York Review of Books, November 5, 2014 https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2014/11/05/mexico-not-sheep-to-be-killed/ 


Anabel Hernandez, “Mexico: When drug violence 'turns into terrorism'” November 15, 2019 https://www.dw.com/en/mexico-when-drug-violence-turns-into-terrorism/a-51261916


Alan Feuer, “‘El Chapo’ Guzmán Sentenced to Life in Prison, Ending Notorious Criminal Career,” The New York Times, July 17, 2019  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/17/nyregion/el-chapo-sentencing.html


[TV] Director: Andrea Schmidt, “The Plan to Rescue El Chapo’s Son: Chaos, Guns and Fear,” The New York Times, November 15, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/15/the-weekly/el-chapo-guzman-son.html


Alma Guillermoprieto, “Mexico: The Murder of the Young,” New York Review of Books, January 8, 2015 https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2015/01/08/mexico-murder-young/?insrc=toc


“Paramilitaries” in Gotman et al, “Crimes of War 2.0.” 


Suggested:


Azam Ahmed and Paulina Villegas, “He Was One of Mexico’s Deadliest Assassins. Then He Turned on His Cartel,” The New York Times, December 14, 2019  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/14/world/americas/sicario-mexico-drug-cartels.html


[Film] Matthew Heineman, Cartel Land https://www.amazon.com/Cartel-Land-Dr-Jose-Mireles/dp/B012E84MTU and https://www.hulu.com/movie/cartel-land-b9c6779d-bb15-448c-874b-12d80bd028b1 


Kate Linthicum, “Inside the bloody cartel war for Mexico’s multibillion-dollar avocado industry,” The Los Angeles Times, November 21, 2019 https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-11-20/mexico-cartel-violence-avocados





March 23 – Spring Recess (No Class)


 


March 30 - Coup or Revolution: Venezuela, Bolivia, and Chile 

We will closely examine the excessive use of violence against protesters in Central and South America. In this class, we will also practice monitoring and verifying information in real time and look at examples of when online collaboration between investigators was used to verify false information. 


Class Recording: 

Part one: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1XmlH1xmRPgMZGZUtxx0AB-edk-bKePif/view?usp=sharing 


Part two: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1i_qCFo9mCW5rC1_OXFKCpfBI5piB0TxV 


Class Notes

The first hour of the class was devoted to discussing reporting on COVID-19 by the journalism students. Later, the class discussed the case of Venezuela starting specifically with a New York Times video piece. Prof. Danner discussed specifically reporting on contradicting government claims citing specifically the Colombian government in manipulating security footage showing the fire as started by protesters rather than Venezuelan security forces. The class also discussed the reporting style of Hylton’s piece describing the sympathy of the writer towards the opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. Students noted that a piece like Hylton’s, because of its narrative and opinion, wouldn’t be in a paper but only in a magazine. Lastly, the class discussed the role of Venezuela in American politics. The country’s crisis is used by the right as an example of the failures of Socialism and by the left as an example of attempted American imperialism. 


Required:


Enrique Krauze, “Hell of a Fiesta,” The New York Review of Books, March 8, 2018 https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/03/08/venezuela-hell-fiesta/


Mark Danner, Stripping Bare the Body: Politics, Violence, and War (Nation Books, 2009) Excerpts: 


Mark Danner, The Massacre at El Mozote (Vintage, 1994)


Nicholas Casey, Christoph Koettl, and Deborah Acosta, “Footage Contradicts U.S. Claim That Nicolás Maduro Burned Aid Convoy,” The New York Times, March 10, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/10/world/americas/venezuela-aid-fire-video.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share


Max Fisher, “Bolivia Crisis Shows the Blurry Line Between Coup and Uprising,” The New York Times, November 12, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/12/world/americas/bolivia-evo-morales-coup.html


Camila Osorio, “As Protests Rock Chile, the People Consider Rewriting Pinochet’s Constitution,” The New Yorker, December 10, 2019 https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/as-protests-rock-chile-the-people-consider-rewriting-pinochets-constitution


Jon Lee Anderson, “An Unflinching View on Venezuela in Crisis by Jon Lee Anderson,” The New Yorker, February 24, 2019 https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/an-unflinching-view-of-venezuela-in-crisis


Wil S. Hylton, “Can Venezuela be Saved?” The New York Times Magazine, March 1, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/01/magazine/can-venezuela-be-saved.html


“Levee en Masse” in Gutman et al, Crimes of War 2.0. 






April 6 – Crimea: The Hybrid War 

This class will closely look at the war and occupation specifically using the invasion of  Ukraine by Russia as an example. In reviewing this conflict, we will analyze open source investigations into violations committed during the conflict, specifically the downing of the MH17 passenger aircraft. 


Class Recording: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1b4j-yNJvHz26HalRGZPDQY3ZnvqzWInK 


Class Notes

The first hour of the class was devoted to discussing reporting on COVID-19 by the journalism students. Later, the class broke down and examined the MH17 case looking closely at the footage used showing the attack. Prof. Danner then provided the geopolitical context that led up to the Russian annexation of Crimea. He explained that this crisis is the result of a geopolitical situation inherited from the cold war with an increasing amount of eastern European countries joining the NATO alliance.  Ukraine is one of the last countries in eastern Europe not in the NATO alliance. Additionally, eastern Ukraine, including Crimea, holds a lot of ethnic Russians who identify with the country. Citing multiple speeches by Putin, Prof. Danner discussed the Russian tactic of utilizing half truths and inaccurate information to justify the annexation of Crimea and cloud information about the perpetrator of the MH17 attack. 


Required:


Bellingcat Podcast: “MH17, Episode 1 Guide: The People Who Fell From the Sky,” Bellingcat, July 17, 2019 https://www.bellingcat.com/resources/podcasts/2019/07/17/mh17-episode-guide-1/

 

Simon Ostrovsky, “Russian Roulette: Russia’s Little Green Men Enter Ukraine,” Vice News, March 3, 2014

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNKsLlK52ss


Suggested:


“MH17 The Open Source Investigation Two Years Later,” Bellingcat,  July 2016, https://www.bellingcat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/mh17-two-years-later.pdf  

 

“Full Report: Skripal Poisoning Suspect Dr. Alexander Mishkin, Hero of Russia,” Bellingcat, October 9, 2018  https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2018/10/09/full-report-skripal-poisoning-suspect-dr-alexander-mishkin-hero-russia/





April 13 – Radicalization and Mass Shootings: 8chan 

Through open source investigations, we will take a closer look at the phenomenon of radicalisation and mass shootings in the United States. What role has the internet, and social media, played in fomenting and encouraging violence in the US? 


Class Recording: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1cD9UdUGOVx_WCar7o8x95YG3ihkm_207 


Class Notes

The first hour of the class was devoted to discussing reporting on COVID-19 by the journalism students. Later, the class discussed radicalization specifically in the context of recent mass shootings in the United States. The class discussed the role of 4 Chan and 8 Chan in gamifying, as Robert Evans terms, mass shootings and allowing as well as exacerbating mass killings in the US. Banned 4 Chan users moved to 8 Chan, specifically /pol, to make racist, antisemitic, islamaphobic memes that encouraged mass killings. The class also discussed the role of content moderation in preventing as well as exacerbating hate speech in the U.S. and a variety of international contexts. Specifically in the US, the delicate game of content moderation played by social media companies as politicians lean more to using what social media companies previously categorized as hate speech. The class lastly discussed the relationships between social media companies and governments and how that may influence content moderation. 


Dave Cullen, Columbine (Twelve, 2009)


Robert Evans, “The El Paso Shooting and the Gamification of Terror,” Bellingcat, August 4, 2019  https://www.bellingcat.com/news/americas/2019/08/04/the-el-paso-shooting-and-the-gamification-of-terror/ 


James Brooke, “Terror in Littleton: The Overview; 2 Students in Colorado School Said to Gundown as many as 23 and Kill Themselves in Siege,” The New York Times, April 21, 1999 https://www.nytimes.com/1999/04/21/us/terror-littleton-overview-2-students-colorado-school-said-gun-down-many-23-kill.html 


Malachy Browne, Natalie Reneau, Adam Goldman, Drew Jordan and Anjali Singhvi, “How the Las Vegas Gunman Planned a Massacre , in 7 Days of Video,” The New York Times, March 22, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000005794914/las-vegas-gunman-planned-massacre.html 


“Terrorism,” in Gotman et al, “Crimes of War 2.0.” 


Suggested: 


Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen 


“Removing More Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior From Iran and Russia,” Facebook, October 21, 2019 https://about.fb.com/news/2019/10/removing-more-coordinated-inauthentic-behavior-from-iran-and-russia/ 


Adam Entous, Craig Timberg, and Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Russian Operatives Used Facebook Ads to Exploit America’s Racial and Religious Divisions,” The Washington Post, September 25, 2017 https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/russian-operatives-used-facebook-ads-to-exploit-divisions-over-black-political-activism-and-muslims/2017/09/25/4a011242-a21b-11e7-ade1-76d061d56efa_story.html 

 



April 20 – Radicalization and the Islamic State 

In continuation with the previous class, we will be looking closely at the Islamic State and the radicalization of its affiliates utilizing online platforms. We will also critically examine the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism and other efforts to limit the spread of extremist content online. 


Max Fisher, “White Terrorism Shows ‘Stunning’ Parallels to Islamic State’s Rise,” The New York Times, August 5, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/05/world/americas/terrorism-white-nationalist-supremacy-isis.html 


“Next Steps for the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism,” Facebook, September 23, 2019 https://about.fb.com/news/2019/09/next-steps-for-gifct/ 


Dabiq - Issue 7 - “The Extinction of the Gray Zone” https://clarionproject.org/docs/islamic-state-dabiq-magazine-issue-7-from-hypocrisy-to-apostasy.pdf 


Andrew Griffin, “ISIS Militants ‘Using Twitter to Ask for Suggestions on How to Kill Jordanian Pilot’,” The Independent, December 30, 2014  https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/isis-polls-twitter-for-gruesome-suggestions-of-how-to-kill-jordanian-pilot-9949550.html 


“EXTREMELY GRAPHIC, ISIS Propaganda Video of Burning Jordanian Pilot Alive,” February 3, 2015 https://video.foxnews.com/v/4030583977001#sp=show-clips 





April 27 - China’s Concentration Camps 

Lastly, we will review in detail China’s imprisonment of its Uighur Muslims and how those outside of China are tracking its camps. We will look closely at the rise of the surveillance state and how it infringes on the human rights of its citizens. We will examine China’s Social Credit system as well as analyze its response to protesters in Hong Kong. 


Class Recording: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1_cOlbvn2_tVH1TJzr0L32krcKYoMo65J 


Class Notes

The first hour of the class was devoted to discussing reporting on COVID-19 by the journalism students. Later, the class watched pieces from Wired and The New York Times discussing their reporting styles. Prof. Danner remarked that the Wired piece relied upon going to Istanbul and reaching out to Uighur Muslims that have made it out of China. The class also discussed the role of the international community in preventing human rights abuses against the Uighur Muslims. However, no country has taken action against the Chinese government for the camps. Prof. Danner also discussed the issue of no access to report on Uighur Muslims remarking that the intense surveillance state as a most likely prominent issue that human rights reporters like the students in the class will face in the near future.  


Austin Ramzy and Chris Buckley, “‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How Much China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims,” November 16, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/16/world/asia/china-xinjiang-documents.html  


Isobel Cockerell, “Inside China’s Massive Surveillance Operation,” Wired, May 9, 2019 https://www.wired.com/story/inside-chinas-massive-surveillance-operation/


Sigal Samuel, “Internet Sleuths are Hunting for China’s Secret Internment Camps for Muslims,” The Atlantic, September 15, 2018 https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/09/china-internment-camps-muslim-uighurs-satellite/569878/ 


Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, et al. “Uyghurs for Sale,” Australian Strategic Policy Institute, April 2020 https://www.aspi.org.au/report/uyghurs-sale


Lily Kuo, “Revealed: new evidence of China's mission to raze the mosques of Xinjiang,” The Guardian, May 6, 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/07/revealed-new-evidence-of-chinas-mission-to-raze-the-mosques-of-xinjiang

 

Barbara Marcolini, Haley Willis, Javier C. Hernández, Tiffany May, Elsie Chen, Drew Jordan and Shane O’Neill, “Did Hong Kong Police Use Violence Against Protesters? What the Videos Show,” The New York Times, July 14, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/100000006602584/hong-kong-police-protest-video-investigation.html 


Photo editing by David Furst and Mikko Takkunen. Design and production by Matt Ruby, Rumsey Taylor and Josh Williams. Lighting design by Ian Kirby and Stuart Hendry. Additional reporting by Ezra Cheung, Austin Ramzy and Keith Bradsher, “Hong Kong: A City Divided,” The New York Times, November 23, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/23/world/asia/hong-kong-protesters-photos.html 


Louise Matsakis, “How the West Got China’s Social Credit System Wrong,” Wired, July 29, 2019 https://www.wired.com/story/china-social-credit-score-system/


Special Correspondent, “A Summer Vacation in China’s Muslim Gulag,” Foreign Policy, February 28, 2018 https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/02/28/a-summer-vacation-in-chinas-muslim-gulag/


James M. Millward, “What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State,” The New York Times, February 3, 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/03/opinion/sunday/china-surveillance-state-uighurs.html 


“Concentration Camps” in Gotman et al, “Crimes of War 2.0.” 

Suggested: 


Karen Cheung, “Living in Dark Mode,” The New York Times, November 26, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/26/opinion/sunday/hong-kong-protest-elections.html  




Further Reading


Philip Gourevich, We Wish to Inform You…


Samantha Power, A Problem From Hell


Anthony Loyd, My War Gone By, I Miss It So


Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars


Lindsay Hilsum, In Extremis


Anjam Sundaram, Stringer


Jonathan Schell, The Real War


Michael Herr, Dispatches


Roy Gutman, A Witness to Genocide


Henry Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story


James Verini, They Will Have to Die Now


Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost


Aryeh Neier, War Crimes


Nawal el-Saadawi, Woman at Point Zero


Kristof and WuDunn, Half the Sky


Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Guantanamo Diary


Edited by Sam Dubberly, Alexa Koenig, and Daragh Murray, Digital Witness


Edited by Craig Silverman, Verification Handbook





Further Viewing


Beasts of No Nation


Battle of Algiers


Burn!


Z


The Thin Blue Line


S-21


The Act of Killing


The Killing Fields


The Last King of Scotland


Hotel Rwanda


Salvador


The Official Story


In the Name of the Father


Manuscripts Don’t Burn


Interrogation


The Burning Bush


No Man’s Land


Citizenfour


The Fog of War


Matewan


Night and Fog


Shoah


Waltz with Bashir


For Sama




© 2020 Mark Danner