I've been reading Danger Room since its 2007 launch. Loudly proclaimed my fandom. Now I write for it. I think I can authoritatively say I'm... familiar with the blog's history. That ought to equip me, just as authoritatively, to assert that this is the best piece it has ever published.
The Pentagon’s top researchers have rushed a classified and controversial intelligence program into Afghanistan. Known as “Nexus 7,” and previously undisclosed as a war-zone surveillance effort, it ties together everything from spy radars to fruit prices in order to glean clues about Afghan instability.
The program has been pushed hard by the leadership of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. They see Nexus 7 as both a breakthrough data-analysis tool and an opportunity to move beyond its traditional, long-range research role and into a more active wartime mission.
But those efforts are drawing fire from some frontline intel operators who see Nexus 7 as little more than a glorified grad-school project, wasting tens of millions on duplicative technology that has nothing to do with stopping the Taliban.
This is a very, very long read. But the payoff is enormous. Nexus 7 might be the highest degree of counterinsurgency social-science fetishism. As an intel program -- well, I'm not the reporter on this story, so I'll not comment.
Speaking of. I hope the Germans have a word for the mixture of awe, pride and personal challenge that comes when your boss utterly crushes it. Because I read this piece a bunch before it was published and I'm still speechless.