Friday, May 24, 2013

Much Ado About Nothing

Yesterday President Obama delivered his much anticipated policy address on U.S. counterterrorism policy at the National Defense University.

Although it was anticipated it would mark a significant turning point in the War on Terror and, particularly in "The Drone War," but I think the title of Bloomberg's editorial this morning hit the nail on the head: "Obama's Drone Changes Change Very Little"

Put aside the questions of Guantanamo and indefinite detention, in which the President once again stressed he is really, really committed to closing the prison facility, and that he means it this time. (This sounds eerily like my pledges to mow the lawn in late summer. "Yes, honey, I know I said I would mow it last week, and the week before, but I promise I'll get to it tomorrow . . . after the baseball game, probably" Meanwhile, we've lost our toddler somewhere in the high grass out by the tool shed in the backyard.).

Basically, the President pledged three innovations to our current policy of targeted killings. First, targets will be limited to those who "pose a continuing, imminent threat to Americans" and are deemed too difficult to capture alive. The first part of that formulation depends upon an extremely malleable definition (i.e. Is somebody planning an attack an imminent threat, or only people actually assembling a bomb for transport? What about somebody who only handles bank transfers for an extremist organization? Is somebody planning their first attack a "continuing threat," which in the case of suicide bombers like 2010's Underwear Bomber, they tend to only get one chance?) while the second formulation is also completely subjective (i.e. There was a significant divide in the late 1990s between policymakers, the CIA, and senior military leaders as to whether the capture of Osama bin Laden was feasible).

In other words, this guidance can still be interpreted however the President chooses depending upon the circumstances, and hence really isn't much guidance at all.  (However, it does appear to end so-called "signature strikes" that target individuals without their identities being definitively established, but rather because of a pattern of suspicious behavior. But the inherently covert nature of such strikes means there will likely never be any way to verify whether or not the President has been living up to his own guidance here either).

Second, Obama declared "Beyond the Afghan theater, we only target Al Qaeda and its associated forces," which is a change from the previous formulation in his 2009 address that we were at war "with Al Qaeda and its affiliates." This semantic change is significant, in that there is a hard definition of "affiliate" when it comes to al-Qa'ida, specifically a group or individual who has sworn loyalty to bin Laden (or now, Ayman al-Zawahiri). Yet at the same time again, "associate" is much more elastic, and could theoretically be applied to any extremist that believes in Salafist jihad whether or not they have received any support or training from al-Qa'ida core.

Again, while this sounds like a limitation on drone strikes, in reality it is completely a matter of interpretation at the discretion of the President.

Finally, and most disconcerting, is the President's pledge that within the aforementioned parameters, the United States will only use drone strikes where there is "near certainty" of no civilian casualties. As former Air Force JAG (and current Duke University law professor) Charlie Dunlap notes in Politico: "That risks inviting terrorists to surround themselves with civilians and could have unintended and counterproductive consequences." 

When I heard this, I was immediately reminded of the President's 2009 speech announcing the "Afghan Surge," in which he coupled the announcement of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan with the pledge that the Surge would only last for 18 months. Both times he placed a caveat on his announcement in order to try to sound reasonable, but which in reality drastically undercut the effectiveness of his strategy. Now theoretically every terrorist from Benghazi to Waziristan knows all he has to do is to walk around with an infant in a baby bjorn and he's safe from U.S. air strikes! You think I'm kidding, but this is exactly what Fatah and Hamas leaders did -- granted, without actual bjorns -- when they figured out the Israeli restrictions on civilian casualties in targeted killings.

Again, for whatever criticisms I may have of this Administration's other policies, I've always given President Obama full credit for his counterterrorism policies, which despite his campaign rhetoric have been an acknowledgement that the Bush administration was generally correct to treat the War on Terror as a war, rather than as a law enforcement exercise. But even when making this case yesterday, the speech was an exercise in vacuous rhetoric.

Once again he said that after he came into office "we unequivocally banned torture, affirmed our commitment to civilian courts, worked to align our policies with the rule of law, and expanded our consultations with Congress." As Max Boot points out in Commentary, "Umm, actually all of that happened in Bush's second term."

The rest of the speech was such a combination of empty platitudes and vague promises that only a hyperpartisan could call "an excellent speech" with anything close to a straight face. Jen Rubin's analysis in the Washington Post yesterday comes closer to the mark.  Although to be sure, the President deserves incredibly high marks for his composure when heckled by the odious Medea Benjamin of Code Pink. Every politician who gives speeches should have one or two prepared responses for such an occasion, and this will likely go down as the best non-teleprompter remark of his Presidency.

Anyhow, I'll have more to say on some of his other formulations a bit later. I hope everybody has a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend, and takes a moment in between trips to the grill and/or cooler to remember our fallen heroes.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

More on Drones . . . and Foreign Targeted Killings

Anticipating today's carrier launch of the U.S. Navy's X-47B stealth drone in Sunday's New York Times, Richard Parker warns of the impending arms race between U.S. drones and Chinese aircraft carriers/standoff weapons systems/drones in the Pacific and recommends . . . .

Okay, he admits that "by themselves, naval rivalries do not start wars," so the drones are not really the source of the problem. What is really the problem, apparently, is that China and the United States are not allies, and that if "the slender reed" of economics that binds us together should snap, then look out!

Of course, this would be true whether or not the United States possesses drones. But does Parker really mean to suggest that the Pacific region would be more stable, and that would we be more secure, if we allowed China to develop advanced weapons systems without developing countermeasures such as drones? Isn't it just as likely that increased drone capabilities might as a deterrent to potential aggression much in the same way that nuclear weapons did in the Cold War?

The X-47B "Unmanned Combat Air System" (a.k.a. stealth drone) aboard the USS Truman.

Also, last week in Foreign Policy Micah Zenko outlined countries in which the United States has "outsourced" targeted killing campaigns to allied indigenous forces, and argues that "the United States should ultimately be accountable" if they do something wrong with the intelligence, training, or weapons provided. Okay . . . but how, and who? If a force trained by our Special Forces and provided intelligence on a village by say, an enlisted intelligence analyst, that is believed to be hosting an al-Qa'ida leadership meeting, and then the foreign troops subsequently execute a kill/capture mission in a village utilizing poor fire discipline, killing innocent civilians, who would Zenko court martial? On a policymaking level, Congress can obviously end authorization/funding for any "Building Partnership Capacity" initiative that goes awry, but will the end of U.S. involvement end the underlying conflict or exasperate it? Do these allied forces perform better in terms of observing human rights/minimizing collateral damage when they are being trained/supervised by U.S. troops or when left to their own devices? (Actually, this would be a good paper topic for any budding academics, if a definitive study of the subject does not already exist . . . )

Don't get me wrong. The United States clearly should not support militaries or tribal forces that systematically abuse human rights in the course of operations, and American policymakers/officers/analysts certainly should not turn a blind eye to any mistakes/infractions they see. But while it is easy to run around yelling "Accountability! Accountability! Accountability!" it is much more difficult to delineate where responsibility for such misdeeds actually lies, and how you would . . . er, hold people accountable.

Moreover, beyond this proposition's vagueness, it has a potentially deadly deterrent effect on future BPC missions. What military commander would voluntarily lead such a mission, or deploy his personnel knowing he could end up imprisoned for the misdeeds of an indigenous platoon he has little tactical or operational control over? Similarly, what administration would provide lethal aid/intelligence to an ally knowing they could be impeached or prosecuted if the operations resulted in collateral damage (something even our highly trained forces can not avoid completely).

Although civilian casaulties are always a tragedy we seek to avoid, the deterrent effect created by the absolutist stance Zenko implies would leave putative allies (and their civilian populations) at a formidable disadvantage to adversaries who have no respect for non-combatant immunity, thereby actually creating the potential for more of the abuses Zenko condemns.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Other Nations' Manhunts

Posting about the Israeli pursuit of Imad Mughniyeh the other day reminded me of a question I was asked a couple of times while doing publicity for Wanted Dead or Alive, specifically whether other nations undertook strategic manhunts and whether the lessons learned from U.S. campaigns were applicable. Although I could refer to the British pursuits of Muhammad `Abd Allāh al-Hasan (a.k.a. the "Mad Mullah") in the 1900s-1910s in Somalia and the Faqir of Ipi in Waziristan in the 1930s and 1940s (both of which ended in failure), and I talked somewhat out my posterior at last year's Tucson Festival of Books about the Israeli hunt for Adolph Eichmann from 1948-1960 (when he was captured in Argentina and literally kidnapped back to Israel for trial), I suggested there were few modern cases against which to compare my findings.

Well, the "n" is definitely getting larger, as indicated by two recent articles on the Chinese hunt in Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar for Naw Kham, a drug lord who killed 13 Chinese seamen on the Mekong River and a Reuters update on the Iraqi Security Forces hunt for Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the highest ranking member of Saddam Hussein's regime still on the loose a decade after the fall of Baghdad. (He was the King of Clubs on the "Iraqi Most Wanted Playing Cards.")

Both pieces reinforce the importance of human terrain. U.S.-Iraqi forces were unable to lay a hand upon al-Douri while he was out of the country (presumably in Syria), and now Iraqi forces are apparently having trouble finding him in Sunni tribal areas at a time of high partisan tensions in Iraq. Conversely, the Chinese were able to obtain reliable allies -- Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand -- in the Golden Triangle in which Naw Kham operated (even if this was done with some diplomatic strong arming), and developed their own network of informants that allowed them to gradually tighten the noose on the drug lord until they were able to apprehend him.

Is the hunt for the last senior Ba'athist in Iraq heating up again?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Hunt for Imad Mughniyeh

An interesting long read in the current issue of Foreign Policy by Mark Perry, investigating the hunt for Hezbollah master terrorist Imad Mughniyeh. For those unfamiliar with Mughniyeh's C.V., he is believed to have been responsible for:
  • The October 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine and French barracks in Beirute (241 Americans, 58 French KIA);
  • The 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 (which included the murder of U.S. Navy sailor Robert Stethem);
  • Dozens of kidnapping and murders of Western hostages in Lebanon in the 1980s (including the torture and murder of William Buckley, the CIA's Beirut station chief, and Marine COL Rick Higgins, who was part of a UN peacekeeping mission);
  • The March 1992 attack on Israel's embassy and the 1994 synagogue bombing in Buenos Aires.
Veteran CIA officer Milton Bearden summarized Mughniyeh's career, saying: "Both bin Laden and Mughniyeh were pathological killers. But there was always a nagging amateurishness about bin Laden -- his wildly hyped background, his bogus claims . . . Bin Laden cowered and hid. Mughniyeh spent his life giving us the finger."

Mughniyeh was killed on February 12, 2008, by a car bomb in Damascus, Syria. To this date, nobody knows for sure who killed him. Suffice it to say the man had a lot of enemies, although Perry implies it was likely the Mossad with Syrian assistance as precursor to Israeli-Syrian peace talks. (In February, Canada's National Post published an account by Erol Araf that explicitly credits the Mossad, which he claims was able to locate Mughniyeh through a combination of old East German Stasi files, hacking into a Syrian official's computer, and local agents in Lebanon. This account is certainly plausible, but given that Araf credits Mughniyeh with involvement in the clearly established al-Qa'ida attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, it should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt).

The iconic image of a then-23-year old Mughniyeh during the standoff during the 1985 TWA Flight 847 hijacking. 

An undated picture of an older Mughniyeh.

Although Perry leaves definitive attribution for his killing unclear, his account demonstrates the critical importance of third-country assistance in strategic manhunts. During the 30-year manhunt, despite a $5 million American bounty on his head, Mugniyeh was able to move freely between Tehran, Damascus, and Beirut, each of which offered a sympathetic local population and government willing to shelter him. His closest scrape with American pursuers came in late 1995 when he boarded a flight to Saudi Arabia, but the Saudis refuse an American request to apprehend him, instead denying the plane authorization to land. Again, if Perry's account is accurate, then the lack of bilateral assistance prevented his apprehension for three decades, and if the Syrian complicity-angle is true (which Hezbollah appears to believe), this reversal explains his ultimate demise as well.

But as they say, read the whole thing for yourself.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Droning On . . .

A bevy of recent articles about various aspects of drones worth noting:
  • In Defense News, former Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force for International Affairs Bruce Lemkin argues that "the current discussion of so-called 'drones' and their employment [is] highly politicized, perversely, skewed and often grossly misinformed."  Broadly summarized, Lemkin argues that their is no strategic or operational difference between drone strikes and a campaign of air strikes by manned aircraft, only a technological difference that actually makes drones more tactically efficient. Thus, critiques of the moral virtue and strategic utility (i.e. do the strikes kill more terrorists than they create) of drones are only valid if one is willing to make the same argument against a conventional air campaign. (And personally, I think Lemkin misses a key point by noting that, theoretically, the increased "linger time" that UAVs permit allows for greater discrimination in targeting, and hence less collateral damage in the form of non-combatant casualties than air or missile strikes).

  • One sign of the effectiveness of the Drone War is the desperation of al-Qa'ida and the Taliban to counter it. Consequently,  Reuters and the National Journal report that a new English-language, jihadi magazine set up by militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan called "Azan" has appealed to Muslims around the world to come up with technology to hack into or manipulate drones. "The Ummah is not short of brilliant minds," the magazine writes. "Any opinions, thoughts, ideas and practical implementations to defeat this drone technology must be communicated to us as early as possible because these would aid the Ummah greatly in its war against the Crusader-Zionist enemy."
Since "Azan" doesn't exactly have a mailing address or a home office that one can go to to pick up a check, winning entrants will have to accept their reward on credit -- specifically, fifty "companions" in the afterlife. While it is tempting to joke about this, crowd-sourcing military problems has proven effective in the past (i.e. U.S. company grade officers did this to disseminate COIN knowledge in Iraq and Afghanistan), and the U.S. military has long been concerned about the possibility of somebody remotely hacking drones and other delivery systems. Just last month at the Hack in the Box Conference in Amsterdam (great name, btw) a German computer security consultant claimed, and demonstrated, that he could hack into an airplane's control system using standard Android applications. (Of course, the FAA and other aviation experts immediately poured cold water on Hugo Teso's claims, but this is not to say that somebody could not find a workaround someday).

Chinese ANS-207 Drones on parade in 2009: Photo by Vincent Thian

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Weekend Fluff

A couple of manhunting/irregular warfare stories that caught my eye recently but didn't merit their own post:

Umm, I think it's been a long time since Frum has been in a dorm room, as a picture where the guerrilla leader appears to be getting loaded (on pina coladas, perhaps?) certainly wouldn't detract from his credibility to any 18-22 year old already dumb enough not to know about Che's crimes and general uselessness in the field.

Awkward! But apparently, Darch was a good sport about it, saying: "They gave me such an enthusiastic welcome, it almost made cry," Darch said. "And I managed to sell a few books too, which was nice." Which as any author can attest, makes up for almost any embarrassment/inconvenience at a book talk.

Friday, May 3, 2013

To Drone or Not To Drone . . .

Two recent dueling (albeit indirectly) essays on the utility of using drones in targeted killing campaigns:
I think I'm pretty clearly on the record as being "pro" on the drone question. As long as al-Qa'ida "Core" exists and remains dedicated to killing Americans in pursuit of ideological objectives (i.e. U.S. abandonment of our allies and interests in the Middle East as a first step towards a global caliphate) with which no compromise is possible, then we must continue to pursue and kill or capture its leaders and operatives. Because it is politically and/or logistically unfeasible to either invade or conduct raids in all the ungoverned regions in which al-Qa'ida seeks sanctuary, we must use whatever tools in our arsenal are most effective. To date, this has been drones, which compared to manned air or missile strikes allow for the most discriminate use of lethal force possible.

Are drones perfect? No, they are only as good as the men and women operating them. But they allow for more checks and greater accuracy in the targeting process than any comparable weapons system.

Has there been unintended civilian deaths due to drone strikes against al-Qa'ida leadership? Of course, and it is tragic. But collateral damage occurs during every war, and we simply can not choose to disengage in the fight against Salafist terrorists simply because they devalue life so much that they choose to hide behind human shields. At the risk of being crass, I would rather take a small risk of harming a limited number of extremist sympathizers (or those not discriminating enough to avoid houses or ceremonies with jihadist leaders) in order to reduce the risk of future attacks to American civilians.

That being said, I found Etzioni's article to be flawed. He is correct to note that "it is difficult to reach conclusive judgments [about civilian casualties], as neither critics nor proponents of drones are actually there to observe the effects of drone strikes. Instead we often have to rely upon reports from locals, who are notoriously unreliable." But I think he is too quick to dismiss the argument that the drone strikes may be counterproductive because they turn local populations against us, create more terrorists and sympathizers in the process, and therefore undermine our own strategic goals. While theoretically possible, I don't think we've hit this tipping point yet. But that is not to say that concern should be dismissed out-of-hand. Secondly, it is a legitimate concern to worry that the Obama administration is conducting the war with next to no oversight by Congress. Also writing in The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf flatly contradicts Etzioni's assertions regarding Congressional oversight, and quite frankly has the better of the argument.

(I do strongly disagree, however, with Friedersdorf's conclusion that because the Obama administration refuses to defend its program before Congress, ipso facto it is indefensible. I think a simpler answer is because they are arrogant and realize there is nothing Congress can do to stop them: Democrats will not embarrass a President from their own party, and Republicans are generally supportive of the policy. The original decision to intervene in Libya, in my opinion, was eminently defensible, even if the conduct of that operation and subsequent post-conflict policy has been badly mishandled. But the Obama administration similarly never felt compelled to make a case for the air campaign to oust Gaddafi even though he likely had the votes for a Congressional authorization of the use of military force).

However, despite the flaws in Etzioni's piece, I think Coll's is far worse, and this kills me, because Stephen Coll is one of the best writers on international affairs out there. (Ghost Wars is the definitive book on U.S. policy towards Afghanistan pre-9/11, and The Bin Ladens was entertaining and insightful as well. I haven't read his book on ExxonMobil's empire in the Middle East yet, but it is on my list if I ever finish the book I'm currently writing). Coll makes what I see as three fundamental errors in his peace: First, he is surprisingly sloppy in defining the difference between assassinations and targeted killings, and even when he acknowledges this difference repeatedly contradicts himself. In Wanted Dead or Alive I suggest the following distinction between targeted killings and assassinations: whereas the former are a form of decapitation strategy directed against the leadership network or chain-of-command of an organization in an effort to achieve a broader strategic goal (i.e. we kill Joe Smith not because he is uniquely Joe Smith, but rather because he is the #14 ranking officer in an organization in a declared state of war with the United States), assassination is directed at one specific individual whose demise is a strategic goal in and of itself. Coll himself acknowledges this, admitting: "An assassination campaign against suspected terrorists is not the same as one that occasionally rubs out unfriendly political leaders of nation-states," and in the next sentence referring to it properly as a "program of targeted killing." But then he goes on to us the term "assassination" to describe the drone campaign against al-Qa'ida five times. The only reason to contradict himself like this is to lead the reader to associate the decapitation campaign against al-Qa'ida with the moral opprobrium (rightly) applied to assassination. This is a cheap ploy unworthy of as excellent a writer as Coll.

(And again, it is a legitimate argument to claim the killing of American citizens without trial via drone via drone is unconstitutional and against our values. I disagree with it when applied to individuals we know have sworn fealty to al-Qa'ida's leadership, but it is certainly an argument that must always be kept in mind).

Second, Coll argues that it is "far from clear that killing leaders is even a reliable means of disrupting terrorist groups like Al Qaeda." This is a legitimate question, and one that I've tackled before in my work, concluding that operational success in strategic manhunts (or by extension, decapitation campaigns) only correlate to strategic success because of broader counterinsurgency policies. However, even if drone strikes aren't strategically decisive in and of themselves, against an enemy with whom no political accommodation is possible (i.e. al-Qa'ida) sometimes all you can do is whack-a-mole to keep them from planning and launching effective operations themselves. Coll favorably cites academic studies by Jenna Jordan and Aaron Mannes, without citing similar studies that contradict their findings and argue for the utility of decapitation by Patrick Johnston of RAND and Byran Price.

Finally, Coll argues that "America's drone campaign is . . . creating an ominous global precedent," and ask that when China is able to field armed drones (note to Mr. Coll: they already do) "How might its Politburo apply Obama's doctrines to Tibetan activists holding meetings in Nepal?" Alas, I don't think the Chinese pay much attention to international norms as a check on their behavior when they feel their national security or internal stability is threatened. Were the Chinese inhibited by international norms in Tiannamen Square in 1989, or in their persistent harassment of human rights advocates whom they perceive as a threat to the current power structure within China? No. Like most states, they define their national interests as they see fit, and determine the morality of their actions accordingly irrespective of the United States' actions.

Again, one could argue that the drone campaign is strategically counterproductive. One could argue that the Obama administration must be much more transparent with the relevant Congressional committees. And one could plausibly argue that killing American citizens abroad without a trial is a violation of their constitutional rights regardless of their role within al-Qa'ida and hence a betrayal of our values. But to say we shouldn't use this tool to protect ourselves because the Chinese might abuse the technology someday is a very thin reed upon which to make an anti-drone argument.

Okay, wow, that turned out much longer than planned. I guess it is because I admire Coll as a writer so much that I got a bit carried away here. Next time, I'll just provide some links and not pontificate so much. 

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ambinder on Manhunt

Tonight, HBO premieres Greg Barker's documentary Manhunt*, based largely on Peter Bergen's book of the same name with some additional interviews/reveals.

In his column for The Week, Marc Ambinder sneak previews what he believes is the documentary's key message, titilatingly titled "How the CIA really caught bin Laden's trail." Ambinder says the key moment in the search was the 2004 capture of Hassan Ghul by Kurdish forces. The documentary reveals that although the Kurds eventually remanded Ghul to U.S. custody, he willingly told the Kurds "that bin Laden uses a single courier with the nomme de guerre 'Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti'" before the CIA could interrogate him (and, by implication, was subsequently tortured).

This account is certainly plausible, but I have three brief observations:
1- Ghul's role in the evidence chain is hardly news . . . hell, even I mentioned it in Wanted Dead or Alive (p. 224, tyvm) in a section that my publisher gave me three days to put together in the week following Bin Laden's death on May 1, 2011. (Oh, btw, Happy Anniversary!)

2- I love the Kurds. I've been a guest of their hospitality in the KRG and Baghdad, and I believe they will be one of America's key allies in the Middle East for decades to come. But given the reputation of their intelligence services -- which emerged in order to counter Saddam Hussein's attempts to infiltrate the Kurdish leadership before Operation Iraqi Freedom -- I'm a little skeptical that Ghul gave up such critical information . . . voluntarily. I'm not saying it didn't happen, but just that it would be surprising somebody so highly placed in al-Qa'ida (Ambinder claims he was sent by bin Laden to supercede Zarqawi) would give up such important information without a glove being laid on him. Whatever one thinks about the morality of enhanced interrogations, I can not think of another example of somebody from al-Qaida core singing so quickly.

3- Regarding Ghul's role, this is the first account I've seen that put him at a level above courier, much less bin Laden's "envoy to personally supervise" al-Qa'ida in Iraq. Most accounts place Ghul being arrested on the Kurdish-Iranian border carrying a CD with a letter from Zarqawi to bin Laden, which would be very odd given Ambinder/Barker's version of events. Again, this may be correct. But if, as Ambinder claims, the CIA knew he was high-level enough that he would be given command of al-Qa'ida's most important affiliate, why would the Agency turn around and hand him over to Pakistan's ISI, who subsequently released him! It seems equally plausible that he may have given al-Kuwaiti up in an attempt to say something like "Hey, I didn't know I was carrying this stuff. The guy who would be carrying it is that al-Kuwaiti guy!" in other words, as a smoke screen to minimize his own importance as a courier.

(As I noted when this story broke in June 2011, imagine how awkward it must have been for Ghul trying to explain to his al-Qa'ida buddies that he was the one who gave up bin Laden's courier. If he somehow survived that revelation by the Associated Press, for his sake I hope they don't get HBO in wherever in Pakistan he is hiding!

In all, Ambinder seems to be leaning a little too far forward to destroy the claims that enhanced interrogations had anything whatsoever to do with finding Osama bin Laden.

I'll withhold judgment on the documentary itself until I see it*, but I find some elements of Ambinder's account here to be highly dubious.

* Note: And just by coincidence, my household recently switched from a cable company that featured HBO and Starz to one featuring Showtime and Cinemax. @#$! Although to be honest, I'm a little more bummed about missing the final season of Spartacus and the next season of Boardwalk Empire than the documentary.