Late afternoon on the front porch Tiny assumes the sphinx pose that is her birth right.
“This department, I think, is way behind our curve in this and that’s an area where I think we have a lot of room for improvement," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters yesterday in a discussion of the ways new social networking services like Twitter and Facebook have been facilitating transmission of fast-breaking news within and outside of Iran:
"And if you can’t text, then you Twitter. And my guess is in some of these countries that the leadership is kind of like me: I don’t have a clue what it’s about,” Gates said, chuckling.
All eyes and ears, she is ever on the alert for Donald Rumsfeld's "unknown unknowns."
Ouch. His predecessor Donald Rumsfeld's words come to mind:
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.
Intellectually incurious talking heads snickered at the time, but our own beloved Rummie's words resonate, and the irony of Secretary Gates's words is doublefold:
1. Even as Gates properly acknowledges that Twitter makes it hard for authoritarian governments to jackboot free cyberspeech, he ignores his boss's "sledging strategy of intimidation" designed to discredit domestic dissent, from Fox News and talk radio on down to us bloggers and anti-statist tea partiers.
2 Chuckling over not having a clue about how the younger generation is keeping in touch is dangerously pathetic.
Fortunately, as BayNewser reports [via The Anchoress], over at the State Department there's a "27-year-old whiz kid whose job is to advise the State Department on how to use social media to promote U.S. interests in the Middle East":
And imagine our further surprise when we learned this young gentleman wasn't one of Barack Obama's social media geniuses, but instead was a Condi Rice pick hired specifically to advise the State Department on young people in the Middle East and how to "counter-radicalize" them.
According to the New York Times, it was Jared Cohen, a member of the Policy Planning Staff, who contacted Twitter on Monday, inquiring about their plan to perform maintenance in what would be the middle of the day, Iran time. Following that contact, Twitter decided to postpone their maintenance so that it would take place in the middle of the night Iran-time, even though that meant it would be the middle of the day U.S. time.
Somewhere we read that Twitter says their decision to defer maintenance was independent of government intervention, and we know that Twitter users bombarded the site with thousands of requests asking that they delay the maintenance downtime. But whether or not a call from the State Department was the determining factor, it's encouraging to know that a Gen Xer like Cohen is on the case:
"Iranian young people are one of the most pro-American populations in the Middle East,” Cohen told the New Yorker. “They just don’t know who to gravitate around, so young people gravitate around each other.”
More's the pity that the Leader of the Free World's "Choice is not to choose on Iran."