Caveat Preemptor!

Mr. President:
As you prepare to make the case against Iraq in your State of the Union address Tuesday, beware the consequences of favoring ideologues and spin-doctors over the professional intelligence officers paid to serve you.

Until last week many Americans were inclined to take your top aides at their word that the looming war with Iraq is not about oil or vengeance but rather about Iraq's "continuing pursuit of "weapons of mass destruction." Now all but the most unquestioning loyalists are having serious second thoughts.

bushDoubt grew exponentially as France and Germany, with whom we have extensive intelligence sharing arrangements, took strong issue with your administration's claims about Iraq. Those two major allies and others have concluded that the evidence that Iraq is continuing to pursue new weapons of mass destruction is far from conclusive and that it falls far short of justification for starting a war.

Your speeches on Iraq last October -- in Cincinnati and at the UN --were rhetorical triumphs. But you need to be aware now that much of the evidence you adduced against Iraq could not withstand close scrutiny. Your advisers had you shooting yourself in the foot with hyperbole.

In both speeches they had you making alarmist claims that our allies know do not square either with the facts or the judgments of the US and wider allied intelligence communities. I'll mention just two:

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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