Archive for the ‘Chilcot Report (Iraq)’ Category

FYI: Glossary Issues with the Chilcot Report

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

Anyone who is working on more accessible/useful versions of the Chilcot Report should be aware of the following issues with Annex 2 – Glossary.

First, the “glossary” appears to be a mix of acronyms, with their expansions, along with random terms or phrases for which definitions are offered. For example, “FFCD – Full, Final and Complete declaration,” immediately followed by “Five Mile Market – Area in Basra.” (at page 247)

Second, the concept of unique acronyms never occurred to the authors:

AG Adjutant General
AG Advocate General
AG Attorney General
(page 235)

AM Aftermath
AM Air Marshal
(page 236)

BCU Basic Capability Unit
BCU Basra Crimes Unit
(page 238)

BOC Basra Operational Command
BOC Basra Operations Centre
(page 238)

CG Commander General
CG Consul General
CG Consulate General (see BEO)
(page 240)

CIC Coalition Information Centre
CIC Communication and Information Centre
(page 240)

CO Cabinet Office
CO Commanding Officer
(page 241)

DCC Deputy Chief Constable
DCC Dismounted Close Combat
(page 243)

DG Diego Garcia
DG Director General
(page 244)

DIA Defence Intelligence Agency
DIA Department of Internal Affairs
(page 244)

DPA Data Protection Act
DPA Defence Procurement Agency
(page 245)

DSP Defence Strategic Plan
DSP Deployable Spares Pack
(page 245)

EP Equipment Plan
EP Equipment Programme
(page 246)

ESC Emergency Security Committee
ESC Executive Steering Committee
(page 246)

EST Eastern Standard Time
EST Essential Services Team
(page 246)

FP Force Posture
FP Force Protection
(page 247)

IA Interim Administration
IA Iraqi Army
(page 250)

ID Identification
ID (US) Infantry Division
(page 251)

ING Iraqi National Gathering
ING Iraqi National Guard
(page 252)

IO Information Operations
IO International Organisations
(page 252)

ISG Information Strategy Group
ISG Iraq Security Group
ISG Iraq Strategy Group
ISG Iraq Survey Group
(page 253)

MAS Manned Airborne Surveillance
MAS Muqtada al-Sadr
(page 256)

Op Operation
OP Operative Paragraph
(page 260)

OSD US Office of the Secretary of Defense
OSD Out of Service Date
(page 261)

PM Prime Minister
PM Protected Mobility
(page 262)

RA Research Analysts
RA Regular Army
(page 264)

RDD Radiological Dispersal Devices
RDD Required Delivery Date
(page 264)

SAF Small Arms Fire
SAF Stabilisation Aid Fund
(page 265)

SC Security Committee
SC Security Council
(page 265)

SE Scottish Executive
SE South-East
(page 266)

SFA Service Family Accommodation
SFA Strategic Framework Agreement
(page 266)

SG Secretary-General
SG Special Groups
(page 266)

SLA Scottish Lord Advocate
SLA Service Level Agreement
(page 266)

SSE Sensitive Site Exploitation
SSE Spring Supplementary Estimate
(page 267)

UNSC UN Security Council
UNSC UN Special Co-ordinator
(page 270)

Yes, seventy-four (74) items that may be mistaken in any automated processing of the text.

Third, there are items in the glossary that don’t appear in the text outside of the glossary:

H of C House of Commons page 249
HoC House of Commons page 250

The House of Commons is never referred to by “H of C” or “HoC” outside of the glossary.

Fourth, there are items in the glossary that are not specialized vocabulary, as though the glossary is also a mini-English dictionary:

de facto In fact
de jure According to law
(page 244)

Fifth, the acronyms as mis-leading. For example, if you search for “EPW – Enemy Prisoners of War” (is there another kind?), outside of the glossary there is only one (1) “hit:”

the-report-of-the-iraq-inquiry_section-061.pdf.txt:Communication] and handling of EPW [Enemy Prisoners of War]”.

If you search for the other acronym, “PW – Prisoner of War,” outside of the glossary there is only one (1) “hit:”

the-report-of-the-iraq-inquiry_section-064.pdf.txt:A mass PW [prisoner of war] problem and/or a humanitarian crisis could both

With only casual knowledge of the war in Iraq, that doesn’t sound right does it?

Try searching for “prison.” That will return 185 “hits.”

Interesting isn’t it? The official acronyms (plural) return one “hit” each and a term not in the glossary returns 185 “hits.”

Makes me wonder about the criteria for inclusion in the glossary.

You?


If you are working with the Chilcot report I hope you find these comments useful. I working on an XML format version of the glossary that treats this as acronym -> expansion, suitable for putting the expansion markup inline.

The report randomly, from a reader’s perspective, uses acronyms and expansions. Consistently recording the acronyms and expansions will benefit readers and researchers. Two audiences ignored in the Chilcot Report.

Faking Government Transparency: The Chilcot Report

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

The Chilcot Report (Iraq Inquiry) is an example of faking governmental transparency.

You may protest: “But look at all the files, testimony, documents, etc. How can it be more transparent than that?”

That’s not a hard question to answer.

Preventing Shared Public Discussion

The release of the Chilcot Report as PDF files, eliminates any possibility of shared public discussion of its contents.

The report will be discussed by members of the media, experts and the public. Public comments are going to be scattered over blogs, newspapers, Twitter, Facebook and other media. And over a long period of time as well.

For example, the testimony of Mr. Jonathan Powell is likely to draw comments:

“… it was a mistake to go so far with de‑Ba’athification. It is a similar mistake the Americans made after the Second World War with de‑Nazification and they had to reverse it. Once it became clear to us, we argued with the administration to reverse it, and they did reverse it, although with difficulty because the Shia politicians in the government were very reluctant to allow it to be reversed, and at the time we were being criticised for not doing enough de‑Ba’athification.”75

75 Public hearing, 18 January 2010, page 128.

Had the report been properly published as HTML, that quote could appear as:

<blockquote id=”iraq-inquiry_volume-10-section-111-para78-powell>
“… it was a mistake to go so far with de‑Ba’athification. It is a similar mistake the Americans made after the Second World War with de‑Nazification and they had to reverse it. Once it became clear to us, we argued with the administration to reverse it, and they did reverse it, although with difficulty because the Shia politicians in the government were very reluctant to allow it to be reversed, and at the time we were being criticised for not doing enough de‑Ba’athification.”75
<blockquote>

The primary difference is that with an official identifier for the Powell quote, then everyone discussing it can point to the same quote.

Which enables a member of the public, researcher, reporter or even a member of government, to search for: iraq-inquiry_volume-10-section-111-para78-powell and find every discussion that is indexed on the Internet, that points to that quote.

Granting that it depends on authors using that identifier but it enables public discussion and research in ways that PDF simply blocks.

Every paragraph, every quote, every list item, every map, should have a unique ID to facilitate pointing to portions of the original report.

A Lack of Hyperlinks

One of the more striking deficits of the Chilcot Report is its lack of hyperlinks. Footnote 75, which you saw above,

75 Public hearing, 18 January 2010, page 128.

is not a hyperlink to that public hearing.

Why should the public be tasked with rummaging through multiple documents when publishing all of the texts as HTML would enable point to point navigation to relevant material?

If you are thinking the lack of HTML/hyperlinks impairs the public’s use of this report is a rationale for PDF, you are right in one.

Or consider the lack of hyperlinks to other published materials:

Introduction to the Iraq Inquiry

  • The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee published The Decision to go to War in Iraq on 3 July 2003.
  • The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament published Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction – Intelligence and Assessments on 10 September 2003.
  • Lord Hutton published his Report of the Inquiry into the Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Dr David Kelly CMG on 28 January 2004.
  • A Committee of Privy Counsellors, chaired by Lord Butler of Brockwell, published its Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction on 14 July 2004. Sir John Chilcot was a member of Lord Butler’s Committee.
  • The Baha Mousa Inquiry, chaired by Sir William Gage, was established in May 2008 and published its conclusions on 8 September 2011.2

pages 2 and 3, numbered paragraph 4.

Nary a hyperlink in the lot.

But let’s just take the first one as an example:

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee published The Decision to go to War in Iraq on 3 July 2003.

Where would you go to find that report?

Searching on the title finds volume 1 of that report relatively easily: House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee The Decision to go to War in Iraq Ninth Report of Session 2002–03 Volume I.

Seeing “volume 1,” makes me suspect there is also a volume 2. Casting about a bit more we find:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-archive/foreign-affairs-committee/fac-pn-28-02-03-/, of which I took the following screenshot:

war-in-iraq-page

(select for a larger image)

In the larger version you will see there are three volumes to The Decision to go to War in Iraq, not one. Where the other two volumes are now, your guess is probably better than mine. I tried a number of queries but did not get useful results.

Multiple those efforts by everyone in the UK who has an interest in this report and you will see the lack of hyperlinks for what it truly is, a deliberate ploy to impede the public’s use of this report.

Degree of Difficulty?

Lest anyone protest that production of HTML with hyperlinks represents an extreme burden on the Iraq Inquiry’s staff, recall the excellent use Parliament makes of the web. (I know a number of markup experts in the UK that I can recommend should the holders of the original text wish to issue a text that would be useful to the public.)

No, the publication of the Iraq Inquiry as non-hyperlinked PDF was a deliberate choice. One designed to impede its use for reasons best known to those making that decision. Unsavory reasons I have no doubt.

PS: In the future, do not accept reports with footnotes/endnotes represented in layout. As logical elements, footnotes/endnotes are much easier to manage.

Chilcot Report – Collected PDFs, Converted to Text

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

I didn’t see a bulk download option for the chapters of the Chilcot Report at: The Iraq Inquiry Report page so I have collected those files and bundled them up for download as Iraq-Inquiry-Report-All-Volumes.tar.gz.

I wrote about Apache PDFBox recently so I also converted all of those files to text and have bundled them up as a Iraq-Inquiry-Report-Text-Conversion.tar.gz.

Some observations on the text files:

  • Numbered paragraphs have the format: digit(one or more)-period-space
  • Footnotes are formatted: digit(1 or more)-space-text
  • Page numbers: digit(1 or more)-space-no following text

Suggestions on other processing steps?