[eDebate] Schenley Park DAWG article wins national award

Mitchell, Gordon Roger gordonm
Fri Sep 7 11:33:22 CDT 2007


Gordon Mitchell's article, "Team B Intelligence Coups," has been recognized as the 2007 outstanding article of the year by the National Communication Association's (NCA) Political Communication Division.

Mitchell's article explores how early investigations of the Iraq prewar intelligence failure by the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and Silberman-Robb Commission sidestepped a key dimension of the problem?subversion of the intelligence analysis function by Team B entities. This oversight was reproduced in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, whose narrow focus on remedies designed to improve analysis in the intelligence community also skirted the problem posed by outlier intelligence boutiques. "Team B Intelligence Coups" fills this vacuum by highlighting the role of Team B entities such as the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group and Office of Special Plans in contributing to Iraq prewar intelligence failure. Eight months after the article appeared in NCA's flagship journal The Quarterly Journal of Speech, the U.S. government released its first official account of the same topic. A February 2007 Pentagon Inspector General's report (PDF) largely confirmed the analysis in "Team B Intelligence Coups," characterizing PCTEG's activities as an "alternate intelligence assessment process," noting that PCTEG's briefing slides (several of which were reproduced in Mitchell's QJS article) contained "reporting of dubious quality or reliability," and concluding that PCTEG's briefings were "inappropriate." The policy salience of these findings is punctuated by M. Karen Walker, a former public affairs officer with the U.S. Information Agency: "How analysts form and gain adherents to hypotheses, and the process by which analysts generate actionable information for planners and decision-makers, is a highly salient topic. Mitchell?s contribution deserves wider play in venues more likely to reach defense and security affairs officials."

In his nominating letter, Stephen Hartnett, Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Illinois, writes that "Mitchell's essay is politically pertinent, historically rich, and analytically savvy. It is a model of brave and sophisticated criticism." Since publication, "Team B Intelligence Coups" has been featured on international weblogs and included in syllabi for argumentation courses (Word doc).

The winning article is the premier refereed article published out of a nine-person working group established in 2005 at the University of Pittsburgh, the Schenley Park DAWG (Debate Authors Working Group). The DAWG's mission is to support efforts by current and former forensics educators striving convert their intellectual work into scholarly projects. A key premise animating the DAWG is that debate scholars may be able to pursue more effectively scholarly knowledge production in a collaborative mode that mirrors the processes of intense feedback and cooperative give-and-take instantiated within the intercollegiate policy debate tournament culture. This process helped refine the "Team B Intelligence Coups" article, especially pp. 145-49, where DAWG participant feedback during a May 5, 2006 meeting helped hone an angle for the piece that grounded it in the work of Douglas Ehninger, Wayne Brockriede, and most importantly, former Pitt professor of communication Robert P. Newman, whose "Communication Pathologies of Intelligence Systems," (Communication Monographs 1975) can be read as a companion piece.

With 781 members, the Political Communication Division is one of NCA's largest divisions. Mitchell is scheduled to accept the award following the division's business meeting at the NCA convention in Chicago this coming November.

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The Schenley Park DAWG's most recent research product was "DAWG Power: The Synergy of Writing in Packs" (co-authored by Gordon R. Mitchell, Carly Woods, Matthew Brigham, Eric English, and John Rief), paper presented at the 15th NCA/AFA Conference on Argumentation, Rustler Lodge, Alta, UT, August 2-5, 2007 (paper and accompanying moose video available at http://the-dawg.blogspot.com/2007/08/dawgs-moose-mountains.html).

John Rief's conference paper, "Talking at Cross Purposes: Violating Higher-Order Conditions with Oppositional Arguments," was the first Schenley Park DAWG research product to be presented in public, during the June 2006 International Society for the Study of Argumentation (ISSA) conference in Amsterdam, Holland.

"Debate as a Weapon of Mass Destruction" (co-authored by Eric English, Stephen Llano, Gordon R. Mitchell, Catherine E. Morrison, John Rief, and Carly Woods), the first co-authored DAWG research product, appearing in Communication & Critical/Cultural Studies, 4 (2007): 222-26.

"Deliberating Debate's Digital Futures" (co-authored by Carly Woods, Matthew Brigham, Brent Heavner, Takuzo Konishi, John Rief, Brent Saindon and Gordon R.
Mitchell) is forthcoming in Contemporary Argumentation & Debate.

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Gordon R. Mitchell
Associate Professor of Communication
Deputy Director, Ridgway Center for Security Studies
Director, William Pitt Debating Union
University of Pittsburgh
CL 1117, 4200 Fifth Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Phone: (412) 624-8531
Fax: (412) 624-1878

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