Forensic Accounting and Al Qaeda

A new RAND study of captured documents from al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) reveals some interesting facts about the organization. It found that "AQI was a hierarchical organization with decentralized decisionmaking; AQI in Anbar was profitable enough to send substantial revenues out of the province in 2006; AQI relied on extortion, theft, and black market sales to fund its operations in Anbar; AQI needed large, regular revenue sources to fund its operations, but its administrative leaders did not hold much cash on hand."

The Costs of War

A new paper reviews war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Inside The Hurt Locker Suits

Foreign Policy's recent photoessay offers readers a look at life on real Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams.

The Iraqi Housing Boom

As U.S. home prices continue to fall (down a record 16.6 percent, according to the latest figures), it’s worth considering that in Baghdad, home prices have nearly doubled since last year. That’s partly because the city has become much safer since 2007, as sectarian violence has receded in the Iraqi capital. While people are moving […]

U.S. Troops to Iraqis: Leave Your Lights on at Night

A fascinating U.C.L.A. study challenges the success of the U.S. troop surge using a creative metric: satellite images capturing the amount of light at night in Iraqi neighborhoods. The idea is simple: lights at night are an indication of activity. According to the article, no lights imply that people have fled or have been ethnically […]

My father has a lot of ideas. Some of them are pretty good. Others get me into a lot of trouble. Back in July of 2005, my dad had an idea I thought was interesting enough that I passed it along to the staff of Barack Obama. This is well before Obama was running for […]

What New Nobel Laureate Roger Myerson Is Talking About Tonight

At a Nobel press conference yesterday, a reporter asked Roger Myerson to name the next important thing he had on his agenda. Myerson responded that he had to give a speech for Gary Becker‘s workshop the next day — i.e., today. The paper he is presenting is not your typical economics paper, especially for someone […]

The FREAK-est Links

Students fight for the right to file-share. (Earlier) Headhunters see spike in lies on resumes. Is Craigslist inadvertently prolonging the Iraq war? (Earlier) Why are so many good kidneys going to waste? (Earlier)

Is the Surge Working? Ask the Data, Not the Politicians

One of the most important political questions of the day is whether the troop surge in Baghdad is working. If you ask politicians, the answer you get to that question is very predictable. Republicans say yes, Democrats say no. What do the data have to say about this question? Michael Greenstone, an M.I.T. professor, good […]

This Is Why I Avoid Doing Live TV Interviews Unless Dubner Makes Me

You never know when you are going to get a tough question like this one.