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Rumsfeld seeks UK help in target-setting and performance metrics
24 Oct 2003 by Malcolm Drury
US Secretary of Offence Donald "Dr Strangelove" Rumsfeld has asked the UK for help in establishing targets and performance metrics for his war against terrorists and anyone else who disputes the USA's divine right to tell the rest of the world what to do, DeadBrain has learned.
In an internal memo to Pentagon staff, Mr Rumsfeld expressed doubts about America's progress in its war and asked whether the United States was winning or losing it. "Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror," he wrote. "Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?"
Mr Rumsfeld is reported to have fallen into a rage when none of his staff was able to answer that question, threatening to send them to Iraq and Afghanistan to start counting. However, it seems he remembered a past conversation with Tony Blair during which the PM had boasted of the UK government's progress and experience in setting targets and performance measures for a range of activities, including establishing targets for the number of targets to be set, and he promptly despatched a senior aide to the UK to seek advice.
It is believed that the aide is to hold talks with officials from Ofsted, the NHS and the Home Office, agencies that are heavily dependent on targets and metrics for assessing their progress. However, a senior Home Office official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told our reporter that that Ministry was perhaps not the best place to seek help on metrics. "We have the targets set, that's not a problem," he said, "but we are still struggling to make sense of the performance metrics. For example, we really can't tell from this year's numbers whether either overall crime or the number of crimes that have been solved is up or down. It's all rather confusing, really."
Douglas Ramsbottom, Machiavelli Professor of Political Science at the University of Bootle, told DeadBrain that there is a wide range of performance tools available to Mr Rumsfeld. "But what is important for a politician," he said, "is to put everything in terms of a mix of percentages and absolute numbers. Not many people really understand percentages, and by mixing them with actual numbers you can sow considerable confusion to your advantage."
Agreeing with the Home Office official's assessment, Professor Ramsbottom cited the recent figures on crime detection rates in England and Wales. Although Home Office figures showed that three-quarters of police forces reported a lower percentage of crimes solved than in the previous year, the Government has defended the figures by saying that both the number of crimes and the total number of cases solved had gone up over the past 12 months, even though the percentage detection rates were down.
"That's classic obfuscation by confusion," he said. "Just what Rumsfeld needs."
In related news, a new MORIORLESSI poll of 4,560 people in the UK has shown that almost all Britons have forgotten whom Osama bin Laden is. 64% of those asked could not recall the name, 18% thought that he is the host of a 1970s game show on UK Gold, 15% said that he is the owner of Harrods, and only 3% correctly identified him as the leader of outlawed terrorist group al Qaeda. A poll of that size is accurate to within 85% 19 times out of 20, experts have said.
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