How the U.S. military used social networking to capture Saddam

Chris Wilson in Slate:

ScreenHunter_01 Feb. 26 09.02 The war in Iraq will always be remembered for the failures of intelligence that preceded it and the insurgency that bedeviled coalition forces long after President George W. Bush declared an end to major combat operations. Amid all that disaster, the capture of Saddam Hussein has become a forgotten success story. It's an accomplishment that wasn't inevitable… I'll explain how a handful of innovative American soldiers used the same theories that underpin Facebook to hunt down Saddam Hussein. I'll also look at how this hunt was a departure in strategy for the military, why its techniques aren't deployed more often, and why social-networking theory hasn't helped us nab Osama Bin Laden.

In the war's early days, coalition forces raced through the deck of the cards. By May 1, 2003, when President George W. Bush stood beneath that infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner, 15 of the men on the cards had surrendered or been captured. Coalition troops bagged another 12 top targets in May, including one of Saddam's sons-in-law. But despite snagging all those high-profile detainees, the trail to Saddam—if he was alive—was not getting any warmer. And when the military did catch someone important, he usually wasn't much help.

More here.