Before Chris White could help disrupt Jihadi finance networks, crush weapons markets, and bust up sex-slave rings with search tools that mine the dark Web, he first had to figure out how to stop himself from plummeting through the open gun door of a banking Black Hawk helicopter. Slight and lanky and 28, White felt Dukakis-ridiculous in his unwieldy body armor and bulbous helmet with "Dr.
Many feared the situation was only going from bad to worse. He had earned academic pole position and had every expectation it would continue that way forever -- becoming a professor, building a lab, and sniping out white papers from a tenured ivory tower.White" scrawled in marker on duct tape across the front, and with the dust from liftoff, he was finding it hard to breathe. Stanley Mc Chrystal, the surge's architect, found himself without a job after he and his staff made disparaging remarks about the commander in chief in some music magazine.He was still struggling with the unfamiliar seat straps when the pilot hit the stick, sending White sliding toward the hot square of the door and the desert 200 feet below. It is hard to imagine that only a few weeks earlier, White had been just another impossibly young-looking Harvard postdoc in flip-flops looking forward to a Cambridge summer.White scrabbled back to his seat, grabbed the straps, and held on as gunners slouched in the open door, watching for ground fire. White's team mission was to target the digital trail of the Taliban and al-Qaida's financing.These veteran warriors were like characters out of , White thought. military had been collecting intel in Afghanistan, reportedly courtesy of the CIA, the National Security Agency, GPS satellites, cellphone records, battlefield reports, digital financial streams, surveillance cameras, foreign intercepts, and fire-hose streams from every online social network out there. wasn't utilizing in its quest to understand what Afghanistan's citizens wanted and needed. Their data-mining tools were specific to the needs of the war, and successful enough to garner him promotions, medals, and citations.
"Some of the best minds of our generation are using the Internet to make advertisers richer," White says.