‘The idea of collective intelligence is gaining acceptance’
The rarely restful mind of 30-year Intelligence Community (IC) veteran Robert David Steele (who, among his varied IC missions served as a CIA clandestine services case officer, co-founded the Marine Corps Intelligence Center and is the undisputed, tireless champion of open source intelligence, (OSINT) is filled with futurist concepts for IC reformation, restructuring and rethinking that are inspired, brilliant … and soaked with common sense.
At least that’s according to not just a few past and present admiring, progressive in their own right IC vets who extol Steele’s visions and who agree with his more often than not incendiary bomb-throwing notions about why the post-9/11 reformation of the IC is far from complete in so far as meeting 21st Century intelligence requirements and decision-level support from the President to the beat cop on the street.
Within the context of having watched and studied the machinations of the Intelligence Community for decades – with six books to show for it – Steele’s vision of how intelligence collection and dissemination – from the spy satellite in the sky to a citizen on a street corner with a camera cell phone – should operate in the 21st Century is either wildly enlightened, according to his champions … wildly entertaining and near lunatic, by his detractors … or wildly and completely out of touch by his stodgy old school contemporaries.
“Robert is one of the most influential and visionary people in the world of intelligence today. His ideas are truly awe inspiring and revolutionary. Robert’s message of open source intelligence is so simple that it’s almost mind-boggling to conceive that we don’t actively practice this today. His ideas to bring change to human civilization through open ideas and communication are what we need to become a better society,” said Douglas S. Simar, a communications technology specialist.
Not just a few notable past and present IC members and, especially, IC reformists themselves, have commented that Steele’s myriad expositions on intelligence ought to be required reading among the rank and file from the appointed, hired and elected top echelon policy and acquisition decision-makers to entry level practitioners. But more than that, his intellectual tenacity to envision the intelligence schema for the future ought to be taken advantage of by the current politically beholden-appointed chieftains and congressional overseers of America’s intelligence combine.
But the why behind why that isn’t happening cuts to the crux of some of the historical bureaucratic hindrances that have deeply rooted themselves into the IC’s foundation that Steele – and others – rail against, and has prevented the forward momentum of reform and restructuring as recommended by the 9/11 Commission, and intended by the post-9/11 congressional restructuring of the IC.
Insiders candidly told HSToday.us that those who sidestep Steele as though he is made of kryptonite stems from the fact that his progressive thinking is, well, is beyond the pale. It’s just much too deep for either the politically appointed intelligence custodians or the benefactors who appointed them, or their legislative minders. In other words, it’s all beyond the cognitive capabilities of all these folks’ mental gymnastic abilities of reasoning and understanding, as a number of Steele’s admirers said – on background, of course.
Indeed. Steele’s thinking poses a distinct threat to the status quo whose status quo repeatedly has been identified as being the principal impediment to the creation of a 21st Century Intelligence Community in scores of government and congressional blue-ribbon and NGO commissions, not the least of which was the 9/11 Commission itself, important elements of which still haven’t been taken seriously by Congress because it would require certain committees, subcommittees and their respective chairs to give up their power over appropriations. It’s a lot like the multitide of congressional committees that – despite the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations for leaner oversight – insist on overseeing the Department of Homeland Security.
Steele’s steely vision of what needs to be done pre- and post-9/11 – which he’d been proselytizing long before any of these distinguished empanelments came to many of the same conclusions – are considered too volatile to be allowed within the sacrosanct corridors of this still stove-piped and turf protecting status quo.
Hence Steele’s familiarly combustible sort of observation: “We are a dumb nation with an idiot government, and every time I see another good old boy getting to the top, I think to myself, ‘in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king – especially if he does blow jobs on demand.’”
“Robert Steele is about 100 times as smart and 10,000 times as dangerous as the best of the hackers, for he is successfully hacking the most challenging of bureaucracies, the US Intelligence Community, and doing it for the right reasons,” observed noted futurist technology author, Bruce Sterling, writing in Hacker Crackdown: Law and Order on the Electronic Frontier.”
“Few have thought as deeply or imaginatively about such questions as [this] super-smart former Marine and intelligence officer named Robert D. Steele …,” said the noted futurist writing team of Alvin and Heidi Toffler, who featured Steele in the chapter, “The Future of the Spy,” in their seminal 1993 book, “War and Anti-War: Survival at the Dawn of the 21st Century.”
Take, for instance, Steele’s “no duh” reality check on value-added intelligence analysis versus secret sources:
“The all-source analysts can no longer rest their conclusions and their reputation on the two percent of the information they deal with, most of it from secret sources. In an era when over 90 percent—some would say over 95 percent—of the relevant information is readily available to anyone in the private sector, and especially in the absence of processing and translation capabilities available to the mainstream profit-making institutions, it is analytic tradecraft—a truly superior ability to create value-added insights through superior analytical knowledge (including historical knowledge) and technique—that distinguishes and gives value to the new craft of analysis.”
“We still need spies and secrecy, but only as the ten percent special element of all-source intelligence, which is itself nothing more than ten percent of Information Operations (IO),” Steele believes.
For the more than a decade that I’ve known Steele, he’s advocated more and better use of OSINT, which historically has supposed to be part of the “all-source intelligence collection” process, but which in fact has been relegated to virtual obscurity because the established IC mindset has been that the only truly important intelligence is that which comes from the dark dominion of classified intelligence collection processes.
“And open sources (CIA insiders call it ‘Open Sores’) do not generate the outrageous overhead and profit bonanzas for contractors who today consume 70 percent of the total secret world’s budget,” Steele candidly stated.
Steele has long forcefully argued that that just ain’t so. Steele wrote nearly three years ago in Forbes ASAP that “US intelligence is upside down and inside out. It is upside down because it relies on satellites in outer space rather than human eyes on the ground. It is inside out because it tries to divine intelligence unilaterally, without first asking anyone else what information they might provide.”
Steele wrote that “despite high-profile intelligence failures such as September 11, a series of directors of Central Intelligence have failed to significantly change the way we collect and process information. They simply have not gotten it through their heads that intelligence is about knowing enough to make smart decisions at all levels, on all subjects, not just about stealing very expensive secrets on a handful of what they call ‘hard targets’ – China, Iran, Russia and a few others.
“Fortunately, the idea of ‘collective intelligence’ is gaining acceptance – at least outside of government circles.”
“In short,” Steele noted, “collective intelligence relies on the combined brain power of large groups of people. We see it at work when political parties choose a candidate or create policy platforms. We see it on the Internet, when groups of strangers solve problems and edit collaborative encyclopedia entries. We see it in the behavior of ants, which are capable of maintaining complicated nests and executing huge military raids, tasks far beyond the intellectual abilities of one ant.”
Steele has observed that “we saw collective intelligence at work in the wake of the 2004 tsunami that ravaged South Asia. After the waters receded, international citizens with cell phones and cameras started sending photos and text messages back to their friends at home. All over the world, volunteers jumped in to set up bulletin boards on the status of survivors, helping families reunite or check on loved ones. A hundred citizens on the ground, with eyes on target and cell phones in hand, proved themselves far more useful than one spy could ever be.”
In 2006, Steele morphed from teaching and proselytizing OSINT to espousing “Collective Intelligence,” and in 2008 he published the book, “Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace.” Edited by Canadian Mark Tovey, a Ph.D student at the Institute of Cognitive Science at Carleton University, the book had 55 contributors, including the former Prime Minister of Canada.
But how can this notion of “collective intelligence” be incorporated into status quo intelligence reform?
Steele suggests a national Open Source Agency, half of the money to be earmarked for meeting traditional intelligence foreign intelligence requirements and the other half for 50 state-wide Citizen Intelligence Networks, including a 24/7 watch center “where citizens can both obtain and input information.”
“We could even establish new emergency intelligence phone numbers that would allow “any housewife, cab driver or delivery boy to contribute to our national security,” Steele posited. “All they have to do is be alert, and if they see something, take a cell phone photograph and send it in with a text message. If three different people notice the same suspicious person taking photographs of a nuclear plant, for instance, it could be hugely important. The system could even evolve to automatically mobilize emergency workers or warn citizens. Imagine if after people alerted the network about a roadside car bomb, it automatically sent text messages to every phone in the immediate area, warning people to stay away.”
Using a baseball analogy, Steele explains that “in the old days, government bureaucrats accustomed to unlimited budgets and secret methods would try to win a game simply by bribing a player (clandestine intelligence), putting a ‘bug’ in the dug-out (signals intelligence), trying to ‘sniff’ the direction and speed of the ball (measurements and signatures intelligence), or taking a satellite picture of the field every three days (imagery intelligence).”
Today, Steele updates his wicked humor by noting that the clunky imagery satellites have been replaced by 24/7 Predators circling high overhead, and “if we don’t like the umpire’s call, we simply take out [the target] with a missile, never mind the collateral damage.”
But “this approach is no longer appropriate,” he insists, saying that “in our new era, everyone, including any terrorist, has the option of using open sources of information that are equal or superior to secret sources.”
The terrorists who attacked locations in the heart of Mumbai last November relied on Google Earth, Internet maps, cell phone texting and other open source intelligenc.
“The new craft of intelligence requires all the players to function as part of a team, and asks them to win however they can. It uses the collective wisdom of all the participants. It encourages the crowd to participate. Open source intelligence harnesses what everyone sees and knows. It changes the rules of the game.”
Consequently, in Steele’s world, “we must study, digitize, translate and learn from the history of all nations and peoples and lands. We must share the cost of collecting and understanding all information in all languages with knowledgeable individuals from all nations, not just our own. We must harness the distributed intelligence of the entire nation, such that everyone might participate. We will still need spies and secrecy, but improved use of public intelligence will allow them to focus more narrowly.”
[Editor’s note: Steele’s ideas as relevant to homeland security are explored in-depth in his fifth book, “The Smart Nation Act: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest”]
More recently, influenced by the Swedish conference on Peacekeeping Intelligence that he helped organize in 2004, Steele has morphed again, moving beyond collective intelligence as a concept and into what he and the Swedes now call M4IS2, or Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making (M4IS2).
Since 1988, under different rubrics, Steele has been the foremost international proponent for intelligence reform with an emphasis on multinational information-sharing and “sense-making” that emphasizes a greater reliance on collective OSINT, all leading to what he describes as “the creation of a dynamic World Brain and EarthGame that give the public access to all information in all languages all the time.”
A serial pioneer of the first order, Steele suffered over 20 years of dismissal by the government he worked for, including being called a lunatic by CIA managers in 1992 when he first put forward the idea of collective open intelligence networks in the Whole Earth Review article, “E3i: Ethics, Ecology, Evolution and Intelligence: An Alternative Paradigm.”
But futurists have been dismissed throughout history, despite the lesson from history that the concepts of many visionaries were eventually proven accurate. When mass casualty medical emergency preparedness authority Peter Marghella – then a US Navy Commander – in 1998 postulated a possible future anthrax attack, he “was roundly criticized in Navy circles for being a chicken little for describing a scenario in which the sky is falling,” he told HSToday.us. “I was told nobody would ever attack us with anthrax, that a scenario involving an attack with a biological agent was nothing more than pure science fiction.”
For more than a decade, Steele’s company, Open Source Solutions – now joined by the Earth Intelligence Network, a certified 501c3 public charity – convened an annual intelligence conference in the Washington, DC metro area that repeatedly attracted cadres of cerebral intelligence thinkers from around the world. It was a yearly event that was looked forward to. Each was a rigorous mental exercise in forward thinking intelligence stimulation. It also was the only event world-wide to draw mid-career intelligence officers into open association with one another, with close to 50 different nations engaged.
In 2005, when the IC was reformed and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) was established to oversee the IC in the biggest shake-up of the IC in more than 40 years and the DNI stood up the IC’s first official OSINT office, many assumed Steele’s long hard fought battle had finally been won. But according to a variety of IC insiders, the appointment of an Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Open Sources (ADDNI/OS) was more of a stalemate than a clear-cut battlefield victory, and had more to do with resistance to the utility of open source intelligence rather than the people tasked with trying to make the IC’s first official OSINT office do what it’s supposed to.
Despite early advances by the new open source office, internal critics say subsequent variants of ODNI’s open source efforts have fallen short due to squabbling at higher policymaking levels where the belief that secret intelligence still reigns supreme holds fast.
For the most part, OSINT does continue to be treated as the equivalent of the proverbial red-headed step child, taking a backseat to secret intelligence. Which is all good and fine, Steele readily concedes – when it comes to things like imagery monitoring of the goings-on at hard targets or the interception of electronic communications that provide real-time, actionable intelligence – like, say, on an impending attack or an attack in progress.
But when it comes to the utilization of OSINT to understand societal, cultural and tribal developments that could give forewarnings of emerging threats, that’s something secret intelligence collection activities historically haven’t been able to provide – and made much worse by the lack of accessible institutional memory – both secret and open source – that can be understood by a collaboration among seasoned subject-matter experts.
Steele points to the 2004 report of the United Nations High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change.
“That report, in which Lt. Gen. Dr. Brent Scowcraft, [USAF, Ret.] served as the US representative, changed my life,” Steele said. He explained that “it provided for the first time a global list of threats in priority order, from poverty to transnational crime, and allowed me to both demonstrate that OSINT is vastly more relevant to all of these threats than is secret intelligence. It was that report that inspired me to identify the twelve core policies from agriculture to water that must be harmonized, and to fund the creation of the Earth Intelligence Network.”
Perhaps only similarly, the IC subsequently developed intelligence estimates highlighting the threats to national security from things like infectious diseases – including hospital acquired infections, or HAIs; climate change and food and water shortages.
In this context, the failure of the IC – and, by extrapolation, in-the-dark lawmakers – in the 1980s to exploit OSINT and private sector subject matter authorities to understand that Middle East terrorist movements’ core belief systems are underpinned by a religious doctrine that demands a global jihad to establish a worldwide caliphate, had as much to do with underestimating the machinations of fundamentalist Islam as it did with the malfunction to connect the dots of the 9/11 plotting.
“Unfortunately, our spies and our satellites have lost touch with reality, for they collect less than ten percent of the relevant information that we must digest to understand the complex multi-cultural world that is now capable of producing very wealthy and suicidal terrorists,” Steele has repeatedly expressed in papers and public addresses.
Writing for the US Institute of Peace in the 1990’s, Steele said “in an age characterized by distributed information, where the majority of the expertise is in the private sector, the concept of ‘central intelligence’ is an oxymoron, and its attendant concentration on secrets is an obstacle to both national defense and global peace,”adding that “the underlying threat to peace and prosperity-the cause of causes-is the ever-widening chasm between policymakers with power, and private sector experts and participants with knowledge.”
Steele contends that “neither classified information nor information technology alone can bridge this gap – but both can make a positive contribution if they are managed within a larger information strategy that focuses on content as well as connectivity, and enables policymakers to draw upon the expertise available in the private sector. We thus require a strategy to create a ‘virtual intelligence community’ able to both inform governance, and also carry out a new kind of virtual diplomacy: ‘information peacekeeping.’”
“Information peacekeeping,” Steele explains, “can help avoid and resolve conflict, and represents the conceptual, technical, and practical foundation for successful virtual diplomacy – virtual intelligence ‘is’ virtual diplomacy.”
Steele first developed his ideas along these lines when he served as the senior civilian co-founder of the Marine Corps Intelligence Center (today a command), and succeeded in persuading the Commandant of the Marine Corps at the time, Gen. Al Gray, of the merit of this view.
In Gray’s Winter 1989-1990 American Intelligence Journal paper, “Global Intelligence Challenges of the 1990’s,” it is easy to see Steele’s handwriting in support of the General. Gray’s call for using open source intelligence to make the case for “peaceful preventive measures” is considered by not just a few to be the single most intelligent observation of any serving leader in the US government then and since.
Among intelligence practioneers and OSINT advocates, Steele is well-known for, in 1995, having highlighted the IC’s various departments and agencies’ “failure to fulfill their responsibilities for collecting, processing and analyzing open source information relevant to their missions.” He’s even gone so far as to call all senior IC managers derelict in their duties and in betrayal of the public trust – a pretty brash sentiment, to be sure. One not likely to win over detractors … least of all friends.
But Steele has proven the point of his vision. Perhaps the best example is when the 1995-1996 Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the US Intelligence Community – empowered by Congress to explore the rennovation of the IC – wanted to test secret vs. OSINT. It respectively tasked Steele and the CIA to produce an up-to-date analytical report on the then civil war torn nation of Burundi. Overnight, Steele, using only OSINT, provided the Commission with a remarkably detailed and accurate report on Burundi.
Meanwhile, the CIA turned in a flawed economic analysis while none of the other secret agencies could offer anything of substance. It was this exercise that helped persuade the Commission to conclude that OSINT should be a top priority for funding within the IC, and which later influenced then Rep. Lee Hamilton – co-chair of the 9/11 Commission – to approve the call for an Open Source Agency being inserted on page 413 of the 9/11 Commission Report at the last minute – literally in the dead of night as the Commission’s report went to press.
By 2000, when Steele’s book, “On Intelligence: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World,” was first published (and now is in its third printing), former Sen. David Boren, the long-time chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and co-chair of Congress’ Iran-Contra investigation, noted in his foreword to the book that the Commission’s reforms had not yet been implemented by any of the Directors of Central Intelligence who had an opportunity to do so.
So, despite subsequent IC reform commissions’ identical recommended reforms, they continued to be ignored, just as have some of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission – including its recommendations for greater funding and utilization of OSINT and localized law enforcement intelligence along the lines of what Steele has long advocated, especially with regard to OSINT and localized “ground truth” – beat cop-level proccessible collective intelligence that could indicate domestic terrorist plotting.
Increasingly, fusion intelligence centers and domestic counterterror intelligence officials have argued that it’s much more likely that the local cop on the street will spot something suspiciously out of place that will lead to the discovery of a terrorist cell or an activity associated with attack plotting. At the same time, classified fusion centers are being reduced for lack of meaningful secret information to collate at the local level. Or are coming under fire for spying on domestic protest organizations or using a broad brush to paint certain conservative thought as an indication that certain individuals’ have proclivities toward terrorist-like violence against the government, as the Missouri Information Analysis Center recently came under fire for doing.
The Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT) in Oklahoma City has reinforced this notion through its Law Enforcement Intelligence Capacity Building Program for uniformed police officers. MIPT believes that America’s state, local and tribal law enforcement officers “are the bedrock of counterterrorism and crime prevention.”
MIPT Deputy Director David Cid, a former FBI counterterror specialist, outlined the MIPT program – and highlighted it’s success in having imparted to a street cop the information necessary to act on the suspicious activities of a man that led to the discovery that he was making and trying to sell IEDs to street gangs – in his HSToday.us “Best Practices” report, “Keeping Bombs off America’s Streets: A Case Study of Prevention in Oklahoma City.”
Similarly, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has committed to a strong OSINT program which it is finding is at least as helpful if not more beneficial than anything they receive from any branch of the federal government.
“We need a ‘new craft of intelligence’ that can access and digest the broad historical, cultural and current events knowledge that is available openly [in hundreds of languages] – by exploiting these open sources we can create open source intelligence suitable for informing our public as well as our state and local authorities and our international partners, as to the threats to our nation,” Steele wrote in a TIME op-ed.
“Intelligence without translation is ignorant,” Steele told HSToday.us, explaining that “this requires very strong emphasis. The failure of our government to translate all of the Arabic documents captured after the first World Trade Center bombing will stand in history as the single dumbest counterintelligence decision ever made.”
“Conceptually, doctrinally and financially,” Steele said, “we have disparaged and blocked out the reality that the really important intelligence information is more often than not going to be in a foreign language. We must have an army of translators and a capability to rapidly scan in foreign language materials, route them to the right person, and get back accurate translations within 24 hours – for long documents, this may require a combination of 20-30 people, all working through the Internet. America is too great a nation to be ‘out of touch’ with the realities and perceptions of the rest of the world. This is an easily established capability; it simply needs funding and attention.”
According to a source who preferred not to be identified, HSToday.us was told that the normal turn-around time for documents in Dari captured in Afghanistan is three to four weeks, and that this is because of a lack of cleared Dari translators in country.
Steele, who divulged that he was aware of this from another source, observed that “in this day and age, that is criminal incompetence. Documents captured at the tactical level should be translated by whatever means necessary within 48 hours at the most, and ideally within 12 hours – the sun should never set on a multinational decision-support centre with 24/7 global translations capabilities.”
The problem of paucity of translators and IC subject matter speakers and linguists is a problem that has plagued the IC – and the FBI – for decades.
After reading the National Intelligence Council’s November 2008 unclassified report, “Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World,” Steele said “a careful reading of the administrative remarks at the beginning suggests that the analysis, sources and methods were starkly limited, were not multinational, multiagency, multidisciplinary or multidomain in nature, and did not include clever utilization of advanced information processing and visualization nor any form of analytic model intended to assure an integrative delivery that might actually help decision-makers responsible for developing strategy, policy, force structure and acquisition or operations.”
Not one to mince his words, Steele said “the report is sophomoric at multiple levels …”
“Neither classified information nor information technology alone can bridge this gap, but both can make a positive contribution if they are managed within a larger information strategy which focuses on content as well as connectivity, and enables policymakers to draw upon the expertise available in the private sector. We thus require a strategy to create a ‘virtual intelligence community’ that’s able to both inform governance, and also carry out a new kind of virtual diplomacy: ‘information peacekeeping.’ Information peacekeeping can help avoid and resolve conflict and represents the conceptual, technical and practical foundation for successful virtual diplomacy – virtual intelligence ‘is’ virtual diplomacy.”
But, Steele says bluntly … and often, “the existing Intelligence Community is pathologically wasteful, irrelevant and misguided. It does nothing of consequence for homeland security, it does nothing of consequence against eight of the ten high-level threats to humanity, and it does nothing useful for most of the Cabinet or all of Congress. As Gen. Anthony Zinni (former Commander in Chief of the US Central Command) pointed out, it provides, at best,’ four percent of a top commander’s needed knowledge.”
“Eighty percent of what I needed to know as CINCENT I got from open sources rather than classified reporting,” Zinni said. “And with within the remaining 20 percent, if I knew what to look for, I found another 16 percent. At the end of it all, classified intelligence provided me, at best, with four percent of my command knowledge.”
“The secret world needs tough love right now, and an outsider will not succeed,” Steele believes, adding that there “are three things that the new DNI must be prepared to do. First, persuade the president that the national intelligence agencies in defense must be moved under the DNI’s total authority. They are costing the taxpayers tens of billions of dollars a year and not delivering equivalent value. Second, immediately establish an Open Source Agency and related UN and multinational sense-making initiatives under diplomatic auspices. Third, end the out-sourcing of all-source intelligence analysis as well as clandestine operations – those are inherently governmental functions.”
At a conference in Sweden last week on peacekeeping intelligence attended by intelligence authorities from governments and NGOs from around the world at which Steele was keynote speaker, there was unanimous confirmation of not only Steele’s positions on OSINT, but also his notions regarding an overall 21st Century intelligence collection, interpretation and analysis stratagem.
Notably, there wasn’t a single American participant from any US combatant command or any element of the Office of the Secretary of Defense in attendance, according to participants and an attendee list.
Colonel (Ret.) Jan-Inge Svensson, project manager and senior advisor for the Folke Bernadotte Academy in Sweden, former head of intelligence at the European Union Operational Headquarters and commanding officer of the Swedish Armed Forces Intelligence and Security Center from 1997 – 2003, made the following points:
* Evaluation of sources and information. We must be able to gain information from all sources, evaluate their biases and strengths, and bring this all together;
* What is intelligence? It is the process of discovering and processing information. The source may be secret or not secret but intelligence as a process is not classified. Intelligence is the outcome of the intelligence process, decision-support;
* Cultural awareness and cultural clashes (this includes understanding cultural signals). Secret sources may not be the best here – open sources may be the best;
* Open Source Intelligence. This needs to be understood in relation to our needs for coverage of humanitarian crises, crime and other threats; it can promote information sharing as well as help ensure multinational elements are well-informed;
* Use of media information;
* Human Intelligence (HUMINT). A great deal of HUMINT is not classified, and comes from UN observers and others, it is essential that there is a flow of information relevant to the mission among all these human parties.
Whether or not aided by shared information technologies, the exchange of information is vital and must be accomplished.
Svensson noted that the “recycling of information is a major problem when units lack an institutional memory.”
For decades Steele has harped on the failure of retention of easily accessible, dot-connecting-capable institutional intelligence by IC analytical shops.
He recently summed up his take on the IC:
“Right now, $65 billion a year, 70 percent of which is spent on contractors rather than government employees, buys a vast range of largely failed technical systems for collecting everything it is possible to steal, while ignoring the 80 percent that is openly available in 183 languages we do not comprehend.
“The secret world has no knowledge of history, of culture, of family and tribal networks, of values,” Steele said.
“The secret world is not capable of bringing all that it knows together in any one place because it has never invested in processing what it collects. The secret world is not capable of making sense of what it collects, despite a massive hiring binge, because its security and payroll habits demand the hiring of children rather than mid-career accomplished authorities, and its cult of secrecy precludes its consulting world-class experts who lack US citizenship and the kind of boring sedentary life that is easy for thick-necked security officers to ‘validate’ as being free from foreign influence.”
Beyond all this, Steele posits that “national intelligence” should “be defined as decision support for every Cabinet member, all of the assistant secretaries, and – dare I even suggest – every action officer in every federal agency?”
And “what about Congress?” Steele asked. “No congressional jurisdiction gets decision support today – they are flooded with information from stakeholders, the Congressional Research Service gives them bland inoffensive summaries, and the Government Accountability Office, which does a stellar job with little support, is simply ignored.”
“Beyond Congress, what about the state and local government officials who have been very poorly served by the top secret joint fusion centers now closing down for lack of anything to do, or the Department of Homeland Security whose technology innovation budget could have put a very large number of our less fortunate students through college?”
Asked about his plans for the future, Steele said, “Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) taught me it takes 25 years to move the beast. This is year 20. I am optimistic because the change curve for government runs flat for 20 years, and then goes vertical. To paraphrase Trotsky, the US govermment may not be interested in reality, but reality is assuredly interested in the United States.”
Continuing, Steele said “I have sought, with great diligence, to help my own government for 20 years, and it pains me that 90 countries today have a better appreciation for OSINT than does the US government. The sad truth is the US government under the two-party bi-opoly is now quasi-senile, and we must look to other demographic powers to take the lead.
“As of today, I am focusing on the Swedish presidency of the European Union, and the potential axis of good in the African Union, where Libyan money and South African training can be combined to good effect. It is with great sadness that I abandon my effort to help the USA from within, and look instead to Europe and Africa and Asia for the future of intelligence … I did my best for my country, now I will try to do my best for the rest of the world.”
Source Link: http://www.hstoday.us/content/view/7964/150/