Intelligence for the President–and Everyone Else
Today’s secret intelligence community costs the U.S. taxpayer over $65 billion a year, and yet, according to General Tony Zinni, USMC (Ret), provides less than 4% of the decision support needed by a major government executive. This is the same community that has violated the Constitution at least three times, with warrantless wiretapping, rendition for torture, and more recently, a homeland surveillance grid that is a hair away from effecting a police state. This is the same community that is completely useless as a source of objective information able to help the President and those purporting to represent the public in connecting means (revenue) with ways (spending) and ends (outcomes).
The U.S. taxpayer is being screwed by the Obama Administration with “Empire as Usual.” As I wrote in my latest book ELECTION 2008: Lipstick on the Pig, and as others have documented, this election was a fraud. Seventeen percent of the eligible voters elected Obama, triumphing over the fifteen percent that voted for McCain. Upon entering office, instead of reaching out to Cynthia McKinny, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader, and others representing the two thirds of America that did not vote, the Voices Not Heard, Obama immediately abandoned his transpartisan campaign rhetoric and adopted the prevailing Washington paradigm of bi-partisanship. As Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform likes to point out, bipartisanship is what you get when the two parties that exclude all others from power get together to screw the American taxpayer. ENOUGH!
Obama’s appointments to the top three positions of the totally fragmented and out-of-control U.S. Intelligence Community are mixed.
The new Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Admiral Dennis Blair, USN (Ret), is a good man badly suited to the job, and he committed intellectual suicide on day one by declaring the economic crisis to be “the” threat to national security—evidently he has not read the report from LtGen Brent Scowcroft, USAF(Ret) and other members of the Panel on High-Level Threats and Challenges. Leon Panetta, the new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could be a wild card, with his extraordinary knowledge, as a former Chief of Staff to the President, and as a former Director of the Office of Management and Budget, of what Presidents actually need to know. However, as of this writing, he has allowed himself to be sucked into the secret world, where he is surrounded by sycophants, liars, and bureaucrats out of touch with reality. Finally, we have Chas Freeman, selected to chair the National Intelligence Council—this is a man with so little integrity and so little intelligence that he is world-famous for prostituting himself to the Saudis and serving as their shill for the global distribution of a Saudi history “textbook” replete with fabrications, incitements to violence, and libel against Israel in particular, the West in general. Among those remaining in power are LtGen Keith Alexander, USA, who covered up and destroyed the ABLE DANGER discovery of two of the 9-11 terrorists prior to 9-11, rather than share them with the FBI. This is the same person who wants $12 billion dollars to achieve cyber-security, but who will actually use that money to assure digital nakedness for every single person, thing, and datum. I do not trust him.
ENOUGH. It is time for We the People to demand public intelligence in the public interest, to free Obama from the clutches of the closed circle of power that is totally out of touch with both reality and the public interest, and to restore the Constitution, a balanced budget, and a foreign policy committed to creating a prosperous world at peace. Obama can listen and lead, or not listen and lose it all.
Right now $65 billion a year, 70% 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% 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. 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.
Perhaps even more importantly, because secrets not known to the public can be ignored by both the Executive and Congress, our Cabinet departments continue to focus on maximizing budget share (plundering the individual taxpayer) and protecting special interests (the recipients of the tax dollar). There is nothing “intelligent” about how we are governed, for ideology and pork displace substance.
To illustrate the insanity of what now passes for “intelligence” at our expense, let me simply describe how each of the secret disciplines would approach the simple question of reporting on the outcome of a baseball game.
+ Clandestine Human Intelligence (HUMINT) would strive to recruit at least one player on each team, and they would be given complex covert communications arrangements for reporting, arrangements not likely to work while they are still playing. At the same time, using pre-arranged signals from the stands, the bribed players would be “tasked” to drop or catch any given ball depending on orders from Washington.
+ Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) would combine a dedicated satellite in outer-space seeking to listen to every conversations taking place on every cell phone being using during the game, with the installation of listening devices (“bugs”) in each dug-out, hoping to hear the coaches and players, and from all of that, figure out how the game is going.
+ Imagery intelligence (IMINT), would in the past have taken a picture of the ball field every three days. Today we can have a Predator circling the ball field 24/7, and if we don’t like one of the umpire’s calls, the secret world simply takes him out with a missile, never mind the collateral damage.
+ Measurements and Signatures Intelligence (MASINT), the most expensive and least productive of the secret disciplines, would install extremely complex equipment around the ball field and seek to “sniff” the ball each time it leaves the bat, and when that does not work, ask for billions more.
Remarkably absent from the secret world’s repertoire is Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), something I and 7,500 others have sought to advance these past 20 years. At almost no cost, this discipline listens and watches using publicly-available and generally free open sources, and if we wish to alter the outcome of the game, we change the rules of the game: any catch by anyone in the audience is an out. That’s called Collective Intelligence, something the secret world cannot fathom because Collective Intelligence not only knows everyone has something to contribute, but it shines so much sunlight on all information in all languages all the time that the lies protected by secrecy are quickly exposed.
Congress and the Executive are no longer representative of We the People, and can no longer be trusted as stewards of our Commonwealth. Our tax dollars are being spent in ways that reduce our prosperity and decrease our security, because Congress and the Executive are making decisions based on a mix of corruption, ideology, partisanship, and ignorance. As I wrote in the late 1990’s, the gap between people with power and people with knowledge has grown cataclysmic. Obama, for all of his talk of change and hope, has not demonstrated in a single appointment, a single speech, a single decision, any break what-so-ever from “Empire as Usual.”
In the balance of this commentary I will outline the one thing that President Obama can do now, at virtually no cost, to honor his campaign promises, restore the Constitution, and create a prosperous world at peace. This is not rocket science. It requires only one little word, a word that Buckminster Fuller selected to represent all that is essential about feedback loops within and among complex systems. The word: INTEGRITY.
Everything about how we elect our government at local, state, and federal levels lacks integrity. Everything about how they inform themselves and make decisions lacks integrity. Everything about how the public dollar is spent lacks integrity. Worst of all, everything being done “in our name” both at home and abroad lacks integrity. The time has come to either abolish the government, or restore its integrity.
We do that by demanding of President Obama the transparency of which he is the purported champion. Instead of focusing $65 billion a year on “secrets for the President,” as is now the case, the President should accept the recommendation of the 9-11 Commission (on page 413 of their report), and create the Open Source Agency (OSA) as an independent agency co-equal to the CIA but under diplomatic auspices.
The OSA, which I and others have defined in collaboration with senior civil servants in OMB as well as within the Department of Defense (DoD) would initially cost only $125 million a year, ramping up over six years to a final annual cost of $3 billion a year. Once fully operational, it would allow the reduction of the secret intelligence budget by at least 50%; it would illuminate the benefits of redirecting at least a third of what we spend on war toward waging peace; and it would expose all corruption in all government spending at all levels—we can cut so much fraud, waste, and abuse as to eliminate individual income taxes along with all the corporate loopholes while generating ample revenue from a tiny tax on all financial transactions among banks and corporations. With an OSA I can wipe out the deficit in three years and cut future unfunded Medicare costs by 90%. INTEGRITY is priceless, and it favors the public over special interests.
The OSA would consist of the following “pieces,” each of which would rapidly restore INTEGRITY to the public policy and spending process, not only in the USA, but around the world in every government, every corporation, and every non-profit or civil society organization.
• A diplomatic Office of Information Sharing Treaties and Agreements, led by a senior Ambassador, would rapidly accelerate the aggregate sharing of information within the digital cloud, with full provision for all necessary aspects of privacy, accountability, and the protection of intellectual property. The Information Commons does not exist, and it must exist if we are to save the Global Commons.
• A diplomatic Office of the Assistant Secretary General for Decision Support within the Department of Safety and Security at the United Nations. This office would be responsible for identifying the intelligence (decision support) needs of all elements of the UN System, while also striving to meet the decision support needs of all those engaged in stabilization and reconstruction, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief operations. It would also be the sponsor for a Global Range of Needs Table, an online matrix of needs down to the household level, able to connect the one billion rich individuals with the five billion poor, at an item by item level of giving. This is how we harmonize close to $1 trillion a year in planned giving along with social and corporate investments, while enticing the 80% of the rich who do not give to the poor, to do so on a peer-to-peer basis.
• A Multinational Decision Support Center (MDSC) and Network, a global grid implementing the Swedish concept of Multinational, Mutliagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information Sharing and Sense-Making (M4IS2). Built around the militaries of the world, this would be a hub within each country for both harvesting knowledge from and providing knowledge to each of the other seven tribes of intelligence (government, law enforcement, academia, business, media, non-profit, and civil society including labor unions and religions). It would deal exclusively with open source information, eschewing all secrets, while enabling global real-time translations in 183 languages.
• Community Decision Support Networks (CDSN) would be funded within each of the 50 states and commonwealths, with a special network for the Tribal Nations. As with the MDSC, these would deal exclusively with open source information, and serve—with National Guard personnel manning each state’s “center”—as a means for receiving and making sense of bottom up early warning of threats to the community; and as a means of providing every community with direct free access to useful information from all global sources in all languages (with all necessary translation as needed).
This is what we have now in the way of very TIRED 20th Century Intelligence: secrets for the President; obsession with seven “Hard Target” countries; administered on basis of inputs or budget share; reliance on centralized secret analysis by children; priority of support to military aggression; Ignore OMB and the General Accountability Office (GAO); ineffective in support to Cabinet Secretaries and individual action officers; Ineffective in support to state & local governments; and excessive expenditures on secret technical collection.
This is what we could have in the way of very WIRED 21st Century Intelligence, with immediate benefits: decision-support for ALL officials and citizens; “Global Coverage” of all threats and issues in all languages; management on basis of public interest outcomes; reliance on distributed public knowledge and wisdom; respect and meet needs of OMB and GAO; provide constant comprehensive decision support and raw global information feeds to every schoolhouse and chamber of commerce; balanced expenditures on processing and sense-making that can be shared, instead of just “secrets for the President.
President Obama can bring to life the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison:
A Nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry.– Thomas Jefferson
A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. — James Madison
National Intelligence in this era cannot be about “secrets for the President.” It must be about empowering the President—and everyone else—with the extraordinary personal and organizational power that comes from information that has been discovered, discriminated, distilled, and converted into actionable intelligence—decision-support.
Operating under this new paradigm, the DNI would be the President’s chief aide in harnessing the distributed intelligence of the Whole Earth, and in creating a “Smart Nation” that will be secure as well as competitive in what is clearly the age of applied intelligence—applied Collective Intelligence.
A truly inspired DNI would ask that the OSA, while funded by the DNI and totally responsive to the DNI’s severely deficient access to global multilingual open sources of information, be a completely independent agency, a virtual “fourth estate” willing and able to ensure that every citizen has access to real-world, real-time intelligence, arming America with the power unique to an informed citizenry.
As the Rasmussen poll just documented, 73% of the public trusts public judgment over that of politicians. There is absolutely nothing wrong with America, or the world, that cannot be rapidly and constructively addressed by re-engaging the Collective Intelligence of the Whole Earth. This is how we do it.
ROBERT DAVID STEELE VIVAS, a recovering spy and senior civilian founder of the Marine Corps Intelligence Center, is a 30-year veteran of government service across intelligence, information technology, military, and policy support functionalities. He is the founding CEO of OSS.Net, and of the Earth Intelligence Network, a 501c3 Public Charity devoted to creating public intelligence in the public interest. As a hobby, he is the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction. All of his books are free online at www.oss.net, as well as available in hard-copy from Amazon.