Monday, September 29, 2008

Al Gore's Descent into Radicalism

Did something happen to Al Gore's psyche in 2000 when he lost the presidential election to George W. Bush?

Since then, he has become a global warming messiah and his words have become increasingly radical:
"If you're a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration."

The next logical step would be for Gore to recruit and train his environmental jihadist army and send them out on missions of "civil disobedience." Is "civil disobedience" a euphemism for advocating domestic terrorism against coal companies?

Elsewhere, Gore said new coal plants should be banned in the United States.

The problem is that coal accounts for about 50% of U.S. electricity, and without it, how do we make up that 50% from other sources, and how do we keep utility bills from skyrocketing? We don't.

As I said elsewhere some time ago, Al Gore believes what he says. He made a conscious decision following the events of 2000 to try to become some kind of modern day Gandhi, or John Brown, or Martin Luther King. The election loss may have precipitated a psychological break in him.

He is now advocating for "young people" (not himself, obviously) to break the law in the service of his so-called "planetary crisis." How far will he go to guarantee this happens?

How can he stay relevant and in the public eye with many countries, especially in Europe, balking at green initiatives because they are so expensive, with dubious results, and with a recession looming? Not to mention evidence the earth is cooling, not warming?

Are we seeing a fissure opening inside Gore? How radical will he feel he needs to go? And what internal conflicts are at the root of it all?

No Suicide Note from Ivins

Bruce Ivins, the anthrax killer, left no suicide note, according to recently released FBI documents.

The absence of any mea culpa is consistent with his behavior as a loner refusing to accept responsibility or take the blame for anything.

We learn that a couple days before Ivins killed himself, he went to a public computer and read comments from FBI Director Robert Mueller that the anthrax case would soon be solved. That same day, Ivins had been released from a psychiatric hospital where the FBI had obtained a DNA sample from him. He knew the game was up at that point.

A Washington Post article claims there are "two irreconcilable versions" of Ivins: the supposed anthrax killer and the respected scientist who was kind to people. But really, can anyone in this day and age not believe that someone who appears kind and gentle can be a mass murderer as well? We know it's true, and certainly was the case with Ivins. There is nothing "irreconcilable" about it at all. Quite the contrary.

More quotes from his co-workers who, they say, just cannot believe it and want more proof. Why do they think he had guns and ammo at his house? Because he loved target practice? The FBI discovered that this great guy had tried to deceive them by doctoring samples from his lab. In light of the evidence, the doubts of Ivins' guilt by his co-workers takes on a bizarre tinge, as if they can't psychologically accept the truth, no matter what. It's eerie.

The source of Ivins' damaged psyche? His brother Tom said when they were kids, there was physical abuse in their family house. Were the anthrax victims stand-ins for the people he really wanted to kill but couldn't?

There is precious little in the way of statements or quotes from Ivins' family. The silence is deafening. They must know a great deal more than we've heard. Don't they have an obligation to the victims and their families? Yes, many questions remain unanswered in this case.

More evidence of Ivins' violent mind emerge. He told a counselor that he went out of town to watch a woman play soccer and if she lost, he was going to poison her. "It was not a crime of impulse. It was planned with cunning," she said.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Ivins Documents Reveal Mind of a Killer

How can anyone doubt Bruce Ivins is responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks? New documents reveal more evidence that Ivins was a sick, evil man often thinking about harming others while fretting that the feds were on to him.

Ivins sent an email (to himself) in 2007 announcing that he had discovered the identity of the anthrax killer. He didn't reveal the name of the killer, preferring to keep his own identity hidden from himself.

If he was innocent and had discovered the killer, he had ample opportunity to tell someone, but he didn't. The email to himself sounds like he was creating an email to possibly send to others around him at a later date to take suspicion off himself.

He talked about killing co-workers as well as the actress Kathryn Price from the TV show "The Mole," and sent an email to someone with her name asking if she was the actress and if she made public appearances where he could meet her.

In early 2008, Ivins spilled anthrax on himself and then tried to blame the accident on someone else.

Ivins was such a basket case, it is a puzzle why he was not the first and primary suspect all along, and further than that, why didn't his co-workers, knowing his mental problems, alert the FBI and insist he might well be the killer? Instead, the other scientists display surprise that the FBI points the finger at him! One even called him an "honorable man."

Without doubt, the FBI made many mistakes in its investigation of the killings. The National Academy of Sciences will review the scientific aspects of the investigation. But what about the non-scientific aspects?

Rep. Rush Holt of New Jersey wants a national commission to study the anthrax attacks. But why is the extra cost and effort of a national commission necessary, rather than a congressional investigation? (Anthrax letters were mailed to a post office in his district.) Why not then have a national commission study any and every crime where several people were killed? Holt needs to answer the question why a national commission is necessary. Standard and unnecessary congressional overkill, but luckily, some are balking at the idea.

If anyone truly believes someone other than Ivins is responsible for the anthrax killings, they should speak up and tell us who they have in mind. This would include Sen. Patrick Leahy who has yet to present any details of his theory that someone else is responsible. I think it would be entertaining.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sarah Palin Exposes the Left's Personal Inadequacies

Why does the Left hate Sarah Palin to such an extreme? Talking heads on CNN and scribes in the print media have quickly devolved to adolescent schoolyard attacks against her. The final verdict explaining this behavior might reveal a lengthy list of ingredients in this strange stew, but an immediate (while not incorrect) answer is what I propose for now.

Sarah Palin exposes the personal inadequacies of men and women on the Left. It isn't just that she is a Republican and they are Democrats. This isn't about politics--not even close. The virulence of the attacks against her are proof enough of that.

Men on the Left are distingushed as abhorring war, afraid of guns, running away from religion, extremely pro-gay, and more than eager to stunt any trace of traditional masculine values. Palin, the pro-war, pro-guns, moose-hunting strong woman in effect reveals the self-castration of men on the Left. That explains the anger against her, and tellingly, men on the Left often try to hide their anger by couching their attacks as "jokes" and laughing while they talk about her. Campbell Brown's show on CNN tonight was a textbook example.

"Palin Fear" is rampant among the Left because she holds up a mirror to them and the result is embarrassment. The response from the men is to pretend Palin doesn't belong on the national stage and to attack her personally. But to attack a woman in public like that is to betray a personal lack of manhood and to accept the truth of that deficit as well.

For women on the Left, Palin represents the ultimate "goal" of the female that they have rejected and need to deny as worthy and rightful. She calls into question the validity of their womanhood.

The anti-Palin hate has a strong undercurrent of psychological chaos boiling within it. We are supposed to believe the "cover story" that this is about politics, but the political angle is a mask that serves to hide the true "argument" the Left has with Palin. It's personal and it hurts. I think of that every time I hear a guy on CNN laugh as he tries his best to diss a pretty, intelligent woman on national TV.

Al Qaeda's October Surprise

Al Qaeda wants to influence the US presidential elections, acording to a news story. Former CIA Director James Woolsey said al Qaeda does 3 things related to elections:

1. Attack before an election (Spain 2004)
2. Attack when a new leader takes command (Pakistan this week)
3. Send messages to populations in elections

A McCain official has said any al Qaeda attack will benefit McCain in the polls, and I believe there is no dispute about that. I also take it for granted that al Qaeda would prefer Barack Obama to win the election, primarily because he is so much weaker on national security than McCain, and secondarily because those in the Muslim world who are anti-American feel a kinship with the Democratic Party.

But any attack before the November election will benefit McCain. Any attack after the election will cause the US government to shift more attention and resources to national security.

A message to the American public that might change their votes? Al Qaeda is in a position whereby the only way to support Obama (other than doing nothing and hoping the votes are cast their way) is to use reverse psychology. Osama bin Laden will need to appear in a new video endorsing McCain for president. That would win Obama some votes. And that's not going to happen.

The New York Times As Democratic Party Shill

Steve Schmidt, a John McCain aide, said today that the New York Times is an "Obama advocacy organization." I see no reason to dispute that obvious point.

The mainstream media, led by the likes of the Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and CNN, has been moving further leftward for at least the past 40 years. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between the media outlets mentioned above and radical leftist blogs such as Daily Kos. All pretenses to objectivity are gone, and I think even the casual reader of the media is aware of that. It's never been so obvious as it is now, as the media seems uninterested in hiding its partisanship.

When did the leftward slant start? With the fallout from Watergate, the media tasted blood, and realized they had the power to bring down a president. Or did the slant begin earlier, with the radical changes that came along with the 60s? Or did the end of objectivity begin with the assassination of JFK?

Regardless of when it started, what could possibly cause the media to shift en masse back in the other direction and be respectable and trustworthy again? Newspaper circulation figures are rapidly declining: will a lack of subscriber and advertising dollars strangle some sense into the papers or has the agenda been enthroned to such a degree that not even the threat of oblivion will prod a regime change?

Or is it nothing more than a matter of the baby boomer generation gradually dying off to be replaced by a different mindset somewhere down the road?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Anthrax Weaponization Mystery

It was recently announced to the public about a month ago that the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks shortly after 9/11 was not weaponized. That determination had been made back in 2002 by researchers at Sandia National Labs, but they weren't allowed to say anything until now.

Scientific American has now published an article about the science behind the Sandia investigation.

It's been public knowledge for at least 2 years that the anthrax wasn't weaponized.

But this past Wednesday, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Arlen Specter asked FBI Director Robert Mueller, "Was the anthrax weaponized, that is, engineered to make it more deadly or not?"

I'd suggest Specter's staff read the Scientific American article or the Sandia press release cited here for the answer. There is no longer any mystery.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Leahy Believes Group Responsible for Anthrax Attacks

Sen. Patrick Leahy believes more than one person was involved in the anthrax attacks of 2001, of which he was one of the targets. The FBI has identified Bruce Ivins as the sole attacker.

Who are the others Leahy suspects of the murders? The leaders of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy? Al Qaeda? He offered no evidence anyone else was involved, and even questioned whether Ivins wasn't a scapegoat.

What I find interesting is the total lack of logic or reason in the statements of those who have some involvement and are commenting about the anthrax case. Leahy didn't even dare mention any of the unfounded conspiracy theories he probably has been told about and believes, out of fear of additional embarrassment.

Al Qaeda? Not nearly enough people were targeted for it to be one of their operations and even if it were, they would have made sure everyone knew about it.

Co-workers and friends of Ivins insist he was a wonderful guy despite solid evidence to the contrary. And now millions of taxpayer dollars will be spent on a review of the investigation that will unlikely change anyone's minds from whatever they want to believe.

Sen. Arlen Specter wants to name people to the review committee to ensure "objectivity." What's there to consider? Politics, Senator?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Anthrax Probe: The FBI Fingered the Right Man

The National Academy of Sciences will review the science used by the FBI to link Bruce Ivins to the anthrax letters sent to congressional offices and media organizations in the days after 9/11 in 2001. FBI Director Robert Mueller made the announcement at a congressional hearing today.

Fox News revealed the text of the "Quantico Letter" today, and its similarities to the texts of the anthrax letters is undeniable. It would be incredible if they were written by different people, although the FBI, somewhat absurdly, says the Quantico Letter has nothing to do with the case. It apparently was an attempt to frame Dr. Ayaad Assaad who worked alongside Ivins, and Assaad said they were friends. But a "friend" like Ivins is capable of anything. It seems incredible to me that Assaad and other scientists would doubt Ivins was responsible. This suggests other problems among this particular community.

Assaad said: "Bruce Ivins is an honorable man." This is demonstrably untrue, as we know from many facts of the case, such as Ivins adding derogatory information about Kappa Kappa Gamma in the Wikipedia entry, and his threats to kill his co-workers, and many other similar incidents. These are not the actions of an "honorable" man.

Some who knew him are portraying Ivins as a mild-mannered guy who would never do anything to hurt anyone, but a social worker accused him of stalking and threatening to kill her. Her own credibility has been attacked, but Ivins' brother said he isn't surprised by such charges, and said Ivins "considered himself like a god."

Pathological characters like Ivins are capable of anything, and I would be shocked if Ivins was not responsible for the anthrax attacks and the Quantico Letter, with no one else involved.

The review of the probe will cost plenty and several members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are demanding it.

I see no conspiracy here except the one orchestrated by Ivins. I expect the probe will corroborate that finding.

Monday, September 15, 2008

McCain Adviser: Intelligence Community is Bloated

John Lehman, Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan who is now advising John McCain, said the intelligence community is bloated. He spoke at a conference last week sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association ("New Directions in Homeland Security").

Lehman said he would rather receive a briefing from the New York Police Department intelligence unit than the CIA. Things are worse than at 9/11 in terms of producing usable intelligence for the president.

Lehman's comments come on the heels of McCain's plans for a "New OSS" that would take risks and cut through the bureaucracy that hampers the intell community today.

A New OSS would require its own bureaucracy, so to accomplish the objective of reducing IC bureacracy, something would have to leave--perhaps a chunk of the CIA.

I hear no one saying the Intelligence Community is good as is. Nobody says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Everyone agrees there are problems, including Rachana Bhowmik, an Obama adviser, who spoke along with Lehman, and wondered about the role of intelligence within the Department of Homeland Security.

Can the "bloated" intell community be reformed without suffering the same problems we saw during the Clinton years? A lot of talk and some effort was made in revamping intelligence after 9/11, but success is a long way off.

In today's Wall Street Journal, L. Gordon Crovitz laments that "intelligence agencies stockpile silos of unshared data in a large bureaucratic structure more suited to a predigital age." Fewer than a third of the FBI's security branch agents have the internet on their desktops! "Washington has build a massive, unwieldy intelligence structure" at the Office of the Director of National Security.

The solution? A New OSS? Perhaps. No one doubts we need new ideas. New leadership? Or a revamped organizational structure that makes it difficult if not impossible for turf wars and bureaucracy to hamper the fight against our enemies? The destination is a known quantity; the path that leads there, uncertain.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Intelligence Budgets During the Clinton Years

The annual U.S. Intelligence budgets declined greatly after the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Bill Clinton gutted intelligence during his presidency according to many, and I wanted to track down some sources to corroborate that judgment.

The Intelligence budget was not made public for most of Clinton's tenure in the White House, so it's not easy fnding good figures.

The best source I've seen is a document from 1996 called "Preparing for the 21st Century: An Appraisal of U.S. Intelligence."

Chapter 13 is entitled "The Cost of Intelligence" and includes a chart on Intelligence spending from 1980 and projected to 2000 (see chart on the right). Intelligence spending enjoyed a tremendous increase from the beginning of Reagan's presidency, then started a decline during Bush's years and continued downward throughout the Clinton years.

Former CIA Director George Tenet wrote in March, 2004:
The record shows that despite the well-documented resource reductions we took in the 1990s and the enormous competing demands for our attention, I and a series of DCIs before me saw to it that the resources committed to the counterterrorism effort were not only protected but also enhanced.

The cost of the post-Cold War “peace dividend” was that during the 1990s our intelligence community funding declined in real terms, reducing our buying power by tens of billions of dollars over the decade. We lost nearly one in four of our positions. This loss of manpower was devastating, particularly in our two most manpower intensive activities: all-source analysis and human source collection. By the mid-1990s, recruitment of new CIA analysts and case officers had come to a virtual halt. NSA was hiring no new technologists during the greatest information technology change in our lifetimes. Both Congress and the Executive Branch for most of the decade embraced the idea that we could surge our resources to deal with emerging intelligence challenges, including threats from terrorism.

From a budget perspective, the last part of the 1990s reflects CIA’s efforts to shift to a wartime footing against terrorism. CIA’s budget had declined 18 percent in real terms during the decade and we suffered a loss of 16 percent of our personnel (this is slightly less of a cut than the 1 in 4 cited for the Intelligence Community as a whole earlier).
Tenet also said in April, 2004:

By the mid-1990s the Intelligence Community was operating with significant erosion in resources and people and was unable to keep pace with technological change. When I became DCI, I found a Community and a CIA whose dollars were declining and whose expertise was ebbing.

  • We lost close to 25 percent of our people and billions of dollars in capital investment.
  • The pace of technological change and a $3 trillion telecommunications revolution challenged the National Security Agency’s ability to keep up with the increasing volume and velocity of modern communications.
  • The infrastructure to recruit, train, and sustain officers for our clandestine services—the nation’s human intelligence capability—was in disarray.
  • We were not hiring new analysts, emphasizing the importance of expertise, or giving analysts the tools they needed.
In a 2004 article called "How the Left Undermined America's Security Before 9/11," David Horowitz wrote that a study by Terry Cooper showed that the Democratic congressional leadership in the 1990s often voted to cut Intelligence funding. Unfortunately, I don't see a link to the Cooper study anywhere.

UPDATE: Did Clinton gut the Intelligence Community budgets during his presidency? I've noticed some sites on the internet running cover for Clinton by noting that decreases in the intelligence budget began while George H.W. Bush was president, therefore somehow that means Clinton didn't gut the budget or Bush gutted it first.

The intelligence budget reached its peak sometime between 1987-1990. When Bush was president, he faced a hostile, Democrat-led Congress. He was a former Director of the CIA, and had no interest in cutting the intelligence budget.

Why cut at all? Because the Soviet Union collapsed and many commentators on the left felt this meant that we didn't need much in the way of intelligence anymore. In January 1991, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) introduced legislation to abolish the CIA and hand over its duties to the State Department! Other democrats felt the intelligence budget needed to be cut drastically. Socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont wanted across-the-board intelligence cuts of 10% every year for years! That's what Bush had to work with in those days.

Bush remarked in November 1991:
We need a strong intelligence community to consolidate and extend freedom's gains against totalitarianism. We need intelligence to verify historic arms reduction accords. We need it to suppress terrorism and drug trafficking. And we must have intelligence to thwart anyone who tries to steal our technology or otherwise refuses to play by fair economic rules. We must have vigorous intelligence capabilities if we're to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

But Congress had other ideas and voted to cut intelligence. Even Sen. John Glenn (D-OH) was concrened about those cuts. He offered an amendment to keep funding at current levels for the proposed FY1992 budget but it was badly defeated:
Of greatest concern to me are the reductions in the intelligence budget contained in this legislation. I remain unconvinced of the rationale for these reductions. Our concerns with the intelligence community's priorities should not be addressed by deep budget cuts, but rather by restructuring existing resources. I am convinced that during this time of unprecedented change and uncertainty in the international system, the need for a strong and reliable intelligence capability is particularly compelling.
I am convinced that significant reductions in our intelligence capabilities, especially during this period of international instability, are unwise and could ultimately be damaging to U.S. national security.

After the intelligence budget had been cut, Bush said:
I am concerned that the authorizations for appropriations below my request do not adequately provide for today’s intelligence challenges.

No, Bush didn't want to cut intelligence, but Congress did, and that's what happened.

Let's move forward to the FY1993 budget. Bush proposed an intelligence budget without any major reductions. This infuriated the congressional Democrats, who were discussing how necessary it was to make significant cuts because the Soviet Union was no longer around. Therefore, we didn't need much in the way of intelligence did we? That was the level of the discussion by our elected leaders.

Congress cut the intelligence budget for FY1993 by about 6%, and assuming the numbers thrown out by the press in those days, that meant about $1.5 billion.

Enter Bill Clinton. How did he feel about the intelligence budget? Did he want to protect it at current levels as Bush had wanted? Not exactly. During the 1992 presidential campaign, Clinton promised that if elected he would slash the intelligence budget by $1.5 billion every year for 5 years from 1993-1997. That represented something like an annual cut of 5% for 5 years, or 25% total. Ouch.

Clinton promised that. Unlike Bush, he wanted to cut intelligence, and said so. Did he succeed?

As he was about to leave office in early 1993, Bush warned:
As we face a more turbulent and unpredictable world, and as our military forces are being reduced, I just don’t think that we ought to be contemplating significant reductions in the intelligence budget. We need more intelligence, not less.

Next month, Sen. Moynihan said $10 billion could be cut from the intelligence budget and no one would ever miss it. Former CIA Director Robert Gates criticized Congress for not properly exercizing their oversight responsibilities of the intelligence budget in any meaningful way.

When discussing the budget for FY1994, Clinton said:
It is clear that the intelligence community must do more with limited resources. As I promised during the campaign, we will save a total of $7 billion over the years 1993-1997 from the previous administration's request for
national and tactical intelligence programs.

The congressional bill sought about another 4% in cuts from the FY1993 budget. Socialist Bernie Sanders wanted 10% cut. Rep. Barnie Frank (D-MA) agreed. Clinton, sensing political trouble if the far left got its way, repsonded by saying the 10% reduction proposal was just a bit too much:
I will oppose any amendment on the House floor which seeks to reduce intelligence spending beyond the reductions already proposed by the committee.

The Sanders amendment was defeated, and the budget ended up slightly less than the previous year. Democratic Senator Dennis DeConcini warned:
Last year, the cut imposed by Congress was particularly severe, the largest percentage cut in at least 20 years. In addition to these funding cuts, Congress levied an across-the-board 17.5-percent reduction in personnel in all
intelligence agencies, including the CIA, by 1997. So, there should be no mistake, Mr. President, intelligence has been cut and cut severely over the last 5 years.

For FY1995, it was noted that Clinton's goal of cutting intelligence by $7.5 billion in 5 years had been realized in only 3! As Rep. Larry Combest (R-TX) said:
There is no shortage of facts and figures I can cite to demonstrate the rather remarkable, indeed reckless, slope of decline on which we have put the intelligence community. Despite a consensus of informed opinion that intelligence cuts should be avoided or at least minimized in a period when we are cutting our defense capabilities, we are again this year cutting intelligence more than defense at large. It is downsizing at a rate twice that recommended by the President's National Performance Review for the Government. President Clinton made a campaign promise in 1992 to cut the Bush administration's proposed intelligence budget over a 5-year period by $7 billion. This was an incredibly ambitious--and many would say a foolhardy--goal. Yet, as Director Woolsey has stated publicly, this has been accomplished with 2 years to spare, and it appears the cuts over the 5 years will likely be more than $14 billion. This irrational urge to keep cutting intelligence has taken on a life of its own and it will, unless stopped, inevitably lead to disaster.

The final appropriation was about 1.5% less than FY1994.

What did Clinton have to say about all this? When FY1996 came around he said:
Today, because the cold war is over, some say that we should and can step back from the world and that we don’t need intelligence as much as we used to, that we aught to severely cut the intelligence budget. A few have even urged us to scrap the central intelligence service. I think these views are profoundly wrong. I believe making deep cuts in intelligence during peacetime is comparable to canceling your health insurance when you’re feeling fine.

One can only wonder what he thought had been happening the past few years! His remarks seem directed at Sanders but he had already presided over steep, or even reckless, cuts.

But something positive finally happened: Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, took control of Congress. Not coincidentally, the intelligence budget began increasing. And that fact affected Clinton's behavior. Knowing intelligence cuts were a thing of the past, he started recommending increases. The new Republican Congress enacted increases larger than his. The intelligence budget for FY1999 went up around $3 billion--the largest increase in 15 years! It was orchestrated by Gingrich, not Clinton. His budget was ignored.

Clinton, you might say, rolled with the punches. He promised to cut intelligence and he did. But the Democratic congresses cut even more and faster than he had proposed. Once Republicans took over in Congress, Clinton started asking for increases but the Republicans appropriated more than he wanted.

Why the roller coaster ride? Why did the intelligence budget need to be cut so deeply in the early 1990s but then went up again in the late 1990s? It depended on who controlled Congress. The Democrats wanted steep cuts and it didn't matter who the president was. The Republicans then brought the budget up to former levels. It was all political, with a lot of nonsensical talk on the floor of the House and Senate throughout those years by elected officials who knew nothing about intelligence.

Clinton, ever the politician, proposed whatever he thought would sell and wouldn't endanger him politically.

George H.W. Bush fought against cuts; Clinton promised them. But Congress was the ultimate decider.

Friday, September 12, 2008

DNI Open Source Conference Day 2

CIA Director Michael Hayden was the keynote speaker on the second and last day of the DNI Open Source Conference in Washington, DC.

He emphasized the CIA's commitment to open source information and said the Open Source Center (OSC) was one of the original top 3 objectives of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Placing the OSC under the CIA made the most sense, he said. The OSC focus is on the "mission" while the CIA is focused on housekeeping chores associated with it. The OSC director is included at all Hayden's staff meetings, which are held 3 times a week.

"The information is unclassified. Our interest in it is not," he said. Open source items have been included in the President's Daily Brief. Open source helps define what is truly secret and helps us understand the viewpoints of others around the world, both friends and adversaries, he said. We need to do a better job of understanding other cultures.

An open source board of governors will meet quarterly and discuss IT strategy, centralization of services and set the direction and priorities that make the most of our capabilities, Hayden said.

While Hayden defended the decision to place the OSC within the CIA organization, another speaker at another session offered a different view.

Rob Simmons, ex-CIA and former congressman, felt it was a big mistake to place the OSC within the CIA. Simmons said the OSC should be removed from the CIA because that intelligence agency is viewed as a "black mark" by a lot of people in the academic and private realms. Some of those people will never work for OSC as long as it is associated with the CIA, thereby making it questionable whether the OSC will have the best resources at its disposal.

Simmons instead recommended a free-standing National Open Source Center not affiliated with the CIA or any other intelligence agency.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

DNI Open Source Conference Day 1

The 2nd Annual DNI Open Source Conference kicked off today in Washington, DC with about 1,600 attendees from the government, business, and academia. About 3,200 had applied, and I was one of the lucky ones to get in (I'm sure it helps to apply the same day registration opens up).

Glenn Gaffney offered his thoughts on the importance of open source information, answering a question about why his staff is so "zealous" about open source. Because they know it's important.

Some in the Intelligence Community apparently aren't on-board with the open source push, and I was sitting there listening to Gaffney and wondering what was really behind it all, and I think one of the reasons people who enter the intelligence business do so is with a desire to work with secret information. Spending time on open source defeats that psychological objective. Humans in all endeavors desire increased status and work toward that goal. A document marked "top secret" has more status than one marked "open source." Two copies of the same document marked with different classifications will have different levels of status associated with them.

The point was made that it isn't the classification that should determine a document's importance but its usefulness in decision-making and in helping to create deliverables. So an open source document that assists with this is more valuable than a top secret document that doesn't.

I attended the session "Creating Decision Advantage with Open Source" and one of the panelists asked how many in the room had read some of Sayyid Qutb's and Zawahiri's writings, and only a couple people raised their hands. There was some admittance that this is a bad thing for the intelligence community and things need to change. I got the feeling a good part of those in the intelligence community are somehow stuck in the culture of 30 years ago and modernizing to a culture more in tune with today's needs will be difficult.

Higher classification of a document doesn't make it more important, the point was made. It isn't about classification, it's about insights derived from information. Open source is good, but OSINT must be more "close mouthed" about its deliverables--the conclusions and actions that will be taken as a result of sifting through open source materials. Classified info, because of its handling restrictions, isn't very portable, while open source is.

Someone in the audience expressed a fear about open source info and shouldn't it be kept secret, but there is no getting around that these days. Don't worry about "big brother," said a panelist, but instead worry about "little brother."

In another session focusing on Web 2.0, the question was asked how many in the room had a Twitter account, and I was one of a handful that raised their hand.