WASHINGTON: When the Presidential Daily Briefing occurs, a top intelligence official traditionally hands the president a folder with a sheaf of paper inside. The president may read what’s inside or have it presented by the intelligence official. Then comes question time, when the chief executive and commander in chief can ask how reliable a source is or question the assumptions of an analysis he’s just read.
But that will change. The president and his top officials want and will get a single mobile device allowing them to access highly classified and unclassified data wherever they are. The early fruits of the intelligence community’s early efforts to do that are visible in the photo above. It shows President Obama in the Oval Office on January 31 using a technically neutered tablet as part of the Presidential Daily Briefing.
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A single device is the Holy Grail for the intelligence community and senior government officials, but it will be some time before it happens, the colonel said. In the near term, the White House hopes to issue two devices: one for classified and another for unclassified communications. It is coordinating with the Defense Department and the National Security Agency to ensure access to secure defense communications networks intelligence grade cryptographic algorithms.
ROBERT STEELE: I’ve been focusing on the topic of this article since 1988 when I was a co-creator of the Marine Corps Intelligence Center, and realized that the secret world was oblivious to 90% or more of the relevant information. My many publications and those of others that have fought this fight with me are at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog (http://www.phibetaiota.net). Nine books and 24 years later, the IC is still neutered (great word, that). The IC is not in the business of creating decision support (intelligence). It is in the business of shoveling pork to the intelligence contractors who kick back 5% to the Members.
The IC’s dirty little secrets are three:
a) citing General Tony Zinni, USMC (Ret): they provide “at best” 4% of what a major commander needs, and nothing for everyone else (see my CounterPunch article, “Intelligence for the President–AND Everyone Else;”
b) they spend all the money on collection that is neither processed nor inter-disciplinary (the National Counterterrorism Center remains an international laughingstock with 80+ incoherent isolated and largely irrelevant databases all controlled by others); and
c) the IC still does not get the fact that in the information era, with government being the least powerful of eight information tribes (the others are academic, civil society, commerce, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit), what matters–and you allude to this in your excellent article–is NOT secrets that are expensive and incoherent, but rather “knowing who knows” and being able to connect the policy, acquisition, or operational principal with the right person instantly, that person then creating tailored new knowledge in the instant — Google sees less than 2% of what is actually in cyberspace, and the US Government sees less than 2% of what is in the analog world because the Embassies are a catastrophic mess where the only people with money to spend on information are the spies, and they only deal with the handful that will commit treason–everyone else is dependent on who is willing to be seen with them, and the physics of a 24 hour day (and in many cases, who speaks English–neither the diplomats nor the spies are effective in 33 key languages that matter, even less so in the 183 that are essential to grasping reality today.
For over 20 years now I and a handful of others have been calling for an Open Source Agency to champion Open Everything (especially open government, open access, open data, open hardware, open innovation, open software, open standards, and my own contribution to this modern battle, Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), which unbeknownst to the US Government, has been completely over-shadowed among the competent and the connected by M4IS2: Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making. Learn more at http://tinyurl.com/OSE-ALL. The book is at http://tinyurl.com/OSE-Steele. YES, I would like to help the President get this right. NO, the US Intelligence Community is not at all interested in getting it right, they just want to keep shoveling money down the wrong way rabbit holes where they plan to get a retirement job. The US Government as a whole consists of good people trapped in a bad system — it is a system that is completely lacking in Whole of Government intelligence and integrity. We are not a Smart Nation. In an election year, should the President want to get a grip and do ONE THING that is certain to pay extraordinary dividends for decades to come, the Open Source Agency under diplomatic and commercial auspices is that ONE THING. I — and those I have embraced these many long years — know how to do this. The IC does not. Any questions? I’m around.