2012 Robert Steele: The Human Factor & The Human Environment: Contextual Trust for Sources & Methods

Advanced Cyber/IO

Citation: Robert David STEELE Vivas, “The Human Factor & The Human Environment: Contextual Trust for Sources & Methods,” Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog (20 December 2012).

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Part I: 2012 Robert Steele: The Human Factor & The Human Environment: Concepts & Doctrine? Implications for Human & Open Source Intelligence 2.0

This is Part II in a developing conversation highly pertinent to NATO and Allied Command Transformation (ACT).

Robert,

I got that you believe in an intelligence community that is up to the challenge of providing full knowledge and understanding of the environment in support of decision making. This is also my preferred solution. However, I have another human environment issue to solve. The ultimate goal is to influence or shape the human environment. In many cases this implies building trust with people. The problem is that when you approach people with an information collection mindset, you ruin the trust. And when you come with a trust mindset, you don´t get as much information. So, for the sake of trust building, the intelligence community should not be free to interact at will with the people. Could it still do its job under this condition?

Best,
REDACTED

Answer to Question with Graphics Below the Line

Robert David STEELE VivasClick Here to See Personal Page
Robert David STEELE Vivas
Click Here to See Personal Page

THE QUESTION

This question has three aspects that I would like to break out for reflection:

Part I.  The nature of the human being as a foundation for national power.

Part II.  The fundamental role of intelligence (decision-support) in human society.

Part III.  Secrecy as a cancer that kills transparency, truth, & trust.

INTRODUCTION

I have been thinking for some time now about the intersection of education, intelligence, and research, to include now my view that governments should place all three under the same Secretary-General, as first advanced to the public at We the People Reform Coalition, at the Coalition Cabinet sub-page, Secretary General for Education, Intelligence, and Research.  Looking back at that page, with its emphasis on life-long free education, open everything, and truth & reconciliation as a strategic good, I am comfortable re-asserting my view that in the 21st Century, education, intelligence, and research must be a holistic enterprise, or each will be impoverished and ineffective.

Part I.  The nature of the human being as a foundation for national power.

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I want to begin here by returning to Charles Hampden-Turner’s deep understanding of the human factor as the engine for transformation.  I have said often that “technology is not a substitute for thinking,” and this has never been understood — perhaps not even heard — by the US Government or the US secret intelligence world.  Hans Morgenthau (Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, The Concept of the Political) and Will Durant (Philosophy and the Social Problem, Lessons of History) focus on the human factor as “root” in the affairs of men and the future of life (at least for humanity).  When the human is a slave, or commoditized, or repressed by mechanical power, the society is inhumane and therefore static — it is not capable of transformation.  Transformation comes from the human factor.  Here to the side is Charles Hampden-Turner’s depiction of the dehumanized human.

Man’s perception is narrow and impoverished, with a stagnant identity that is essentially incompetent, suspended, remote, and thus unable to engage with other men and reality to achieve a transcendant or transformative advance.

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Compare that with the alternative, repeated here from Part I.

Here, “radical man” exists freely with enormous perception, a fullsome sense of identity that imbues him with competence and a surplus of moral and intellectual and cultural energy that can be invested, with a high tolerance for risk, in order to achieve a transcendant or transformative advance in partnership with many others (a trust issue).

The bottom line here is that you cannot have effective national or military intelligence in the context of a dumb nation.  Education matters, and the best investment any nation can make, both in its own population and in any population it may be subjucating or seeking to influence at any given moment, is in education — and not “controlled” education, but open education, education in which choices are offered, access is provided, and the human is empowered to learn at their own pace and in whatever directions they choose to go.

What I am grappling with here, attempting to communicate, is that absent a very strong investment in education as foundation for a Smart Nation, “intelligence” will be sterile, neutered, and remote from the human factor.

Put another way, when seeking to influence or shape the human factor, open, transparent, truthful education is far and away the primary means of achieving any constructive or positive end.  Any attempt to shape the human factor via covert operations (agents of influence, media assets, false flag terror or paramilitary death squads) will backfire.  It has work in the short-term — witness our destabilization of the Philippines, Guatemala, Iran, Viet-Nam, and many African countries; our support for death squads in Argentina, El Salvador, and other locations — but in the long term, covert operations are a certain failure in the context of humanity.  Put another way, war and covert intelligence benefit the few at the expense of the many — they are not a net positive for humanity.

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If Allied Command Transformation wants to be very clever and very constructive, it should focus on Open Source Everything, an Autonomous Internet, Liberation Technology, and Human Scale.  These are the areas I would have the Defense Advanced Research Program Agency (DARPA) focus on if I had any influence at all.  Every dollar spent empowering the human factor will be returned a thousand-fold.  Every dollar spent to attack the human factor, to enhance violence without regard for the true cost of such violence (e.g. Fallujag mutant babies and generations of hate toward the US and US forces) is not just a dollar wasted, but a dollar that will return a negative investment a thousand times over.  Sun Tsu had it right — the acme of skill is to defeat the enemy without fighting.  The enlightened mind recognizes that we are our own worst enemy, and the way to have no enemies is to invest heavily in education for all — with an emphasis today on freeing our own children from the rote prisons we call schools, and on providing free access to the Internet for the five billion poor.  Here to the side is a graphic I have created to illustrate where I think we should be focusing if we wish to create a prosperous world at peace, a world that not only works for all, but creates infinite wealth by empowering the five billion poor.

Part II.  The fundamental role of intelligence (decision-support) in human society.

I have been thinking recently about intelligence as the soul of politics.  When politics is evil, intelligence is evil.  When politics is humane and pro-human as it were, intelligence is sublime — the acme of human skill.  My earlier commentary, 2009 Robert Steele: Politics & Intelligence–Partners Only When Integrity is Central to Both is still relevant.

Although I address secrecy as a cancer in Part III, it is very important to emphasize over and over again that secrecy is not synonymous with intelligence.  Secrecy is an attribute, not a deliverable.  Sources can be secret, processes can be secret, products can be secret — intelligence as decision support, the concepts, doctrine, processes, and deliverables, are NOT secret.  In fact secrecy may make the collection of some sources possible, but in the over-arching scheme of things, secrecy corrupts  the craft of intelligence, and makes countries stupid or unethical — whast we lose in accountability from secrecy is vastly greater in true cost to society than what we gain in accessing a tiny stream of secret sources at enormous expense.

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Hence, in contemplating the shaping or influencing of the human environment, intelligence as decision-support is a huge positive, particularly if it is devleoped in dialog, in what Harrison Owen calls “open space.”  As David Weinberger documents so ably, in the book by this title, Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room, thee fact is that “experts” are only as good as their sources in being.  The dirty little secret of secret intelligence is that it is largely worthless — it is out of touch with reality, out of touch with humans at all levels including locals who have the “feeling in the fingertips” for any given local topic or condition.

This is why I have been championing Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) for twenty years, and for the last ten also M4IS2 (Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making).  Secret intelligence does not work!  It is pointed at the wrong targets, it is not agile, it does not process most of what it collects.  For what we spend on secret intelligence to get 4% “at best” of what a handful of people need to know, we could education billions for free.

This is why intelligence (decision-support) must be stripped of its association with secret sources and methods, and the intelligence professional of the 21st Century must become a mix of educator, decision-support specialist, and researcher.  The three bodies on inquiry must come together, and in coming together, they elevate the human factor in a transformative manner.

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One reason I have always insisted on an Open Source Agency (OSA) “outside the wire” is to provide for the separation between open access to the public, and the spies in their bunker.  Open must not be tainted by Secret.  At the same time, I have understood for decades that when spies get hold of an open piece of information, the first thing they do is “classify” it because the mere fact that they have it in their possession demonstrates their interest, and their interest is inherently secret.  This is of course idiocy on steroids, but the way we solve that is by giving the spies a COPY of open source information, keeping secret the fact that they have a COPY, while the ORIGINAL remains outside the wire where it can be freely shared with every human on the planet.  I illustrate my original concept here to the side.

In contemplating the nine circles of Human Intelligence (HUMINT), it is vital to keep those humans that are overt acquirers of open source information totally pure.  This is one reason why I would make it a law that anyone using an overt “cover” that is officially assigned to others doing legitimate things (e.g. civil affairs officer) would be dismissed from service and lose their pension.  We already have laws that prohibit the use of Peace Corps, journalism, and clergy covers, this entire area needs to be revisited, in part because most of us are incompetent at both secret collection and overt acquisition.  The craft of intelligence needs to be re-invented, and the re-invention must be rooted in the human factor, and in ethics.

Part III.  Secrecy as a cancer that kills transparency, truth, & trust.

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I do not need to spend a lot of time on this, there is a broad literature on the cancerous nature of secrecy.  At a minimum it erodes trust among the humans that are being exploited or suborned, it erodes trust between organizations and nations (in the USA, the distrust between the CIA and the FBI is legion), and — most importantly — it virtually eliminates all accountability for the individuals engaged in secret operations.  As a former spy who has also been engaged in the programming of funds for secret satellites and close-in technical collection systems, who understands the breakdown between secret collection, secret processing, secret analysis, and everything else, I can confidently state with absolute certainty that the secret world is not worth what we pay for it, and is if anything a major drain on our treasury and a major obstacle to our being intelligent, informed, and ethical.  Secrecy makes you stupid — Daniel Elsberg’s lecture to Henry Kissinger remains a classic:

The danger is, you’ll become like a moron. You’ll become incapable of learning from most people in the world, no matter how much experience they have in their particular areas that may be much greater than yours” [because of your blind faith in the value of your narrow and often incorrect secret information].

Secrecy is the cocaine of arrogant policy-makers out of touch with both ethics and reality. Secrecy is how they avoid accountability, conceal crimes against humanity, loot the public treasury, and generally betray the public trust.  As much as I do believe that there is a need for some secrecy — particularly in the field of counterintelligence against traitors and criminal networks — I also believe that as much as 80% of the secret sources and methods that we permit now are worthless and should be de-programmed and the money moved toward creating a Smart Nation under the leadership of a Secretary General for Education, Intelligence, and Research.  St.