2008 Open Source Conference Blog

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Open Source Conference Blog 2008

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Director of the Central Intelligence Agency speaks

Posted September 12, 2008 by seeker
Categories: 2008, Conference

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Introduced by Doug Naquin, Director Hayden announces that secret information is not always the brass ring in the intelligence profession. He mentions that he was an attache in Bulgaria and part of the job is immersing oneself into the society. Reading the press, watching television, making official contacts, gives a sense of the norm and what the sentiment in the area. The key is to know what to look for and be in a position to absorb it. He gives examples of observation opportunities he had in communist Bulgaria.

That experience as an attache has given him an appreciation of what there is to learn from open sources if we are in a position to absorb it. The rich potential and far reach of open source material has finally been embraced.

Identifies the Open Source Center as one of the biggest goals in the past few years for the ODNI and that the decision to build on resources that were already ther in the Foreign Broadcast Information Service was the right choice. The OSC has broadened their role as community leader in open source tradecraft. It was designed to be a facilitator for the open source enterprise itself. Gen Hayden decided that the OSC Chief should report directly to him, on the same level as the DI and Chief of the NCS.

Talks about addressing questions that are sensitive in nature. The information is classified, the interest in it is not. Open source is cited in the President’s daily brief, including some that are in whole open source in nature and carry the Open Source Center logo. Open source helps us see how others view the world and helps the IC get insight – not information – insight.

Creation of a new community-wide governance board that will change the approach to exploiting information: Open Source Board of Governors. They will use it as a forum to discuss how best to guide open source into the future. The board will meet quarterly and the first session will be before the end of the year.

Comments: 2 Comments

Opening Statements for Day 2

Posted September 12, 2008 by seeker
Categories: 2008, Conference

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Sabra Horne opens the session. SHe introduces Barbara Alexander, the Director of Collection for the Department of Homeland Security. She introduces Charlie Allan, Undersecretary of DHS and gives a short bio as well as someof his achievements and accolades.

Mr. Allen thanks the members of the IC, notably the DNI and OSC, for their help with DHS’ open source effort. He mentions that open source has always been important for the United States. Describes ways in which open source has been described in the community. He describes his past as an analyst and how he relied on only open sources and his knowledge of his area of concern. He underlines that open source is the source of first resort. Threats and breaking crises? Yes, they call their friends who have classified information but they also find out what is out in open source – what is in the press? They validate classified sources with open source. They check what is happening in the press; evaluate it but they always turn to open sources.

DHS has a responsibility to provide open source intelligence to their constituencies: the policy makers, state and local authorities and the private sector. DHS serves as the tip of the spear for homeland defense. Our audience rarely has clearances. That goal is not to produce a new stove pipe but to augment the classified intelligence.

In 2007, the DHS Open Source Enterprise was created and the new DHS strategic Vision is available at the conference. He highlights the strategic vision goals and vision.

DHS has a 2-day training program that goes out to Fusion Centers, DHS analysts and to component offices. He also highlights online training modules (available at the kiosks today) and has created a DHS website on the DNI-U network. He emphasizes sharing not only with federal partners but with partners outside the community. He intends to create an Open Source Portal for information sharing for communities of interest. They are establishing an Open Source Governing project and are active in the Open Source Steering Community. They partner with the Open Source Center.

We live in a new world, the new world order is very different and we need to work differently in order to deal with this. He thinks we are beginning to transform.

Next up is Richard Willing, Public Affairs for the DNI. Last year he was a reporter covering this event for USAToday. He discusses the vast amount of identifiers that are now online, including genetic profiles of people, communications, etc. He compares trying to track information before and after the internet and how anything online stays online, even if deleted. He mentions the laws and regulations that the community operates under that protect privacy of US citizens, including FISA and EO12333. He announces the panel:

* Jeff Jonas (IBM)

* Alex Joel (ODNI)

* Johnathon Zittrain (via satellite) (Harvard Law School)

* Moderator: David Shedd (ODNI)

Shedd opens with framework: privacy as it involves the handling of open source.

Joel: Even though information is public, it doesn’t mean there aren’t privacy issues with it. Describes EO 1233 and the newest revision. He identifies who is protected through EO 12333 and what types of information can be gathered and held. Identifies what is and what is not open source and how some activities cross the lines into other intelligence activities (such as electronic surveillance of conversations.

Shedd: asks Zittrain how we can use technology to protect privacy?

Zittrain: Agrees on the premise that open source has been seen as the “little sister” and not as sexy as classified means. The reasons? Perhaps it is seen as too easy. That surfing the web all day may not seem like hard enough work to gain the insights. But it is more than reading newspapers and surfing the web. Technology can take what looks like harmless data and crunch the numbers and figure out valuable intelligence. He discusses crowdsourcing – allowing the public to help the Intelligence Community help.

Shedd: asks Jonas same question.

Jonas: Says one of the problems is that neglecting to correlate open source with other data is a mistake. Open Source will co-mingle with other data (datalogs, etc). Tethered data- if data changes somewhere in the chain, it needs to be able to change everywhere so all users of that data have newest info.

Shedd: Where do you think technology is going?

Zittrain: Mentions police case where police used infra-red guns to find contraband in someone’s house and the defendant said it was a privacy issue. Ruling was that when the technology is widely available, it would be legal but since the infra-red gun was not yet available at the local Radio Shack and so they would need a warrant. But when the technology becomes widely available it would be ridiculous to restrict the police from this activity. Same for open source. He talks about location services (find friends nearby) and reputation services (how people rated you) and how people use them but the thought of the government using them is somewhat creepy. He mentions facial-recognition software that may identify you as a bystander in a tourists photo and tags you on the internet. Is this all open source? This is a question we need to ask ourselves before we are in the world.

Jonas: Mentions ACLU “How many minutes to midnight” doomsday clock to a total surveillance society. He says consumers are doing this to themselves. Consumers are driving the available data.

Joel: The open source disciplines are developing across the community and it is being treated as a disciple and that it is not something that can be taken lightly. Implications on the rights of Americans must be understood. Actions taken on that information must also be taken into account. Privacy enhancing technologies are being developed. Technology poses a unique challenge; we have to remember what the definition of publicly available information and distinguish it from surveillance. Directing against a single person could be considered surveillance. Everything must be related to an authorized mission.

Jonas: The scale of publicly available info goes from phone numbers to property ownership to what you paid for your house. What people want is: avoid consumer surprise. But if you want to catch a bad guy in the act, you need to observe what he didn’t mean for you to observe. And that causes a problem.

Zittrain: Brings up the constraints of public service that are not on the private sector.Discusses possibility of looking into people’s computers (cyberlaw perspective) without compromising privacy.

Joel: That would be beyond open source and you would need a warrant. Can this be devised while also be protecting privacy concerns? Technology can offer solutions.

Jonas: There can be a deeper conversation between technologists, public officials and those in the privacy community. Throws around a few acronyms (I thought he was outside the community!).

Zittrain: Is one of the founders of the OpenNet Initiative to discover the effects of filtering on the internet. Gives example of the Chinese “Great Firewall” where they tried to identify what is and is not blocked. They solicit the public at large to see what they can and cannot get. They can make a map of what is filtered around the world.

Joel: Discusses what would be improper collection. Again mentions surveillance and targetting individuals. Mentions making sure that the action is related to the mission. Hacking is not considered publicly available. Not that agencies cannot access that information lawfully but that it would not be open source. The restriction that apply to US persons and activities do not apply to non-US persons, although there may be restrictions based on agreements with foreign partners or internationally recognized laws. You can also not do something through someone else that you cannot legally do yourself as directed through EO 12333.

Zittrain: What was innocuous would be a problem if it was being used for the wrong purpose. Cautionary thing: the line between passive collection is starting to blend with participation. Participating in a public message board – the minute you click enter and send you are engaging in some activity may cross the line as to whether you need to identify yourself as working for an intelligence agency to any US persons.

Jonas: Data is going to be comingled in the network cload and it will be pushed to users as information that they may need to know. Social networks will provide more precise services as people try to streamline their lives.

Zittrain: Generation of digital-natives who are very good at this technology and they have different ideas as to what is privacy and that this would be a good time to start getting these people through the ranks. This is where the advances can take place.

Joel: Technology is advancing at an exponential rate but human nature is immutable. There are important restrictions and analysts need to know those restrictions to know how to do their jobs effectively.

Shedd: A lot of challenges and a lot of opportunities.

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Follow the conversation

Posted September 11, 2008 by seeker
Categories: Announcements, Discussion


Continue to follow the conversation on twitter: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=dni

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Building of the Open Source Enterprise

Posted September 11, 2008 by seeker
Categories: Uncategorized

Sabra Horne introduces the two selected entrants for the Open Source Challenge:

  • Mercyhurst College, Institute for Intelligence Studies
  • iJET

(Note: wonder if we will see the results?)

Next up is Doug Naquin, head of the Open Source Center and Chair of the National Open Source Committee. “Open Source is good, let’s go have a drink.”

His goal for the last year: raise the discussion beyond “open source is good” and “source of first resort” to a higher level of conversation. Three years ago the challenge was to convince the community that open source had value.

There is an open source value to every other discipline of intelligence. The further we use open source, the more effectively the community uses the classified sources. Many questions lend themselves better to the open sources than to other means.

Naquin’s role is no longer just the championing and developing of the Open Source Center, but now through the NOSC he is working for the whole community. He has worked, with the committee, on an action plan that is available on Intelink-U.

While referring to a “National” Open Source Enterprise, it is an enterprise of enterprises, taking into account the assistance of foreign partners, diplomatic, defense and domestic integration.


* Universal cross-domain access

* Integrated mission management and access

* Proliferation of open source expertise

* Open Source Enterprise governance

Introduces panel of community representatives:

* DOD: Ellen Tudisco

* DHS: Barbara Alexander

* State Dept: James Bell

* OSC: Kim Robson

Tudisco expains the history of open source in the Department of Defense and how they link to the broader Open Source Enterprise. DIscussions about OSCAR (Open Source Collection and Requirements) and the DOSC (Defense Open Source Committee). DIOSPO (Defense Intelligence Open Source Program Office) created to identify, sustain and advance the open source capability for the intelligence components of the Department of Defense.

Alexander discusses the challenges of the differences between DHS and the intelligence community. Most of her customers are law enforcement and they do not work at the TS/SCI level. There is a difference in the type of open source and intelligence needed by the DHS entities throughout the nation than in the IC. The DHS Vision is patterned after the National Open Source Enterprise in order to work in a partnership with the national community. Talks about the mobile training teams (mentioned in the DHS panel earlier this morning). Much left to do, the department is only five years old and the capabilities are nascent but growing. DHS is trying to be the bridge for communication and understanding between the IC and law enforcement.

Bell says he has no blue or red book (enterprise visions). INR exists in two cultures, the intelligence community and the diplomatic community and each has its own culture. He functions as the bridge between the two cultures. INR sees their mission as directly supporting policy-makers and diplomats with a focus on strategic awareness. INR is a consumer and provider of open source intelligence.

Robson says that the intelligence community is uniquely positioned to use open source in pursuit of the nation’s needs. She mentions the history of the Open Source Center and why it is the ideal center to lead the community. OSC has a global IT infrstructure and worlswide work force and a capacity to train and help others train as well as expertise in dealing with complex policy and legal issues. She has seem more awareness across the enterprise and it has become institutionalized across the community. She has also seen success in scaling across the community. The Open Source Academy has trained more in the past year than in the previous five years combined.

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Operationalizing Open Source for Homeland Security

Posted September 11, 2008 by seeker
Categories: 2008, Conference

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Sitting in the panel run by the Department of Homeland Security. DHS Open Source Lead, Tyler Foulkes, leads the conversation. In 2007 DHS required to build relationships with the State Fusion Centers and train the Fusuin Centers. Undersecretary Charlie Allen at DHS understood that intelligence happens in other places than the IC. They needed to find out what the state, local and tribal leaders need to complete their missions. Training for the Fusion Centers (from DHS) goes out to the centers, they don’t force the Fusion Centers to come to them. Notes the DHS Strategic Open Source Vision booklet (released today). Protecting rights and keeping balance on privacy is key and on their minds at all time.

Next up is Jack Showalter for CENTRA Technology Inc, speaks on training the analysts and not the IT staff on the technical aspects of research on today’s web. Adhoc vs standing requirements and how to use different technologies for each part of the mission.

First major theme: adhoc requirements. Obvious technology is search (search engines). To go beyond google, training on how the search engine works so the analysts know what they are getting and what they are missing. They need to know the periodicy of search engines and how the search engine gets it and why moving beyong Google and using any search engine effectively is so important.

Going from advanced syntax search on Google to clustering search engines (like Clusty.com). Demos other clustering search engines with visualization like Kartoo.com/ DIfferent analysts think differently and can get results tailored to their style.

Concept of verticle search is introduced. Shows Highbeam Research, Infomine, the NOAA National Weather Service and Search Medica.

Discusses Cuil.com and the need to pay attention to new resources to keep an eye out for the “next big thing” – whether they succeed or not.Looking to the horizon for emerging resources, like evri.com (natural language processing – semantic indexing). Mentions twitter (just as I send a tweet…). And twitter trends – get the news about disasters or events from locals on the twitter trends before the press gets it out (search.twitter.com).

Goes into the importance of directories when exploring topics. Mentions dmoz.org and lii.org. Notes the importance of noting the business process of the directories (ie. volunteer or professional maintainence).

Discusses the deep web: what it is and how to tackle it.

Different needs to meet “standing requirements” – repetitious and mechanical searches should be automated. Identify important -vs- urgent taskings. Addresses time consuming nature of standing requirements and that adhoc requirements often push the standing reqs out of the picture. Obvious first strategy: RSS. Not only RSS feeds, but filtered RSS (shows feedrinse.com as an example).

Highlights distributuion channels for open source and shows Deborah Osborne’s crime analysis podcast on blogtalkradio.This can be a method of professional development.

Highlights the need for open source professionals to be on the watch for new technologies and resources.


Q: have you found a way to search podcast for content?

A: currently we haven’t found a way to search podcast effectively.

Q: what are different research methods you teach analysts?

A: Originally analytic techniques were taught but some were cut due to time constraints. Time management and research planning are taught. The end goal is to make sure that after the research there is time for analysis. This is the first wave of classes but as the program continues, more techniques and further topics will be explored and trained.

Q: Comment: as far as searching podcasts – podscope.com and everyzing.com.

A: Fantastic, we will explore that.

Q: Are you targeting media outside of the internet?

A: major block of training is on non-internet open source.

Q: FeedRinse, is that client or server based? Have you discovered any attempts to give you misinformation?

A: Server based. Another major block in the training is focused on evaluating sources, misinformation and disinformation.

Q: Concerns about much of internet going through the US.

A: Particularly with ref to IPV6, the next version, the US will not be the belly button of the internet. We discuss assessing the credibility of sources used, but we don’t go into the weeds of the technicality of the internet and we cover the basics before delving into deep waters.

Q: Software applied to do trends and word counts (note: memes)

A: Discussions on memes and conversation tracking through the blogosphere. Tag clouds, etc.

Q: Comment: Traffic diverted through foreign servers is more of an issue for covert operations and not for open sources.

Q: How are you addressing operational security?

A: we describe web visibility and basics of IP statistics. We demostrate what the systems are showing when they visit a website and how to use basic opsec to counter these weeknesses.

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Mr. Glen Gaffery, DDNI/C

Posted September 11, 2008 by duckncover
Categories: Uncategorized

Tells joke explaining why he doesn’t like to stand underneath a podium.  He speaks regularly in classified environments where the classification level is listed over the speaker, and frequently his briefings would fall under a Special Access Program… so he would have a sign saying SAP over his head. Hence, he likes to walk around the room while briefing.

What’s the future of collection?  Integrated Performance.  We do not own the technological advantage that we once did.  We are on a more level playing field.   The cost per bit of information has dropped substantially, and the cost of entry into the intelligence community has gone down substantially. All you need now is a laptop and a modem to get started.

Moment of silence in a few minutes for the September 11 attacks. He reads a favorite quote that guides him, “dogmas of the quit past are inadequate for our stormy present….as our case is new we must think, and act anew.” (Abraham Lincoln)

We must change the way we think about Open Source. Shows an image of three overlapping circles: HUMINT (agents in the field), Technical Means, and Open Source.   Now he shows the new view: It’s not 3 overlapping circles.  It shows HUMINT and technical means in the middle with an “information universe” surrounding it consisting of the OSINT universe to include the Intelligence Community, US Government, academic, and international partners.

How does all this affect privacy? We need to think about Intelligence AND privacy, not Intelligence VS. privacy.

Tells anecdote about how he was in a collection operation, they were getting lots of information and reporting it in a traditional manner. They began to think, however, about how they could get better information.  So they took a room, wired it up, and went out and brought in a variety of outside analyst and gave them access to the information. They then asked them to think about the data and what you could discern from it. In a space of a couple of months the group grew from 6 to 25.  The process evidently went very well, because he said that the experience changed the way he thought about intelligence collections.

He comments on the “double humped camel” phenomenon in the workforce. About 50% of the IC workforce has been here less than 5 years. The other half is getting ready to retire in the next couple of years. How does this impact our ability to build a new infrastructure? How does this impact the cultural change? We’ve got to think differently about how we “mash up” this data.  The group on the first hump is in the mashup generation.

We can’t be bound to our individual agency, our individual university. We are bound to the pursuit of truth (we call it “intelligence” inside of this circle). My thought: Would he also argue, since we have international partners here, that we can’t be bound to our individual country? How strong is this push for international partnership? International partnership  makes a lot of sense; from the coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to the challenges listed in Vision 2015 that span international boundaries ( “critical information infrastructures ,disruptions in energy supplies, fragile financial markets ,and climate change-related spread of diseases.” pg. 11)  These are all global concerns, and not unique to the United States national interests.

Questions from the audience:

Question:  How do you determine “best of breed” open source practitioners?

Answer: I’m not a good judge. How do YOU determine it? How do you work together? It’s not a top down thing. It’s done by practitioners themselves.


Question: How has open source cued other intelligence disciplines?

Answer: Can’t get into specifics. It’s been about pointing to “first order of targeting.” Where do we best apply classified collection? Just because it’s open doesn’t mean its wrong.  Open source is the source of first resort.


Question:  Why the zealous push for open source by your staff? Is this because congress says it’s a priority?

Answer: (jokes) because they work for a zealot. No, because they’re believers too.  Butler: OSC is a no brainer because of the cost/return. Again, cost per bit is falling. We have limited budgets. OSC as a primary source of intelligence in certain key areas.


Question: is there a unique role the academic community can play to support the IC?

Answer: it’s a lot more than support…..


Question: Question apparent indicates distain for Open Sources, and he paraphrases question.

Answer: Good stuff is the truth. Open Source will stand the test of time relative to the truth. Those who feel like its not of value will learn, or they’ll leave the IC. Evolution will take care of this.


Question: Does any of this imply a diminished role for OPSEC and counterintelligence.

Answer: Absolutely not. It’s a maturation of the game. (seemed to contradict himself, yes then no. He also commented that he needed to be careful how he answered this).

My thoughts: The last question was mine. All this sounds like it means a diminished role for Counterintelligence (spy catchers) and Operational Security (OPSEC). The emphasis I’m taking away is on speed, adaptability, outreach, and collaboration. He tried to answer the question, but it sounded like he said yes, then no.

Comments: 1 Comment

Mr. Dan Butler ADDNI/OS(C)

Posted September 11, 2008 by duckncover
Categories: Uncategorized

Mr. Butler quotes the current DNI Mike McConnell. Most important thing for the DNI’s tenure (what he wants to be remembered for) is collaboration. This includes collaboration from outside the intelligence community.

Mr. Butler comments that we’ve come a long way: in 2005, then DNI Negroponte established the DNI Open Source Center which replaced the Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Wrote the first National Security Directive, and established an open source collection committee.  Overall, there was a substantial amount of investment in the open source enterprise.  In 2007 there was the first DNI Open Source Conference.  They’re also offering new support to AFRICOM the new MAJCOM for Africa.  Invested in the National Virtual Foreign Translation Center, a new capability. In 2008 they worked to increase collaboration with academia. Mr. Butler listed many other efforts towards the open source enterprise.

Mr. Butler talked about humility. Quotes Ted Turner, “if only I were more humble, I’d be perfect.”  We have to realize that we don’t have all the answers and all the experts. We have to be open to outside expertise.  We need to move from thinking of ourselves as an Intelligence Community to a Community of Intelligence (he quoted someone else on this)

He highlights the DNI’s Vision 2015 , which emphasizes the need to reach out to experts.

Finally, he mentioned the DNI Open Source Challenge, and introduced Mr. Deputy DNI for Collection (DDNI/C) Glen Gaffery.

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Opening comments by Ms. Sabra Horne, DNI

Posted September 11, 2008 by duckncover
Categories: Uncategorized

The opening speaker talked about the needs to “transcend” the boundaries of the Intelligence community.  I’m staggered by the diversity of the conference attendees: 1,800 people were selected from 3,500 applicants.  These individuals represent 80 colleges and university, 47 think tanks, 56 NGO’s, State, tribal, local officials, 38 states, 370 private firms, 60 media outlets, 38 countries around the world, and of course representatives from around the Intel Community.

My thoughts: This to me represents a fundamental change in mindset; we’re all on the same team. We’re all concerned about terrorism and security. Think about how radical this conference is (in only its second year). Sharing this information would once have been an “Operational Security” concern (don’t share or the enemy could pick up on what the intel folks are collecting on).  To paraphrase someone I met recently, “Secrecy is one way to gain an intelligence advantage. Speed and collaboration are others.”

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Waiting to start…

Posted September 11, 2008 by duckncover
Categories: Uncategorized

While I’m waiting for the first presentation they have a slideshow going with video quotes from various high ranking officials in the Intelligence Community talking about how crucially important Open Source intelligence is. I think this is further highlighted by the first class venue where this is taking place. Mainstream media coverage, beautiful convention center, and first rate speakers. I’m really looking forward to this conference.

My personal perspective is that the Intelligence Community is going through a major transition right now. They’re trying to get out of a Cold War mentality which focuses on secrecy to a new mentality (and process) that focuses on speed, collaboration, sharing, and exploiting open sources.

For the remainder of my posts I’ll try to distinguish my thoughts from the speaker’s thoughts by using italics.

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2008 DNI Conference begins

Posted September 11, 2008 by seeker
Categories: Uncategorized

Listening to the opening speakers of the 2008 DNI Open Source Conference. Sabra Horne says 1800 attendees from universities, state, local and tribal entities, 38 countries, and of course the DC Intelligence Community.

Notes that today is Patriot Day and that the events seven years ago spurred the changes that made this conference possible. There will be a moment of silence.

Dan Butler is up next, Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Open Source. Talks about outreach and partnerships with public and foreign partners. Praises the DNI Open Source Center and talks about the Open Source Vision for the community.

Quotes wikipedia on the definition of humility and adds that the Intelligence Community should have some humility and recognize that the IC does not have all the experts or all the answers. Introduces the vision for 2015. DNI Vision 2015:

  • no typical customer
  • mission integration – networked and powersharing
  • open source collection holds most promise

Introduces concept of DNI Open Source Challenge that will be further discussed this morning.

Introduces next speaker, Glenn Gaffney. Calls himself “Congressional Cat Toy” – was asked, “What is the future of Collection?” His answer, “Integrated performance. It’s that simple and that complex.”

Discusses role of open source amongst other collection methods. Now there is an “information universe” and look at it differently that in the past. Other levels are represented by foreign partners and academia.

Talks about the IC youth bulge (45 to 50% of the workforce), the gap of GenX and the bulge of the more seasoned analysts. Calls youth bulge the “mashup generation”. He has a hopeful outlook on the youth bulge but declares that we owe it to enable and build infrastructure to allow the next generations to show us things that we don’t know are possible.

Moment of silence.

This is about discovering/discerning the truth and using that truth for the benefit or safeguarding of our citizens.

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