Struggling Spy Satellite Agency Tries to Right Itself
National Defense January 2010
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The National Reconnaissance Office, the agency responsible for developing and launching the U.S. fleet of spy satellites, is embarking on an ambitious plan to right itself after years of cost overruns and program cancellations.
But two powerful senators have opposed the office’s plans to launch the next generation of classified spacecraft. Personnel issues, namely a shortage of qualified personnel, may also impede progress.
The surge of 30,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan could be accompanied by a surge of up to 56,000 contractors, vastly expanding the presence of personnel from the U.S. private sector in a war zone, according to a study by the Congressional Research Service.
Led by Vice President Joe Biden, the meeting “is the first of its kind, and will bring together all of the stakeholders to discuss ways to combat piracy in this rapidly changing technological age,” according to the White House.
On Tuesday morning, a prominent consumer advocacy group took the White House to task for the lopsided guest list of the meeting, which did not include “consumer or public-interest groups, technology companies, technology associations or Internet Service Providers.”
The release of the open government directive could change intelligence agencies’ policies that deny Internet access to nonclassified data that is currently available only in hard copy or only to government personnel, say some Washington transparency advocates.
NRO: “Must Read” Epitaph of the NRO, replete with detail but no mention of LOCKHEED, the stake in the heart of the system. USG has lost whatever brain housing group it might once have had, the parts are not even flying in close formation, just jumping off the cliff together.
KR to AF: Whole of Government is non-existent, and so is intelligent contracting. The USG desperately needs the national inter-agency strategic center recommended by General Tony Zinni, USMC (Ret) in The Battle for Peace, and it could sure use some focus on Human Intelligence and Strategic Interagency Coherence. Both the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) are next to useless precisely because they don’t have a Strategic Analytic Model or the means to create decision support for EVERYBODY in the context of means, ways, and ends.
Piracy: Obama-Biden may be wearing the Emperor’s New Clothes, but nothing has changed in Empire as Usual. The White House and Congress continue to serve the needs of the special interests that receive the taxpayer dollar, not the needs of the taxpayers and citizens.
Open Goverment: In 1993 we testified to a Presidential Commission about the “cement overcoat of classification” that buried open source information at the bottom of the sea. What most people do not realize is that “system high” is not just the default position, it is the ONLY position. The CIA’s Open Source Center (OSC) is a travesty without authority, in part because the Director’s of National Intelligence–all three of them–have never been willing to come to grips with the FACT that they legacy system needs to be phased out, we need a new national Open Source Agency under diplomatic auspices that becomes the new default with the ORIGINAL open source “outside the wire,” and we dramatically reduce what we spend and what we store at “system high” level by making full and proper use of the 80% or more in the way of open sources, in 183 language we do not speak, such that we create a Smart Nation. Congressman Rob Simmons (R-CT-02), now running for the Senate seat in Connecticutt, gets it. We know of no one else in the National Capital Area that does….so we just have to wait until the OSA, like SOCOM and Jointness, can be mandated from what we hope will be a newly honest and effective Capitol Hill.