By Robert David Steele Vivas
Right up front, here is the value proposition: a revolution in national security affairs can immediately deliver three things:
1. Permit the rapid (four years) reduction of the secret intelligence community budget from $80 billion to under $20 billion and permit the rapid (four years) reduction of the active and reserve military budget from over $1 trillion a year (which is how much the US Government borrows every year “in our name”) to under $250 billion a year, with a strict focus on defense against real modern threats instead of fabricated or exaggerated threats;
2. Provide the public intelligence (decision-support) necessary to document, evaluate, and recommend the reduction of the federal government by at least one-half over four years; and
3. Provide the real-world, real-time comprehensive intelligence (decision-support) necessary to restore the legitimacy and importance of the USA as an enabler of a foreign policy of freedom (peace, commerce, and honest friendship) and restore the legitimacy and importance of the federal government as an enabler of domestic tranquility and prosperity, using public intelligence in the public interest.
In a nut-shell, the federal government has lost its intelligence and its integrity. Ideology from both sides of the two-party system has displaced intelligent discourse — informed debate — and also excluded the other 63 parties and the 43% of citizen-voters who now consider themselves Independent.
The federal government has become the servant of those who receive the taxpayers’ money, rather than the taxpayers themselves. This is because there has been a lack of transparency, a lack of truth, and now in consequence, a lack of trust.
Properly defined, national security is about protecting individual liberties, rule of law and property rights. It is not about — it should not be about — installing missile defense systems in Poland, carrying out an assassination in Pakistan, or invading countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq on a foundation of 935 documented lies to our citizens, our Congress, and the world at large.
What Is To Be Done?
For almost a quarter century — since the 1980’s — a handful of intelligence and defense specialists have labored to disclose to the public our national failures of intelligence and integrity across the policy, acquisition, and operations domains. They failed in part because the mainstream media became a captive of the same financial interests that have taken over the federal government, and in part because the public grew inattentive and abdicated — as Congress has abdicated — its responsibility for overseeing the federal government.
Since 1988 a very simple and inexpensive solution has been under discussion: an Open Source Agency (OSA) that would create public intelligence in the public interest while encouraging everything open — Open Spectrum, Open Source Software, Open Data Access are just a few examples. It would create National Intelligence Estimates using only legally and ethically available information in all languages (the Central Intelligence Agency is marginally competent at fewer than 15 languages, and the majority of its employees do not speak any foreign language at all). This would have the double advantage of creating intelligence (decision-support) that is totally public and transparent in nature; and of engaging all foreign stakeholders by providing a focal point for achieving multi-national information sharing and sense-making that can harmonize policies without conflict and often without expense. This would restore both intelligence and integrity to the federal government and also render valuable assistance to the state and local governments as well the other seven “information tribes” across America: academia, civil society, commerce, law enforcement, media, military, and non-profit or non-governmental.
The OSA has been bitterly fought by both the secret intelligence world and the largely secret defense world for one simple reason: it would immediately expose both the terrible waste that is characteristic of both systems, and it would immediately render ridiculous most of the premises upon which we base the borrowing of one trillion a year in order to fund constituencies that are valuable only to politicians anticipating kick-backs to their political campaign funds.
The OSA has been pre-approved within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), first by Sean O’Keefe as Deputy Director after being briefed by Don Gessaman, recently retired Associate Deputy Director for National Security; and more recently by Kathleen Peroff, the incumbent Associate Deputy Director for National Security, after being briefed by Joe Markowitz and Robert Steele. The only thing lacking has been a direct demand from either a Cabinet Secretary or a President to “make it happen.”
Although the OSA was put on pages 23 and 423 of the 9-11 Commission Report, by Lee Hamilton and a very responsible senior executive member of the staff who reminded him of “the Burundi Exercise” carried out for the Aspin-Brown Commission (in which six telephone calls to private sector information providers produced all relevant information on Burundi including imagery, military maps, tribal orders of battle, and nuanced policy studies, while the secret world had almost nothing to show in an overnight challenge match), the existing national security empire is deathly afraid of transparency and truth such as the OSA would provide….for this reason it cannot be part of the secret intelligence community, a last ditch attempt to kill the OSA still-born.
The OSA could be under diplomatic auspices, as a sister agency to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), but with the national mission: using open source information as a form of “information transparency ” and wealth creation while also explicitly assuring that we create public intelligence about the real world so as to avoid mis-steps, entanglements, and other foreign misadventures as a government.
Starting at $125 million a year, and going up to $3 billion a year comprised of $10 million a year for each of 150 different threat, policy, and issue packages; and an additional $30 million a year for each of 50 Community Information Networks across America; the OSA is expected to help document, evaluate, and eliminate up to 70% of the fraud, waste, and abuse that is the chief characteristic of the national security, health, education, and energy “subsidy” networks as they now exist. Quiet, competent, ethically derived open decision-support. A Constitutional proposal that is rooted in the wisdom of our Fathers:
Thomas Jefferson: A Nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry. … Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.
James Madison: Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
We must nurture and harness the distributed intelligence of We the People — national intelligence is about us, not a secret network of contractors and mercenaries; national defense is about us, not a massive corporate welfare network that intrudes with armed force all over the world. Liberty is only possible when created upon a foundation of the Truth — the whole Truth, all of the time, Of, By, and For We the People.
About the Author
Robert David Steele Vivas is a former CIA Operations Officer who resigned from CIA to help create the Marine Corps Intelligence Center in 1988, at which time he discovered how useless most of the secret world really is. He is the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction, and has published nine books. An honorary hacker, he has helped 90 nations create legal ethical open source information capabilities.