These are my words, reflecting what I learned in multiple funded trips to work with Dutch intelligence at various levels, and multiple conversation across various conferences I attended in Europe. This is more or less what I told George Tenet when he became DCI….to no effect, naturally.
1994 was a very stressful time in Dutch intelligence history. A scandal had erupted in which the Parliament was investigating Dutch intelligence intrusions with audio-video into the homes of specific Dutch citizens suspected of this and that. Parliament was so angry they threatened to cut all funding for all intelligence. Two very good things emerged from this:
First, the Dutch intelligence leaders began issuing an annual unclassified report on what they had done all year against various threats to the Netherlands.
Second, a policy decision was made that all intelligence requirements would be answered with open sources and methods if possible, and would only be referred to Human and Technical intelligence on two conditions: that the open source intelligence manager (at the time, Arno Reuser) certified that the answer could not be obtained via open sources and methods; and second, that the use of classified sources and methods was absolutely in the national interest, i.e. not just a fishing expedition.
In my experience over 80% of what we need to know to answer all national security and also national competitiveness (forgotten by too many intelligence communities) is available from open sources and methods. I am very respectful that the Dutch, always practical and also frugal, have made the necessary tiny investment in open sources and methods, and their national all-source intelligence is hugely better today than it was in the 1990’s because of this shift in how they approach their mission [to include ethical drug policies based on evidence and free of corruption].
The next big step is, as I have been saying and as I was inspired by Col Jan-Inge Svensson, SE Land Forces (Ret), multinational information-sharing and sense-making, and multinational clandestine and technical operations instead of unilateral operations, where a challenge is clearly of common concern. I continue to look for a home for these ideas — I have not given up on DoD entirely, but Sir Richard Branson or the Secretary General of the United Nations are both options. There will be, eventually, a Director of Global Intelligence. As much as I would like to be that person, with the continued obstinance of the US secret world it is far more likely that the first director will be Chinese or Indian.
The inability of the USA to commit to ethical evidence-based decision-making is an enduring concern that I as a patriot worry about constantly.
Robert David STEELE Vivas