Reflections on US Decision-Making
LinkedIn, 27 October 2014
Since 1990, when I first itemized six things that US intelligence needed to do in order to better serve the USA, I have been persistently troubled by the lack of leadership and the lack of integrity in this profession that I consider so fundamental to creating a prosperous country at peace with itself as well as the rest of the world.
Here are the six initiatives I proposed in my article, 1990 Intelligence in the 1990′s – Six Challenges [it complements the article I ghost-wrote for the Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1989 Al Gray (US) on Global Intelligence Challenges:
01 Meet the Needs of ALL Public Programs.
02 Indications & Warnings of Revolutionary Change
03 New Theory & Method of Counterintelligence
04 Developing an Information Technology Strategy
05 Establish a Responsive Requirements System
06 Realign Resources in an Era of Radical Change
Today, 24 years later and no less than $1.2 trillion dollars down the drain, most of it spent on technical collection (mass surveillance) that is not actually processed, not a single one of these six fundamentals has been addressed with integrity.
Never mind that lost in all this was my most fundamental proposition, summarized by Alvin Toffler in the chapter “The Future of the Spy” in War and Anti-War: do not send a spy where a schoolboy can go — take advantage of the billions of data elements, most known by humans that are not US citizens and will never get clearances, data in 183 languages we do not speak.
This failure to be serious about the craft of intelligence has costs and consequences. For lack of intelligence with integrity, the President (or any given corporate CEO):
01 Cannot devise a evidence-based strategy that address all ten high-level threats to humanity (poverty, infectious disease, and environmental degradation are the top three), and that is coherent — not wasteful — across the twelve core policies from Agricultural to Water.
02 Cannot devise policies that are cost-effective and sustainable — all of the individual stove-pipes continue to fight for budget share and betray both one another and the public interest.
03 Cannot achieve the minimalist 30% cut demanded of Defense and others, even when no less than 47% (weapons) to 75% (Afghanistan) has been documented as waste — he also cannot achieve, sticking with defense, a military that works — in my own vision, a 450 ship Navy, a long-haul Air Force, an air mobile Army, and the closure of all of our bases around the world, most used today as conduits for crime and terrorism, not for any legitimate need.
04 Is completely ineffective at orchestrating day to day operations — Ebola is merely the latest example — and generally oblivious to the massive crimes against humanity that individual departments are enabling (such as fracking).
We all recognize that the President is a political prisoner in his own house, and that CEOs are surrounded by gate keepers terrified of any change in the status quo. To their credit, both the President and thousands of CEOs appear to be agonizing over the reality they can no longer ignore (reality bats last, by the way): everything they are doing is wrong, expensive, and fatal.
Happily, many alternative paths are converging, not only in relation to intelligence with integrity, where my latest two books may be of some service [INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity & Sustainability in 2010 and THE OPEN SOURCE EVERYTHING MANIFESTO: Transparency, Truth & Trust in 2012], but also in relation to academia (multi-disciplinary research and data innovation are finally taking off), the economy (from inclusive and redemptive capitalism to mutuality and happiness economics), governance (extreme democracy is waiting for Twitter to get serious), and society (buycotts are all the rage, values are in renaissance).
It is a virtual certainty that the Republicans will capture the Senate in 2014 and the US federal government will go into grid-lock for the balance of the Obama-Biden term. If we see a face off in 2016 between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, the corruption of the two-party tyranny could not be more manifest — two dynasties, neither actually in public service, both conspiring to shut out the Constitution, Green, Libertarian, Natural Law, Reform, and Socialist Parties, as well as all Independents.
In my view, the time has come for the public to demand of its government ethical evidence-based decision-making. This will not happen for so long as we allow the fiction that secret intelligence is a) creating decision-support — it is not and b) worth the $100 billion a year we pay for it — not even close; I could do vastly better, across all domains, for $3 billion spent on an Open Source Agency.
Intelligence is not about inputs — money spent. Intelligence is about outputs — decision-support. Today decisions are made on the basis of who pays to be heard. Neither of the two political parties now corrupting governance are going to change. It is We the People that must change. Happily, if we change, there are possibilities for uplifting humanity.
Below are my three “last words” on intelligence with integrity in relation to the world of secret intelligence, national security intelligence, and whole of government decision-support. Henceforth I focus strictly on public intelligence.
2009 Intelligence for the President–AND Everyone Else
2014 Robert Steele On Defense Intelligence – Seven Strikes
2014 Robert Steele: Rebuilding National Intelligence – A 12-Step Plan