In the internet age, the digital breadcrumbs humans leave in their wake can be harnessed – the geotag on a tweeted photo, or the time stamps on a YouTube video upload. This open source, publicly available material, once scorned by the secret-stealers of the intelligence community, is rising in value as it is in volume. Open source intelligence (OSINT) is increasingly leveraged by intelligence agencies around the world to quantify, contextualize and even predict international events.
ROBERT STEELE: Comment as posted with typos corrected here.
I started the Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) revolution in 1988. For 30 years now CIA — which I served as a spy overseas for three tours and for three HQS tours in counterintelligence, information technology, and satellite futures program evaluation, has fought me tooth and nail. What they have going is crap.
Very early on the clandestine service — my former service where I had as documented in my fitness reports five times the regional average in clandestine recruitments and foreign intelligence production — insisted that OSINT was TECHINT, that they owned HUMINT, and that all overt humans were their domain. The Open Source Center is crap. It is limited to what is called “Passive OSINT” or social media and mainstream media monitoring. Given that 50% of the world does not have access to the Internet and that the first world is dealing with 1% (published) of 1% (written) of 1% known, I can as the father of the OSINT discipline safely say that the OSE is dealing with 1% of 1% of 1% of 1% once again.
OSINT is HUMINT. OSINT done right is Active OSINT, which is to say a massive ever-adapting global network of multilingual networks across the eight tribes of human intelligence (academia, civil society including labor unions and religions, commerce especially small business, government especially local, law enforcement, media including bloggers and local stringers for Third World papers that never get to the Internet, military, and non-governmental/non-profit).
What CIA and the military do today in the OSINT arena is crap. For 30 years CIA has with malice aforethought sought to destroy the OSINT discipline, going so far as collaborating with NSA to bribe foreign intelligence services to do it “their way.” CIA’s dirty little secret is that it sucks at clandestine HUMINT — apart from its really black dirty tricks, it relies on foreign liaison for hand-outs and pretends those were hard-won stolen secrets; NSA’s dirty little secret is that it only processes 1% of what it collects (but Bill Binney and I showed Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions how to tap that unprocessed goldmine, the 857 sealed indictments are probably rooted in part on finally processing the emails and cell calls of all the traitors, white collar criminals, and pedophiles).
The US secret intelligence is 70% worthless, and the last 30% produces, “at best” according to General Tony Zinni, 4% of what a major commander needs to know, and (my words) nothing for everyone else. The “OSINT” done by the US secret intelligence community — including the military services — is largely worthless because the efforts that worked, such as US Special Operations Command J-26 (answering 40% of all special operations requirements for $5M with 22 people) have been deliberately destroyed by CIA because they are rightly seen as a threat to the “cult of secrecy.”
The Open Source Agency I champion, twice approved by the Office of Management and Budget at IOC $125M FOC $2B (Keith Hall devised the number in 1997, $10M a year for each of 200 targets not now covered by the secret intelligence community) has been blocked by the CIA and the Senators it blackmails on the Hill, for 30 years. I continue to flag this for Donald Trump as a game changer that would include the two-way Trump Channel able to by-pass the lying media and overcome the corrupt secret world whose President’s Daily Brief, as candidate Trump so ably put it, was not worth sitting down for.
Eventually the craft of intelligence will migrate from secrets fostering war and waste to open sources fostering peace and prosperity for all. This is why I was recommended for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 and am being recommended again (this time by multiple parties) in 2018. I do not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. I do believe, however, that Trump, Putin, and Xi — who appear to have a side deal that will bury the Deep State — can earn the prize by embracing my ideas that in their fullest implementation, elevate the five billion poor at 10% of the cost of the failed Western economic paradigm that is 50% waste and 90% profit for the 1% — this ends illegal immigration the right way.
These are not ideas that CIA wants to consider — it is too busy with drone assassination as a budget-building exercise — drone assassination that is not only against the US Constitution and all international treaties we are a party to but is also killing 98% innocents.
Rumor has it the President has decided that NSA can be saved and CIA cannot be saved. I do not agree. CIA is potentially the single most priceless intelligence conglomerate in the US inventory — I would go so far as to suggest that the DNI should be terminated, NSA, NRO, and NGA down-sized to Signals, Imagery, and Geospacial Directorates in an expanded CIA — but first CIA has to learn that intelligence without integrity is not intelligence.
I recommend two starting points — never mind my life’s work at http://robertdavidsteele.com — for those that wish to understand the unrealized potential of the craft of intelligence as decision-support, and the enormous value of OSINT Done Right.