Alan Fry is a household name in the United Kingdom, where he is “on the spot” with counter-terrorism. What few know is that he is bracketed by Sir David Veness, today the Deputy Secretary of the United Nations for Safety and Security, who led anti-terrorism for a very long time and created the first deep Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) unit in modern law enforcement history, and Detective Constable Steve Edwards, who created the unit. With thanks to Steve Edwards, one of the true OSINT pioneers, below is the presentation by then Deputy Assistant Commissioner Fry.
The below outline was created for a special meeting of the top law enforcement officers in Australia during the October 1998 event organzed by then LtCol Ian Wing AU, today a Colonel and a PhD to boot. He and Paul Roger, along with Winston Maiki (RIP) and Babette Bnesousson are the leaders in Australia.
Paul Roger entered mid-career working the Hong Kong Organized Crime target with a special focus on the triads. He mastered the art of working with indigenous street-level sources while leveraging back office colonial processing power. In Australia he invented “time travel” and this was the most provocative element of his OSS ’96 presentation, below. We have failed to study the history of organized crime such that we can stop it in its tracks as it migrates from Italy to Scotland, or Latin America to West Africa.
Whenever we get depressed about the inability of large organizations to “hear” we just remind ourselves that no one listens to Brent Scowcroft or Paul Strassmann either despite their stature as intellectual giants.
Strassmann is an enterprise unto himself after decades of being a CIO for Xerox, DoD, and then a reprise at NASA for Sean O’Keefe. His books are among the most vital for executives seeking to actually understand the business value of computing. Below is his presentation to OSS ’96.
In 1986, Project GEORGE (Smiley) in the CIA’s Office of Information Technology discovered that computers had been designed without ever talking to librarians. There were created as unstructured bit buckets. It turns out that in the analog period, structure and the Dewey decimal system and humanly-constructed taxonomies were vitally important if one was to archive and retrieve knowledge within the limits of the individual human. During the middle period, which is STILL IN PROGRESS, computers have failed to get a grip on unstructured information. As Stephen E. Arnold and others have documented, electronic search yields less than 10% of what is online (apart from deep web not covered by any of the 75 search engines, there are C drives and peripheral drives that have not been indexed). Although David Weinberg is correct in his book Everything is Miscellaneous, and the digital world opens the propect for infinitely sharing information while retaining the original, and for creating infinite wealth by eliminating information asymmetries and data pathologies that favor the few at the expense of the many, there is no single government, corporation, organization, or collective other than Earth Intelligence Network and its affiliated society, Phi Beta Iota, that is actually committed to realizing the full potential of humans as H. G. Wells, Pierre Tielhard de Chardin, Stewart Brand, Kevin Kelly, and others have envisioned: as the World Brain within Earth Game, all humans, all minds, all the time. See the 2009 article on Human Intelligence by clicking on the icon below.
Lori Schnittker, along with Steve Edwards at Scotland Yard, Frans Mulschlegel at EUROPOL, and Ivian Smith at the FBI, did all they could to press forward with the exploitation of open sources in support of criminal intelligence. Steve Edwards had the most success–Scotland Yard not only cuts it counter-terrorism and arms trade costs in half, they increased by 100-fold the amount of ill-gotten gains they could confiscate after conviction (spies don’t do real estate and yatchs).
To the left, Lori’s text (if anyone knows Lori, I’d love to replace this with an updated photo). Below, the slides. Lori is one of the pioneers.
Ivian Smith, just prior to going to Little Rock during a Clinton Administration, was the top FBI executive for dealing with CIA on open source intelligence and related matters. His critique of both CIA and FBI is devastating–and this was in 1995, long before the litany of errors that allowed 9-11 to happen came to light. His book is less about spies and more about local, state, and federal political corruption as well as FBI incompetency, and highly recommended. The government is a beneficiary of public intelligence, NOT a source of public intelligence. We’re on our own.