The future of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is Multinational, Multifunctional, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing & Sense-Making (M4IS2).
The following, subject to the approval of Executive and Congressional leadership, are suggested hueristics (rules of thumb):
Rule 1: All Open Source Information (OSIF) goes directly to the high side (multinational top secret) the instant it is received at any level by any civilian or military element responsive to global OSINT grid. This includes all of the contextual agency and mission specific information from the civilian elements previously stove-piped or disgarded, not only within the US, but ultimately within all 90+ participating nations.
Rule 2: In return for Rule 1, the US IC agrees that the Department of State (and within DoD, Civil Affairs) is the proponent outside the wire, and the sharing of all OSIF originating outside the US IC is at the discretion of State/Civil Affairs without secret world caveat or constraint. OSIF collected by US IC elements is NOT included in this warrant.
Phi Beta Iota: This started as a short list for the various college and university engineering students that have dialed in, but as we got into it, it became more of a “situational awareness” inventory pulling together both technical “solutions” none of which have been integrated yet, and analytic “requirements” none of which have been satisfied yet.
$75 billion a year for secret intelligence, and we still do not have an analytic desktop toolkit, all-source geospatially and historically and cultural astute back office processing, or global reach to all humans, all minds, all the time. Sucks for us. Let’s see what the Smart Mob can do….
We specifically invite suggestions in the Comments for removing items from this list, or for adding items from within this website or from any other website. This is now a work zone. Steele is available to visit any engineering workshop and especially those working on bottom-up clouds like Swarm DPL (transparently scalable distributed programming language).
This monograph by Dr. Kenneth Lieberthal, a PDF of 81 pages, is just out (September 2009) from the China Center of the Brookings Institute. In its area of specific focus, getting analysis right, it is a solid B+, short of an A because it continues the unilateralist mind-set that eschews both full engagement with the other seven tribes of intelligence, and with multinational governments, corporations, and non-profit organizations that do not wish to share secrets but are willing to share substantive knowledge.
There are six (6) pages in this work that held my attention: pages 11-12 (Table 2.2 Analytic Concerns, by Frequency of Mention); page 14 (Figure 3.1, A Pyramid of Analytic Tasks); page 20 (Table 3.1, Wide Range of Analytical Tools and Skills Required); page 34 (Figure 5.1, Intelligence Analysis and Information Types), and page 35 (Table 5.1, Changing Tradecraft Characteristics). Print them off from the free PDF copy online (search for title).
My first review allotted two stars, on the second complete reading I decided that was a tad harsh because I *did* go through it twice, so I now raise it to three stars largely because pages 11-12 were interesting enough to warrant an hour of my time (see below). This work reinvents the wheel from 1986, 1988, 1992, etcetera, but the primary author is clearly ignorant of all that has happened before, and the senior author did not bother to bring him up to speed (I know Greg Treverton knows this stuff).
Among many other flaws, this light once over failed to do even the most cursory of either literature or unclassified agency publication (not even the party line rag, Studies in Intelligence). Any book on this topic that is clueless about Jack Davis and his collected memoranda on analytic tradecraft, or Diane Webb and her utterly brilliant definition of Computer Aided Tools for the Analysis of Science and Technology (CATALYST), is not worthy of being read by an all-source professional. I would also have expected Ruth Davis and Carol Dumaine to be mentioned here, but the lack of attribution is clearly a lack of awareness that I find very disturbing.
I looked over the bibliography carefully, and it confirmed my evaluation. This is another indication that RAND (a “think tank”) is getting very lazy and losing its analytic edge. In this day and age of online bibliography citation, the paucity of serious references in this work is troubling (I wax diplomatic).
Here are ten books–only one of mine (and all seven of mine are free online as well as at Amazon):
On the latter, look for “New Rules for the New Craft of Intelligence” that is free online as a separate document. Both Davis and Webb can be found online because I put them there in PDF form.
The one thing in this book that was useful, but badly presented, was the table of analyst concerns across nine issues that did not include tangible resources, multinational sense-making, or access to NSA OSINT.
Below is my “remix” of the table to put it into more useful form:
54% Quality of Intelligence 54% Tools of intelligence/analysis 43% Staffing 43% Intra-Community collaboration and data sharing 41% Collection Issues 38% Evaluation 32% Targeting Analysis 30% Value
Above are the categories with totals (first initial below connects to above). The top four validate the DNI’s priorities and clearly need work.
32% T Targeting Analysis is important 30% V Redefine intelligence 30% Q Analysis too captive to current 30% To Directed R&D for analytic technology needed 27% T Targeting needs prioritization 27% S Analyst training important and insufficient 22% V Uniqueness 22% E PDB problematic as metric 22% To “Tools” of intelligence analysis are poor 22% To “Tools” limit analysis and limited by culture
The line items above are for me very significant. We still do priority based collection rather than gap-driven collection, something I raised on the FIRCAP and with Rick Shackleford in 1992. Our analysts (most of them less than 5 years in service) are clearly concerned about both a misdirection of collection and of analysis, and a lack of tools–this 22 years after Diane Webb identified the 18 needed functionalities and the Advanced Information Processing and Analysis Steering Group (AIPASG) found over 20 different *compartmented* projects, all with their own sweetheart vendor, trying to create “the” all-source fusion workstation.
19% C S&T underused, needs understanding 16% E Critical and needs improvement 14% E Assess performance qualitatively 14% Q Quality of analysis is a concern 14% Q Intelligence focus too narrow 14% S Language, culture, regional are big weaknesses 11% A Leadership 11% L Must be improved 11% Q Problem centric vice regional 11% Q Global coverage is important 11% C Open source critical, need new sources 11% I Lack of leadership and critical mass impair IC-wide 11% I IC information technology infrastructure needed 11% I Non-traditional source agencies need more input 8% V Unclear goals prevail 8% T Targetting analysis needs attn+ 8% C Collection strategies/methods outdated 8% S Concern over lack of staff or surge capability 8% S Intelligence Community-wide curriculum desireable 8% I Should NOT pursue virtual wired network 8% I Security is a concern for virtual and sharing 5% E Evaluation not critical 5% Q Depth versus breadth an issue 5% Q Greater client context needed 5% C Law enforcement has high potential 5% S Analytic corps is highly trained better than ever 5% S Career track needs building 5% I Stovepiping is a problem, need more X-community 5% I Should pursue virtual organization and wired network 3% V Newsworthy not intelligence 3% L Radical transformation needed 3% E Metrics are not needed 3% E Evaluation is negative 3% E Audits are difficult 3% Q Long term shortfalls overstated 3% Q Global coverage too difficult 3% T Targeting can be left to collectors 3% C All source materially lacking 3% C Need to guard against evidence addiction 3% C Need to take into account “feedback” 3% S Should train stovepipe analysts not IC analysts 3% S Language and cultural a strength
For the rest, not now, but three at the bottom trouble me: the analysts do not have the appreciation for feedback; they do not understand how lacking they are in sources; and they don’t know enough to realize that radical transformation is needed.
On balance, I found this book annoying, but two pages ultimately provocative.
In 1985-1986 an utterly brilliant woman, Diane Webb, working with Dennis McCormich and under the oversight of Gordon Oehler, established the definitive requirements statement for an all-source analytic workstation. We still do not have such a workstation, and the lack of integrity among intelligence community leaders and vendors is the reason. No one is willing to sponsor a generic Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) solution that can be used by both all-source analysts and all external analysts. DARPA STRONG ANGEL TOOZL is a start, but inadequate to the needs of all-source analysts dealing with multiple complex challenges. Below is the best slide from a presentation to OSS ’01 by Claudia Porter from Austin Information Systems, who totally impressed the audience because unlike all other vendors trying desperately to propose “single-point technology solutions” that are nothing more than a deep hook that shuts the customer off from all other solutions, she examined where specific tools fit on a matrix of need. Click on the slide to see the entire briefing. Click on Frog Right to see the list of softwares that the US Special Oprations Command J-23 (Open Source Branch) uses today, none of them integrated because the US Government refuses to cooperate with the OMB/GSA efforts–mandated by the White House–to find “common solutions.” One day, Claudia Porter may get to direct a skunkworks with an anti-turst waiver from the Department of Commerce that achieves what we knew we needed in 1985.
When Diane Web reached the Office of Scientific and Weapons Research (OSWR) at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), she entered what John Perry Barlow called in a Forbes article “the gulag.” Gray desks and rotten tools–she had better computers and better analytic tools as a graduate student prior to joining the CIA. With help from Dennis McCormick and under the oversight of Gordon Oehler, she devised CATALYST, shown below in obth the original version and the enhanced version that Robert Steele acreated on top of contributions from Bill Ruh (CISCO AON). Click on the Frog to reach the SOCOM J-23 list of unintegrated softwares, and the DARPA STRONG ANGEL TOOZL initiative. Although dated 1989, this was devised in 1984 and took the usual four years of editing at CIA before it finally got into the public domain.
Put bluntly, the USA will continue to be stupid at the strategic, operational, tactical, and technical levels because none of the money being provided by the taxpayer and spent by the so-called policymakers has any connection to reality understood in the context of access to all information in all languages all the time, a strategic analytic model for holistic analysis of all ten threats to humanity acorss all twelve policy budget and behavior domains; and a toolset for multinational, multiagency, multidisciplinary, multidomain information sharing and sense-making (M4IS2).