The Washington Post is reporting that the Director of National Intelligence's
Open Source Center (OSC) (which replaced the Foreign Broadcast Information Service)
is surfing blogs and web sites looking for open source intelligence to help it
do its job. The center's director, CIA veteran Douglas Naquin, said, "managing
the world's unclassified knowledge ... [is] much bigger than any one organization
With all the recent complaints about Internet censorship and e-mail blocking,
one has to wonder -- what does "managing the world's unclassified knowledge"
entail? Secret deals with Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and Google to control the flow
of information. What does this have to do with John Poindexter's re-engineered
and re-packaged Total Information Awareness system and its Genoa I, Genoa II,
and Genesys incarnations? What does OSC's Advanced Internet Exploitation training
have to do with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA's) Information
Exploitation Office (IXO)?
Note to OSC analysts: since the various whistleblowers from
a dozen intelligence agencies cannot seem to get the attention of their management,
would you be so kind as to incorporate their stories and travails found on this
web site in your intelligence reports so people like John Negroponte will realize
that the major problem with our intelligence agencies is their senior management?
Names provided upon request.
From The Sun-Sentinel.com
By Susan B. Glasser
The Washington Post
CIA scours blogs for useful intelligence
Some `secrets' can be found in plain view
WASHINGTON · The CIA now has its own bloggers.
In a bow to the rise of Internet-era secrets hidden in plain view, the agency
has started hosting Web logs with the latest information on topics including
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il's public visit to a military installation
-- his 38th this year -- and the Burmese media's silence on a ministry reshuffling.
It even has a blog on blogs, dedicated to cracking the code of what useful information
can be gleaned from the rapidly expanding milieu of online journals and weird
electronic memorabilia warehoused on the Net.
The blogs are posted on an unclassified, government-wide Web site, part of a rechristened
CIA office for monitoring, translating and analyzing publicly available information
called the DNI Open Source Center. The center, which officially started this month
under the aegis of the new director for national intelligence, marks the latest
wave of reorganization to come out of the recommendations of several commissions
that analyzed the failures of intelligence collection related to the Sept. 11,
2001, terrorist attacks.
They pointed to decentralized and insufficient efforts to tap into the huge
realm of public information in the Internet era, as well as a continuing climate
of disdain for such information among spy agencies. "There are still people
who believe if it's not top secret, it's not worth reading," said an outside
expert who works with government intelligence agencies.
By adding the new center, "they've changed the strategic visibility,"
said Douglas Naquin, a CIA veteran named to direct the center. "All of
a sudden open source is at the table." But, in an interview last week at
CIA headquarters, he said that "managing the world's unclassified knowledge
... [is] much bigger than any one organization can do."
Today's Open Source Center began life as the Foreign Broadcast Information
Service -- FBIS to insiders -- in 1941, when it was charged with monitoring
publicly available media and translating it. Its pastel-hued booklets became
a familiar presence throughout government. At the height of the Cold War, it
was FBIS translators who pored through the latest issues of Izvestia and Pravda
from the Soviet Union, providing the little hints such as a word change that
might signal something broader for the CIA's Kremlinologists.
By the 1990s, the office had fallen on hard times. Some advocated abolishing
FBIS, saying it was irrelevant in the age of 24-hour cable news. It survived,
but its staffing was slashed 60 percent, according to Naquin. Sept. 11 gave
it new purpose, as "open source" became an intelligence buzzword.
Across government, policymakers began to debate how to find the nuggets of genuine
information hidden in the Internet avalanche.
Even before the Open Source Center's debut, the office had retooled its Internet
efforts earlier this year. It added a new video database that makes all its
archives available online, and it rolled out an upgraded Web site with the blogs
and homepages for key intelligence topics, such as Osama bin Laden, Iraq insurgency
leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, China and even avian flu.
The center also sees itself as a repository of what Naquin calls "open-source
tradecraft" in a self-conscious echo of his clandestine colleagues. It
teaches courses to intelligence analysts across the community, with titles such
as "Advanced Internet Exploitation."
Perhaps the toughest challenge for the new Open Source Center is proving its
mettle inside a skeptical intelligence community, in which the stolen secret
has long been prized above the publicly available gem. Although the center's
Web site is unclassified and available across the government, at the moment
it has just 6,500 users with active accounts, Naquin said.
"Rarely is there the `aha!' The `oh-you-solved-this or you-prevented-this'"
moment, Naquin acknowledged.
The culture clash isn't likely to disappear anytime soon, especially with an
intelligence community that still takes steps to classify material found easily
on the Internet. Not long ago, recalled a former senior government terrorism
analyst, he was teaching a class to future CIA intelligence analysts that included
a PowerPoint presentation on al-Qaida's post-Sept. 11 evolution.
Two men in the back of the class came up to the instructor after the presentation.
Where, they asked, did he get a particular image from Iraq? It's classified,
they insisted. The former analyst laughed. He had taken it from a gruesome Web
site that compiles terrorist atrocity videos along with pornography.