Open Source Agency

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Description

A proposal by Robert Steele:

"I suggest we create a national Open Source Agency. Half of the money earmarked for the agency would go toward traditional intelligence work. The other half would provide for 50 state-wide Citizen Intelligence Networks, including a 24/7 watch center, where citizens can both obtain and input information.

We could establish new emergency intelligence phone numbers--think 119 instead of 911--allowing any housewife, cab driver or delivery boy to contribute to our national security. All they have to do is be alert, and if they see something, take a cell phone photograph and send it in with a text message. If three different people notice the same suspicious person taking photographs of a nuclear plant, for instance, it could be hugely important. The system could even evolve to automatically mobilize emergency workers or warn citizens. Imagine if after people alerted the network about a roadside car bomb, it automatically sent text messages to every phone in the immediate area, warning people to stay away.

When you think about how the system will change, it may be helpful to picture national intelligence as a baseball game. In the old days, government bureaucrats accustomed to unlimited budgets and secret methods would try to win a game simply by bribing a player (Clandestine Intelligence), putting a “bug” in the dug-out (Signals Intelligence), trying to “sniff” the direction and speed of the ball (Measurements & Signatures Intelligence), or taking a satellite picture of the field every three days (Imagery Intelligence).

This approach is no longer appropriate. In our new era, everyone, including any terrorist, has the option of using open sources of information that are equal or superior to secret sources. The new craft of intelligence requires all the players to function as part of a team, and asks them to win however they can. It uses the collective wisdom of all the participants. It encourages the crowd to participate. Open source intelligence harnesses what everyone sees and knows. It changes the rules of the game.

We must study, digitize, translate and learn from the history of all nations and peoples and lands. We must share the cost of collecting and understanding all information in all languages with knowledgeable individuals from all nations, not just our own. We must harness the distributed intelligence of the entire nation, such that everyone might participate. We will still need spies and secrecy, but improved use of public intelligence will allow them to focus more narrowly."

Record Copy As Originally Appearing in Forbes ASAP

Proposed Mission Statement for the Open Source Agency

Proposed Budget for the Open Source Agency

One-Page Memorandum to Director of National Intelligence

Other Related Links on Open Source Agency idea

9-11 Commission Page Recommending an Open Source Agency[1]

More Information

Notes

  1. Steele and other pioneers strongly oppose CIA's attempt to "own" the Open Source Agency, and instead recommend that it be a sister agency to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), both under diplomatic auspices.