This section of our interview with Mr. Steele is dedicated to a retrospective insight into the past of OSINT, terrorism, and today’s top high-risk technologies.
– Mr. Steele, is there anything you regret about or would have done differently if you could just go back to the 80s and start it over?– I have agonized over this question. I and my family have paid a very heavy price, not just financially, for my staying on a righteous path for 20 years while being bitterly and crudely fought at every step by CIA’s Open Source Center (OSC) and the secret agencies that corrupted my vision by insisting that all OSINT be classified and that all contractors doing OSINT be US citizens with clearances (“butts in seats” surfing the web). OSINT is being treated as a technical discipline and this is flat out wrong. OSINT is a very broad extension of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) and needs to be done face to face and in 183 languages. That’s too hard for the CIA’s mix of bureaucracy, “security”, and insouciance , so it is not done. We need an Open Source Agency (OSA), as recommended in the 9/11 Commission Report on pages 23 and 413, but under diplomatic or commercial auspices, or perhaps even as part of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to inform all planning, programming, and budgeting decisions across Whole of Government. There are two books I recommend, Hamilton Bean’s “No More Secrets: Open Source Information and the Reshaping of U.S. Intelligence”, and Anthony Olcott’s “Open Source Intelligence in a Networked World” (2012). I do not for one minute regret my 20 year walk-about, and the many countries, organizations, and individuals it has been my privilege to encounter. It may well be that five years from today I will conclude that I had to do the walk-about in order to turn the Titanic into clear waters. However, if I had to do it over again today, instead of resigning I would seek a transfer to OMB, create an OSINT budget line, and ultimately consolidate all OSINT services of common concern in an Open Source Agency (OSA) that nurtures ALL of the opens across government and the nation and then the world, while teaching and funding internal decision-support capabilities within every government elements, and then pressing for various Smart Nation initiatives such as Congressman Rob Simmons (R-CT-02) and his staff and I put together in a draft Smart Nation Act. He lost his last election by 80 votes, and our movement toward the restoration of intelligence with integrity lost its only champion in Congress. The biggest change in my perspective has been the realization that OSINT means nothing if it is not accompanied by – enabled by and leveraged by – all the other opens, some of them depicted in the above graphic. I have recently posted a graphic intended to help US government consumers of intelligence begin the process of documenting the failure of the secret world to satisfy them, the first step in submitting new budget requirements that propose a reallocation of funds from the secret world of largely useless collection (corporate vaporware, most of it not processed or analyzed), to the consumer world of necessary timely production. This is how we restore intelligence with integrity to Whole of Government.
Others are better suited than I to take the other path, that of collective intelligence and wisdom of the crowds. Although I published the first book on Collective Intelligence, with 55 contributing authors, right now the technology is not there yet but is coming along at a phenomenal pace. Google and Facebook are bloated; Twitter is lagging – right now I am looking at International Crisis Mapping and all of the open softwares that Dr. Patrick Meier is identifying – I expect a massive convergence with BitCoin, OpenBTS and Open Spectrum, and then the World Brain and Global Game will evolve at their own natural pace.
– How do you view the proportion of physical and cyber terrorism in the next 5 years? In your opinion – which type is worse?
– Neither. I believe two things: first, that many terrorists are false flag terrorists that have been funded, trained, or manipulated by rogue government or corporate sources who desperately need terrorism as a substitute for the Cold War; and second, that terrorism is a tactic, not a threat, and it is a tactic that is used by groups with legitimate grievances when they feel they have no other resort. The CIA is retarded when it comes to understanding cultural and tribal movements – in 1979 I gave them my first thesis on predicting revolution; in 1986 I sat in on CIA workshops on revolutions; today I look at what the National Intelligence Council is producing – “Global Trends 2030” for example – and I have to conclude that CIA lacks both intelligence and integrity. Good people trapped in a bad system, with the managers not held accountable for diverting thousands of people and billions of dollars to drones doing extrajudicial assassination, continued rendition and torture, and very little attention to what really matters – climate change, for example.CIA just closed its “Center” after years of its doing nothing of substance. For both the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, it was my company, not CIA, that provided the tribal maps and attitude surveys to the US Special Operations Command. CIA still does not have a model for predicting and remediating revolution such as I developed in 1976 and have applied on several occasions for commercial exploitation. Anyone who claims terrorism is the top threat to humanity is ignorant or lacks integrity and is lying for effect. One of my most popular graphics is Graphic: A Short Story-Terrorism as a Boil (see image), it puts all this nonsense in perspective.
Please let me take a moment to list, in priority order, the top ten threats to humanity. These are as identified by LtGen Dr. Brent Scowcroft, USAF (Ret) and the other members of the United Nations High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change, in their report A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, and they have been ignored by the USG and all other governments.
2) Infectious Disease
3) Environmental Degradation
4) Inter-State War
5) Civil War
7) Other Atrocities
9) Terrorism (Mass Catastrophes)
10) Transnational Crime
Poverty has doubled in the USA in the past twelve years. Around the world poverty does more to spawn all the other threats than all the corporations put together. In the USA the unemployment rate is 23%, with 40% being the rate for new college graduates and old guys like myself. The diseases that are being created and spread by our unhealthy agricultural, food, and industrial practices is beyond comprehension. What we allow in the way of genocide and trade in women and children – including a thriving slave industry in the USA, a mix of prisons that out-source labor and migrant workers held at gunpoint—is reprehensible—I strongly recommend John Bowe’s “Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy”. Not only is terrorism not a real threat, but transnational crime, previously defined by street families doing gambling, drugs, and other relatively minor illegal crimes, has now been eclipsed by Wall Street and its legalized destruction of entire economies through blatantly fraudulent derivatives, mortgages, and hedge fund transactions. What we have done to ourselves in accepting 935 now documented lies to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq has not only cost us over $4 trillion dollars, but will be a cost to our society and those societies for a half century into the future. This is all insane, and so unnecessary. All we need to change it is to dismiss the two-party tyranny and re-establish an honest government Of, By, and For We the People.
– Please list the top 3 high-risk technologies and the possible consequences of them being utilized?
– Vaccines that produce infertility and other diseases; Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) that are killing crops and people; and compound interest. I am stunned by the lack of integrity in global health as well as domestic health; by the lack of integrity in agricultural and food oversight; and by the fact that just one Koch brother is earning $3 million an hour in interest while too many citizens struggle at $2.13 an hour plus tips. Worse than any technology is a corrupt culture. I urge one and all to read Charles Perrow’s “The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters” along with David Callahan’s “The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead”. Technology is not a substitute for thinking – or ethics. The latter was the whole point of E. O. Wilson’s complex and brilliant “Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge” and also John Ralston Saul’s “Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West”. Ethics, not technology, is our 21st Century challenge. Engineers bend metal and crack code – they are challenged when it comes to the nuances of ethics. I am still fond on my invited rant to INTERVAL in 1993, “GOD, MAN, & INFORMATION: COMMENTS TO INTERVAL IN-HOUSE”. It could be given today to any of the big IT corporations, and they still would not get it.