No Free Cellphones, or OSINT Computers
Washington, DC. Dec 22nd, 2005 ---- In the rarefied atmosphere of abstract authors and thinkers who shun the real world, the concept of gargantuan social re engineering, instead of working with what we have looms large. I remember one "Thinker" advising President Reagan that he should give billions of transistor radios to the poor of the world, each tuned solely to Voice of America. What a great theoretical concept, have billions of people sat outside their tents and mud huts listening to the Millionaire politicians in Washington talk about the Contras.
One lone voice asked a simple question. "What happens when the batteries go dead?" It was very easy to make sweeping statements about giving the billions of starving people, devastated by famine, disease, wars and natural disasters good old American technology, so they can share in the American Dream. Instead of "Let them eat cake" it has become "Give them good old Yankee technology to make the poor bastards happy!" But there is a new twist to that old idea. We have seen publicity seekers suggest giving out billions of computers, even cellphones to the poor and have tens of thousands of them spy for the US Military? Firstly no one explained to these abstract thinkers that in the real world you need a sophisticated and expensive infrastructure, and support system to make the computers and cellphones work. Anyone who travels off the Interstates in the United States will tell you the cellphone network is far from universal, even a few miles from Washington, DC. Consider a hundred million people in rural Africa trying to call Virginia with breaking news.
One of our expert groups looked into the announcement of having tens of thousands of collectors feed real time OSINT into the US military, 24/7 thus creating the worlds biggest amateur spy network under the guise of OSINT.
After the laughter died down someone suggested that the executions, trials and confiscation of the donated equipment would make a good story. Hate to tell the pseudo brains who think up these ideas, but most countries, including the United States don't take kindly to tens of thousands of their citizens feeding intelligence back to foreign military. In the real world it is called ESPIONAGE!
Yes counting ships through the Bosphorus, or warships at anchor in Pear Harbor, or tanks rolling out of the factories is what gets you executed in many countries! It's MILITARY INTELLIGENCE and you really ought to be wearing a uniform if you get caught.
But to ensure full disclosure I did indicate that we were building the ComLinks OSINT Network but this is absolutely Open Source and for civilian use. In fact we changed the name from ComLinks Intelligence Network to distance ourselves from the US Intelligence Community. Intelligence is a dirty word these days.
For the past ten years we have been using technology that allows the collection of information to be web based, with well qualified people working from home, feeding into a central knowledge core. The idea being that people in Texas like speaking to people in Texas, build relationships with them, and feel more comfortable updating them with news, than talking to a sanitized call center. Is it 24/7 you may ask? No, but why would you want 24/7 coverage. There is a "News Cycle" for open information, and if a disaster is seen to be unfolding, like the TV Newsrooms we can accommodate it. Even the US Government isn't 24/7, only a handful of duty officers are on during the night. Some may even be awake.
True the military are 24/7 in their operations, but 99.99% of OSINT can be done in regular office hours, especially for the civilian sector. It is open and does not involve illegal activities.
The group now realized my concern. The misuse of journalists by rogue Intelligence Managers has put all journalists at risk. The CIA have betrayed the trust of American journalists, and the Pentagon bribing writers to plant fake stories and misinformation is a travesty that will come back to bite us. Now there are those who promote the concept of tens of thousands of peasants across the world feeding information to the US Military, under the guise of OSINT. Will this include target information, bombing and missile strike co-ordinates, or movement of key politicians, and national leaders so they can be assassinated.
Doesn't matter if it does, the majority of countries will crack down on reputable OSINT operations just in case.
It is absolutely essential that the military and civilian use of OSINT be kept at arms length. The governments and military can buy reports "Off the shelf" from the OSINT Supermarket. The Chinese Military Attache, and the US Marine Intelligence Officer can take their copies off the same pile. That is Open and Ethical. But once they start to believe the writers of that report are surrogates for one or the other, then the trust breaks down, and OSINT is destroyed.
Until we open the OSINT Center in Washington, DC and later in London we have a very sophisticated distributed network which is just remote boxes. But we still are very transparent to every national governments in whose jurisdiction we operate. Hey we even talk to the FBI and CIA at times, we have nothing to hide. Same for Beijing. We are against the use of Top Secret cleared OSINT staff, regardless of whose government the Top Secret clearance refers to. In order to develop a world class OSINT Network it is essential the military dreamers Butt-Out and stop trying to have a civilian take over of Military Intelligence. OSINT primarily serves the civilian administration and infrastructure. The military are welcome, even encouraged to use the unclassified reports, or feeds.
In the Real World of OSINT careless talk costs innocent lives. Be very careful of dragging innocent people into the military intelligence vortex. That is why trained journalists make the very best OSINT collectors. They know that listening to dreamers can get you executed, or imprisoned for a long, long time.