Political Intelligence or Insider Trading?
Washington, DC. Dec 24th, 2005 ---- Business Week just ran a story, virtually lifted from the same story in The Hill about Wall Street using Washington Insiders to glean real time information about proposed legislation.
What irritates me most is the quote from Representative Brian Baird about the legitimate use of contacts to gain breaking news, or early indication of decisions:
It happens enough, however, to trouble some lawmakers. On Nov. 23, Representative Brian Baird (D-Wash.) asked the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to issue guidance for staffers sitting on some of the capital's most valuable information. "The possibility of direct kickbacks [is] enormous," says Baird, who read about the political intelligence business in The Hill, a newspaper covering Congress. He worries that the trafficking comes "very close" to insider trading.
Coming from the community that takes bribes and payout's to rewrite, oppose and gerrymander the electoral process, that is a little like hypocrisy.
Bring a news camera crew into Congress, especially during the election cycle and you get these Congressmen jumping over each other to give their advance opinion on every rule, bill and committee agenda. Nobody accuses them on "Insider Trading" although their often ill advised comments may cause a ripple effect through the Stock Market.
But the hypocrites feel they alone should profit from this. They tell their political consultants secrets every day, to ensure Committee decision do not influence the voters at re-election time. If this means putting military volunteers in harms way, then that is the price to pay for Democracy.
The political intelligence process is a highly focused and refined extension to the traditional news gathering process. We call it OSINT because it is deeper than the sensational news reporting on the Cable TV News Networks, but it isn't illegal gathering of information in a clandestine fashion.
The Business Week article goes on to say " Unlike lobbyists, political intelligence outfits are not required to disclose their clients or annual revenues, masking the size of this very quiet business. One veteran estimates there are more than a half-dozen contenders collectively raking in $30 million to $40 million a year."
Well the 50,000 lobbyists rack up around $4 billion in expenditure bribing Congress and the rulemaking agencies, influencing, even subjugating the democratic process. That clearly was knowledge not known by the unknown writer of the Business Week piece.
The Hill piece did go a little further, but still did not put the whole thing into perspective. For Wall Street Bankers have been calling their Washington contacts since the telephone was invented, to find out what was the trends. How else would they activate their Lobbyists to get in there and stop the legislation.
Political Intelligence and all of OSINT is the next generation of focused news gathering and analysis, "Beyond the Newsroom" and with modern technology, and professional trained journalists as "collectors" we can achieve almost real time. In fact many now file real time from WiFi and Cellular devices in the Committee Rooms, and after whispers in the Corridors of the Capitol. By definition it can't be Insider Trading for Washington-based Journalists aren't paid enough to own stock in the companies.