January 5, 2017


Donald Trump Plans Revamp of Top U.S. Spy Agency (DAMIAN PALETTA and  JULIAN E. BARNES, Jan. 4, 2017, WSJ)

President-elect Donald Trump, a harsh critic of U.S. intelligence agencies, is working with top advisers on a plan that would restructure and pare back the nation's top spy agency, people familiar with the planning said. [...]

One of the people familiar with Mr. Trump's planning said advisers also are working on a plan to restructure the Central Intelligence Agency, cutting back on staffing at its Virginia headquarters and pushing more people out into field posts around the world. The CIA declined to comment.

"The view from the Trump team is the intelligence world has become completely politicized," said the individual, who is close to the Trump transition. "They all need to be slimmed down. The focus will be on restructuring the agencies and how they interact."

Typically, this is pretty much the opposite of the long-overdue reforms they need, Pentagon Prepares A Futures Market On Terror Attacks (CARL HULSE, JULY 29, 2003, NY Times)

The Pentagon office that proposed spying electronically on Americans to monitor potential terrorists has a new experiment. It is an online futures trading market, disclosed today by critics, in which anonymous speculators would bet on forecasting terrorist attacks, assassinations and coups.

Traders bullish on a biological attack on Israel or bearish on the chances of a North Korean missile strike would have the opportunity to bet on the likelihood of such events on a new Internet site established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The Pentagon called its latest idea a new way of predicting events and part of its search for the ''broadest possible set of new ways to prevent terrorist attacks.'' [...]

The Pentagon, in defending the program, said such futures trading had proven effective in predicting other events like oil prices, elections and movie ticket sales.

''Research indicates that markets are extremely efficient, effective and timely aggregators of dispersed and even hidden information,'' the Defense Department said in a statement. ''Futures markets have proven themselves to be good at predicting such things as elections results; they are often better than expert opinions.'' [...]

The initiative, called the Policy Analysis Market, is to begin registering up to 1,000 traders on Friday. It is the latest problem for the advanced projects agency, or Darpa, a Pentagon unit that has run into controversy for the Terrorism Information Office. Admiral Poindexter once described a sweeping electronic surveillance plan as a way of forestalling terrorism by tapping into computer databases to collect medical, travel, credit and financial records.

Worried about the reach of the program, Congress this year prohibited what was called the Total Information Awareness program from being used against Americans. Its name was changed to the Terrorism Information Awareness program.

This month, the Senate agreed to block all spending on the program. The House did not. Mr. Wyden said he hoped that the new disclosure about the trading program would be the death blow for Admiral Poindexter's plan.

The Pentagon did not provide details of the program like how much money participants would have to deposit in accounts. Trading is to begin on Oct. 1, with the number of participants initially limited to 1,000 and possibly expanding to 10,000 by Jan. 1.

''Involvement in this group prediction process should prove engaging and may prove profitable,'' the Web site said.

The overview of the plan said the market would focus on the economic, civil and military futures of Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey and the consequences of United States involvement with those nations. The creators of the market envision other trappings of existing markets like derivatives.

Open Source Intelligence (Robert David Steele, 4/19/2006, Forbes)

On Sept. 11, 2001, four airplanes were hijacked by terrorists who intended to crash them into a series of high-profile U.S. targets. Two crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The third collided with the Pentagon. But passengers on the fourth plane were alerted to the crisis while still in the air. They fought back, and the plane went down in rural Pennsylvania, sparing its intended target, the U.S. Capitol.

In other words, the only hijacked airplane that failed to hit its target on Sept. 11 was the one where informed citizens were able to take direct action. It gave proof that our national security establishment is broken. A $500 billion per year defense department and a $50 billion per year secret intelligence community failed where a few brave citizens armed only with cell phones succeeded.

This tragic event illustrates the way we must reinvent our national intelligence system. The threats we face don't lend themselves to pre-planned, centrally controlled government direction. Only a nation in which each citizen is both a collector and consumer of intelligence, able to share information adequately and in real time, will survive the tribulations to come.

Today, U.S. “intelligence” is upside down and inside out. It is upside down because it relies on satellites in outer space rather than human eyes on the ground. It is inside out because it tries to divine intelligence unilaterally, without first asking anyone else what information they might provide.

Despite high-profile intelligence failures such as Sept. 11, a series of directors of Central Intelligence have failed to significantly change the way we collect and process information. They simply have not gotten it through their heads that intelligence is about knowing enough to make smart decisions at all levels, on all subjects, not just about stealing very expensive secrets on a handful of what they call “hard targets”-China, Iran, Russia and a few others.

Fortunately, the idea of "collective intelligence" is gaining acceptance-at least outside of government circles.

In short, collective intelligence relies on the combined brain power of large groups of people. We see it at work when political parties choose a candidate or create policy platforms. We see it on the Internet, when groups of strangers solve problems and edit collaborative encyclopedia entries. We even see it in the behavior of ants, which are capable of maintaining complicated nests and executing huge military raids, tasks far beyond the intellectual abilities of any one ant.

Posted by at January 5, 2017 4:31 PM