Intelligence Reform

Robert Steele
23/01/2014 @ 21:08
par Robert Steele

Intelligence reform is something I have been working on since at least 1988.

Security sector reform and advancement begins in the mind.  In the 21st Century, raw information and tailored intelligence (decision support) are fundamental to progress at the strategic, operational, tactical, and technical levels.

If we are to properly address intelligence governance from a comparative and international perspective rooted in an appreciation for the rule of law – appreciating the purpose and obligations of government, intelligence, and the law, we must begin with definitions.

What is intelligence? Is it anything that is secret and controlled by the government? Or is it decision-support? What is the purpose of intelligence? Is it to nurture a military-industrial complex that thrives on war while eliminating all prospects for peace? Or is it to nurture smart nations and a world brain network that create a prosperous world at peace?

What is governance? Is it a nominally-elected government controlled by banks and serving the 1%? Or is it an open, engaged, and informed hybrid network that harvests the best available knowledge from all sector, applied in the public interest, on behalf of the 99%?

What is the threat? Is it a fictional panorama whose primary purpose is to cow society into acquiescence in the face of persistent social atrocities? Or is it, as the UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change has defined, ten very specific threats, the top three of which are poverty, infectious disease, and environmental degradation?

What is the legal mandate, and the organizational design? Is this really to be the right to lie to the court, as the Department of Justice has claimed, and the right to keep secret multi-level atrocities including rendition, torture, and a drone assassination program with a 2% success rate? Or is it to assemble the best truths in support of political deliberations striving to meet the needs of the greatest number? Is it a top-down mass surveillance network, or a bottom-up community-based collective intelligence network?

What are the safeguards? Are we to rely on a tiny elite who benefit financially from the intelligence-industrial complex or should all elements of the national intelligence program be subject to audit and persistent scrutiny? What individual, organizational, and national rights are to be upheld in the face of technical advance and moral retardation? Is the CIA to be allowed to wage acts of war with armed drones, and not held accountable? Are corporations to be held blameless for collaborating with a state and violating all expectations of their customers?

In conclusion, we must ask: have the home country intelligence agencies and the US intelligence agencies corrupting them with off-budget funding both reached their pinnacle of inefficiency replete with atrocities unencumbered by law? Has the time come for the public to demand not only a recasting of national intelligence, but of governance itself?

Below are two links. The first is my general statement with a list and links to my works on on this topic.  The second is an intergrated list of selected works on the topic in the past decade.

2014 Intelligence Reform (Robert Steele)

2014 Intelligence Reform (All Others)

The mistake most make is in assuming that intelligence reform pertains to the secret world only, and particularly to the especially disgraceful behavior of NSA (mass surveillance combined with financial and political subversion of European intelligence agencies) and CIA (rendition, torture, and assassination by drone). I address seven false premises in my article, Steele, Robert.  Rethinking Intelligence — Seven False Premises Blocking Intelligence Reform (Reality Sandwich).

With best wishes,

Robert Steele

Who's Who in Collective, Earth, Peace, & Public Intelligence: Robert David STEELE Vivas [Roberto David de Steele y Vivas de Porras]

21/02/2014 @ 09:58
by Sarah Harris

Robert, thanks for the post and links. 

Perhaps you, and others, might be interested in seeking out more information on intelligence reform. So here's a link to some publications from DCAF. They include toolkits on overseeing intelligence services, information on oversight and accountability as well as a number of up-close studies of country-specific intelligence services.

06/03/2014 @ 16:14
by Thammy Evans

Dear Robert,

As the moderator, I have folded your submissions into your Forum post so that it can benefit from being in the same place. You ask some interesting questions, and I have often asked myself what makes intelligence be 'intelligence'. It is sad in a way that the word 'intelligence' has become imbued with negative overtones of secrecy, illegal activity and unsolicited observation in the same vein as stalking, eavesdropping, and voyeurism. Even mining big data, market research surveys, and read receipts have a level of intrusion into privacy which sits awkwardly with the extreme end of 'Western' concepts of the rights of the individual.

The Oxford Dictionary gives two definitions for 'intelligence'

  1. The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills
  2. The collection of information of military or political value

I find both of these definitions too simple, especially the second, where intelligence in the military, political, industrial or police realm, is not just the gathering of information, but the analysis of it to provide implications and a value which gives the possessor of the piece of intelligence the upper hand, as indicated in our glossary entry for intelligence. In French the word is 'renseignement' and in German it is Nachrichten, both literally meaning 'informing'. There is nothing inherently wrong with informing oneself. It is the purpose to which the activity of informing oneself is put that becomes contentious, especially when it serves a zero sum game of causing others harm, or of doing something against somebody's will. The definition of 'governance' is even more difficult, but at least the concept of good governance is seen as a positive endeavour. Maybe we should start thinking in terms of 'good intelligence' and 'bad intelligence'.