The world of intelligence is usually depicted as a dark, sometimes flashy, dangerous world filled with the likes of James Bond and Jack Ryan. The U.S. Intel community is divided into three major categories. The first is the civilian government’s agencies such as CIA and NSA. These are the ones most often thought of when the term spy is encountered though the vast number of employees are not spies in the normal sense of the word. In any case, CIA mostly handles “humint,” or human intelligence, i.e. information gathered or provided by human action. NSA deals with “sigint” or signal intelligence gathered from electronic signal sources.
The second category is the military branch’s internal versions of the same two types. For example in the army, the whole is under AIS or “Army Intelligence and Security.” MI, or Military Intelligence, is a rough equivalent to CIA and ASA, or Army Security Agency, is a rough equivalent to NSA. The navy has one of the best intel groups around. These are supposed to constrain their activities to intelligence related activities and materials directly impacting their primary military roles but since much military data crosses services they are pretty good at working together.
But government intelligence agencies, both civilian and military suffer the same limitations: their data and often their conclusions are too often filtered through political agendas and action taken on them is too often based on political expediency or other political perspectives and not the real issues.
A third category exists however that is not affiliated with the government or military. By law they are relegated to gathering what is called “open source” intelligence, meaning from public sources. But what do you think is the source for most of the other intel if not from observations, contacts, and data that is actually public but often not understood for the value it may have? These non-governmental intelligence sources usually provide their information for a fee to business and industry. Because of that, because to make good business decisions you must know the truth of situations, not the political spin, in order to successfully do business and make money. They do not have political filters attached to them.
Most of them are manned not just by former operatives from the government or military sectors, but also special area experts who can take the raw data and see in it the threads of domestic and geopolitical activities vis-à-vis what is likely to happen and upon which their business clients can rely to inform their decisions. Frequently therefore, in terms of scoring accuracy, the open source agencies draw unbiased conclusions not only better but which are not subsequently filtered by political desires.
One of the best is a company called STRATFOR. Its analysis and newsletters are often far better predictors of future events at home and around the world than what you here from the political hacks on the various TV shows. It’s not that government agencies do not obtain the facts too, it is that those facts are too often spun based on a political decision not a proper strategic or tactical one.
Newer in the field is LIGNET, composed of former intel operatives and area experts like STRATFOR. Both of these companies have a world wide network of informants and contacts and local area experts and insiders. Taken together their reviews and conclusions, most especially when they coincide, can generally be taken to the bank. And they generally directly contradict the baloney coming out of the administration and the congress which is rarely honest or factual.
I’m mentioning these groups because they both published reviews of actiovities and sentiments that would have let anyone foresee the likelihood of the events in the middle east revolving around the 9-11 anniversary. While our government was asleep at the switch, insisting nothing was afoot (I would guess in defiance of intel reports they were receiving in their briefings) bad folks were watching and plotting.
Both warned of impending attacks; both were seemingly ignored by our leaders. When I read the first reports of the attacks of our embassies in Libya and Egypt, despite the forewarning from STRATFOR and LIGNET both, I assumed the official story of it being a result of the stupid movie was probably true. After all, those savage mental midgets over there have gone on killing rampages before for what they perceive as insults to their beliefs. But now we are beginning to see that things were different; that the private intel groups were far closer to the truth than we were ever told by the government.
We are being told now that this was a coordinated attack by either Al Qaeda groups or other radical jihadists groups as their way of commemorating the 9-11 attacks here at home. And we are being further told that this was a failure of intelligence. Although I have no doubt that some operative or director will be told by the administration to fall on their sword over it, I’ll bet the truth is they had told them all along and it did not fit the political agenda. it was not a failure of intelligence gathering but a failure to accept that reality the data indicated.
Today LIGNET had this to say:
“It was reported at first that these attacks were a response to a YouTube video mocking the prophet Mohammed, but it is now becoming clear that the attacks, in which U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was killed, were planned and perpetrated by al-Qaeda. They are a clear sign that the governments that have come to power since the Arab Spring are weak, and unable to control their radicalized Muslim populations that are determined to wage war on the United States.”
That last sentence repeats and reinforces the conclusions both STRATFOR and LIGNET have had for some time about the weaknesses of those new governments and their inability to reign in radical elements… even if they might want to.
I know that most people, and unfortunately most voters, are far too interested in the next American Idol and far too little interested in the truth of what is happening in the world. I know that most of them are willing to take the pronouncements of their own party flacks as gospel. But, if you are one of the true 1%, meaning those that really are what is happening and want to know the truth without spin or political bias, then I would encourage you to look into subscribing to those services. Though both have free trial periods, for the full subscriptions they are not cheap… but neither is the price of freedom. Freedom can only be based on the truth and that critical commodity is too often withheld from us by our own leaders.
Now, relative to the last post when I too fell for the initial official line that it was the stupid movie trailers on YouTube that was the catalyst for the violence instead of it simply being the cover and excuse for thugs and violent idiots to do their thing, It looks now like it really was a coordinated attack by radical groups, so I need to amend my comments to include this newer information. But the conclusions about our leader’s reactions and the message they send to this intractable enemy remain intact and I stand behind them.
Mohammed was a warrior from a warrior society. His religion now is controlled by people who wish the followers to remain in his original 700s mindset and outlook. They are told that the only thing that can hold back the Islamic world order is the devil or his minions who are to be killed at every opportunity. THat is why the iranian Ayatollah called us the “Great Satan;” to make us a legitimate target for them. Specifically mentioned in the Koran are Jews and Christians as those to be converted or killed. Warriors are not impressed with ANY signs of weakness or deference.
It amazes me that when an enemy army, whether a uniformed state army or an ad hoc collection of radical theological mutants, has a published set of guidelines and rules that the other side, their avowed enemies… you … would not be willing to take the time to read it. But then you probably bought for your bookshelf but did not read Obama’s books which also laid out his dreams and desires for the country flowing from the mentioned mentors of his. You may have fallen for the fearless leader’s ploy of making sure we do not see anything as a “war on terror.” But if you cannot see that the terrorists have declared war on you and your country and are perfectly willing and able to do something about it, then you deserve, frankly to, as they are directed to do, have your neck smitten and your head separated from your body. Have you already forgotten Daniel Pearl?
Those books are the ultimate in easy intelligence gathering. They are akin to finding a normal enemy’s strategic planning papers. To not take advantage of them, something everyone of you can do, is not a sign of intelligence. In fact that lack of initiative is a case of intelligence failure of galactic importance. If you do not avail yourselves of it but still insist on voting and trying to influence the direction of this country, no matter your party partisanship, then you are a fool. And a country with fools for an electorate is lost.