'

Open source spying means military intelligence

Spooks act all excited about using the Google, but this has absolutely nothing to do with open source. If it did, the CIA would be looking toward some community to help it, and sharing with that community. It won't.

Culinary Institute of America, taken from the air
I have been amused by recent coverage of what is called "open source spying."

It turns out to be nothing more than trying to glean hints of what's real using unclassified stuff on the Internet.

Spooks act all excited about using the Google, but this has absolutely nothing to do with open source.

If it did, the CIA would be looking toward some community to help it, and sharing with that community. It won't.

(The picture is of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). But with no pictures on the public CIA Web site, mistakes happen.)

So please don't call it open source spying, or open source intelligence. Call it reading the virtual newspaper.

Personally, I think open source intelligence should be a baseline for whatever else you want to do in a spy agency. To paraphrase former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld, you need your known knowns before you can have your known unknowns.

It amazes me that there may be stuff easily accessed online that the top levels of our government don't know about and don't understand. But integrating intelligence into a military framework has always been difficult.

Open source projects could help, but if all the CIA is going to do is take, like a Firefox user who won't even report bugs when their system crashes, then they're going to get no more than the average user.

Analyzing what is out there, in other words, only tells you what questions you should be asking. It doesn't tell you who to ask, or what the answers might be.

For that, they should just hire some reporters. Fortunately we have plenty walking the street right now.