Mr. Glen Gaffery, DDNI/C

Tells joke explaining why he doesn’t like to stand underneath a podium.  He speaks regularly in classified environments where the classification level is listed over the speaker, and frequently his briefings would fall under a Special Access Program… so he would have a sign saying SAP over his head. Hence, he likes to walk around the room while briefing.

What’s the future of collection?  Integrated Performance.  We do not own the technological advantage that we once did.  We are on a more level playing field.   The cost per bit of information has dropped substantially, and the cost of entry into the intelligence community has gone down substantially. All you need now is a laptop and a modem to get started.

Moment of silence in a few minutes for the September 11 attacks. He reads a favorite quote that guides him, “dogmas of the quit past are inadequate for our stormy present….as our case is new we must think, and act anew.” (Abraham Lincoln)

We must change the way we think about Open Source. Shows an image of three overlapping circles: HUMINT (agents in the field), Technical Means, and Open Source.   Now he shows the new view: It’s not 3 overlapping circles.  It shows HUMINT and technical means in the middle with an “information universe” surrounding it consisting of the OSINT universe to include the Intelligence Community, US Government, academic, and international partners.

How does all this affect privacy? We need to think about Intelligence AND privacy, not Intelligence VS. privacy.

Tells anecdote about how he was in a collection operation, they were getting lots of information and reporting it in a traditional manner. They began to think, however, about how they could get better information.  So they took a room, wired it up, and went out and brought in a variety of outside analyst and gave them access to the information. They then asked them to think about the data and what you could discern from it. In a space of a couple of months the group grew from 6 to 25.  The process evidently went very well, because he said that the experience changed the way he thought about intelligence collections.

He comments on the “double humped camel” phenomenon in the workforce. About 50% of the IC workforce has been here less than 5 years. The other half is getting ready to retire in the next couple of years. How does this impact our ability to build a new infrastructure? How does this impact the cultural change? We’ve got to think differently about how we “mash up” this data.  The group on the first hump is in the mashup generation.

 We can’t be bound to our individual agency, our individual university. We are bound to the pursuit of truth (we call it “intelligence” inside of this circle). My thought: Would he also argue, since we have international partners here, that we can’t be bound to our individual country? How strong is this push for international partnership? International partnership  makes a lot of sense; from the coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to the challenges listed in Vision 2015 that span international boundaries ( “critical information infrastructures ,disruptions in energy supplies, fragile financial markets ,and climate change-related spread of diseases.” pg. 11)  These are all global concerns, and not unique to the United States national interests.

Questions from the audience:

Question:  How do you determine “best of breed” open source practitioners?

Answer: I’m not a good judge. How do YOU determine it? How do you work together? It’s not a top down thing. It’s done by practitioners themselves.

Question: How has open source cued other intelligence disciplines?

Answer: Can’t get into specifics. It’s been about pointing to “first order of targeting.” Where do we best apply classified collection? Just because it’s open doesn’t mean its wrong.  Open source is the source of first resort.


Question:  Why the zealous push for open source by your staff? Is this because congress says it’s a priority?

Answer: (jokes) because they work for a zealot. No, because they’re believers too.  Butler: OSC is a no brainer because of the cost/return. Again, cost per bit is falling. We have limited budgets. OSC as a primary source of intelligence in certain key areas.

Question: is there a unique role the academic community can play to support the IC?

Answer: it’s a lot more than support…..

Question: Question apparent indicates distain for Open Sources, and he paraphrases question.

Answer: Good stuff is the truth. Open Source will stand the test of time relative to the truth. Those who feel like its not of value will learn, or they’ll leave the IC. Evolution will take care of this.


Question: Does any of this imply a diminished role for OPSEC and counterintelligence.

Answer: Absolutely not. It’s a maturation of the game. (seemed to contradict himself, yes then no. He also commented that he needed to be careful how he answered this). 

My thoughts: The last question was mine. All this sounds like it means a diminished role for Counterintelligence (spy catchers) and Operational Security (OPSEC). The emphasis I’m taking away is on speed, adaptability, outreach, and collaboration. He tried to answer the question, but it sounded like he said yes, then no.

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One Comment on “Mr. Glen Gaffery, DDNI/C”

  1. Alan Says:

    Mr Gaffney, interesting quotes of President Lincoln…but in an information age, I wonder why there aren’t more Abraham Lincolns to be found and quoted since the original so long ago?

    I know I’ve heard this truth argument numerous times before – and often it’s explained to me that there’s a fine line between honesty and dishonesty, but I contend there’s a very broad and bold line – unless someone is “intentionally” trying to make the two appear indistinguishable from each other.

    Your comment on open source above, standing the test of time against the truth though…how do you reconcile “truth by omission” within the open source (or classified) ranks – which is the fundamental precept for deception and happens to be the polar opposite of truth? We see this all the time in the free press, and it surely doesn’t stand the test of time against the truth…how do you constrain this problem.

    Truth is not limited to 2 dimensions, which is probably why you consider HUMINT intelligence one of the most valuable…so open source (periodicals) methods and algorithms are likely flawed since they can often result in the wrong impression when conclusions are drawn. Just like in signal/information processing, too little sampling of information creates aliasing…ghost images that appear which are not what they seem. So the case I’m making is no matter where truth is, untruth cannot exist…they are mutually exclusive – you have only one or the other. This is analogous to having light in the darkness, there is no darkness in the presence of light, etc…

    And since deception can merely be a statement of carefully selected truths, it is entirely dependent on the intention or perspective of the individual drawing the conclusion; not the open source fragments themselves which are all known to be true.

    So the question is, how do you catch or stop someone who practices the art of deception? And can someone who practices deception distinguish between what is right and wrong? Funny thing about people who have a history of deception, you’ll find most people don’t trust them – and that’s because deceptive people result in untrustworthy behavior…wouldn’t you agree? If someone is untrustworthy with small things, how can they be any better with larger or invaluable/priceless items when the temptations are much greater? So from a National Security perspective, when lives both foreign and domestic are at stake…how could the price/value be any higher?

    Let me get back now to one of your references of HUMINT intelligence, probably the most valued infomation in the information circles…are those the most honest, trustworthy, and law abiding people/operations you’ve ever seen? Here’s your opportunity Mr Gaffney to stand the test of time, to pursue only the truth and to depart from the path when other than the truth is sought…is the “end justifying the means” within the IC community? Are you aware of untruthful methods used as a tactic to obtain what is hoped to be actionable intelligence, or would you say nearly all operations used around the globe – if revealed to the country tomorrow, would be so overwhelming accepted as the “right thing to do” by 300 million citizens…that you would be proud to say you were a contributing member?

    I always say “be careful of the culture you expose yourself to”…where cult is the operative word here, you may not be fully aware of the impact until it’s too late. Good day, my friend.

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