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Building of the Open Source Enterprise

September 11, 2008

Sabra Horne introduces the two selected entrants for the Open Source Challenge:

  • Mercyhurst College, Institute for Intelligence Studies
  • iJET

(Note: wonder if we will see the results?)

Next up is Doug Naquin, head of the Open Source Center and Chair of the National Open Source Committee. “Open Source is good, let’s go have a drink.”

His goal for the last year: raise the discussion beyond “open source is good” and “source of first resort” to a higher level of conversation. Three years ago the challenge was to convince the community that open source had value.

There is an open source value to every other discipline of intelligence. The further we use open source, the more effectively the community uses the classified sources. Many questions lend themselves better to the open sources than to other means.

Naquin’s role is no longer just the championing and developing of the Open Source Center, but now through the NOSC he is working for the whole community. He has worked, with the committee, on an action plan that is available on Intelink-U.

While referring to a “National” Open Source Enterprise, it is an enterprise of enterprises, taking into account the assistance of foreign partners, diplomatic, defense and domestic integration.


* Universal cross-domain access

* Integrated mission management and access

* Proliferation of open source expertise

* Open Source Enterprise governance

Introduces panel of community representatives:

* DOD: Ellen Tudisco

* DHS: Barbara Alexander

* State Dept: James Bell

* OSC: Kim Robson

Tudisco expains the history of open source in the Department of Defense and how they link to the broader Open Source Enterprise. DIscussions about OSCAR (Open Source Collection and Requirements) and the DOSC (Defense Open Source Committee). DIOSPO (Defense Intelligence Open Source Program Office) created to identify, sustain and advance the open source capability for the intelligence components of the Department of Defense.

Alexander discusses the challenges of the differences between DHS and the intelligence community. Most of her customers are law enforcement and they do not work at the TS/SCI level. There is a difference in the type of open source and intelligence needed by the DHS entities throughout the nation than in the IC. The DHS Vision is patterned after the National Open Source Enterprise in order to work in a partnership with the national community. Talks about the mobile training teams (mentioned in the DHS panel earlier this morning). Much left to do, the department is only five years old and the capabilities are nascent but growing. DHS is trying to be the bridge for communication and understanding between the IC and law enforcement.

Bell says he has no blue or red book (enterprise visions). INR exists in two cultures, the intelligence community and the diplomatic community and each has its own culture. He functions as the bridge between the two cultures. INR sees their mission as directly supporting policy-makers and diplomats with a focus on strategic awareness. INR is a consumer and provider of open source intelligence.

Robson says that the intelligence community is uniquely positioned to use open source in pursuit of the nation’s needs. She mentions the history of the Open Source Center and why it is the ideal center to lead the community. OSC has a global IT infrstructure and worlswide work force and a capacity to train and help others train as well as expertise in dealing with complex policy and legal issues. She has seem more awareness across the enterprise and it has become institutionalized across the community. She has also seen success in scaling across the community. The Open Source Academy has trained more in the past year than in the previous five years combined.


Mr. Glen Gaffery, DDNI/C

September 11, 2008

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.

Mr. Dan Butler ADDNI/OS(C)

September 11, 2008

Mr. Butler quotes the current DNI Mike McConnell. Most important thing for the DNI’s tenure (what he wants to be remembered for) is collaboration. This includes collaboration from outside the intelligence community.

 Mr. Butler comments that we’ve come a long way: in 2005, then DNI Negroponte established the DNI Open Source Center which replaced the Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Wrote the first National Security Directive, and established an open source collection committee.  Overall, there was a substantial amount of investment in the open source enterprise.  In 2007 there was the first DNI Open Source Conference.  They’re also offering new support to AFRICOM the new MAJCOM for Africa.  Invested in the National Virtual Foreign Translation Center, a new capability. In 2008 they worked to increase collaboration with academia. Mr. Butler listed many other efforts towards the open source enterprise.

 Mr. Butler talked about humility. Quotes Ted Turner, “if only I were more humble, I’d be perfect.”  We have to realize that we don’t have all the answers and all the experts. We have to be open to outside expertise.  We need to move from thinking of ourselves as an Intelligence Community to a Community of Intelligence (he quoted someone else on this)

 He highlights the DNI’s Vision 2015 , which emphasizes the need to reach out to experts.

 Finally, he mentioned the DNI Open Source Challenge, and introduced Mr. Deputy DNI for Collection (DDNI/C) Glen Gaffery.

Opening comments by Ms. Sabra Horne, DNI

September 11, 2008

The opening speaker talked about the needs to “transcend” the boundaries of the Intelligence community.  I’m staggered by the diversity of the conference attendees: 1,800 people were selected from 3,500 applicants.  These individuals represent 80 colleges and university, 47 think tanks, 56 NGO’s, State, tribal, local officials, 38 states, 370 private firms, 60 media outlets, 38 countries around the world, and of course representatives from around the Intel Community.   

My thoughts: This to me represents a fundamental change in mindset; we’re all on the same team. We’re all concerned about terrorism and security. Think about how radical this conference is (in only its second year). Sharing this information would once have been an “Operational Security” concern (don’t share or the enemy could pick up on what the intel folks are collecting on).  To paraphrase someone I met recently, “Secrecy is one way to gain an intelligence advantage. Speed and collaboration are others.”

Waiting to start…

September 11, 2008

While I’m waiting for the first presentation they have a slideshow going with video quotes from various high ranking officials in the Intelligence Community talking about how crucially important Open Source intelligence is. I think this is further highlighted by the first class venue where this is taking place. Mainstream media coverage, beautiful convention center, and first rate speakers. I’m really looking forward to this conference.

My personal perspective is that the Intelligence Community is going through a major transition right now. They’re trying to get out of a Cold War mentality which focuses on secrecy to a new mentality (and process) that focuses on speed, collaboration, sharing, and exploiting open sources.

For the remainder of my posts I’ll try to distinguish my thoughts from the speaker’s thoughts by using italics.

2008 DNI Conference begins

September 11, 2008

Listening to the opening speakers of the 2008 DNI Open Source Conference. Sabra Horne says 1800 attendees from universities, state, local and tribal entities, 38 countries, and of course the DC Intelligence Community.

Notes that today is Patriot Day and that the events seven years ago spurred the changes that made this conference possible. There will be a moment of silence.

Dan Butler is up next, Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Open Source. Talks about outreach and partnerships with public and foreign partners. Praises the DNI Open Source Center and talks about the Open Source Vision for the community.

Quotes wikipedia on the definition of humility and adds that the Intelligence Community should have some humility and recognize that the IC does not have all the experts or all the answers. Introduces the vision for 2015. DNI Vision 2015:

  • no typical customer
  • mission integration – networked and powersharing
  • open source collection holds most promise

Introduces concept of DNI Open Source Challenge that will be further discussed this morning.

Introduces next speaker, Glenn Gaffney. Calls himself “Congressional Cat Toy” – was asked, “What is the future of Collection?” His answer, “Integrated performance. It’s that simple and that complex.”

Discusses role of open source amongst other collection methods. Now there is an “information universe” and look at it differently that in the past. Other levels are represented by foreign partners and academia.

Talks about the IC youth bulge (45 to 50% of the workforce), the gap of GenX and the bulge of the more seasoned analysts. Calls youth bulge the “mashup generation”. He has a hopeful outlook on the youth bulge but declares that we owe it to enable and build infrastructure to allow the next generations to show us things that we don’t know are possible.

Moment of silence.

This is about discovering/discerning the truth and using that truth for the benefit or safeguarding of our citizens.

DNI Open Source Conference 2008

July 21, 2008

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is pleased to announce the “DNI Open Source Conference 2008” to be held on Thursday, 11 September and Friday, 12 September, 2008 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington DC.