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HipBone implications of the second shoe dropping for intel analysis

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — also, the role of the True Name in intel analysis & Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea ]
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You may know that I value the documentary film Manhunt for its lucid presentation of the process by which the finest intelligence analysts “leap” to their quarry — in which Cindy Storer notes, “not the analysts doing it, but other people who didn’t have that talent referred to it as magic”.

In my post The process of associative memory I decribe this process, which I consider the root process of true creativity:

There’s the present moment .. And there’s the memory it elicits.

Compare Michael Hayden in Manhunt, at 1.19.18:

The way it works is, information come in, you catalog it, your organize it – that little nugget there could sit fallow on your shelves for four or five years until something else comes in that’s suddenly very illuminating about something that you may have had for a very long period of time. That actually happened in the work we did to hunt for Osama bin Laden by trying to track his courier.

By way of confirmation, here is Robert Frost:

The artist must value himself as he snatches a thing from some previous order in time and space into a new order with not so much as a ligature clinging to it of the old place where it was organic.

And here’s Jeff Jones on piecing together puzzles —

Some pieces produce remarkable epiphanies. You grab the next piece, which appears to be just some chunk of grass – obviously no big deal. But wait … you discover this innocuous piece connects the windmill scene to the alligator scene! This innocent little new piece turned out to be the glue.

**

My point here is that the board in my “game” of DoubleQuotes provides a matrix for eliciting and annotating such leaps between fact and memory — that’s its purpose, and that’s why I believe the practice and “playing” of DoubleQuotes is, in itself, an ideal training for the analytic mind in that otherwise elusive aptitude which Ms Storer says seenms like magic to those who do not possess it..

I believe my DoubleQuotes would be an invaluable tool for analysts in training.

**

Note, however, that Jose Rodriguez, speaking immediately after Michael Hayden at 1.19.55, adds a reference to the “True Name” — accompanying screencaps included — something to which as a theologian I am naturally drawn:

It took years for the agency to recruit the human source that eventually gave us the true name. That’s why we were in the business the of condensing human intelligence because, in many cases, all these fancy gadgets and everything else won’t give you the information that you really need. A true name.

And we finally got his true name, which is whatever it is. Whatever. Arabic name, you know. But the true name – we were able to find out a lot about him. From then on, you know, the agency was able to do what it does so well. Track the guy and find him.

That too elicits memories, though in this case providing cultural context rather than actionable intelligence. It’s interesting to compare Rodriguez’ quote with the passages in which Ursula Le Guin describes the nature of magic in her book, Wizard of Earthsea:

He who would be Seamaster must know the true name of every drop of water in the sea.

and:

He saw that in this dusty and fathomless matter of learning the true name of every place, thing, and being, the power he wanted lay like a jewel at the bottom of a dry well. For magic consists in this, the true naming of a thing.

**

See also:

  • Gaming the Connections: from Sherlock H to Nada B
  • Jeff Jonas, Nada Bakos, Cindy Storer and Puzzles
  • FWIW, there’s an appendix on the central spiritual significance of remembrance of the True Name in Judaism (HaShem), Christianity (Jesus Prayer), Islam (dhikr), Hinduism (nama-rupa), Buddhism (nembutsu) etc at the back of Frithjof Schuon‘s little book, The Transcendent Unity of Religions.

    On which frankly mystical note, here’s a third para from Le Guin to carry you towards Lao Tzu‘s observation that “The name that can be named is not the eternal Name” —

    It is no secret. All power is one in source and end, I think. Years and distances, stars and candles, water and wind and wizardry, the craft in a man’s hand and the wisdom in a tree’s root: they all arise together. My name, and yours, and the true name of the sun, or a spring of water, or an unborn child, all are syllables of the great word that is very slowly spoken by the shining of the stars. There is no other power. No other name.

    Clapper somewhat upends Trump from Down Under

    Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — this will surely encourage Comey to be forthcoming on Thursday ]
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    From Clapper‘s stunning speech at the Australian National Press Club:

    Comaring Watergate with the current crisis:

    I lived through Watergate. I was on active duty then in Air Force, I was a young officer. It was a scary time. It was against the backdrop of the post Vietnam trauma as well which seemed, at least in my memory, amplified as a backdrop, amplified the crisis in our system with Watergate. I have to say, though, I think you compare the two that Watergate pales really in my view compared to what we’re confronting now.

    Sources of concern:

    I am very concerned about the assault on our institutions coming from both an external source — read Russia — and an internal source, the President himself.

    Paranoia and the dossier:

    Clapper said he sensed “extreme paranoia” in Trump during his interactions with the new president, and lamented Trump’s stance toward the U.S. intelligence community in particular.

    *

    “Then President-elect Trump disparaged the intelligence community’s high-confidence assessment of the magnitude and diversity of this Russian interference that I just described by characterising us as Nazis,” he said.

    “This was prompted, I found, I realised later, by his and his team’s extreme paranoia about and resentment of any doubt cast on the legitimacy of his election which, of course, our assessment did.”

    *

    Clapper claimed that when he called Trump to talk about intelligence, the president asked him to disavow the controversial intelligence dossier that claimed Russia had compromising material on Trump.

    “I tried, naively as it turned out, to appeal to his higher instincts by pointing out that the US intelligence community that he was about to inherit is a national treasure in our country and that the people in it were committed to supporting him and making him successful. Ever-transactional, he simply asked me to publicly refute the infamous dossier which I couldn’t and wouldn’t do,” Clapper said.

    Clapper said he sensed “extreme paranoia” in Trump during his interactions with the new president, and lamented Trump’s stance toward the U.S. intelligence community in particular. Clapper claimed that when he called Trump to talk about intelligence, the president asked him to disavow the controversial intelligence dossier that claimed Russia had compromising material on Trump.

    “His subsequent actions, sharing sensitive intelligence with the Russians and compromising its source, reflect either ignorance or disrespect and either is very problematic.”

    Firing Comey:

    “Certainly the whole episode with the firing of Jim Comey, a distinguished public servant, apart from the egregious inexcusable manner in which it was conducted, reflect complete disregard for the independence and autonomy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, our premiere law enforcement organisation.”

    Trustworthy in the Administration:

    He observed there were people in the administration who could be trusted – nominating Jim Mattis, the defence secretary, John Kelly, the homeland security chief, and HR McMaster, the national security adviser. “They have understanding and respect for our institutions,” he said.

    Smoking gun:

    “Is there a smoking gun with all the smoke? I don’t know the answer to that. I think it’s vital, though, we find that out.

    Upcoming Comey testimony:

    Mr Clapper pointed to the possibility of further damaging revelations when James Comey, the former FBI director sacked by Mr Trump, gives evidence on allegations of Russian interference in US politics before a congressional hearing Thursday, Washington time.

    “I think it will be very significant to see both what he says and what he is asked about and doesn’t respond to,” said Mr Clapper.**

    **

    My sources and more:

    It is to be regretted that neither a complete video nor a complete transcript of this major speech is readily available as yet, except perhaps in Australia. I have made this compilation as well as I coud, working from some of the following sources:

  • The Australian, Trump administration ‘pales’ compared to Watergate
  • Sydney Morning Herald, US-Australia bond transcends transitory occupant of White House
  • Huffington Post, Oz, Former U.S. Intelligence Chief Just Unleashed On Donald Trump
  • News.com.au, Former US intelligence chief ranks watergate less of a scandal
  • Guardian, James Clapper says Watergate ‘pales’ in comparison with Trump Russia scandal
  • ABC, Oz, Donald Trump’s alleged Russia links will dwarf Watergate scandal
  • Quick notes on intelligent intelligence, 2

    Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — on a quote from my fellow whacky Brit, Geoffrey Pyke ]
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    the-ingenious-mr-pyke-cover-smaller

    Whacky? From a short description of the man by his biographer, Henry Hemming:

    Geoffrey Pyke, an inventor, war reporter, escaped prisoner, campaigner, father, educator–and all-around misunderstood genius. In his day, he was described as one of the world’s great minds, to rank alongside Einstein, yet he remains virtually unknown today. Pyke was an unlikely hero of both world wars and, among many other things, is seen today as the father of the U.S. Special Forces. He changed the landscape of British pre-school education, earned a fortune on the stock market, wrote a bestseller and in 1942 convinced Winston Churchill to build an aircraft carrier out of reinforced ice. He escaped from a German WWI prison camp, devised an ingenious plan to help the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, and launched a private attempt to avert the outbreak of the Second World War by sending into Nazi Germany a group of pollsters disguised as golfers.

    Whacky!

    And for good measure, here’s Jami Miscik on oddballs:

    To truly nurture creativity, you have to cherish your contrarians and give them opportunities to run free. Leaders in the analytic community must avoid trying to make everyone meet a preconceived notion of the intelligence community’s equivalent of the “man in the gray flannel suit.”

    and Reuel Marc Gerecht:

    And the service can ill-afford to lose creative personnel with a high tolerance for risk.

    It’s a sad fact that the folks who are in government, especially in the “elite” services of the CIA and the State Department, aren’t what they used to be. They are, to be blunt, less interesting. There are vastly fewer “characters” -— the unconventional, often infuriating, types who give institutions color and competence.

    **

    Okay, here’s Geoffrey Pyke in his own capital letters:

    EVERYTHING IS IRRELEVANT TILL CORRELATED WITH SOMETHING ELSE

    And why does that interest me?

    Well first, today it corroborates my comment just now on David Barno and Nora Bensahel and the importance of their suggestion that “The Army should also reinstate the requirement for every career officer to develop skills in two specialties.”

    And then second, because I have been saying for a while that:

    Two is the first number

    and quoting along the way Aristotle, Jung, and the tenth-century Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’..

    **

    For these reasons, and with a hat-tip to Bryan Alexander, I cherish the contrarian intelligence of Mr Pyke.

    Quick notes on intelligent intelligence, 1

    Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — I do believe this will be a new series ]
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    brain-ic

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    Intelligence, obviously, can mean something along the lines of bright thinking, but also that which is gathered, usually from the extremities of empire or the most hidden of an opponent’s or ally’s secret secrets — but for my purposes here it means the frst of these (the “intelligent” of my title) as applied in the mind of military, analytic or civilian leadership to the second (my title’s “intelligence” by which I mean “intel”).

    **

    David Barno and Nora Bensahel, Six Ways to Fix the Army’s Culture:

    The Army should also reinstate the requirement for every career officer to develop skills in two specialties, rather than to focus narrowly on one. This would produce officers with a much broader range of talents, who would be educated and then employed effectively across more than one skill to support the Army’s disparate needs. These measures would help rising Army leaders think more creatively about the wide range of challenges facing the Army and contribute more effectively at the strategic level within the Department of Defense or the wider interagency arena.

    I’d like to make this more explicit. Not only does the development of skills in two specialties mean that an officer can handle two dofferent kinds of problem set with greater assurance, it also and specfically opens the possibility of cross-fertilization between the two disciplines, in those places where they overlap not on the surface level but at the level of analogy and pattern.

    When Barno and Bensahel say the development of skills in two specialties “would help rising Army leaders think more creatively” it’s not just that they’d be better informed and brighter than they would be with only one such skill, and it’s not just that they could handle issues involving the overlap between specialties (and I actually don’t just mean military specialties like “Transportation officer (88A)” and “Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear officer (74A)” but also realms like cutural anthropology, topology, systems dynamics, art history), it’s that analogies would leap to mind showing that allow insights from one realm, discipline, silo or specialty to illuminate another. As shown in Arthur Koestler‘s image in The Act of Creation, which I never tire of posting:

    **

    Hey, I’ll follow up immediately with related commentary — on a quote from the eccentric, brilliant mind of a British fellow, Geoffrey Pyke, recently memorialized in Henry Hemming‘s book, The Ingenious Mr. Pyke: Inventor, Fugitive, Spy.

    Michael Wilson

    Monday, June 20th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — quick update on Cameron’s Recomended Reading: Michael Wilson from 2008 ]
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    Back in 2008, Zen wrote of Michael Wilson‘s papers:

    I’ve only just begun to look at these and I’m posting them here for those readers whose interests gravitate toward issues of intel analysis and futurism.

    I checked recently, and most if not all of Michael’s papers are still available via the Internet Archive:

  • 7Pillars, Papers by Michael Wilson
  • Decision Support Systems, DSSi Publications
  • **

    A quick quote that caught my eye from Al-Qaida’s Endgame? A Strategic Scenario Analysis:

    Osama bin Laden has a number of viable ‘role models’ from the history of the Middle East, including Saladin and the Assassins. For example, Saladin (the enormously successful commander during the Crusades) wrote in a letter to the Caliph in Baghdad that “European merchants supply the best weaponry, contributing to their own defeat.” This is similar to Lenin’s famous comment that “the Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”

    Now there’s a DoubleQuote!

    **

    Here’s something I hadn’t seen before — a video of Michael speaking at DefCon 9, a couple of years after we met:

    **

    And here’s the .pdf vesion of the course I took with him, first online and then in person — if you read one piece of his, this should be the one:

  • Michael Wilson, Continual and Complete Intelligence: a 21st Century Approach

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