Public Intelligence and Peacekeeping Published on 24 July 2005 Author PARKER, Janet Louise, D.V.M., B.S. “A Nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry.” Thomas Jefferson
Today as a nation and globally, we face multiple non-state and environmental threats such as terrorism, genocide, transnational crime, bioterrorism and toxic bombs. Other vital non-traditional threats include emerging diseases (such as HIV, SARS) food safety and energy shortages. The world we live in is more connected than ever through rapid international travel, global trade, and computerized information exchange. We face the challenges of political instability, weapons proliferation and immigration. "Finding the needle in the haystack" has become very difficult but never more critical. But if we can intervene before a terrorist can execute his suicide mission rather than afterward, we can avoid the human and economic cost of war. Clearly intelligence which is collected legally with due regard to civil rights can help prevent war, death and disease.
As 9/11 and the recent London bombings have showed us, the terrorist threat is often covert, and transnational. Reading the terrorist’s mind is as important as knowing his capabilities. Raw data without analysis is meaningless. The transnational terrorist’s organization is decentralized. They may have no clear territorial base and they may be relatively undisciplined. Many of the terrorist’s capabilities are diffused throughout the organization. They may use these abilities as they see fit at the moment, rather than being instructed to do so by a centralized authority figure. The Al Qaeda is said to have cells in sixty countries and the ability to move rapidly from one place to another. The groups have a strong tendency to splinter and have shifting alliances as well as rivalries. The Takfir wal-Hijra (TWH) is a good example of this, as they are associated with Al
Qaeda but many members criticized Osama Bin Laden as being too cooperative with the countries of the West (especially the USA). The TWH even unsuccessfully attempted to kill him. The TWH also maintains terrorist cells in various countries, which often have no direct ties to Al Qaeda. Although the members of the TWH listen carefully to the Fatawa of the Al Qaeda, they also take religious instruction from other sources associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The members of the TWH also shift easily from criminal to terrorist activity. A fatwa (Arabic: ....................) plural fatawa (Arabic: .....................) , is a legal pronouncement in Islam, issued by a religious law specialist on a specific issue. Usually a fatwa is issued at the request of an individual or a judge to settle a question where ’’figh,’’ Islamic jurisprudence, is unclear. A scholar capable of issuing fatwas is known as a Mufti.
We, as citizens, need to understand the culture of the intelligence agencies, and to demand positive change in their recruitment efforts, training and supervision. If there is one area where the United States must change policy and goals in order to protect our nation from terrorism, it is in the area of Intelligence gathering and analysis. The professionals whose job is to collect and analyse intelligence, must be able to think the unthinkable, to make sense out of evil. In order to perform this task, they must have an understanding and appreciation of the various cultural and religious beliefs. A historical perspective of ethnic conflict is crucial to appropriate analysis and decision-making. This is especially important in understanding the Middle Eastern Conflicts.
We must understand the culture we are studying but also are own culture and the limitations that places on our ability to understand and respond to intelligence. The existing culture of the public and private intelligence services, significantly negatively affects our national security. We need to consider as a society the training and supervision of these elite intelligence professionals. Knowledge is now the most salient aspect of social control and hence the most important
foundation for national power. Power is shifting from states to groups, from muscle power to brainpower. Conflicts of the future will revolve around the quest for knowledge and will be decided by who can collect, analyze, and disseminate intelligence most effectively and efficiently.
As peace advocates, we must confront our political representatives for a positive change instead of allowing previous historical approaches to dictate intelligence practice. Intelligence must be public rather than secret. We want the intelligence professionals to learn how to share rather than steal. The intelligence community should depend more on open sources and less on secret sources.
We, as citizens, must demand open discourse, which is better than silencing whistleblowers. We must not punish the “Truth Sayers” but instead create laws to protect their right to provide timely accurate field information. Our government should acknowledge mistakes rather than seek to conceal them. We need to learn to value human expertise over technical spending and analysis over collection. They must be able to translate what we obtain and must have a multi-lingual perspective rather than monolingual. We, as a nation, must learn to have cultural and historical perspective so that we can emphasise multilateral cooperation over unilateral operations. This includes addressing cultural differences between organizations and governmental agencies within our own country. The intelligence community needs to cultivate cooperative sharing between organizations and learn to bridge the differences between them. Our national decision makers must replace long-term thinking over short-term thinking.
The traditional craft of intelligence has focused almost exclusively on secret sources, and within secret sources, very heavily on sources amenable to technical as opposed to human collection. This means that we as a nation depend more on satellite collection rather than on-the-ground human sources or even technical experts. Much of this gathered data does not get translated and
is not even analyzed. The intelligence community should try to achieve a balance between technical and human collection, between collection and processing, between production and reflection, and between data compilation or specific directed inquires.
Growing intelligence is about understanding change-most importantly cultural change. While government and business leaders say that they are open to the issues of cultural change, few are able to translate that understanding into successful action. Decision makers often want, the rewards of intelligence, but do not welcome the challenging process of changing their cultural orientation in order to successfully integrate intelligence.
Intelligence is a double-edged sword that must be handled with maturity, for the bare truth is not always easy to face. Politicians or executives may fear the Truth that intelligence brings if it threatens their own career plans. It is best to approach with humility the change necessary to bring intelligence into a government or organization. The greater the Truth, the more psychological obstacles, people and organizations may have to overcome, before accepting it. The recent events highlight the need to strengthen free speech protections for those who raise alarms about the terrorist threat. The freedom to warn must be on top of the agenda in the fight against terrorism. In the rush to address national security issues, there are concerns that civil liberties may have become casualties. It is a sad fact that sounding the alarm has usually resulted in punishment, not reward for government workers. This reaction to unwelcome intelligence truth persists even when the urgent concerns expressed, have been done discreetly and through proper channels. It is important to national security that we not let restrictive measures weaken the already tenuous free speech protections of federal workers and others who have the critical access to field knowledge. They must be acknowledged as being our first line of contact for intelligence gathering.
On the other hand, intelligence is not a panacea. Government officials and corporate executives may have unrealistic expectations. If they themselves do
not know where they are headed, no amount of intelligence will help them. Those with coherent goals and a willingness to adapt to new information will gain the most from intelligence.
Developing an intelligent nation or organization is as much a psychological as an analytical or logistical process. The challenge is not just about acquiring valuable information but also about rethinking the organization's accepted beliefs and practices. Both go hand in hand. Accepting the lessons from intelligence requires learning how to learn. Developing an intelligent organization is therefore about building an organization of learners. The greatest strength of a democracy is an informed populace. Becoming an intelligent learner is not only about finding valuable information, but also being open to new ideas and concepts. Equally important, is understanding the limitations of one's own cultural intelligence framework, transcending one's biases, and recognizing the value of best intelligence practices across cultures. By integrating these practices we will redefine the world in a new way, as a consequence of recreating our relationship to it.
Different beliefs about intelligence lead to different attitudes and practices, which, in turn, create different intelligence abilities and disabilities. Cultures evolve, that foster or inhibit intelligence. Rarely are national cultural influences questioned because they are particularly powerful and are shared across religions, levels of education, social networks, companies and professions.
The tendency to “group think” is inherent in our system. Despite the sophistication and size of the intelligence community, it is still relatively small and isolated group of people. The Intelligence community is understandably and necessarily preoccupied with protecting sources and methods. Because in any bureaucracy there are limited resources, intelligence bureaucrats, like managers of any type, strive to please their policy bosses. With isolation, a common cultural base and similar training and experience, intelligence analysts often have a narrowness of perspective. The short hand label given to this problem is “group
think.” Creative analysis of intelligence often requires “out of the box” thinking and a willingness to accept change with all its inherent risk.
All intelligence information must be analyzed in relationship to culture and history. Culture has deep, permanent roots in language, which, from birth, encodes images, concepts and patterns of thinking into the people much like one programs a computer chip. Languages often have unique ways to express thoughts – some of these are difficult to successfully translate. Consider the word Jihad. Jihad (Jihad ....) is from the Arabic Jhd ("to exert utmost effort, to strive, struggle"), which connotes a wide range of meanings: anything from an inward spiritual struggle to attain perfect faith, to a political or military struggle to further the Islamic cause. The term is frequently interpreted to mean “holy war” in English. The meaning of "Islamic cause" is of course open to interpretation. Throughout life, both language and culture serve as a means of perceiving, representing and relating. Therefore language is important in shaping culture and the culture is important in shaping intelligence.
Each individual's cognitive process is dominated by different affinities and avoidances. Every person, and by extension every organization, has a natural affinity for certain concepts and ideas. While some persons or organizations are fact- oriented, others prefer to use their intuition. Some may be satisfied with creative approximation, while others may need specific details. Preferences and avoidances along key ideas and concepts reveal a person's or organization's approach to intelligence.
Creating a culture of intelligence requires continuous integration within the organization. Such intelligence finds its source in people, not in logic. It rests on a shared emotional understanding and so there is a deep human side to intelligence. It connects and unites people, offering them something larger than themselves to be part of. It gives them the chance to build something important
and to do it with others. Emotions and intuition play a large role. This can be a constructive or a destructive force. The Islamic Jihadists have a very strong-shared emotional understanding and therefore great cohesion as a group. This cultural group cohesion is also true for law enforcement officers, intelligence agents and our national decision makers.
Very public intelligence... (©Bob McMahon)
Intelligence is about decision-support--about answering the question!
Intelligence is most valuable to the public interest when it constantly educates policymakers in a compelling manner.
* Public intelligence will change what we spend money on.
* Public intelligence will change when & how we intervene.
* Public intelligence will change who does the thinking & deciding.
* Public intelligence will change who makes a difference & how.
* Public intelligence will change how the world views intelligence.
* Public intelligence will change the strategic focus of all organisations.
I graciously acknowledge this material is based on the work of Robert David Steele and his excellent article, Information Peacekeeping & The Future of Intelligence: The United Nations, Smart Mobs, & the Seven Tribes[i]
Robert David Steele firstname.lastname@example.org. www.oss.net
I also graciously acknowledge the excellent work by Jean-Marie Bonthous
“CULTURE: THE MISSING INTELLIGENCE VARIABLE”
Jean-Marie Bonthous is the founder and president of JMB International, a business/competitive intelligence firm based in New York and Paris. The firm helps public and private sector organizations transform performance and competitiveness through insightful, effective use of intelligence. Mr. Bonthous' main areas of expertise are in strategic management and in the development of organizational intelligence capabilities. He has been published in trade publications and is a frequent guest lecturer at New York University. The article “Culture the missing intelligence variable” is excerpted from a 45-pages article in the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, v.6, n.4, Winter 1993.
And encourage you to find his work at the following website:
www.oss.net/dynamaster/file_archive/ 040320/793dd553c0f72ed0c94e198d385398c7/OSS1993-01-06.pdf –http://www.oss.net/dynamaster/file_archive/040320/793dd553c0f72ed0c94e198d385398c7/OSS1993-
9-11 COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS: COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYSIS AND COLLECTION The testimony before the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence US House of Representatives “THE REQUIREMENT FOR IMAGINATION AND CREATIVITY “ August 4, 2004 A Statement by John J. Hamre President and CEO CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, 1800 K STREET, NW, WASHINGTON, DC 20006
Howard Kurtz “The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story Prewar Articles Questioning Threat Often Didn't Make Front Page” Washington Post Staff Thursday, August 12, 2004; Page A01
I also wish to express my deep gratitude for the permission to use the fine work of the cartoonist Bob McMahon. Additional work by this artist can be viewed at www.bobmcmahon.com