Monday, June 20, 2011

Former CIA Officer Speaks... Supports Bloggers.

Robert Steele definitely some interesting points in this intriguing speech.   However, the editing in the embedded video below makes it look like a stream of unconnected or loosely related topics for it combines quotes from within his presentation and some from the Q&A with the audience. If you want to see more, the full 40 minute presentation is here with 24 minutes of Q&A. It's worth it. Accompanying slides are here (they're quite 'busy', but they help since he just runs through them too quickly and doesn't have time to adequately cover all the material).

The main point I get from this is that central planning within our federal government is woefully inadequate to meet the needs of our country.  Misinformation, corruption, and ignorance run rampant through all segments of the government to the point even the "experts" running things are ignorant of how much they don't know, and it is readily apparent in the failures within our intelligence gathering communities from which he was involved.  This lack of knowledge and prevalence of misinformation is especially dangerous to our way of life, liberty and inalienable rights which are supposedly protected by our Constitution.  Bloggers are helping to convey information.

I'm going to add to a few comments to hopefully clarify or add to some of his main and supporting points. 

"War is a racket.  The only reason it's happening is the American public is lethargic - blog that."

Lethargic and ill-educated (to include many of our elected officials), especially in regards to civics and history.  The problem is exacerbated by the lack of effort to address it in our higher level educational institutions as shown by how many college educated people who scored only a little better than after the end of a four year program than those entering college. 

Worse than civics and American history is Americans' average perception of world events and US impact on such.  Just look at the prevalent attitudes in regards to meddling in foreign affairs in the Middle East and the sense of superiority over those cultures.  The US has a long history of meddling in Middle East affairs where the vast majority of hostilities are occurring today and the memories of our activities there in the inhabitants of those foreign lands are much longer lasting than those of average Americans.  It's not because Americans are stupid, but because those events are taking place half a world away and have such little perceived effect on our daily lives, it's not higher on the priority list than to just take in what the mainstream media broadcasts about it. 

One should be able to understand how Iran-Contra had significantly more impact on the average Iraqi much more so than on anyone here at home.  After all, we were their 'friend' assisting Hussein in his war with the Iranians.  Their children were in the trenches with many dying during a brutal 8 year Iraq-Iran war while America was exposed to be so casually selling their enemy arms.  That's not easy for them to forget.

America supplying arms to their enemy prolonged the conflict and then other issues made it nearly impossible for them to repay debts accumulated from that war to Kuwait.  We told Saddam that we were not interested in meddling in Middle Eastern affairs which opened the door for Iraq's invasion.  Then after relations soured with their invasion of Kuwait and operation DESERT STORM to drive them out, we continued to patrol the UN sponsored no fly lines over Iraq for over ten more years right on up to the invasion to drive Hussein out of power in '03.  We've imposed numerous economic sanctions on them over the many years in between which seriously affected the quality of life of average citizens in what was once the most advanced country in the Middle East, except for Israel.

Sure Hussein was a "bad" man, at least according to our perspective or standards.  He was only seen as bad (for our interests) by our government because he stopped performing for them.  The fact is that Hussein was rather harmless in regards to our national security.  Fidel Castro has done the same type of saber-rattling down there in Cuba for decades, but we still have no reason and will not invade them. 

Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were supported by the Taliban in Afghanistan.  There were few, if any connections with Iraq.  Hussein ran a secular government, just as the Saudis do, both of which bin Laden was also ideologically opposed.  If there were any support from Iraq towards al Qaeda, it would be highly doubtful to have been more than minimal.

All the war in Iraq did was push Iraq closer to Iran now that the majority Shiite population is in power.
"Bloggers, not informants are key."
Informants are notoriously unreliable.  Human intelligence is not as easy as shown in Hollywood.  Informants and spies charged with getting intelligence from really bad people tend to have to be really bad people themselves to even get close to the sources.  It's much easier for bad people to infiltrate our institutions than it is for good people to infiltrate evil organizations around the world.  Just look up how many times and with whom our government has infiltrated biker gangs and what they paid them to gather information.  How can you trust a really bad person?  The same thing happens between nations.  The US public would be up in arms if they knew our government employs murders and rapists to infiltrate criminal cartels around the world and who may or may not be providing the best information according to their own self-interest. 

 "The government has gotten stupid to the point that it can't write a statement of work.  So they ask the contractor to write a statement of work and the contractors write a statement of work that says you need more of what I haven't been able to sell.  And the government says "Oh yea, right.  Good.  Put it in the budget."

That's a fact, in a lot of areas of the government.  In fact some people retiring from government civil service or military positions sometimes even write their own statements of work so that they can come right back into their old position as a contractor.  Converting civilian positions to contractor services is a trick used to hide the true size of government when they go through the charade of claiming they're downsizing because those contractors aren't counted as civil service employees.

"I can crack all ten of the top level threats to humanity in less than 25 years for less than 1/3rd of what the world is spending on the military - blog that."

Probably true.  Issues like poverty, famine, and disease are not that expensive to 'fix'.  We have the resources and the technology.  Technology is the key.  In feudal times one man could only do the work of one man.  Today, one man can do the work that once required thousands.  That's part of the reason for high unemployment today for it takes fewer workers to convert resources to meet demand (at least of those who have money).  Where the problem lies is that the current monetary system doesn't distribute the wealth very well.

The industrial age was the beginning of the end of slavery.  The technological age has greatly increased wealth and should be able to finish it, if those in power understand that and will allow it.  Unfortunately all do not currently have the means to participate. 

"For what we spent on the Iraq war, I could have given a free cell phone to each of the 5 billion poor on the planet.  I could have taken the 10% residual capabilities on DoD satellites, abandoned satellites and I could have provided free T1 to the southern hemisphere - blog that.  That's the kind of stuff we have to do.  Because if we don't do that, those 5 billion people instead of producing wealth that stabilizes the earth are going to produce plagues, epidemics, criminal gangs, drugged up people..."
"The reason it's not working today is we have an industrial-military complex that profits from secrecy and war and doesn't profit from efficiency and peace - blog that." 

This is only a small part of it.  The industrial-military complex is a symptom, not the problem.  The problem is that elected politicians abuse the military by giving it missions far beyond the scope of the Constition providing authority to Congress to raise and maintain armies for our defense and in doing so drive the industrial part of the complex to provide jobs for their local residents to maintain their power in office.

"The bottom line here is that central banking is an evil cancer.  (emphasis mine)  These people are selling us credit they don't have so they can take profits they don't deserve out of our pockets.  That's NUTS.  The US government is Constitutionally chartered to print money on the good faith and credit of all of us and not pay interest.  Why are we being such fools.  Well, unfortunately, if you fight them, you get assassinated.  Lincoln and Kennedy were both about to print money, and not borrow from the banks.  I can't connect those two dots, but I can tell you that they are side by side."
There were reports that both Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi were trying to coin their own money to get away from dealing in the international dollar standard prior to coalition or NATO hostilities commencing against them.  Bankers and government people don't like you messing with the monetary system or their access to cheap money to maintain power.  It's ok for our government to impose economic sanctions but heaven forbid anyone out there refuse to deal with us on our terms.

To get an idea about the banks, look no further than the current case of governor Chaffee in Rhode Island refusing to turn over an alleged murderer to the feds for prosecution.  It's strangely confirming because of an offhand remark by US Attorney, Peter F. Neronha, who reportedly said the federal government had tradionally taken an interest in crimes involving banks. “Banks are important to the United States,” he said. “People who use them are important to the United States.”  Obviously.

In that situation, Jason Wayne Pleau allegedly killed a gas station manager in the process of making a deposit at a local bank branch.  The federal authorities have indicted Pleau and his two accomplices, Jose Santiago and Kelley Marie Lajoie, of conspiracy to commit robbery affecting commerce under the Hobbs Act; robbery affecting commerce; and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, death resulting.  Here is the timeline of events.  In a strange twist, as Chaffee issued his statement to refuse federal authorities, unbeknownst to him, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin had already dropped state charges putting the case in federal jurisdiction in accordance with the wishes of the victim's family.  It had nothing to do with interstate commerce.

Therein lies the root of some of the problems inflicting our nation.  The rule of law is not blind, as it should be, but rather governed by special interests groups.  A murder is a murder, whether committed while the victim is depositing funds in a bank or a petty thief grabbing your wallet and killing you in a dark alley as you leave your favorite watering hole.  Would the feds get involved in the latter, or perhaps a murder committed during one of the much more prevalent ATM crimes?  Of course not.

They shouldn't be involved in the Pleau case either.  The only time the feds need be involved is when the crime specifically violates federal law (that hopefully has constitutional basis) or involves a federal official, and not just any old federal bureaucrat, but when the intent of the crime is specifically intended to affect federal operations.  The only other time federal authority may possibly come into play is when the criminal activity concerns residents of one state being tried by the courts under the laws of another state where the laws differ to the point of causing conflict between the states.  That doesn't appear to be the situation here.

"Your government is stupid, and they're stupid deliberately.  The intelligence community does not do open source information because they like to think their cabinet departments are doing their open source information, that's not true.  The cabinet departments don't know how to do decision support.  What they do is take stake-holder interests and turn them into policy that increases budget share.  That's not what I'd call reality-based budgeting."
Steele is right that more than 80% of actionable intelligence comes from open source information and one of the failures of our intelligence communities is they don't pay much attention to it. 

AFAIK, he's spot on about the problems with Echelon and Trailblazer.  Military acquisition programs are skewed to benefit the larger businesses which can build more complex systems.  It's not that they don't try to acquire the best technologies, it's just the natural order for those who can pull together the most resources to best try to meet most of the requirements.  But that also shuts out smaller players with better technologies that can satisfy part of the overall requirements because of their relationships with larger vendors.  Few complex systems incorporate all the best technologies in individual components or modules. 

Part of the problem is that people buying the systems don't know how to document the requirements.  They walk in and identify products, not the requirements.  For example, they'll say they need a car, but what they are trying to identify is that they need a means to move X amount of people or supplies Y distance in Z amount of time.  Those requirements are then opened for bidding.  With the constant changeover of personnel in the requirements process, it's easy for the contractors to sell them on the car that they've had sitting on the shelf for years because it didn't meet the requirements of past efforts.

But all that is not Steele's point.  His point is that the continuity of knowledge and promotion processes within the system are what fails it.  The military promotion system rewards people with broader knowledge over specialization.  Just as people got to understand a job and be proficient at it, they would be, what we called, promoted to the next level of incompetence or else they'd move on to another tour of duty.  With US forces in 130 different countries and on 900 bases, there were plenty of ways to 'get rid' of dead wood by simply reassigning them where they would become someone else's problem. 

I do believe that bringing the troops home will help solve some of the problems.  It will not help with the problem of people retiring and writing their own statements of work, but it will help with the continuity in many of the programs.

"Don't waste your time on the federal government.  There are 27 secessionist movements.  There are 9 distinct nations in North America.  I anticipate some virtual separation in the republic..."

I was a bit surprised by this remark.  I've been aware of the growing sentiment of nullification within several states such as California's medical marijuana laws or Montana's firearm laws going against federal laws which they deem unconstitional, but not any distinct secessionist movements.  There is always political rhetoric such as talks about the possibility of secession by Texas, but that's mostly just to make a statement.  I've been aware of the Free State Project, but that only seeks to alleviate restrictions on liberty by burgeoning state governments, which has nothing to do with secession, but it's a start to even fixing the federal system.

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