Draft Chapter for Strategic Intelligence
OSINT is the anti-thesis of all three forms of covert action. As David Ignatius noted so wisely in the 1980’s, overt action rather than covert action delivers the best value in both the short and the long run. Promulgating the tools for truth—cell phones, wireless access, access to the Internet—is a means of fostering informed democracy and responsible opposition. It is also a means of creating stabilizing indigenous wealth. OSINT provides a historical and cultural foundation for achieving multi-cultural consensus that is sustainable precisely because it is consensual. As Jonathan Schell documents so well in The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People, there are not enough guns in the world for force our way or protect our borders.36 Only by fostering legitimacy, morality, charity, and full participation of all, can we stabilize the world to the mutual benefit of the USA and the rest of the world.
OSINT, in addition to being vastly superior to covert action as a means for establishing reasonable goals that are sustainable over time, is also very well suited to documenting the extraordinary costs of historical covert actions. Only now is the public beginning to understand the lasting damage caused by the US sponsorship of assassination attempts against Fidel Castro, capabilities that were ultimately turned against the unwitting President, John F. Kennedy, and his brother Robert. We have sacrificed our national values, and our international credibility at the alter of covert action, and we are long overdue for a deep “truth and reconciliation” commission that evaluates the true costs of covert action, and that then defines much more narrowly the conditions and protocols for engaging in covert action in the future.
Version 2.4 dated 7 April 2006