View Full Version : CIA Tracks Public Information For The Private Eye

01-22-2012, 03:35 PM
Secrets: the currency of spies around the world. The rise of social media, hash-tags, forums, blogs and online news sites has revealed a new kind of secret those hiding in plain sight. The CIA calls all this information "open source" material, and it's changing the way America's top spy agency does business.

NPR recently got a rare behind-the-scenes look at the CIA's Open Source Center. It operates on the down-low, even though they deal with public material. We aren't allowed to tell you where the Open Source Center is. All we can say is that it's housed in an unmarked and unremarkable office building just off a nondescript, busy street.


01-22-2012, 05:47 PM
My, how unsurprisingly interesting...


01-22-2012, 06:28 PM
My, how unsurprisingly interesting...

Funny story about that, the KGB ended up creating a 2000 person OSINT department because of that movie. Apparently a couple of KGB generals had a screening of the film in the 1970s and became convinced that they had fallen behind CIA in Condor-type analysis.

01-22-2012, 06:30 PM
Back in the day, DIA would gain far more hard evidence and get it for nothing.

Open sources to some were a mixed blessing with little to no knowledge of the local culture and language. For some of us those sources were either a joke or the missing piece to the puzzle.

25 years later someone comes up with a basement full of newspapers :D

Most of the AID and State message traffic (5 copies of each) ended up as french fry paper right across the street from the embassy :rolleyes:

I'm really glad I shredded everything with our evac and draw down.

01-22-2012, 08:29 PM

Note to NPR: The CIA hasn't been "America's top spy agency" since 2004 and the Open Source Center isn't the only game in town....

01-22-2012, 10:07 PM
The capacity of the state to watch over us all has appeared on SWC before in:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=11855

A similar discussion took place recently on Schneier's blog, in a comment "Going Dark" vs. a "Golden Age of Surveillance":http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/01/going_dark_vs_a.html

I'm not an avid drawer of demarcation lines, except using 'open source' in this context is stretching the boundaries too far. In my reading on 'open source' intelligence a few years ago the key definition was published and in the public domain. Much of the data in watching the citizen is acquired 24/7 by primarily private companies, e.g. credit card companies and made available under various legal and not so legal methods - it is not published.