Review (Guest): Intelligence for Earth – Clarity, Diversity, Integrity & Sustainability

Tags:
Amazon Page

Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5.0 Stars One visionary’s way out of the Corporate Feudalism/International Conflict trap

By Herbert L Calhoun on April 1, 2014

In this book, the author, drawing extensively on his intelligence and military background, has cleanly written an easy to follow book, that outlines a careful course of action for developing a new kind of global information sharing infrastructure. To be headquartered at the UN, this new infrastructure would make it possible for every organization (and through them, everyone) on the globe to share open-source intelligence equally as a free public resource. If it is successful, this new global brain could transform our world from its current insecurity-driven and corrupt corporate dominated lose-lose, economic and conflict trap, into a much revived win-win strategy for bottom-up collective survival in a peaceful and sustainable world economy.

At least that is the theoretical hope and vision. On paper, and in principle, it is a stunningly sexy and attractive vision, one that, should it prove operationally testable and feasible, could indeed have the important side benefit and advantage of creating new bottom-up wealth, energizing the world economy and easing world tensions by reducing mistrust and fear back down to the noise level.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments Off
Apr 21

Worth a Look: Real-Life Fiction, Spying Outside the Wire and Beyond CIA’s Capabilities

Amazon Page

Amazon Page

Who is fighting the war in Afghanistan? Did you know that 52% of people fighting in Afghanistan are contracted to do so? Contractors operate far beyond the borders of Afghanistan, they operate globally. Real people. Real missions. Real wars.  After the United States was attacked and the President vowed to search and destroy the enemy, the government formed a secret unit comprised of civilians. Paid civilians. Contracted civilians. Many of these people left their jobs, families, and friends to voluntarily serve alongside their military brethren. They did it out of love, passion, and deep patriotism. Declan Collins is one of those men. Just another patriot you have never heard of working to keep America safe. A former member of the US Armed Forces trying to make it in the civilian world as a newlywed, Declan quickly found himself working for one of America’s most secretive organizations. He fit the role of what they needed perfectly. This novel is about what happened after Declan received a mysterious phone call, was paid and given two weeks to get into Afghanistan all the while placing his life on hold to preserve and protect America. Find out about the fighting force rarely ever spoken of, those who were Contracted–America’s Secret Warriors. Inspired by true events.

Amazon Page

Amazon Page

Contracted: America’s Terror Trackers takes readers into the very real world of covert and clandestine operations. These operations aren’t always conducted abroad; oftentimes they occur deep inside the United States. Those who conduct these missions are not always government employees. In fact, most of America’s government fails to recognize these patriotic warriors willing to sacrifice everything for this nation. They are contractors. Like Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors, the first of the Contracted trilogy, this novel was inspired by true events, real people, and real operations. It takes readers on a journey with contractor, Declan Collins, who recently returned from operating as an unconventional human intelligence collector in Afghanistan. A severely injured Collins, who refuses to allow his injuries to stop him from protecting America, accepts a challenge to hunt the world’s most ruthless terrorist organization–Hezbollah. With Hezbollah’s global footprint, Declan Collins travels throughout the United States and several locations abroad ranging from Jordan, Jamaica, Mexico, and of course Lebanon as he collects intelligence with hopes to take down the world’s number one evil. What he uncovers through his journey is overly alarming and makes him begin to dig deeper into his own faith as a modern day Christian Crusader.

Comments Off
Feb 26

Berto Jongman: Gray Work – Confessions of an American Paramilitary Spy

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

Can be ordered now, releases on 27 May 2014.

Jamie Smith.  Gray Work: Confessions of an American Paramilitary Spy (William Morrow, 2014)

Book Description:

An unprecedented, raw, first-hand look into the life of America’s private paramilitary warriors and their highly secretive work around the world. Jamie Smith, a contractor with more than two decades under his belt, has planned and executed hundreds of missions on behalf of government agencies and private industry in some of the world’s most dangerous hot spots.

Amazon Page

Amazon Page

They are elite warriors who run highly dangerous missions deep inside foreign countries on the brink of war. Jamie Smith knows these men well. Not only is he one of them, but he cofounded one of the most successful private contracting multinational firms in the world. For the first time, he breaks his silence, detailing the ultimate danger and risk of paramilitary operations—both officially government-sanctioned and not. Pulling back the curtain of secrecy, he reveals in very intimate terms exactly what private soldiers do when the government cannot act or take public responsibility.

Combining the thrilling narrative of a riveting international spy thriller with boots-on-the-ground realism, Gray Work follows Smith through his CIA training and career as an operative, his co-founding of and eventual exit from Blackwater, and his creation and direction of his own company. Espionage and assassinations, rescues and renditions, the turbulence of the Arab Spring, the fall of Qadhaffi, the grit and gristle are all here in covert black ops from Syria to Libya, Iran, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and beyond.

As the founder and director of Blackwater, Smith’s initial vision has undeniably shaped and transformed a decade of war. He argues that this gray area—and the warriors who occupy the controversial space between public and private—has become an integral element of modern warfare.

Comments Off
Jan 30

Review: Intelligence Collection – How to Plan and Execute Intelligence Collection in Complex Environments

Amazon Page

Amazon Page

Wayne Michael Hall, Gary Citrenbaum

4.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Brilliant, Eye-Glazing, 505 Pages of Straight Text, 10 Micro-Slides, December 2, 2013

You could read this book a hundred times and learn something new every time. I have taken off one star because the book is too dense by far, with a tiny handful of graphics (no more than 10) all eye glazers that should have been simplified and printed to a full page — 550 pages, pure text. What needs to happen, plain and simple, is a complete do-over — this book needs to go to 620 pages at least, with 60 added graphics, tables, or lists.

What I love most about this book, and its companion, Intelligence Analysis: How to Think in Complex Environments (Praeger Security International) are the following two attributes:

01: Among all the books I have read on intelligence, these two books are among the most detailed, structured, critical, and relevant I have read. Both books share the same flaws, flaws that superior editing and a graphics team could easily fix for a second edition, which I would strongly recommend. BEFORE the books go to paperback, they need to be redone. As they are now, the books are too overwhelming for 98% of those who might otherwise benefit.

02 Buried within each chapter are absolute gems of blood-letting romping stomping criticism of the US Intelligence Community at every level (tactical to strategic) across every mission area. This book is startling in its depth and breadth of understanding. The authors are articulate but dense, and I dearly hope they will redo both books to make them more accessible to the vastly larger audience that needs this level of detail, but served up as a quiver of “open” chapters instead of one really dense baseball bat that clubs you to death with compounded words.

Although I am troubled by the book’s emphasis on unilateral and largely military-oriented collection (as opposed to making full use of full-spectrum human and open source intelligence (fifteen slices) across the eight tribes and mulitnationally, I whole-heartedly recommend this book for every library on intelligence (decision-support), and I sincerely hope the authors will re-do both books to open them up — more graphics, more white space.

Below, for this particular book, I list the collection contradictions from chapter 4:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments Off
Dec 2

Review: Intelligence Analysis – How to Think in Complex Environments

Amazon Page

Amazon Page

Wayne Michael Hall and Gary Citrenbaum

4.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Brilliant, Mind-Glazing, 440 Pages of Straight Text, December 2, 2013

You could read this book a hundred times and learn something new every time. I have taken off one star because the book is too dense by far, with not a single graphic, table, or highlighted anything. 441 pages, pure text. What needs to happen, plain and simple, is a complete do-over — this book needs to go to 500 pages at least, with 60 added graphics, tables, or lists.

What I love most about this book, and its companion, Intelligence Collection: How to Plan and Execute Intelligence Collection in Complex Environments (Praeger Security International) are the following two attributes:

01: Among all the books I have read on intelligence, these two books are among the most detailed, structured, critical, and relevant I have read. Both books share the same flaws, flaws that superior editing and a graphics team could easily fix for a second edition, which I would strongly recommend. BEFORE the books go to paperback, they need to be redone. As they are now, the books are too overwhelming for 98% of those who might otherwise benefit.

02 Buried within each chapter are absolute gems of blood-letting romping stomping criticism of the US Intelligence Community at every level (tactical to strategic) across every mission area. This book is startling in its depth and breadth of understanding. The authors are articulate but dense, and I dearly hope they will redo both books to make them more accessible to the vastly larger audience that needs this level of detail, but served up as a quiver of “open” chapters instead of one really dense baseball bat that clubs you to death with compounded words.

Although I am troubled by the book’s lack of a holistic analytic model, its lack of any reference to true cost economics, and its general avoidance of any discussion of the complexity of the customers for intelligence in the aggregate (the focuses on individual commanders and their needs, not on Whole of Government or Multinational or Eight Tribe collection and analytics), I whole-heartedly recommend this book for every library on intelligence (decision-support), and I sincerely hope the authors will re-do both books to open them up — more graphics, more white space.

Below, for this particular book, I list the chapter headings that are a Master’s course in advanced analytics:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments Off
Dec 2

Review: On Complexity

Amazon Page

Amazon Page

Edgar Morin

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Star Foundation Work for Everything Else, August 19, 2013

This is a remarkably coherent book about the most important topic for all of us, the matter of complexity and more to the point, thinking about complexity. I certainly recommend it most strongly, along with two other books by the same author that I have reviewed:

Homeland Earth : A Manifesto for the New Millennium (Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity and the Human Sciences)
Seven Complex Lessons in Education for the Future (Education on the Move)

The Foreword by Alfonso Montuori is easily the equal of the main body by Edgar Morin, and I am totally awed by the mastery demonstrated in Montuori’s synthesis and framing of Morin’s work. I venture to say that I would not have gotten as much from the main body without the structure of the Foreword.

Montuori, always drawing on Morin, emphasizes a number of core concepts that I note down:

01 We must abandon the architectural or machine metaphor that assumes a foundation or base for what is actually a complex complete whole that can be viewed from any point.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments Off
Aug 19

Review: Chinese Industrial Espionage: Technology Acquisition and Military Modernisation

Amazon Page

Amazon Page

William C. Hannas , James Mulvenon , Anna B. Puglisi

4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable but not first…., August 12, 2013

See first Chinese Intelligence Operations, and also War by Other Means: Economic Espionage in America as well as a plethora of articles and chapters over the past twenty years.

The Chinese are doing what the Germans, French, and Israelis have been doing, along with the Japanese. See for example the still relevant:

Friendly Spies: How America’s Allies Are Using Economic Espionage to Steal Our Secrets
Robert Maxwell, Israel’s Superspy: The Life and Murder of a Media Mogul

It is seriously ignorant to complain about their interest in our technology when we are our own worst enemy — corporations keeping technology off the marketplace to milk legacy systems and externalize costs to the public; government ignoring my 1994 letter on the urgency of starting to spend $1 billion a year on cyber-security, cyber-education, and cyber-standards (search for <1994 sounding the alarm source=phibetaiota>), and then of course we have NSA and the Department of Defense being retarded and lazy for the past quarter century, with NSA explicitly refusing to do its assigned duty of protecting US corporate and public communications.

There is not much left to steal in the USA, Goldman Sachs and the rest of the Wall Street financial terrorists have looted us all, and the government not only let them do it, it legalized their crimes and to this day the FBI is a protective service for Wall Street elite. On this point see, for instance:

Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism
Who Stole the American Dream?
Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny

The book should be read by specialists. The general public will be better off reading across my reviews in 98 categories, most easily accessed at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, with each review leading directly back to its respective Amazon page.

Vote and/or Comment on Review

Vote and/or Comment on Review

Comments Off
Aug 12

Review: Strategic Intelligence for the 21st Century: The Mosaic Method

Tags:
Amazon Page

Amazon Page

Alfred Rolington

5.0 out of 5 stars One of four essential books on the future of intelligence, February 2, 2013

I have been holding a gift copy of this book for over a month, waiting for it to be available on Amazon so I could post my review, and as a result have also read — and also recommend as an essential book — Sir David Omand’s book Securing the State. I am rating both books at 5, both books are as erudite and perceptive as it gets.

Alfred Rolington can reasonably be considered “P” or the Public counterpart to “M” in the UK, as I have been to the secret world in the US.  He is the master of BOTH the secret process of intelligence and its purposes, AND the very broad multi-lingual multi-cultural world of open sources in unpublished, analog, and digital form that the secret world is — to be blunt — arrogantly ignorant of.  This book is one of a handful truly relevant to the future of intelligence (decision-support) done properly — which is to say, as decision-support for ALL threats and challenges, not as surveillance secrets protecting the few.

This book by Alfred Rolington, former CEO of Janes and someone I have known for over fifteen years — and whom I will testify has been the single most accomplished and imaginative speaker in my conference on international intelligence from 1992-2006, among over 750 speakers — is the better book for students and I strongly recommend it as required reading at the university level.

As I am one of the arch-critics of expensive secret “intelligence” that is done badly, and do not mince my own words, it is with some awe that I read strong critical views articulated in such a graceful manner that I can just see the US Director of National Intelligence with his pants down saying “Thank you, Sir, may I please have three more?” Naturally nothing in this book should be taken to be critical of the British intelligence community that is without peer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments Off
Feb 2

Review: Intelligence in an Insecure World

Tags: ,
Amazon Page

Amazon Page

Peter Gill and Mark Phythian

4.0 out of 5 stars Best in Class Strongly Recommended, January 6, 2013

I am a huge fan of Peter Gill’s work, and if you are looking for the best possible to reflect on intelligence as it is generally defined today (the province of governments and to a lesser extent the corporate world), this is both the most recent and the best book to get. I also recommend Mark Lowenthal’s Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy, 5th Edition.

Use Look Inside feature above to get a feel for the book. Of all the books I have reviewed, this is the one that comes closest to my own concept for a book I am working on now, and I very much like the manner in which the authors have organized the work, to include their section on “Why Does Intelligence Fail,” which happens to be what I have been focusing on since 1988.

Where the book fails, as do all books in this genre, is in not acknowledging that intelligence is decision support defined by its outputs, not its inputs. This is a book that is still state-centric, assumes secrecy is a dominant force, and that policy is the intended beneficiary. It does at least make a stab at acknowledging corporate intelligence, but see my list of recommended readings below. More properly understood, decision-support is a craft that can be applied by all eight “tribes” of intelligence (academic, civil society, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental/non-profit), and our greatest challenge today is the need to move beyond the government-secret-policy view of intelligence, and instead advance toward M4IS2 (see the graphic above with the book cover), Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments Off
Jan 6

Review: Improving Intelligence Analysis: Bridging the Gap between Scholarship and Practice

Tags:
Amazon Page

Amazon Page

Stephen Marrin

4.0 out of 5 stars Analysis in Isolation from Reality, January 6, 2013

This book is insanely expensive. The author of the book has material published online that I recommend be accessed and considered before making any investment here. One starting point is my list to 2011 article and my lengthy comment, easily found by looking for

Stephen Marrin: Evaluating the Quality of Intelligence Analysis: By What (Mis) Measure? With Comment by Robert Steele

This is a book, that like economists trapped on a desert island with a can of food and no can-opener, begin their plan with “assume a can-opener.” Now having said that, I must also give the author credit: this is as good as it gets at the PhD level when writing in isolation from decades of experience. This is the “clean room” version of the craft of analysis.

Here is a short extract from my review of the article that was built into this book:

ROBERT STEELE: Interesting, certainly worth reading, but divorced from the fundamentals and out of touch with the real masters. Any publication that fails to cite Jack Davis, the dean of analytic tradecraft in the English language, is fatally flawed. Of course it would help if one were also in touch with the “new rules for the new craft of intelligence,” but that may be too much to expect from a junior academic with limited real-world analytic experience who seems intent on citing only “approved” sources-a lack of source integrity that is also fatal. The article assumes that the four preconditions for sound analytics exist, and since they do not, at least in the US and UK and most other government intelligence communities, it is necessary to spell them out. Analysts are toads absent the following:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments Off
Jan 6