from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2008, Issue No. 13
February 5, 2008

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The DNI Open Source Center, which gathers, translates, analyzes, and distributes unclassified open source intelligence from around the world, is steadily growing in capability and impact, according to Doug Naquin, the Center's Director.

The Open Source Center, which replaced the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service, is doing more analysis and outreach than its predecessor and is also exploring new media, said Mr. Naquin in a recent speech.

"We're looking now at YouTube, which carries some unique and honest-to-goodness intelligence," he said.

"We have groups looking at what they call 'Citizens Media': people taking pictures with their cell phones and posting them on the Internet. Then there's Social Media, phenomena like MySpace and blogs.... A couple years back we identified Iranian blogs as a phenomenon worthy of more attention, about six months ahead of anybody else."

"But we still have an education problem ... both with the folks who are proponents of open source but perhaps don't know exactly why, and folks internally who are still wondering why I am sitting at the same table they are."

"All of us have heard the statement by [intelligence community] leaders at one time or another that 'Our business is stealing secrets.' Or 'Our business is espionage.' While I deeply respect that, and I understand where that's coming from, from my Open Source perspective, I'm thinking that's like a football coach saying, 'Our mission is to pass the ball.' Or 'Our mission is to run the ball.' Well, not exactly. It's to win football games."

Mr. Naquin addressed the Central Intelligence Retirees' Association on October 3, 2007. The text of his remarks is available here:

While the Open Source Center may be thriving, its net value to the general public has actually declined. That is because only a small fraction of its product is normally made publicly available (for a substantial subscription fee), while alternative means of public access to international information sources continue to multiply.


Government agencies are still laboring to devise "common standards for preparing terrorism information for maximum distribution," in response to a December 2005 directive from the President.

Recently the Program Manager for the ODNI Information Sharing Environment issued a memorandum describing the implementation of such common standards.

See "Common Terrorism Information Sharing Standards (CTISS) Program," Information Sharing Environment Administrative Memorandum, October 31, 2007:

"Maximum distribution" of information here means sharing with federal agencies, state and local governments, law enforcement agencies, and the private sector. It does not imply that terrorism-related information will be shared with the general public.


The case of Maher Arar, the Canadian national who was mistakenly identified as an Islamist extremist and deported from the United States to Syria for interrogation under torture, was explored in a Congressional hearing last October. The record of that hearing has just been published.

"The refusal of the Bush administration to be held accountable [for its handling of the Arar case] is an embarrassment to many of us," said Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA) of the House Judiciary Committee, who issued his own apology to Mr. Arar.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) endorsed the apology to Maher Arar, but also defended the Bush Administration policy of extraordinary rendition.

"Should we halt every government program that, due to a human error, results in a tragedy?" asked Mr. Rohrabacher. "I challenge anybody to compare the error rate of rendition, this program, with the error rate in any other government program."

See "Rendition to Torture: The Case of Maher Arar," joint hearing before subcommittees of the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees, October 18, 2007:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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