Introduction: Robert Steele is the author, editor, or publisher of nine books, mostly on intelligence and information operations, and all of them available free online as well as at Amazon. His one political book, ELECTION 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (2008) anticipates themes in his brief 2012 candidacy for the Reform Party presidential nomination, also viewable at We the People Reform Coalition. In his writing, including many book reviews (he is the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction, reading in 98 categories), Robert Steele is a zealot about the truth, about ending top-down government by dictat in favor of bottom-up self-governance among individuals, and about true cost economics in the context of holistic analytics. Born in New York in 1952, Robert Steele was raised as the son of an oil engineer in South America and Asia. He earned degrees in Political Science from Muhlenberg College, in International Relations from Lehigh University, and in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma. He is also a distinguished graduate of the Naval War College, and of the CIA Mid-Career Course. He has been a Marine Corps infantry, intelligence, and administrative officer; a clandestine operations officer (spy); and the senior civilian responsible for creating the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity.
Daily Bell: We recently ran an article pointing out your open source perspective still relied on governance for its implementation. We questioned why your ideas couldn't simply be part of a societal integration driven by private enterprise. You have been kind enough to sit down for a quick interview based on the significant interest in your positions. So give us some background. What exactly is your "open source philosophy"?
Robert Steele: "Open Source" is a meme and a mindset that is rooted in an absolute faith in the truth as the foundation for good decisions – political, economic, social, whatever. In my view, transparency is the most important attribute of any human relationship – secrecy is a form of corruption that enables theft. Transparency and truth together create trust, and trust, not money, is the one tangible value necessary to make all forms of human collaboration most effective. I also like to emphasize that the Open Source approach needs to be "all in." Any individual open, such as Open Data or Open Government, is worthless without the others – for example, Open Data needs Open Software and Open Hardware as well as Open Cloud and Open Spectrum, while Open Government needs all of those and Open Ballot Access, among others.
Daily Bell: Why does it need government to be implemented? Why can't you offer up ideas within the context of a marketplace driven social revolution?
Robert Steele: If I could get the Koch brothers to fund it, great. If I could get 100 million citizens to donate $20 each, annually, to fund it, even better. Realistically, the USA has hit bottom, this is a transformative initiative, and the fastest way to fund it and leverage it is via a government that now spends $80 billion a year on secret intelligence sources that are not processed and offer little of value to anyone. Regardless of how one might feel about government per se or the Obama-Biden Administration specifically, there is no downside to creating an Open Source Agency, unless you happen to be a traitor, thief, or charlatan. With all of the citizen angst over NSA's mass surveillance as well as CIA's rendition and torture and drone assassination program, I can think of no better legacy for Obama-Biden than this one. It nurtures open source everything, it does not own it. It restores public agency. It nurtured direct democracy.
Daily Bell: You were accepted by the Reform Party as a presidential candidate, yet you have been a member of the Libertarian Party. If you were invited to compete for a libertarian nomination, what points would you make in your convention appearance?
Robert Steele: Everyone vying for your nomination is seeking to pass a litmus test you have devised, seeking to offer opinions that conform to your pre-established views and biases. I'm here to tell you that you will never, ever, elect a President using that model, which has destroyed the Republican Party along the way.
If the Libertarian Party, the third largest party, wants to win, it needs to win by unifying all six of the accredited small parties, the Independents, and the sanity wings of the Democratic and Republican parties. [The six nationally-accredited small parties now blocked from ballot access in most states are the Constitution, Green, Libertarian, Natural Law, Reform, and Socialist parties. Emergent and not yet nationally-accredited are the Justice and Working Families parties.]
My views on the issues do not matter. My job as your candidate, if nominated, are to a) lead the team to a win and b) ensure that from this day forward we restore integrity to our electoral process and our governance process. With integrity comes the dismantling of monolith we call the US Government along with the Federal Reserve and the private monopoly over money that has harmed us all.
Electoral Reform is the one issue where we have the power to craft a national summit, publish an ultimatum, devise an eleven-point electoral reform act, and occupy every home office of every Senator and Representative until that act is passed, ideally in time to impact on 2014 but certainly no later than the 4th of July 2015. Nominating me commits the party to leading the charge for electoral reform for all.
I am on record as saying that government should never employ more than 5% of the total population and that has not been good enough for some of you. I humbly submit that until the Libertarian Party is able to reduce its Absolutist tendencies by one third, and play well with others seeking common ground toward our common goal of restoring the Constitution and the Republic, you – we – will remain patsies rather than players.
I know how to win. You know how to mobilize. Together we can retire the two-party tyranny and restore governance – minimalist governance – Of, By, and For We the People. Such governance would include a restoration of State rights and state designation of Senators; an end to all taxes less an Automated Payment Transaction Tax whose level is set by public vote, not by government dictat; a Coalition Cabinet making transparent decisions based on ethical evidence based public decision-support; and a commitment to full employment, to the closure of the Federal Reserve, and to Ron Paul as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.
I want all of us to win, to be our own masters, not the political toys of the ultra-wealthy. I envision a future in which the Libertarian Party and the Green Party are the two largest parties in America, a future in which every party including the Justice Party and the Working Families Party have ballot access, a future in which we do not fear the government, the government fears us.
Learn more at We the People Reform Coalition.
Daily Bell: Most of our perspective comes from the Austrian insight that human action is fundamental to civil society and that "experts" don't exist because no one can predict a future filled with independent actors. It is for this reason that we are skeptical of monopoly central banking and regulation in general. It is almost impossible to impose something on people that will work as planned or "better" their lives … including utopian schemes, no matter how well-meaning. What say you?
Robert Steele: There are two flaws in the Austrian vision. The first stems from a lack of whole systems thinking and an appreciation for true cost economics. I buy in to everything else about the Austrian economic vision to the extent I have been able to appreciate it. Certainly we must eliminate all central banks, and probably also have a debt jubilee at the national, state, and local levels. Government regulatory endeavors must be turned back with one huge corollary: the education of the individual must be our paramount obligation as a community – an education that is holistic and deeply steeped in ethics and philosophy.
The Earth is a closed system and human science has advanced far beyond the ability of humans to calibrate the damage they do. Individual rights to punch the air end where my nose begins. I would like to see Austrian economics take a page from Herman Daly's ecological economics and the ethical economics work of Mason Gaffney along with Fred Harrison, with such titles as The Corruption of Economics and The Power of the Land: An Inquiry into Unemployment, the Profits Crisis and Land Speculation (1983). I am not an economist – I am an intelligence (decision-support) professional. What I do is get everyone's point of view on the table and hash out a sensible accommodation.
Actors are independent in theory, but philosophy, education and social acculturation are powerful forces. I remain a huge admirer of Will Durant's 1916 doctoral dissertation, published as Philosophy and the Social Problem (2008). Where I find the Libertarians falling short is in their obsession with Austrian economics to the exclusion of all else. If I could get Libertarians to read just one book, this is the one.
The second flaw relates to how humans differ from other species in that we can think forward. I completely agree about the futility of futures forecasting, the common mistake made by everyone from Singapore to South Africa. What humans have not been doing is what E.O. Wilson speaks to in Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (1999). Science has developed at an astonishing pace, but philosophy and the social sciences are retarded by comparison. Governments and communities have been irresponsible in failing to make the proper education of the individual (as opposed to rote factory-model indoctrination). We have it in ourselves to create heaven on Earth, a prosperous world at peace, but we have allowed age-old banking and merchant interests to continue to corrupt our governments, fragment our societies, and leverage information asymmetries so as to privatize profit, externalize costs and screw the 99% and their future generations. It need not be this way.
Daily Bell: Returning to some of your prior commentary, let's take a few points one at a time. You believe full-time government employees should never comprise more than 5% of the total population. But why this many? What is it government can do that the private marketplace cannot do as well or better?
Robert Steele: As best I can tell, there are two major differences between my public philosophy on how to better our lot, and that of the hard-core Libertarians, Absolutists every one. First, I believe that there are services of common concern where it makes sense to organize community solutions be they local, state, or national. Second, I believe that we have an obligation to serve as stewards of the Earth for future generations, and not simply take for ourselves all that we can in the here and now. I hope you will give me the benefit of the doubt in offering up such a low number – 5% is a generally accepted metric for administrative costs and investments in high-performance organizations (or communities). Sadly, both government and the private marketplace are totally lacking in integrity today, one reason why I am so strongly in favor of open source everything inclusive of holistic analytics and true cost economics. Here is a quote from a NYC CEO I particularly like:
When things are not going well, until you get the truth out on the table, no matter how ugly, you are not in a position to deal with it. Bob Seelert, Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide (New York)
I think where we can have a meeting of minds is in agreeing that most forms of vertical organization, in which we as individuals surrender authority to a "higher" power, are very bad for all of us. Whether government or private sector, such organization are immediately corrupt, and their leaders become thieves. Now that the Internet makes possible true democracy – to include balloting all major decisions – there is every reason to begin dismantling all forms of "big" while moving as quickly as possible to restore local and state sovereignty over all matters and especially commercial matters. In brief, I take issue with organizational privilege and immunity from accountability – both public and private – and seek to reassert the authority of the individual and the community over all public matters.
Daily Bell: You want to eliminate ALL taxes less an automated payment transaction tax set by public poll (which also means that the public must vote to raise that rate to finance any war – and of course, no borrowing of any kind). What do you mean by a transaction tax? A VAT? And wouldn't a transaction leave open the door for considerable government levies? Finally, what about monopoly central banking, which is the most invasive tax of all via monetary inflation. Would you argue for getting rid of it and for letting money compete privately?
Robert Steele: I have embraced the Automated Payment Transaction (APT) Tax as devised by Dr. Edgar Feige, and have posted a number of documents (including Ron Paul's Plan to Restore America, at We the People Reform Coalition under the Balanced Budget page. There are three key points I would make here, deferring readers to the substance that is online for all else.
First, the APT Tax would apply to all stock and currency transactions and essentially cover volumes 100 times larger than the current tax base that is prejudicial to individuals. Hence the flat tax would be miniscule, 100 times less than the current tax rate of roughly 30%.
Second, the public, not the government, would set this rate. There is no government power over this rate, which along with my view that we should end the Federal Reserve and demand a balanced budget with borrowing absolutely forbidden, brings us all to a sound footing fairly quickly.
Third, because this is an across-the-board tax split equally between the buyer and the seller, it allows the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the US tax code – the latter is nothing more than legalized blackmail allowing Members of Congress to extort campaign contributions in return for "exclusions." It eliminates all costs associated with tax collection today, eliminates personal, corporate, state, and local taxes, fuel, alcohol, cigarette, sales, estate, and excise taxes. It eliminates the debt to the extent we wish to – personally I feel most of our debt to banks is illegitimate and we are overdue for a debt jubilee for both individuals and organizations.
I am not an expert on money but I do reject the idea that banks should be allowed to create money out of thin air and I do believe that most money should be local. I oppose absentee ownership of anything, especially land. Bitcoin and other forms of virtual currency are foreign to me but appear to be a move in the right direction. On balance I place more value in time-energy labor and intellect than I do in landlords, and I strongly favor employee owned companies and public boycotts of all corporate offerings that fail to meet true cost economics standards of merit.
Daily Bell: You are a proponent of "holistic analytics and true cost economics." Define these terms, please, and tell us why they are important. You see them within the context of balance and legitimacy how?
Robert Steele: I am as you might imagine quite disgusted with the US public school system and not that impressed by private schools either. There has been an education bubble, although one could also call it an education cesspool. Airplanes fly because they are aerodynamically balanced. They fly best when both engines are present and operating. The government – and many corporations today – appear to believe that they can operate on the basis of half-truths and outright lies (for example, the actual unemployment rate in the USA is 22.4%, see www.shadowstats.com for an honest professional appraisal on this point).
Holistic analytics means that any decision is made on the basis of a 360 degree perspective, one including an appreciation for history and an anticipation of future costs. Here below is a graphic that shows what a community might wish to consider in devising policies and investment plans that take into account the major threats to humanity as well as the core policies. What I highlight in this graphic is the sheer idiocy of a government that obsesses on the two red dots in how it spends the bulk of the taxpayer dollar, to the detriment of all else.
Let me pick a fight on the topic of fracking. Fracking is criminal idiocy. It produces earthquakes and contaminates ground water that is already vanishing at a frightening rate – 30 towns in Texas are about to run out of water completely. Fracking is an example of what happens when you have a corrupt industry collaborating with a corrupt government, and both collude to screw the public for private gain.
True cost economics – sometimes called ecological economics but that is not something I do because true costs include social costs as well as environmental costs – demands that we stop privatizing profit and externalizing costs. Allowing Coca Cola and Nestle to suck up as much ground water as they wish without paying for it and without regard to the fact that every town for 500 miles around is going to be out of water in the future because of their irresponsibility – and the irresponsibility of corrupt state and local officials – is a crime against humanity – our public. Similarly, "smart phones" put hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens into leukemia wards and early graves, while also contaminating China's ground water with Class A carcinogenics.
Finally, we have to consider how our policies and investments might be making things worse. The Transpacific Partnership is riddled with secrets that give corporations rights they do not deserve, at the expense of the publics in both our country and theirs. It is a corrupt agreement in every possible sense of the word, and if implemented – it will not be (Obama was laughed out of Phnom Penh) – would increase poverty. Global poverty matters because the more of it there is, the greater our problems with illegal immigration and the disease and other issues that mobs of poor people bring with them.
Daily Bell: You want NSA to become the National Processing Agency and its collection abolished. What does that mean in practice? You want to abolish the NRO and merge the NGA with USGS. Explain these acronyms and why you are making the recommendation that you are.
Robert Steele: I am perhaps the most published intelligence reformer in the English language, and would be quite delighted if one day a President asked me to close down the secret intelligence community, less the 20% that I consider essential. NSA is in the business of spending money and sabotaging US commercial communications and computing. In my first book, ON INTELLIGENCE: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World, with a Foreword by Senator David Boren (D-OK), past Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), I complained that National Security Agency (NSA) was refusing to do what it had been told to do, make US private sector communications and computing secure from French, German, Israeli, and Chinese exploitation. Now we know that the NSA has been installing back doors, with the connivance of unethical senior leaders at Dell, IBM, Microsoft, and many other corporations. Some of these back doors have been so infantile they have been easily discovered by criminals in Russia and elsewhere, but NSA has continued to lie to Congress about the facts.
Most of the secret world is largely worthless. NSA has not prevented any terrorist incidents, and their two biggest secrets are that a) they process less than 1% of everything they collect and b) the Chinese have been riding the electrical circuits into their computers for over a decade. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) clandestine service, of which I was a member, does some good things but the reality is that 90% of what CIA claims is collected by clandestine means is actually either a hand-out from foreign intelligence services, or the result of legal traveler debriefings carried out within the USA. The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) which builds satellites that do petabyte-level collection has no clue how to achieve exoscale performance (feeds and speeds), and I am pretty sure they do not have any idea how to create a dark fiber network capable of getting us to an all-source near-real-time exploitation environment. The National Geospatial Agency (NGA) is completely delusional about geospatial matters, and so bad that both Google Earth and CrisisMappers are preferred by combat analysts world-wide. The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) oversees all of this with a complacency that is in my view criminal. The DNI should be abolished, the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) re-established, and an Open Source Agency (OSA) created to serve as the gold standard for what can be known legally and ethically at virtually no expense, while also providing decision-support to everyone – the Cabinet, Congress, the private sector, media, the public. Intelligence is not about secret inputs that cost a great deal of money. Properly understood, intelligence is about decision-support – 90% of which cannot be created with secret sources and methods, and can be created with open sources and methods.
Daily Bell: You believe the FBI should be recruited to find and neutralize traitors of all sorts and put a stop to elite pedophilia and white collar crime. How does this create a "smart nation."
Robert Steele: This is not a juxtaposition I have created. As much as I champion open sources, if I have learned one thing in the last 40 years of watching the US Government make a mess of things, it is that we are riddled with traitors of all sorts – religious traitors, ideological traitors, and of course financial traitors. While some of this treason is sponsored by foreign nations, most of it is home grown – buying decisions that waste US citizen blood, treasure, and spirit, for private gain at public expense. We need Open Source Everything (OSE) but we also need a secret counterintelligence service that is allowed to go after traitors at the highest levels, not something the FBI is allowed to do today – they spend their time fighting the small time crooks and child porn industry instead of going after the banks and the elite pedophiles.
A "smart nation" is one in which all eight of the major information networks – academia, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit – are transparent, truthful, and trustworthy – and both have access to all relevant information across all areas of interest, and share that information while sharing the burden of sense-making. I wrote the first article on this topic, "Creating a Smart Nation: Strategy, Policy, Intelligence, and Information," in Government Information Quarterly 13/2 1996, and later, in partnership with Congressman Rob Simmons (R-CT-02), published a book, THE SMART NATION ACT: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest (2006).
Daily Bell: You are inspired by Jonas Salk and Kirkpatrick Sale to end secrecy and encourage bottom-up transparency. This is certainly a compelling vision, but how would you accomplish this in practice?
Robert Steele: The easiest way to answer this is to provide the graphic I created in the 1990s after reading an article by Salk and the book by Kirkpatrick Sale, Human Scale. It boils down to ending top-down rule by secrecy and ending corporate abuse of their public charters with short-term anti-social decisions, substituting instead bottom-up transparent consensus that takes the long-view. I might mention that the Native America concept of "seventh generation" thinking means that any decision should be made not just for the day, but against the day 200 years in the future when the seventh generation must deal with the true cost over time of our decision.
Daily Bell: What is your view of law enforcement and the Gulag that the US is becoming? Is it necessary that one in every three young people have a criminal interaction before the age of 25 – as USA Today once reported? Isn't that too many?
Robert Steele: At a non-conspiratorial level, I believe that DHS and the militarization of the police and the explosion in private sector security companies are all about employing pissed off, under-employed people. At a more strategic level, a great deal of our crime results from the criminalization of what should be legal behavior. Our prison industry actually bribes judges to convict young people and send them to jail where they can be slaves to a furniture manufacturer or whatever. Slavery is alive and well in the USA, and I highly recommend one particular book, John Bowe's Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy (2007). In my view, state and local law enforcement should not be allowed to accept federal funding – in fact, I would not allow the federal government to own land or exercise any form of martial authority within any state. State and local law enforcement personnel need to understand that they are the first line of defense for citizens, and that if they ever allow themselves to be federalized, they will be targets, and rightfully so. The good news is that Halliburton prison camps (which have been advertising for National Guard prison specialists) and the trains with shackles, while real, and off the table. This idiocy started under Reagan, with a plan to be able to detain and imprison 5,000 "terrorists" who walked and talked like illegal immigrants. This kind of stuff takes on a life of its own because Congress is corrupt to the bone and ignorant to boot. Governors need to start nullifying federal regulations and mandates and we need to restore local agriculture and other forms of commerce that have been killed by federal regulations written by mega-agriculture specifically to put Mom and Pop farms and butchers out of business.
Daily Bell: You claim that 90% of the federal "regulations" are there because that is how Congress blackmails business into contributing to their political action campaigns. But what about the 10 percent that are valid, in your view? What are those? Can you explain the reason for them?
Robert Steele: You just won't give me any slack at all, will you? As I observe in my answer to the third question above, if Libertarianism wants to have a real shot at transforming America, it is going to have to become less Absolutist. Let's take health as an example. I am disgusted by the US Government's abject support for a criminally over-priced and under-thought health industry in which expensive medical procedures and pharmaceuticals that more often than not are poison, are touted as the whole enchilada.
I am very concerned about the ignorance and irresponsibility of the US Government when it comes to actually understanding threats to public health. In no way should my statement about 10% be used to validate the US Government as it is now trained, organized, and equipped. I would also add that this number includes state and local governments.
Let me slip in here my view that we need to end the election of Senators. We should revert to the original practice of Senators being sent to Washington as representatives of their States, not as individual fat-cats who have become foot-soldiers for the two-party tyranny that blocks everyone else – Constitution, Green, Independent, Libertarian, Natural Law, Reform, and Socialist – and the rising Justice, Pirate, Working Families – parties from the ballot. The United STATES of America is a union of consenting STATES – it is not a monarchy over fiefdoms called states and individuals treated as serfs.
The chart below illustrated by views on how health should be mostly about education and information, with a balanced emphasis on individual and environmental health (building owners are responsible for assuring clean air and water in their building), a proper regard for natural cures that are free, and finally, treatment of hospitals and pharmaceuticals as a public service, not a profiteering murder machine.
Daily Bell: In recent article feedback, you wrote, "We have different definitions of government. My definition is focused on hybrid governance (not a monolithic institution called government that is used to loot the public treasury). While there is much to be said for the Austrian economic model over existing economic models, any model that does not calculate true cost across time including into the future, is inherently flawed if one accepts a moral obligation to be a steward for future generations." Can you explain what hybrid governance is and why it is important to be a steward for future generations? What does "being a steward" encompass? Is it government's job to ensure we are stewards?
Robert Steele: What I have found over time is that there are eight major information networks comprising the totality of society and the economy. These are the academic, civil society including labor unions and religions, commerce especially small business, government especially local, law enforcement especially local, media, military, and non-government/non-profit. Among these, the government is the least informed and the least effective. Hybrid governance means that we refuse to let "the government" make decisions and spend money in our name in isolation from all that can be known and in secret. Hybrid governance demands public decision-support (intelligence) visible to everyone, and public decision-making in which the true costs of that decision are on the table for public scrutiny prior to any law being passed or any decision to obligate public funds being made.
Stewardship for me is common sense. Would you as an individual shit in your well if you had to drink the water every day? Austrian economics is arguably one of the most sensible economic theories, but is strikes me as lacking in forward-thinking, it is too much in the moment and in one word, selfish.
Stewardship for me demands that we both protect fragile ecologies (both natural and social) for our larger communities and future generations, and that we stop government spending that is insanely counter-productive to both our social and economic well-being and that of all others around the world and into the future. In the case of the US Government today, I would want a public vote that stops all borrowing, demands a balanced budget, and cuts the government workforce at all levels by at least 50% within five years – 10% a year from base each of five years running. At the same time we need to eliminate excessive spending on a hollow military while creating a 450-ship Navy, a long-haul Air Force, and an air-mobile Army that takes over its own Close Air Support (CAS) mission. Below is a chart showing what we spend on the military today, against what it would cost to solve all of the world's major problems that create the flood of illegal immigrants to America and Europe.
Daily Bell: Let's back up a bit. Give us some personal history. Where were you born and where did you grow up? Why did you join the Marines and then the CIA? You've "trained more than 66 countries in open source methods." What do you mean, "train"?
Robert Steele: I was born on Long Island in New York State on 16 July 1952. At the age of 2 I began an early life outside the USA as the son of an oil engineer. I lived in the Dutch West Indies, Colombia, Viet-Nam at the height of the war (1963-1967), the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore. I came back for college, earning an AB at Muhlenberg with a thesis on Multinational Corporations and Home/Host Country issues. That was my first exposure to predatory capitalism and corrupt governments. I went on to earn an MA in International Relations at Lehigh University with a thesis on predicting revolution, creating an analytic matrix that needs improvement but has not been equaled to date.
Later, in the 1980s, I earned an MPA from the University of Oklahoma with a thesis on Strategic Information (Mis-) Management, examining three Embassies and concluding that we collect 20% of the relevant information, spill 80% of that in how we handle it, and end up with only 2% of the relevant information, insufficient to overcome the political and economic corruption inherent in our government's decision process. I joined the CIA because the Marine Corps was boring at the time. I left the CIA after three overseas tours and three Washington tours because the Marine Corps asked me to return as a civilian and create the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA), at the time our nation's newest national intelligence analysis facility. That is where I got hit in the head with the realization that there is nothing useful in our secret data bases in large part because we are ignoring all the open sources.
I sponsored a conference intended to be a small gathering for US Government stakeholders, it ended up attracting over 600 international participants. Then I was told I could not do it again, so I quit, over 900 people came to the second conference, and I began a fifteen-year global "walk-about" training most of the countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Partnership for Peace (PfP) and many others from the southern hemisphere. By "train" I mean either engage 7,500 mid-career officers in an annual 3-5 day conference whose title was "Open Source Solutions: National Security & National Competitiveness," or engage directly with another 1,500 such officers and others at the parliamentary level in direct visits to around 20 countries.
Daily Bell: Follow up on this one: What specifically led to your awakening on the failure of secret intelligence and the need to pursue open sources of intelligence?
Robert Steele: I spent all of our money on a Top Secret information handling system, including a Special Intelligence Communications (SPINTCOM) capability, so that our analysts could have access to everything available from CIA, NSA, and others. In one corner far removed from the sensitive workstations, I put a PC with access to the Internet. Within two weeks the analysts were lining up for the PC. When I asked why, they said "there is nothing in the secret databases about Burundi, Haiti, or Somalia." This was an "aha" moment for me. I was serving on the Foreign Intelligence Requirements and Capabilities Plan (FIRCAP) national-level committee at the time, and understood that China and the Soviet Union were Priority 1 or 2, and everything else was down in Priority 4 through 7, but I had never until that moment realized that the secret world was completely ignoring all the lower priority countries and threats. I spent four years inside the US Government, from 1988-1992, trying to promote "gap-driven" collection over "priority-driven" collection (meaning always do the first pass on high priorities, but do not do a second pass until one pass has been made across all the other lower priorities).
Years later, in front of the Aspin-Brown Commission, I was given an opportunity to demonstrate the power of open sources, in what is now called "The Burundi Exercise." In an overnight competition the IC came up with a simplistic CIA map of the region and an economic study using Western assumptions. I delivered 1:50,000 combat charts from Russia that the NGA's predecessor did not have; 100% of Burundi in French imagery at the 10 meters level, cloud free and in the archives; a new order of battle for tribal forces created by Jane's overnight to my specifications; a list of the top 100 academics on Burundi for immediate interview; a similar list of journalists; and from Oxford Analytica, several presidential-level assessments of the genocide and related troubles far superior to anything being produced in Washington, D.C.
Although I had some successes over time, notably being hired to write the Open Source Intelligence Handbooks for NATO, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and US Special Operations, my ideas were quickly corrupted by vendors who saw an opportunity to sell bodies (US citizens with clearances) to surf the Internet, while avoiding the foreign human aspects of open source – in rough terms, 5% of knowledge is in the shallow web (what Google can see), another 15% is in the deep web (documents lacking persistent URLs), perhaps 30% is in analog or localized hard-copy (such as real estate and tax records) and the last 50% is resident in a human brain somewhere – knowing who knows and being able to face to face with them is the major part of OSINT, the part that Washington has not come to grips with.
Daily Bell: You write that "sharing creates wealth." What does this mean in practice? Do you intend to force people to share or will you leave it up to people's individual decisions?
Robert Steele: "Forcing" is not part of my vocabulary. You can look around today and see people sharing homes, hiring shared cars and bicycles, and so on. The "sharing economy" is a voluntary economy, and its biggest problem today is that the government is 20 years behind the times and unable to comprehend the change while trying to regulate it to death.
When I speak of sharing creating wealth, I am speaking primarily of information. My friend and mentor after a fashion, Alvin Toffler (who wrote a chapter on "The Future of the Spy" centered on my vision), was the first to write about sharing information as means of creating wealth, in his book PowerShift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century (1991). Subsequently, three books that I review and summarize at Amazon were published that expanded on this theme, and I recommend all of them to your readers: Barry Carter, Infinite Wealth: A New World of Collaboration and Abundance in the Knowledge Era (1999); Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (2007); and Alvin Toffler again, Revolutionary Wealth: How it will be created and how it will change our lives (2007). A simple search on "the sharing economy" will produce many online references. Among Libertarians the terms "cognitive surplus" may resonate, the core idea is that the real wealth is in the minds of humanity, and we, not others, should be able to monetize our capacity – generally in non-monetary terms – without being captured or exploited by masters in banking.
Daily Bell: Why wasn't the CIA happy with you, ultimately? What was the problem with your open-source perspective from the CIA's point of view?
Robert Steele: First, I should point out that my open source perspective is not what led to my leaving CIA. It was the Marine Corps invitation, combined with one small element of CIA being furious with me, which led to my career shift.
CIA is not a monolith. Within CIA, Ted Price, then chief of the career management staff of the Directorate of Operations, was furious with me because I refused to be a clandestine case officer again, pointing out that there was nothing clandestine coming out of people who worked under official cover and were easily known to local counterintelligence services, and nothing of major value was being produced. I moved myself to the Directorate of Intelligence, where I was very happy under the extraordinary leadership of Boyd Sutton, chief of the Advanced Programs and Evaluation Group, essentially the top vault in the nation, managing the DCI's oversight of all of the other agencies and their technical program. Price convened an Employee Review Panel (ERP) to get me fired – before that body met, the Marine Corps asked me to return as a civilian and I did so, with CIA certifying that I had been serving in GS-14 positions (CIA is rank in person, I was a GS-12) so I got a two-grade promotion overnight. Most of CIA is honest and effective. A few pieces and a few personalities are out of control and some of them border on psychopathic. A few other pieces, such as Dr. Jack Davis, the virtual dean of CIA analysts, and Dr. Gordon Oehler, leader in the 1980's of a reform movement in analytic tool-kits, understood my value. Sadly, within CIA as within any bureaucracy, innovators are considered malcontents to be marginalized.
Four years after I left CIA I sponsored the first OSINT conference and in a manner totally characteristic of its blinders, CIA agreed to attend provided that the conference was held at the SECRET level and included US citizens only. "What part of open source are you not understanding?" is an understatement. I was able to reach Admiral Bill Studeman, USN (Ret), then the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (DDCI) and he not only ordered CIA to attend but also paid for 140 seats, which allowed my event to break even (I used no government time or money in organizing this event).
Today, and this is best understood through the references below, CIA is in disarray. The Open Source Center (OSC) at CIA, ostensibly the national service of common concern, does well enough with translations of online information, and very badly with everything else. The OSC has been forbidden by CIA's clandestine human intelligence service – I do not make this stuff up – from engaging with subject matter experts (SME) so no one talks to humans, especially foreigners without a clearance. This is easily found online by searching for the text: Hamilton Bean: The Paradox of Open Source: An Interview with Douglas J. Naquin with Letter from Robert Steele.
Recently I took the trouble to examine all the published references on OSINT (search for OSINT Literature Review, Name Association, Lessons Learned), most of them associated with the international conference I managed for over 15 years, and one of the things I learned is that CIA and its academic camp-followers refuse to engage with any thinking outside their little box. CIA is a bureaucracy. It does not know what it does not know, one reason open everything is essential.
Daily Bell: Let's focus a bit on intel agencies. The nation didn't have any until after World War II – except maybe for the FBI and even the FBI was a 20th century invention. The nation got along fine without the current intel-industrial complex. Why does it need one now? Isn't it causing more problems than it is solving?
Robert Steele: We do not need the military-industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about. I trace the problem back to Toynbee's observation that "The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money." Although the quote is now said to be fabricated, I have always liked the story about one constituent telling Davey Crockett (after Crockett foolishly voted to provide a grant to a charity) that the money was "not yours to give." The problem with our taxation and our political economic is that it is a machine for transferring wealth from the public to special interests. Members of Congress today do not vote to spend money in the public interest – they vote to optimize the 5% standard kick-back they get for political campaigns.
There is an ample literature now on how Lockheed Martin, among others, worked with CIA and other parties to create the communist menace (and more recently the terrorist menace), all for the sake of keeping the money moving. In my view, two-thirds or more of the US Government is demonstrably worthless and even pathological to human existence. Good people trapped in a bad system, assuredly, but we should not be paying for mega everything – from agriculture to energy to health to the military. How the US Government spends our money is totally disconnected from the public interest.
This is a major reason I became a champion for OSINT. My second book, THE NEW CRAFT OF INTELLIGENCE: Personal, Public, & Political (2002), with a Foreword from Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), then the serving Chairman of the SSCI, explicitly addresses the need to get the government out of the secret intelligence business, and shift instead to public intelligence in the public interest. We went to war on Iraq on the basis of 935 now-documented lies led by Dick Cheney. In the face of those lies full-page ads (I was a minor millionaire at the time) were refused by the New York Times, Washington Post, and others – they treated us the way the public treated the Dixie Chicks, whose instincts were correct. In the face of those lies our generals and admirals kept silent, betraying their oaths to defend the Constitution against all enemies domestic and foreign. Today the Obama-Biden administration and its attorney general are arguably more dangerous to human safety and freedom at home and abroad than Bush-Cheney. The first broke one big state at great expense – recently we have created a swath of destruction running across the Middle East and North Africa that will plague Europe – and the US – for decades.
Daily Bell: The initial intelligence agency concept was a bankers' concept. Isn't it probable that at the top Western intelligence agencies report to private globalist interests and not to the official political system into which they are supposedly integrated?
Robert Steele: These are all great questions. I have written Search: Seven CIAs [Steele on the Record] and encourage readers to see the search results for Deep State @ Phi Beta Iota. The non-conspiracy answer is that Roosevelt encouraged multiple intelligence endeavors, many of them clowns in action, seeking to be able to play off the military services against the Department of State and others. There has always been a Wall Street CIA, as well as a Mormon CIA, an Opus Dei CIA, and so on. Realistically what I think happens is that one generation of traitors recruits the next, and CIA – as well as the FBI, Treasury, and other elements of government – always have elements within them that are loyal to religions, financial interests, or political ideologies, and in betrayal of the public trust. This is why I place so much importance on counterintelligence as the one secret capability I really want to have going into the future. We need to clean house. I also emphasize Truth & Reconciliation. I am not seeking a blood-bath or a Saturday Night Massacre, just a house-cleaning.
Daily Bell: Aren't there only three international Western intelligence agencies that matter – the CIA, MI6 and Mossad?
Robert Steele: In my view, these may be the largest or most effective in very narrow areas of understanding, but all of them are more focused on direct action (covert influence and secret war) than they are on intelligence as decision-support. My latest chapter in an academic book, "The Evolving Craft of Intelligence," (2013) outlines the separation between the traditional concept of intelligence as secret war (that was the first era), intelligence as strategic analytics (second era, quickly subverted), and intelligence as smart nation (third era, in gestation now). Jack Devine, whom I worked for at CIA and am still in touch with, has written an excellent book, Good Hunting: An American Spymaster's Story (2014) that I summarize in an Amazon review. Although I do not agree with his focus, I am certainly respectful of the capabilities and accomplishments of all three organizations in their narrow spheres. Where I take issue is in their failure to actually inform statecraft. As I wrote for CounterPunch, in "Intelligence for the President – AND Everyone Else" (2009), the sad reality is the secret world spend money and blows things up, but it does not actually do holistic analytics, true cost economics, or ruthless counterintelligence such that decisions are made in the public interest instead of special interests. There is a short academic piece co-authored with Dr. Rob Dover of the UK, "Intelligence and National Strategy? Rethinking Intelligence – Seven Barriers to Reform" (2014) that captures seven myths about secret intelligence and what to do about it.
I will conclude here with just two points:
1) Intelligence properly understood and practiced is about decision-support, not about secret sources and methods that are very expensive and badly managed. Anyone can do decision-support by applying the proven process of intelligence – requirements definition (what do we need to know), collection management (know who knows), source discovery and validation, multi-source fusion, 360 degree holistic analytics respectful of cultural and historical context, and finally, actionable timely presentation to the deciders. Intelligence makes a difference – everything else is classified news or noise.
2) Every nation and every organization needs the intelligence function. I would not be so quick to demean Third World intelligence agencies. Some of them have recruited CIA employees as traitors. Others have planted electronic devices in US Embassies and other locations. Still others have worked very effectively with the West in creating continent-wide capabilities in which the indigenous services provide the human case officers on the street, while the West provides money and machines. I consider the South African service, the Venezuelan service, and a few others, perhaps including Singapore, to be quite extraordinary in their respective niches. What we do not have today, that the Open Source Agency would fund, is a Multinational Decision-Support Centre (MDSC) in which every country has access to a shared baseline of knowledge and capabilities, all transparent, all truthful, all building trust. Trust is not something CIA, MI-6, and the Mossad are capable of delivering.
Daily Bell: Why couldn't these three agencies stop 9/11? What DID happen on 9/11?
Robert Steele: As a top Amazon reviewer for non-fiction I have read and reviewed a number of books on 9/11, as well as DVDs. I have done the same for the John F. Kennedy assassination. Both JFK and Martin Luther King were assassinated by elements of the US Government. This is now known and beyond dispute. One day 9/11, Sandy Hook, and the Boston Bombing will be similarly exposed, as will the prevalence of pedophilia as an elite privilege protected by the FBI (itself founded by America's leading pedophile, J. Edgar Hoover).
CIA, then "led" by George Tenet, followed direction from Dick Cheney and did everything in its power at the political level to frustrate successful efforts that did detect 9/11 in advance. ABLE DANGER, for example. It is now known that Tenet ordered Keith Alexander, then head of the US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) to "shut down" ABLE DANGER after it found two of the hijackers at an address in Maryland. Tenet worked with the FBI to raid the vendor offices to confiscate all ABLE DANGER records.
It is now known that thirteen countries warned us in advance of 9/11. This list, and additional information compiled by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and others, can be found itemized with many links at Mini-Me: 9/11 Convergence + NEW Information + Comment by Robert Steele + List of Advance Warnings from Over 13 Countries. I have posted a personal comment there as well, and I support a privately-funded investigation of 9/11, ideally in time to subpoena Dick Cheney before his natural death.
As for what did happen on 9/11, I will outline a very brief sequence of events and simply say that in my view 9/11 remains to be properly investigated; ample evidence exists to indict and then further investigate Dick Cheney, Larry Silverstein, Donald Rumsfeld, and Rudy Guliani; and I am certain the truth will be known to the public in my lifetime (next 20 years). 25 years seems to be the time period after which what were once derided as conspiracy theories are found to be true and accepted by a public trained to avoid "conspiracy theories" as if they were somehow harmful.
1) Months before 9/11, based on the many advance warnings, Dick Cheney scheduled a national counterterrorism exercise to give himself complete and absolute control over the US Government and military on "the day." Three months in advance. of 9/11.
2) The dogs were removed from the buildings in NYC two weeks prior to 9/11, and not allowed back thereafter. Ample evidence exists of the implantation of controlled demolitions.
3) The FEMA Command Center was set up on the piers of NYC the night before 9/11.
4) Rudy Guliani, in advance of 9/11, made provisions for securing the site and immediately destroying the crime scene by carting away as much of the evidence as fast as possible, in trucks with GPS receivers so no load could be mis-directed.
5) I will not argue the specifics of how the buildings were brought down, this should be done by an independent public investigation. I will just observe that WTC 7 was not hit by anything, and there is zero evidence of any airplane actually hitting the Pentagon – indeed the USAF Major General previously responsible for all Soviet imagery analysis went on television in the immediate aftermath of the Pentagon strike, when the round hole was still visible and no collapse of the outer wall had occurred, and said there was no question but that a missile hit the Pentagon. I have cleaned up after aircraft disasters, and found that body parts, luggage, and seats are widely scattered. Aircraft parts are numbered. None of this could be found at the Pentagon.
6) The 9/11 Commission, which kindly put an Open Source Agency on pages 23 and 413 of their Report, was at best a ham-fisted juvenile effort pretending to study something none of them actually wanted to get to the bottom of; and at worst a cover-up 100 times worse than the Warren Commission, because in this instance I personally believe that Dick Cheney, with malice aforethought, led the murder of over 3,000 citizens in order to get his justification for invading Iraq. I am reminded of Henry Kissinger's now famous quote that drew laughter in the White House, "The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer." As a one-time Libertarian, and a 100% Patriot, nothing sickens more than people who treat their own citizens as expendable for theater. The day will come, as it did with the USS Liberty, when those cowed into silence by the threat of loss of pension or worse, will speak out and we will know the truth.
7) In closing I will honor the Families of 9/11, whom I will always think of as the "first objectors." Their gut instincts were right, and those that have refused the governments hush money to this day are in my view the best of the American patriotic movement. I like to say the truth at any cost lowers all other costs. When the truth of 9/11 is known – I do not claim to know it – it will change US politics forever.
Daily Bell: It seems as if ever since 9/11 the West has been descending further into a morass of authoritarianism and corporatism. It's as if 9/11 is being used to justify every bad thing reducing or removing civil liberties. Agree? Disagree?
Robert Steele: Agree completely. 9/11 – however skeptical we may be about official explanations – has had the result of cowing the public into silence and enabling government, especially Western governments, to do terrible things at great expense, both abroad and at home.
Daily Bell: When did Bin Laden really die – and where?
Robert Steele: Love this question. There are over 90 entries at Bin Laden Show: Entries 00-99 UPDATED 4 Jan 2014. I point your readers toward Bin Laden Show 14: Dr. Steve Pieczenik Nails It — Bin Laden Died in 2001 — Reiterates (Has Proof) 9/11 Was a Cheney-Led Stand-Down False Flag Operation. Indictment? I agree with long-serving Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dr. Steve Piecznik in putting Bin Laden's death in the 2001 timeframe, from natural causes. See also Bin Laden Show 45: Overview of Fake Bin Ladens which includes the photo below.
Among the 90 entries are several on how Blackwater was seen in Abbottabad in 2010. With CIA on record as saying it had safehouses in the vicinity of the alleged Bin Laden hide-out, I consider the entire event to have been a fabrication with many lies from how they found him to how they tested his DNA. My personal view is that this was a political event orchestrated by Leon Panetta and a handful of unethical CIA officers, and that the Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG) was lied to by CIA. If this were real, five men with silencers departing from the safehouse would have been the chosen course of action, with extraction to be done via standard alternative means after the prisoner or body was secure in a covert location. To have JSOG fly for hours from an adjacent county is beyond my professional comprehension. If we add to this the death of most of the Navy special operators (SEALS) after the fact, we cannot deny the very high probability that everything about this operation was a lie. It
Daily Bell: Why are the CIA and FBI involved in so many apparent false flags that seem to be aimed at scaring people into giving up yet more power and wealth to domestic and international governmental facilities? Why is it the apparent goal of such intel agencies to consolidate more power for a handful of sociopolitical, economic and governmental elites? Who gains from this?
Robert Steele: I did not really "get" the breadth of the false flag marketplace until after 9/11. I knew that false flags started in earnest with Ed Lansdale, who invented the concept of having fake terrorists in the Philippines as a means of scaring the public and gaining public support for the desired presidential candidate cast as the hero in this theatrical drama. I knew that CIA has over the course of history done bombings to exacerbate tensions, for example between Buddhists and Catholics in Viet-Nam. I even knew that CIA had reinstalled fascists in Germany, Italy, and Japan, and created Operation Gladio as a stay-behind network that morphed into a false flag capability, especially in Italy. What I had not expected was the use of this technique in the USA, with Sandy Hook and the Boston Bombing being two of the most blatant and yet successful endeavors to date.
I really have to emphasize that I consider 90% of the government to consist of good people trapped in a bad system. This stuff is done by very small cadres of loyalists combined with amoral careerists who never stop to think about the philosophical implications of creating an environment in which the public no longer believes most of what the government seeks to communicate. Most surprising to me has been the ease with which a dumbed-down drugged-up public – including ostensibly educated middle-class professionals now serving across the country – has bought in to the myths.
The single greatest burden I bear as a truth teller is this whole 9/11 and false flag conversation. After the Guardian interviewed me, the story was picked up across many channels, and what I noticed immediately was that in three of those channels, all anyone could talk about was how I said at the Liberation Technology conference, in answer to a question, that I believed the Pentagon was hit by a missile. Completely apart from the fact that this was a single question at the end of a 45-minute presentation about Open Source Everything, what I find utterly riveting is that it is almost as if all these drones have been programmed so that the instant there is a counter-narrative to the approved myth, their minds shut down and they go into fight or flight mode.
The elite – and our politicians, the worst of the servant class – are not actually stupid, but they suffer from inherited wealth, they are surrounded by sycophants that will lose their jobs if they try to tell the truth, and they are at the tail end of an era in which lies have worked, and they have been able to screw 99% of the public most of the time. Today the elite is getting worried. There was just a conference in London sponsored by the Rothschilds on "what to do about revolution," and a member of the elite has just published a warning that "the pitchforks are coming."
False Flags are one form of lie. There are many others. Here are some book titles I use to make the point that the biggest challenge the public faces is in the information arena. That is why I consider Open Source Everything to be so vital to our wellbeing.
Perhaps contrary to what most might think – especially those so quick to label me a lunatic or an idiot on the basis of their own ignorance – I am a devout believer in a non-violent revolution enabled by Truth & Reconciliation. It would do us no good at all to destroy our government and our communities in the process of seeking to take power with violence. It would do us no good to confiscate all the illegitimate wealth on the planet for redistribution. Our challenges are much larger than can be fixed by any form of redistributive justice or violence. We need to build a new world rooted in the truth and respectful of the Earth, the five billion poor, and future generations.
Daily Bell: Isn't the Internet exposing these intel machinations? Don't the people at the top know that 10 or 20 or even 50 million people reading and watching the Internet now harbor grave doubts about government and the real agenda of those who run it and stand behind it?
Robert Steele: The paradox of the Internet is that it brings the crazy together and helps perpetuate belief systems that could not stand the light of day if subjected to ridicule in the town square. The Internet is like a Tower of Babel, fragmented and distracting the public rather than bringing them together. As with Google, the Internet does not contribute to the public's "making sense" or achieving what E. O. Wilson calls "the consilience of knowledge." I funded the Earth Intelligence Network in 2006 when I had a company and a good income, and we created the below concept for empowering the public to make all decisions based on all available information, in essence enabling informed anarchy able to by-pass and make moot the government. Until we can create such capabilities, ideally within an open source everything ecology, we will continue to be expendable commoditized farm animals instead of free and equal human beings.
Daily Bell: Why do these elite interests persist in promoting such scams as global warming, central banking and the "war on terror"? Is it to continually panic everyone via ongoing scarcity propaganda?
Robert Steele: I am not sure I would blame the elites (the 1%) for all of this. Certainly I oppose the prevalence of the scarcity paradigm, and would point out that a major enabling feature of that is the lack of true cost economics. We allow entire societies to be constructed on the premise that we can have large urban areas far removed from mega-agriculture, and that all the toxins and pathologies of both systems are irrelevant to our choices.
I hold the mainstream media, and particularly the broadcast channels, in high disdain. These people are puppets on crack, spouting crap non-stop. There is nothing useful about most of their work. At the same time, I don't think much of Google, Facebook, or Twitter, and zeroed out my accounts at all three – a waste of time, generally.
Where we need to get to is a combination of pure democracy, delegated democracy (delegate vote to specific individuals for specific topics) and a World Brain with Global Game that allows everyone to play themselves on all issues all the time – or delegate or opt-out as they please. What does not work is abdication of our citizenship duties to hierarchies that are corrupt to the bone and stupid to boot.
Daily Bell: Why are so many of these memes scarcity based? Turns out there is likely plenty of food, plenty of water, plenty of air and plenty of room for people to live in.
Robert Steele: This is a useful place to subject the Libertarian philosophy to some scrutiny. The reality is that most publics have been trapped in urban slums and rural wastelands for centuries, and that government, far from being helpful, has been an instrument of the 1% in enclosing the commons, privatizing profit, and externalizing costs. A major aspect of any foreign policy I might devise would be to help foreign publics clean up their governments, eradicate corruption, eliminate debt, acquire free energy and clean water, and generally live happily OVER THERE. I want to end all incentives for illegal immigrants, while eventually – after we achieve full employment – opening the doors to qualified immigrants.
Scarcity exists because we are coming off centuries in which the fencing of the commons for the profit of the few has been official government policy, and citizens have been too ignorant, cowed, or otherwise incapacitated to see that they are being screwed over and over by this combination of a corrupt government and banking that Matt Taibbi calls "Griftopia." You are absolutely right, there is no scarcity except where we choose to make it so as a matter of policy.
Personally – and I cover some of this in my marching orders for the Coalition Cabinet at We the People Reform Coalition – I would like to migrate the entire country back toward an agrarian-centered nation of small communities with at most one or two medium-sized cities in each state, all with very clear sustainability networks for energy, water and food.
Daily Bell: Are these memes – circulated via the mainstream media – intended to incite fear and distress among the larger population? We call the resultant elite sponsored solutions "directed history." Is that a good term, in your view? Are most wars and economic difficulties pre-planned in a sense to generate the requisite result of further concentrating power and authority?
Robert Steele: I like the term "directed history." I also admire the work of John Taylor Gatto and his discussion of how the Carnegie-Rockefeller focus on public education was precisely to create subservient individuals willing to sit still for 18 years absorbing directed history and not learning to think for themselves. I believe that humanity is subject to historical cycles that are defined by how civilizations grow and collapse, generally when they fail to adapt or they concentrate wealth to such as degree that they kill their own Golden Goose, the public.
We must end the ability of any government to declare war, and fund war, in our name without our consent. We do this by embracing information technology and the will of the people to demand that all legislation and all major decisions be subject to public ballot, by embracing the APT Tax, and by not voting to fund wars and corporate subsidies and all the other means by which the public treasury is looted.
Daily Bell: A few more questions occur to us … People generally distrust former CIA agents because the CIA apparently really never lets anyone leave. When someone does leave, it's only if they agree to promote a "limited hangout" of some sort. How can you assure people that the CIA really booted you and that you are not working for them in some capacity?
Robert Steele: CIA is a bureaucracy within which the spies are a tiny minority. The larger body consists of administrators, logisticians, security personnel, analysts, scientific and technical personnel, and so on. Clandestine case officers are the smallest class. Generally, unless arrangements are made for your clearances to be held by CIA so that you can continue to be "on call," or your clearances are held by a contractor (70% of the IC money including CIA's goes to contractors, which is very wrong), you actually do go out into the cold. I am still under a lifetime secrecy agreement that is moot because I remember no secrets and certainly no identifies of any of the hundreds of clandestine agents I recruited or handled; and I still honor my obligation to have the CIA's Publications Review Board (PRB) examine both books with secret intelligence content, and my resumes, all of which were recently redone and approved in detail by the PRB.
What I have done with my life, and what I have said on the record, could never in a million years have been imagined by CIA or directed as a long-term operation. Snowden is another matter – there is a wonderfully interesting school of thought that says that Snowden is a CIA attack on NSA orchestrated by Booz Allen where the best of the former CIA leaders have gone into residence.
On balance, I recommend one look at the facts, study possible outcomes, and draw their own conclusions. Certainly I want to cut NSA to a tenth of its present size; I want to restore the DCI position and refocus CIA on President Harry Truman's original intent (a centralized integrator of information, not a collector of clandestine information in its own right); and I want to create a Smart Nation within which CIA is the dominant element within the secret world, but not the dominant element when an Open Source Agency exists and can answer 90% of the need for intelligence using ethical open sources and methods.
Daily Bell: The most obvious limited hangout is one that seeks to avert the natural results of what we call the Internet Reformation – which would generate independent thinking and solutions arising out of "spontaneous order." Most of these would be "private" solutions or local community ones. People suspicious of your agenda would suggest that you are trying to resuscitate big-government solutions to combat the effects of free-marketing thinking – solutions, in other words, that seem "small" but still rely on Leviathan for implementation.
Robert Steele: The easiest way to prove my bona fides on this point is to point to my reviews of books on secession. Readers should distinguish between the idea of an open source agency perhaps resident in government because it makes sense in this time and place to put it there – and a local, national, or global commitment to the meme and mind-set that is Open Source Everything. Any town that commits to OSE, installs its own dark fiber, creates its own localized renewable energy, water purification, and free public wi-fi, is going to be a stronger town. If I had to do the last 25 years over again, I would do it from Maine or New Hampshire (I like Vermont, but I want to do this by the sea), and build the model from the ground up. Others can and should take this for action and consider doing OSE one town at a time.
The single most important attribute of the OSE philosophy is that it is affordable, inter-operable, and scalable. It enables information-sharing and community sense-making and wealth creation far beyond anything that is possible with the mixed bag of generally mediocre capabilities offered today by IBM, Google, or Microsoft, to name just three.
Daily Bell: We have the same problem with the LETS systems that you referred to. LETS systems are basically sponsored by the UN – and thus we are suspicious of them and their centralized book-keeping. Response?
Robert Steele: Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) is not something I have been following. I do have some strong opinions about the corruption and ineffectiveness of all international assistance, not just the UN but the Red Cross and all others. As a general rule, less than 20% of all donated money gets to the end-point, and more often than not no more than 5%. In Bono's case it is documented at 1%. This happens for various reasons. Most often, the UN keeps 20% for "overhead" and then begins out-sourcing the aid downwards across UK, Turkish, and other intermediaries, each of whom take 20% off for "overhead," with the result being that at best 10-20% of the money reaches the victims or intended beneficiaries, and all too often, in very badly managed form that might as well not have been sent at all.
Below is a graphic in which I show how we can cut the UN and most international charities completely out of the loop, with direct giving enabled by the Internet.
Daily Bell: We are suspicious of the anti-usury movement because people like Ellen Brown and others want to retain central banking so long as it is run by "the people." And we don't believe in throwing people in jail for charging a rate of interest. Response?
Robert Steele: At a fundamental level, I consider usury to be a form of legalized crime, in part because 90% of the money being lent does not exist – the bank is being allowed to coin money – and in part this whole process opens up multiple other criminal angles. In my own case, I borrowed $14,000 from Advanta, as a small business loan to my small business, with $1% guaranteed for the life of the loan. At some point I had a late payment and the rate changed from 1% to 29.9%. I paid the $14,000 and the 1%, and told Avanta to piss off on the rest. Later what they were doing became illegal, and they had to declare bankruptcy.
What I see a need for is community-based banking in which any credit that is created is based strictly on local needs and such interest as may be agreed upon rebounds to the benefit of the community. On balance I despise banks because they are large criminal organizations with very strong lobbyists and a captive Congress. I would rather see all money in community-based credit unions, and all loans made on the basis of local need. I would absolutely forbid any cross-over from lending to speculation and "investment."
Daily Bell: We are suspicious of Occupy Wall Street because the problems the world faces have little to do with the average "millionaire" or even "billionaire." The problems of the world stem fundamentally from a power elite that apparently controls monopoly central banking and through that control has asserted dominion over corporate, military, educational and political venues. Do you disagree with this paradigm?
Robert Steele: You are suspicious of Occupy because the Koch brothers have paid a great deal of money to foster that suspicion. I completely agree that the average millionaire and billionaire are generally blameless – they have excelled at gaming the system and understanding that Wall Street makes its money on the IPO and then dumps all the risk to the average investor. I totally agree with your general paradigm and hope the day comes when the Koch brothers will assign their $3 million an hour interest earnings to public causes.
Occupy Wall Street is a populist movement, and that is a good thing. It is a non-violent populist movement and that is a better thing. I would observe that over 7,000 Occupy protestors went to jail as the militarized law enforcement network kicked in on behalf of the 1% instead of the 99% — to date a tiny handful of bankers have gone to jail – no one of any real importance – and the public is still being screwed by the City of London and manipulated LIBOR rates. No one in the UK has gone to jail that I know of.
From where I sit, Libertarians should embrace the Greens and Occupy, and create a strategy for weaning the Independents that are organized by IndependentVoting.org, a cover organization for Michael Bloomberg. You want to be suspicious of someone, take a closer look at them. From where I sit, they engage in a great deal of activity that I consider "busy work," avoiding the central issue of our time, Electoral Reform.
Occupy, if revitalized, has the ability to jerk every senator and representative to attention. I failed to focus them with my six-minute presentation in 2011 that went viral on YouTube, but I am absolutely certain that if the Libertarian Party got its act together under a committed candidate for the presidency ready to spend two years on the campaign trail, that we can revitalize and redirect Occupy to the mutual benefit of all individual citizens who have been disenfranchised by a two-party tyranny that has written all of us off – especially Libertarians who have been "played" into supporting the Republican extremists while receiving no tangible benefits at all in the past 20 years.
Daily Bell: Is it wise to support such movements as Occupy Wall Street when the blame cast is so broad that its obvious goal is to create a kind of French Revolution that will allow for a new political system that will turn out to be no better than the old one? In other words, OWS is another false flag intended to substitute an authoritarian solution – created via chaos – for the current evolution of independent thought and spontaneous communal order. Your thoughts?
Robert Steele: I don't see this. If anything, OWS is vastly more Libertarian than are the Libertarians. Wiggling fingers will always be synonymous for me with crowd ineffectiveness. They took kum-ba-ya hand-holding to a whole new level, and imploded precisely because they refused to move beyond individual anarchy.
At We the People Reform Coalition are posted a few very specific ideas for taking back this country. Electoral Reform is first, followed by a Coalition Cabinet, a balanced budget, a commitment to full employment, and the elimination of all taxes in favor of the APT Tax whose level is set by the public, not the government. That's the best I can do – and not a single other Presidential candidate was willing to engage, perhaps because none of this is actually focused on fixing this country; they just want to get nominated, elected, raise money and settle for whatever consolation prize they might ultimately qualify for if they shut up and support the anointed winner.
Daily Bell: People may look on your solutions in much the same light, especially since you seem to endorse OWS, LETS and even the anti-usury movement – all of which seem to us heavily influenced by elite third parties. Is this fair?
Robert Steele: Is there such a thing as an elite third party? I know of only two parties owned by the elite – the Republican and Democrat Parties – with the Libertarian Party being the third most likely to be considered "captured" as a form of controlled opposition.
Right now the central fact of our political economy is that a majority of the voting public is disenfranchised and the two-party tyranny is a whole-owned action arm for Wall Street and the City of London and behind them, the 300 families led by the Rothschilds. I am not an advocate for any particular point of view – my "root" demand is the restoration of one man – one vote, Electoral Reform. I have a very high faith in the intelligence and integrity of the average American when empowered. Although I am troubled by the pathetic ignorance that characterizes most citizens today, I believe they will respond to inspiration, seize opportunities when presented, and ultimately be central to restoring authentic democracy in the USA.
As I have said more than once, there is nothing wrong with America the Beautiful and the Republic that cannot be fixed, and fixed quickly, through the restoration of the integrity of our electoral process and hence of our governance process.
Daily Bell: Why not simply lobby for the removal of monopoly central banking and judicially enforced corporate personhood? If you removed these two elements of Leviathan, modern Western authoritarianism would collapse and people would be subsequently empowered. Isn't this a simpler and more effective solution than trying to rebuild and repurpose centralized government? Isn't it better to argue for freedom than for reduced authoritarianism?
Robert Steele: I totally support end the Fed and the overturn of Citizens United and all past vestiges of corporate personhood. However, removing money in the negative sense does not address all of the other conditions that enable the few to screw over the many. In the electoral process, for example, removing money does not overcome the fact that only Democrats and Republicans can get on most ballots.
Below is my matrix for predicting revolution with the existing pre-conditions of revolutions as they exist in the USA today, in red. We need a political and financial action plan to take on all these challenges.
Daily Bell: Aren't the best societies the kind that Jefferson argued for – semi anarcho-capitalist communities within an agrarian-republic paradigm where people are in control of the elements of their own survival?
Robert Steele: Yes. On this I agree completely. Indeed, a major failing of the Industrial Era is that it broke the relationship that kinship and cottage industries had in the sense of trust. The Industrial Era commoditized human beings, isolated them from their home networks, and made trust a sideshow instead of the main event. Lionel Tiger discusses this in a book entitled The Manufacture of Evil.
Daily Bell: Is marijuana going to be legalized around the world? Is there a plan to do so, and if so what happens to CIA clandestine drug profits, if any. How about all drugs? Will all drugs eventually be legalized and regulated out of the UN?
Robert Steele: Yes, marijuana will be legalized. When I spoke for the filming of "The Last White Hope," I said that marijuana is at the seam between public common sense being in charge, and government at the point of a gun "because I say so." I cannot speak to other drugs being legalized, but I do believe that a major cause of drug addiction is the futile lifestyle that authoritarian governments and unethical corporations impose on the public. Life is supposed to be fun. CIA is not the only one running drugs into the USA; so are the FBI and DEA, as well as the Mossad. When I refer to those organizations running drugs I mean elements within them, not the institutions themselves. This is – again – why I believe that ruthless secret counterintelligence is the flip side of open source everything. We have got to clean house, restore state sovereignty, nullify at least 60% of all federal regulations if not more, and get back in the business of being a thriving nation with a robust, kick-ass population that is fit, thoughtful and engaged.
I do not see drugs regulated by the UN, or anything else regulated by the UN. The UN is bureaucracy on steroids, one-third spies, one-third worthless relatives given sinecures and one-third very hard working people who really care. I would like to fund the United Nations Open-Source Decision-Support Information Network (UNODIN), and once it is operational, cut two-thirds to three-quarters of all UN positions and turn the UN into a global information and educational service, nothing more.
Daily Bell: Thanks for considering all this and responding to it. Anything else you want to add?
Robert Steele: I am unemployed. Although I have been found qualified and referred for many senior executive positions, including DoD Inspector General for Intelligence, the reality is that both government and industry are configured to hire plow horses, not thoroughbreds. The unemployment rate is 22.4% and in my demographic closer to 40% (and I have no pensions). So I would be glad if this interview led to some tangible alternatives.
If I could do anything at all that I wanted, it would be to create the Open Source Agency, whether in government or not, at $2-3 billion year consisting of $10 million a year to support a global citizen intelligence network for each of 200-300 countries, topics, and issues, local to global. The OSA, would among other things, keep every political candidate honest by empowering local citizens with the knowledge needed to evaluate every person, every fact, every assertion, in real time.
Failing that, I would love to be funded modestly to spend the next two years crisscrossing the country in my 1994 MGB campaigning for electoral reform and the Libertarian Plus nomination for 2016. Ron Paul let the Republicans steal the nomination from him, and I don't see Rand Paul being able to step up but if he did I would support him provided he embraced the ideas at We the People Reform Coalition.
If I cannot be president (mostly to bring the balanced perspective that all others lack) and we had an honest President and an honest Congress, my dream job would as the first Secretary of Education, Intelligence, and Research, essentially the third vice president, with the president focused on the global engagement and the vice president focused on nurturing the commonwealth. Together we would create a Smart Nation, a safe nation, in which transparency, truth, and trust restored America the Beautiful.
Daily Bell: Thanks again for taking on this interview at short notice.
Books by Robert Steele
First link is at Amazon; second link is free online.
De Jong, Ben, Weiss Platje and Robert David Steele (eds.) (2003). PEACEKEEPING INTELLIGENCE: Emerging Concepts for the Future. Oakton, VA: OSS International Press.
• PEACEKEEPING INTELLIGENCE__web PDF (546 pages)
Steele, Robert David (2000). ON INTELLIGENCE: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World. Fairfax, VA: Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.
• ON INTELLIGENCE__web PDF (520 pages)
Steele, Robert David (2002). THE NEW CRAFT OF INTELLIGENCE: Personal, Public, & Political. Oakton, VA: OSS International Press.
• NEW CRAFT OF INTELLIGENCE__web PDF (460 pages)
Steele, Robert David (2006). INFORMATION OPERATIONS: All Information in All Languages All the Time. Oakton, VA: OSS International Press.
• INFORMATION OPERATIONS__web PDF (384 pages)
Steele, Robert David (2006). THE SMART NATION ACT: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest. Oakton, VA: OSS International Press.
• THE SMART NATION ACT__web PDF (270 pages)
Steele, Robert David (2008). ELECTION 2008: Lipstick on the Pig. Oakton, VA: Earth Intelligence Network.
• ELECTION 2008__web docs (200 pages)
Steele, Robert David (2010). INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity & Sustainability. Oakton, VA: Earth Intelligence Network.
• INTELLIGENCE for EARTH__web PDF (300 pages)
Steele, Robert David (2012). THE OPEN SOURCE EVERYTHING MANIFESTO: Transparency, Truth & Trust. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books/Evolver Editions.
• OSE @ Pirate Bay (At Your Own Risk)
Tovey, Mark (ed.) (2008). COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace. Oakton, VA: Earth Intelligence Network.
• COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE__web PDF (648 pages)
Again, we thank Robert Steel for taking this interview on such short notice and doing a thorough job. Much was done via email, but the result is certainly convincing. Mr. Steele has certainly thought through his subject and apparently sacrificed a career for his passion.
Of course, as with the article that spawned this interview, there are points that free-market thinkers would find unpersuasive in his arguments and solutions. But others are certainly convincing, as is the passion he seems to bring to his arguments.
A more transparent and smaller government is certainly better than what we have now and Mr. Steele seems determined to promote that as best he can.
Economist Gary North commented recently on the same Guardian article that we analyzed last week, which is how we got to know Mr. Steele. (He wrote in to respond.) We think this interview is a clearer offering of what Mr. Steele has in mind.
Dr. North pointed out many of the same issues that we did regarding Mr. Steele's perspective. Most importantly, Dr. North noted exactly what we have been explaining for the past few years: This Internet Reformation is testimony to FA Hayek's spontaneous order. There is nothing, at root, that is organized about it. There is nothing much about it therefore that can be "stopped" … at least not in the short term.
Yes, the power elite is trying everything. Mostly, they are trying to "organize" it in order to control it. But like the changes that occurred after the Gutenberg press, the changes rippling through the West (and the world) as a result of Internet information are both unpredictable and decentralizing.
This is the point that Gary North makes most strongly. Changes from the Internet are breaking up political systems and upending the social promotions that have provided the glue to keep nation-states together.
Nothing of this magnitude has ever happened before. The Internet has given the power elite many invasive tools, but as we have predicted its biggest impact will likely be in the decoupling of whole populations from the "directed history" of the past three centuries.
This is, of course, incredibly threatening to those who have built and promoted the current system. But there is nothing much they can do about it except to seek to get ahead of it via false flags and deceptive promotions.
Yet … it is probably too big for that. The CIA would do well to listen to Mr. Steele while people are still prepared to accept the notion of "national security." So would others in government. As government credibility continues to plunge along with the credibility of its handmaiden, the mainstream media, there will eventually come a proverbial tipping point.
If people see no significant and credible evolutions in the authoritarian instrumentalities now purporting to represent them (and right now those operating government are moving toward more repression not less), they will turn away. They will do so because they have ceased to believe in what these facilities are proposing.
This will probably happen anyway. And it will happen, as we have often explained, one person at a time. Human action is an individual affair. Efforts of the power elite to consolidate this process via top-down social media control (Facebook) or faux Tea Party movements won't stop it.
It can be organized, on the surface anyway, but it cannot be controlled. Mr. Steele, of course, is proposing elements of control but at least they seem to be generated from sincere concern about the direction of current Western history.
Mr. Steele's vision may not be yours but it has elements of innovation and certainly of passion. Like us, he sees a passing of the Age. He has sensed that, more than the spy-masters who have apparently jettisoned him. (Please keep that in mind when posting feedbacks.) Thanks again to Mr. Steele for this interesting and thorough presentation.