Remarks by Central Intelligence Agency Director Michael Hayden
at the DNI Open Source Conference 2008
(as prepared for delivery)
September 12, 2008
Thank you, Doug. It’s a pleasure
to be here. I’m a huge fan of open source intelligence and the Open Source Center.
As a career intelligence officer, I’d like to start today with an observation
that might surprise some of you who are not: Secret information isn’t always the brass ring. In fact,
there’s something special about solving a problem or answering a tough question
with information that others are dumb enough to leave out in the open.
That came home to me years ago when
I was defense attaché in Bulgaria. Of course, I read the state-run press,
watched the state-run TV, and made all kinds of official contacts. It was a
little dry, but it told me what the government was saying and how it acted. There
was other information—also freely available—that I collected in less open ways.
The key was knowing what to look for, and being in a position to see it.
Today, the job of intelligence
officers is a lot harder, and a lot different. But the collection, analysis and
dissemination of information from open sources is as vital as ever. This
conference, covering such a broad array of topics and including virtually every
stakeholder in the open source enterprise, makes abundantly clear the rich
potential, far reach, and real impact of open source intelligence.
It’s something I appreciated even
before my tour in Bulgaria and have carried forward since. A little over three
years ago, a small group of us sat down to figure out what the Intelligence
Community should look like under the newly created Director of National
Intelligence. John Negroponte was DNI and I was his deputy. We set up shop just
a few blocks from here, taped butcher paper on the office walls, and literally
sketched out the shape of a DNI-led Intelligence Community.
There was a lot to think through, but
it didn’t take long to identify the way ahead for open source. In fact, we saw
the establishment of the Open Source Center as one of the three most important
objectives for the ODNI in its first year. Establishing the National
Clandestine Service at CIA and the National Security Branch at FBI were the
Although we considered a couple of
options for creating the Center, we decided that building on the expertise and
capabilities of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service and placing the
Center in CIA made the most sense. FBIS represented the strongest possible
foundation on which to build, with capabilities ranging from media and Internet
collection, to research and analysis, to advanced information technology,
database acquisition, and training.
So the aim from the start has been
to build and strengthen those capabilities while extending their reach. Also
from the start, we made the CIA Director executive agent for open source. The
DCIA would be responsible for the Center’s success, not just in such traditional
roles as collector, analyzer, and disseminator of open source intelligence, but
in the new, broader role as Community leader working to expand open source capabilities,
tradecraft, expertise, access, products, and so on.
I don’t offer this bit of history
as a lesson in the IC wiring diagram, but rather to make a larger point: Open
source intelligence is widely recognized as both an essential capability and a formidable
asset in our national security infrastructure.
As the DNI’s strategic plan puts
it, quote, “no aspect of collection requires greater consideration or holds
more promise than open source information.” Here’s why: Those working in this
discipline are at the nexus of two intensely dynamic industries—media and
information. Moreover, while the Internet has revolutionized human interaction,
there is still much to learn about its impact and the opportunities it
presents. Also, the questions our customers ask—policymakers, military
commanders and others—demand unique contributions from open source.
So, at CIA, one of the first things I did as
Director was to make Doug Naquin a direct report to me. And early in my tenure,
I visited two of the Bureaus. One stop was meant simply to be a courtesy call,
but it turned into a three hour visit that was absolutely fascinating. Talk
about time on target; talk about expertise with regard to that target. Those
folks really had it, and they affirmed my view that the OSC is a priceless resource
whose success needs to be reinforced and shared throughout the Community.
Today, Doug is with us three days a
week at senior staff meetings. And open source has a seat at the table with CIA’s
other core disciplines as the Agency makes decisions about resources and plans
for the future. Open Source is a key component of our own strategic blueprint,
called Strategic Intent. That’s the importance we attach to it.
As I indicated a few minutes ago,
my job as “executive agent” for the Open Source Center is to help it achieve
two primary goals:
So how are we doing? One irony of
working the open source side of the intelligence business is that the better we
get, the less we can talk about it. We are often addressing requirements or
questions that are sensitive by nature. And open source, while valuable in its
own right, is typically combined with information from the other “INTs.” That’s
when it packs the most punch.
What I can tell you is that
open source intelligence contributes to national security in unique and
valuable ways virtually every day. Take the recent Russia-Georgia conflict or
Pakistan’s political upheaval. Finished intelligence delivered to policymakers
on those subjects routinely integrated open sources and analyses based on open
sources, including mainstream media, video, and blogs.
That kind of work is invaluable. We
couldn’t claim to do all-source analysis without it. And it’s a baseline that
helps us define what is truly secret, allowing us to better focus our
Open source also helps us
understand how others view the world. Without that understanding, we would fail
in our obligation to provide insight, not just information.
Last spring, I had the privilege of
speaking out at Kansas State University as part of their Landon Lecture Series.
One of the main points I wanted the students to take away was how crucial it is
for us, as a nation, to understand others’ viewpoints—those of friends and
adversaries alike. We cannot be myopic, seeing things only through an American
lens. It’s not only arrogant, it’s dangerous.
The lecture focused on the growing
complexity of the world, and the fact that international relations in the 21st
century will be shaped by a greater number and more diverse set of actors than in
the 20th century. The overriding challenge this presents to those of
us responsible for our nation’s security is that we must do a better job of
understanding cultures, histories, religions, and traditions that are not our
own. Open source officers have an important role in that. They expose us to
perspectives we might not see otherwise, broadening our understanding of the
world. There is nothing more fundamental to our mission.
Moving on to goal number two—our
responsibility to lead the Community in unleashing the full potential of open
source—we can be very proud of the progress made in the last two years. Just a
OSC now provides the White House Situation Room
with more than 340 real-time video feeds from television broadcasts around the
It provides daily highlights to EUCOM through a
customized Internet portal.
It has formed new collaborative relationships
with foreign partners, the private sector and other elements of our government.
We’re taking advantage of expertise across the spectrum, from NGA headquarters
in Bethesda, to the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth,
Kansas, to the Asian Studies Detachment in Camp Zama, Japan.
OSC also has expanded its training of officers
across the Community. Almost half of the Open Source Academy’s students this
year work for organizations other than CIA. Troops stationed in Iraq and
Afghanistan, personnel from homeland security fusion centers, and dozens of
foreign partners are among those who have participated in the academy’s
Perhaps most importantly, the Center is making
more intelligence-related content available to more people in government than
ever before. Almost 15,000 people—from state and local governments, to
Congress, to policymakers—regularly use OpenSource.gov to access not only OSC
material, but data and products from more than 100 other organizations.
We want to build on this momentum. That’s
what drove the Action Plan Doug unveiled this week. It is strategic in nature,
but focuses on practical, near-term objectives. We’ve set the path and now
we’re going to execute.
Today, I am pleased to announce the
creation of a new Community-wide governing board that will guide us as we move
forward. The Open Source Board of Governors, which will consist of all primary
open source producers and stakeholders in the IC, will lead an integrated
approach to exploiting openly available information. The Board of Governors
will set strategy and priorities for our open source enterprise based on input
from all who want to ensure its success.
We see it as a forum where consensus
can be reached on how best to use our collective resources both today and into
the future. The Board will consider things like IT strategy and policies, centralization
of services such as training and content acquisition, and standardization of
tradecraft. The idea is to set direction and priorities in a way that allows
each element of the Open Source enterprise to develop and make the most of its
open source capabilities in supporting national security.
Since early last year we’ve had a
similar governing body for the HUMINT Community. It has been a very effective
forum for all agencies involved with human intelligence to discuss shared
challenges and bring forward ideas for greater collaboration.
The new Open Source Board will meet
quarterly, with the first session to convene before the end of this year. At
that meeting, we’ll set a work plan for the upcoming fiscal year, with key
milestones and decision points. Both the Action Plan and the Governing Board
will help ensure that we maintain the very good trajectory we’ve been on for a
number of years now—really since 9/11.
Yesterday, we marked a solemn
anniversary, seven years since the attack on our homeland. That one, terrible day
prompted action on many levels, and the Intelligence Community can be proud of
the work it has done. Together with partners across the country and across the
world, we have kept the United States safe.
But we owe it to the American
people never to be fully satisfied with the job we’re doing. We owe it to them
to constantly ask ourselves, “How can we better achieve our mission?”
There is abundant evidence that we
are asking that question and challenging ourselves in the open source arena. Thank
you all for being part of this exciting effort to push our capabilities to
their highest level. And thank you for your energy and dedication as we
continue to serve our fellow citizens to the best of our ability.