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Interview with Robert David Steele Vivas epos_print_logo.png
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Interview with Robert David Steele Vivas

Friday, 28 January 2011 22:58
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Epos converses with Robert David Steele Vivas

by Massimo Amorosi (EPOS)
EPOS Conversations

Mr. Steele, you co-founded Earth Intelligence Network. Which are its main objectives?


After 23 years, since 1988, of trying to get the US Government and particularly the US Intelligence Community, to understand the importance of both accessing and exploiting legal and ethical sources of information, and of addressing all threats and all policies all the time, I realized that humanity demands a holistic approach to all threats across all policies all the time; that no government is capable of being a world government; that a world government is NOT desirable; and that information converted into public intelligence was the best means of achieving self-governance as well as sustainable prosperity in governance of a complex and constantly changing world.  Despite teaching 66 or more governments how to value Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), I recognized around 2005 that the secret intelligence communities are immune to common sense and not at all mature enough to adjust from the Cold War obsessions nurtured by the US military-industrial complex.  The maturation of intelligence requires both a drastic redirection of intelligence from “hard targets” to “global coverage;” and an equally drastic redirection away from unilateral secret sources and methods toward multinational information-sharing and sense-making.  In other words, we must return to the concepts of our indigenous forefathers, and focus on achieving holistic analysis, multi-cultural consensus, and long-term stabilization and reconstruction.

These three slides illustrate each concept in turn:I did not realize the implications of what we were doing with respect to illuminating for the public the case against spending on war when we started, but after seeing the graphic below from Medard Gabal, one of the co-founders, I realized that we had finally conceptualized the only non-violent means of confronting corrupt governments and corrupt corporations: with information.  The revolutions sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East support my letter to the Most Holy Father, and also our concept—the same concept of the Founding Fathers of the USA—that a people who mean to govern themselves much arm themselves with knowledge and the power that knowledge gives.  For one third what we spend on war today, we can create a prosperous world at peace that embraces, empowers, and enriches the five billion poor—the human mind is the ONLY infinite resource we have and we are wasting 80% of that resource while misdirecting the remaining 20% in ways that Satan would approve of—in my view, secular corruption is the manifestation of Satan on Earth.   To save those souls, we must first defeat Satan—secular corruption—here on Earth.

You created the concepts of Smart Nation, Information Arbitrage, and Information Peacekeeping. Can you explain them briefly?


First, let me say how much I admire the fact that you have done your homework and actually understand the fullness of my body of work, all of which is free online at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog.  It was by accident, while studying and developing these concepts, that I became the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction (32/241 overall with fiction, movies, and other products), and my web site provides your readers with something they cannot find on Amazon: all of my reviews (1,741 as of today) sorted by the 98 categories in which I read and think.

Smart Nation was conceptualized in 1994, two years after I first developed the concept of Open Everything as described in E3i: Ethics, Ecology, & Evolution: An Alternative Paradigm for National Security, (Whole Earth Review, Fall 1992).  The article was made possible by Congressional staff sympathetic to the failure of the National Security Act of 1992 due to the opposition of Senator John Warner (R-VA), who refused to cut wasteful secret jobs and spending in Virginia.  Published as Creating a Smart Nation: Strategy, Policy, Intelligence, and Information Government Information Quarterly, 13/2 1995), this was the beginning of my conceptualization of the eight tribes of intelligence, first explored in ACCESS: The Theory and Practice of Competitor Intelligence (Journal of the Association for Global Strategic Information, 1994).  I must say that I learned from the 1992 loss: government executives and legislators and corporate chiefs need to be told—and helped to understand—that reform can be job and revenue neutral (replacing secrets jobs and costs with open jobs and costs) and that open intelligence creates wealth that cannot be created by secret intelligence—this is covered in the Common Wealth literature as well as the literature on Capitalism Reincarnated.   Our non-profit developed the concept even further, conceptualizing the education of the poor “one cell call at a time,” using national call centers combined with national open source intelligence centers to both harness the collective intelligence of the eight tribes, and to create an educated citizenry that is a Nation’s best defense and also the ONLY agile defense against complex asymmetric threats.  Below are three graphics that illustrate both the internal problem and recommended solution for a Smart Nation, and the relationship of a Smart Nation to a World Brain with secret intelligence at the very top but open source intelligence being the foundation.

Graphic: Dumb Organizations

Graphic: Smart Nations

Graphic: Smart Nation World Brain Pyramid

Information Arbitrage is a simple concept: information costs money, intelligence makes money.  Intelligence is decision-support (and now also design of society).  Decision-support—and proper holistic design—reduces costs, eliminates waste and fraud,  increases profits, increases market share, increases customer satisfaction, increases the effectiveness and productivity of every person that is supported.  Today US Intelligence spends no less than $75 billion (the announced number) on secret sources and methods that yield, according to General Tony Zinni, USMC (Ret.), 4% “at best” of what a senior commander needs to know.  We spend less than a billion, very incoherently, on open sources, wasting most of the money on US contractors or “butts in seats” whose only qualification is US citizenship and a secret clearance—not language, cultural or historical knowledge, etcetera.  As I develop in my Human Intelligence Trilogy, the secret world does nothing for everyone else, so we have an uninformed and ineffective government dominated by ideology instead of intelligence, characterized by corruption instead of competence.

Information Peacekeeping is a concept that I began to develop in the 1990’s after being inspired by Alvin Toffler’s noticing the value of my work and creating a chapter, “The Future of the Spy,” built around me, as included in his book, War and Anti-War–Making Sense of Today’s Global Chaos (Grand Central, 1993).  Various experiences, but especially an encounter with an officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace, led me to draft Virtual Intelligence: Conflict Avoidance and Resolution through Information Peacekeeping, presented first at the 1997 USIP Conference on Virtual Diplomacy, and then published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution in 1999, coincident with the publication of Alvin Toffler’s especially deep book Powershift–Knowledge, Wealth, and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century (Bantam, 1999) that documented his viewthat information was a substitute for violence and wealth, time and space, capital, and labor.  The latest article is  Peacekeeping Intelligence & Information Peacekeeping (International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, 19/3 2006), the first was Information Peacekeeping & The Future of Intelligence (International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, 17/2 2004).

You also point to the need of a faith-based global intelligence exchange. What do you mean?

First please allow me to honor Capt Doug Johnston, USN (Ret.), author of Religion, The Missing Dimension of Statecraft (Oxford, 1995) and Faith-Based Diplomacy–Trumping Realpolitik (Oxford, 2003).  He helped me understand both how very important religion is to all secular arrangements, and how very important inter-faith dialog is to achieving a prosperous world at peace.  His first book above made me realize that an Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy is nothing more than chief of lies; what we really need is a diplomatic Undersecretary for Culture & Religion at the same time that we need a military Undersecretary for Civil Affairs & Cyber-Sharing.

We must get serious about transparency and truth so as to build trust as the same time that we eliminate corruption and create a prosperous world at peace.  My letter to the Most Holy Father is the only starting point I know of for actually helping the Assisi Peace Summit in October 2011 achieve a persisent global outcome that liberates the mind of man, empowers the faithful, and reduces the fifty percept of fraud, waste, and abuse that is only able to persist because of public ignorance and religious acceptance of secular corruption.

My letter to the Most Holy Father explains that secular corruption is the single global obstacle to inter-faith harmony and therefore to Peace on Earth.  I believe that in past eras religions have been as corrupt as the banks and governments and corporations and aristocracies that they supported.  It makes no sense for me to see religions preach salvation in Heaven through acceptance of slavery on Earth.  The Lord’s Prayer says that we must honor God’s will on Earth as it is in Heaven.  God’s will is Love in Community, at least this is what I believe.  The Most Holy Father has an opportunity to harness the glorious power of all forms of religion that acknowledge the One God, and if the Italian government got behind this idea, and also proposed to host a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to create a joint inter-faith, eight-tribe (see below) multinational information-sharing and sense-making network that will literally honor God’s will on Earth and enable billions more of the faithful to qualify for  Heaven.

I have reviewed 95 books that I have categorized under Religion & Politics of Religion, among them I especially recommend these.

Review: Breaking the Real Axis of Evil–How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025

Review: Reconciliation–Islam, Democracy, and the West

Review: Thank God for Evolution–How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World

Review: The Unconquerable World–Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People

Review: Why the Rest Hates the West–Understanding the Roots of Global Rage (Paperback)

See Also:

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Dialog for Truth & Reconciliation

When you speak about the sharing across the eight “tribes” of intelligence (academia, civil society, commercial, government, law enforcement, media, military, non-profit), which specific approach to intelligence do you suggest?

I really must say that your questions are the single best collection I have received from a journalist in all my time doing this.  Thank you for that.  The answer to this is both simple and complex.  I will provide the simple answer and point to some sources for studying the complex answer.  This Question & Answer lead naturally to the next Question & Answer.Put most simply, changes to the Earth that used to take 10,000 years now take three.  We have no alternative, if we are to survive as a human species, but to quickly gain access to all information in all languages all the time.  The Industrial Era, and the Weberian concept of bureaucracy, have destroyed the concept of integrated or holistic knowledge.  I emphasize that the Earth is resilient—if Humanity is to achieve its purpose in honoring God’s will—I particularly like the concept of “the meek shall inherit the Earth”—then Humanity must come together as a Community and inter-faith agree

Secret intelligence, and bureaucracy, combined with corrupt politicians, are the worst possible combination in relation to creating a prosperous world at peace and in the process honoring God’s will.  Secret intelligence can be ignored; bureaucracy is a form of creeping petrification; and corrupt politicians have no honor and no commitment to the public interest.

Transparency creates truth, truth creates trust, and trust enables the combined eight tribes to eliminate corruption through public information-sharing and sense-making.  While I have included religions (and labor unions) in the Civil Society tribe, religion is actually pervasive and should be present and a positive influence at all levels on all issues.  This includes truth & reconciliation within and among religions—fundamentalists and relativists are the greatest obstacle to effective inter-faith dialog, but secular corruption is the greatest obstacle to inter-faith dialog actually leading to constructive results.

Knowledge is so fragmented that only a Great Conversation among all Humanity can put it back together again.  The Eight Tribes are a metaphor for restoring the Community of Man, with inter-faith dialog and deliberation as the web of trust.  Transparency and truth from the tribes, trust-building among the faiths.My various books, all free online as well as for sale in hard copy, provide the complete story over time.  Here are some book review categories for further exploration, all free online.  My briefing to the Chilean government in November 2010 is the most recent exploration of the various concepts that center on bringing all eight tribes together to do multinational information-sharing and sense-making for the greater good of Humanity and the greater glory of God.

2010 M4IS2 Briefing for South America — 2010 M4IS2 Presentacion por Sur America (ANEPE Chile)

Book Review Categories:

You argue that proper use of intelligence material derived from open sources (OSINT) could replace some of the more secret (and expensive) aspects of intelligence collection, claiming that “OSINT will displace 80% of the dollars devoted to secret sources and methods…”. But is OSINT really intelligence?

The best way to address your question is to refer to a number of quotes, provide a couple of definitions, and then refer you to Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog.  The sources of the quotes are provided at OSS.Net’s Quote Page.


Quotes on OSINT:

Rodney McDaniel speaking at Harvard University:  Everybody who’s a real practitioner, and I’m sure you’re not all naïve in this regard, realizes that there are two uses to which security classification is put: the legitimate desire to protect secrets, and the protection of bureaucratic turf.  As a practitioner of the real world, it’s about 90 bureaucratic turf; 10 legitimate protection of secrets as far as I am concerned.

Henry Stiller, Director General of Histen Riller, said at the French Information Congress - IDT '93, that, 95% de l'information dont une enterprise a besoin peut s'acquiris par des moyens honorables. "95% of the information an enterprise needs can be acquired through open means.

Ted Shackley in his MemoiresIn short, the collapse of the communist system in Central Europe has created a new situation for intelligence collectors.  I estimate, based in part on my commercial discussions since 1990 in East Germany, Poland, Albania, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, that 80 percent of what is on any intelligence agency’s wish list for this area as of 1991 is now available overtly.

Tony Zinni speaking to a senior national security manager:  80% of what I needed to know as CINCENT I got from open sources rather than classified reporting.  And within the remaining 20%, if I knew what to look for, I found another 16%.  At the end of it all, classified intelligence provided me, at best, with 4% of my command knowledge.

Daniel Ellsberg speaking to Henry Kissinger: The danger is, you’ll become like a moron. You’ll become incapable of learning from most people in the world, no matter how much experience they have in their particular areas that may be much greater than yours” [because of your blind faith in the value of your narrow and often incorrect secret information].

Quotes on Truth & Power

Amilcar Cabral, African freedom fighter (1924-1973). Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories. ... Our experience has shown us that in the general framework of daily struggle, this battle against ourselves, this struggle against our own weaknesses ... is the most difficult of all.

Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi: 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.

Fedor Dostoevsky: A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else.

James Madison: Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

Thomas Jefferson: A Nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry.

Voltaire: When a nation begins to think, it is impossible to hold it back.

Robert Steele: The truth at any costs lowers all other costs.  E Veritate Potens—From Truth, We the People Are Empowered (Made One with God).


First off, the secret world and their political masters have erred in confusing secret sources and methods with intelligence—or truth. That is why I put the quotes first.  Intelligence is decision-support based on all possible relevant sources in all possible relevant languages from all possible points of view.  There isn’t a single government or corporation intelligence organization on the planet that can do that because they all lack integrity in the holistic sense of the word—that is where religion and the eight tribes and my prescription of a necessary shared Strategic Analytic Model comes into force.

Joe Markowitz, the only truly gifted and honest manager of OSINT in the U.S. Government that I know personally, agreed with me on three core definitions in relation to OSINT:


Data (OSD) is the raw print, broadcast, observation, statement, whatever.

Information (OSIF) is data that has been collated and broadcast to a broad more or less generic audience.

Intelligence (OSINT) is tailored decision-support created to answer a specific question in a specific context across a specific time and space application area.

Validated Intelligence (OSINT-V) differs from Intelligence that it can only be created by a government employee with full access to all secret sources and methods.

Now here are some additional definitions that are simply not properly addressed by any government or corporation—only a global network that is transparent, committed to truth, able to build trust—can actually create the full range of integrated decision-support that we all need to create a prosperous world at peace.  The Most Holy Father has an opportunity to make the Assisi Peace Summit the first global summit in the history of Humanity that is committed to honoring God with inter-faith dialog firmly founded on transparency, truth, and trust.  OSINT is how we do that.  It is legal, ethical, virtually free, and it produces a result that no government, no corporation, and no international organization can offer: a prosperous world at peace that is firmly rooted in faith and focused on truth.

Interview: Robert Steele on Echo Chamber 2006

Definitions: Whole of Government

Definitions: M4IS2 (Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing & Sense-Making


2008 Open Source Intelligence (Strategic)

2008 Open Source Intelligence (Operational)

2006 Forbes Blank Slate On Intelligence

2002 TIME Magazine The New Craft of Intelligence

2002 New Rules for the New Craft of Intelligence (Book 2 Chapter 15)

A close relationship between intelligence and diplomacy always existed. Which do you think should be the evolution of this relationship to counter the emerging threats and specifically the role of intelligence services in backing the negotiating and mediating efforts of governments?

For a very long time I did not understand the dysfunctionality of my own government.  I know that everyone working for the government is a good person with the best of intentions.  Accusing them of moral failure or intellectual idiocy was never a possible explanation.  I finally began to understand this when I expanded my concept of integrity to its fullest.  When intelligence and diplomacy are both committed to integrity in the broadest sense of the word: seeking the truth, being transparent with one another, and eschewing corruption of source, method, or purpose, always placing the public interest at the forefront, there is no conflict.

These four reviews may be helpful in further explaining how government must work if it is to be legitimate.

Review: Philosophy and the Social Problem–The Annotated Edition

Review: Ideas and Integrities–A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure

Review: Reflexive Practice–Professional Thinking for a Turbulent World

Review: Designing A World That Works For All

It is when intelligence loses its integrity and over-invests in secret sources and methods that are expensive (more money means more promotions), or when diplomacy loses its integrity and does not insist on the truth, when diplomacy represents lies and thrives on secrecy, government fails in its core mission: representing the public interest.   Legitimacy is the sole basis for the consent of the governed.  When a government becomes a government of lies and secrecy, when it fails to be honest and transparent about confronting all of the threats to the public, when it fails to be competent in integrating investments across all of the policy areas, and worst of all, when it gives up its soul to Satan and allows banks and corporations and fraudulent non-governmental organizations to loot the Common Wealth and cheat the people, consuming 50% or more of the public revenue on fraud, waste, and abuse, then government does not have legitimacy.

The three best books I have found on both the importance of legitimacy and the possibility of creating a “win-win” for all (this demands the eradication of corruption) are these.

Review: The Search for Security–A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century

Review: Nonzero–The Logic of Human Destiny

Review: Evolutionary Activism by Tom Atlee

Governments that negotiate and mediate on the basis of lies and secrecy are betraying the public trust as well as very unlikely to be successful in an era of public openness and public demand for transparency.  What is happening in North Africa and the Middle East is occurring because the European nations and then Israel and the United States have been corrupt, predatory, and deceitful for two hundred years.

I believe that 2012 is a year of convergence and emergence.  It is potentially a year of Awakening.  The fact that the Most Holy Father is hosting an inter-faith peace summit in Assisi is not a coincidence and it cannot be ignored.Below I offer a number of links to work that I believe offers a specific rapidly achievable solution for Italy, for Europe, and for Humanity as a whole.  I know how to do this—I know that between Italy and the Vatican State, the Assisi Peace Summit could achieve something never before achieved: a sustainable peace in the context of prosperity for all.  Intelligence is design for Humanity.  Faith—and inter-faith recognition of the importance of integrity and intelligence as a means of defeating secular corruption—Satan—is essential to achieving the Spirit of Assisi.

2010 The Ultimate Hack Re-Inventing Intelligence to Re-Engineer Earth (Chapter for Counter-Terrorism Book Out of Denmark)

2010: OPINION–America’s Cyber Scam

2009 Perhaps We Should Have Shouted: A Twenty-Year Restrospective

2008 World Brain as EarthGame

2008 Chapter: Paradigms of Failure

2008 Chapter: The Substance of Governance

2008 Chapter: Legitimate Grievances

2008 Rebalancing the Instruments of National Power–Army Strategy Conference of 2008 Notes, Summary, & Article

2001 Threats, Strategy, and Force Structure: An Alternative Paradigm for National Security

2000 Presidential Intelligence (Book 1 Chapter 13)

2000 Presidential Leadership and National Security Policy Making

1998 JFQ The Asymmetric Threat: Listening to the Debate

Thanks a lot Mr. Steele for your time. And hope to see you soon again in Rome.

A multinational decision-support center in Naples would make Italy the hub for creating a prosperous world at peace beginning with the region including North Africa, the Middle East and the states of the former Soviet Union, with a uniquely possible overlap that integrates inter-faith decision-support with a completely new approach to intelligence, information operations, Whole of Government operations, and charity as well as social business and corporate responsibility.  I need a job.  Naples would be heaven for me.

See Also:

Books (OSS/EIN) (10)

Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Positive)

Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Negative)

1- Robert David Steele Vivas visited Assisi and Rome recently to personally deliver copies of a letter to the Most Holy Father to various small groups sharing an interest in supporting the Assisi Peace Summit planned for October 2011 with intelligence—decision-support—and to suggest that the inter-faith summit consider the creation of a global inter-faith intelligence network using only legal and ethical sources and methods.  Steele, who spent his early years in Asia and Latin America as the son of an oil engineer, went on to be a Marine Corps infantry officer, a clandestine intelligence operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, and the senior civilian responsible for creating the Marine Corps Intelligence Center (today a global Command).  He left government in 1993 in order to pursue a the promotion of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), an activity forbidden to him in his official capacity.  As an individual entrepreneur and with financial support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), he ultimately recruited 750 global speakers who helped train and inspire 7,500 individuals from across 66 countries.  In 2006 he transitioned from for profit to non-profit, and recruited 23 other co-founders to create a Strategic Analytic Model and a concept for creating the World Brain and Global Game as a means of providing intelligence support to all possible hybrid combinations of individual and organizational networks.  He is the principal proponent today for a Swedish military concept that he has expanded, M4IS2: Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making.  During one of his meetings in Rome, summarized at Assisi-Rome 2nd Meeting, he proposed that Italy both create a Whole of Government national security & prosperity strategy, and that Italy propose to host at Naples the first Multinational Decision-Support Centre (MDSC) for NATO and with an initial focus on North Africa and the Partnership for Peace nations.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect EPOS WorldView’s editorial policy

Last modified on Monday, 18 August 2014 15:38

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