Blogs in the President's Security Briefing?

According to the Washington Times, the CIA has recently begun mining 'open sources' such as blogs and newspapers for information.

The new Open Source Center (OSC) at CIA headquarters recently stepped up data collection and analysis based on bloggers worldwide and is developing new methods to gauge the reliability of the content, said OSC Director Douglas J. Naquin.

"A lot of blogs now have become very big on the Internet, and we're getting a lot of rich information on blogs that are telling us a lot about social perspectives and everything from what the general feeling is to ... people putting information on there that doesn't exist anywhere else," Mr. Naquin told The Washington Times.

Eliot A. Jardines, assistant deputy director of national intelligence for open source, said the amount of unclassified intelligence reaching Mr. Bush and senior policy-makers has increased as a result of the center's creation in November.
Before I get accused of being a tinfoil hat wearer, let me say that with some big exceptions, I think this is a very good idea.

First, reading blogs in foreign countries to gain an understanding of situation on the ground, the feelings of the populace, amount of political discord, etc. is probably an excellent way to get information. Why not take advantage of things people are putting on the internet, free to be read by anybody?

The exception is, of course, monitoring domestic blogs for political dissention and/or keeping lists of people critical of government policy.

I publish this blog with the knowledge that anybody, including the government, has the ability to read it. I also know that with a small amount of work (and, I hope, at least one search warrant) it's possible to find out who I am. I don't mind the government knowing my political affiliation. They already know what kind of candidates I donate money to, I'm sure they could figure it out my politics without this blog. But the idea of being on a list for the content of what I write is frightening.

No comments: