Memories of 9/11 – Are we still interested?

May 21, 2011

Editors Note: In 2006 the CEO of Intelligence-NEXT: Robert Kim Wilson published an editorial [on another website] on the topic of general public interest in “intelligence” as it might relate to Homeland Security. With recent reminders of the worst civilian wartime disaster in US History, the Editors of I-N: Context wanted to republish Kim’s editorial.

Is the general public interested in the Intelligence process?

by Robert Kim Wilson 3/7/06

The team that originally spawned the idea for Intelligence-NEXT™ held a key assumption. We believed that not only are the Intelligence industry professionals interested in the subject, but the general public holds a strong fascination for the Intelligence industry as well.

Is this a safe bet? There may be two very good reasons why it is indeed.

The Whodunits

First, there is an extraordinary proliferation of highly popular TV programs whose central theme is “criminal intelligence”. Programs with a main thesis of solving crimes through intelligence processes include Law and Order (3 different versions), CSI (also 3 different versions), NCIS, NUMB3RS, Cold Case, Bones, Crossing Jordan, JAG, The Evidence, Criminal Minds, In Justice, Monk, Murder She Wrote, 24, and more, not to mention an entire cable channel dedicated to criminal justice, Court TV.

Network television (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX) Prime Time ran 22 hours of Intelligence-driven programs, constituting 26.2% of the total Prime Time hours in the week this article was written. This total does not include programs that have some “Intelligence” process but instead have core entertainment focused more on (a) action/adventure, such as Walker, Texas Ranger and Nash Bridges, or (b) social issues, such as Boston Legal and The District,

Recently the USA Network ran 56 hours of Intelligence-driven programs in a single week Sunday thru Saturday. This represents a full 31% of all viewing hours on that channel alone. If you include the crime-fighting shows [less intelligence, more action], add another 34 hours to USA programming for the week.Combining the Network television channels with USA Network, the interested viewer could witness an average of over 10 hours per day of television programming whose central theme is focused on the collection and analysis of criminal Intelligence.

Several of the most popular series (Law & Order, CSI, Monk) are run on multiple channels throughout the day, with airing not limited to prime time. There are also occasional “marathons” which run past episodes of a show. For example last week, “Law and Order SUV”, ran consecutive episodes for 10 consecutive hours (and preceded this marathon with an episode of “Monk” for good measure).

Our brief study did not include The Military Channel, TBS, A&E, History Channel, Discovery Channel, and a few others, that also air programming aimed at solving mysteries or addressing problems through (what the professionals would call) an “Intelligence Management” processes.

Of course there is also Court TV, an entire cable channel dedicated to criminal issues running 20½ hours per day, 7 days per week.There is no other single topic unless you consider the news itself that has so much attention dedicated to it by the network and cable television media. The popularity of these programs suggests that the American public has more than a casual interest in the Intelligence process.

Fear of a Repeat

In addition to the entertainment value of the intelligence shows, the public is also afraid of a repeat of 9/11. In fact, most of us fear a catastrophic event is very likely. Consider the following…

  • In the February 3, 2006 issue of the Boston Globe reported, “Despite progress in fighting terrorism, the threat today may be greater than ever before because the weapons available are far more dangerous, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday”.
  • Investment guru Warren Buffett offered a bleak prediction for the nation’s national security saying a terrorist attack on American soil is “virtually a certainty”. Envy and dislike of the United States have fueled rage against the country even as the ability to build a nuclear device has spread. Buffett said, “We’re going to have something in the way of a major nuclear event in this country… It will happen. Whether it will happen in 10 years or 10 minutes, or 50 years … it’s virtually a certainty.”
  • The bipartisan 9/11 Commission reported that al Qaeda has been trying to acquire nuclear weapons for ten years and cited reports that bin Laden wants to carry out a “Hiroshima”.
  • In his book, America the Vulnerable / How Our government is Failing to Protect Us from Terrorism, Stephen Flynn rates America’s security readiness against a major terrorist attack as a “1 or 2” on a scale of 1 to 10.

The conventional wisdom on the American public’s perception of a catastrophic terrorist event, “It is not if, but where and when and what will be the impact“.

We believe that the American public is interested in how the Intelligence industry is making strides to protect us from the next 9/11. If it is inevitable, then shouldn’t we do something about it?

If they are already interested, what else?

If we conclude, (a) the American public has a strong, intrinsic interest in the Intelligence process, and (b) the Intelligence process is vital to fighting the war on terrorism, here on our own soil, then where do we go from there?We must direct the obvious strong attraction to the Intelligence process towards an ever growing awareness that the general public can play a highly significant role in this war. Not only can the general public become more involved, they must become more involved.

In the entertainment version of the Intelligence process, there are some excellent illustrations of how the process works. In fact, much can be learned from watching these programs about the techniques and methods of seeking and collecting evidence, and stitching it together into conclusions based on facts. This is the essence of the Intelligence process.

But in virtually all of these programs (with the one exception of “24”), each episode addresses solving a crime after it has already been committed. In the war on terrorism, we cannot afford to solve the crime after it has taken place. We must prevent it from happening. There is too much at stake not to.

I-N coming!

So where do go from this point? The goal is to help our general citizenry learn more about the science and art of the Intelligence process. The more they learn about the process, the more they will understand how they can help.The public can help Homeland Defense and National Security efforts by reporting of suspicious activities to the authorities on a timely basis. Programs called “tips and leads” and “corporate outreach” are opening channels of useful information flow from the public to law enforcement, across the nation.

However, with an increasing knowledge and awareness of the process of Intelligence, no doubt there will be new ideas and concepts for improving the science and art of Intelligence. A well-informed community is an abundant, fertile source for innovation in the Intelligence industry. Tomorrow’s breakthrough in Intelligence methods may come from the school teacher in Oshkosh, the salesman in Des Moines, the real estate agent in Raleigh, the machinist in Encino, the farmer in Ames, the businessman in Tucson, or the pastor in Corvallis.If this war is being fought on our own home front, then we should all seek ways to support our warriors. We consider ourselves an intelligent nation, and we can use our Intelligence to win this war.

Learn more about the process, and then send your ideas to Intelligence-NEXT:

– End –

Another Editors Note: The Intelligence-NEXT organization is largely focused in 21st Century Enterprise knowledge and intelligence issues. We published this editorial at this time and in our blog, not only because it is timely, but because in this age, we will continue to be reminded, that the War on Terrorism demands intelligence of all kinds. We will have more to say on this topic in future editorials.