Manuel De Landa on “Policing the Spectrum”
Posted Jul 06, 2007 1 comment
"Unlike the analyst, who deals only with simple forms of camouflage, the spy operates in a veritable hall of mirrors, in which several levels of intrigue and dissimulation interact. And unlike the intelligence analyst, whose performance can be evaluated by his failure or success in making patterns rise to the surface, the activities of spies and counterspies take place in such deep secrecy that making a rational evaluation of their performance is often impossible. This has tended to create an aura of "mysticism" around espionage agencies, giving spies the feeling of belonging to a secret caste of initiated individuals who have exclusive access to "esoteric" knowledge. Their successes and failures can only be judged by people having access to this inner sanctum."
"For this reason the photoanalysts at the CIA and the cryptologists at the NSA have to operate in a very different environment than their colleagues in think tanks like the RAND Corporation. RAND was originally created in 1946 as a mathematicians' think tank, designed to apply the tools of Operations Research and game theory to the problems of warfare, and it has remained pretty much a technocrat's stronghold ever since. Analysts at the CIA/NSA, on the other hand, must work together with clandestine operators, in charge of sabotage, assassination and psychological warfare, and with spy managers, who put together and maintain networks of infiltrators and informers. The atmosphere of excessive secrecy created by these two characters affects in many ways the performance of the analytical component of the intelligence agency. This is not to say that the work of the analyst is unrelated to the world of secrecy and security measures. Rather, it is as if there were two kinds of secrecy, one with a valid military function and another that has a negative effect on the internal workings of the war machine."
"Almost without exception secret service organizations have thrived in times of turbulence and, conversely, have seen their power vanish as turmoil slows. For this reason they survive by inciting social turbulence, spreading rumors and inventing imaginary enemies, fifth columns, and bomber and missile gaps. They need to keep society in constant alert, in a generalized state of fear and paranoia, in order to sustain themselves. This has led to the development of a gigantic "espionage industry," whose entire existence is based on a bluff few governments dare to call:
The agencies justify their peacetime existence by promising to provide timely warning of a threat to national security.... Over the years intelligence agencies have brainwashed successive governments into accepting three propositions that ensure their survival and expansion. The first is that in the secret world it may be impossible to distinguish success from failure. A timely warning of attack allows the intended victim to prepare. This causes the aggressor to change its mind; the warning then appears to have been wrong. The second proposition is that failure can be due to incorrect analysis of the agency's accurate information.... The third proposition is that the agency could have offered timely warning had it not been starved of funds. In combination, these three propositions can be used to thwart any rational analysis of an intelligence agency's performance, and allow any failure to be turned into a justification for further funding and expansion."
Filed in: 5GW Project
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