While I play with Frances, the kitten, the 6pm nightly news reports beer prices are up at local St. Patty’s Day celebrations. Mainly, it seems, because barley prices are up 200 percent from two years ago. Total costs for some bars and restaurants are up 50 percent. Why? Inflation. As though this should be obvious to the listener as what is meant by a yellow and blue icon on their neighbor’s social media profile… “I stand with…” But there is something missing from the reporting, isn’t there? For example I wanted to know, on this day commemorating one of Ireland’s patron saints, do they now expect people to drink less (to burn a smaller hole in their jeans), or more (to demonstrate they are not intimidated by rising prices)? Naturally, there is no mention of how many dollars were printed last year and whether this might have contributed. Or the fact that there is a war going on.
Even if one largely ignores broadcast media or even specialist media and aims to do the work themselves, arriving at the cold hard facts is tricky. On this journey, it becomes less about removing uncertainty and more about learning just a little more while discarding most of the rubbish that has been waded through.
Invariably, one arrives at open source intelligence, or OSINT, such as leaked government documents like vault 7 (WikiLeaks)—death blow to the CIA?—or officially declassified record sets like the JFK files (Project Apario), which reveal communist infiltration into the United States government.
Once inside a declassified record set, there awaits an ocean of information. Airtel (urgent telegrams), transcriptions of hearings, photocopies of letters, etc. There is no guarantee of finding anything immediately worthwhile. And when a potentially bombshell email is at your fingertips, certain aspects are often redacted. (Further FOIA requests could unredact these records.)
On a recent dig, I found this, which suggests, to me anyway, that some care is taken to remove certain information. It’s not surprising and there may be legal or procedural reasons for doing so, and yet it is interesting to view for oneself.
In the same evening news report, I learn that happening soon is the funeral celebration for a woman killed by a hit and run school bus driver in March 2020, when the pandemic began. The last 7 words of the previous sentence are false. Now available in the public domain is the approximate time and the place where the pandemic began. Also of note, the newscaster did not say which definition of pandemic she was using, since the WHO has changed definitions in the last two years at least once.
But of course, the viral pandemic is not the pandemic that is metaphorically keeping me up at night. Learning in the last two years has greatly expanded my understanding of several basic facts of our current shared context, facts about supply chains (not food supply chains), about fraud (not white collar accounting fraud), and force (not Luke Skywalker’s).
These facts seemingly do not show themselves so willingly given the haziness of the context we find ourselves.
On page 18 of the Law of War Manual, the fog of war is described:
Seeing as there is a war in process—open the Law of War Manual (Project Apario) to understand how that is so—can we really expect the media, alternative media, etc. to accurately report on anything substantive in a timely manner? No. Many may criticize my attendance at say, a fundraising dance party for Project Veritas, while not realizing that I include Project Veritas in the media bucket in the previous sentence (the dance party’s preference for spectacle over substance persuaded me to let go my idolization of the organization); as such, my friend noted that viewers of Rachel Maddow and I may both view the organization with a critical lense but for different reasons. But even once I forgo the evening news and the alternative media and even influencers who seem credible, I’m left to wade through hundreds or thousands of pages, many disorganized (at least on first glance) and many of the juicier ones redacted. It’s an uncomfortable return to a hunter gather lifestyle. Not every day feels like a success. But every day I learn and the haziness of my thinking, if not the fog itself (the war rages), lifts ever so slightly. With that mental mist subsided, more light shines through, the better to hunt and gather with.
Well, just as it was getting interesting, here is where this notice will be cut off to preserve our collective time and attention. You may need the time if you haven’t gone very far into the available OSINT at your fingertips. I surely do.
So, if I may conclude rather abruptly… thus far I’ve gained much from navigating open source intelligence and have been humbled numerous times. I hope I am not asking too much if I wish the same for you.