CIA following Twitter, Facebook at Open Source Centre

Pricey information

At the agency’s Open Source Centre, a team known affectionately as the “vengeful librarians” also pores over Facebook, newspapers, TV news channels, local radio stations, internet chat rooms — anything overseas that anyone can access and contribute to openly.

From Arabic to Mandarin Chinese, from an angry tweet to a thoughtful blog, the analysts gather the information, often in native tongue. They cross-reference it with the local newspaper or a clandestinely intercepted phone conversation. From there, they build a picture sought by the highest levels at the White House, giving a real-time peek, for example, at the mood of a region after the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden or perhaps a prediction of which Mideast nation seems ripe for revolt.

Yes, they saw the uprising in Egypt coming; they just didn’t know exactly when revolution might hit, said centre’s director Doug Naquin. The centre already had “predicted that social media in places like Egypt could be a game-changer and a threat to the regime,” he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press at the centre. CIA officials said it was the first such visit by a reporter the agency has ever granted.

The CIA facility was set up in response to a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission, with its first priority to focus on counterterrorism and counter-proliferation. But its several hundred analysts — the actual number is classified — track a broad range, from Chinese internet access to the mood on the street in Pakistan.

While most are based in Virginia, the analysts also are scattered throughout US embassies worldwide to get a step closer to the pulse of their subjects.

Assembly elections 2019 | Get the latest news, views and analysis on elections in Haryana and Maharashtra on DeccanHerald.com


For election-related news in Maharashtra, click here

For election-related news in Haryana, click here

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)