A series of recently released legal guidelines on Open Source Intelligence explain how and when intelligence agencies can exploit social media and other online resources. One of the documents, previously classified SECRET//NOFORN, hints at the online recruitment of people as sources of information. Collectively, the guidelines spell out the restrictions intelligence agencies work with when dealing with OSINT, revealing how users and developers can deter intelligence agencies from some of the most casual, and pervasive, forms of surveillance.
With the holidays upon us, requesters everywhere are making a list of the documents they hope to find in their stocking this year. But not everyone is in the mood for transparency cheer, with allegations that some top officials are pulling a Grinch when it comes to handing out the documents the public is owed.
Tom Secker and Matthew Alford spent years digging into a secret that was hiding in plain sight. Or rather, hiding in movie theaters, television sets, and streaming services everywhere: The secret influence the Department of Defense and intelligence community had on Hollywood. In this Requester’s Voice, Secker shares what he learned.
Back in March, Emma Best requested copies of “written requests for investigations or reports relating to Donald J. Trump or his campaign” from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Just this week, the ODNI responded, saying that after a “comprehensive search,” it couldn’t find any. Which is strange, because as a simple Google search found responsive records.
As a result of the failure by the Senate Intelligence Committee to restore the GAO’s authority to audit or review the Central Intelligence Agency, by the next year that immunity had spread to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which had assumed some of the Agency’s responsibilities in coordinating the Intelligence Community. Like CIA, the ODNI cited a legally dubious position in a 1988 letter from the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel stating that the GAO had no authority to look at anything relating to “intelligence activities.” Also like CIA, the ODNI used a such a broad definition of intelligence activities so that “by definition” they were categorically exempt.