Culture and Components

Directorate of Science and Technology

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Mercado, Stephen C. "FBIS Against the Axis, 1941-1945." Studies in Intelligence 11 (Fall-Winter 2001): 33-43.

In early 1941, the FCC launched the "Foreign Broadcast Monitoring Service" to monitor, transcribe, translate, report, and analyze foreign broadcasts. The author outlines the development, contributions, and travails of the organization through the World War II years.

Mercado, Stephen C. "A Venerable Source in a New Era: Sailing the Sea of OSINT in the Information Age." Studies in Intelligence 48, no. 3 (2004): 45-55.

"[T]he Intelligence Community needs to build a better ship to sail the sea of open sources. FBIS, the largest and best equipped of the disorganized collection of offices engaged in OSINT, is too small a craft with too few hands to navigate the waters and harvest the catch.... Above all, the Intelligence Community requires a sustained approach to open sources. As with other collection disciplines, one cannot conjure OSINT programs out of thin air. Assembling a substantial number of officers competent in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, and other languages and expert in fishing in the OSINT seas, then giving them the sources and methods to do their work, would be no small feat."

Clark comment: The author makes many on-the-mark points in this excellent article. The problem is that he is a decade too late. CIA and FBIS management missed the boat in the early 1990s when the CIA's Community Open Source Program Office was formed without FBIS as the lead element.

Milner, Catherine. "CIA Threatens to Pull Plug on World Service: Spy Service Cuts Hit BBC Network." Sunday Telegraph (London), 24 Nov. 1996.

"The CIA, America's spy agency, which has contributed to the BBC World Service's news gathering operation for decades, is threatening to withdraw its support for the broadcasting organisation."

Newsweek. Editors. "Costly Cuts?" 25 Nov. 1996, 6.

[Text] "The intelligence community is in an uproar over a CIA plan to slash its Foreign Broadcast Information Service. FBIS, a daily compendium of translated broadcasts and news articles, circulates within the government and to subscribers in business, media and academia. Agency cost-cutting proposals, aiming to save up to $20 million a year, include replacing FBIS bureaus with local 'stringers' working from home and abandoning FBIS translations for foreign-language reports posted on the Internet. Other U.S. intel agencies vow to fight the plan all the way to the White House. The CIA insists that 'no definitive decisions have been made.'"

Periscope. Editors. "House Intelligence Committee Addressed 'Overabundance of Unmet Needs' in Intelligence Budget." 22, no. 3 (Jul. 1997): 1-2.

HPSCI filed its Fiscal Year 1998 Intelligence Authorization Act with the House on 18 June 1997. The five major themes addressed are: (1) Focus on shortfalls in intelligence; (2) heightened emphasis on "downstream" activities; (3) ensure clandestine HUMINT programs are equipped to fill intelligence gaps; (4) promote flexibility in the use of technology to meet intelligence needs; and (5) develop a more corporate and flexible community.

Other provisions include "a request for a report from the DCI to ensure that important resource allocation decisions within the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) re-engineering plan are not being made without fully taking into account 'customer' requirements."

Rawnsley, Gary D. "The Importance of Monitored Broadcasts." In Innovations in Diplomacy, ed. Jan Melissen. London: Macmillan, 1998.

Reuters. "CIA Says Its Translation Output Won't Shrink." 4 Feb. 1997.

"The Central Intelligence Agency said [on 4 February 1997] that it was preserving the breadth of the foreign media it translates and distributes not just to U.S. decision-makers and analysts but to subscribers worldwide."

Robinson, Sheryl. "The Gulf War from Tel Aviv." Studies in Intelligence 36, no. 5 (1992): 1-3.

A Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) employee lives through the turmoil and tension of Tel Aviv under Scud attack from Iraq.

Studeman, William O. [ADM/USN] "Teaching the Giant to Dance: Contradictions and Opportunities in Open Source Information within the Intelligence Community." American Intelligence Journal 14, no. 2 & 3 (Spring/Summer 1993): 11-18.

Remarks made at Symposium on "National Security and National Competitiveness: Open Source Solutions," McLean, VA, December 1992.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. "[Press Release:] National Archives Opens Historic CIA Cold War Era Records." 17 Mar. 2008. [http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2008/nr08-74.html]

"The National Archives and Records Administration has opened 534 cubic feet or approximately 1.3 million pages of historic Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) records covering the Cold War period from 1946-1977.... These newly-released records are from the CIA's Foreign Documents Division, which provided translation, abstracting and research services on newspapers, periodicals and other foreign-language publications. The series consist of translations of newspapers, periodicals, and other foreign-language publications in verbatim, excerpt, and summary form.... Some of the newly released material is available on the NARA website through the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) at http://www.archives.gov/research/arc."

Washington Post. "[Editorial:] Listening to the World." 31 Jan. 1997, A20.

[Text] "The latest strangeness at Langley is the CIA's reported decision to cut way back on the foreign broadcasts and press articles it translates and distributes not just to government analysts and policymakers but to academics, business types, journalists and interested others. This is said to be underway for budgetary considerations, though the sums involved -- reportedly in $18 million to $20 million range -- pale against the $39 billion widely estimated as the intelligence community's due.

"This premier global translation service has a certain Beltway flavor. Not everybody will leap to spend good money so that the foreign policy elite can catch speeches and newspaper stories from some countries others can't find on a map. But the service has provided much useful information over the years when it was hard to find out what was really going on in places of importance to this country. Since the beginning of World War II, the United States has mined the radios and press of countries of interest to American policy in order to learn what they say to and among themselves. In the Cold War the readership of this service was extended beyond official circles into the still- growing ranks of private citizens engaged in the world.

"The ending of the Cold War and the opening of cyberspace account for recent changes in the old 'Foreign Broadcast Information Service.' Its American-manned monitoring bureaus are being phased out; local employees now do the initial winnowing. Hard-copy dispatches have been replaced by Internet transmissions, which subscribers (including this newspaper) pay for. Some of its documents are now conveyed in the original, untranslated.

"Presumably the government is seeing to whether these changes provide the necessary grist for an intelligence collection and analysis operation undertaking to rely ever more fully on open sources. But it is quite clear that many of the unofficial consumers of the flow -- a shrinking flow and part of it not even translated -- are convinced they are being shortchanged. No one has come up with a good alternative for the legions of private citizens who want to know the international word. This is not a smart way to step out on the information highway."

Way, Roland A. "The BBC Monitoring Service and Its US Partner." Studies in Intelligence 2 (Summer 1958).

An early account of the cooperation between FBIS and the BBC Monitoring Service in supplying open-source intelligence to the two nations' intelligence communities.

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