Archive for the ‘Methodology’ Category

I could be really teed off at this broad for dashing my hopes of what I thought would be a kick-ass thesis by accomplishing it first, but I am too in awe of her massive mental abilities, and as such, have decided to profile her instead.

Judee-doll was born in Ames, Iowa in 1948. A fairly normal upbringing ensued and resulted in classic mid-western dame. Judee attended Iowa State University where she earned a degree in both Speech and English minored in both Social Studies and Education. She quickly went on to earn a Masters in Speech Communication and a PhD two years later in Communication and Educational Psychology.

So let’s tally this up before proceeding:

  • Speech: verbal communication
  • English: written communication
  • Social Studies: ability to learn about people in context
  • Education: ability to teach people
  • Communication: a hefty blend of all of the above
  • Speech Communication: a further blend of speaking about all of the above
  • Educational Psychology: how people learn in educational settings

I’m not going to lie here: I expected her head to be size of mutant watermelon. I mean really, that is a heck of a lot of knowledge for one brain in such a short amount of time, but I Googled her and her head seems well-sized. So let’s continue:

Judee bounced around academia teaching in Florida, New York, Michigan and finally settling in Arizona where she is firmly installed a the University of Arizona. Her teaching and research interests according to her website read:

My primary teaching and research interests center on nonverbal and relational communication, with emphasis on such interpersonal communication processes and outcomes as expectancy violations, deception, nonverbal relational messages, conversation involvement and dominance, and dyadic adaptation patterns. I also have a subsidiary interest in mass media uses and evaluations.”

So you might be asking yourself:  Why does this dame deserve a post on this site? Simple, because she performed research  in something that I predict will become massively important in years to come: automated detection of deception

Long story short, aside from the usual verbal and non-verbal cues people provide when trying to deceive, Judee and her team developed a tool called “Agent 99” (named after the female Get Smart characterlove it!) that can detect (not always but there’s always room for improvement) deception in text messages.

Wow, wow, and more wow. In a world where Twitter informs the public of a major revolt inside a seemingly closed society, or is used as a tool of communication and deception in a government experiment, or is used to proffer information during a natural disaster , sound decisions making is going to depend on the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff, the noise from the signal, the mayo from the baloney. So this Agent 99 tool? Pretty damn useful.

And Judee exemplifies what I love most about women and their contributions to Intel: they come from where you least expect it.

This, of course, still means I am stuck in search of a thesis topic…

If I were a praying girl, I would be screaming “Amen and Hallelujah” from the rooftops today over the confirmation of Letitia Long as the new Director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. But since I am not, let’s just discuss Long instead.

But if I may, can I comment on the fact that there are 16 Intelligence agencies in this country and we are only just now appointing a woman as the head of one? Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased as punch, but it’s still akin to waking up today and feeling like it’s 1990 and not 2010. Baby, you’ve come a long way, but not long enough…

So who is Letitia Long? She is a longtime Navy-civilian professional entering the trade in 1978, where she worked in project engineering in the area of submarine acoustics, and climbed the ranks to join the Office of Naval Intelligence where she managed R & D programs.

From there, Long performed a dizzying rotation in the Senior Intelligence Executive Service while also serving as Director of Resource Management for the Office of Naval Intelligence in 1994. She then completed a hat trick by joining the Defense Intelligence Agency during this time where she eventually became the Deputy Director of Information Systems and Services in 1996.

Can you say “dayamm”? I’m tired just typing all of that.

Please let this be a lesson to everyone out there who is stuck in the belief that Intelligence revolves around poli-sci, history, and computer science. Long is a trained engineer. And let’s think about that: it involves design (establishing a requirement and refining it); building (collection, exploitation); testing (production), roll-out (dissemination); and checking (feedback when it’s given).

Engineers work in teams; they are often great collaborators. They require project engineers to manage them; someone to juggle the pieces and keep in mind the bigger picture. They require communication skills to dumb-down the technical terms for non-engineers (read: clients). And most importantly, they require sound, logical thinking lest the whole contraption falls apart.

A person who can accomplish honing all of those skills is a golden egg and it looks like NGA just got theirs.

A conference on analytical best practices is currently underway in the wonderful town of Dungarvan, located in Co. Waterford, Ireland.

Organized by the Mercyhurst College Institute of Intelligence Studies in Erie, PA the conference seeks to examine analytical best practices across a variety of fields and, hopefully, come to understand how these best practices may be applied to the intelligence field.

Business professionals, doctors, economists, forensic anthropologists, just to name a few, have all been invited to discuss how they interpret and assess data; compare their processes and methodlogies; and evaluate the meaning and signifance of data.

There’s quite a few dames in the crowd, I’m pleased to say, as both delegtes and panelists. Go to enough of these intel type conferences and you’ll notice they tend to be guy-heavy and dame-light. I have my eye on the Chief Inspector of Ireland’s Garda Síochána, Kathleen O’Toole, and I’m hoping she’ll allow me a few questions to post back here.

Wish me luck, updates to come. Meanwhile, check out the Facebook coverage of the event.

A pint-sized hacker with a photographic memory and a dark past is the standout character is Stieg Larrson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and fills out a trio of books called The Millenium Trilogy (in the US anyway, in Sweden it is referred to as The Men Who Hate Women trilogy).

Salander copes daily with her troubled childhood or, as she refers to it, as the time When All The Evil Happened. According t0 Swedish society, she is labeled mentally incompetent and is officially a ward of the state. In the novels it is hinted that she may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome, but personally, if I experienced this girl’s childhood, I might be more than a little anti-social myself.

Lisbeth uses her super-computer powers to facilitate her job as a freelance private investigator.  She works when she wants, with whom she wants, on what she wants, and at her own leisure. She is surly, taciturn, and disappears for weeks, sometimes months, on end but turns in such brilliant work that her exasperated employer can not help but keep her on. Why? Simple, because Lisbeth is the best.

Salander is a problem solver. But what’s interesting is that she doesn’t get a thrill so much from solving a problem as much she does from the process. Her approach is what really snags the reader. The tougher the problem, the happier and more engaged Salander is. And believe me, her solutions are not for the weak. Burn her once and she’ll burn you back with an attack that makes Hiroshima and Nagasaki look like a water balloon fight.

Lisbeth is described in the book as an “information junkie with a child’s play on moral and ethics”. I couldn’t disagree more with the assessment. Lisbeth has an agenda and while her agenda does not necessarily meld with polite society, it is often effective and for the best of everyone involved. She is a highly rational actor with perceived unreasonable reactions.

If there is any complaint I would have about the character is that I would love to see more of her inner dialogue when it comes to methodology. Lisbeth is so utterly fascinating I find myself hanging on every word to see what she does next.

Josephine Hart once wrote that “Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.” No truer words could ever be written  as it applies to Lisbeth Salander. She is no one’s fool and certainly no one’s victim. This girl has taken shots that would take down an elephant, but she refuses to acknowledge that fact. Not acknowledging keeps her going and decidedly drives her work and her thought process as exemplified in her constant mantra Analyze the Consequences.  However, at the end of the day, this also prevents Lisbeth from making real connections with people, particularly those who wish to help her.

And Lisbeth doesn’t want those connections. She enjoys her anonymity and the peace it brings her by living on the fringe of society where she can be left alone to do her work. I wonder if she could be quite so effective at her job, blending in, sneaking about, observing, if she were more connected to this so-called “polite society”?

So, I guess I’m pimping out GiRl SpY for the wonderful cause of intelligence academia.

The low down is this: your mission, should choose to accept it, is to click this link here and help out a Mercyhurst Grad student in the Applied Intelligence program who is looking for Intelligence Professionals to complete a 15 minute web survey.

The survey will be used towards research said Grad Student is performing for his thesis and does NOT collect any personal information or IP addresses.

And not to put anyone on the spot, okay, yeah, well, that’s false, but it would be utterly fantastic if some of my favorite Intel bloggers could help spread the word…

…and I’ll gladly repay you Tuesday for a hamburger today…

Before I lambast this movie into the great hereafter, this Agent must make a confession: she laughed her hiny off when first she saw it…at the dollar show. And in retrospect, I think I want my dollar back.

Sandra Bullock plays Gracie Hart, a foul and unkempt FBI agent amongst a group of Frat-Pack FBI dudes who regard her warily. What we get to witness is Gracie being turned into a Sexed-Up-Fembot. Not of the Killer variety, but a Fembot nonetheless.

The plot goes that there is a beauty pageant that is about to go kaboom, literally, and the FBI is on the case. Gracie goes undercover as a New Jersey beauty queen after monumental help from Michael Caine who teaches her to masticate her food with her mouth closed.

Frivolity and hilarity ensues as Gracie tries to ingratiate herself with the contestants (all of whom are suspect), learn their bizare tribal behavior (like swilling fat-free hot cocoa, waving, and fluttering her hands while faking tears), all while duking it out with her pageant handler, Caine, who declares her to be an unfinished woman.

Hmmmmm….so it’s not enough to be competent, smart, and have to put up with the thinly veiled misogyny on the job, but you also have to endure it while looking “hot” as well? Any Intell analysis aside, what the hell kind of message does this send to all the young girls who saw this flick?

Back to movie: Largely, Gracie gets by using her gut instinct. Basically what we call Abductive Logic. And not to diminish finely tuned instincts for a job, but we’re talking bomb threats here and mass murder on a public scale, you’d think they’d use more than just a gut feeling to solve the case. Yes, I know, this is Hollywood…

As you might have guessed, Gracie cracks the case, gets the guy, and finds a balance between between her kill-instinct and her feminine side. Sigh, how sweet. How sweet that the FBI is portrayed as bunch of bumbling idiots not totally up to the task of matching wits with a psychotic pageant mistress. But I’ll give kudos to the film for being equally insulting to both men and women. Points for parity!

Personally, if this is how the film industry insists on portraying women, then this Agent sides with the La Femme Nakita course of action. Nakita learns refinement, but only as a tool and nothing more. At heart, Nakita is a goofy, maladjusted, awkward girl, and her alias “Josephine” is the one with the mascara and the lipstick. “Josephine” is not the end-all-be-all of Nakita’s existence as an agent or a person.

Like Gracie, Nakita operates on almost pure instinct, but there’s training, skill, technique and method to back it up- not a frilly dress and and antiquated sense on how a woman should handle herself.

And to this Agent, that’s one finishing school I think all dames should attend.

Oh, you knew it was only a matter of time before we visited this broad. Jodie Foster’s Oscar-winning performance as FBI trainee, Clarice Starling, in the movie “Silence of the Lambs”, still has certain friends of this Agent quoting “It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.”

Quick recap: Starling is an FBI trainee. Starling wishes to work in the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI. She is called in to engage the infamous Hannibal Lecter in order to gain insight into the twisted musings of a serial killer the FBI is hunting. As Starling isn’t even a full-blown Special Agent, this complicates matters to some degree, but hey, she does receive the best on the job training a girl can get in profiling under the circumstances.

So let’s talk about what this movie brings to the table aside from an uber-creepy supervillan in the form of Anthony Hopkins: politics. It’s coming at Clarice from all sides, whether it is from the local sheriff not wanting the feds to invade their turf, or the Senator (whose daughter is taken hostage) wanting to side-step the feds and save her daughter her way, or the FBI’s own internal politics (which is much more explicit in the novel), or the social politics of dealing with institution director, Dr. Chilton, who craves respect and attention and uses his prize pet, Hannibal Lecter, as a way of fulfilling those desires.

That’s a lot of land mines to dodge while still trying to do your job and it requires a degree of Emotional Intelligence. In just a moment, Clarice needs to be able to read a room, a group, a person, and a situation in order to best know how react, get what she needs, and move the investigation forward. That’s a tall order and something that is not easily taught.

The other order of business in this movie is the sensationalizing of profiling. This idea that the way one commits a crime and the clues they leave behind says something about how the perpetrator thinks and thus assists law enforcement in apprehending them. Profiling has taken a bit of a hit since the Beltway/D.C. Sniper case back in 2003, but missteps in one case is not enough to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

By the end of the film, Clarice has most definitely been fed through the ringer, but the combination of being open to different ideas and the tough-as-nails determination of a long-term survivor, and this skirt most certainly gets her man.

Although, consequently, all that previously mentioned political infighting allows for the other man to get away. Ah, politics, gotta love it. You know Hannibal Lecter does.

1990’s were not a good time for the US intelligence community. Both the FBI and CIA has suffered terribly at the hands of traitors in the form of Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, but it is Ames who is considered to have done the most damage to the CIA’s overseas assets.

Ames began working for the CIA in 1962, by 1969, he was a case officer. Adultery, followed by a consequential divorce, alcoholism, and not being able to live within his means made Ames the perfect candidate as a double agent. Ames began spying for the Soviet Union in 1985 and did not cease until his arrest in 1994. During Ames’ career as a traitor, 10 Soviet agents working for the US were executed, at least 10 others were sentenced to life imprisonment in the Gulag, and it is assumed that hundreds of intelligence operations were revealed to the Soviets.

The CIA suspected a mole but put little resources toward the endeavor. The idea that someone within The Old Boys Club betraying them, was too much for the guys at the top to deal with. But finally, in 1986, an obligatory team was put together to track down the CIA’s most deadliest mole.

Enter Jeanne Vertefeullie. Jeanne was a quiet, solid, 54 year old case officer for the CIA since the 1950’s. She was a bit of loner but was in possession of an astounding institutional memory. Before the time of supercomputers, if you needed to sniff out clues in a thousand or so case files, one needed to have a supa-dupa memory chip in their noggin. One would need to be intimately familiar with every fact from every case related to that problem. Jeanne had not only the experience but that memory chip and set to work tracking down the mole.

Jeanne was given a small team and only a smaller wink of hope, but the addition of fellow Intel-gals from the Agency, Fran Smith and Sandy Grimes, both veterans in Soviet Intelligence, gave Jeanne the experience she needed to set to work.

Now no one ever said that the CIA was a bastion of Female Empowerment, in fact, sadly, after so many years, it is still quite the opposite, but the skirts who have had the fortitude to stick it out and carve out a place for themselves inside the Agency, must be admired. Of course, during the time of this investigation these dames on the Mole Hunt were often referred to as the “Little Gray-Haired Old Ladies”, but these ladies were going to have the last laugh.

Eight years of diligent work finally paid off in the capture and imprisonment of Aldrich Ames. Consider this: Jeanne turned 60 in 1992 and was thus forced to retire from the CIA as was policy. Sure, she could of traipsed off into the sunset and left this Mole Hunt behind to become someone else’s problem, but she stayed on at the CIA as a contractor for the sole purpose of catching her man. After 6 years investment into the case, Jeanne was not about to give up when her quarry was in her sites.

Also consider that during the final years of the chase, Ames was assigned to the CIA Counterintelligence Center where he was in an ideal position to cover his activities and direct the investigation towards other colleagues. Which he did.

When Ames was brought in for questioning and sat face to face with Jeanne Vertefeuille, the broad heading up the team that brought him down, Ames calmly and casually informed her that he had offered up her name as a possible mole.

Oh, what’s not to totally dig about TV’s “X-Files” FBI Special Agent, Dr. Dana Scully? The logical foil to Fox Mulder, she’s has to be the brainiest broad ever to ever to hit the small screen. But what I truly love about this character is her strict attention to method: The Scientific Method.

While Mulder is off ruminating about conspiracy theories that threaten to overrun the investigation like a whirling mass of entropy, his gal Scully is always there to talk him back down from the ledge with a scientific explanation for everything.

Intelligence analysis relies on good logic and proper methodology. Whether that is Inductive, Deductive, Abductive, or the uber-tricky Scientific Method, if poor logic is employed, the methodology, no matter how good it is, falls apart.

So Alien infiltration of the government via killer bees from outer space aside, suspend your disbelief and listen Dr. Scully. This dame’s got an answer for it all.

Mulder? Mulder?