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So it’s been almost 2 months since my last post.  I didn’t intend to abandon this blogging enterprise–it just kind of got crazy with moving up to Virginia Beach and settling into CONTROL.  And then immediately after beginning CONTROL, I wasn’t sure if I should continue blogging.

This is because pretty much from Day One my experiences at work can be summed up as one big smart ass “I can’t talk about it (if I wish to remain employed).”  Which dried up all of my blog topics.  Truth is, I still don’t have a blog topic.  We’ll see how this goes.

One thing I can address is whether what is disseminated in American media is really “the news,” to which I have 2 answers:

  1. Firstly, I don’t know what I don’t know.  There’s *guaranteed* loads of stuff going on that I know nothing about.  Therefore, no, what is disseminated in American media is not “the news”.
  2. Secondly, us Intel peeps get a lot–most, in fact–of our information from the Open Source (information in the public domain).  I’d show you this, but for whatever reason, even though the Open Source Center is just a regular website full of your basic news, unfortunately, you need a government email to access it.  (I’d take a screenshot of the splash page, but I don’t remember my password and–prepare to cringe here–I’ve got it written down at work.) If you want a workaround, well, we also listen to NPR.  Therefore, yes, what is disseminated in American media is really “the news”.

One bizarre fact is that you readers are better able to learn more about state secrets on a daily basis than I am because, being employed by the US government as I am, I am not allowed to access WikiLeaks on government computers, or again, it’s a pack up your desk, turn in your badge and leave situation.  This means that unless I peruse the site regularly at home–and I’m not even sure that’s a good idea, honestly–I have to wait until NPR tells me about the most recent revelation.  God, I hope that what is disseminated in American media is really “the news”.

So I can give you a general overview about what we do (we will see if these are my famous last words).  We write papers and give presentations on zones around the world that are either America’s enemies (North Korea, Iran…I’m pointing to you two) or are hotspots of political and social unrest.  And yes, that’s a broad brush, and yes, we care about all of these zones.  What’s cool is whatever your personal interests, you can pursue them.  So one student is into European Islamic radicalization, so he reads on that topic a lot.  A lot of people research ISIS (we are all reading this fabulous article in the March 2015 issue of The Atlantic–you should too).  Me, I’m monitoring the looting of antiquities to fund terrorism, along with the general destruction of archaeological sites by bombing (Aleppo, Syria being one example) or just because extremists frequently turn out to be serious a**holes.  Looting archaeology doesn’t raise as many hackles in the general public as burning people alive does, but consider:  The sale of looted antiquities found at one archaeological site in Syria in spring 2014 by ISIS brought in $36 million (read more at National Geographic).  ONE archaeological site.  In November 2014, it is thought that ISIS has strategic control over than 4,000 archaeological sites.  Selling looted antiquities provides ISIS with one of its three sources of income (the other two sources are hostage taking and the illegal sale of oil).  Two weeks ago, the United Nations Security Council addressed this problem by passing a resolution banning these transactions.

Researching topics in the news, talking about what’s going on with other people…now you see what I do at work.  I daren’t say more.

Further research for you guys is to go read that Atlantic article.  Seriously.

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