The near 60-year history of counterintelligence has been one of having no one in charge of the enterprise. The CI community is not organized or integrated to accomplish a national mission.
Rather, the various CI elements are part of a loose confederation of independent organizations with narrower and varying responsibilities, jurisdictions and capabilities.”
The Twitter social networking site became an international political football this week when the State Department deemed it so valuable in keeping the world abreast of conditions in Iran, that it asked Twitter to postpone a scheduled update and remain online.
The Islamic Republic first tried to control public dissent over suspicious election results by the old-school method of stifling journalists, but they were choking an already dying media and making their own situation worse by helping the decentralized alternative to mushroom.
This has led to a new kind of intelligence and counterintelligence activity, where the role of the “mule” is played by the Internet-astute in their offices, studies and bedrooms; an elaborate cat and mouse game, where Iranian Twitter users tweet information, that information is then repeated by others outside the reach of Iranian control, and the original tweets are deleted by the Iranians who originally posted them.
It’s accelerated the evoution of the citizen journalist, because when you remove the real source because you fear for their safety, you take the burden of the credibility of the content on your own shoulders. A lot of people are coming of age in this sudden change: the Iranian students whose bravery is an inspiration to the world, and the responsible users of the social media networks that are trying to help them by reading the shadows half a world away.