Our National Spies Look to Cable News for Inspiration

It is an irrefutable fact that America's spies are far more innovative than members of our television news media, right. Right?

Doesn't look that way from Pathfinder, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's internal magazine, which reads like a high-school student bulletin, covering such gripping internal developments as new campus fitness centers and hurricane-response drills. In Pathfinder’s 2013 summer issue, there’s an article that’s roughly about how television and film sensationalize the banality of intelligence work ("It’s tedious work, and rarely as glamorous as portrayed") and sort of about how any smart-phoned civilian is nearly as equipped to conduct entry-level geospatial intelligence as our spies ("With GPS, Google Earth and a host of other powerful applications, everyday users can now do on a daily basis what many GEOINT analysts have done for decades"), but also kind of about where the agency’s analysts find inspiration. The answer isn't very comforting.

From analyst Melissa Dicker, we learn:

The news media is another industry on the forefront of geospatial innovation, said Dicker.

“Whereas a lot of innovation in the past came from film and the arts, I think a lot of innovation nowadays is coming from the news media,” said Dicker. “In some areas they may be even more advanced in terms of technical capabilities. Sometimes we’ll be sitting in our enclave and we’ll see something on one of the news networks and say, ‘Well, darn. We need to be able to do that.’”

What's worse: that MSNBC has better technology than our defense department, or that our spies sit in their enclaves and say darn? You're right, it's a tie and we're fucked.

[NGA Media Room // image by Shutterstock]

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