Fenn’s Tactical Offensive Counterintelligence Operation

As the result of our visibility due to our investment in time and effort given to our Internet properties, including this one, we are often in receipt of emails from searchers who describe some or all of their solutions to us.

The most recent one included this sentence, “Forrest wrote 2 books, numerous scrapbooks, vignettes, etc.  There are featured questions, weekly words, etc.  He has given us a lot of information.”

Needless to say, that got our attention.

We respectfully disagree with the assertion, “He has given us a lot of information.” Amongst all that Fenn has provided, there is only one item of information that has provided any value to us.

This one – “I haven’t given a clue (that) I think was going to help anybody substantially.”

Those exact words were spoken by Fenn at the Collected Works Bookstore in October of 2013. I have (because I made) the video recording.

Thus, we do not believe Fenn has provided us even the most fundamental “actionable intelligence.”

If anything, he’s implemented a casual program of what we in the intelligence community would have referred to “tactical offensive counterintelligence, with intent.” That’s information promulgated intentionally to confuse an issue.

(It should be noted, though, he’s not doing it in an intentionally hurtful way – he’s doing it because he’s Forrest Fenn, he’s 86, he’s naturally mischievous, and he likes attention.)

Why does that make sense?

Because it is far easier for Fenn NOT to give us any information beyond what he’s written in The Poem.

Think about this: What, in terms of time and effort, would it take for Fenn to manage the process of providing an additional six years’ worth of “hints” or “clues,” enough to keep the effort going, but not enough to spoil his dream of being a topic of conversation a thousand years from now?

Remember what a big deal the “unintended clue” in TFTW turned out to be?

If you’ve managed to conclude (as a result of all that additional information he’s provided) that Fenn would like someone find the treasure before he dies, you’re wrong.

From Fenn’s perspective, there is no rational reason to provide any information beyond what he has in The Poem.

So, here’s a test.

Erase all your solutions from your mind.

Instead, start with this: You have The Poem, access to GMap4, and you know the treasure is hidden someplace north of Santa Fe in the Rocky Mountains. Bonus: You found the TFTW map online.

No books, no scrapbooks, no videos, no Fenn blog, no ChaseChat, no Dal Neitzel, no A Gypsy’s Kiss, no “Forrest gets emails.”

Now, answer this question: Where, exactly, do the warm waters mentioned in The Poem halt?

 

Images: AGK Vlog Ep 004 | Actionable Intelligence

Here are the image I used in this week’s Vlog Segment on “Actionable Intelligence.”

 

The Intelligence Process – As Applied to the Search for Fenn’s Treasure

A Beautiful Mind

I spent five years in the United States Army from 1969 to 1974. Two of those years were spent in Viet Nam assigned to a firebase near the (then) town of Ca Mau, but I traveled all over the Mekong Delta in IV Corps. I volunteered for, and was assigned, to the U. S. Army Security Agency (ASA), a branch of the National Security Agency (NSA), and I held a Top Secret Crypto clearance. My primary Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was 98C – Traffic Analyst. I say primary, because I went through far more training in other courses and schools before going overseas. The traffic I analyzed and acted upon had nothing to do with cars or trucks. I wrote that so you know I have a good sense of what I’m about to suggest to you.

Intelligence is a process. It includes targeting, collecting, collating, analyzing, formulating, reporting, planning and action.

The most often heard phrase in that community is “actionable intelligence.” That means “intelligence in which the confidence in its accuracy is so high, that you’re willing to put American lives at risk.”

As an analyst, that concept significantly affects the way you work.

It means that you put each one of the above steps in context. But, eventually, there comes a point in the process where you have to decide whether or not you have to present your findings, conclusions and recommendations to the people who make decisions.

I have lost sleep over those matters. In times when expediency counted, I spent hours worth of self-reflection and in discussions with other analysts on whether to present my work. Being wrong, or not presenting a well-thought-out case, is not something you want to do. At best, it costs credibility. At worst, it costs lives.

But, this is just a treasure hunt, isn’t it? No lives at risk. No big price to be paid for a mistake in analysis and judgement.

So, what’s my point?

As a result of our vlog, we have received “intelligence” on where we should consider conducting searches for the treasure. Nothing really firm, mind you – mostly strings of random ideas and attempts to weave them together into coherency. Certainly, in my opinion, not actionable.

That’s my point.

We look at every one of our solutions we devise from the perspective of “would it pass the actionable intelligence” test? Could I present this solution to a group of people who have my best interest at heart, and expect them to, not only agree with my assessment, but, then, to take action on it?

Next time you find yourself in the midst of a “Beautiful Mind” attempt at determining where and how to finds Fenn’s treasure, stop.

Ask yourself, “Is this good enough to present it to a group of people whose decisions based on my analysis will put lives at risk?”

I know. There are no American lives at risk. It’s just a treasure hunt.

But, here’s a fun way to look at it: let’s say the treasure is a small nuclear device, and your job is to find it, and disarm it before it blows up part of the Rocky Mountains. How good would your solution to the nine clues be then?