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?

New Poll: How Does Fenn Know the Treasure Chest is Still There?

I often ask myself how Fenn can say the treasure chest has not been discovered with such confidence. I’ve come up with a number of theories, some of which seem plausable, while other do not.

Here’s your chance to weigh in on the matter. Chose one from the selection on the list.

You will be shown the poll results after you vote.

The poll will be up for one month.

Selected Quotes, Notes & Commentary from the True West Article

Selected quotes from the Johnny D. Boggs Article entitled “Modern Day Treasure Hunt; Unraveling the clues to finding Forrest Fenn’s hidden stash.” in the November 2013 Issue of “True West” magazine.

Noted:

  1. Contains best (full page) photo of the treasure I’ve seen.

  2. Includes copy of the map from TFTW.

  3. Contains NO REFERENCE to the hiding of the treasure at an altitude above or below 10,000 or 10,200 feet. (The actual reference, courtesy of Elbow (on Dal’s Blog, and Dal Neitzel:) The new issue of True West magazine (December 2013) has a follow-up to last month’s article. The author met up with Forrest for lunch, and asked for another clue. Here’s what Forrest said: “Sure. The Treasure is hidden below 10,200 feet.”)

  4. Contains no new information of real value for searches who have already been on the chase…unless you consider “It’s not in Canada,” to be of real value.

(My commentary is italicized.)

  • To Fenn’s neighbor who complained to Fenn about people digging up her front yard, “Tell them that the treasure is not in your front yard.”

  • “It’s not in Nevada.” (from the Boggs Interview last December).

  • “Everything’s a treasure to me,” says Fenn…

  • “I keep things I love,” says Fenn…

  • “When it (the estimated value of the treasure) gets to $10 million,” Fenn says, “I’m going to go back and get it.”

  • “My family’s taken care of; I’ve had so much fun collecting this junk (?), and I always loved the outdoors,” he says. “I wanted to get some people off the couch and out in the woods. The greatest thrill to me is to be walking in the woods and come across something absolutely wonderful – like two porcupines playing with each other in Yellowstone.”

  • (Very complementary segments on Dal Neitzel and Marc Howard)

  • “Neitzel has been out seven times looking for Fenn’s treasure…in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.”

  • Here’s another clue from Fenn himself: “Don’t look for the treasure where a 79-year-old man’s not going to carry a 42-pound box.” (First time I’ve seen “80” excluded from this clue, and the sentence is clumsy. Almost a double negative.)

  • Quote from Marc Howard: “Forrest survived being shot down twice in Vietnam. I think he’s an American hero. And doesn’t say random things. Anything he says, anything he writes is a clue.”

  • “Forrest is unique,” Neitzel says. “He is a fellow who really and truly thinks differently than our average human being. We are so lucky that his incredibly fertile mind was not wasted on a career in something like science, medicine or teaching. Instead, he decided to create, collect, write and share.”

  • “I never said I buried it,” Fenn says, “but that doesn’t mean it isn’t buried. I want a mystery about it. It’s not easy to find, but it isn’t impossible.”

(End of main article.)

Pull Quote:

Fenn told True West that while readers won’t find “clues to the location of the treasure” in his new book (TFTW), they will find “some hints that will help treasure hunters.” (I’m missing the subtle distinction between “clues” and “hints.”)

Sidebar (listing all the known, non-poetic clues): A True West Exclusive Clue: The treasure is not in Canada.

Also: The treasure is not in a bordering country.

Images: Fenn at Moby Dickens in Taos, 02 Nov 2013

Protected: Collected Works Video: Selected Quotes, Notes & Commentary (to gain access go to http://bit.ly/fennvideo)

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Images: Fenn at Collected Works in Santa Fe on 22 Oct 13