By Pam Benson
The people who usually analyze imagery from U.S. spy satellites are helping emergency workers respond to the devastation from this week's deadly twister in Oklahoma.
Shortly after the tornado struck, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asked the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to provide expertise to assess video, pictures and satellite imagery of the destruction.
And for the first time, NGA analysts are using an unclassified website to share that information with first responders.
Their assessments aim to help rescue workers conduct search and rescue operations and begin recovery efforts.
By Pam Benson
Looming across-the-board cuts to the intelligence community budget will be devastating if Congress fails to act according to the nation's top intelligence officer.
"If sequestration is allowed to happen, it will be disastrous for intelligence," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a group of intelligence officers and contractors gathered at a conference in Orland on Tuesday.
Clapper said every major intelligence program is "in jeopardy of being wounded" because the budget deal Congress passed last year does not allow the intelligence community any flexibility to prioritize needs.
"The current arrangement pre supposes that everything we do in intelligence is of equal import and we all know that's not the case,' Clapper said.
The cuts would be approximately 10% and would impact programs as well as personnel.
By Arielle Hawkins
The identities of the Navy SEALs who raided Osama bin Laden's compound remain a mystery, but one man who helped get them there is getting his due financially.
An employee with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, has won a Presidential Distinguished Rank Award for analysis of satellite imagery of the terrorist's compound in Pakistan.
The staffer "oversaw and validated trade craft and methodologies applied in the final pursuit of and successful raid on the Osama bin Laden compound in Abbottabad," according to an announcement about the financial reward from the Senior Executives Association, a non-profit group which runs the award ceremony. FULL POST
By Mike Mount
Inside the Pentagon there are historical displays for almost everything the military has done dating back to this country's Revolutionary War. There are also models of all kinds: planes, trucks, missiles, ships and submarines.
On Wednesday an unassuming display popped up in one of hallways with little fanfare. At first there was passing interest, but as word spread more and more people started to gather around, asking questions and taking pictures.
The Styrofoam-and-acrylic model turned out to be a bit of new Pentagon history - it shows Osama bin Laden's walled compound and surrounding farmland.
Designed and built to be used in the planning for the May 2011 raid that killed the al Qaeda leader, the model also was taken to the White House to brief President Obama on plans for the raid.
It was built over a six-week period in the months before the raid and has sat on display in the lobby of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, just a few miles from the Pentagon and White House.
Until last week, the model was considered classified and only those working or visiting the building could see it.
By Suzanne Kelly
Nada Bakos used to go work with a Glock strapped to her thigh. The former targeting officer for the CIA started her intelligence career as an analyst in 2000. But then September 11 happened.
"Everybody's life changed," said Nada Bakos, who, like many other women who were serving as analysts prior to 9/11, moved to the counterterrorism and eventually made the switch to the operations side, which meant she wasn't just analyzing the data on the bad guys, she was going after them.
She didn't yet have a family when she accepted her assignment as a targeting officer in Iraq, working alongside special forces in the hunt for the now-deceased terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. She won't share the details of exactly what she did to help find him, but she saw definite advantages to being a woman in the arena, noting that she sometimes had a very different experience than her male counterparts when it came to working within the norms of the culture.
"I got a completely different response than the men did," said Bakos, describing one particular effort to gather information. "How is a 26-year-old white male gonna walk up to a woman in the Middle East and say 'Hey, why don't you talk to me?' "
After a couple of years, Bakos realized that she knew more about Zarqawi than she did about many of the other men in her life. That, in part, was a wake up call to do something more: She wanted to start a family. But she was deep into her career on the operations side. That was a problem. FULL POST