Always the last people to hear about a dead fad, CIA spooks are now being "paid to sit at their desk and read blogs.
Douglas J. Naquin of the CIA's new Open Source Center says his office has begun tracking blogs from around the world.
And like any clueless office drone who has trouble understanding "The Onion" is satire, the CIA desk jockeys are trying to figure out which blogs contain reliable information.
"A lot of blogs now have become very big on the Internet," said Naquin, who apparently got a stack of 1995 issues of Wired with his new job.
"And we're getting a lot of rich information on blogs that are telling us a lot about social perspectives," Naquin said, according to the Washington Times.
The center was established in November to sift through information that was already right out in the open. OSC also took over the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service, known as FBIS, that was formed in 1941 to translate international radio programming.
In the 1975 movie "Three Days of the Condor," Robert Redford's character did similar work for the CIA. He read books from all over the world, looking for clues to sinister plots being hatched by enemy forces.
And then the CIA ordered a hit on Redford's character ... because he uncovered the agency's own plans to go to war in the Middle East to protect U.S. oil interests.
The current Washington leadership claims it doesn't care about public opinion here or abroad, so it might seem strange that the CIA is wasting time researching blogs, the most public of opinions.
But OSC's assistant deputy director claims the president's daily briefing is full of bloggerel.
"We're certainly scoring a number of wins with our ultimate customer," said Eliot A. Jardines.
"I can't get into detail of what, but I'll just say the amount of open source reporting that goes into the president's daily brief has gone up rather significantly. There has been a real interest at the highest levels of our government, and we've been able to consistently deliver products that are on par with the rest of the intelligence community."
The White House already considers private telephone conversations and personal computers"open source" material. Bush Administration operatives are constantly videotaping U.S. citizens exercising free speech at political demonstrations. The administration has even been feeding propaganda to bloggers.
It was really only a matter of time before they actually bothered to read the blogs.
Today at the CIA, agents are carefully tracking the antics of housecats, the number of friends on various My Space pages, how that one Death Cab for Cutie song was totally written for you, and how this one guy would definitely go kill Arabs in Iraq if it wasn't so important that he stay home and write about killing Arabs.
Government cubicle drones already spend a huge amount of time surfing porn.