Codifying the obvious

Secrecy News points out an important new IC Directive:

Intelligence analysis “must be objective and independent of political considerations,” …

“The IC will seldom have the requisite depth and breadth of
expertise to provide all of the insights and detailed answers demanded
by our customers. To satisfy their needs, the IC must tap outside
expertise and build and expand relationships with non-intelligence
government agencies, academic, business, non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), and think tank communities, both domestically and
internationally, while addressing the counterintelligence and security
obligations that are inherent to such initiatives.”

Developments like Intellipedia are a single step on the path to reform in these areas, but it is still insiders talking to insiders. Anyone who has tracked these issues for longer than a day knows how well that can turn out. A really bold and significant step? Open up the (U)-version to the public through the Open Source Center (and the OSC itself for that matter). You want deep and broad expertise, diverse opinions, and 24/7 production? I don’t care how many universities and think tanks you line up and cloister behind a firewall, it isn’t going to match the output of a global Army of Analysts.


Charlie Allen on following the conventional wisdom:

“Don’t listen too much to what others are telling you,” Mr. Allen said. “Constantly re-examine your assumptions.”

There was a time not that long ago when he backed the ideas of a few obscure folks who thought there was intel gold in what others said was a mountain of garbage: He/We were right and they were wrong, again.

If would also like to say that if anyone is going to make DHS intel work – and it has been broken from the get-go – it’ll be Charlie, but then I thought that about Gen Hughes too, and it’s not like the latter was some kind of slouch.

At a time when most of his peers are pretending they can still golf or contemplating the fine print in their long-term care plans, he’s still slugging it out for 15-hours a day. He could have sold out long ago and lived off the fat of his Rolodex, but there is a different beat playing on his mental iPod.

I still think a purge is in order, but if you had to make exceptions . . .

Inside Dope

Don’t know this particular person, but I know his brothers and sisters and their song remains the same (courtesy of Small Wars Journal):

Morale has become bad enough in the Iraq office that DIA has
had to drop the requirement for analysts who deploy to Iraq work in the
office after they return. In the last several months, the office has
experienced an exodus of many of its veteran analysts. The office
remains critically undermanned and short of computers. Analysts have
begun to apply for jobs with local county police departments.

You need to read the whole thing.

I’ve said it before but it is always nice to have corroboration: The longer we tolerate industrial-age processes and cold-war mindsets in the IC, the faster it slides towards irrelevance.

What Year is This?

I feel like I’m taking crazy pills here . . .

The Homeland Security Department finally named an assistant secretary for cybersecurity last year, and the Senate ratified the first international treaty on cybercrime.

The Computer Security Industry Alliance had lobbied for these achievements for more than two years and counts them as big wins, said acting executive director Liz Gasster. But the nation still lacks a comprehensive data security law, and DHS needs to develop response and recovery plans for disruptions of our critical infrastructure.


CSIA has set out a cybersecurity agenda for government for the last two years, with only indifferent results. In its Federal Progress Report for 2006, it gave the administration an overall grade of D because of failures to pass privacy legislation and to set clear priorities for future work.

It seems like just yesterday that RTM shut down the inter-tubes with his Sendmail experiment. In the aftermath CERT/CC was born (gov’t sponsored but run by the academy – a foreshadowing) and annual projections of a) the death of the Internet, b) the need for more cooperation, and c) the need for more legislation followed. In the mean time we’ve had a few Digital Battle of Wake Islands, the .com boom and bust (and .com bust-boom), too many parallels to Snow Crash to count and version .9 of Hari Seldon’s Encyclopedia Galactica.

Every year the same discussions, every year the same problems, every year more threats, every year we expose ourselves more and every year no forward progress. Why?

Open Source Reform

Thanks to John for pointing this out:

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the new U.S. commander in Iraq, is assembling a small band of warrior-intellectuals — including a quirky Australian anthropologist, a Princeton economist who is the son of a former U.S. attorney general and a military expert on the Vietnam War sharply critical of its top commanders — in an eleventh-hour effort to reverse the downward trend in the Iraq war.

Army officers tend to refer to the group as “Petraeus guys.” They are smart colonels who have been noticed by Petraeus, and who make up one of the most selective clubs in the world: military officers with doctorates from top-flight universities and combat experience in Iraq.

…and this:

Since it appears that I pissed off the “new” establishment when I pointed out that much of his new thinking paralleled my own earlier work.

…which reminded me of an old peeve of mine: external eggs-perts. Seniors love to call in consultants to solve problems. They never bother to ask those actually working the job because how in the world could any kind of original thinking reside in-house? Where do those consultants go for their answers? There is always an academic study or two referenced in the final report but usually the list of suggestions is generated from the feedback that Alice and Bob provided when the eggs-perts came slinking through the workplace to do their survey. Usually the recommended changes aren’t put into practice because they negatively impact the role/power/authority of the people who commissioned the study in the first place (or they’re twisted to argue for a bigger rice bowl) but that’s just another argument for staying in-house in the first place: you save money twice.

There are many wells to tap when you’re looking for solutions and they don’t call come with big price tags and require MBAs (or Ph.D.s) to discover. For Petraeus, that his advisors are war-vet Colonels is gravy; he could have gotten equally good results by tapping a couple of smart young Captains (and SSGs) who were familiar with the GG/Zen/5GW/tdaxp universe. The added bonus being that the youngsters have at least another decade of military life in them – prepping them for leadership gigs in the “long” part of the “long war” – while most of the Colonels will have (Ret) after their names before long.

I understand that busy Seniors don’t have time to do their own research, but in this day and age if they’re not tapping expertise in-house – and exhausting all the open sources of ideas they can – then calling in outsiders who are going to charge for something that is free is waste, fraud and abuse.