With the Wiki, Comes the Time

They cover intelligence in West Virginia? 😉

[…] On Tuesday, some members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, headed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., expressed new concerns. They came during questioning of Thomas Fingar, deputy director of national intelligence for analysis and chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Fingar was discussing some elements of a classified National Intelligence Estimate concerning the war in Iraq.

The NIE concerning Iraq was requested by Congress in August. It still has not been completed — and some members of the committee wanted to know why. Fingar explained that few skilled Iraq analysts are available and that the military and the White House often ask them for assessments. That cuts into time available for the NIE.

The delay upset some senators — and it should upset other Americans, too. Fingar in effect was telling the committee that the nation’s intelligence community is not able to provide Congress with timely reports on issues of great importance. That’s no way to run an intelligence operation. Congress should look into the matter and insist on improvements.

This is hardly a new issue but it may very well be a pressing one given the deluge of unseasoned staff and the exodus of gray-beards. There are always 100 “number one” tasks that have to be completed all at the same time, and oversight responsibilities be damned, The Man and the people taking fire are always going to get reports before anyone else. Live with it, or raise the manpower cap and allocate an appropriate amount of funds.

This is also why Intellipedia is so important. Once a baseline of knowledge about a given country, technology or mission area is assembled, providing 95% of a comprehensive assessment is a matter of a few mouse clicks by an intel tech. That gives the remaining actual experts a lot more time to dedicate to the remaining 5% of the task. Remember, as something that is communally built and constantly updated you don’t need to burn daylight in meetings. It beats starting essentially from scratch for each effort, which has long been the norm.

Hey, let’s get really radical: give committee members their own read-only accounts . . .

Leave a Reply