WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS A FAILURE TO COLLABORATE!
I was in Chicago the week after Labor Day for the DNI's "Analytic Transformation - Moving Forward Together - Symposium" where 400 Intelligence Community (IC) "dignitary" gathered to affirm their belief that information sharing and collaboration enabled by technology can now truly transform intelligence analysis. Knowing the IC used to shoot collaborators (at least kill their careers), I was surprised that such an event would be held in a hotel where "M-1" referred to the mezzanine level instead of the physical security manuals, where laptops were encouraged for online chatting, and where the press was invited to (and did) contribute to the proceedings.Having "discovered" the impact of web-based, social networking tools like FaceBook and MySpace, Wikipedia generated content, and Lexus/Nexus information repositories, ADDNI for Analysis Transformation and Technology Mike Wertheimer did a creditable job reprising the warden’s (a.k.a. "Captain") role played by Strother Martin in the iconic 1967 movie "Cool Hand Luke" by all but proclaiming to the IC "inmates" and friends that “what we have here is a failure to collaborate.”A few weeks later on 18 September, I heard CIA Director Mike Hayden tell 300 of the IC's private sector corporate barons at a dinner celebrating the 60th anniversary of the National Security Act that information sharing and collaboration are what are required for the IC to achieve its full potential. An inconvenient truth, however, is that the National Security Act, as amended and implemented with executive orders, mandated the "competitive analysis" and "need to know" cultural behaviors that make information sharing and collaboration across IC "cylinders of excellence" seemingly unnatural if not illegal acts. These cultural barriers certainly contributed to the demise of the "Intelligence Collaboration Conferences" organized by Cal Andrus and sponsored by the ODNI’s predecessor, the Community Management Staff (CMS), through the l990s and held at the Founders Inn in Virginia Beach. That these annual meetings stopped just before 9/11 shows there is a limit to how much "Kool-Aid" even true believers can imbibe without much changing. Mike Wertheimer’s commitment and passion, however, along with the life experience of the new hire analysts since 9/11 suggest this time IC is beyond letting this energy for information sharing and collaboration evaporate, but there are still a few more reels in this movie.Getting back to Chicago (I am ready to go any time --- it’s a great liberty town) some IC curmudgeons like Mark Lowenthal, Bill Nolte and Paul Kozemchak caused what I thought was discomfort, but may have been bewilderment amongst the "dignitary" with their metaphysical concerns about collaboration becoming an end itself, confusing collaboration for analysis, worrying about technology enabling virtual "group think," and asking what are the incentives for IC analysts to embrace collaboration? These were acknowledged as important issues as the IC works through analytic transformation, but not important enough to either be on the agenda or to dwell upon. What was determined to be worth dwelling on is the transformational impact on analysis of producing more intelligence products using "Intellipedia," enabling IC analysts to find each other in a secure FaceBook (i.e. “A” Space), and creating a true Library of National Intelligence (LNI). These are all important initiatives AND we know they work because they have already transformed how information is used and knowledge is created and shared in academia and the business world. Concerns about group think aside, and using the wisdom of the crowd to support national security policies, it would seem a "no brainer" that IC analysts have the same capabilities to collaborate and share information as a radical jihadist does in an Islamabad cyber café.Going back to the future, it is worth remembering those CMS IC collaboration conferences showed, and the 9-11 and WMD commissions found, that IT tools and DCIDs don’t naturally lead to collaboration or intelligence sharing. The captain in Cool Hand Luke learning that he could not mandate communication should be a cautionary tale for the IC on this journey to transform analysis. My advice to the IC is this: get the tools discussed in Chicago to transform analysis through collaboration and intelligence sharing in place quickly, but do not expect this behavior to be commonplace until the community leadership models it, values it, and incentivizes it. What do you think?joemaz