LTG Rich Zahner's observation two weeks ago at the AFCEA Spring Intelligence Symposium on Breaking Down Barriers to Information Sharing that intelligence is meant for decision makers vice customers brought one of my favorite hobby horses out of the barn --- the ill conceived concepts of intelligence community customers.
My apologies for being a week late with this month's meandering thoughts on the IC, but it seems my trip to attend the DoDIIS Conference in mid March took more out of me than excursions like this in the past use to. Then there are is all that "day job" stuff at Oracle's National Security Group that keeps diverting me.
My original plan for this month's Intelligence Community (IC) color commentary was do a traditional book review on A.J. Rossmiller's recently published STILL BROKEN: A Recruit's Inside Account of Intelligence Failure from Baghdad to the Pentagon. Given Mr. Rosesmiller's brief experience with DIA, before even reading a word my reaction was that the title was presumptive at best and suggested an agenda. Two hundred and twenty six pages later of mostly anecdotal pap he proved me right. It seems DIA's new hire analysts were consistently producing highly useable intelligence about Iraq only to be thwarted by managers who found their reporting to be unusable because it was too pessimistic to be taken seriously by policy makers. The idea that because something is new to him does not ipso facto make it new to the IC appears to be a condition Rossmiller has not contemplated.
I have been struggling all of January to find something interesting (at least to me ) to write about regarding the IC for this space, but IC related news seems to be dominated by the debate over FISA and the destruction of the CIA interrogation tapes. At first I was looking for Lawrence Wright's "NEW YORKER" article on DNI McConnell to bail me out, but 16,000 words later all I found there was Mike's traditional definition of torture and that Jim Clapper has made count down clocks all the rage amongst the IC senior leadership.
At this time of year all the talk shows and newspapers do some kind of year in review with projections for the new year and that's what I was planning to do here for the Intelligence Community but I am going to demur, as it seems to me that the most significant event of 2007 with the likely greatest impact for 2008 occurred on 27 December ----- the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi Pakistan.
Last month I gave you my slant on the September Analytic Transformation Conference in Chicago, where the IC dignitary seemed to conclude that collaboration across the IC would indeed be transformational.
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.
Several intelligence issues worthy of examination and discussion emerged in August. There's the NIE on the "Prospects for Iraq's Stability;" the Foreign Surveillance debate between the Congress and the DNI; and the Congressionally mandated release of CIA's Inspector General's 2005 report on the Agency's performance pre 9-11.
Like many of you I have just read (OK, I listened to the book tape) George Tenet's AT THE CENTER OF THE STORM My Years at the CIA, and like some of you I was in the audience on 19 June to hear Bill Studeman's remarks as he accepted the Baker Award. Both speak to the state of America's Intelligence Community (IC) ----- Tenet in terms of explanation and Studeman in terms of prescription. ---- in an unintended issue/response complimentary way.