Since December I have been wanting to write about cyber, but realizing this topic is going to be with us for awhile I deferred to more immediate and less controversial topics such as grading DNI McConnell's performance ----- you remember the "gentlemen's B," which I still think is a high mark since I wasn't grading on a curve and his predecessor got an "incomplete" for the course! DNI Blair did his first media availability on 26 March and that is usually good MAZZ- INT fodder, but in the 22 page transcript I didn't see any thing you or I have not already read in the Early Bird!
Read the Current Blog: WHAT PRESIDENT OBAMA SHOULD ASK HIS DNI ON DAY ONE
Throughout the month of September there was a considerable amount of media attention focused on the President’s Comprehensive National Cyber Initiative (CNCI). Given the importance of cyber to our national security, the extant threats and vulnerabilities, as well as the complex policy and questions about who should lead the government’s cyber efforts, I thought this would be a good topic for AFCEA’s monthly intel blog. When I saw what the national economic crisis did to the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates it occurred to me that talking about the intelligence issues associated with CNCI, as important as they are, is not what most people care about right now.
The recently concluded Democratic and Republican Party Conventions provided excellent made for TV political drama, but not surprisingly offered no insight about how either of the Presidential candidates feels about changes in the Intelligence Community (IC). We do know, however, that both Senator Obama and Senator McCain view change as good and that government contractors need to be reined in.
In late July the DNI released “VISION 2015: A Globally Networked and Integrated Intelligence Enterprise.” In his cover letter for this glossy 22 page nicely illustrated document Mike McConnell reminds us that the Intelligence Community (IC) “is still largely structured, staffed, and operated around a design optimized for a different era” and VISION 2015 is meant to lay out a path towards globally networked and integrated IC “based on the principles of integration, collaboration, and innovation.”
The Defense Supplemental Appropriations Bill was passed during the last week in June and action on the compromise FISA legislation was deferred until after the Congress' 4th of July recess so the Intelligence Community (IC) will at least have funds if not complete authority to operate for the rest of FY 08 on behalf of the nation's security. Other than that I am at loss for topics of significance (at least to me) about the health and status of the IC that has pretty much been the staple of this blog.
Despite the collected wisdom of those who know about this stuff (i.e. congressional staffers) that it is unlikely there will be an intelligence authorization bill for the third year in row, I was interested in the language of the authorization bills recently reported out by both the House Permanent Select Committee for Intelligence (HPSCI) and the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence (SSCI). The reason there won't be an FY 2009 Intelligence Authorization Bill is because the executive branch through the IC finds both versions fatally flawed on interrogation techniques the CIA should be allowed to employ.
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.Economics 101 teaches us that a customer is someone who trades resources for products or services. What intelligence user, decision maker or otherwise actually does this? I know the National Intelligence Program (NIP) makes intelligence a "prepaid service," but for whom ----- the President, an E-5 squad leader in Iraq, a GS-12 at DHS, a coalition partner, etc., etc, ?!?!
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.
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. Not to worry I was sure the State of the Union would provide at least an interesting if not dramatic backdrop for some simulating commentary.
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. Given her family history to say nothing of the more generalized actuarial data on Pakistani politicians (even those who make it to power), Ms.
Well, the DNI implied back on 30 October that the United States will spend $43.5 billion on intelligence in FY 08 and the security of the republic seems not to have been impaired. In fact there has been a paucity of public discourse about whether this amount is to much or to little to spend on for intelligence ----- whether we are a nation at war or not. Interesting given all arguing back and forth over the years about whether or not providing the top line budget number for intelligence would or would not do harm to national security.
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. A less convinced group of mostly retired IC practitioner now toiling in the private sector gathered at the NRO on 17-18 October for the AFCEA Fall Intelligence Symposium to hear from a cross section of speakers about “Information Sharing and Collaboration.” Seems to me that the IC and those who make money selling goods and services to the IC believe collaboration is the missing condition for returning the IC to its halcyon (though in my view undeserved) reputation of the Cold War days for protecting our national security.
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. Each alone deserves more attention than the short and shallow treatment I can give them in a venue like this.I suppose it’s a reasonable view of reality, but I am wondering what the intelligence value is to policy makers of an NIE that seems to say that the military surge is working but Iraq is apparently incapable of taking advantage of the improving security situation to establish a unified government.
Before proceeding it is important that I disclose that I am biased favorably towards George Tenet from when I was privileged to work with him when he was the Deputy Director of CIA and Bosnia was the issue when I was at the JCS J2. As a career Naval Intelligence Officer, most of my professional views about the practice of intelligence where informed and shaped by William O. Studeman as he rapidly rose in rank from Commander (0-5) to Admiral (0-10).