Posted to (Intelligence Reform), 2 Sep 04


DOI: 30 Aug – 1 Sep 04

Bottom line: Intelink is five times further down the road that I was expecting, having been unduly influenced by open source reporting such as the senior Intelink manager saying a year or so ago that Intelink is still a crap-shoot. Not so. Intelink may still be having issues with content management and access, but over-all, I was *blown away* by the maturity and breadth of the focus on standardization, facilitation of sharing, discovery, etc. There are still some mind-set issues here and there, and Intelink will never reach more than 10% of the needed participants as it is now structured, but it is nothing short of phenomenal as a starting point for the future, and I now regard Intelink as the heart of intelligence transformation, along with the independent Open Source Agency.

A few non-technical thoughts:

1) Although information-sharing is stressed, there is still too much emphasis on pushing information to individuals, rather than helping individuals pull exactly what they need.

2) Definitely need to move faster on standards, including geospatial meta-tagging standards, and also need to emphasize standards that will be adopted by private sector providers of multi-media multi-lingual information, as well as foreign governments that are not eligible for direct access to Intelink, but could feed information on a trusted exchange basis.

3) DDCI/CM stated publicly that both the Director of NSA and the Director of NGA have gone on record as saying that they can perform their combat support functions from outside the DoD budget, as part of a consolidated budget.

4) CIA leadership is clearly disdainful of Senator Roberts’ proposal to dismantle CIA, but they do not appear to understand that CIA as a National Analysis Agency would be vastly stronger in the long run than in its current form, especially if the three collection agencies (Open, Clandestine, and Technical) were to be properly reinvented, and a National Processing Agency ensuring that both intelligence producer and intelligence consumer “dots” all came together in one place. Both DDCI/CM and D/FBIS are “assuming” that what needs to be collected will be collected, that they only need to worry about content management, and this is why CIA will never be competent at managing all-source collection including open source collection. CIA analysis is good; CM is a joke.

5) There was no mention of OSINT when discussing the need to integrate the various disciplines. I completely agree with DDCI/CM when he says that the disciplines must learn to integrate at the requirements, processing, and analysis stage, not just at the end of the run for each.

6) Focus on public as constituency has matured. I was very pleased to hear that while last year the emphasis was on all-source information as “the DCI’s information” this year the emphasis is on “it’s the people’s information.” This is a huge step forward.

7) From what I heard across the event, terrorism is screwing up the whole information sharing and information processing architecture. There is way too much emphasis on terrorism, and not enough on generic information sharing capabilities that can be equally adept at natural disasters, plagues, crime waves, etc. We’ve only moved one generation away from proprietary unilateral internally-oriented solutions.

8) Related to the above, as sensational as Intelink is, it is still only focused on the U.S. Intelligence Community, selected Department of Defense elements, selected Department of Homeland Security elements, and selected law enforcement elements. It is *not* focused on migrating its superb standards and concepts to fully integrate other elements of the U.S. Government, non-governmental organizations, corporations including private military corporations and business intelligence organizations, media including foreign media, etc. I see a need for a 10X to 100X expansion of Intelink, primarily through a promulgation of generic standards outside the USG and internationally. “95% of the first responders do not have clearances and don’t care to have them either.” This is equally true of the seven tribes that I have written about elsewhere. Intelink is a seed crystal for a Smart Nation (and World Brain) but only a seed crystal, not the whole enchilada.

9) Illustrative comment (which really frosts my ass, since I was writing about this in 1988 and onwards, but obviously no one in the IC was reading me or any of the other intelligence author-practitioners): “Before 9-11 I had no idea that EPA, Agriculture, etcetera has bona fide intelligence requirements.” Absolutely right on, and this is still a major problem. Neither the IC, nor the US Government, is integrating intelligence into its policy, acquisition and operational decisions across the board. We need domestic intelligence using open sources, we need coalition intelligence using open sources, we are not able to make trade-off decisions across constituencies, all because our entire system is perverted in favor of high-tech heavy-metal military hard power, and against—oblivious if not actively hostile to—international soft power and domestic internal security. [My third book, National Security Intelligence: Inside Out & Upside Down, will come out in November. The draft will be on the Hill in late September.]

10) I liked the emphasis on training the workforce and building to the enterprise architecture, but I do not see it happening.

11) The Librarian’s Committee and the Open Source Steering Committee are supposed to be doing intelligent things, but have failed completely in terms of outreach to the people that actually know new things (as opposed to the traditional beltway bandits such as Jane’s that are desperately trying to protect their market share against the superior emergent capabilities that do real-time military capabilities studies in multiple languages at very low cost). Most providers of OSINT today are much more hollow than they look, and their materials are much more dated than people realize (while also completely missing the sub-state level of collection and analysis, and failing to work in 33+ languages at all times. By the by, Aramaic is not a dead language—it is now akin to the Navaho Code Talkers, and anyone that does not understand that is part of the problem.

12) The Open Source Information System (OSIS) has matured tremendously, and I think Leonard Paul is going forward very intelligently. In a month or so I will have additional comments on the future of OSIS. The major limitations facing OSIS now, which an independent Open Source Agency will solve, are the lack of a central OSINT requirements office that is able to ensure we only buy things once while also ensuring we get things we need within 24 hours, and a central OSINT directory service (HARMONY at NGIC could be expanded) that ensures that once we buy something, it is available to everyone. In my judgment, OSIS is reflecting perhaps 20% of the OSINT being purchased by the USG, because no one is responsibly coordinating the archiving of OSIF and OSINT as it comes in to the various agencies and commands. OSIS can and should be the foundation for an expanded network of networks that gives the OSIS customersw 1000X to 10,000X more information within two years.

13) Accreditation of OSIS is still at the Top Secret level, which needs to change.

14) I liked the observation within the OSIS discussion, to wit, that “technology will not resolve cultural obstacles.” Right on. See my notes on Doug Naquin’s FBIS brief on the future of OSINT as he sees it, posted to the OSA portal page.

15) Intelink management is very conscious of the fact that most people with authorized access to the various elements of Intelink, including OSIS, have no clue as to what is there or how to go about getting it. Clearly our training effort has been constipated, and much more needs to be done. I would tell Intelink what I told the collection tasking effort: there are four questions that we need to be able to answer on any Intelink screen:

a) FIND. This is free. Does anyone in the USG know this, how do I get it right now?

b) GET. This is also free. Does anyone in NATO, our special allies, related NGOs, cooperating multinational businesses, universities, know this, how do I ask for it?

c) BUY. This is low cost. If I can’t get this free, in a timeframe and with security attributes that I am comfortable with, where is the “Consumer Reports” directory of private sector capabilities, including foreign capabilities, where I can buy this with varying levels of speed, operations security, and depth, given my available budget?

d) TASK. This is very expensive, but the expense is invisible (should be visible) to the analyst as well as the public. If I can’t get this free, or buy it, how can I best task the varied capabilities of the US Government, including defense attaches, commercial attaches, individuals on TAD/TDY to Country X, etc.?

A new separate training element, perhaps one that is no longer associated with DIA but rather moved to the Navy Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center and also integrated into the OPM training facilities in Denver and Charlottesville, may be called for.

16) Bandwidth discrimination is still a major problem. I continue to believe that we need to remain focused on 56K baud as the generic standard, and avoid over-whelming the low end users with high end graphics. Our standards should demand and facilitate low-end bandwidth for the next ten years.

The highlight of the conference, for me, was LtGen Mike Hayden, USAF, head of the National Security Agency, via pre-recorded video. Although he has not been able to get his subordinates to implement his vision as rapidly and broadly as they should have, he is far and away the most talented senior person we have in the IC, vastly superior to any civilian. He and LtGen Jim Clapper, if and when they get the transformative legislation that is needed, should be a force. He has my vote for four stars and a role as either director of a reconstituted NSA that serves as the National Processing Agency (for both red and blue as well as white, yellow, and green information), or as component commander for a new CINC C4I or CINC Intelligence. His emphasis on pulling the customer into the requirements, collection, processing, and analysis cycle, getting away from throwing products over the transom, and fully integrating the customer into the early stages and then the intermediate stages of satisfying their needs, is right on. The only other person in the USG that understands this as well (and wrote about it in 1992, only to be ignored by all IC leaders) is Andy Shepard at CIA.

On balance, this is one of the best conferences I have attended in recent years, and the energy that was evident among the people I dealt with reflected very favorably on the US Government, the IC, and DoD. I was pleased to see Bill Crislip from NGIC get a lifetime achievement award from Intelink, as he is one of a handful of people in DoD that actually understand OSINT in all its aspects, and how to meet the operational needs of DoD in NRT.

Intelink has earned a Golden Candle Award at OSS ’05. I don’t impress easily, and those of you that know me know that I call it as I see it. Intelink has warts, but it is the best game in town, very serious, and five times further down the road than I expected. It is also ready to migrate its proven processes and standards into the private sector and over to foreign governments, such that I think that within five years we can see Son of Intelink driving the World Brain at a sensitive but unclassified level. BRAVO ZULU.

Prepared by Robert David Steele Vivas, (703) 242-1700.