Information as the New Arms Race
An official report last week reveals weaknesses in our effort to prevent another 9/11.
L. GORDON CROVITZ
Monday, September 21, 2009
The U.S. is the only country whose laws mandate the release of details of its intelligence goals and operations. Every four years, the National Intelligence Strategy document discloses the priorities of the usually hidden operations of the country's 16 intelligence agencies.
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One previously top-secret disclosure last week was the amount the U.S. spends across its civilian and military intelligence operations. Mr. Blair said this is $75 billion a year, including 200,000 intelligence professionals. These details alert other countries to what it would take to close the intelligence gap.
Phi Beta Iota: Mr. Crowitz is misinformed. Many other nations, including among them The Netherlands, require these disclosures and go a step further: nothing may be collected by secret means unless a) it cannot be collected by open means; and b) it is certified as being absolutely relevent to national security. The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) cannot credibly assert both conditions with respect to perhaps 60% of the dollars and manning he oversees, and would be on shakey ground with at least another 20%. There is an information arms race gong on, and the Americans lost it in 1988 when they refused to recognize the fact that 96% of what we need to know is in 183 other languages we do not speak, and openly available–it just needs to be collected, processed, and understood. A Smart Nation – Safe Nation Act, and creation of the Open Source Agency recommended on pages 23 and 423 of the 9-11 Commission Report, would go a long way toward out-growing the fiction that “intelligence” can be defined with INPUTS and need not be held accountable for OUTPUTS: actionable decision support for the President AND everyone else.