This piece quotes Charlie extensively and generally he is supportive of the concept, but noted that it would require strong leadership from the DCI and that a new “business model” for intelligence would be needed. He warned that:
“Specifically, the data connectivity requirements will be huge, Allen said. The intelligence community already has a prodigious appetite for data of all kinds, from live streaming video from unmanned aerial vehicles to signal and data intercepts. All of this data must be collected, processed and analyzed quickly to make operational decisions, he said.”
What he is obliquely referring to is that the inter and intra IT infrastructures of the intelligence agencies are not up to dealing with the volume of data that will be made available through cloud technology. This was the case ten years ago and I suspect the situaiton has not changed.
At that time the scientific advisory board of SSCI warned that NSA’s iT infrastructure was “falling apart” and that a major collapse was coming (which is exactly what happened). And NSA had an IT infrastructure better than any other intelligence agency or FBI. Allen knows about this and the processing problems that continue to plague the NSA.
By Henry Kenyon
Published: December 17, 2012
Parts of the intelligence community’s cloud effort have reached an initial operating capability, mostly the CIA and NSA portions, but he said the entire system won’t be fully operational for at least another five years.
ROBERT STEELE: What matters above is Richard’s comment. The article is just a tag line, typical fluff with no critical thinking. At some point we are going to have to come to grips with two realities: the first reality is that the secret intelligence community is largely useless–4% “at best” of what a major commander needs, and nothing for everyone else — to include nothing for military strategy, military policy, military acquisition, and military operations below that 4% at the theater commander’s level. The second reality is that what we need in the way of decision support is generally not secret, not in English, not online, and not accessible via the dysfunctional insular incredibly closed-in secret world. I was present in the 1980’s, during the second attempt (the first was in the 1970’s) to get CIA into the modern era of digital communications and computing. It was my privilege to be a member of the Information Handling Committee, a plank owner of the Advanced Information Processing and Analysis Steering Group (AIPASP), and a member of various other futures-oriented national-level working groups and committees, through to 1993 when I left the Marine Corps civil service. Thereafter I followed developments through surrogates, ultimately concluding that In-Q-Tel was a failure and I was better off studying what the insurance, energy, and pharmaceutical companies were doing. There are some issues that have persisted with the US secret intelligence community, and I lay these out below (my first book, ON INTELLIGENCE: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World is still valid, still written with OMB help, and still with a foreword from a Senator and former Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence). My subsequent books, as humble individual endeavors, leave much to be desired, but are collectively far beyond anything done by anyone else. The work I have done on creating an Open Source Agency (OSA) perhaps initially within the Department of State or one of the services in DoD, is immediately applicable to all of our challenges for which we are both ignorant and arrogant (the first and seventh of Loch John’s “sins of American foreign policy”).
01 The US intelligence community does not collect against requirements. It collects whatever is convenient to collect in the most expensive way possible and then fails to process 95% of that raw information while ignoring a vast panorama of truly relevant information in 183 languages we do not speak.
02 The ostensible customers for US secret intelligence do not themselves do a good job in defining requirements, including deadlines, and then holding the US secret world accountable when it fails to deliver on those requirements.
03 Easily 90% of what is being put into this “cloud” is worthless raw data lacking in geospatial attributes and therefore not particularly amenable to machine speed all-source processing. At the same time, the cloud is being built devoid of sensitivity to the importance of creating a cloud that can integrate what the consumer or customer agencies already know or can collect; what allies and coalition partners have in hand, and what the other “tribes” of information have. Put directly, Tim Berners-Lee is doing vastly more for the future of US intelligence than anyone now working in the US secret world.
04 This cloud — very expensive corporate vapor-ware for the most part, certain to be a failure and not actually be available or useful in five years — is also useless for collection management. If the secret world is ignoring 90% of the sources, in 183 languages of which it barely can handle 20, then by definition, the US secret world does not know who knows, and does not know how to collect except from its narrow and one can even say perverted (having been corrupted or distorted from its original course, meaning, or state) systems.
05 We still do not have an all-source analytic workstation. IBM was foolish to buy i2, a fat-finger hollow shell, and IBM is still not interested in doing human-centric computing, only IBM-centric computing. We are long over-due for Contracting Officer Technical Representatives (COTR) that can champion human-centric computing and make it stick. Computer Aided Tools for the Analysis of Science & Technology (CATALYST), done via Open Source Everything.
06 We still do not have a global open source acquisition grid that includes overt legal assets in every port, airport, provincial capital, and so on, around the world. This is simply beyond the ability of CIA’s Open Source Center, portly geriatrics ill-suited to do anything other than sit in their cubicles watching their digital aquariums, waiting for the government to run out of annuitant money.
07 I can solve all of the above problems. The seventh problem is more difficult. Until we have flag officers and senior civil servants who are actually interested in creating force structure and capabilities that are without question vital to the public interest, affordable, sustainable, and effective in their assigned mission area, no success of mine or others will make a difference. Paul Pillar has that exactly right. The lightbulb has to want to change. I have thought about that for decades, and today will post my original graphics from 1990-1991 on the holistic approach to intelligence that the Marine Corps Intelligence Center abandoned after I left — we need the equivalent of a Montessori School for flags and senior executives; it must be rooted in a coherent holistic approach to intelligence that makes sense across all mission areas, in relation to all countries, at all times. No one in the US intelligence community, least of all DIA and CIA, is doing this now. They do not know what they do not know.
I am hopeful. The government is running out of money, and the IC is now out of excuses. The time for intelligence with integrity is now. Since it is not being offered by the so-called intelligence professionals, it must be demanded and then created by those who actually need intelligence with integrity, the consumers themselves. St.