Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, August 2009
Phi Beta Iota: The report is interesting, and provides a useful methodology for approaching the relationship between intangible values and tangible manifestations, but it has one major flaw: it does not provide for the reality that expelling dictators and the US from the Middle East might be related to actually seeking to create a prosperous Middle East at peace. Because of that flaw, the report also fails to point out that the best strategy against Al Qaeda is NOT to try to hunt down individual Al Qaeda members, but rather to pull out of the Middle East, stop supporting dictators (and Israel) and begin waging peace at one third the cost of war. One should not throw stones when one lives in a glass house. The USA today is a glass house on a sand foundation.
In my opinion the Washington Post series that exposed the exponential increase in the size and cost of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) was not taken seriously by official Washington and is considered a minor nuisance. That is why the only response to the series, as crafted by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), was largely vintage intelligence agency boilerplate with a few bizarre additions such as the claim that the collection and analysis of intelligence are not essential government functions of intelligence agencies and so can be left to contractor personal. The series did not merit a serious response in the thinking of the Executive Branch and Intelligence Community.
In fact the series, although much touted, was a huge disappointment to readers expecting a more deeply researched and in-depth look at the IC. Clearly the craft of investigative journalism has fallen on hard times.
Also it is the case that in this country quantity always trumps quality. The growth in the size of the Intelligence Community is taken by official Washington as a priori evidence of the value it has provided since 9/11. The facts that the current IC is ruinously expensive to operate, is producing largely worthless intelligence, and has frequently failed even in the most basic warning functions are irrelevant. A bloated IC serves as ‘proof’ that political Washington is serious about protecting American citizens from terrorist threats. As with quantity, in the political arena form always trumps substance.
Phi Beta Iota: Tip of the hat to Berto Jongman for this referral. The report is a classic exemplar of good people doing what they know and what they have been told to do, rather than what they need to do–Dr. Robert Ackoff called this “doing the wrong thing righter.” It is not possible to secure cyberspace using the traditional top-down micro-management paradigm. The only way to secure cyberspace is to make it resilient by steering the private sector toward open everything including most especially open source software. Learn more at Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE).
Phi Beta Iota: With a tip of the hat to Marcus Aurelius, this document is provided for information. On balance it is rich with insights that are not available elsewhere and consequently must be very highly regarded as a baseline for where US intelligence reform (and US intelligence) are today: dead, with a $75 billion a year casket that shows no signs of atrophy. Below are summary extracts both positive and negative.