Intelligence: Practice, Problems and Prospects

Intelligence: Practice, Problems and Prospects Spring 2005 MIT Course on intelligence issues.

I mention this course because intelligence is an area where it is popular to talk about connecting the dots and sharing data.

Note that I said popular to talk about connecting the dots and sharing data.

If news reports are to be credited, always a risky proposition, the US intelligence community is only marginally less Balkanized than it was on 9/11.

Institutional goals and imperatives are more important than any national interest, such as sharing intelligence data, and are likely to remain so.

Promoting topic maps as a means of sharing information in a non-sharing environment, with known imperatives driving the non-sharing, is a losing proposition.

Pitching topic maps to supra-agency leadership is unlikely to succeed, because it requires access to that leadership, a leadership already in the reach of the intelligence Balkan leadership.

Two suggested changes in selling topic maps to the intelligence community:

1) Sell topic maps to individual agencies on the basis they can better integrate their information and information they have gotten from other agencies. Not so much a sharing rhetoric as making the best use of generated and stolen intelligence sort of argument.

2) Remember that US intelligence services aren’t the only intelligence services in the world. It is likely they all suffer from the sort of Balkanization seen in the US but it is also true that some of them may be flexible enough to over come it.

Having successful use of topic maps elsewhere could drive their adoption in the US.

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