January 8, 2010

YOU CALL THAT SHARING?:

Why intelligence-sharing can't always make us safer (Jennifer Sims and Bob Gallucci, January 8, 2010, Washington Post)

According to the Obama administration and its critics, U.S. intelligence agencies have a problem with information-sharing. Although this critique appears to have some merit, theory and history suggest our most recent intelligence failure is of another kind. Intelligence-sharing sounds good if we imagine the happy project of dot-connecting. But the concept sounds bad, and risky, if it more resembles the game of Telephone, in which critical information is rather predictably dropped or garbled as it is passed around. The question is: How do we get good, actionable information to the decision maker in time to make a difference?

Sharing information is not a cost-free enterprise: It takes time to pass information and time for "the community" to analyze and interpret data. Intelligence succeeds not when it paints a complete picture but when it lubricates choice -- that is, when it helps key policymakers or military officers act faster or smarter than their adversaries.


The idea that we'll get usable intelligence from whispers within the "community" is the root of the problem. Bring back Admiral Poindexter.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 8, 2010 6:35 AM
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