Wiki fever spreads to U.S. intelligence community

Summary:The U.S. intelligence community has caught wiki fever, and it may do the array of agencies trying to paint of picture of global security threats some good.

The U.S. intelligence community has caught wiki fever, and it may do the array of agencies trying to paint of picture of global security threats some good. Reuters reports on Intellipedia, a Wikipedia-like wiki that is used by 16 intelligence agencies and comes is multiple flavors, depending on security clearance. So far Intellipedia has 28,000 pages and 3,600 registered users in about six months of usage, and is being used to create the national intelligence estimates.

According to the LA Times story, Intellipedia represents new thinking by the intelligence czars, intelligence assessment 2.0:

The system allows analysts from all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies to weigh in on debates on North Korea's nuclear program and other sensitive topics, creating internal Web sites that are constantly updated with new information and analysis, officials said.

The system, which is not accessible to the public, is divided into three classification categories ranging from "sensitive but unclassified" to "top secret." Officials said that the program is still under development and has not replaced existing procedures used to create intelligence reports delivered to President Bush and other policymakers. But it is being used to assemble preliminary judgments for a forthcoming National Intelligence Estimate on Nigeria and could someday supplant the more cumbersome mechanisms used to create such reports.

"I think in the future you'll press a button and this will be the NIE," said Michael Wertheimer, assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analysis.

It may be that bottom up, more lightweight technology, with the necessary role-based identity management for security control, will be far more effective than systems costing tens or hundreds of millions that the government has funded, such as the FBI's $104.5 million Virtual Case File project that was discontinued last year after three years of development.

The LA Times story suggests that an Intellipedia wiki could have better surfaced dissenting views that were treated as footnotes in the run up to the war in Iraq. Perhaps history would have been different, and we wouldn't have a mid-term election with the President trying to win votes for his party by declaring, "However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses," or the Vice President saying that recent insurgent attacks in Iraq, in which over 100 American soldiers died this month, are timed to influence the American elections. I would guess that if the number of deaths were the same as the previous month, Americans from both parties would still be asking the Bush administration about an exit strategy as the civil war in Iraq continues.  

Topics: Security

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