John Crewdson over at the Chicago Tribune has totally blown any cover the CIA had as a savvy intelligence outfit. Reading Crewdson's account of how the Trib used Internet resources to discover the names and address of a couple thousand CIA employees and their home addresses makes you realize that the CIA has never modified their cover operations to the new reality of the Internet. There is also the small matter of how, at least in the US, no one can function without a credit history. Maintaining cover for CIA employees turns into a nightmare when details of their spending habits, driving records, political contributions, and social memberships are easily compiled.
Some tidbits from the article:
"When the Tribune searched a commercial online data service, the result was a virtual directory of more than 2,600 CIA employees, 50 internal agency telephone numbers and the locations of some two dozen secret CIA facilities around the United States."
Hmmm, some of those "secret CIA facilities" are residences with no outward signs of being associated with the CIA. Any fan of John le Carre knows what those are. I guess those safe houses are not so safe.
"The CIA apparently was unaware of the extent to which its employees were in the public domain until being provided with a partial list of names by the Tribune."
Yup, they don't have a clue. There should be a team of CIA agents dedicated to testing cover. Tip to CIA: get Internet savvy people on board for this task.
And then meanwhile, over at the FBI, they are in the process of deciding how to spend an additional $500 million on creating a unified case tracking tool. They already blew $170 million on a scrapped version. Sheesh. I suggest they start with a Wiki site and maybe use some of the technology exhibited at Writely.com. Drupal would be ideal.