Public trust is a terrible thing to lose, and the intelligence community will have to win trust back one small step at a time. Here's a good place to start. When a top intelligence official talks to reporters, the community should end the practice of cleaning up the official transcript. The actual words spoken today form an important record for journalists and historians who will one day try to understand these times.
As surprising as it is in the wake of the Snowden affair, the Office of the...
We should watch out for pesky urban legends as the country reconsiders its intelligence strategy after the Snowden leaks. Here are some myths I see brewing:
1. Experts know best >> As surprising as it is, research by psychologist Philip Tetlock shows that experts don't do a very good job of predicting outcomes. That's a good argument for debating the nation’s broad intelligence strategies in open forums. By broad strategies, I mean things like interrogation techniques and domestic...
You know the legislative season is in full swing when the annual tough talk about China morphs into bill language. Wording in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act would require gobs of paperwork – including an assessment by the director of national intelligence -- before the military ever again leases satellite bandwidth from a company owned partly by China. For good measure, the bill tosses in North Korea and any countries on the U.S. list of state sponsors of...
It's easy to see how a Congress determined to avoid another 9/11 could give a thumbs up to two far-reaching surveillance programs. No one wants another terror attack, and the programs were so classified that lawmakers couldn't get sanity checks from their staffs, lawyers and old-fashioned pillow talk. Group think prevailed.
Now that the secrets are out, some lawmakers seem flummoxed: What did we think the Patriot Act, the FISA amendments and big data were anyway?
What's hardest to understand is...
The Guardian’s disclosure that the NSA is receiving millions of domestic phone records from Verizon – “including local telephone calls” -- shows just how far off course the Obama administration has drifted in the post 9/11 era. The once secret order published by the Guardian might be one way to keep us safe, but the question should be whether it's the right way.
It isn't. We need solutions that keep America America. We're getting a frightening glimpse into our government’s fascination...
We witnessed President Obama the community organizer in his counter-terrorism speech at National Defense University. The president even tried to hear out the heckler, telling the audience “the voice of that woman is worth paying attention to…”
Like it or not, listening to people -- some call it leading from behind -- is Obama’s style. His speech amounted to asking the American people and their elected representatives to help “define the nature and scope of this struggle” against...
Even the strongest, most expensive safe in the world is useless if you don’t keep its combination a secret. The same is true for data protection. If your company has state-of-the-art encryption technology, it’s unlikely to be effective unless your employees are security-wise.
Employees must make daily tradeoffs between security and productivity, which means regular security training is necessary for safeguarding company and customer data. Common sense alone is not an answer. For example,...
There was one moment in Rep. Michael McCaul’s address at the C4ISR Journal conference that I found especially telling. The topic was sequestration.
“Not to get political, but it was the president’s idea,” said the Texas Republican and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. McCaul said “certain” people “are not taking on” the entitlements issue.
In other settings, this boilerplate line might have drawn applause, but you could have heard crickets chirp when it was uttered...
We’re going to need to come to grips with the appropriate role of surveillance in our society. That’s one lesson from the bombings at the Boston Marathon.
We’ve spent billions in Afghanistan on eavesdropping equipment, wide area surveillance cameras, and cellphone tracking technologies to find improvised explosive devices and the people who plant them. It’s a problem similar to the one the FBI and Boston police are facing.
Makeshift bombs still go off in Afghanistan, but the toll would...
Given the country’s budget outlook, the Defense Department now has no choice but to improve its acquisition performance. But how to do get it done?
We recently addressed that question for our firm, A.T. Kearney.
We compared the defense sector’s acquisition track record and decision processes to those of the private sector. The results were illuminating, and they suggest that the defense sector should look to the commercial world for lessons.
Our complete findings can be found in the white...