Intelligence Officers at CIA Don’t Use the Internet?

Once again, the Sunday editorial section of the NY Times featured a number of articles about the intelligence community. Since it is a time of transition, much of the commentary is around mistakes made and failures. Art Brown, a 25-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency, and former head of the Asia division of the agency’s article about intelligence failures over the past several years.

One passage from his article certainly caught our attention — about CIA officers not using BlackBerrys or the Internet. With all of the web-based solutions available to the intelligence community, I find this, frankly, hard to believe. Here’s the noteworthy paragraph:

“First, the agency is simply too insular. It does not sufficiently tap into the expertise that exists across the breadth of America. The human spy components of the C.I.A. live in a cocoon of secrecy that breeds distrust of outsiders. This is one reason very few officers have BlackBerrys, and those few who do usually leave them in their cars when they go to work. Despite their reputation as plugged-in experts on other countries, many C.I.A. officers do not even have Internet access at their desks. Worse yet, they don’t think they need it.”

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Allan Eustis

Actually, the CIA helped form and regularly participates in Web 2.0 activities. I was briefed last week on Intellipedia: an intelligence community Wiki. There is both a classified and non-classified Intellipedia.

Matt Langan

Yeah – Intellipedia is a great resource. I actually wrote about it on my other blog “got geoint” (….that is why that editorial was soo surprising…hard to believe that statement about CIA officials not using the Internet.

Allan Eustis

I would think the DOI may weigh in here at some point to change the state of affairs at the Agency. Even DOD is heavy into the web and blogging. Apparently, one of the Generals got upset a few years back that a guy in a cave in Afghanistan could communicate (frequently) with the world via the web more effectively than the Pentagon with all its communications and technology.