The American intelligence community needs a “wild bill” moment.


Ellen McCarthy, Former assistant. Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research

Crypto Brief Expert Ellen E. McCarthy Appointed by President Trump to the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Prior to taking this position, McCarthy held the position of President of Noblis NSP, and prior to that, he worked for more than 25 years in the IC which included the position of Operations Director at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

Scott died, Co-Founder and President, MissionTech Solutions

Matt Scott is a veteran of Army Intelligence, co-founder and president of MissionTech Solutions. Prior to founding MissionTech, he held leadership positions at Booz | Allen | Hamilton and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Expert perspective – The latest version of 7The tenth Edition of the National Intelligence Council Global Trends Report It highlights the challenges facing the United States and the U.S. intelligence community (IC) over the next twenty years. Although this report is not usually scaled up, this publication in particular warns of “more severe and successive global challenges” in the future. Is the ICRC prepared to provide the insights needed to shape the strategic environment for the United States over the next two decades? We think the answer to that question is a clear call for a “Wild Bill” moment.

Wild Bill Donovan
Image Source: OSS Society

At another critical moment in American history, in 1941 as the world raced to war, President Franklin Roosevelt was concerned that American intelligence organizations were not up to the tasks ahead. Nazi Germany, for example, was using new forms of warfare including propaganda to great effect across Europe, leaving the existing US intelligence organizations struggling to coordinate their efforts and explain what was happening at the strategic level. To provide critical insights to American commanders and to facilitate covert operations that could help win the war, Roosevelt appointed William Joseph “Wild Bell” Donovan as the White House’s first information coordinator and head of the newly created White House. Office of Strategic Services (we).

Wild Bell was known for seeing the world with clarity, diplomacy, courage and imagination. He was also known as an American “cowboy” doing seemingly impossible tasks to get what needed to be done. Bell was not warmly embraced by the government bureaucracy – he was a holdover. To help the United States and its allies win World War II, Wild Bell and his colleagues overcame many obstacles – bureaucratic, technical, political, and material – and led the first orchestrated effort by the United States to implement a centralized strategic intelligence system. The organization they created became a predecessor to the CIA, the U.S. Special Operations Command, and the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

Today’s president should likewise be concerned about whether the International Cooperation Council is up to the task ahead. The Biden administration provided a snapshot of its national security strategy expected to be released in June.

The Strategic direction for interim national security He avoids calling “great-power competition” specifically, but realizes that in 2021, the threats facing America and our worldview are grave and unprecedented in many ways. Threats go beyond China, Russia, North Korea, and violent extremism to include challenges in South America, the Middle East, Africa, climate change, cyberspace, digital threats, international economic disruption, humanitarian issues, and weapons of mass destruction. To counter the threat, the strategy itself will open a new ground beyond defense to include economic security, environmental security, health security, and cybersecurity.

Given the dynamism of these challenges and our national strategy, this again is not a moment that calls for stability or incremental improvements in international cooperation. This is a moment that calls for the Wild Bell approach. In 2021, America faces different threats than it did in 1941, but the costs of intelligence failure in human, economic and political terms may be equal or worse. These threats have become even more dangerous due to the failure of today’s IC to reinvent itself to be effective in an information-driven world.

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Today, the ICRC faces at least three existential threats to its ability to fulfill its mission to provide the insights and covert operations that US leaders need at their disposal to steer the country safely forward. These threats include: 1. Massive data, 2. conflicting sources of information, 3. The politicization and acceptance of multiple “facts”.

At the core of these threats, data is beating the leaders of today and IC’s at the sheer volume and in the technological advances necessary to sort out what could be useful from the noise. The problem is much more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack. Today, we are not sure which haystacks to look for, and by the time one is searched for, there are 10 more haystacks. Today’s IC collectors and analysts are not sure what data they are trying to exploit, and they often lack the digital infrastructure and tools to exploit the data quickly enough for the results to be useful to policymakers. We think this is perhaps equally true at the macro IC level where commanders try to determine which data and technologies to invest in, and at the level of smaller analysts, as officers try to determine how to answer specific intelligence questions from available resources.

Intelligence officers are surprisingly resourceful. Yet many produce insights that are valuable to America’s leadership daily despite the challenges in doing so. When they do so, their products face a second existential threat: competition for the attention of our leaders from news media, social media, and private sector companies. In its old model, IC Officers drop out summary books and provide insights every day at 7 AM. Increasingly, however, other sources bombard leaders throughout the day. These sources often do not apply the same analytical and objective rigor to their information as the Investment Committee does, which can lead to misleading political decisions. But sometimes, their information is better. It may be the most recent example of this Bellingcat investigations Of attempts at poisoning across Europe.

The third threat to the ICC’s ability to help protect America is the post-truth era. Inscribed on the stone at the entrance to the CIA headquarters are words quoted from the Bible, saying, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Many intelligence professionals see these words as an invitation to objectivity, and perhaps speaking the truth to power. But what happens when the truth is determined by American political affiliation? Despite the determined efforts of its leaders, the ICRC played a role in politics several times during the previous administration. Right or wrong, if American leaders do not trust the ICRC, there is no point in having one.

Overcome these threats to be able to help America’s leaders and citizens win the 21st titleStreet The century will require an approach closer to that of Wild Bill Donovan than to the standard fare from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the eighteen existing intelligence bureaucracies, and Congress. The world has entered into an information revolution, and for the ICRC, no amount of bureaucratic sophistication can catch up.

To counter these threats, the ICRC, led by individuals dedicated to comprehensive reinvention in the spirit of the Wild Bell, must take at least three bold actions. These actions are: 1. Embracing open source, 2. “launching” data, and 3. A fundamental change in the intelligence delivery paradigm.

If IQ is in Wild Bill’s 20The tenth The century was all about stealing secrets, we believe intelligence is in the twenty-first centuryStreet Century is about getting insights from data, and most of the world’s data is essentially “open”. Today’s IC leaders often talk about how useful open source can be in complementing classified sources. But this is backward. They are expensive, outdated, slow, and dangerous classified resources that should complement the insights derived from the open data. The mix of data accessible from the internet, including commercial and academic sources, and analytics enabled through cloud and artificial intelligence environments can answer many, and perhaps most, of the country’s key intelligence questions. Open source also has the added benefit of being easy to share across government, the private sector, and allies, and it can be operated by the nation’s top talent, not limiting IC to top talent willing to navigate a mysterious redemption. IC is currently relying on a hybrid open source approach, including lackluster community leadership from the CIA. This model must change.

Of course, open source can only be used on a meaningful scale by the US government if the ICRC is able to process massive amounts of data through a life cycle consistent with democratic values. This does not mean copying the Internet into stand-alone government networks or escalating the Chinese’s attempt to monitor every movement of their citizens. Releasing intelligence data beginning in 2021, means a clear vision and plan for how a modern, value-based democracy can securely harness data to solve global challenges such as climate change, disease threats and weapons of mass destruction while winning a great-power competition. Such a strategy requires partnerships across government, the private sector, and our allies around the world, as well as technological capabilities across public and private networks that do not exist today. It will also need to address today’s evolving expectations of privacy. The ICRC cannot help America win if policy prevents the exploitation of the depth and breadth of world data in a purposeful, continuous and timely manner, and at the same time profitable companies monitor Americans with impunity.

Finally, IC requires a new product delivery model that meets the needs of US leaders. Perhaps this means more frequent interaction than one morning briefing for the senior leaders – and that could mean some analysts’ engagement with consumers. The ICRC will need to present its insights through new formats and must be re-equipped to prioritize the types of intelligence questions where the ICRC can maintain a competitive advantage against the media, including the intentions of foreign leaders, global challenges and practical insights into current government initiatives. More challenging, however, is that this also means establishing confidence among American leaders and citizens that the visions provided by the ICRC are “correct”.

These are not easy procedures, but we believe they are essential for the well-being of the country and the continued relevance of the ICRC.

Today’s first practical steps may include standing up for a new, open-source software-like entity, one that is not connected to existing bureaucracies, led by someone who commands great confidence from the president and Republicans, and who is not afraid to overpower the bureaucracy. An open source software-like entity might try a new capability focused on delivering trusted content but using an entirely new collection, processing, and publishing model and infrastructure, it might be designed from a successful private sector endeavor. The key to this new office will be the ability to rapidly expand new technologies emerging from America’s emerging technology incubators, and to truly harness America’s digital economy. Thinking outside the box, another option in the spirit of open source software may be financing and empowering the State Department to be the public sector side of the new public-private information partnership. The Department of State’s current embrace of open source may remove the challenges associated with sharing and categorizing information.

Whatever approach this administration chooses to take, it is clear that increased stability and investment will not be sufficient. We are in a global moment where the threats are incredible, and the US intelligence community is not currently up to the task ahead. We need a Wild Bill moment.

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