Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 Years Later

Public release of PSA's WMD REPORT CARD

Focusing on efforts since 2005, our Report Card gives the government a "C".

"Moving from a D to a C in three years is progress, but not really acceptable progress," Hamilton said.

"What we need now is for the next Administration to commit itself to unwavering dedication to ensure that we capitalize on the progress we've made and push forward to improve and solidify our efforts on all fronts," Gorton said. "Now is the time to turn our resolve into action."
PDF for full report card here.

I've spent the last couple of weeks re-reading the full commission report, and I am struck by how few of their direct recommendations have been implemented. It's possible that the current administration has done more than I know, but here is the focus of the recommendations:


This chapter emphasizes 13 (see below) of the 41 recommendations made by the commission.
Of these 13, two may have been implemented, two others partially implemented, the remaining 9 are incomplete.

Failing on 9 out of 13, I give them an F!

1. Recommendation: We recommend the establishment of a National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), built on the foundation of the existing Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC). Breaking the older mold of national government organization, this NCTC should be a center for joint operational planning and joint intelligence, staffed by personnel from the various agencies. The head of the NCTC should have authority to evaluate the performance of the people assigned to the Center.

NCTC was established in 2004. Does the head of the NCTC have the authority to evaluate the performance of their personnel?

2. Recommendation: The current position of Director of Central Intelligence should be replaced by a National Intelligence Director with two main areas of responsibility: (1) to oversee national intelligence centers on specific subjects of interest across the U.S. government and (2) to manage the national intelligence program and oversee the agencies that contribute to it.

ODNI established in 2005. Current report card indicates incomplete, why?

3. Recommendation: The CIA Director should emphasize (a) rebuilding the CIA's analytic capabilities; (b) transforming the clandestine service by building its human intelligence capabilities; (c) developing a stronger language program, with high standards and sufficient financial incentives; (d) renewing emphasis on recruiting diversity among operations officers so they can blend more easily in foreign cities; (e) ensuring a seamless relationship between human source collection and signals collection at the operational level; and (f) stressing a better balance between unilateral and liaison operations.

The President issued a memorandum on November 23, 2004. This report from October 2005, reported "some progress." Is there anything more current?

4. Recommendation: Lead responsibility for directing and executing paramilitary operations, whether clandestine or covert, should shift to the Defense Department. There it should be consolidated with the capabilities for training, direction, and execution of such operations already being developed in the Special Operations Command.

Incomplete, this consolidation has not occurred.
5. Recommendation: Finally, to combat the secrecy and complexity we have described, the overall amounts of money being appropriated for national intelligence and to its component agencies should no longer be kept secret. Congress should pass a separate appropriations act for intelligence, defending the broad allocation of how these tens of billions of dollars have been assigned among the varieties of intelligence work.
House Appropriations Select Intelligence Oversight Panel established January 9, 2007.
6. Recommendation: Information procedures should provide incentives for sharing, to restore a better balance between security and shared knowledge.
This is addressed by H.R. 6575, Over-Classification Reduction Act, adopted on September 9, 2008. Currently incomplete pending passage by the Senate and signature of the President.

7. Recommendation: The president should lead the government-wide effort to bring the major national security institutions into the information revolution. He should coordinate the resolution of the legal, policy, and technical issues across agencies to create a "trusted information network."

Incomplete, no indication of implementation beyond studies. Ironically, the Center for Strategic and International Studies may have done this for themselves without the participation of classified networks.
8. Recommendation: Congressional oversight for intelligence-and counterterrorism-is now dysfunctional. Congress should address this problem. We have considered various alternatives: A joint committee on the old model of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy is one. A single committee in each house of Congress, combining authorizing and appropriating authorities, is another.

Incomplete, no Joint committee comprising members of both House and Senate.
9. Recommendation: Congress should create a single, principal point of oversight and review for homeland security. Congressional leaders are best able to judge what committee should have jurisdiction over this department and its duties. But we believe that Congress does have the obligation to choose one in the House and one in the Senate, and that this committee should be a permanent standing committee with a nonpartisan staff.

Incomplete, DHS still overburdened with too much oversight. This lack of focus wastes resources and probably still leaves oversight gaps.
10. Recommendation: Since a catastrophic attack could occur with little or no notice, we should minimize as much as possible the disruption of national security policymaking during the change of administrations by accelerating the process for national security appointments. We think the process could be improved significantly so transitions can work more effectively and allow new officials to assume their new responsibilities as quickly as possible.

Incomplete, no sign that these procedural recommendations have been implemented.
11. Recommendation: A specialized and integrated national security workforce should be established at the FBI consisting of agents, analysts, linguists, and surveillance specialists who are recruited, trained, rewarded, and retained to ensure the development of an institutional culture imbued with a deep expertise in intelligence and national security.

The President issued a memorandum on November 23, 2004. Has it been implemented?
12. Recommendation: The Department of Defense and its oversight committees should regularly assess the adequacy of Northern Command's strategies and planning to defend the United States against military threats to the homeland.

Incomplete, as of April, 2008 the "GAO making several recommendations to DOD to direct NORTHCOM to take actions to address the challenges it faces in its planning and interagency coordination efforts."
13. Recommendation: The Department of Homeland Security and its oversight committees should regularly assess the types of threats the country faces to determine (a) the adequacy of the government's plans-and the progress against those plans-to protect America's critical infrastructure and (b) the readiness of the government to respond to the threats that the United States might face.

Incomplete, as stated above too many committees is more likely to lead to a failure of oversight and assessment rather than to a successful assessment and response.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Flash parties, flash crowds, now we have "flash dump"

Panic ensued, as they say, and United Airlines stock price plummeted 75 percent (down from $12.30 to $3 a share) before someone realized it was an old news story and things righted themselves. The stock rebounded to $10.92 a share by Monday's closing. But not before United Airlines contacted the Sun Sentinel and demanded the newspaper retract its (6-year-old) story.

I wonder how long before we see the Google spider being intentionally manipulated?
With web 2.0 there wouldn't even be a human brain in the publishing loop.