Dammit, the Boys in Langley Have Been Editing the FBI Page Again

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America's spies get their own private Wikipedia:

Intelligence officials say the format is perfect for sharing information between agencies, a centrepiece of the reform legislation that established Negroponte's office as national intelligence director after the September 11 attacks.

They also said it could lead to more accurate intelligence reports because the system allows a wider range of officials to scrutinise material and keeps a complete, permanent record of individual contributions including dissenting points of view.

That might help avoid errors of the kind that led to the widely criticised 2002 national intelligence estimate that said Saddam Hussein possessed large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

Intelligence officials are so enthusiastic about Intellipedia that they plan to provide access to Britain, Canada and Australia.

Even China could be granted access to help produce an unclassified intelligence estimate on the worldwide threat posed by infectious diseases.

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  1. Some businesses discovered the advantages of the wiki format a while ago, although it’s surprising that someone in government realized it could work just as well for data sharing there as well.

  2. A really cool idea, but if I know my Wiki contributors, it will end up having dozens of pages assessing the threats posed by the Cylons, the Reavers, the Sino-American Alliance and the Sith.

  3. All the potential for inaccuracy of the Wikipedia format, and all the incompetence of a bunch of civil servants.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  4. Well, I spent some time supporting that community, and I think it’s fair to say that many of the challenges with information sharing are cultural or policy-based, not necessarily technical.

    The policy difficulties are borne out of good-faith efforts to adhere to rules that are not irrational, but that have been essentially in place since WW II.

    Depending on how they did this, it could be a significant step toward the lessons that will be inevitably necessary to create a culture of collaboration and the development of policies that permit and support it.

  5. Dear Reason,
    I’m all fine with the new overhaul and everything, but when you do input validation on email addresses, you don’t acknowledge .INFO as a valid top level domain. For some reason, it’s o.k. for URLs though.

    Please realize that the world is bigger than .COM, .NET, and .ORG, which were all we had when I worked at an ISP in 1993, but which are…but a few of the valid options now. I’m betting my .NAME address wouldn’t have worked either.

  6. At least now the Chinese can stay in China to hack our classified data. In the old days we only gave it to them if them came over and we gave them jobs at places like Los Alamos. Saving China the time and expense of doing it the old way is good for global harmony.

    I can imagine that policies and other cultural issues were the main division point in the past not technology. Remember these are the same people that brought us the U2 spy plane, micro cameras and wireless bugs so I hardly think getting data to another agency was a technological challenge.

  7. 1. Wow. The U.S. intelligence community is entering the 20th century.

    B. Traditionally among spooks “sharing information” has not been considered a Good Thing. Mostly it’s a “show me yours but don’t expect to see mine” environment. Let me know if that changes.

  8. I read a Vietnam War novel years ago, I forgot the title, in which a North Vietnamese general complains about the high risk in putting intelligence information down on paper. He say’s that the best thing the Americans could do to collect intelligence would be to parachute hundreds of Xerox copying machines into the North, thus creating mountains of paperwork to steal. Once again, my lack of understanding how computers & the internet work make my opinion dubious, but it SEEMS to me that putting our intelligence secrets online isn’t the best way to keep them secret.

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