What sort of Information Technology does the CIA have?. Here's one account that is pretty interesting. Here's an excerpt regarding how the Directorate of Intelligence analysts do their job:
“an important part of a DI analysts tradecraft is building an informal source network. A good analyst either knows someone, or knows someone who knows someone, at another office or organization who can get the information they need. A good analyst will use these contacts to develop more leads in the process. This, of course, is exactly what the World Wide Web does in an automated fashion when it is combined with a search engine like Google or Alta Vista. Unfortunately, DI analysts lack this capability for most classified information, and their own information environment is so segmented that it would be cumbersome to perform such searches in any case.”
And then we've got the natural obsession with security, which is a good thing for the CIA. But it can also have drawbacks:
“Until recently, for example, Palm Pilots (along with handguns and explosives) were forbidden in CIA facilities. The CIA only slowly brought the Internet into Headquarters, and took even longer to put it at the desk of each analyst. Analysts cannot develop skills in using these technologies unless they can use them in their day-to-day work. By delaying or excluding the technologies, the Agency is allowing DI analysts to fall behind their outside counterparts in knowing how to use IT in their work, and is preventing DI analysts from integrating these technologies into DI tradecraft.”
Weblogs for Analysts? The author recommends, essentially, just that:
“If analysts had personal websites on the CIA classified network, they could post links to all of their products as they are written. New analysts assigned to the account could then simply go to the website to get 'read in.'
Go read the whole article, especially the part about “procurement protocols.” Then you won't feel so bad about the headaches of upgrading your IT system. More proof that bureacracy and IT don't mix well. [Ernie the Attorney]