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Government News

CIA Officers Are Warming To Intellipedia 102

Hugh Pickens writes "The CIA is adopting Web 2.0 tools like collaborative wikis but not without a struggle in an agency with an ingrained culture of secrecy. 'We're still kind of in this early adoptive stage,' says Sean Dennehy, a CIA analyst and self-described 'evangelist' for Intellipedia, the US intelligence community's version of the popular user-curated online encyclopedia Wikipedia adding that 'trying to implement these tools in the intelligence community is basically like telling people that their parents raised them wrong. It is a huge cultural change.' Dennehy says Intellipedia, which runs on secure government intranets and is used by 16 US intelligence agencies, was started as a pilot project in 2005 and now has approximately 100,000 user accounts and gets about 4,000 edits a day. 'Some people have (supported it) but there's still a lot of other folks kind of sitting on the fence.' Dennehy says wikis are 'a challenge to our culture because we grew up in this kind of "need to know" culture and now we need a balance between "need to know" and "need to share."' A desire to compartamentalize information is another problem. 'Inevitably, every person, the first question we were asked is "How do I lock down a page?" or "How do I lock down a page so that just my five colleagues can access that?"' The growth of Intellipedia has so far largely been fueled by early adopters and enthusiasts says Chris Rasmussen, a social-software knowledge manager and trainer at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. 'We are struggling to take it to the next level.'"
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CIA Officers Are Warming To Intellipedia

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  • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @10:33AM (#28334997)
    No, it's for anything up to the classification of the network, and this resides on Secret and Top Secret networks. It's no more dangerous than the terabytes of classified information that already reside on these intranets.
  • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @10:36AM (#28335045)
    It's classified information on classified networks. We've been doing this for ages, so it's not like we don't know how to handle it. USB ports are closed off on classified machines, distribution is limited, and the only people how have access are those who go through rigorous background checks. The checks in place to prevent unauthorized disclosure have worked in the past and there's really nothing different about this. What's the problem?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 15, 2009 @10:40AM (#28335089)

    You can't store information on American citizens in that kind of network. It's not a "database on 10's of thousands" of people. Think of it more as short useless summary articles on topics like Iraq, Afganistan, insurgent groups, etc. No domestic info at all, by design.

    Additionally, Intellipedia is TS (well, there's a TS version that is used primarily, and a SECRET version that is not used nearly as much), but not SCI (meaning, none of the really high level intelligence. TOP SECRET is _fairly common_ access). If somebody is able to read Intellipedia as a spy, you've got much bigger problems that any information they would get from Intellipedia. A later post whined about compartmented information--there is NO compartmented information on Intellipedia.

    Also, Chris Rasmussen is the genius who is trying to introduce twitter to the intelligence analysis community. Apparently he wants to reduce the productivity of intel even further!

  • by Icarus1919 ( 802533 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @10:49AM (#28335217)
    Btw, I hate to be a nazi, but it's fell swoop and not well swoop. Fell as in deadly.
  • by yerktoader ( 413167 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @10:54AM (#28335271) Homepage
    For starters, USB devices are no longer allowed on any DOD networks, [slashdot.org] due to a worm appearing on unclassified military networks(separate from the classified networks).

    Second, Intellipedia is separated by classification of the given network [wikipedia.org], and is not on a single network. So the data may be important, but does not necessarily constitute "exceptionally grave damage" [wikipedia.org] if leaked.

    Third, it's a lot of data so unless a spy or mole was only taking certain entries it would be difficult to take all of it not only in one drive but at once.

    Fourth, since the intelligence community is warming to it(yes, sometimes some of them are bumbling idiots), analysts have muddled the concept of Intellepidia, written reports and debated the subject with leadership. If it was such a terrible idea it would have gotten the axe by now. [wikipedia.org]

    Fifth, stealing data from outside a classified DOD network is terribly hard. Having a clearance means that the DOD thinks a given person is trustworthy, so unless a person decides to become a spy there is no way it's getting out.

    Also, Intellipedia covers a multitude of subjects, not just people.
  • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @11:06AM (#28335415)
    First of all, the CIA has a terrible reputation within the IC for not sharing info even with those who need to know, regardless of how many edits they make to Intellipedia. They demand everyone give them info, and return nothing. I've worked with them a few times directly, and they are the absolute worst at stove-piping. In fact, I have not heard a single positive comment about the CIA from anyone not at the CIA. And I actually work on a project devoted to sharing info throughout the IC, and CIA isn't involved, while dozens of other intel agencies and other commands are. So keep bitching about other people bitching. And maybe you should get a clue yourself.
  • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @11:31AM (#28335757)

    Sounds like it is classified information from many different programs on a single classified network, in a single database.

    No, it's two different wiki pages in two different classified networks that are not connected. Moving info from one to the other is no different than moving it in the past. Just like Wikipedia, it's a website on a network.

Forty two.