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15 February 2006

The continued questions of existence…

Several individuals have recently asked your authors why we remain fixated on the question of the profession’s future, and all that flows from this.

This is a difficult thing to answer. The short form is that here we stand, at the midpoint of the 0’dark decade, having been at war since the first year of the century’s turning. (And while your authors were well aware of the war before hand, the difference between the antebellum policies of deliberate ignorance and “watch and wait” versus the post-11th world are so striking the delineation has been made clear by history. But we will never forget where we were New Year’s Eve 2000 and the near miss averted through what can be best described as sheer luck.)

And what do we find? We have listened as the DCI himself demanded the rest of the decade to rebuild the clandestine service.

We have watched as critical collection programs are compromised over domestic political debates – and stood amazed as the President of the United States himself had to utter words we never dreamed to hear him say; and publicly visit a place once so secret it did not even have a public name.

We have watched a deceptive narrative form around major issues of intelligence policy – an alternative conspiracy theory in which leakers speak only truth to power and no secret is safe as long as it advance abstract standards held forth by those that have never seriously considered the practice of the profession nor the underlying need for its service.

We have seen the cannibalistic results of a broken security clearance system which neither protects from unauthorized disclosures nor meets the human resources needs of its organizations. We have seen the corrosive effects of dysfunctional processes which impact hiring, retention, advancement, and job satisfaction for dozens if not hundreds of individuals of our direct acquaintance.

We have watched the proliferation of lawyers at all levels of the profession, and seen the damage that inappropriate use of their services has done. We have watched countless times as those without prior CT experience choose to start their fight against the adversary not with that hard targets, the people of whom we know little, but with the English speaking Westernized subjects which are easiest to follow. And there are no easier subjects than those inside the community.

And at the end of the day, we stand at a turning point in history. The community, and the profession, are not only engaged in a Long War with our adversaries but are convulsed by intercine struggles as industrial age bureaucracies and functions meet information age and network era challenges.

We feel that it is not enough to criticize. We must work towards a new path, a way forward that will build upon strengths and shore up weaknesses. We must find a better solution. This blog, the public version of our open source research, is part of the process by which we explore these issues in search of a solution.

The consequences of failure are first irrelevance, and then the gravest of outcomes for national security. This cannot be allowed to happen on our generation's watch.