Intelligence Via Wiki

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A Wikipedia for intelligence agencies. In what is both a smart and a risky move, the US intelligence agencies are using a format very much like Wikipedia for sharing intelligence between agencies. It is smart because the format works rather well. It is risky given the all-too-large number of intelligence agents and officials who take their oaths far too lightly. But the "Intellipedia" sounds like a very good start.

The office of U.S. intelligence czar John Negroponte announced Intellipedia, which allows intelligence analysts and other officials to collaboratively add and edit content on the government's classified Intelink Web much like its more famous namesake on the World Wide Web.

A "top secret" Intellipedia system, currently available to the 16 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community, has grown to more than 28,000 pages and 3,600 registered users since its introduction on April 17. Less restrictive versions exist for "secret" and "sensitive but unclassified" material.

The system is also available to the Transportation Security Administration and national laboratories.

Intellipedia is currently being used to assemble a major intelligence report, known as a national intelligence estimate, on Nigeria as well as the State Department's annual country reports on terrorism, officials said.

Some day it may also be the path intelligence officials take to produce the president's daily intelligence briefing.

But the system, which makes data available to thousands of users who would not see it otherwise, has also stirred qualms about potential security lapses following the recent media leak of a national intelligence estimate that caused a political uproar by identifying Iraq as a contributor to the growth of global terrorism.

"We're taking a risk," acknowledged Michael Wertheimer, the intelligence community's chief technical officer. "There's a risk it's going to show up in the media, that it'll be leaked."

If the agencies involved can get the politically motivated leakers under control, this will be a rather good vehicle for information sharing between agencies. If they cannot, it may be a real problem. Let's hope they can make progress on the former front.

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