Using YouTube To Push Intelligence Reform

Intelligence and national security geeks should see this new YouTube video from Chris Rasmussen, a social media specialist at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.  I've never seen something like it: an employee of an intelligence agency using YouTube to critically evaluate a critical assumption about American intelligence agency production. (Chris had to get the YouTube vetted and re-vetted...it seems to have been a drawn out process. But in the end, his supervisors were apparently OK with his evangelism.) 

Intellipedia is the government's internal intelligence Wikipedia; it does exactly what you'd think: analysts from different agencies and branches collaborate on entries, and revise and edit them much the same way that Wikipedia users do. It's a great experiment in social collaboration. But   problem is that it is still viewed as an adjunct to the traditional "agency product" and not a key part of that product itself. If the White House wants information about Iranian opposition leaders, they're going to be sent agency-specific information from analysts not working together. (If they order a national intelligence estimate, then they'll get everything at once, but the process of putting together an NIE is less collaborative and more combative.) 

Rasmussen proposes a new production method called "transparent review" that would remove the walls between collaboration and agency vetting. On the same "page," it would allow different agencies to revise and review the Wiki in question, and then, if they approved of the substance, endorse it, right there on the page. Or, if they differed, they'd be given the space, right there on the page, to explain why. The beauty of this construct is that the dynamism of the intelligence analytical product is kept but the totality of the product becomes authoritative. Dissent is still allowed; consensus is not necessarily encouraged.
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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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