First we had the Phoenix memo, then we had the Minneapolis memo, then we had the Newsweek report about the CIA not telling the FBI. Soon enough, we'll have another report about somebody somewhere saying that "these guys" or "this guy" were/was a potential threat to the United States of America. And it's all meaningless unless and until the federal government fixes the underlying technological problem, which is interoperability, or, more accurately, non-interoperability.
Here's the deal. Mohammed Atta got a visa from the INS months after he drove a plane into the World Trade Center. The reason Mohammed Atta got a visa from the INS is because the INS computers didn't talk to the FBI's computers, or the CIA's computers or DOJ's computers, or any of the other computer networks of the national security/law enforcement apparatus. The reason the Phoenix memo and the Minneapolis memo and all the other memos never became a file, that someone could read and make a judgement about is because the computers didn't talk to each other.
There are enormously promising platforms and applications that will enable every computer to talk to every other computer within the Federal government. Sun Microsystems, IBM, Microsoft and others are all working feverishly on "web services" applications that address the interoperability/data sharing issue directly. Companies like Groove are working on P2P platforms that could make "interoperability" a reality throughout the national security/law enforcement apparatus.
The system failure of September 11 was caused by many things, including an over-reliance on signal intelligence at the expense of our human intelligence capability/capacity. But the key failure was technological. Our computers didn't talk to each other. Fix that and you go a long way toward fixing the larger problem.
Monday, June 03, 2002
Posted by John at 6/03/2002 10:49:00 PM