Dennis Kennedy

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Do You Feel Safer Now? FBI Computer Network Delays

Have you ever read Barbara Tuchman’s March of Folly? It’s a book that I want to put on my re-reading list as appropriate for this time, but the idea of revisiting those themes in the environment of today’s news is a little scary.
Did you see this one?
Report: FBI antiterror computer system delayed – Virtual Case File won’t be ready this year, article says
I have to admit that my mind drifted off to the Tuchman book after reading these two paragraphs:
“The newspaper quoted one FBI official who suggested the Virtual Case File program, designed to allow agents to share information easily, “might ultimately have to be abandoned.”
FBI Director Robert Mueller had lauded the system as one that would help agents make the types of connections that were missed before the attacks of September 11, 2001.”
Are you feeling safer now? Anyone? Anyone?
Maybe I’m an alarmist, but this story strikes me as being cause for major concern.
In this context, think about this story: “Someone’s Listening In – FBI pushes for ‘rewiring’ of broadband networks. And, if you have the stomach for further inquiry, consider the impact of the lack of adequate computer tools in the scenarios raised in “Intelligence is not static.”
I have the highest respect for the FBI agents I have met over the years, but how can they do the work without the adequate tools?
I’ll leave you with these sobering thoughts from the CNN article:
“A staff statement recently issued by the commission investigating the attacks of September 11 highlighted how antiquated technology had hampered the bureau’s ability to detect terrorist activity.
“The FBI’s primary information management system, designed using the 1980s technology already obsolete when installed in 1995, limited the bureau’s ability to share its information internally and externally,” the statement said in part. “The FBI did not have an effective system for storing, searching, or retrieving information of intelligence value contained in its investigative files.”
My question: as we march forward in the Global War on Terrorism, do we really think that the odds favor the slow of foot, or those marching down the paths Tuchman describes?
Anyone feel safer out there now?

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