Thursday, May 05, 2005

Real Men Don't Google

A report dealing with the Department of Justice Inspector General's report on intelligence analysts in the FBI in today's Washington Post Federal Diary: FBI Analyst Jobs Remain Vacant:

"The report also documented numerous instances in which analysts were made to perform work that one called 'demeaning.' One veteran intelligence analyst who went to the bureau from another agency spent a week watching workers do a repair job, while another analyst at a small field office was required to work nights and weekends operating the telephone switchboard.

Some analysts appear to be viewed as assistants to regular FBI agents, who ask them to perform Internet searches and other basic research, the audit found. 'A lot of my job doesn't require a college education,' one analyst told investigators."
I blogged on related subjects in connection with the 9/11 commission report and the FBI's failed attempt to automate their activities. I've skimmed part of the IG report, which seems to say:
  • FBI has hired new analysts in the last 5 years, including people with foreign language, military intelligence and similar backgrounds.
  • But it's having problems keeping the new hires, because the training isn't good and the FBI doesn't really know how to handle them. The impression I get is that the hires see themselves as members of a profession, while the special agents who dominate the agency see them as "support".
  • By contrast, the older analysts, those who converted over from secretarial/support specialties are less discontented and more comfortable. They have learned over time that the agents are top dog in the agency and are reconciled to that fact.
  • The training for analysts lumps new and old analysts together, but importantly does not include special agents. Also, the analysts can't train on a computer facility that would permit sharing data with other agencies, a true indicator of how [un]important DOJ thinks data sharing is.
So the FBI culture of macho get-your-man continues. And its disdain for those like Robert Hansen who understand computers but isn't a "real" special agent like J. Edgar and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. continues. Assuming no more 9-11's, it's likely the culture will continue, unless an analyst captures bin Laden. Organizations are like bodies; their immune systems reject things identified as "alien". My position is supported by this from the Post piece:

"Judge Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit said he believed that crime fighting, rather than intelligence work, "will always be dominant" in the bureau.

Although law enforcement is "easily graded and important for careers," Posner said, intelligence work is more difficult to measure. He also said the decentralized nature of the FBI does not lend itself well to battling global terrorist networks.

As a result, Posner said, there is "really a deep dog and cat incompatibility between criminal and intelligence activities."

1 comment:

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