The Spy Chief and Bohemian Rhapsody

Very often, complaints about the stasis of the reform-resistant Intelligence Community recount the same old complaints, about how little the bureaucratic and stovepiped mentality has changed inside its oh-so-thick walls.

Yet I find some encouraging signs, and this week featured another one: the ceremony for this year’s winning entries in the IC’s “Galileo Awards” program, designed to reward innovative ideas and proposals for new thinking and positive change. More than 50 entries came from 14 separate agencies across the community, and this week marked the public crowning (at least, publicly to an intell audience) of the three winning papers.

Just in case you weren't sure - that's DNI Blair on the left, I believe, Freddie Mercury on right

Just in case you weren't sure - that's DNI Blair on the left, I believe, Freddie Mercury on right

And oh, how far we’ve come from the days of DNI Mike McConnell, not to say gray-faced shadowy DCI’s like Dulles and Colby, when we see a DNI rock the stage as Dennis Blair did in Wednesday’s ceremony.

Rock the stage? Well, I take it as a real sign of progressive change in the IC that we now have a Director of National Intelligence who can easily and with familiarity quote from an iconic rock song of the 1970s to make his point:

Everyone knows something about Galileo – if nothing else, as a lyric in the Queen song, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” You head-bangers in the audience, if you know what I’m talking about, bob your heads up and down.

For the rest of you who are a little less contemporary, Galileo was the Renaissance scientist who proved empirically that the Sun – not the Earth – was the center of the known universe.  It’s too bad he’s still not around in some modern version to prove Washington is not the center of the universe.

Blair did have a more serious point to make: “We have to work to create an integrated global enterprise that can anticipate and respond to rapidly changing threats. Innovation has never been more important. And keeping the Intelligence Community on the cutting edge of innovation is a critical priority for all of us.”

Unfortunately for those of you without security clearances, the submissions – the “innovative ideas” on how to improve intelligence collection, analysis, and operations – are often classified. So you won’t be able to read them in the open.  Nor should you 🙂

But it is at least worth mentioning, as Blair did, that for the first time in the often CIA-dominated awards, a paper submitted by two FBI officers (often considered the red-haired stepchildren of the IC) received honorable mentions. As Freddie Mercury – oh, sorry, as Denny Blair said: ” That’s an important trend toward participation and collaborative thinking, from all corners of our Intelligence Community.”

My congratulations to the winners – and a tip of the hat to all those who submitted.

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10 Responses

  1. Actually Galileo papers are supposed to be unclassified, but they have to go through a vetting process for public release and may not be releasable after the review. Of course the most famous Galileo paper is Cal Andrus’ “The Wiki and the Blog” – the first Galileo winner and the only paper to have ever been implemented. Innovation without action is not worth the paper it’s written on. I hope that the new DNI will make innovation a verb instead of a noun.


  2. Kelcy – Thanks – but I seem to recall several that have been maintained as classified, whether or not there was an intent for release.

    Agree: focus must be on “innovate” as a charge to the community… and a license.


  3. Даже и не придирешься!


  4. Не понимаю причину такого ажиотажа. Ничего нового и мнения разные.


  5. Млин, спамеры просто достали уже этим своим примитивом!


  6. И вежливым молчанием можно дико нахамить.


  7. Есть два способа разлюбить человека: перестать общаться или же узнать его поближе.


  8. Обдумывание жизни не оставляет времени на жизнь.


  9. Для полного счастья всегда чего-нибудь не хватает. То табуретки, то мыла, то веревки…


  10. Луч смерти — это взгляд, который одна женщина бросает на другую, одинаково с ней одетую.


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