Richard Posner Argues For Bringing the Silicon Valley Model to the Intelligence Community

What Our Intelligence Agencies Could Learn from Silicon Valley
Richard A. Posner
The Wall Street Journal
May 28, 2010

The failure to prevent the 9/11 terrorist attacks led three years later to the Intelligence Reform Act, which decreed a reorganization of the nation's intelligence system. Government reorganizations are a common response to government failures (we're seeing it again, in the financial regulatory reform legislation now wending its way through Congress).

They are quick, highly visible, easily explained, and relatively cheap -- and ineffective when the failures that beget them are not failures of institutional design. That's the case with regard to financial reform: The nations of the world organize their monetary and fiscal agencies in very different ways, and there is no evidence that any organizational form was more successful than any other in anticipating or responding to the financial collapse of September 2008. The problem was not institutional design, but execution.

It's the same with intelligence. The world's intelligence systems are structured in very different ways, and no particular way seems to have a marked advantage in preventing intelligence failures -- which are frequent because of the uncertainties inherent in trying to ferret out the secrets of a nation's enemies.