Every few years the National Intelligence Council has produced a document it calls serially Global Trends [fill in the future year]. The latest edition, out just in time for Barack Obama's second term, is Global Trends 2030.
Americans now possess (or more accurately are possessed by) a vast "intelligence" bureaucracy deeply in the shadows, whose activities are a mass of known unknowns and unknown unknowns to those of us on the outside. It is beyond enormous.
Lost is the lesson of 9/11: We didn't have a collection problem but a connection one. Yet our response has largely been not to find better ways of connecting the dots, but rather simply to collect more dots.
When it comes to overseeing contractors, as the old saying goes, you ain't seen nothing yet. That's because we've barely begun to consider the use of private contractors in another critical national security realm: the intelligence community.
Think of Iraq as the AIG of wars -- the only difference being that the bailout there didn't involve just three payouts. More than eight years after the Bush administration invaded that country, the bailout is, unbelievably enough, still going.
The recent operation against Osama bin Laden has consumed much news coverage, and there have been specific and more opaque references to the amount of intelligence collection necessary to move to raid bin Laden's compound.