THE MAGAZINE

Think Tank Perspective: Interview with Philip Mudd

By Matthew Harwood

The report talks about creating a new type of analytical report for states and locals. What would it look like, and how would it benefit state and local first preventers?

The first question would be not “What do we produce for them?” My question to them would be, “What do you need that can help you make decisions better on security issues?” And a second question would be, “How do we deliver it that’s most efficient for you?”

I suspect the answer is going to be that it has to be useful, it has to be tactical, but it can’t be classified so they don’t need to go to a SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility) to read it. It should come on their iPad or via e-mail.

It’s going to be a redefinition of the way we think about intelligence for customers who are outside the Beltway, who aren’t optimized to handle classified information and who need it delivered electronically by things like iPhones.

Say you’re looking at attacks against tourist targets overseas. We’ve seen attacks in Indonesia. We’ve seen them in the Horn of Africa. We’ve seen them in the Philippines. We’ve seen them in India. What does that tell us about the vulnerabilities of hotels or resorts? What does it tell us about how people operated, how they breached security, how security failed to prevent them from operating inside a hotel in Mumbai, for example? Are there things that we’re learning that somebody in the hotel industry in Las Vegas or Los Angeles or New York should know?

I don’t think any of that’s particularly sensitive. But my point is that the question starts with “You’re the security director of a major hospitality company: What do you need? Can we fill that gap?” If so, let’s ensure that we deliver your needs in a way that helps you answer the question fast, instead of a classic Washington approach, which is that we’re going to take the information we have; package it up in traditional paper-based intelligence reports that are classified; and give it to you via mechanisms that aren’t that convenient. That’s been the proclivity of the intelligence community for the past 70 years, and it needs to change.

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