Association of Former Intelligence Officers

TOP SECRET INTRANET, by Frederick Thomas Martin, 1998. A top secret, secure network across the intelligence community, called Intelink, has revolutionized the dissemination of U.S. intelligence in recent years. The author, a former NSA official, tells how the 13 intelligence agencies have gone from zealously guarding their own secrets to sharing many of them over "the world's largest, most secure network." Started in late 1994, Intelink is now used regularly by 50,000 analysts, operatives, military officers and policymakers with top secret security clearances at 100 different sites. Reportedly, they can access the latest satellite imagery from NIMA, search the network for communications intercepts from NSA, and chat electronically with other analysts.

The searchable universe of Intellink consists of 440,000 electronic pages, which makes it a very large site by commercial standards. Intelink's operations center is housed at NSA, and all terminal are located inside top-secret government facilities. Only commercially available software was used in creating the net. Traffic on the net is highly encrypted.

The intelligence agencies on the Intelink maintain their own internal intranets separated by firewalls from Intelink, leaving Intelink largely for "finished intelligence." At DIA the daily intelligence brief presented every morning to the Joint Chiefs, is now available to military commanders all over the world via Intelink within 15 minutes.

The Intelink has forced the Intelligence community to severely bend the 'need-to-know' doctrine of the past, and has also forced acceptance of a 'frightening situation' from a counterintelligence standpoint where a traitor could download secrets that might not otherwise have been available to him. Work is ongoing to create software to build certain electronic pages that require their own digital identification for a user to gain access. (Loeb/WP 1 Dec 98, pA23) (DonH)

Reviewed in AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes #02-99, 12 January 1999

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