Please disable your adblock and script blockers to view this page

Former deputy CIA director for science and technology Dawn ...

CBS News
CBS News
Intelligence Matters
the Central Intelligence Agency
Carnegie Mellon
Northrop Grumman
Jet Propulsion Labs
Air Force Intel
the Air Force
the Science and Technology Directorate
CIA Labs
the Chief Technology Officer
the Technology Mission Center
CIA Technology Fellows
the Transformational Technology Mission Center
the Mission Centers
the Directorate of Operations
Breaking News & Analysis
the Free CBS News
CBS Interactive Inc.

Michael Morell
Dawn Meyerriecks
Keith Alexander
Denny Blair
Glenn Gaffney
John - I
Bill Burns
Jeff Bezos

Desert Storm II

the West Coast
the East Coast
Desert Storm

China Mission Center

the United States

the Cold War
World War II
World War II.I

Positivity     44.86%   
   Negativity   55.14%
The New York Times
Write a review:

In this episode of Intelligence Matters, host Michael Morell speaks with Dawn Meyerriecks, former deputy director for science and technology at the CIA, about the role of technology in intelligence collection and analysis and how technological developments can enhance, threaten or fundamentally change the work of national security. I wish I'd found y'all earlier, but I'm glad I got there.MICHAEL MORELL: And Dawn, any advice for a young person that's listening who would love to end up working at CIA in the Science and Technology Directorate? How do you think about the arc of technology and how it's changed over time?DAWN MEYERRIECKS: Yeah, that's a really, really good question. But I think one of the big differences between before and now is the rate of change.When I've spoken about CORONA, the first photographic capability from space, and the history there is that we had a lot of misses, like 20-plus misses before we actually got it right. And so, you know, some of my friends who are very successful venture capitalists recruit people like us and also soft folks precisely for that reason is because we see markets and we don't think about it that way, but we see opportunities that turn into big markets that can be monetized and actually change standards of living around the world.And I think that's a part that we don't think about very often in the agency. Didn't actually ever use it operationally, but that was 30 years before anybody talked about it.MICHAEL MORELL: Dawn, looking back at the history, I'm wondering if there's something to be learned about how closely the private sector and the government worked together in those early days of the Cold War and how that compares to where we are today. And that starts to get at this time change that we talked about earlier that it really isn't responsive, given the kinds of demands that are put on the organization and that are addressable through technology.So I think figuring out how we can partner with folks who are looking for innovative ideas vis-a-vis technology with our innovators, of which there are a plethora, represents real opportunity, and I think places like In-Q-Tel and CIA Labs and IARPA are a down payment on what would be possible if we open up the aperture.MICHAEL MORELL: I want to ask you two key questions here, what does getting technology right at CIA look like and what does CIA have to do to get there?DAWN MEYERRIECKS: So getting technology right at CIA, I don't think differs all that much from commercial in one sense, and that is good commercial technologists, good CIA technologists anticipate what's going to be needed operationally and environmentally and don't wait for the requirements to show up, because otherwise you no longer are competitive. So I think that's one of the similar features.And for example, we started doing investments in what is now called 'ubiquitous technical surveillance.' But at the time, there was a big, you know, everybody talked about 'Internet of Things.' And I did an Aspen interview that they talked about what I lost sleep over and I said, 'Well, the Internet of Things.'So we started doing investments in 2016, and it took two years for one of our operations officers to say, 'You know, I'm having this problem.' It was a hard target country. We have less margin in terms of what we have to do right and get right.MICHAEL MORELL: So Dawn, we're talking about what does getting technology right look like. Is the impediment culture as opposed to anything else?DAWN MEYERRIECKS: Yes, I think we've got to look at a couple of things. So I feel like I need to leave so that I can stay viable from a technical perspective.' So that's a big problem.I also think that there's a different sensibility in that generation - and I have four boys, so I live with this in terms of, if I don't get to do the latest and greatest cool stuff in pursuit of good mission, then I can go someplace where I can - and that I think we have to get a lot better at accepting from a couple of perspectives.One is, we have to be able to embrace changes in technology much faster than we have in the past. My kids think that's fabulous service, right?So buying patterns, if you think about, if you've got any of the devices, Nest or any of the smart devices in your home, your cell phone is an indication of where you are with pretty high fidelity most of the time, unless you work for the intelligence community.The city of London is well known for having, you know, 14 cameras per person or some crazy statistic. Isn't that great?' It's about convenience and one of the things we learned when I ran product for AOL is that for a $10 pizza coupon, people will give you any information that you ask for.So - because that's like, 'Hey, I can get better service, I can get better ads,' you know, 'I don't want to see that ad about that kind of medication, but hey, I'm really interested in this product over here.' So people view it as a, it makes life easier, and generally it does.For folks that are in the HUMINT business, that makes it really, really hard to conduct any sort of clandestine operation, as you might imagine. MICHAEL MORELL: I mean, I'd say - I don't know if you would agree - I'd say this is existential for the HUMINT business, if we don't get this right.DAWN MEYERRIECKS: That's absolutely correctMICHAEL MORELL: Dawn, the changes that Director Burns announced a few months ago - most of the media focus was on the new China Mission Center, but I actually thought most of the changes in number, and the most important ones, were related to technology, and you actually led that review group for the director. We had a really great team and got really valuable feedback.And to your point, I think the agency, part of what was signaled in what Bill is saying is, 'I want to play tall ball when it comes to technology and being overt with respect to the import and impact it has at CIA, but also on a national level.' And so I think, to start with the Transformational Technology Mission Center, it was an acknowledgement that we have a role to play, we, the agency, have a role to play in informing policy makers vis-a-vis anticipatory intelligence with respect to technology trends that could undermine national security as well as national economic security.And I think that's a big piece of what Bill is asking, and the nation, actually, is asking us to step into. Now we're going to have to explore where those boundaries are.MICHAEL MORELL: OK, Dawn: CTO.DAWN MEYERRIECKS: So I think the CTO role is really to be the technical adviser directly to the DCIA and that I think that's brilliant because currently, and you know this well, when I use that scenario of, if we need to do a rapid response to something, then it has to come out of what's going on today. And so having those conversations in a meaningful way are really, really difficult.So the director's expectation is that the CTO will establish a technical strategy and arbitrate those kinds of conversations and then represent that externally very vociferously and with the commercial acumen to help drive more of these public-private partnerships that we've talked about several times.So the expectation is that that individual will have business acumen, understand market verticals from a business perspective and then translate that back into the agency in terms of opportunities to execute the technical strategy that collectively we will lay out and agree to.And a significant piece of the agency's resources go to technology, both people and dollars. To go back: they have to keep our secrets, but we don't have to be mysterious about what we need.MICHAEL MORELL: And I bet you that some of them who come will end up staying because the mission is so compelling.Is your sense, Dawn, that with the changes the director has made here, that we're on the right road to getting to where we need to be?DAWN MEYERRIECKS: It is, it is. And it's important.MICHAEL MORELL: So having said that, Dawn, if you were going to leave the organization with one message about technology going forward and making sure that we get this right, what would it be? I'm just wondering if a CEO of a tech company is listening to the podcast, and if that person asks, 'Look, if I have an offering, a product or a service that I think CIA might be interested in,' how would that person get in front of the right people at the agency? And it may take a time or two, but I would submit that's no different than going to, you know, a large-scale corporation to get to the folks that are actually interested in that technology.Not a very satisfactory answer, but the most honest one I can think of.MICHAEL MORELL:No, I think it's a good answer, and I think it gives people actual, you know, very specifics of what to do.

As said here by