A Classified Wikipedia

A good idea:

The office of U.S. intelligence czar John Negroponte announced Intellipedia, which allows intelligence analysts and other officials to collaboratively add and edit content on the government’s classified Intelink Web much like its more famous namesake on the World Wide Web.

A “top secret” Intellipedia system, currently available to the 16 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community, has grown to more than 28,000 pages and 3,600 registered users since its introduction on April 17. Less restrictive versions exist for “secret” and “sensitive but unclassified” material.

Posted on November 15, 2006 at 6:41 AM36 Comments


Carlo Graziani November 15, 2006 7:01 AM

I bet it’s hosted on a Windows Server box, with SQL Server processes listening on various TCP ports.

On the bright side, if it crashes they’ll be able to get a full backup from Beijing.

Sammy The Surfer November 15, 2006 7:15 AM

So how about a version of this for us regular folk with unclassified but still useful information?

We could call it Bruceopedia.

Clive Robinson November 15, 2006 7:22 AM


“A good idea”

If the right people read it and understand it… But I have my doubts if it is going to ever work.

Public publication with peer review has a number of downsides (previously discussed on this blog). But at least the papers generaly get read and critisised and most importantly from this real progress is made.

I suspect this Wiki will become like the “no fly list”, incorect information will go on, never be removed, and in (a relativly short) time become moribound under the weight of false data…

Fred November 15, 2006 8:47 AM


Having worked on a wiki that focuses on a small area, I’d suggest that the percentage of incorrect information will be low, but at a fairly constant percentage. Obviously false data tends to be removed quickly; data that is questionable or non-obviously false tends to take longer to remove.

I think that the real danger of such a system is that a tiny number of experts (possibly 1) will end up mostly controlling information about certain major subjects. In cases where the information is subjective or open to interpretation, it could be significant that the information displays this bias.

Ross Patterson November 15, 2006 9:01 AM

So how does a 28,000 page wiki with 3,600 users jive with compartmentalization and need-to-know? Or have those whole concepts been dropped in favor of inter-agency cooperation?

Eric K. November 15, 2006 9:03 AM

Actually, Sammy’s idea would be pretty interesting.

A public Wiki about Cryptography. “Cryptopedia”?

Something that can be used as adefinitive source for knowledge about the topic so people can arm themselves against snake-oil salesmen. (If I hear another gimmick vendor bragging about the number of bits in their encryption, I might go homicidal.)

Sheena November 15, 2006 10:05 AM

The “wikipedia” from “wiki” and “pedia” from encyclopedia.

Since it is not an encyclopedia and is a wiki, this should really be called an “intelliwiki” or something.

David Harper November 15, 2006 11:04 AM

I expect there will be a lengthy and detailed article on Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.

Oh, hang on a moment … they never existed.

Fred November 15, 2006 11:22 AM

@Ross Patterson-
There is no mention of how they handle Sensitive Compartmented Information; I’d assume that either they compartmentalize it on the wiki, create a different wiki, or most likely, simply don’t allow it on the wiki in the first place. Similarly, I wouldn’t expect anything in a special access program to be on this wiki.

Patience Dowell November 15, 2006 1:24 PM

A Schneier wiki would be cool. But I’m happy with the blog too.

This is an interesting idea they have, but seeing as we know about it, it’s probably already off to a bad start…

wkwillis November 15, 2006 1:46 PM

This is where they put information that they don’t care if the bad guys know, but need to make sure that you guys don’t find out.
Do you think that this is some kind of antileaking thing? If they aren’t talking to strangers from other agencies because of worries that they might be charged with leaking, this might be necessary as a way to background others in the government with stuff that they still don’t want you to know, but that somebody they aren’t dealing with every day needs to know.

Petréa Mitchell November 15, 2006 2:41 PM

“I expect there will be a lengthy and detailed article on Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.

Oh, hang on a moment … they never existed.”

Think of how useful it would be if they could assemble a lengthy and detailed article on Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and how they came to believe the WMDs existed.

Then again, think of the revert wars that article would attract as people tried to cover their butts…

Yonatan Zunger November 15, 2006 3:20 PM

@Ross Patterson –

The post described it as a “Top Secret” wiki, so I’m assuming that SCI stuff simply isn’t on there. (Although it is possible to create access lists in a wiki, I doubt that system would pass a really serious security review with vanilla Wiki code)

paul November 15, 2006 3:53 PM

It’s nice to hear about this. It is a little sad that some of the plans for this kind of information sharing were in place before the turn of the century, and that the basic notion dates from some time in 2002 at the latest.

(And, like others, I worry a little about running in “system-high” configuration, since it makes it pretty likely that eventually there will be some really unpleasant breaches, either in or out.)

B-Con November 15, 2006 7:59 PM

That really is a good idea. A central database where everyone can add/retrieve/browse relevent info.

I for one would like to take a peek at whatever they put on the AES page.

I also wonder if Bruce will have his own page…

bob November 16, 2006 6:52 AM

@Sheena: The difference between wiki and traditional encyclopedias is that with a traditional the input base of those people who are allowed to imbed their personal opinions into the material is a much smaller and less homogenous group.

alabamatoy November 16, 2006 7:15 AM

“I expect there will be a lengthy and detailed article on Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.

Oh, hang on a moment … they never existed.”

Really? Just how does one know this for certain? After all, Saddam’s forces only had 6 years to hide/dispose/relocate them. Iraq is about the size of California, with nearly as varied terrain. We have forces smaller than the California state police looking for the stuff, why is it so difficult to imagine that we just havent found it, or that it was moved to (fill in the blank with any radical islamic nation)?

Any BTW, why does everyone forget those pictures carried in the NYSlimes of the sarin which our invading forces DID find?

Oh, that’s right, I forgot it was a vast right-wing conspiracy that duped the entire Democratically controlled Senate and House and sitting President (Clinton) into believing and stating that removal of Hussein was in the USAs best interest, so the VRWC could have an excuse to send its children to die.

I bet that WMD article on the wiki would be very enlightening, except for the historical revisionists who would gag on the truth. That’s the problem with wikis, they are no more or less accurate than prevailing political correctness allows them to be.

Clive Robinson November 16, 2006 7:26 AM


“So how about a version of this for us regular folk with unclassified but still useful information? We could call it Bruceopedia.”

How about Neal Stephenson’s sugestion of “Cryptonomicon” from what I remember Bruce’s work is allready in there (but attributed to root 😉


Larry November 16, 2006 9:03 AM

I’m sure the wiki is on a MILS server. I remember seeing a beta product by Galois that implemented a wiki in on a MILS system. It could be as compartmented as you needed it to be with full control over all users.

eMarv November 17, 2006 1:29 AM

@Sammy’s first comment

Great idea! I actually have thought about the same thing for the last couple of years. My idea was sharing open unclassified intel. Check http://sharedIntel.com for more details (though it has not taken off yet… 🙂 What do you think?

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