Gail Harris was assigned by the U.S. Navy to a combat intelligence job in 1973, becoming the first woman to hold such a position. When she retired at the end of 2001, she was the highest ranking African American female in the Navy; her career spanned 28 years of leadership in the intelligence community, from the Cold War to Desert Storm to Kosovo. Her last challenge was in developing policy for the Computer Network Defense and Computer Network Attack for the Department of Defense. She recently authored A Woman’s War: The Professional and Personal Journey of the Navy’s First African American Female Intelligence Officer and will be at a special program at the International Spy Museum tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. She’ll share her unique experience and perspective in providing intelligence support to military operations while also battling the status quo, office bullies, and politics.
After the jump, a brief Q&A between the International Spy Museum and Gail Harris. Continue reading →
Tomorrow at noon, the International Spy Museum is having a lunchtime discussion with journalist Shane Harris on his new book, The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State. In his new book, Harris tracks the government’s elusive quest to build a computer system that can sift huge amounts of electronic data for signs of terrorist activity. First proposed by national security adviser John Poindexter in 1983, reopened after the 9/11 attacks in a program called Total Information Awareness (TIA), and publicly banned by Congress in 2003, TIA was recreated as a classified program at the National Security Agency and is now a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s national security policy. Drawing on unprecedented access to the people who pioneered this high-tech spycraft, Harris contends that despite billions of dollars spent on this digital quest since the Reagan era, the government still can’t discern future threats in the vast data cloud, but can now spy on its citizens with an ease that was impossible and illegal just a few years ago.