Sailing the Sea of OSINT in the Information Age
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WASHINGTON DC CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF INTELLIGENCE
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Our ages increasingly voluminous open-source intelligence OSINT sheds light on issues of the day for all-source analysts, covert collectors, and policymakers, but have we done enough to exploit its potential My short answer is No, and heres why I think so. Collecting intelligence these days is at times less a matter of stealing through dark alleys in a foreign land to meet some secret agent than one of surfing the Internet under the fluorescent lights of an office cubicle to find some open source. The world is changing with the advance of commerce and technology. Mouse clicks and online dictionaries today often prove more useful than stylish cloaks and shiny daggers in gathering intelligence required to help analysts and officials understand the world. Combined with stolen secrets, diplomatic reports, and technical collection, open sources constitute what one former deputy director of intelligence termed the intricate mosaic of intelligence. Todays commercial and technical advances are only the latest developments in a collection discipline whose pioneers began developing the field in the late 1930s. Building on early work at Princeton University to monitor foreign short-wave radio, the Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service FBIS in 1941 began to turn radio into a primary intelligence source during World War II. The government did not neglect the printed word either. The Interdepartmental Committee for the Acquisition of Foreign Periodicals IDC gathered Axis publications through a global collection network. The men and women who labored in the OSINT fields of the day produced products that compared well in quantity and quality to those of other agencies that stamped their documents SECRET.
- Military Intelligence