July 21, 2021


Promote Open Source to a Full Member of the Intelligence Community: The exploitation of publicly or commercially available information must be recognized alongside spies, signals intelligence, and other established branches of practice. (MARK QUANTOCK, DAVID DILLOW and MCDANIEL WICKER, JULY 21, 2021, Defense One)

The U.S. intelligence community should elevate open-source intelligence to a core "int," alongside signal intelligence, human intelligence, and geospatial intelligence, and its agencies should better "integrate OSINT into collection and analytic tradecraft." That's what the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) recently recommended, and based on our extensive experience in the intelligence community and DoD, including multiple combat tours to the Middle East and South Asia, we firmly concur.

The United States' intelligence agencies and military intelligence functions were established during a time when national assets were needed to address information gaps. Secrets uncovered through classified means were often the only way to understand the world and the intentions of other countries. Today, such intelligence still offers invaluable insight, but the exponential growth of publicly and commercially available information allows unprecedented amounts of actionable intelligence to be generated from these open sources, all while freeing up expensive and resource-conscribed Ints to fill more challenging intel gaps. 

Some visionaries within government have taken important steps in this direction. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency was an early "tea leaf reader" and saw the value of integrating commercial imagery data into analyses. Similarly, the Defense Intelligence Agency was the first to establish an OSINT career field to grow and develop professionals with the unique skillsets required for this domain. But if we are to keep pace with the rapidly evolving and expanding world of open-source intelligence, the DoD and intelligence community must more fully embrace the CSIS recommendation to treat OSINT "as a cornerstone of U.S. intelligence, relevant across the IC enterprise and in all aspects of its current and future missions." 

Sophisticated intelligence professionals understand that operational and strategic intelligence depends on open sources--and increasingly, so does tactical intelligence.

Donald's ties to Russia are an excellent illustration of the problem with keeping some information classified, which tends to give it a false sense of greater value.  Nevermind that data like the Steele Dossier was useful for investigations and to the American public, but the fact that Russian interference followed Donald's promises to lift anti-Vlad sanctions was treated as less significant than secret details. 

Posted by at July 21, 2021 7:32 AM