If you didn’t steal it or get it by secret means, it’s not intelligence

From the Sources And Methods Blog

One of Australia’s oldest and largest newspapers, The Age, recently published a lengthy article (Thanks, Chris!) on the potential value of open source information to the Australian intelligence community and bemoaning the fact that open source isn’t used as much as it should be. Sounds familiar…

Unfortunately, too many people who should know better don’t understand that it is the analysis that matters, not the source of the data.

Open Source Intelligence

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) has been around for a very long time, but in recent years its importance has grown. For example, the USA has the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), which was established in 1941, transcribing and translating foreign broadcasts. It absorbed the Defense Department’s Joint Publications Research Service, which did a similar function with foreign printed materials, including newspapers, magazines, and technical journals. In November 2005, it was announced that FBIS would become part of the newly-formed Open Source Center, tasked with the collection and analysing of freely-available intelligence.

In Open Source Intelligence by RICHARD S. FRIEDMAN, Ambassador Johnstone’s story about using CNN to gather needed information shows how OSINT often goes unrecognised as a valuable resource. However, that is changing if these are any measure: Pentagon’s “Best Source of Intel”: TV and The Enemy is Me.

In the private sector, we now have companies with experienced handlers using foreign language specialists who read hundreds of newspapers, listen to radio broadcasts, and watch foreign TV news to produce intelligence reports.