If you’ve not read my previous post on Open Source Intelligence, known as OSINT in the Intelligence Community, then I’d go read it now — it’s called Open Secrets and it’s about a delightfully well written article by Malcom Gladwell on the topic of deriving intelligence from public information.
Provided you’ve read that post, then you should find this recent USA Today story, entitled Today’s Spies Find Secrets in Plain Sight, of interest as well.
… the President’s Daily Brief and other crucial intelligence reports often rely less on secrets from risky espionage missions than on material that’s available to just about anyone.
Intelligence officers have gleaned insights on Iran’s nuclear capabilities from photos on the Internet. They’ve scooped up documents, including a terrorist training manual, at international conferences and public forums. They’ve found information in foreign university libraries and newscasts.
Open sources can provide up to 90% of the information needed to meet most U.S. intelligence needs, Deputy Director of National Intelligence Thomas Fingar said in a recent speech. Harnessing that information “is terribly important,” he said. “It ought to be a normal part of what we do, not being fixated on secrets dribbling into the computer’s in-box.”