Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

From Raw Information to Finished Intelligence

The intelligence process transforms raw information into finished intelligence for policymakers to use in decision making and action.

The intelligence process is often geometrically portrayed as a circle. That is not accurate. Neither is it accurate to say that the intelligence process is linear. Both geometric descriptions incorrectly suggest that one element of the process must end before the next begins. It is accurately characterized as a process. All of the elements occur, and they are all related, but they definitely need not occur sequentially.

Elements of the Intelligence Process

Identification of Essential Elements of Information or Requirements (EEIR)

At this stage of the process, management (the President, the Chief of Police, a newspaper editor, you, etc.) identifies what it wants to know, what information needs to be collected and why it needs to be collected to achieve the desired results.

Identifying the EEIR is the guide, the direction, for information collection. It enables collection requirements to be narrowed and refined to those most likely to be productive. It enables the collector to focus on the information to be collected and not waste either collection or analytical resources.

Systematic Collection of Information in Response to the EEIR

Collection of information must be focused to be efficient and productive. There are many open sources of information, including people, radio and television broadcasts, the internet, newspapers, periodicals, and books.

There are also secret sources of information. Human intelligence (HUMINT) relies on a person (known as a source or agent) reporting information covertly or clandestinely to another person (known as a handler or case officer). There is technical collection including imagery intelligence (IMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), measurements and signatures intelligence (MASINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT) and geospatial intelligence. Geospatial is the newest “-INT”. It refers to the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess, and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on earth.

Evaluation of Collected Information

Evaluation of the collected information is not the same as analysis. Evaluation determines how factual the information is. How accurate is it? Evaluation tries to assess the truthfulness and reliability of the source of the information. Both the information and its source(s) must be evaluated. It is entirely possible for a highly reliable and truthful source to supply totally inaccurate and useless information. Likewise, just because a source has no track record of reliability and truthfulness does not mean the information the source provides is bad.

It is very important to remember that "classified" information is not automatically more factual or accurate than unclassified information. Security classifications are usually applied to information to protect the information's source or the method used to collect it.

Collation of the Collected Information

A wide array of information will be collected in various forms. Presumably it was collected and reported because it was responsive to the EEIR.

Collation is the first step in transforming raw information into finished intelligence. Collation is more than just the systematic storage or filing of information. It includes sifting out useless, irrelevant, inaccurate, or duplicated information. It also includes the orderly arrangement of collected information so that relationships between apparently disconnected data elements may be established. Finally, collation includes a systematic method for storing and retrieving information so it can be analyzed quickly, effectively, and confidently.

Analysis of the Collated Information

Competent, timely analysis is the heart of the intelligence process and system. Analysis examines the collated bits and pieces of information that have been collected from a variety of sources and puts them together in a way that shows pattern and meaning.

Reporting and Disseminating the Finished Intelligence

The raw information that has been collected, evaluated, collated, and analyzed can be correctly called finished intelligence.

Finished intelligence is produced for reporting and dissemination to those who need it to do their jobs. Reporting alludes to the format used to deliver the intelligence to the consumer. The format can vary from the formal President's Daily Brief (PDB) delivered personally to the President of the United States. It can also be the newspaper delivered daily to our front doorstep. Dissemination is the process used to deliver it. Reporting must be clear and unambiguous. Dissemination must be timely. Having finished intelligence and not reporting and disseminating it wastes the information and the resources that were committed to its production.


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