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.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Our Own Personal Intelligence Service

We are told there were “intelligence failures” leading up to the events of September 11, 2001. The President is expected to sign a sweeping intelligence reform bill during the week of December 13-17, 2004. That should solve our perceived intelligence failures, right?

Well, that depends. Analyses of historic intelligence failures tend to skim over one that is usually not characterized as an intelligence failure: executive inaction. That’s probably too harsh. A more accurate characterization might be “executive reluctance to believe the intelligence or grasp its significance.” Improved finished intelligence reporting and dissemination should be beneficial, but only if the policy makers and decision makers who receive it use it to generate appropriate timely policies and decisions.

So what does that observation have to do with the topic of this blog entry: Our Own Personal Intelligence Service?

More than you might think. You and I may be guilty of “executive inaction”.

Every day we have remarkable access to finished intelligence. For many of us, it is delivered almost as personally as the President receives the President’s Daily Brief. It is our morning newspaper. And we are not limited to one. In addition to the one with real ink on real newsprint, we have Internet access to many of the world’s newspapers.

It is not a stretch to refer to our daily newspaper as “finished intelligence.” If you read my blog page “From Raw Information to Finished Intelligence,” you will see some striking similarities between the intelligence process and the newspaper publication process. Reporters are gathering and checking facts, copyreaders are double-checking, editors are checking again and ensuring that the most timely and valuable information is made available to us. The comparison between finished intelligence and our daily newspaper can be summed up in four words: Timely truth well told.

Yet at a Spokesman Review readers forum in Coeur d’Alene on November 18, 2004, Editor Steve Smith told the forum that “...our studies show overall daily newspaper readership in North Idaho (including readership of our paper, the Coeur d'Alene Press and its sister papers), is substantially below readership in most other regions in the country.”

That is astonishing. We have access to a vast amount of finished intelligence that we could be using to improve our lives and our communities, and a huge percentage of us choose to ignore it. We are receiving community-level “actionable intelligence” as the warfighters like to say, and yet many of us don’t even bother to consume it.

As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”


Anonymous David Vine said...

Came across your post while searching for the phrase "finished intelligence reporting."

Very good to hear your positive viewpoint on the amount and type of information available to the average person.

I teach my Internet Intelligence Workshop just for that reason-- So people can fully utilize the tools, techniques, concepts and methods that are freely available to them.

7:59 AM, January 28, 2009  

Post a Comment

<< Home