Extraordinary essay by a serving CIA officer about the importance of publicly-available information relative to the stuff obtained by the cloak-and-dagger crowd. Abstract:
We need to rethink the distinction between open sources and secrets. Too many policymakers and intelligence officers mistake secrecy for intelligence and assume that information covertly acquired is superior to that obtained openly. Yet, the distinction between overt and covert sources is less clear than such thinking suggests. Open sources often equal or surpass classified information in monitoring and analyzing such pressing problems as terrorism, proliferation, and counterintelligence. Slighting open source intelligence (OSINT) for secrets, obtained at far greater expense when available at all, is no way to run an intelligence community. Also, we must put to rest the notion that the private sector is the preferred OSINT agent. In the end, I would contend, the Intelligence Community (IC) needs to assign greater resources to open sources.
Link via Arts and Letters Daily