Sunday, May 02, 2004

Making Intelligence More Intelligent

Failures of intelligence and forecasting are very much in the news. Why was it common belief that Iraq had gas and germs ready to go and was close to a nuclear weapon? Conversely, why were the Iranian and North Korean programs underestimated?

My suspicion is that there are technologies, organisational methods and knowledge sources that can easily be adapted to understand and report on political and security risks from street crime to global geopolitics in a way that secretive, hierarchical, closed systems such as traditional police and intelligence agencies can’t. Think Windows versus Linux, BBC versus blog, Comical Ali versus Salaam Pax.

Open Source Intelligence, using information available from the media, academia and other sources seems a like a promising prospect. Intelligence professionals seem very aware of the problem of observers' biases and deception in political analysis, surveyed in a book on the CIA website. Using limited resources and a more diverse base of analysts is probably a good idea, especially as the best researchers or people with first-hand experience are more likely to be working in academia, business, the voluntary sector or even schlepping around as backbackers.

Could we develop this idea into a broader mobilisation, to make both criminal-law enforcement and anti-terrorism policing work better?

Peter 笔德