More Than Espionage; Open-Source Intelligence Should Be Part of Solution

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 27, 2010 | Go to article overview

More Than Espionage; Open-Source Intelligence Should Be Part of Solution


Byline: Andrew M. Borene, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Al Qaeda's Christmas Day underpants bomber has again put discus - sions of intelligence policy and national security organizations, once relegated to obscure academic journals, squarely at dining room tables across Middle America.

Here's some food for thought: White House policymakers and Congress can help develop an increasingly robust national intelligence capacity by investing new money in the pursuit of a centralized open-source intelligence (OSINT) infrastructure.

Investment in centralized, programmatically managed open-source intelligence has been recommended by two major independent commissions as a needed area of doctrinal development and increased capacity for the U.S. national security community.

Among the top 10 recommendations of the Robb-Silberman Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction was that the director of national intelligence (DNI) should create an Open Source Directorate in the CIA to use the Internet and modern information processing tools to greatly enhance the availability of open source information to analysts, collectors, and users of intelligence.

Earlier, the Sept. 11 Commission report already had gone so far as to advocate creation of a new Open Source Agency to lie closely alongside the CIA's National Clandestine Service and all-source analysis efforts.

In 2005, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced the creation of an Open Source Center in Northern Virginia around the framework of what formerly was the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service. This existing center is a perfect point from which to create a national OSINT program management enterprise.

The Open Source Center is staffed with seasoned intelligence professionals and appropriate resources to serve as a central hub for open-source intelligence management within the national security apparatus. Major offerings of the Open Source Center include OSINT analysis, exploitation, translation, doctrinal development and education.

The Open Source Center houses an Open Source Academy, which trains intelligence professionals from throughout the U.S. Intelligence Community in cutting-edge tradecraft and reach-back capacity to support their home agencies and units.

The center also has developed an unclassified, secure Internet portal for the Intelligence Community called OpenSource.gov, which is becoming a one-stop shop for research and dissemination. OpenSource.gov also functions as a sort of basic cable for national security professionals, providing comprehensive, unclassified, commercial research tools and services from recognized tier leaders such as LexisNexis for aggregated content and search, Jane's industry publications, and Oxford Analytica analysis.

The benefits of an unclassified, yet secure, analytical and communication platform for intelligence professionals support two major initiatives of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in both open-source intelligence and creation of an information-sharing environment with the flexibility to support federal, state, local and private-sector partners.

Additionally, Open Source- .gov enables the intelligence community to leverage economies of scale on the basics of these vital unclassified, commercial intelligence resources while retaining flexibility to meet specific agency needs. …

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