Developing Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) for the US Government

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is about using unclassified media information, together with investigative reporting to improve the forecasting and decision making process. Using a structured OSINT Management Network, extensive benefits can be obtained, problems, trends and threats quickly identified, and unforeseen situations avoided.

Washington, DC (PRWEB) January 9, 2006 -- “Media based Open Source Intelligence significantly improves the forecasting and decision making process of government departments,” says Alan Simpson, the International OSINT Advocate, speaking in Washington, DC. “and is finally being accepted as an essential tool in decision making by the US Government, with an initial budget of $2 billion. There are major hurdles to be overcome in the US Government's approach to OSINT, and unless there is new guidance, clear thinking, and training from a real world perspective, the OSINT effort will become another embarrassing Intelligence Failure.“

Briefing journalists, and key Congressional staff he observed, “The key feature about OSINT is that it is entirely unclassified and as the vast majority of information is gleaned through existing global media channels, is cost effective, quickly instigated, expanded and focused to target key areas of interest. Staff can quickly be recruited, trained and their skills developed. With a viable media interface the cooperation of thousands of international journalists can be achieved, to brief and guide the OSINT Analysts. OSINT isn't about espionage, it's about collecting and understanding freely available political, economic, medical, technical and environmental information, developing global scenarios and predicting the effects on plans and strategies. ”

His advice to Congress, “Forewarned is forearmed. In the years ahead the race for economic, technological and military superiority will become more intense. It will be survival of the fittest, the smartest and there are no guarantees. The asymmetric threats to the United States are being made, not in Top Secret files hidden deep in foreign government offices, but on web sites, newsletters and broadcasts of terrorist organizations, even companies and trade organizations. For a strong economy is essential to mount an effective defense.”

But there are dangers. Military collection and use of OSINT for example, where excessive publicity and public discussion can have unexpected consequences. OSINT depends on freely using copyrighted material from around the world and the observance of these Intellectual Property Rights is essential for the United States. Seen to be feeding information, even unclassified news, to a foreign military is espionage in most countries and puts journalists and collectors at risk of imprisonment, even execution. Their reaction could be to deny use of this information flow if it seen to be used for offensive purposes. Military dominance of OSINT will weaken the United States instead of protecting it.

Alan Simpson, President of Communication Links, Inc. is no stranger to large global projects for governments and major corporations. He toured 125 US Embassies and Consulates during the Reagan Administration, developing USIA WorldNet, and interfacing with media in 80 countries. He has keynoted major conferences, has appeared on radio and television around the world, and has spoken five times at the United Nations on Global Information Technology. He served as military aircrew and has a thorough understanding of military and political intelligence.

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