The importance of OSINT

The secret intelligence world, which has resisted any significant expenditures on OSINT for the past fifty years, is finally beginning to slowly adapt to the modern world. According to the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction report submitted in March 2005, OSINT must be included in the all-source SECRET intelligence process for the following reasons (as stated in the report):

The ever-shifting nature of our intelligence needs compels the IC to quickly and easily understand a wide range of foreign countries and cultures. – … today’s threats are rapidly changing and geographically diffuse; it is a fact of life that an intelligence analyst may be forced to shift rapidly from one topic to the next. Increasingly, IC professionals need to quickly assimilate social, economic, and cultural information about a country—information often detailed in open sources.
Open source information provides a base for understanding classified materials. Despite large quantities of classified material produced by the IC, the amount of classified information produced on any one topic can be quite limited, and may be taken out of context if viewed only from a classified-source perspective. Perhaps the most important example today relates to terrorism, where open source information can fill gaps and create links that allow analysts to better understand fragmented intelligence, rumored terrorist plans, possible means of attack, and potential targets.
Open source materials can protect sources and methods. Sometimes an intelligence judgment that is actually informed with sensitive, classified information can be defended on the basis of open source reporting. This can prove useful when policymakers need to explain policy decisions or communicate with foreign officials without compromising classified sources.
Only open source can store history. A robust open source program can, in effect, gather data to monitor the world’s cultures and how they change with time. This is difficult, if not impossible, using the snapshots provided by classified collection methods.
Information collection in OSINT is generally a different problem from collection in other intelligence disciplines where obtaining the raw information to be analyzed may be a major difficultly, particularly if it is to be obtained from non-cooperative targets. In OSINT, the chief difficulty is in identifying relevant, reliable sources from the vast amount of publicly available information. However, this is not as great a challenge for those who know how to access local knowledge and how to leverage human experts who can create new tailored
For more generative OSINT information you can search and even edit the relevant wikipedia section.

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