Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Open Sources of Competitive National Intelligence are Open for Business

By Dennis D. McDonald

Washington Technology has an interesting report called  Open-source info may help establish integrated intelligence community that discusses how publicly available information from any source is being mined by the U.S intelligence community for useful information. The article describes a CIA department called the “Open Source Center”:

The OSC was established just a year ago, incorporating as its foundation the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, a division of the CIA. Its mission is to mine “the world’s unguarded knowledge,” from all the channels available — the Internet, print, broadcast media, podcasts, anything that contains information, in any language, from any country — and glean all the data contained there.


I came to this article from my Megite feed based on my thinking this was about the commonly accepted (software) meaning of “open source.” I was intrigued that Linux etc. are being viewed as having an integrative impact on the intelligence community which has, for many reasons in the past, been somewhat reluctant to share information among it various sub-communities.

But the meaning of “open source information” here is really “public information.” It just make sense to monitor all sources of public information that we might find useful. You never know, for example, when that al-Qaeda blogger operating out of his cave in Afghanistan, in an effort to emulate Valleywag, might let slip the next attack target date in an effort to impress his girl friend.

All kidding aside, a logical comment to make about mining “open source” information for nuggets of intelligence data is that, if we can do it, anyone can do it. And if anyone can do it, we have a potentially level playing field. And if we have a potentially level playing field, then someone will attempt to “un-level” the playing field for national advantage.

I can think of a few ways to “un-level” the playing field when it comes to mining public data for information relevant to national intelligence. Can you?

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