Cutting the OSINT (Open-Source Intelligence)

The main problem with cutting back or eliminating any intelligence gathering discipline is the possible problem of the loss of information that can be utilized to derive intelligence. All information that can be collected should be gathered, processed, and disseminated to the all-source fusion agency in order to completely draw the best picture of an investigated situation.

In the latter half of the twentieth century a burst of electronic technology occurred and developed an astounding amount of information via the Internet that is growing with more information by the minute. Most of the information that is publicly available is gathered by a resource known as open-source intelligence (OSINT). Due to budget cutting and having to eliminate one “INT”, the OSINT must be considered for the following reasons.

One of the main problems with OSINT is that there is so much information; it is sometimes difficult to figure out what to collect and what not to collect. An analyst trying to scan through the tons of data in order to find quality information for a request can spend hours trapped in research. Albeit, the Internet is not the only tool available to an OSINT analyst, the majority of other information can be found somewhere on the world-wide-web via electronic city maps, business web sites, etc.

This leads to the next point of availability to everyone. The analysts from the other disciplines; HUMINT, SIGINT, IMINT, and MASINT, most certainly have the Internet available. Many times there is not a need to put in a request for an OSINT analyst to research out information that is readily available to an analyst. The time that it takes an analyst from the HUMINT, SIGINT, IMINT, MASINT, or an all-source fusion agency to put in a request to an OSINT analyst and place a product on pause is not practical. Time could be better spent conducting the research within the INT or all-source fusion entity and thus bringing a more favorable result in the information found.

Many times information disseminated from other INTs to an all-source fusion agency can be the wrong information, or the consumer could also be asking the wrong request for information from the OSINT analyst. If each analyst conducts the research, there is no doubt as to whether the question is answered correctly or not. This can eliminate the process of having to conduct double work on the same request and save more time and money overall.

The final reason for eliminating the OSINT discipline is a matter of money, and for three different reasons money can be saved. First, when budgeting requires that all the different INTs have the same amount of funding, it is not practical to spend as much money on providing satellite imagery to the IMINT discipline or services from agents in worldwide scenarios from the HUMINT discipline, as it is to fund the OSINT discipline. There is no reason why this discipline should require just as much funding as the others.

Secondly, the producers of the information are absorbing the majority of money that is being spent on the products to be built by an OSINT analyst. It does not cost a lot of money to collect a map of a city, a drawing of a building, or tape of a broadcast, etc. The majority of the items available to in OSINT are part of public display.

Finally, money is better spent on systems and upgrades to one or more of the other INTs. It does cost a great deal to upkeep and develop systems used within the SIGINT, IMINT, and MASINT disciplines. The information provided by these INTs is essential, and in order to keep the systems running and advance capabilities, one INT must go: OSINT.

Although, there is a need to have as much information as possible in order to make an intelligence product, if one INT must be cut, it has to be OSINT. The other INTs and the all-source agency will have to pick up the slack.