Open Source Intelligence (OSINT): Issues for Congress [December 5, 2007]   [open pdf - 161KB]

"Open source information (OSINT) is derived from newspapers, journals, radio and television, and the Internet. Intelligence analysts have long used such information to supplement classified data, but systematically collecting open source information has not been a priority of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). In recent years, given changes in the international environment, there have been calls, from Congress and the 9/11 Commission among others, for a more intense and focused investment in open source collection and analysis. However, some still emphasize that the primary business of intelligence continues to be obtaining and analyzing secrets. A consensus now exists that OSINT must be systematically collected and should constitute an essential component of analytical products. This has been recognized by various commissions and in statutes. Responding to legislative direction, the Intelligence Community has established the position of Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Open Source and created the National Open Source Center. The goal is to perform specialized OSINT acquisition and analysis functions and create a center of excellence that will support and encourage all intelligence agencies. The effort has been only underway since late 2005 but the Center is up and running, and providing support, including training, to OSINT professionals throughout the Intelligence Community. Administrative mechanisms are in place to ensure that there is a comprehensive community-wide open source effort. It appears, however, to some observers that not all agencies have as yet made comprehensive commitments to acquiring and using open source information, nor that the ODNI has taken sufficient steps to ensure that open sources are appropriately exploited."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL34270
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