from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2012, Issue No. 93
September 13, 2012
Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/
AN ARMY INTRODUCTION TO OPEN SOURCE INTELLIGENCE
A new U.S. Army publication provides an introduction to open source intelligence, as understood and practiced by the Army.
"Open-source intelligence is the intelligence discipline that pertains to intelligence produced from publicly available information that is collected, exploited, and disseminated in a timely manner to an appropriate audience for the purpose of addressing a specific intelligence and information requirement," the document says.
"The world is being reinvented by open sources. Publicly available information can be used by a variety of individuals to [achieve] a broad spectrum of objectives. The significance and relevance of open-source intelligence (OSINT) serve as an economy of force, provide an additional leverage capability, and cue technical or classified assets to refine and validate both information and intelligence."
See "Open-Source Intelligence," Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 2-22.9, July 2012:
The new manual is evidently intended for soldiers in the field rather than professional analysts, and it takes nothing for granted. At some points, the guidance that it offers is remedial rather than state of the art.
For example, "if looking for information about Russian and Chinese tank sales to Iraq, do not use 'tank' as the only keyword in the search. Instead, use additional defining words such as 'Russian Chinese tank sales Iraq'."
But the manual reflects the ongoing maturation of open source intelligence (OSINT), and it contains several observations of interest.
"The reliance on classified databases has often left Soldiers uninformed and ill-prepared to capitalize on the huge reservoir of unclassified information from publicly available information and open sources," the manual states.
Classification can also be a problem in open source intelligence, however, and "concern for OPSEC [operations security] can undermine the ability to disseminate inherently unclassified information."
"Examples of unclassified information being over-classified [include] reported information found in a foreign newspaper [and a] message from a foreign official attending an international conference."
Therefore, pursuant to Army regulations, "Army personnel will not apply classification or other security markings to an article or portion of an article that has appeared in a newspaper, magazine, or other public medium," although the resulting OSINT analysis might be deemed "controlled unclassified information."
Curiously, the new manual itself is blocked from access by the general public on Army websites. But an unrestricted copy was released by the Army on request.
Somewhat relatedly, the Department of Defense this week published a new Instruction on DoD Internet Services and Internet-Based Capabilities, DODI 8550.01, September 11, 2012:
HOUSE VOTES TO REAUTHORIZE FISA AMENDMENTS ACT
The House of Representatives voted yesterday to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act for five years.
The Act generally authorizes electronic surveillance of non-U.S. persons and U.S. persons who are believed to be outside the United States, while prohibiting the "intentional" targeting of persons in the U.S. without an individualized warrant, seemingly leaving a wide opening for unintentional or incidental collection. This and other features of the Act prompted concerns about the expansion of surveillance authority and the erosion of constitutional protections.
But such concerns, however eloquently expressed by a few dissenting Members, gained little traction. The House rebuffed efforts to increase reporting on implementation of the law or to shorten the duration of its renewal, and approved the measure by a vote of 300-118.
In the Senate, Sen. Ron Wyden has placed a hold on the bill in an attempt to compel disclosure of the current scale of government interception of U.S. communications, which the Administration says it cannot provide.
The Congressional Research Service has produced a new report on "Reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act," dated September 12, 2012.
The ACLU is challenging the constitutionality of the Act in a case that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on October 29.
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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