INTRODUCTION TO HUMAN INTELLIGENCE
Lecture Notes prepared by
Professor T. O’Connor, North Carolina Wesleyan College
"Sizing up opponents to assess dangers and distances is the proper course of action"
When reforms or improvements are called for within the intelligence community,
the typical area of concern is usually collection. This makes sense because, in one
way, in terms of staffing, those who process raw intelligence; i.e., the "collectors,"
generally outnumber the smaller number of presumably smarter analysts.
Resource debates between collection versus analysis are legend in intelligence work.
In another sense, it might not a good idea to presume analysts are smarter than
collectors, and further, it is probably a fallacy to assume (as many politicians do)
that simply "having more intelligence" is all that's needed. In fact, empirical
evidence shows that
more information does not necessarily improve the accuracy of
assessment, although it may improve certainty in assessment
(Kam 1988; Khalsa
2006). An intensified collection effort will not necessarily lead to better analysis,
and the reasons why involve explaining the way the intelligence cycle is supposed to
work, in terms of the relationship between collection and analysis, among other
things, such as the "duty" of intelligence gathering being to deal with future
dangers, not punish past behaviors (Heymann 1998; Ronczkowski 2004), and as the
latter cited author notes, being proactive is a must --
"in order to spawn intelligence,
you need as much information as possible, for without information, you will have no
. There is no such thing as a bad source, only bad information.
Information equals intelligence, not the other way around. Gathering or obtaining
good, clean, timely, and accurate information is key" (Ronczkowski 2004:71).
Collection produces information, not intelligence, and collection derives from
. Requirements are those interests, many of which are self-evident,
which involve some risk or likelihood of a national security event, usually a threat or
some issue of vital importance to an administration priority. With collection, it is
impossible to cover everything, and not every issue requires the same collection
resources, and not everything collected is of equal value (Lowenthal 2006).
Collection as part of the intelligence process requires all-agency and all-source
reporting, even law enforcement reporting of suspicious incidents, and that such
reports be forwarded and put into some kind of central or master database. An
agency can, of course, "sanitize" any report it forwards to avoid compromising
sensitive sources, and there are various other things that can be done with security
classifications. Also, in practice, there will likely be several databases, posing a
database integration problem. Reports going into databases also have to be checked