The CSS Blog Network

(W)Archives: Cooking the Books on the Islamic State and the Viet Cong

A Viet Cong guerilla fighter with an AK-47. Image: SSgt. Herman Kokojan/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 4 September, 2015.

According to recent press reports, the Pentagon’s Inspector General is investigating whether officials from U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) have skewed intelligence assessments to show more progress in the fight against the Islamic State than the facts would justify. Allegedly, these politicized assessments have made their way to senior officials right up to the president.

We do not yet know the full truth but these are serious allegations; politicization is one of the most profoundly unethical acts that intelligence officers can engage in. If the charges are substantiated, this will not be the first time that the U.S. military has cooked the books on a war. In 1967, the U.S. Intelligence Community produced Special National Intelligence Estimate 14.3-67, “Capabilities of the Vietnamese Communists for Fighting in South Vietnam,” which is available at the CIA’s Freedom of Information Act website. The sordid story of this estimate encourages us to take a hard line on politicization. It also reminds us, however, that intelligence is an inherently uncertain business. » More

Handling Cyber Incidents & Cyber Crises: Terminology, Perspective and Attribution

The NASA Supercomputer “Discover”. Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight/Flickr

Cyber incidents are a bit like a bar brawl – you might have a pretty good idea who started it, but you will never be absolutely sure”.

When it comes to managing contemporary cyber incidents and crises, the above statement couldn’t be more accurate. National cybersecurity strategies and international regimes are not only becoming increasingly common, they’re also proving difficult to implement and enforce. In this respect, some of the most pressing concerns are associated with key cybersecurity aspects like ‘terminology’, ‘perspective’ and ‘attribution’. » More

We Need to Fix the Way We Talk about National Intelligence

CIA memorial wall. Image: Wikimedia

This article was originally published by The Conversation on 10 October 2014.

In the last few years, the list of sensitive government information made public as a result of unauthorised disclosures has increased exponentially. But who really benefits from these leaks?

While they are media catnip and provide useful information to hostile individuals and organisations, they only occasionally contribute to the public debate on intelligence and truly advance the cause of democracy.

A scoop on the secret world of espionage is a guaranteed journalistic coup. And with good reason; at the simplest level, news exposures of intelligence service activities inform the public and contribute to a self-evidently important public debate on the role of intelligence in modern democracies. » More

OSINT Report 3/2010

OSINT Report 3/2010

In our third OSINT Report, Florian Schaurer and Jan Störger write about ‘The Evolution of Open Source Intelligence’.

The authors provide an overview on the emergence of OSINT as a special discipline during WWII and its growing importance as an essential part of modern intelligence tradecraft.

Drawing on tentative conclusions, implications for national security and current challenges are also discussed. The authors argue that intelligence must primarily serve national security, a public good, which can, however, not be addressed efficiently either by the state, or by the public alone. New threat situations require an increased awareness of the information distributed in the public realm and an inclusion of experts from beyond the government’s walls.

ISN Weekly Theme: Past, Present and Future of OSINT

Photo: Kamil Porembiński/flickr

Photo: Kamil Porembiński/flickr

Open source intelligence (OSINT) has garnered a lot of attention in the security community in the recent years, but the gathering and analysis of readily available material for intelligence purposes isn’t new. The history of OSINT goes back to pre-WWII days. This week, we’re offering an in-depth examination of OSINT, starting with our latest edition of ISN Podcasts. In Past, Present and Future of OSINT, Professor Arthur S Hulnick discusses the role OSINT has played in the intelligence arena.

And as always, remember that you can connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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