Paul Fernhout: Bloomberg on Open Source Intelligence…

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Paul Fernhout

The author works for the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, not for Bloomberg.  Still, it is nice to see Bloomberg taking notice of the obvious.

To Defeat Terrorists, Start Using the Library: Scott Helfstein

Bloomberg, 30 August 2011

The information glut that marks the 21st century is evidenced in some unexpected places. Last month, my organization, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, released a report that sharply disputed conventional wisdom about terrorism along the Afghanistan-Pakistani frontier.

The report argued that the Haqqani Network, a border- spanning tribal group with deep ties to Pakistan’s government, had been more influential than the Taliban in aiding al-Qaeda’s rise.

How did we support this thesis, which has vast implications for reconciliation efforts in the region as well as for the distribution of U.S. military aid? Not with data culled from clandestine operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas or from Osama bin Laden’s computer hard drive. The report was based on the public statements and writings of individual extremists over the past 30 years. Rather than ferreting out secret information, researchers merely took extremists at their voluminous word.

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Phi Beta Iota:  The Center at West Point is known for its excellence, and far better at Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) in its narrow area of focus than those who claim to be national centers with a national mandate.  The USA continues to lack responsible management of OSINT and has zero in the way of Multinational, Multiagency, Multidimensional, Multidisciplinary Information-Sharing and Sense-Making (M4IS2).