Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is predominantly a Human Intelligence (HUMINT) endeavor. The US Government (USG) has not only failed to be serious about OSINT (and thereby deliberately foresaken all possibilities of doing intelligence with integrity for Whole of Government), but it appears to have eliminated all possibilities for OSINT progress by eliminating all positions with any form of integrity, and relegating OSINT back to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) where OSINT is known at “Open Sores.”
Anyone who focues on tools for data collection in the OSINT world gets a failing grade. 80% or more of the needed OSINT is not online. Apart from the fact that the USG still has not taken Deep Web seriously, contenting itself with the 2% covered by the various search engines (selected deep penetrations not-withstanding, most not processed, just collected), the USG has also failed to be serious about “full-spectrum HUMINT” which is the primary channel to OSINT that is relevant, not online, and not expensive.
The best OSINT is produced in real time by a HUMINT source who receives an original question (the requirement), leverages their direct knowledge and direct access to multi-media forms of knowledge, and creates a tailored answer (OSINT) in real or near-real time.
The best OSINT is consumed in the context of a strategic analytic model that assures holistic analytics rather than stove-pipe analytics, and thus is fully conscious of whole systems relationships and true cost ecnomics. By its very nature, OSINT nurtures human relationships across all stakeholder boundaries, reducing the “friction” that is like sand in the gears of public governance and public dialog.
NOTE: We still need spies and secrecy, but our priority for secret sources and methods should be counterintelligence against domestic enemies.