Answers on OSINT for India 28 – What OSINT is NOT!



In my paper, I am including ‘What OSINT is not’. Imagine that you are telling a stubbornly dedicated SIGINT operator about OSINT. The operator believes OSINT to be some simple net surfing used for gaining cursory information on anything. Or he relates OSINT to needle-in-haystack kind of discipline where discoveries are made by chance. How would you proceed to teach OSINT to such a person?

Dear Colleague,

The persistent ignorance about OSINT stems in part from very bad management decisions in the USA between 1988-1994, US/UK secret intelligence bribery of foreign intelligence entities (including India) since then; and the natural desire of each stovepipe (HUMINT, IMINT, SIGINT, MASINT) to both keep its affairs secret from the other INTs, and to build their internal open source budge regardless of what others might be doing or have already gained.

A fundamental flaw in all secret intelligence organization is their confusion of secrecy with intelligence. Most of what they do is nothing more than secret information collection, secret information processing, and secret information analysis.  They are not producing DECISION-SUPPORT that by definition demands a DECIDER being served, and a DECISION being made.

Intelligence is both decision-support, and the process that leads to decision-support, notably  the integration of requirements definition (what does the DECIDER need to know), collection management, processing, and analysis leading up to the pinnacle of a professional intelligence officer’s existence, DELIVERY to a DECIDER.

All of the generic publications, everything that is circulated to an audience of more than 2 or 3, is information, not intelligence.

The secret world has also been corrupted into believing that Covert Action is intelligence. It is not. I am disgusted by rendition & torture, drone assassination, regime change, agents of influence bribed and blackmailed to screw over their own publics for what turns out to be a FALSE GOD — nothing the USA demands is generally worth doing — and a massive global program of lies across academia, banking & commerce, governments, media, and non-profits.

OSINT is not the Internet.

OSINT is not academic research.

OSINT is not think tank products.

OSINT is not commercial studies or market reviews.

OSINT is not military orders of battle or commander biographies.

While OSINT, like HUMINT, IMINT, SIGINT, and MASINT is used as an umbrella term, the below original graphic, with OSINT-V added by Dr. Joseph Markowitz (RIP), remains relevant.

Click on Image to Enlarge

The NATO OSINT Handbook, which I wrote based on prior sponsorship of the Open Source Solutions conference from 1992 onwards, and my development of the multi-author of the Open Source Intelligence Professional Handbook (Joint Military Intelligence Training Center, Defense Intelligence Agency, October 1996) was modified by NATO ACT staff by 15%, but remains the standard in the field (and also long overdue for updating).  Here are the definitions that appear on pages 2-3 of that publication:

Open Source Data (OSD).  Data is the raw print, broadcast, oral debriefing or other form of information from a primary source. It can be a photograph, a tape recording, a commercial satellite image, or a personal letter from an individual.

Open Source Information (OSIF). OSIF is comprised of data that can be put together, generally by an editorial process that provides some filtering and validation as well as presentation management. OSIF is generic information that is usually widely disseminated. Newspapers, books, broadcast, and general daily reports are part of the OSIF world.

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). OSINT is information that has been deliberately discovered, discriminated, distilled, and disseminated to a select audience, generally the commanders and their immediate staff, in order to address a specific question. OSINT, in other words, applies the proven process of intelligence to the broad diversity of open sources of information, and creates intelligence.

Validated Open Source Intelligence (OSINT-V). OSINT-V is information to which a very high degree of certainty can be attributed. It can be produced by an all-source intelligence professional, with access to classified intelligence sources, whether working for a nation or for a coalition staff.  It can also come from an assured open source to which no question can be raised concerning its validity (images of an aircraft arriving at an airport that are broadcast over the media).

RDS: The above on OSINT-V was modified by NATO ACT staff and is incorrect. OSINT-V must meet the same conditions as OSINT — to a SELECT audience answering a SPECIFIC question — the difference being that on the basis of classified information the all-source analyst can say “classified confirms this” or “there is nothing in classified to dispute this.”

While CIA and all others have chosen to disrespect and ignore my pioneering work these past 30 years, the plain fact is that nothing CIA or anyone else is producing qualifies as OSINT under the established NATO definition that I drafted and General William Kernan, USA, approved.

Here is the foundation graphic:

Note the multiple sources among which Interent is the most superficial.

Now here is the process that applies to any INT, but note the diversity of OSINT sources and the red circle denoting the acutual delivery of OSINT. It is not INT unless it produces an ANSWER for a SPECIFIC DECIDER.

Click on Image to Enlarge

My must current work on where I wish to go is below.

Smart Nation Vision – By Invitation


Answers on OSINT for India

Note: Short URL for the entire series including new posts is

See Also:

Answers @ Phi Beta Iota

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