“When you think about how the system will change, it may be helpful to picture national intelligence as a baseball game. In the old days, government bureaucrats accustomed to unlimited budgets and secret methods would try to win a game simply by bribing a player (Clandestine Intelligence), putting a “bug” in the… dug-out (Signals Intelligence), trying to “sniff” the direction and speed of the ball (Measurements & Signatures Intelligence), or taking a satellite picture of the field every three days (Imagery Intelligence).
This approach is no longer appropriate. In our new era, everyone, including any terrorist, has the option of using open sources of information that are equal or superior to secret sources. The new craft of intelligence requires all the players to function as part of a team, and asks them to win however they can. It uses the collective wisdom of all the participants. It encourages the crowd to participate. Open source intelligence harnesses what everyone sees and knows. It changes the rules of the game.
We must study, digitize, translate and learn from the history of all nations and peoples and lands. We must share the cost of collecting and understanding all information in all languages with knowledgeable individuals from all nations, not just our own. We must harness the distributed intelligence of the entire nation, such that everyone might participate. We will still need spies and secrecy, but improved use of public intelligence will allow them to focus more narrowly.
“A nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry.” Thomas Jefferson said that. Not only was he right when he said it, but today, his words must lead us to realize the importance of public intelligence.”