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Philosophies of Intelligence

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Introduction Edit

To better understand the potential philosophical, cultural, and logistical barriers to effective integration of intelligence and information fusion centers with existing federal intelligence and terrorism/crime prevention efforts, it is helpful to examine the different conceptions of intelligence within the federal Intelligence Community and the law enforcement community.

Intelligence Community and Law Enforcement Community Approaches to Intelligence Edit

The absence of a common lexicon between the Federal Intelligence Community and law enforcement intelligence is one area in need of further explanation, as it is manifested in approaches fusion centers take to their work. The majority of fusion centers examined for this report deal with a combination of intelligence, information, and situational awareness. Most centers that described themselves as having a response role or support function for another response-oriented entity were more concerned with situational awareness. However, in a few cases, it was not clear if the fusion center leadership had a thorough understanding of the differences between intelligence and information. This is somewhat understandable: People often use the term intelligence interchangeably with information, but there is an important distinction.

Intelligence Community Conception of Intelligence Edit

Mark Lowenthal, an expert on intelligence issues, differentiates intelligence from information in the following way:

Information is anything that can be known, regardless of how it is discovered. Intelligence refers to information that meets the stated or understood needs of policy makers and has been collected, processed, and narrowed to meet those needs. Intelligence is a subset of the broader category of information. Intelligence and the entire process by which it is identified, obtained, and analyzed respond to the needs of policy makers. All intelligence is information; not all information is intelligence.[1]

Intelligence is the product of the intelligence cycle (see figure below), a process that begins with Step 1 &mdash planning and direction, which leads to Step 2 — the setting of collection requirements based on threats in the form of questions and identified gaps in existing knowledge, and which is followed by Step 3 — the collection of intelligence based on known gaps. Step 4 includes synthesis and analysis of collected intelligence and results in the creation of an intelligence product, which in Step 5 is disseminated to policymakers and those responsible for taking action based on that analysis. Step 6 is the feedback loop from the customer to evaluate the utility of the product and facilitate another round of the cycle by assisting with Step 1.

Intelligence cycle

It is important to explain that there are different definitions of "intelligence," and those used by the fusion centers often differ from the more "pure" conception of "intelligence" outlined immediately above.

Law Enforcement Conception of Intelligence Edit

In law enforcement, the term intelligence has been defined slightly differently than within the halls of federal intelligence agencies engaged in all-source, strategic intelligence. David Carter, a criminal intelligence expert states:

In the purest sense, intelligence is the product of an analytic process that evaluates information collected from diverse sources, integrates the relevant information into a cohesive package, and produces a conclusion or estimate about a criminal phenomenon by using the scientific approach to problem solving (i.e., analysis). Intelligence, therefore, is a synergistic product intended to provide meaningful and trustworthy direction to law enforcement decisionmakers about complex criminality, criminal enterprises, criminal extremists, and terrorists.[2]

Law enforcement intelligence (LEINT) is thus

the product of an analytic process that provides an integrated perspective to disparate information about crime, crime trends, crime and security threats, and conditions associated with criminality.[3]

Carter’s definition appears akin to what the Intelligence Community would consider “finished” intelligence — intelligence that has been synthesized and analyzed. One might argue that criminal intelligence, as conceptualized above, is reactive — information becomes intelligence after it is analyzed, as compared to more pure concepts of intelligence, which are more proactive, in that pre-identified intelligence gaps based on policymaker needs are the starting point for intelligence collection. This would be in line with traditional approaches. It could be argued that the Intelligence Community tends to be proactive in dealing with national security matters, while law enforcement in the United States has traditionally been reactive, post-event, and prosecution focused. Some might argue that the use of law enforcement tools such as the enterprise theory of investigation have indeed been proactive in the collection of intelligence, although not necessarily through the formal implementation of the intelligence cycle. Carter believes intelligence can be used for both prevention and planning/resource allocation within law enforcement.

The primary differences, then, between pure or traditional conceptions of intelligence and law enforcement intelligence lie in the following three areas: (1) the predicate for the intelligence activity itself, (2) intelligence clients and consumers, and (3) the legal regimes under which intelligence is collected. Whereas the pure intelligence community uses a known intelligence gap as the starting point for collection, it is less likely that a law enforcement intelligence group will have a developed set of intelligence collection requirements and, as a result, a criminal event or case is the starting point for intelligence collection. With respect to consumers, while the Intelligence Community serves action-oriented officials within the military and federal intelligence communities, it largely serves the needs of national policymakers.

In the law enforcement community, the consumers are largely law enforcement officers investigating a crime or criminal groups, prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement executives seeking to align protective resources. From a legal regime perspective, national intelligence collection, arguably operates under a less restrictive legal regime than law enforcement intelligence, an issues which is largely driven by the subjects of intelligence collection — U.S. persons or non-U.S. persons.

The conceptual differences between these two closely related communities and disciplines has implications for fusion centers. Under which model and legal regime are they operating? As mentioned above, how proactive can the centers be in intelligence collection without violating civil liberties? A lack of clarity on these issues can lead to fusion centers either taking a too conservative or too aggressive approach, either of which undermines their full productivity, and serves as an overall risk to the fusion center concept.

References Edit

  1. Mark M. Lowenthal, Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy 1-2 (3rd ed. 2003). Lowenthal draws on Sherman Kent's (the "father of intelligence") conception as intelligence as process, product, and organization. Intelligence as process is a means by which certain types of information are required and requested, collected, analyzed, and disseminated, and as the way in which certain types of covert action are conceived and conducted. Intelligence as product is a product of these processes, that is, as the analyses and intelligence operations themselves. Finally, intelligence as organization can be thought of as the units that carry out the various functions. See Strategic Intelligence: Windows into a Secret World, An Anthology 2 (Loch K. Johnson & James J. Wirtz, eds. 2004).
  2. David L. Carter, Law Enforcement Intelligence: A Guide for State, Local and Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies 7 (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services & Mich. St. Univ. 2004).
  3. Id. at 10. Alternatively, law enforcement information can be defined much more broadly. For purposes of the ISE, law enforcement information means “any information obtained by or of interest to a law enforcement agency or official that is both (A) related to terrorism or security of our homeland and (B) relevant to a law enforcement mission, including, but not limited to information pertaining to an actual or potential criminal, civil, or administrative investigations or a foreign intelligence, counterintelligence, or counterterrorism investigation; assessment of or response to criminal threats and vulnerabilities; the existence, organization, capabilities, plans, intentions, vulnerabilities, means, methods, or activities of individuals or groups involved or suspected of involvement in criminal or unlawful conduct; the existence, identification, detection, prevention, interdiction, or disruption of, or response to, criminal acts and violations of the law; identification, apprehension, prosecution, release, detention, adjudication, supervision, or rehabilitation of accused persons or criminal offender; and victim/witness assistance.” See ISE Guideline 2, Develop a Common Framework for the Sharing of Information Between and Among Executive Departments and Agencies and State, Local, and Tribal Governments, Law Enforcement Agencies, and the Private Sector 13.

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