Describe two different forms or methods of Intelligence Collection.

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The concept of Open Source intelligence (OSINT) has been placed in too high regard within the intelligence community and to the detriment of the value of other forms of collection, such as Signals Intelligence (SIGINT). While useful in the Analysis function of the intelligence cycle, OSINT, as it has become known, is not and should never be the only form of intelligence collected. In order to be of use in achieving a comparative advantage for decision makers, OSINT must be combined with covert sources like SIGINT. Effective collection of OSINT enables prioritized and efficient SIGINT collection requirements.

OSINT is largely provided by the Open Source Branch within the Office of National Assessments (ONA), while SIGINT is the exclusive
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OSINT is not a new concept. Rathmell and Valeri state that Intelligence Agencies have always used foreign newspapers, academic consultants and debriefings from international travellers. According to Hulnick, OSINT makes up 70-80% or more of the United States Intelligence Database. Flood confirms that this is the case in Australia and with the ONA. With the development of computing technology, the creation of the Internet and the ease in which anyone can publish information, Hulnick informs that the problem is not where the intelligence is, but rather “the ability of analysts to sort through it”. While he continues to say that credible intelligence product can be developed from OSINT alone, Treverton takes this point to its logical conclusion. He predicts that analysts will have to compete with CNN, academics, and private organizations like Jane’s or STRATFOR in providing their product. If this is the case, then what separates intelligence collection from researchers of opinion pieces or journal articles?

The separation is that ‘other’ forms of intelligence collection are conducted “without the authority of the government or group who ‘owns’ the information”. The value that other intelligence collected can provide to analysis cannot be overstated. In the case of the Echelon system, to which Australia contributes, SIGINT
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