To Defeat Terrorists, Start Using the Library: Scott Helfstein

[From the article: The revolution in information
technology has opened a new vein of intelligence collection and analysis that
in many instances can prove more useful than traditional forms of spycraft. In
the world of espionage, information and the clandestine means of gathering it
are both treasured. “Open source” intelligence, by contrast, is a commodity
with little inherent value. Instead, the capacity to organize and analyze these
public streams of information becomes a key asset. This represents a drastic
shift, with far-reaching implications for intelligence agencies. …In another
recent effort, the Combating Terrorism Center used Google Trends — hardly a
cloak-and-dagger operation — to assess the popularity of the Muslim
Brotherhood in the midst of the Egyptian uprisings. In the U.S., fears of the
Brotherhood’s Islamist agenda dominated public discussion. Not so in Egypt,
where Google Trends indicated that during the revolution, Internet searches for
non-Brotherhood political figures dwarfed those for the Brotherhood. Do such
open-source data provide scientific proof of public consciousness? No, but they
challenge hard-baked conventional wisdom and provide a corrective to guesswork.
By tapping the open source of Google Trends, we threw light on a complex mass
phenomenon for which traditional intelligence gathering was ill- suited.]

Defeat Terrorists, Start Using the Library: Scott Helfstein

By Scott Helfstein

August 30, 2011



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