Intelligence (information gathering)

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Intelligence (abbreviated int. or intel.) is information valued for its currency and relevance rather than its detail or accuracy —in contrast with "data" which typically refers to precise or particular information, or "fact," which typically refers to verified information. Sometimes called "active data" or "active intelligence", these typically regard the current plans, decisions, and actions of people, as these may have urgency or may otherwise be considered "valuable" from the point of view of the intelligence-gathering organization. Active intelligence is treated as a constantly mutable component, or variable, within a larger equation of understanding the secret, covert, or otherwise private "intelligence" of an opponent, or competitor, to answer questions or obtain advance warning of events and movements deemed to be important or otherwise relevant.

As used by intelligence agencies and related services, "intelligence" refers integrally to both active data as well as the process and the result of gathering and analyzing such information, as these together form a cohesive network (cf. "hive mind"). In a sense, this usage of "intelligence" at the national level may be somewhat associated with the concept of social intelligence —albeit one which is tied to localized or nationalist tradition, politics, law, and the enforcement therof.


[edit] Process

Information collected can be difficult to obtain or altogether secret material gained through espionage ("closed sources"), or it can be banal and widely available, such as newspaper articles or Internet postings ("open sources"). Traditionally, intelligence involves all-source collection, storage and indexing of data, usually in multiple languages, in the expectation that some small portion will later prove important. Intelligence findings or "product" and the sources and methods used to obtain them (tradecraft) are often highly classified and sometimes compartmentalized, and intelligence officers need top level security clearance.

Intelligence as used here, when done properly, serves a function for organizations similar to that which intelligence (trait) serves for individual humans and animals. Intelligence collection is often controversial and seen as a threat to privacy. While usually associated with warfare, intelligence can also be used to preserve peace.

[edit] Well-known national intelligence organizations







United Kingdom

United States

[edit] Major publicly accessible intelligence sources

[edit] Reference

[edit] Surveys

  • Andrew, Christopher. For the President's Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence and the American Presidency from Washington to Bush (1996)
  • Black, Ian. Israel's Secret Wars: A History of Israel's Intelligence Services (1992)
  • Bungert, Heike et al eds. Secret Intelligence in the Twentieth Century (2003) essays by scholars
  • Kahn, David The Codebreakers: The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet (1996), 1200 pages
  • Lerner, K. Lee and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, eds. Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence and Security (2003), 1100 pages. 850 articles, strongest on technology
  • O'Toole, George. Honorable Treachery: A History of U.S. Intelligence, Espionage, Covert Action from the American Revolution to the CIA (1991)
  • Owen, David. Hidden Secrets: A Complete History of Espionage and the Technology Used to Support It (2002), popular
  • Richelson, Jeffery T. A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century (1997)
  • Richelson, Jeffery T. The U.S. Intelligence Community (4th ed. 1999)
  • West, Nigel. MI6: British Secret Intelligence Service Operations 1909–1945 (1983)
  • West, Nigel. Secret War: The Story of SOE, Britain's Wartime Sabotage Organization (1992)
  • Wohlstetter, Roberta. Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision (1962)

[edit] World War I

  • Beesly, Patrick. Room 40. (1982). Covers the breaking of German codes by RN intelligence, including the Turkish bribe, Zimmermann telegram, and failure at Jutland.
  • May, Ernest (ed.) Knowing One's Enemies: Intelligence Assessment before the Two World Wars (1984)
  • Tuchman, Barbara W. The Zimmermann Telegram (1966)

[edit] World War II: 1931–1945

  • Babington-Smith, Constance. Air Spy: The Story of Photo Intelligence in World War II (1957)
  • Beesly, Patrick. Very Special Intelligence: The Story of the Admiralty's Operational Intelligence Centre—1939–1945 (1977)
  • Hinsley, F. H. British Intelligence in the Second World War (1996) abridged version of multivolume official history.
  • Jones, R. V. The Wizard War: British Scientific Intelligence 1939–1945 (1978)
  • Kahn, David. Hitler's Spies: German Military Intelligence in World War II (1978)
  • Kahn, David. Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boat Codes, 1939–1943 (1991)
  • Lewin, Ronald. The American Magic: Codes, Ciphers and the Defeat of Japan (1982)
  • May, Ernest (ed.) Knowing One's Enemies: Intelligence Assessment before the Two World Wars (1984)
  • Smith, Richard Harris. OSS: The Secret History of America's First Central Intelligence Agency (2005)
  • Stanley, Roy M. World War II Photo Intelligence (1981)
  • Wark, Wesley. The Ultimate Enemy: British Intelligence and Nazi Germany, 1933–1939 (1985)
  • Wark, Wesley K."Cryptographic Innocence: The Origins of Signals Intelligence in Canada in the Second World War", Journal of Contemporary History 22 (1987)

[edit] Cold War Era: 1945–1991

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Signals Intelligence Agencies

CSE Image:Flag of Canada.svg | DSD Image:Flag of Australia.svg | FRA Image:Flag of Sweden.svg | GCHQ Image:Flag of the United Kingdom.svg | GCSB Image:Flag of New Zealand.svg | DST Image:Flag of France.svg | NCC Image:Flag of South Africa.svg | GRU Image:Flag of Russia.svg | NSA Image:Flag of the United States.svg


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Intelligence (information gathering)

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