6 January 1997


Open Source Intelligence and the War on Drugs + Dr. James Holden-Rhodes, lead investigator for Los Alamos National Laboratory and then for Sandia National Laboratory, has documented the value of open sources in his book, SHARING THE SECRETS: Open Source Intelligence & The War on Drugs (University of New Mexico, 1994). Among his critical observations:

- Using publicly available stories from Latin American investigative journalists, his teams were able to create operational intelligence which the U.S. Southern Command and the Drug Enforcement Administration were able to use to plan and conduct drug interdiction operations.

- Using only open sources, his teams were able to produce, at a cost of around $100,000, a better estimate of global drug production than an equivalent effort by the U.S. Intelligence Community at a cost of around $12 million.

- Open sources of intelligence are the only legally sanctioned sources for studying demand-side drug issues, and open source intelligence is the only legally sanctioned alternative for informing the public and the press of about the threat, the impact and cost of drugs on society, and counter-measures.

- Open sources of intelligence are ideally suited for sharing with transnational law enforcement organizations and for developing strategic understandings which can guide selected undercover operations and specific local prosecutions.

+ The U.S. Intelligence Community--and especially the Central Intelligence Agency--has not and will not make a significant contribution to the War on Drugs for two fundamental reasons:

- It has not mastered and does not desire to master the world of open sources, which have been shown to provide 80% of the needed information to produce drug, terrorism, and proliferation intelligence.

- It is not trained, equipped, and organized to provide intelligence support to transnational law enforcement and international prosecutions--this compounds the cultural opposition to open sources because open sources are ideally suited to support public prosecutions, and are being used to great effect by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Australian Commission on Criminal Justice, among others. + The U.S. Government--including the Department of State, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy--does not know how to exploit public information in order to produce open source intelligence (OSINT).

- In-house collection management and analysis capabilities are non-existent or severely underfunded, and those personnel responsible for "intelligence" are generally limited to processing incoming classified intelligence which is almost never tailored to support specific decisions under consideration.

- U.S. Government "consumers" of intelligence do not have a capability for identifying and tasking open sources of information, to include the Internet, commercial online services, overt human experts and especially foreign experts, or value-added private sector service organizations such as the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Oxford Analytica, or the Swedish Carnegie Institute which specializes in the study of drug control strategies.

- U.S. Government "consumers" of intelligence do not have a budget for the procurement of publicly available information and are forced to rely on the U.S. Intelligence Community and its propensity to insist on using only classified sources and ignoring more pertinent open sources.

+ Open source solutions are in fact available at very low cost, using existing private sector capabilities which have been developed at no cost to the government:

- Individual, Inc. can provide a daily Drug War Early Bird tailored to the individual needs of specific action officers at the federal, state, and local level. Cost: $1,000 per person per year, discounted to $500 per person if more than 500 profiles are ordered.

- OPEN SOURCE SOLUTIONS, Inc., can provide a Drug War Help Desk where the full resources of the Internet newsgroups, commercial online services, and professional associations and overt human experts can be used to create low cost "just enough, just in time" open source intelligence to support specific short-fused requirements.

- Organizations such as the Institute of Scientific Information, with its global citation analysis databases, and the Monterey Institute for International Studies, with its ability to create a Drug Demand and Supply Database equivalent to its proliferation database, can all be harnessed at very low cost.

+ An OSINT Cell, funded at $5M per year, would dramatically improve the ability of the Nation to wage the War on Drugs and coordinate domestic as well as international campaigns made all the more effective by virtue of the availability of open source intelligence which can be shared with publics, press, and foreign legislators.