Thursday, July 5, 2012

Intelligence analysts taking over leading role in spy game: CSIS chief

In the intelligence world, the spy who goes around uncovering and collecting secrets has traditionally played the role with the most stature. But today that role — glamorized in countless Hollywood films — is starting to take a back seat to the job of the behind-the-scenes intelligence analyst, says the director of Canada's spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

In a speech obtained under access-to-information laws, Richard Fadden said CSIS' mandate is no longer just about working informants and intercepting communications but understanding the information collected and being able to predict how threats to the country will change.

"In today's information universe of WikiLeaks, the Internet and social media, there are fewer and fewer meaningful secrets for the James Bonds of the world to steal," Fadden told a conference of the Canadian Association of Professional Intelligence Analysts in November 2011. "Suddenly the ability to make sense of information is as valued a skill as collecting it."

Fadden said today's intelligence analysts must be well-read in history, religion, politics and geography and be able to provide answers to complex questions, such as what sort of threat political upheaval in the Middle East poses to Canada's security interests five years from now. "We are expected to provide not just information but insight — and of the two, insight is often the scarcer commodity," Fadden said.

Asked whether this statement suggests a lack of qualified intelligence analysts right now, a spokeswoman for Fadden said Monday that Canada's intelligence-analysis capacity is "robust" and "as good as you'd find anywhere in the global security community." "Like any organization, we are always looking to raise our game," Tahera Mufti said via email. "The increasing complexity of the threat environment, not least the speed with which new threats can materialize, means that analysts are learning not just to scan the horizon but to try and look over it.

"CSIS and partner agencies work together through joint training initiatives, and the sharing of best practices, to bolster our collective analytic capability." In his speech, Fadden said that even though al-Qaida's capacity to carry out attacks has decreased, its capacity to inspire homegrown terrorism has increased.

"We increasingly have to worry about so-called 'lone wolves' or 'stray dogs' — terrorists who act alone and therefore are difficult to detect," he said, citing the attempted car bombing of New York City's Times Square in 2010 and the 2011 shooting rampage in Norway. While violence driven by Sunni Islamist extremism is a "leading threat" to our national security, we must not lose sight of the possibility of politically motivated attacks that have nothing to do with al-Qaida, he added.

Today's intelligence analysts must be more creative in their thinking and be able to "imagine the next attack" before it happens, Fadden said. "Every now and then we need to pause and pretend that it is September 10, 2001." Fadden told the group of analysts that as their influence grows, they will need courage "because on occasion you are required to give policymakers information they might find decidedly inconvenient. "The politicization of intelligence is an occupational hazard, and must be resisted," he said. "The Iraq war remains a lesson for us all. We need more than ever to be honest and true to our assessments."



Search This Blog

Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP