The Gunpowder Plot – Terrorism?

Although at the time, and often since, the state naturally chose to portray the cell as terrorists, the plot is better understood as a coup attempt with an asymmetric element than as terrorism.

The Most Interesting Intelligence Story this Week.

Earlier this month four small commercial “off the shelf” UAVs simultaneously overflew four French nuclear reactors, hundreds of miles apart. Three other UAVs were spotted at different times over other nuclear sites. And no-one knows who did it.

Eating codes for dinner – SIGINT in the age of Semaphore

But between about 1794 and about 1846 there was extensive use of semaphore-like signalling that occurred on a national level and it is fascinating to look at the SIGINT techniques and opportunities that occurred.

Ace Data Tagging

The business of “tagging”, cataloging or indexing databases has a fascinating history and goes back hundreds of years. I’ve blogged before about some early database systems such as the one used by Linnaeus in the 1760s but there are some other early cataloguing systems that are pretty interesting (for such a dry subject).

Charged with Dispatches

But it’s this particular blogger’s penchant to look into history and derive parallels to modern experience. At the moment I’m looking at how the British Royal Navy undertook intelligence around the period of 1792 -1815, and how they relied upon OSINT.

Intelligence Dissemination – A New Approach…

“Too much Intelligence work consists of circulating information that isn’t relevant about subjects that don’t matter to people who aren’t interested.” Sir Humphrey Appleby (slightly amended). When I was a very junior soldier I became convinced that nobody ever read the intelligence reports that I produced. I discussed this somewhat demoralising conclusion with one of…

Data Generated Insight

There’s a quote going around on LinkedIn at the moment, by the noted American management consultant, W. Edwards Deming: “Without data you’re just another person with an opinion” There’s another more recent variant on the theme, by Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape: “If we have data, let’s look at the data. If all we…

Intelligence Analysts – every manager’s worst nightmare?

There was a very interesting article in the New Scientist recently called “just following orders – why good people do bad things” which seeks to re-evaluate the notion the ‘banality of evil’ – the idea that evil acts are not necessarily perpetrated by evil people, but by ordinary people who blindly follow orders. There was…

Quote Daniel Boorstin Unquote

I’m currently reading this excellent book ” Seeing What Other People Don’t” by Gary Klein. The book explores how humans gain “insight” from looking at data and the world in which it sits. Therefore it has direct application to intelligence analysts, who are mostly human. (Take that any way you want…) The book is provoking…

OSINT: What is that again?

Twenty years ago, OSINT meant reading the newspaper. Ten years ago, OSINT meant browsing the web. What does OSINT mean today? Using commercially available tools I can do the following things: Task an individual on the ground to answer a specific question or provide imagery. (See this article for further details – Sites such as MoboQ, or a combination…