A Guide to Intelligence
This guide is provided to help users understand the GulfLINK intelligence documents.
Browse Intelligence Collection
The Intelligence Process
The process of creating reliable, accurate foreign intelligence is dynamic and
never ending The intelligence process or cycle begins with questions -- the
answers to which inevitably lead to more questions. So, essentially, the end
of the cycle is the beginning of the next cycle
Through planning and direction by both collection and production managers, the
intelligence process converts acquired information into intelligence and makes
it available to policymakers and other consumers. One depiction of the
intelligence process is shown here:
The intelligence process starts when consumers -- generally,
policymakers or military commanders -- express a need for intelligence
information to help them accomplish their missions. These needs are expressed
as requirements levied on the intelligence agencies serving particular
customers, or on joint organizations established at various levels to serve
the customers' needs.
The intelligence agencies use the customers' needs in giving planning and
direction to guide collection strategies and the production of appropriate
There are five basic intelligence information sources, or collection disciplines
- Signals intelligence (SlGINT) includes information derived from
intercepted communications, radar, and telemetry.
- Imagery (IMINT) includes both overhead and ground imagery.
- Measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT) is technically
derived intelligence data other than imagery and SIGINT. It employs a broad
group of disciplines including nuclear, optical, radiofrequency, acoustics,
seismic, and materials sciences. Examples of MASINT might he the distinctive
radar signatures of specific types of aircraft or the composition of air and
- Human-source intelligence (HUMINT) involves clandestine and overt
collection techniques to obtain information Some of the principal types of
collection associated with HUMINT are:
- Clandestine source acquisition of information (including
photography, documents, and other material) of intelligence value.
- Overt data collection by civilian and military
personnel assigned to US diplomatic and consular posts.
- Debriefing of foreign nationals and US citizens who have
traveled abroad or have access to foreign information. During military
operations, this would also include the interrogation or debriefing of
prisoners of war or detainees.
- Official contacts with foreign governments, including
liaison with their intelligence and security services.
- Open-source information is publicly available information appearing in
print or electronic form. It may be transmitted by radio, television, and
newspapers, or it may be distributed through commercial databases, graphics,
drawings, magazines, or books.
It is important to understand that information from collection sources is information,
not intelligence. Raw information is often incomplete or -- taken out
of context or without understanding its origin and purpose -- possibly
misleading. It can be subject to misinterpretation, or just plain wrong.
Information becomes intelligence through processing, exploitation, and analysis.
Processing and Exploitation
A substantial portion of US intelligence resources is devoted to processing
and exploitation -- the synthesis of raw data into a form usable by the
intelligence analyst -- and to the secure telecommunications networks to carry
these data. Interpreting imagery; decoding messages; translating
foreign-language broadcasts; reducing telemetry to meaningful measures;
preparing information for computer processing, storage and retrieval; placing
human-source reports in a form and context to make them more comprehensible --
these are all processing and exploitation.
Analysis and Production
Intelligence analysts are generally assigned to a particular geographic or
functional specialty. Analysts obtain information from all sources pertinent
to their area of responsibility through the collection, processing and
forwarding systems. Analysts may tap into these systems to obtain answers to
specific questions or generate information they need.
Analysts absorb incoming information, evaluate it, test it against other
information and their knowledge and expertise, produce an assessment of the
current state of affairs within an assigned field or substantive area, and
then forecast future trends or outcomes. The analyst also develops
requirements for collection of new information.
Analysts almost never work alone, but instead operate within a system of peer
review and oversight by more senior analysts.
During periods of international crisis or on occasions when intelligence
support is critical to high-level negotiations, an interagency task force is
often created under the auspices of the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI)
to address critical intelligence needs. The DCI will direct a particular
agency to serve as executive agent for task force support and other agencies
will contribute in line with their capabilities.
When an international crisis involves the US military, the Director of the
Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) establishes an Intelligence Task Force (ITF)
dedicated to round-the-clock intelligence support of the operational and
combatant commands involved. The intelligence components of the military
services and the other interested intelligence agencies will contribute
analysts and other experts to the ITF.
The Persian Gulf War Intelligence Documents
The intelligence documents provided here consist of both raw information
reports and finished intelligence products. It is the nature of raw
information that it is sometimes contradictory or proved incorrect by later
information or events. The same may hold true of finished intelligence,
although the all-source composition of finished intelligence and the
analytical process it has undergone make this less likely.
Wartime intelligence collection occurs in an environment in which the target
on the other side is just as intelligent as we are and is generally doing his
best to conceal information, confuse us, divert our intelligence resources,
and damage or destroy our collection assets. This all serves to increase the
possibility that a particular unevaluated report may contain less that the
Wartime intelligence production is directed at answering specific questions of
the policymaker and combatant commander in a rapid and timely manner. This
production may be only partly germane when applied to later questions or areas
The intelligence documents provided here were declassified to the extent
possible in keeping with current national security considerations while
providing the maximum possible health-related information. Classified
information not related to health issues was generally not declassified in
order to continue the protection of intelligence sources and methods, possible
future US military operations, intelligence-sharing agreements with allies, US
intelligence and technical advantages, and US foreign relations. A significant
percentage of such material is concerned with events outside the Persian Gulf
region. As explained elsewhere, users may request further review and possible
additional declassification of particular documents by submitting a request
under the Freedom of Information Act.