21 September 2014

Alternative Analysis: Intelligence-Led Methodologies...

Operational Risk Management (ORM) is about the consideration of past failures and the possibility of unknown future failures of people, processes, systems and external events. The analysis of the likelihood and implications of those loss events requires different methodologies to assist in the mitigation strategies to prevent or avoid the risks of failure. In light of the nature and complexity of transnational asymmetric threats, this requires the use of alternative methods of analysis.

Intuitive decision making and sense-making— can be combined into a framework for categorizing the residual thought processes of intelligence analysts. This is called "intelligence sense-making". This process involves the application of expertise, imagination, and conversation and the benefit of intuition without systematic, consideration of alternative hypotheses. Compared to traditional methods of analysis, intelligence sense-making is continuous rather than discrete, informal rather than formal, and focused more on issues that don't have normal constraints.

Employing alternative analysis means that you can't “afford getting it wrong” and then you challenge assumptions and identify alternative outcomes. However, it may be of little use in today's growing non-state transnational threats and for ongoing criminal enterprise complexities. This is because there are so many considerable outcomes, consistent and perpetual changes, and contingencies for any single risk management process to be effective all the time.

Web-logs 3.0 are the future for some effective transnational alternative analysis. Combined with new APPs such as Recorded Future, the open source analyst can operate with increasing pace and context. Unlike more formal published papers, intelligence Web-logs are a more free flowing “unfinished” production, whereby both human intuitions and more formal arguments are posted, and then challenged by those with alternative ideas. Indeed, Web-logs are the mechanism for a facilitated contextual dialogue— the electronic equivalent of out loud sense-making.

On September 11th, about half of the hijackers had been flagged for scrutiny at the gate before boarding the ill-fated flights. Had the concerns of the Phoenix FBI office about flight training not only been shared broadly within the government but also integrated into a mindfulness-focused inter- agency process—featuring out loud sense-making, Web-log type forums, computer-generated references to extant scenarios for crashing airplanes into prominent targets—might at least some of the detentions been prolonged, disrupting the plan?  --“Rethinking ‘Alternative Analysis’ to Address Transnational Threats,” published in Kent Center Occasional Papers, Volume 3, Number 2.

In our modern day era of Twitter, Facebook and "Crowd Sourcing" technologies perhaps the tools are already in place. Platforms such as Ushahidi are geocoding the information origin, providing ground truth situational awareness and providing context on issues that are unbounded. How often does the published press currently use these tools to get their original leads, potential sources or new ideas for a more formal story. This story then takes on the formal journalistic requirements for confirmation from trusted and vetted sources, before it makes the final deadline and is delivered on printed paper to our doorstep each morning.

The doctrine of analysis for transnational threats and homeland security intelligence, are still evolving in this accelerating digital ecosystem. The alternative methods and tools that we will utilize to examine, refute or justify our thoughts remains endless. The degree to which we are effectively operating within the legal rule-sets for our particular country, state or locality, remains the ultimate privacy and civil liberties challenge. These respective governance guidelines particularly with regard to intelligence record systems and liability issues, must remain paramount:

  • Who is responsible for entering information into the Intelligence Records System?
  • Who is the custodian of the Intelligence Records System that ensures all regulations, law, policy and procedures are followed?
  • What types of source documents are entered into the Intelligence Records System?
  • Does the retention process adhere to the guidelines of 28 CFR Part 23 in the United States?
Finally, community-based policing has developed skills in many law enforcement first responders, that directly support new counterterrorism responsibilities. Intelligence-led policing (ILP) provides strategic integration of intelligence, into the overall mission of the larger "Homeland Security Intelligence" enterprise. It involves multiple jurisdictions, is threat driven and incorporates the citizens of the community to cooperate when called upon, to be aware of your surroundings and report anything suspicious.

So what types of information do street officers need from an Intelligence Unit?
  1. Who poses threats?
  2. Who is doing what with whom?
  3. What is the modus operandi of the threat?
  4. What is needed to catch offenders / threat actors?
  5. What specific types of information are being sought by the intelligence unit to aid in the broader threat analysis?
Alternative analysis is designed to hedge against human behavior. Analysts, like all human beings, typically concentrates on data that confirms, rather than discredits existing hypotheses. Law enforcement is constantly focused on the key evidence to prove who committed the crime. Alternative analysis shall remain part of the intelligence tool kit, for more formal policy level work. Imagine the use of Intelligence-led methodologies such as "intelligence sense-making" combined with secure Web 3.0 collaborative APPs, at the finger tips of our Homeland Security first responders. Now think about that "lone wolf" or "sleeper cell" laying in wait.

Proactive and preventative risk management requires the right tools, with the right information in the hands of the right people.

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