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Data Collection in Intelligence Critical Essay

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Updated: Sep 13th, 2019

Intelligence in the United States is considered as a specialized product of information. Its sources emanate from an effective collection, assimilation, analysis and interpretation of data. The ability of the intelligence community to generate requisite information depends on the capacity to collect relevant and precise data.

Therefore, the adopted methodology is critical in developing acceptable findings and “should begin with a strategy to comprehend what is being collected” (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks 2005, 7). It is essential to note that data collection methods should be developed accurately in order to derive desired results.

This paper provides an analysis of intelligence collection methods, namely the Human Intelligence (HUMINT) and Signal Intelligence (SiGINT). These methods can be used to reduce inherent ambiguity that is common during the process of data collection.

According to CIA, any type of data collection method should be in a position to generate the most acceptable results. This implies that reliability of the method used to collect data is fundamental. In my view, HUMINT and SiGINT are among the most reliable information collection methods and sources.

They offer consistent information regarding threats in the use of weapons of mass destruction, proliferation of small arms, and potential threats to the citizens of the United States. Moreover, Human Intelligence as a source of information, is apparently one of the most reliable data collection methods when gathering intelligence reports. Information is gathered directly from the source.

Therefore, “information on various subjects is a requirement of the analyst, the intelligence organization, and the Government itself” (Central Intelligence Agency 1995, par. 15). Individuals assigned to collect data are fully in charge because they are able to determine the kind of information required, offer guidance as well as control the process.

In my view, human sources provide collectors with relevant information which may not be readily accessible in other collection methods. For instance, “information technology program…support the collection, analysis, and rapid dissemination of information pertinent to FBI investigations” (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks 2005, 7). The means through which the HUMINT discipline obtains information has been concluded as effective by the CIA and FBI security agencies.

The methodology has the ability to obtain intense, detailed and strategic intelligence information. Indeed, the covert and clandestine methods provide room for continuous and flexible information gathering process at all levels and have been embraced and widely used since they facilitate improved or effective gathering of intelligence information.

Walton supports the latter method by stating that “on the positive side, investigation of the interrogation as a type of dialogue that has a systematic normative structure could be useful for all sorts of other purposes…it fills out the study of argumentation in contexts of use in different types of dialogue ” (Walton 2003, 1771).

From a critical point of view, it would be thought that certainty is associated with fixation of goals and objectives that strongly reduces the need for testing other sources of information. However, I believe that by assimilating HUMINT as an important collection method at different levels, vital data can be gathered. Key policies can also be easily embossed and engrossed toward improving the ability to achieve intelligence objectives.

SiGINT collection method is one of the main collection methods widely used to obtain intelligence through intercepting information on communication intelligence (COMINT). The data gathered is raw and usually is followed by analysis to produce the required intelligence.

According to Champion, “the different standards applied to the government’s attempts to procure intelligence information can be explained by the different means of obtaining the two types of information” (Champion 2005, 1675). Indeed, SiGINT has become an important tool that is widely used by organizations to improve precision, reduce the overall production cost, and increase total output.

In operational intelligence, continuous improvement via technology has been a key factor that greatly supersedes the notion of uncertainty across the board.


Central Intelligence Agency. 1995. “”. Web.

Champion, Christopher. 2005. “The Revamped FISA: Striking a Better Balance Between the Government’s Need to protect itself and the forth amendment.” Vanderbilt Law Review 58, no. 5 (October):1671-1703.

National Commission on Terrorist Attacks. 2005. “”. Law Enforcement, Counterterrorism, and Intelligence Collection in the United States Prior to 9/11. Web.

Walton, Douglas. 2003. “The interrogation as a type of dialogue.” Journal of Pragmatics 35, no. 12 (December): 1771-1790.

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