Data Gathering

This stage, also known as collection, covers the acquisition of raw information through activities such as interviews, technical and physical surveillances, human source operation, searches, and liaison relationships. Information can be gathered from open, covert, electronic, and satellite sources.

There are six basic intelligence sources:

Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)

The interception of signals, whether between people, between machines, or a combination of both.

The National Security Agency (NSA) is responsible for collecting, processing, and reporting SIGINT. Within the NSA, the National SIGINT Committee advises the Director, NSA, and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) on policy issues and manages the SIGINT requirements system.

Imagery Intelligence (IMINT)

Representations of objects reproduced electronically or by optical means on film, electronic display devices, or other media. It can be derived from visual photography, radar sensors, infrared sensors, lasers, and electro-optics.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency manages all IMINT activities, both classified and unclassified, within the government . This includes requirements, collection, processing, exploitation, dissemination, archiving, and retrieval.

Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT)

Scientific and technical intelligence information used to locate, identify, or describe distinctive characteristics of specific targets. It employs a broad group of disciplines including nuclear, optical, radio frequency, acoustics, seismic, and materials sciences. For example, MASINT can identify distinctive radar signatures created by specific aircraft systems or the chemical composition of air and water samples.

The Central MASINT Organization, a component of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is the focus for all national and Department of Defense (DoD) MASINT matters.

Human-Source Intelligence (HUMINT)

The oldest method for collecting information, this is intelligence derived from human sources. Collection includes clandestine acquisition of photography, documents, and other material; overt collection by personnel in diplomatic and consular posts; debriefing of foreign nationals and US citizens who travel abroad; and official contacts with foreign governments. To the public, HUMINT is synonymous with espionage and clandestine activities. However, most of it is accumulated by overt collectors such as diplomats and military attaches.

HUMINT is used mainly by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Department of State (DoS), the DoD, and the FBI. The CIA, working closely with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) established the National Clandestine Service (NCS) to improve HUMINT throughout the IC. The NCS serves as the national authority for coordination, de-confliction, and evaluation of clandestine HUMINT operations, both abroad and inside the United States. While the ODNI establishes policy related to clandestine HUMINT, the NCS executes and implements that policy across the Intelligence Community (IC).

Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT)

Publicly available information appearing in print or electronic form including radio, television, newspapers, journals, the Internet, commercial databases, and videos, graphics, and drawings.

While open-source collection responsibilities are broadly distributed through the IC, the major collectors of OSINT are the Foreign Broadcast Information Service and the National Air and Space Intelligence Center.

Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT)

Imagery and mapping data produced through an integration of imagery, imagery intelligence, and geospatial information. GEOINT is typically gathered from commercial satellites, government satellites, reconnaissance aircraft, or by other means such as maps, commercial databases, census information, GPS waypoints, utility schematics, or any discrete data that have locations on earth. This data is utilized to support our national security, which includes everything from assisting soldiers on the battlefield to assisting humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.

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