A reader (Second Edition)
By Christopher Andrew, Richard J Aldrich and Wesley K Wark (eds)
Published by Routledge
RRP $88.99 in paperback • ISBN 9780415705684
Events of the first two decades of the twenty-first century has elevated secret intelligence gathering to a much more important activity for governments worldwide, as they look to provide security in an increasingly problematic world.
For intelligence practitioners, this book offers valuable insights into a world changed forever by the use of social media and the internet.
For policymakers, it provides a way to understand the intricacies of the work intelligence agencies undertake and the relationship that must exist between the agencies and the policy-making that creates the framework within which the agencies operate.
There is a fascinating chapter on social media intelligence – and a new acronym (SOCMINT) to remember.
This chapter uses, as a case history, the Tottenham riots in North London in August 2011 and how the “… social media information indicated the possible spread of disorder to other parts of London.”
Police acknowledged they had been insufficiently equipped to deal with intelligence gathering via social media, a situation they have since rectified.
It is of course more than just knowing what is being said; it’s being able to analyse what’s being said and draw meaningful conclusions through analytical approaches, although the authors caution that “… the methods employed to protect society rest ultimately on some form of public acceptability ..”.
On the issue of the 9/11 failures, the authors make the point that “… national security decision-makers’ receptivity to and acceptance of intelligence analysis …” is a more sophisticated approach to the evaluation of failures of intelligence gathering.
What this book demonstrates, above all else, is the increasing complexity of intelligence gathering.
I’m sure it will be a welcome addition to the bookshelves of intelligence professionals, and hopefully, their political masters.
VERDICT: Essential reading for intelligence practitioners and their political masters