Evaluation a critical point on the path to intelligence
Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers
Place of Publication
Computing, Health and Science
School of Computer and Security Science, Centre for Security Research
It has been suggested that the case for war in Iraq was based on flawed and politicized intelligence processes. Furthermore there is criticism implicit and explicit that analysts failed to effectively evaluate information and sources thereby producing a flawed analytical product. Why is it that in so many situations evaluation is at worst only paid lip service and at best lacking in appropriate intellectual rigour? Is evaluation that hard or is it so poorly understood that analysts pressed for time and inundated with information simply don't bother to implement the process. This paper, based on a review of the literature and discussions with a small group of analysts, looks at the question of evaluation in the context of what does evaluation mean to the analyst? How does the analyst go about evaluating sources and information? And finally what impact does evaluation have on the analytical outcomes? Given intelligence products are generally based on incomplete data sets there always exists a significant margin for error. Poor evaluation has potential to significantly compound that margin. It may therefore be argued that evaluation is the critical juncture from which either good or poor quality intelligence emerges.