24 March 2002
INTELLIGENCE PROCESS: DISSEMINATION
One of the most important steps in the intelligence cycle is deciding who or whom will receive the analysts work. This process is called dissemination. Once completed, the intelligence product has to be able to be passed on to those personnel that meet the requirements of dissemination; Right to know, Need to know, Authority to release.
The first requirement of the right to know determines what individuals should have the information to make intelligence decisions. Access to the final products is mainly focus towards law enforcement agencies, both federal and state. These agencies are, however, not the exclusive heir to information. In some cases the Department of Family Services may need to have information on civilians in order to locate offenders or deal with juvenile delinquents. The right to know may also be extended to licensing groups, in order to stifle organized crime. Some examples of non-authorized industries are banks, credit bureaus, and employment agencies.
The need to know is the second requirement of the dissemination process. Whether part of the law enforcement agency or working outside of the agency, before intelligence information is disclosed, there must be a need to know based on the case that law official may be working on. This requirement keeps just anyone from casually browsing through all the classified information that may not pertain to what they have the right to know. The information-seeking agency will need to have proof of needing to know the information, found generally by the case number. Another form of need to know is observed when a background investigation is being conducted on an individual.
Once the first two requirements have been satisfied and the right to know and need to know has been established, it is now necessary to determine whether the right to release information to the agency is possible. Many times the information or intelligence may not be possible to release, due to the originating agencies need to have the information keep a secret from the everyone, for example, an undercover agents identity was disclosed. Historically, information is classified at a higher level than necessary, so personnel in this type of circumstance are not compromised. If this is the case, than a date should be disclosed as to when this information may be declassified or downgraded to the consumers level.
There are two general methods of dissemination. The first type is a distribution list. This type of dissemination is used when it is well known that outside agencies has the right and need to know. The releasing agency has the authority to release the information based on a pending or on-going investigation. The second type of dissemination is based on an inquiry for the intelligence information and of course will have the right and need to know.
Within an agency there are two uses of disseminated information: Tactical and Strategic Intelligence. Tactical intelligence is used primarily for short-term investigations and the information is only temporarily used. Strategic intelligence is more of a long-term investigation, and information will be needed for longer periods of time in order to build an entire scenario.
Spot reports are often used and can be either written or oral. These types of reports are short in nature, but will always cover four main categories: Purpose, Factual analysis, Conclusion, and Action statement. The purpose of the report is the basic reason of why it is needed and who needs it. The factual analysis is the actual analytical summary of the information collected. The conclusion will give a general summary based on what the information-seeking agency requested. The action statement is at least one recommendation based upon what was discovered or analyzed.
When disseminating information outside of the intelligence-gathering agency, there are more controlled rules. The outside agency sometimes has to agree not to give out classified information based up the possibility of compromising another agencies position or investigation. The only exception would occur if there were a necessity to disclose the classified report to protect against loss of life, physical injury, or loss of property. Rewriting or summarizing the information without source identification can compromise the information.
One of the most important factors that statewide agencies sometimes fail to realize is that the intelligence that is collected, no matter how small a discovery it may be, could be utilized by federal agencies to build a broader picture in an investigation. With statewide agencies compiling information and making it accessible to federal authorities, the intelligence could be drawn into one large criminal investigation; for example, a crime ring that spans across multiple State lines.
A record of dissemination should also be kept to keep control of the information or to have a contact list of agencies in a case of mis-information that may need to be corrected. This will also give the producing agency a chance to be able to contact the outside agencies to find out the usefulness of the product consumed.
The dissemination process is not a very complicated step if it is utilized properly. It allows for mistakes and a way to correct them. The most important piece of the dissemination step in my opinion is finding out who has the need to know the information and then ensuring that they have the right to know what is being given to them by the releasing authority. Without some kind of control, like the dissemination rules, information on investigations and covert operations could be viewed by any personnel within the agency, and could compromise or endanger lives.
Lowenthall, M.M. INTELLIGENCE: FROM SECRETS TO POLICY.
Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2000.
Peterson, M.B. APPLICATIONS IN CRIMINAL ANALYSIS. Westport,
CT: Praeger Publishers, 1998. (Chap III)
Peterson, M.B. INTELLIGENCE 2000: REVISING THE BASIC
ELEMENTS. Sacramento, CA: LEIU, 2000. (Chap 8)
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