In intelligence casework, be it a project with a view on individuals or groups of people, despite or because part-automatization, lots of data can be yielded in a short time. This calls for caseworkers to prioritize, be it in analysis, intervention, forwarding data to superiors or information-sharing with other institutions.
Albeit, in order to guarantee that standards are upheld, laws and regulations abided by, it is essential that steps suggested, or to be taken, be justified. Despite the necessity to sometimes pass on information in near real-time, it is essential to contextualize by placing new insights in the framework of what is already known – and to indicate whether and where this will change the case’s turn -, and to convey this to decision-makers.
Software has been used in intelligence for many years. But analysts should not content themselves with waiting for artifical intelligence to be sufficiently advanced to identify a changing overall situation, or particular developments. Instead, they must be professional enough to realize when things take turns, formulate and provisionally conclude fast – but always with attention to objectivity.
In other words, analysts must get the facts right, even though it may take effort to admit it when novel data point to the revision of an established and agreed-upon stance. And even when internal changes – e.g. replacing staff or decreasing non-human resources – are the consequence.
Counseling of high-ranking officials in departments or ministries can be difficult. However, the independence of an analysis will only be guaranteed if one – instead of playing into certain profiles of advisement, of group think among analysts, or even laziness and lag – has the courage to convey information truthfully.
Thorsten Koch, MA, PgDip
12 December 2022