Intelligence: Google Under Cover

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July 8 2006: Despite all the classified databases and powerful, specialized, search software, intelligence analysts sill find themselves in need of unclassified databases. Google is a very valuable tool for intel analysts, as is the "journalists friend," Nexis. As a result of this need, some intelligence agencies are building software that will automatically integrate classified data, and stuff from Google, Nexis, and other unclassified databases. The reason for this is simple; the unclassified databases are much larger, and they tend to provide valuable context for the classified data. Google is particularly useful, because it provides access to a constantly growing body of information. Nexis is a database of professional journalism, which is a bit more reliable than much Google stuff, and easier to read (going to journalism school at least tends to improve ones grammar.)
There are also a lot of commercial, business oriented, databases that can be subscribed to, and these provide up-to-date information on where ships, aircraft and other major assets are at all times. Then there are the legal, but unpopular when accessed by intel agencies, databases, like those of bank wire transfers and credit care transactions. These all benefit from additional context, and this has produced growing interest in "fusion" of data from many different sources, and statistical analysis to make the growing mass of words and numbers more comprehensible.
Another popular class of software is stuff that will analyze databases for a particular subject, person or even on a 24/7 basis. This sort of thing has long been used by financial institutions, which explains why you so often see military officers visiting Wall Street. That's where, for over a century, secrets have been ferreted out of masses of data. Actually, Wall Street links with the defense intelligence community began before World War II. The relationship has expanded since then, but no one likes to talk about it. Wall Street prefers to keep its secrets, and needs a lot of persuasion to share them with the Department of Defense.

 


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