By Nachik Navoth
(Former Deputy Head of the Mossad, Israel's foreign
Media is a powerful communication device that can either be used for educating & informing people or can be exploited for diverse intelligence activities and operations.
We live in the Age of Information, an era of wide-ranging revolutions in the role played by communication on almost all areas of modern life.
Communication serves as a precipitator for political, social, economic, technological and cultural development and change in a world that grew to become a "FLAT WORLD" with no borders and limits to the flow of Information.
This is true both for the civilian and the military field of activities, where IT serves as a benchmark for the different digital communication systems in use today.
The term intelligence has a number of meanings in the English language - knowledge, understanding and acumen. It came also to signify a higher degree of education.
The World of Intelligence, or rather of Intelligence Agencies and the operation thereof, resides almost by definition in the realm of Secrets. It is a world of knowledge that is neither acknowledged nor publicly accessible. Therefore, there is seemingly a contradiction between knowledge & understanding and the World of Secrets.
The World of Intelligence encompasses military, political, scientific as well as commercial &
financial secrets. There is an innate conflict within it all.
One of the claims against secrecy is what is popularly known as "The people's right to know". I myself was confronted with this claim when I refrained from writing a book about my 41 years of public service in Israel's intelligence community. Various friends pressed me stating that "it is not your private property, and in case of need there is official government censorship that will make sure no secrets with the potential to damage national security will be published."
This is the general view. Intelligence evolved from the traditional heart of intelligence activities -the agent, to the coverage of all areas of information, including new modern communication technologies. Thus, it has become imperative that we consider the implications of Cyber warfare. Cyber space can be used and probably is exploited both in the civilian and military fields, as recent revelations have clearly demonstrated.
At the same time, intelligence agencies make use and exploit the media for its various operations.
I recall that years back, the true state of relations between the Soviet Union and Communist China was not clear to the United States intelligence community. When some people claimed -based on reports in the media – that there is a growing rift between the two, Jim Angelton, one of the top CIA counter-intelligence officials, claimed that the story about the rift was a planed act of disinformation meant to bewilder the West.
Whether this was true or not, it remains clear that the media has a significant role in the game of disinformation. It is a widely held fact, that some intelligence agencies make use of the media to run disinformation operations for different purposes, such drawing attention to certain topics and using false information to cause a desired reaction among the target audience, or rather provoke a reaction that will serve the initiator of the disinformation's interests.
This still holds true in our times, and defines the basic relation between intelligence and the media today.
Some 50 years ago, one of the top issues on the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence agenda was setting the focus for the Intelligence Community's Collection efforts - determining the allocation of funds for the different Sources and Methods -be it HUMINT intelligence or SIGINT as instruments in intelligence collection activities.
Even today we would still reply: Never Underestimate the role of HUMINT, the source of human derived intelligence - the agent.
We are forced to concede that vis-a-vis the necessary budgetary investments in the technical aspects of information collection efforts in the field of intelligence, the investment in the human factor is comparatively much smaller. The cost of sophisticated technical equipment- SIGINT Sources is enormous. At the same time-it is characterized by quantity rather than quality - as predicted by the economic law of diminishing returns.
Thus, more and more well-trained manpower has to be dedicated to the processing and analysis of real-time information in the service of the different missions of the intelligence community.
IT IS ALL MEDIA .The real challenge is how to exploit and focus the right efforts on fishing the "golden fish" - for the sea is vast; the real challenge is quality rather than quantity