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An intelligence officer is a person employed by an organization to collect, compile and/or analyze information (known as intelligence) which is of use to that organization. Organizations which employ intelligence officers include armed forces, police, civilian intelligence agencies and customs agencies.
Sources of intelligence[edit | edit source]
Intelligence officers make use of a variety of sources of information, including
- Open source intelligence (OSINT): Derived from publicly available sources such as the Internet, library materials, newspapers, etc.
- Communications intelligence (COMINT): Eavesdropping and interception of communications (e.g., by wiretapping) including signals intelligence (SIGINT) and electronic intelligence (ELINT).
- Imagery intelligence (IMINT): Derived from numerous collection assets, such as reconnaissance satellites (e.g., the Key Hole series) or aircraft (e.g., Lockheed U-2).
- Human intelligence (HUMINT): Derived from covert human intelligence sources (agents or moles) from a variety of agencies (e.g., the United States Intelligence Community) and activities.
- Measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT): Derived from collection assets that collect and evaluate technical profiles and specific characteristics of certain targeted entities (e.g., E-8 Joint STARS).
- Technical intelligence (TECHINT): Based on scientific and technical characteristics of weapons systems, technological devices and other entities.
- Financial intelligence (FININT): The gathering of information about the financial affairs of entities of interest.
Role and responsibilities[edit | edit source]
The actual role carried out by an intelligence officer varies depending on the remit of his/her parent organization. Officers of foreign intelligence agencies (e.g. the United States' Central Intelligence Agency, the United Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and Australia's Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) may spend much of their careers abroad. Officers of domestic intelligence agencies (such as the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation, the UK's Security Service (MI5) and Australia's Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) are responsible for counter-terrorism, counter-espionage, counter-proliferation and the detection and prevention of serious organized crime within their own countries (although, in Britain, the Serious Organised Crime Agency has been set up to take care of serious organized crime).
Responsibilities which are common to most intelligence officers include compiling and analyzing intelligence to determine the identities, intentions, capabilities and activities of hostile individuals or groups, and planning or enacting the necessary steps to disrupt or prevent such activities.