Talk:Human intelligence (intelligence gathering)

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I think this article has headed in the direction of course material and away from Wikipedia content. Editors should consider taking non-encyclopedic content to start a course in HUMINT at Wikiversity. The two articles could even be linked -- check templates under Sister Projects to see how that could be done. The elaborate discussion of how to conduct an interview, etc, is going well beyond an encyclopedic discussion of HUMINT and into the how-to, which is more instructional. It's fine work, to be sure, but it belongs at Wikiversity, not in Wikipedia. --Pat (talk) 02:45, 18 April 2008 (UTC)


There are 2 redirect pages to here, "Human Intelligence" and "Human intelligence", what is the policy on capitals ?

I suspect there should be a disambiguation for human (as opposed to animal or artificial) intelligence.


I really think the whole page now is slanted toward HUMINT bashing. I think the proposed change below would be a good starting point. The current article mentions recent failures, but also fails to mention the huge slashing HUMINT suffered in the late 70s early 80s. Also, most current actionable intelligence in the Iraq war comes from HUMINT sources. The object is not to say SIGINT is better than HUMINT. The article should present facts. Cubist77 26 March 2006.

Regarding the "MICE" acronym bit -- would Soviet agents really be trained with an English mnemonic device?

Can we go back to the "bashing" version? :) What the current article doesn't seem to mention (I may have missed something) is that intelligence officials would much rather not rely on humint if at all possible. They trust their own eyes more! Student7 (talk) 12:51, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

Relevant to what HUMINT might be is within the scope of what it is not. HUMINT is not a mint on your pillow. An additional reference for HUMINT can be found on page 486: The Intelligence Community, Jeffery T. Richelson Westview Press Boulder 1995.


So what is disputed?

(to answer my own question, a month later) Apparently nothing that anyone cares about.

I plan on changing the HUMINT page: extensively!! The reason is that, unfortunately, many people seem to assume that HUMINT refers covert agents running through dark allies, spying on people and bribing people. In actual fact HUMINT covers a wide range of topics of which espionage is only one aspect. Before I make changes I'm going to post my proposed changes below and wait a while in case someone has major objections. L.J. Brooks 1030, 28 Feb 2006 (UTC)

" HUMINT From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search

HUMINT, short for HUMan INTelligence, is one of a series of intelligence gathering disciplines. NATO defines HUMINT as " A category of intelligence derived from information collected and provided by human sources." (AAP-6 (2004)- NATO GLOSSARY OF TERMS AND DEFINITIONS [1]).


What is HUMINT?

Contrary to what most people think HUMINT, does not necessary refer to people involved in clandestine/covert activies. While clandestine/covert agents are part of HUMINT, HUMINT in fact, refers to any information collected from a human source. The person(s) providing the information could be neutral, friendly or hostile. Examples of HUMINT sources includes, but is not inclusive to the following:

- Allied intelligence agencies,
- Friendly forces (Military police, patrols, etc),
- Prisoners of War (PW),
- Refugees,
- Civilians,
- Non-government Organizations (NGOs),
- Media personnel/organizations,
- Covert/clandestine agents,
- "Walk-ins." A walk-in refers to someone who approaches a friendly agency and volunteers ro provides information on his/her own freewill.


The section on SIGINT should mention the NSA, because it the responsibility of this organization. I also wonder how much SIGINT the CIA receives from the NSA. Sometimes breaking a cryptosystem is too valuable information to share it with another agency....

See also

   * COMINT: Communications intelligence
   * SIGINT: Signals intelligence
   * ELINT: Electronic intelligence
   * IMINT: Imagery intelligence
   * Secret agent
   * Double agent
   * List of intelligence gathering disciplines."

This dispute is weightless. Where are the sources that prove the point you are trying to make? Honestly it sounds to me as if the skills you are talking about is the capabiliteis of a lower enlisted Humint right out the school house. There is much more to Humint than the tactical side. And contrary to Wikipedia popular belief, military does have strategic covert operations in Humint. Matter of fact, it has been debated to possibly push CI with Humint. In closing the list you presented is true to the duties of Humint, however, not all Humint in the military is tactical. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Alexys72904 (talkcontribs) 03:34, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

After some substantial rewrite[edit]

It's beginning to be time, considering size, to spawn sub-articles. I have HUMINT interacting considerably with Counterintelligence. The details of espionage, tradecraft and possibly motivation, belongs in its own article. MICE may belong both in counterintelligence and espionage.

I'm beginning to think I'm going too deeply in interviewing human sources, and still scratching the surface. The social networking/wiring diagrams belong here, as well as some techniques for graphically presenting human source info. Unfortunately, some of the better public domain graphics from public domain articles are in PDF that won't let me copy images. I may have to print and scan, as some would take a long time to redraw. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:30, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Added new article[edit]

Clandestine HUMINT is logically subordinate to HUMINT and Counterintelligence. Not as closely related, but perhaps of interest, is Special reconnaissance. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:01, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

Mark Lowenthal's "Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy", says that the military considers intelligence collection to consist of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), seemingly suggesting that they are three separate components of collection (see also ISTAR). So since surveillance and recon are listed separately, maybe they are not INTs at all? Robert M. Clark's definition of HUMINT in "Intelligence Analysis: A Target-Centric Approach", 2nd ed., p. 90, says that HUMINT consists of "intelligence collected by one person interacting with another person to obtain information." He goes on to define HUMINT as involving the use (and abuse) of liaison relationships, elicitation of diplomats and military attaches at embassy functions, interviews of emigres and defectors, handling of clandestine sources, sampling techniques, and materiel acquisition. Wikipedia also defines HUMINT as "interpersonal contact", seemingly rejecting surveillance and recon from consideration as HUMINT. I think they belong somewhere in the pantheon of INTs, however, since surveillance and reconnaissance data are collected and used in intelligence analysis, not just for indications and warnings (I&W). Just not sure where. --Pat (talk) 01:25, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
Lowenthal and Clark do not agree with the Joint Publications and Army Field Manuals on the subject. I think you will find that all military deep reconnaissance organizations report to an intelligence function, and even tactical scout units are presented to commanders as part of intelligence briefing. A partial exception is when deep recon units call in air or missile fires, but, even then, they typically do post-strike analysis that is reported through intelligence channels. I wrote most of the HUMINT article, and I don't believe I excluded surveillance and reconnaissance. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 02:53, 15 March 2008 (UTC)
The article doesn't systematically discuss surveillance and reconnaissance as part of HUMINT. Special Reconnaissance appears further down the page, and surveillance is mentioned only in context of interrogation.

Unit Support to HUMINT Collection (FM 2.0 Intelligence 6.5 -6.9) treats the soldier as a HUMINT source, whether he is conducting tactical questioning; on a combat patrol "observing and interacting with the local environment" or handling detainees or reviewing captured documents (soldiers serve as the commander's 'eyes and ears'); or handling ISR operations ("The information that the soldier reports ...forms a vital part of planning and operations."). Note that HUMINT Collection (6-4) technically does not include surveillance and reconnaissance as methods of collection (they are: debriefings, screening, liaison, HUMINT contact operations, DOCEX, and interrogation). These combat, surveillance, and recon units may not always be interactive in their duties per se; the interaction required by Lowenthal and Clark, et al, occurs as HUMINT collectors glean intelligence from the surveillance and recon teams post-operation, treating them as sources. I would say that the military is dancing around the fact that surveillance and reconnaissance feed the HUMINT collection process through what is effectively debriefing, just like the debriefing of friendly forces, not that surveillance and recon are techniques of HUMINT, which 6.4 makes clear they are not. --Pat (talk) 17:16, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps our disagreement comes because there is a blurring between collection and processing. Assume, for example, that there is a harbor of interest. A "classic" HUMINT source might be a recruit in the office of the harbormaster, who transmits arrivals and departures to a case officer. Another way of getting comparable raw infiltration would be to send in a SEAL SR mission, which observes the harbor from a place of concealment, or even sneaking-and-peeking up to the ships.
If either were sending photographs as their output, you could call them both IMINT. If, however, the product of both is a result of trained human observation (i.e., knowing the difference between "big gray ship" and Flight IIA Burke Class), I don't know what to call it other than HUMINT. Again, think exclusion. If a patrol emplaced REMBASS remotely operated personnel detectors and withdrew, they'd be emplacing MASINT sensors. If the same patrol goes to an observation point and evaluates movements visually, they are doing HUMINT. The patrol might have a SIGINT augmentation team, as with the Marine radio recon dets to Force Recon or the SOT-A to Army Special Forces, but those augmentations are clearly intended as adjuncts to the primary visual surveillance mission.
Does that help? I don't see it as terribly helpful to keep coming up with new "INTs", notwithstanding that some people seem to regard C3ISRTA as radically new. ISRTA in a Brigade Combat Team is simply assigning more intelligence resources, not inventing radically new kinds. Just as a U-2 can carry SIGINT and IMINT sensors, a patrol might carry night vision equipment and a lightweight countermortar radar. The night vision, although it could still be used in fire direction, is enhancing human senses and judgment, so that the product is raw HUMINT. Raw HUMINT information might, in turn, have the intelligence staff order a multispectral MASINT run over the area of view, to check that the visual observation isn't camouflage/decoys obvious in the infrared spectrum.

Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 17:35, 15 March 2008 (UTC)



Excellent additions. You have me wanting to find a couple of sources, one of which I read recently and even may have cited. McConnell was the Joint Chiefs of Staff intelligence director during the 1990-1991 Gulf War, and has been given a good deal of credit for personally finding some ways to break bottlenecks on information flow.

A few years back, there was an article about how CIA stores its HUMINT in the clandestine services database, which gave me several ideas that worked very well when I designed a system to provide limited research access to medical databases, getting the things for which the requester had a need-to-know, but not seeing individual identifying data. Now, I have to remember where I saw it; I'm pretty sure it was a publication rather than a conversation.

The language problem remains huge. I have a friend, still in high school, who wants to become an Arabic linguist, but she has the problem, which she doesn't really realize yet, that she says she just wants to learn the language and isn't interested in the culture. I only know a few phrases of Arabic, but have had amazing responses when I used them in a culturally appropriate way. I tend to recommend that people who do want to get a sense of the interactions of language and culture start with some of the works of Edward T. Hall, such as The Silent Language. Hall, a cultural anthropologist, tends to be a joy to read -- he imparts information but isn't like a dry textbook. Some of his contributions include structures for physical distance for conversations, the role of personal space, cultural perception of time, and, very significantly, differentiating between high- and low-context languages. The last area has led me into discourse theory, which gave me a way to understand why physicians drop into a professional colleague mode of conversation while they may be brusque with friends who offer suggestions, even with some correct terms, but without having them in the unspoken context.

I don't think the above paragraph wanders too far OT, because cultural as well as language skills are, IMHO, necessary for a good interrogator, preferably working without translators, but even being culturally aware with a translator. Such things are very necessary for HUMINT. One of the US challenges is that the basic professional-proficiency Arabic course at the Defense Language Institute takes 63 weeks. There appears to be a shortened course, used by Special Forces, of several full-time months. It's an interesting US cultural problem -- historically, military and intelligence people were appreciative of immigrants from Eastern Europe, but they are far more suspicious of Arabs, born and raised in the US but multilingual. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 19:03, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Hi Howard, One of the comments in the New Yorker article is that while the 63-week course gets you a proficiency of 4.5 out of 5 on a scale of 1 to 5, another 4 years of language still would still not get you to 5, and that is why you need a true native speaker for infiltration work and also to get nuances in dialogue of interrogation. Erxnmedia (talk) 20:36, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
My Canadian friends are very nervous that, when required, I can speak native Canadian as well as USAian. You may know the Japanese concept of the "strange barbarian" that speaks their language too well: It makes some Canadians very nervous when you can tell jokes about their politicians. Overall, I speak competent general English, acceptable Australian, minimal Yorkshire, a bit of Japanese, mostly forgotten German, and what is accepted as my unique mix of Svensk and Dansk. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 20:55, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

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