How spy agencies use open source intelligence

On today’s show, we take a look at how intelligence agencies are approaching open source intelligence or OSINT. There’s a rapidly expanding world of social media feeds, commercial satellite imagery, cell phone videos and other Internet-derived information that allow professional and amateur analysts alike to investigate events happening around the world.

Organizations like Bellingcat have used this kind of information to extensively document Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, mapping incidents of civilian harm, debunking Russian disinformation, and investigating the use of cluster munitions and other weapons.

But the intelligence community has been slower to adopt new open source tools and information. A January report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that the community has struggled to even define OSINT beyond the classic definition of publicly available media and press reporting.