So... you will pay me to tell you stories? OK!
Published on May 25, 2004 By greywar In Current Events

      Parapundit has been running a series of pieces regarding the possibility that the United States was spoon-fed bad Human Intellegence (HUMINT) reports regarding WMD in Iraq by Chalabi vis Iran. I have no particualr insight into the facts behind these specific reports but Parapundit seems to lack a bit of understanding regarding the reliability of of HUMINT when they say things like this :

"They need the level of talent (particularly in science and technology but also in cultural knowledge and economics training) that would allow them to see through deceptions which they currently are easily fooled by." 

    The fact of the matter is that very rarely will an agency receive a report regarding WMD from someone who is technobabbling them. They are far more likely to receive very vague statements and anecdotal tales from lower-level folks who wouldn't have the technical chops to even attempt technobabble. All they have to do is come up with anything semi-plausible like, "My boss said they were getting in a Uranium shipment!" If you generate a large enough volume of such reports the isolated technicalreport that seems to have suspect details in it is completely lost in the deluge.

     Once you start to offer money for information regarding certain well known subjects you can count on receiving plenty of juicy-sounding and unconfirmable reports every day. Even if the respondents have no actual knowledge of actual intelligence worthy activities. This is an easy source of untraceable income to many folks in foreign governments and they will not be shy about lying to get them a piece of the action. There is a reason that HUMINT reports are also referred to as "creative writing assignments".

     You will never cease to be fooled if you base decisions on paid informants. They have no loyalty to you and they already know what you want to hear. Don't be surprised when you hear it then.

on May 26, 2004
Good article, greywar.
on May 26, 2004
greywar, this has given me even more appreciation of the good work you are doing for your country. Thanks. HUMINT by its very nature implies fallability, human + intelligence = fallability. It almost sounds like one doing intelligence work must be superhuman.
on May 26, 2004

It almost sounds like one doing intelligence work must be superhuman.

I think it has a lot to do with 'gut' as well.....but that's just my personal opinion.

Excellent article. 


on May 26, 2004

I think it has a lot to do with 'gut' as well


Well I have plenty of gut! Hell that would make Pseudo and I two of the very best!

on May 26, 2004


You know what I meant.....

on May 28, 2004
I understand your points on this, grey, but where do you think that HUMINT falls apart that differs from what makes informants a viable source of information for state-side police? Or are the actual statistics of their success just as dismal, and it's merely a hollywood-based biased impression that leads us to believe otherwise?
on May 30, 2004
I agree, according to my various internet sources (which i cannot disclose as i would risk possible lobotomy) Israel was behind the entire war and solely responsible for all of the humint sources regarding WMD's
on May 30, 2004
If it's on teh intarweb then it must ring of truthery.
What are you agreeing with? Are you sure you're not drinking any more?
on Jun 01, 2004
Pseudo - It is my beleif that the heyday of HUMINT was during the height of the Cold War. The unique convergence of mutual mistrust, deciet, and complete philosophical emnity of the two sides led to some of the most reliable information ever gained from human sources. This was the era in which the HUMIN legend was born. Unfortunately it also has been so widely publicised that it has led us to the current problems of too many sources and too much credence.
on Jun 01, 2004
Do you think, touching briefly back on my analogy to police informants, that there is no accountability for the HUMINT sources? If police informants lie, they could get tossed in jail/not get their parole/what-have-you. If HUMINT sources lie... what, their office gets ransacked over a year later, which just makes the police (read: America) look assholish, right?
Further, HUMINT *used* to work, because a lot of our sources were looking to defect. Many were honestly grateful to the US, and then there's the less happy situation of us possibly stringing them along, leaving them behind the Curtain, feeding us information, until we finally find a way to get them across to freedom (read: capitulate to their valid complaints that their lives are in danger).

I could see the correlation, I'm just not sure whether it's something that my addled mind dreamed up. (Trying to find patterns again...)