Draft - The Role of an Intelligence Analyst

"Intelligence analysts are engaged in an intellectual pursuit. They are trying to solve puzzles, resolve uncertainties, discover the nature and meaning of things that others would keep secret. They must have an entire intellectual apparatus to help them identify the problem, assess the parts they know and the part they do not, come up with an explanation of what is going on and then express it in a way that others—including an audience not steeped in their own techniques—can understand."

---- David Moore, "Critical Thinking and Intelligence Analysis" (158pp | 2.05MB | PDF)


Analysts are "skilled subject-matter experts who study and evaluate information from many sources. Information flows in from around the world, including satellite surveillance, foreign newspapers and broadcasts, and human contacts. This information varies widely in terms of reliability, and often it is conflicting or incomplete. The analyst's role is to develop meaningful and usable intelligence assessments from all of those sources. Often this is like putting together the pieces of a puzzle, received at different times from different places, to form a picture that is complete enough to comprehend — even when some pieces are still missing."

Intelligence analysts do this through both critical thinking and analysis.

Critical Thinking Intelligence analysts, and their customers, depend on the ability to think critically and communicate clearly. Thinking critically is purposeful, methodologically-sound thinking. When thinking critically, you:

  • Sort evidence
  • Judge credibility and relevance
  • Make assumptions and reasoning explicit
  • Evaluate evidence

Analysis More formal intelligence analysis requires showing how you form your analysis, reach, and support your conclusion. It also requires you to think critically about the whole picture, and not just the parts. The Intelligence Community have created the IC Analytic Standards (6pp| 379kb | PDF)that serve as core principles of analytic tradecraft. The analytical approach includes the following components:

  • Work
  • Evidence
  • Methodology
  • Assumptions

Critical thinking and analysis are both processes that can be learned and improved upon (12pp | 718KB | PDF). Training and resources (35pp | 796KB | PDF) are available for state and local analysts at fusion centers as well as other personnel at fusion centers who may benefit. The following intelligence and fusion related courses are open to fusion center personnel:

  • Basic Intelligence and Threat Analysis Course (BITAC), delivered by DHS I&A;
  • Critical Thinking and Analytic Methods (CTAM), delivered by DHS I&A;
  • Principles of Intelligence Writing and Briefing (PIWB), delivered by DHS I&A;
  • Analytic and Critical Thinking Skills (ACTS), delivered by DHS I&A;
  • Vulnerability, Threat, and Risk Assessment (VTRA), delivered by DHS I&A;
  • Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Awareness Training Program (AIATP) delivered by Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC);
  • Introductory Intelligence Analyst Training Program (ITATP); delivered by FLETC;
  • Foundations of Intelligence Analysis Training (FIAT);
  • Florida's Law Enforcement Analyst Program;
  • Advanced Criminal Intelligence Analysis to Prevent Terrorism (ACIAPT); delivered by National White Collar Crime Center;
  • Office of the Director for National Intelligence (ODNI) Analysis 101;
  • California's Terrorism Liaison Officer Program; and
  • Developing an Intelligence Capacity in State, Local and Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies: A Quick Start Program, delivered by Michigan State University.
  • Certification Program through International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts


Source: The DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the DHS Privacy Office.
Last date page updated: 8/07/13 (CRCL)

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