The intelligence cycle is the process of developing unrefined
data into polished intelligence for the use of policymakers.
cycle consists of six steps, described below. The graphic
below shows the circular nature of this process, although
movement between the steps is fluid. Intelligence uncovered
may require going back to an earlier step before moving forward.
Requirements are identified information needs—what
we must know to safeguard the nation. Intelligence requirements
are established by the Director of National Intelligence according
to guidance received from the President and the National and
Homeland Security Advisors. Requirements are developed based
on critical information required to protect the United States
from National Security and criminal threats. The Attorney General
and the Director of the FBI participate in the formulation
of national intelligence requirements.
Planning and Direction is management of the entire effort,
from identifying the need for information to delivering an
product to a consumer. It involves implementation plans to
satisfy requirements levied on the FBI, as well as identifying
collection requirements based on FBI needs. Planning and
direction also is responsive to the end of the cycle, because
finished intelligence, which supports decision-making, generates
new requirements. The Executive Assistant Director for the
National Security Branch leads intelligence planning and
Collection is the gathering of raw information based on requirements.
Activities such as interviews, technical and physical surveillances,
human source operation, searches, and liaison relationships
result in the collection of intelligence.
Processing and Exploitation involves converting
the vast amount of information collected into a form usable
done through a variety of methods including decryption, language
translations, and data reduction. Processing includes the
entering of raw data into databases where it can be exploited
in the analysis process.
Analysis and Production is the conversion of raw information
into intelligence. It includes integrating, evaluating, and
analyzing available data, and preparing intelligence products.
reliability, validity, and relevance is evaluated and weighed.
The information is logically integrated, put in context, and
used to produce intelligence. This includes both "raw" and
finished intelligence. Raw intelligence is often referred to
as "the dots"—individual pieces of information
disseminated individually. Finished intelligence reports "connect
the dots" by putting information in context and drawing
conclusions about its implications.
Dissemination—the last step—is the distribution of raw
or finished intelligence to the consumers whose needs initiated
the intelligence requirements. The FBI disseminates information
in three standard formats: Intelligence Information Reports (IIRs),
FBI Intelligence Bulletins, and FBI Intelligence Assessments.
FBI intelligence products are provided daily to the Attorney
General, the President, and to customers throughout the FBI and
in other agencies. These FBI intelligence customers make decisions—operational,
strategic, and policy—based on the information. These
decisions may lead to the levying of more requirements, thus
the FBI intelligence cycle.
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