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Hello everyone:

 

I am currently working on a project to ascertain methods to validate human sources of information in intelligence. We are often faced with assigning a "reliability score" for our primary sources and more often than not go with our gut feel. When the two competing primary sources are clearly distinct - for example: the product manager in charge of the product line under investigation versus a junior level sales person, we intuitively know whom to trust. But when such distinction is not clear cut it becomes a little difficult.

 

Do you face this issue at work? If so how does one go about it? Are there any methods available? If you are aware of any published literature (books / articles) which deals with this subject do point me to them.. any help would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks much,

 

Nimalan

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Hi Nimalan,

Yes, in the national/military intelligence world it is called HUMINT asset or source validation. The basic process is to assign an alphanumeric designation to the information based upon the reliability of the source and on the probable accuracy of the information.

The reliability of the source is rated on a scale from A to F, with A representing the highest reliability, and F representing the lowest reliability. The probable accuracy of the information is rated on a scale from 1 to 6, with 1 representing confirmed intel and 2 through 6 representing increasing uncertainty to the probability of its accuracy.

As such, an alphanumeric designation of A1 would represent information from a source with no doubt to its reliability, and information that has been confirmed, is logical itself, or is consistent with other information. A designation of C3 would mean the source is fairly reliable and the information is possibly true. An F6 designation is from a source, and is information, that cannot be judged because no basis exists to evaluate its reliability or validity.

I hope this helps.
Here is a useful scale to be used in the designations; it comes from Appendix B of the US Army’s manual FM 2-22-3 Human Intelligence Collector Operations which can be found freely on the internet.

Evaluation of Source Reliability.

A - Reliable: No doubt of authenticity, trustworthiness, or competency; has a history of complete reliability
B - Usually Reliable: Minor doubt about authenticity, trustworthiness, or competency; has a history of valid information most of the time
C - Fairly Reliable: Doubt of authenticity, trustworthiness, or competency but has provided valid information in the past
D - Not Usually Reliable: Significant doubt about authenticity, trustworthiness, or competency but has provided valid information in the past
E - Unreliable: Lacking in authenticity, trustworthiness, and competency; history of invalid information
F - Cannot Be Judged: No basis exists for evaluating the reliability of the source


Evaluation of Information Content.

1 - Confirmed: Confirmed by other independent sources; logical in itself; Consistent with other information on the subject
2 - Probably True: Not confirmed; logical in itself; consistent with other information on the subject
3 - Possibly True: Not confirmed; reasonably logical in itself; agrees with some other information on the subject
4 - Doubtfully True: Not confirmed; possible but not logical; no other information on the subject
5 - Improbable: Not confirmed; not logical in itself; contradicted by other information on the subject
6 - Cannot Be Judged: No basis exists for evaluating the validity of the information
Thanks Trip :)

I found the PDF you were referring to and downloaded it. Thanks much.

As I see it - if I were to break it down into factors - the "past performance" of the HUMINT source seems to be the primary factor used in assessing the credibility.

Are there other schools of thought which look at other factors - for example "closeness" of the HUMINT source to the incident being reported and so on?

Thank you very much again

Nimalan
Yes, “closeness” is to be considered; they call it placement and access. It, along with the "past performance" of the source, and existing intelligence are the primary factors in validating HUMINT.

Take a look at Chapter 12 “HUMINT Analysis and Production” for some basic guidance on this issue, particularly the section on source analysis. But I would warn against seeking to apply non-analysis related material in the manual to competitive intelligence.

Trip

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