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The definitions of “Intelligence Cycle” used in both the intelligence and law enforcement communities are the same. In fact, if one were to consult the discussions of “Intelligence Cycles” available on the websites for both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, one would observe the exact same definitions in graph or table form. [www.fbi.gov/about-us/intelligence/intelligence-cycle; www.cia.gov/library/publications/additional-publications/the-work-of-the-nation/work-of-the-cia.html]
In both the intelligence and law enforcement communities the fundamental approach to intelligence is the same because the nature of the missions of the respective organizations differ only in traditional targets and in restrictions regarding authorization to function within and without the borders of the United States. Even though the FBI and other domestic law enforcement agencies function primarily within the United States – although, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the consequent rise in Russian and Eastern European organized crime, the FBI has established offices in U.S. Embassies in a number of foreign countries – its basic approach to intelligence is precisely the same as with its foreign intelligence counterpart, the CIA. Both begin with the “planning and direction” phase, usually involving guidance and direction from decision-makers. Priorities or targets for surveillance and study are then the subject of collection efforts utilizing a number of technological means as well as the use of “human intelligence,” or HUMINT. Third, the information collected is processed into useable form, for example, foreign language documents are translated, electronic communication intercepts transcribed, and so on. Next, analysts pour over the accumulated information and data and produce assessments and predictions for use by decision-makes. Finally, the finished product is disseminated to individuals with a “need to know,” for example the high-level officials responsible for making decisions presumably utilizing the information and analysis in the report.
Once the decision-makers have reviewed the intelligence report or estimate, a policy decision is made and, presumably, implemented by relevant agencies or by the military. The cyclical process then continues to evolve as new taskings are issued or recently distributed reports lead to requests for additional information.
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