On Allegations of ‘Inaccuracy’ in Leaked Documents on Chinese Interference: Don’t Shoot Messengers

We live in an amazing information age. For the first time in human civilization, anyone, anyone with access to the Internet, can know nearly everything on any topic. Type a few words into a search engine, hit enter, click a link, and voila! instant knowledge.

Of course, it’s not that easy. Just because a query returns some data doesn’t mean all the information is accurate. We also live in an age of disinformation and misinformation. Some of them were intentionally spread by malicious actors (hello, Russian trolls!), and others didn’t take the time to investigate whether what they posted was really true. Some were shared by people (no, the popular English swear word did not come from the phrases “knowledge of illicit sex” or “fornication with the consent of the king”).

As a result, it remains difficult to determine whether a particular source (World Wide Web or Aunt Tessie) is the right source. This makes it difficult to determine which information to use, which to distrust, and which to reject. You will probably reach a point where you can make that decision with certainty, but given the advent of chatbots and their 10,000-year history of human obfuscation, that seems unlikely.

It leads me to intelligence. Information is collected “secretly”, but in essence it is just information (the French word “renseignements” actually encompasses both concepts). You know, it’s all about cloaks and daggers. And like all information, it can be good or bad.

Those of us in national security had a job to do. Collecting information, evaluating its accuracy, and providing the findings to governments and other payroll administrators. You can’t stay in your position for long if you regularly circulate inaccurate information. This is why I used many tests against the data. The primary tests are source verification and corroboration from multiple sources and circumstances (time constraints, difficulty, data processing (e.g. encryption), confidentiality of reported content, etc.).

At the same time, the source and method should be protected. The old military adage “loose lips sink ships” still applies. Disclosure of the source or method can lead to the disappearance of both. If a particular piece is obtained through specialized techniques and its approach is compromised, you can say goodbye to the source as the “target” makes changes to prevent future exploitation. , the source may die or come to provide information about you to the enemy.

This is why intelligence agencies do not, or very rarely, disclose sources to their clients. Provide generalized information about the origin of what we have been telling you, in phrases such as ‘reliable’, and add qualifiers such as ‘confirmed’, ‘believed’, or ‘unknown’ “By the way, John Doe at 123 Main Street is our human asset.” , or that you will trust us not to knowingly provide intelligence that you had serious doubts about.

So what do we make of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments on a series of salacious reports about Chinese interference in the 2019 and 2021 US elections? “inaccurate”Does the Prime Minister question what his intelligence services are reporting? Does he have his own conflicting sources? Believe it or not because it’s embarrassing or because it goes against the story he’s trying to sell. Or is Trudeau simply muddling the waters by tossing baseless allegations and deflecting concern over allegations and criticism of what appears to be a lack of action? case?

Intelligence officials know that their contribution to national security and decision-making is just one piece in a sea of ​​information, and they do not simply assume that it is the only data available. is not. Furthermore, we recognize that our job is to advise governments, not tell them what to do. At the same time, those who read our products expect to trust that they have been created with the utmost care and that every step has been taken to ensure accuracy and relevance.

Governments don’t want to use what we know? Fine, that’s its privilege. Please don’t say you don’t know what we’re doing.

Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Epoch Times.