Commentary Magazine


The Value of Human Intelligence

Bin Laden’s end emphasizes the importance of human intelligence in the fight against terrorism. Not only did a Gitmo interrogation reportedly start analysts down the path that led to discovery of Bin Laden’s whereabouts, but someone must have gone through that neighborhood to discover that they never put trash out for collection. Satellite imagery and signals intercepts have a role, of course, but too often the human side proves more important. In the age of litigiousness and in a situation where briefcase-carting lawyers have more say in intelligence and national security operations than the man in the back alley, the value of human intelligence is ignored or simply becomes the stuff of automatic lip service. Let’s hope Bin Laden’s death changes that.