In the fast paced and sometimes dangerous world we find ourselves in, wouldn’t it be nice to get intelligence briefings and early warnings like the president and other world leaders?
In a way, you can do just this to stay on top of events and watch trends, possibly seeing predictors of coming trouble and being able to plan accordingly. The bad news is , it requires some work and diligence, the good news? You don’t have to infiltrate a government agency or run a ring of spies.
First you need to determine, based on your environment what your perceived threats are, terror attack, natural disaster etc. Next you have to determine how much time and money you want to spend on intelligence gathering. As for me, I budget an hour a day to reading current events, news and other related blogs. My purpose is as follows:
Track world events for signs of MAJOR issues that could affect us. (Storms, Terror attack, financial collapse, etc.)
Track local events for the same (Crime, Road closures, natural disaster, weather)
Observe trends and movement of the markets and technology. (Work knowledge, Business decisions, investments, etc. )
I first start by keeping the local news station on in the car, where I spend several hours a day. Next I created a twitter account and follow key people and organizations that would tweet about items I would find valuable. Some key folks are:
Local news affiliates
National Weather Service
LAPD (insert local LEO of choice)
Now none of these are going to get you any “Super secret” information, however they will react to world events with tweets, these are usually just boiler plate media statements, but they can give you a heads up on happening events. I scan the twitter feed every now and again during the day.
Next and one of the most powerful tools I have found for early warning direct to my phone is Google Alerts.
Sign in with a Google account and Simply input the topic you are interested in being alerted on, next you can fine tune it to region, frequency, and other options. If I am in an area where a sudden event (recent riots comes to mind) I would set up a Google Alert for the topic including city and then set the frequency for “As it Happens” giving me a nearly live feed of news stories as they are published. For normal use such as right now, I have an alert set up for “Terror Attack” with a frequency of once per day. so at the end of each day I get an emailed digest of that days most important web postings and news stories. Sort of like an Open Source Intelligence Briefing.
Finally you need to read key blogs by TRUSTED experts in the threat areas you identify. A few blogs I read daily (I budget an hour a day) are :
Global Guerrillas by John Robb , John is a former SOC pilot and futurist, If you have not read his books you need to in order to understand where we are going.
Stratfor: Sign up for their free Intelligence Reports, if you have the $$ become a subscriber, this is the common mans CIA/NSA
Cryptogon is a tech news blog.
These are a few of the blogs I use, now obviously you cannot sit and read every story on each blog, every day. So first follow them on twitter/facebook etc and watch for posts with synapses of the stories as they are published, or do as I do and skim and speed read each blog to pick out the nuggets of intel you can use.
On the topic of reading, you should be devouring as much non-fiction reading as you can , I set aside 2 hours every evening for reading sometimes more if I have the down time. At any given time I am reading 2-4 books and several periodicals. If I am on a long road trip I get audio books and multi task, switching to AM news on the hour. My current reading topics are listed:
Investors Business Daily
Muzzleloader (Purely for enjoyment)
No Easy day
Beacons in the Night
4 Hour Work Week
Lastly, I rely on my Survival Tribe members. We all have our own “Intelligence assets” given we are spread across Technology, Business, Law Enforcement, Medicine, and other disciplines, and give each other heads up alerts by text and voice. In fact, I was alerted to a recent attack by what was likely a member of the “Religion of peace” twenty minutes before it made the local news outlets!
Go set-up your own Intelligence operation, it might save your life, help you make money, or both. Next in this series will be local or “Tactical” intelligence gathering techniques.