Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Elicitation Techniques For The Intelligence Professional (Slideshare.com)

Elicitation: "Acquisition of information from a person or group in a manner that does not disclose the intent of the interview or conversation. A technique of human source intelligence collection, generally overt, unless the collector is other than he or she purports to be."
You don't hear much about elicitation. An element of intel operations tradecraft, many consider it the seedier side of HUMINT (or, as the business guys call it, "primary source") intelligence in the corporate world.

The best introduction to this world, in my opinion, is John Nolan's excellent book Confidential (which you can now buy in paperback).

Another useful product came across my desk the other day, however. One of my students (Thanks, Nimalan!) forwarded the very interesting slide presentation at the bottom of this post by Stephan Hernan who appears to be an independent analyst working health, science, and communications technology issues.

Whether you are curious about elicitation generally or are more interested in the counterintel implications of these techniques, I recommend the slide show:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Andrew said...

I read this last week and found it really interesting. Sadly, it happens a lot more than we'd like to think.

Counter-intelligence in the business world is tricky. It's not really the responsibility of the CI division to prevent elicitation. It's everyone's responsibility. But unlike national security, the confidentiality of information is a gray area.

Assuming all information is confidential makes little sense. Assuming every single phone call (customer, client, job-seeker) is a potential threat seems like an equally bad idea. I'm not sure where the answer lies, but I enjoy thinking about it.

Anonymous said...


This is excellent! Collection can be (and is) taught!

This is exactly what your students were doing in the balloon exercise--calling people up, and eliciting information from them, using a variety of ploys...

Thanks for sharing.

Kent Clizbe

Stephen Hernan said...

Kristan, thanks for the post and link to the presentation! If you have any questions on it, feel free to give me a shout any time.



Kristan J. Wheaton said...


Thanks for posting the presentation to Slideshare. It was very well done.


ddade said...

It took a little Linux alchemy, but I've got the presentation in PDF. The quality is not the greatest, but it is quite readable. Please let me know if anyone wants it.

ddade said...

Sorry, scratch that... I just read that Stephen has not yet chosen to make it available outside of Slideshare, and I'll respect that.

Stephen Hernan said...

@ddade - much obliged. That letter c in the circle is not my logo.