Using Intelligence Data for Environmental Needs

Balancing National Interests

by Scott Pace, Kevin M. O'Connell, Beth E. Lachman


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In the post-cold-war era, there is a growing awareness that intelligence data such as imagery could contribute to environmental programs, management of natural resources, and even disaster relief. A key question facing policymakers and intelligence community managers is whether (and how) to balance routine unclassified environmental surveillance with traditional intelligence missions. This report discusses the stakeholders, interests, opportunities, and risks for the United States in greater use of intelligence data for environmental purposes by civil agencies, universities, and industry. After discussing alternative approaches to providing intelligence data for environmental uses and evaluation criteria, the authors offer summary observations, open questions, and recommendations on actions the U.S. government and the intelligence community should and should not take. An appendix includes three government policy statements on using intelligence data for environmental purposes.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    A Changing Intelligence Environment

  • Chapter Two

    Stakeholders and National Interests

  • Chapter Three

    Benefits, Costs, and Risks

  • Chapter Four

    Alternative Approaches to Providing Intelligence Data for Environmental Uses

  • Chapter Five

    Observations and Recommendations

  • Appendix

  • Bibliography

This work was conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the National Security Research Division of RAND, a non-profit corporation dedicated to policy analysis and research in the public interest.

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