Ethical Approaches to the Use of Intelligence for Historical Analysis, Current Affairs Reporting and Predictive Forecasting

Ian Wing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intelligence comes in many forms and serves many purposes. The work of the intelligence professional is to use his or her skills to collect and process all relevant and available information in order to provide timely and accurate intelligence products. This paper adopts a temporal framework for its analysis of the use of intelligence methodologies to understand the past, report on the present, and predict the future. Within each of these spaces, the intelligence professional may face stressful and competing demands for his or her time and priority of effort. Ultimately more important than these already severe demands, are the overarching requirements for actionable information to meet the critical needs of decision-makers. Intelligence is thus rarely an end in itself but is instead a vital management tool used for tactical, operational or strategic purposes. Herein lies a challenge for the intelligence professional, in that he or she must simultaneously provide completely dispassionate products for decision-makers while at the same time being aware of and responsive to their ongoing needs and objectives. A greater dilemma for the intelligence professional concerns situations which conflict with his or her personal morals. In response to this dilemma, the paper proposes a code of ethics for intelligence professionals. The paper concludes that the intelligence professional can adopt an ethical approach to his vocation through a mature understanding of these requirements, combined with the appropriate process of rigorous, completely objective and separately institutionalised analysis. The intelligence professional should ultimately be guided by a code of ethics derived partly from the organisation he or she serves and partly from the broader intelligence profession.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-74
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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