Intelligence officers have gleaned insights on Iran's nuclear capabilities from photos on the Internet. They've scooped up documents, including a terrorist training manual, at international conferences and public forums. They've found information in foreign university libraries and newscasts.
Such material is known as "open-source intelligence" or, in the acronym-laden parlance of the 16 federal agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community, OSINT. The explosion of information available via the Internet and other public sources has pushed the collection and analysis of that material to the top of the official priority list in the spy world, intelligence officials say.
We are going to be hearing a lot about this in the future. The secret to good intelligence is recognizing the significance of what you are looking at, well that and the ability to remain objective.