This afternoon, ClickOnline (BBC World) featured an interview with dr. Kevin O'Brian (right) about electronic surviellance in the aftermath of he September 11 terrorist attack on USA. Dr. O'Brian, working as an analyst with RAND Europe, says that an over-concentration on electronic surveillance on expense of human intelligence capability may be part of the reason that US intelligence failed to foresee the attack.
While electronic surveillance in many ways can help intelligence, it also many limitations. Modern cryptography is much much more powerful than anything the agencies have seen before, and the technology can even be used by terrorists to put out red herrings that divert away from the actual activities. Only human intelligence can infiltrate terrorist groups in order to gain quality intelligence about their activities.
Here is a link to the interview.