Detective agencies turn to scientists while battling mysteries

But recent intelligence challenges require a different range of scientific expertise, including some areas where agencies have invested fewer resources over the years.

“It’s a really interesting moment where national security interests have turned from some of the Cold War interests,” said Sue Gordon, a former top intelligence official. “Priorities are changing now.”

With not only urgently unresolved security questions, but with the long-term challenge of improving intelligence collection on climate change, Director of National Intelligence, Avril D. Haynes has prompted agencies to recruit undergraduate and graduate students more aggressively. Wide range of scientific knowledge.

“DNI believes that the changing threat landscape requires the intelligence community to develop and invest in a talented work force that includes individuals with science and technology backgrounds,” said Matt Lahr, a spokesman for Ms. Haines. . “Without this kind of expertise, we would not only be unable to compete, we would not be able to meet today’s challenges.”

Officials are also trying to make extensive use of existing initiatives. For example, Ms Haines’ office is more aggressively questioning its science and technology expert group, a collection of some 500 scientists who voluntarily help intelligence agencies answer scientific problems.

Officials have asked those scientists how the coronaviruses mutate as well as about climate change and the availability of natural resources. Intelligence officials said scientists in the expert group do not conduct intelligence analysis, but their answers could help such analysts within the agencies draw more accurate conclusions.

In other cases, efforts to bring in outside expertise are new.

During the Trump administration, the State Department commissioned the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine to investigate Havana syndrome. Its report concluded that A Microwave Weapon Was One Possible Cause in several episodes but was partially interrupted due to lack of access to information; Officials said the scientists were not given the full range of material collected by intelligence agencies.

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