There was an IMINT guy, a SIGINT guy, and a MASINT guy sitting together
in a bar.
(For those of you that are not familiar with this intelligence disciplines,
IMINT is imagery intelligence, SIGINT is signals intelligence, and MASINT is measurements and signatures intelligence.)
They were having a chat, and they noticed a couple of young ladies sitting
on the other side of the room in a corner and having a very heated discussion.
The guys looked at each other and said: "It would be really nice if we
knew what those ladies are saying. We're all intelligence types, so we should be able to figure this out."
The IMINT guy pulls out a big telescope and says: "I can do it. I've
got this new imaging system with a new focal-point array that I can update very rapidly. I can look at a video, read their
lips, and figure out what they're saying."
He sets it up, gets it calibrated, and gets it in focus. But every time
it's properly focused, the ladies turn and he can't see their lips.
He mutters something about terrain masking and says, "I can't do it."
The SIGINT guy says, "I've got it! I've got his new joint SIGINT avionics
It's the latest digital system for the Department of Defense."
He pulls it out and says, "I've got the whole spectrum digitized. I can
focus in on what they're saying and figure out what they're discussing."
He tunes it up and at first gets a conversation over on the other side
of the bar, a couple of gentlemen discussing business. He keeps tuning and tuning but only gets an FM radio station with loud
He can't hear what the ladies are saying, and he mutters something about
co-channel interference and says, "I can't do it."
The MASINT guy says, "I've got it! I've got this great new technique
where I use lasers to illuminate the subjects, and the with a hyper-spectral detector I can figure out the acoustic modulation
of the salinity content of the sweat on their brow, and by that I can figure out what are they're discussing."
He gets it all set up and tuned in and data comes spewing out of the
system; tons and tons of data. But he doesn't seem to be getting any signatures, and he mutters something about aerosol scattering
in the cigarette smoke and he admits, "I can't do it."
So they had pretty much given up on figuring out what the young ladies
were discussing, when the ladies come over and say: "We understand you were trying to figure out what we were discussing."
The Intel guys look at each other, sorely puzzled, and the ladies say,
"What we really ended up discussing was whether or not you guys would ever figure out what we were talking about."
The IMINT guy says: "Well, yeah, we were. But how did you know that?"
And one of the young ladies says, "Well, we just tipped the bartender
ten bucks and he told us. It' called HUMINT, human intelligence."
Claudio in Miami Beach July 2006