10 October 2011: Today sees the launch of Open Briefing, a new independent think tank that brings together some of Britain’s most innovative thinkers on security and international relations.
Open Briefing is the world’s first civil society intelligence agency; an accessible platform for insight and analysis on key defence, security and foreign policy issues. They provide open source intelligence assessments and independent security briefings, so that a better informed civil society can properly engage with peace and security debates and influence positive policy developments in these areas.
Open Briefing is the brainchild of their Executive Director, Chris Abbott. Abbott is an author and consultant on national and international security issues, whose previous work has been praised by a wide range of public figures including Desmond Tutu, Brian Eno and Anita Roddick.
Speaking at the launch, Abbott explained the rationale behind Open Briefing:
“Policymakers rely on access to timely and accurate information upon which to base their decisions. In the spheres of defence and security, this information is largely secret and held back from the public domain. This leaves the process open to political manipulation and creates a public unable to engage properly with these issues or hold policymakers to account. Open Briefing exists to interject in this dynamic.”
Open Briefing has institutional partners in London, Brussels and Washington and has attracted the support of a group of senior researchers, activists and journalists, who constitute the organisation’s advisory board. They include the journalist and broadcaster Isabel Hilton; the founders of Iraq Body Count, John Sloboda and Hamit Dardagan; and the internationally renowned security expert Professor Paul Rogers. Speaking at the launch, Professor Rogers explained why he was involved in the organisation:
“Open Briefing is an excellent project with great possibilities for empowering the peace movement and wider civil society. It is typical of Chris Abbott that he should develop it. Moreover, he is one of those rare people who could take it forward and realise its considerable potential.”
“Open Briefing is a think tank that is a little bit different. We apply an adapted intelligence cycle to drive our activities. We emphasis the evaluation of sources and focus on those sources not being covered by the mainstream media. We recognise the fundamental role human psychology plays in defence, security and foreign affairs. And most importantly, we promote a fact-based worldview, guided by rigorous research. We do all this in a way that is accessible to everyone from policymakers to concerned citizens.”
Open Briefing is organised around seven regional desks and four issue desks, which focus on resource security and climate change, political violence and dissent, nuclear issues, and UK national security. Open Briefing also provides various think tank services in addition to these intelligence desks. These include policy-orientated publications, special projects on important emerging issues, and dossiers of user-generated information on unfolding events.