Targeting U.S. Technologies
Background

EXPLANATION OF ESTIMATIVE LANGUAGE & ANALYTIC CONFIDENCE

DSS adopted the IC estimative language standard for use in this report. The use of synonymous phraseology such as "we judge," "we assess," or "we estimate," as well as terms such as "likely," or "indicate," represent an effort by DSS to convey an analytical assessment or judgment. These assessments, based on incomplete or at times fragmentary information, are not a fact, proof, nor do they represent empirically-based certainty or knowledge. Some analytical judgments are based directly on collected information; others rest on previous judgments, both of which serve as building blocks. In either type of judgment, DSS does not have "evidence" showing something to be a fact or that definitively links two items or issues.

Intelligence judgments pertaining to "likelihood" are intended to reflect the Agency's sense of the probability of a development, event, or trend. Assigning precise numerical ratings to such judgments would imply more rigor than DSS intends. The chart below provides a rough idea of the relationship of terms to each other.

Gradient Chart

DSS does not intend the term "unlikely" to imply an event will not happen. It uses "probably" and "likely" to indicate there is a greater than even chance. DSS uses words such as "we cannot dismiss," "we cannot rule out," and "we cannot discount" to reflect unlikely-or even remote-events whose consequences are such that it warrants mentioning. Words such as "may" and "suggest" are used to reflect situations in which DSS is unable to assess the likelihood generally because relevant information is nonexistent, sketchy, or fragmented.

In addition to using words within a judgment to convey degrees of likelihood, DSS also ascribes analytic confidence levels based on the scope and quality of information supporting DSS judgments:

  • High Confidence: Indicates judgments are based on high-quality information, or the nature of the issue makes it possible to render a solid judgment.

  • Moderate Confidence: Indicates the information can be interpreted in various ways, DSS has alternative views, or the information is credible and plausible but not corroborated sufficiently to warrant a higher level of confidence.

  • Low Confidence: Indicates the information is scant, questionable, or highly fragmented, making solid analytic inferences difficult, or that DSS has significant concerns or problems with the sources.

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