Then he actually read them.
"This product is so bad," he laments.
So bad, in fact, that he turned the briefs into a series of eight "what not to do" posts on his personal blog called "Evaluating Intelligence Analysis in Law Enforcement."[jump]
Before the 2008 Republican National Convention, the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department -- then lead by Bob Fletcher -- wrote up several intelligence briefs with titles like "Information Regarding Potential Anarchist Activities For the RNC." Many were marked "Confidential Law Enforcement Only."The briefs gained new relevancy when Fletcher was voted out of office in late 2010. Incoming sheriff Matt Bostrom had his staff respond to a data practices request from a TC Daily Planet reporter asking to see the 78 "terrorism information briefs" that Fletcher claimed to have written since 2005. Bostrom's spokesman went back to the reporter empty handed. "They never existed," he told her. "It is a very big lie."
Fletcher then provided City Pages with the eight pre-RNC briefs he had at his house, saying those were examples of counter-terrorism work. CP posted them online in their entirety.
That's where Baratta, who has a long military background and teaches courses on counter-terrorism intelligence gathering, found them. He says these types of documents don't usually make it into the public domain and once he got reading, decided to turn the briefs into a lengthy "manifesto."
"Poor work is not really -- it's not really called out. It's not really discussed," he says. "In academia, you have peer review. In journalism, you have editors.You don't really get that in the law enforcement community."
As an introduction to his blog manifesto, Baratta writes, "I need to be very clear that my criticisms are not designed to target the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department specifically. Rather, I'm spending time on this because I'm confident these apply to countless agencies around the country."
What follows is a blistering condemnation of the reports' content. Baratta mocks everything from the inclusion of several pages of rap lyrics ("Too often, producers of law enforcement intelligence products operate under the assumption that the length of the product is a reliable indicator of its quality.") to their fundamental importance ("Allow me to translate this report: Anarchists are coming to the RNC (or maybe not) to commit criminal acts (or maybe not). Potential targets include...everything!").
You can read the whole series, which is pretty funny, starting here.