Critiques of Intelligence Analysis

D - G

Davis, Jack. "The Challenge of Managing Uncertainty: Paul Wolfowitz on Intelligence-Policy Relations." Studies in Intelligence 39, no. 5 (1996): 35-42.

This article is based on the author's interview of and other contacts with Ambassador Paul D. Wolfowitz in late 1994 and early 1995. The focus is the interface between analysts and policymakers. "Wolfowitz believes effective management of uncertainty and related challenges to sound decisionmaking requires close cooperation between policy and intelligence officers."

Davis, Jack. "A Policymaker's Perspective on Intelligence Analysis." Studies in Intelligence 38, no. 5 (1995): 7-15.

This article is based on the author's interviews in 1991-1993 with Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill. As summed up by Davis, Blackwill's belief is that, "to meet their responsibilities in promoting the national interest, intelligence professionals have to become expert not only on substantive issues but also on serving the self interest of policy professionals by providing specialized analytic support." Blackwill assessed DI analysts thusly: "They were experts on their subjects. They were responsive to my needs. And they did not leak my confidences to the press." Nevertheless, policymakers "do not as a rule know what intelligence analysts can do for them."

Donovan, G. Murphy. "Escaping the New Wilderness of Mirrors." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 22, no. 4 (Winter 2009): 730-738.

"Most national estimates are not just group-think; worse still, they are bureaucratic group-think. They don't represent good analysis so much as they represent consensus, however brief.... Privatization may be the only answer for analytical competence, transparency, and product integrity."

Fishbein, Warren, and Gregory Treverton.

1. "Making Sense of Transnational Threats." Occasional Papers 3, no. 1. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, The Sherman Kent Center for Intelligence Analysis, Oct. 2004.

"Intelligence Community analytic organizations need to institutionalize processes to consider whether and how they might 'have gotten it wrong' to enhance their abilities to anticipate potential threats in highly complex, fast-moving transnational issues, such as terrorism and weapons proliferation. Such processes would involve sustained, collaborative efforts by analysts to question their judgments and underlying assumptions.... For such processes to be effective, significant changes in the cultures and business processes of analytic organizations will be required."

2. "Rethinking 'Alternative Analysis' to Address Transnational Threats." Occasional Papers 3, no. 2. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, The Sherman Kent Center for Intelligence Analysis, Oct. 2004.

Abridged version of above.

"Understanding complex transnational issues, such as terrorism and weapons proliferation, requires an alternative analysis approach that is more an ongoing organizational process aimed at promoting 'mindfulness' -- continuous wariness of analytic failure -- than a set of tools that analysts are encouraged to employ when needed."

Gates, Robert M. "Guarding against Politicization." Studies in Intelligence 36, no. 5 (1992): 5-13.

Remarks by DCI Gates on 16 March 1992 in the CIA auditorium.

Gentry, John A. "Intelligence Analyst/Manager Relations at the CIA." Intelligence and National Security 10, no. 4 (Oct. 1995): 133-146.

Gentry relates a negative change in the DI culture -- and in its effectiveness as an analysis production activity -- to the arrival of Robert M. Gates as DDI in 1982. The article is a concise replay of Gentry's book, Lost Promise (1993).

Gentry, John A. Lost Promise: How CIA Analysis Misserves the Nation; An Intelligence Assessment. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1993.

According to Peake, FILS 12.2, the book is a "chorus of woe with an anti-management leitmotif." The author finds fault in three main areas -- "politicizing intelligence, a faulty review process, and incompetent management." This is a "very redundant book in content and style.... [Robert Gates] bears the brunt of his attack.... Differences will occur with Gentry's judgments as to the meaning, severity, and prevalence of the problems.... [His] recommendations for correcting the deficiencies ... read like simplistic statements of the problem." There is "nothing new here and little constructive." The endnotes "are most often descriptive rather than documentary" and the "sources are mostly secondary." This book would better be "termed a personal assessment."

Surveillant 3.1 calls Lost Promise "[s]our grapes -- with a vengeance"; there is "much whining and bitterness here.... Many of the problems the author describes have been discussed before in other forums." McGehee, CIABASE, July 1993 Update Notice, says that "Gentry describes how CIA's intelligence is distorted through pressure, politicized reviews, and personnel selection. His book focuses on the confirmation hearings of Robert Gates where over 24 intelligence analysts volunteered to testify regarding Gates' politicization of intelligence -- which did not halt his confirmation."

For Allen, DIJ 2.1, Lost Promise is a "scathing treatise" that "tediously relies on Sherman Kent's signal work ... as a baseline." Gentry "says that the problems are systemic.... The comprehensive documentation ... lends credibility to his views.... While ... some of the charges appear to be overstated, his observations have some merit and need to be seriously considered." Farson, I&NS 9.4, notes that Gentry "clearly believes that the CIA has lost its way." He argues that the "review process ... had been corrupted and ... led to judgements that were politically opportune rather than independent of bias."

George, Roger Z. "Reflections on CIA Analysis: Is It Finished?" Intelligence and National Security 26, no. 1 (Winter-Spring 2011): 72-81.

In this article, the author continues his criticism of the CIA's analytical work and calls for the CIA and DNI leadership to "revisit the utility of designing the DI's business model almost entirely around the PDB."

George, Roger Z., and James B. Bruce, eds. Analyzing Intelligence: Origins, Obstacles, and Innovations. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2008.

Peake, Studies 52.3 (Sep. 2008) and Intelligencer 16.2 (Fall 2008), finds this to be an "important book" that differs from other books on intelligence analysis by its "broad scope.... Analyzing Intelligence is the most comprehensive book on the subject to date." For Hanley, Proceedings 134.11 (Nov. 2008), "this book offers timely and perceptive observations on the practice or, as the authors are at pains to argue, the profession of intelligence."

To Foley, NCWR 62.4 (Autumn 2009), the editors "have succeeded in providing a book that is more primer than an effort to answer the question of professionalization of the discipline.... Analyzing Intelligence, although not fully convincing about the lack of a 'professional' discipline of intelligence analysis, is worth the read for those concerned with effectively 'connecting the dots' ahead of the next crisis on the horizon." For Wheaton, AIJ 30.1 (2012), the editors have managed, for the most part, to balance "the opinions and finely ground axes of the individual authors with a need for structure."

With regard to the second edition, Peake, Studies 59.1 (Mar. 2015), finds that of the 20 articles, eight are new and the others have been updated. "Analyzing Intelligence is an important, thoroughly documented book that clarifies the vital importance of analysis to the intelligence profession. It should be carefully read by students and practitioners alike."

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