Intelligence, Crises and Security

Len V. Scott and R. Gerald Hughes, eds., "Special Issue on 'Intelligence, Crises and Security: Prospects and Retrospects,'" Intelligence and National Security 21, no. 5 (Oct. 2006): entire issue.


1. Len Scott and R. Gerald Hughes, "Intelligence, Crises and Security: Lessons from History?" 653-674.

This article is primarily stagesetting for the other articles included in this volume. Nonetheless, the authors make a number of salient points, including the observation that for critics in the United States, "intelligence is an ingredient in, as well as cover for, more fundamental failings of political leadership and policy-making."

2. John Ferris, "Intelligence and Diplomatic Signalling during Crises: The British Experience of 1877-78, 1922 and 1938," 675-696.

The author of these "case studies of playing chicken" provides some intriguing thoughts. These include: "The strategic literature assumes crises are there to be managed. In fact, they are something to survive.... Crises cause systems failures on all sides.... Crises are dominated by emotion, factionalization, missed signals and unintended consequences."

3. Martin Thomas, "Crisis Management in Colonial States: Intelligence and Counter-Insurgency in Morocco and Syria after the First World War," 697-716.

This article "analyses the performance of French security services confronted with violent unrest and communal rebellion in Morocco and Syria in the 1920s.... [T]he central proposition ... is that the inter-war protectorates, mandates and colonies stretching in an arc through the Arab world were 'intelligence states.'"

4. Clive Jones, "'Where the State Feared to Tread': Britain, Britons, Covert Action and the Yemen Civil War, 1962-64," 717-737.

Official British covert actions associated with theYemen civil war were restricted to defensive activities along the border. Unofficially, a group of Conservation MPs worked with key Middle Eastern leaders in supporting a private mercenary organization.

5. Alfred Rolington, "Objective Intelligence or Plausible Denial: An Open Source Review of Intelligence Method and Process since 9/11," 738-759.

"The criticism of organizational structures and individuals ... does not address the real, and enduring, problem with US intelligence-gathering bodies. The very process of intelligence theory, definition and practice needs to be fundamentally reviewed."

6. Daniele Ganser, "The CIA in Western Europe and the Abuse of Human Rights," 760-781.

Links the Italian elections of 1948 to "black" prisons in 2005 to postwar stay-behind networks. If the author truly believes that the name of the U.S. President is George Bush Junior, we need to start over with our research.

7. Neville Wylie, "'The Importance of Being Honest': Switzerland, Neutrality and the Problem of Intelligence Collection and Liaison," 782-808.

The period since the end of the Cold War has seen the Swiss intelligence community undergo a "profound transformation[].... The new emphasis given to international cooperation in the country's defence and security policy has impacted directly on the field of secret intelligence."

8. Yigal Sheffy, "Overcoming Strategic Weakness: The Egyptian Deception and the Yom Kippur War," 809-828.

The success of the Egyptian deception "can be attributed to it being unpretentious, sober, realistic and synchronized [intentionally or not] with its environment." The "greatest benefit" to Egypt "was retardation of any cognitive transformation among Israeli decision-makers. In consequence, the IDF's military response was delayed to a date that was, by itself, irrelevant to Egypt's war aims."

9. Paul Maddrell, "The Western Secret Services, the East German Ministry of State Security and the Building of the Berlin Wall," 829-847.

Although "the Communists' principal motive for closing the sectoral border in Berlin was to stop the flight of refugees..., the border closure was also motivated by security considerations.... [T]he Western secret services did not fail to see what might happen" and, in fact, "made extensive preparations to ensure that their operations could continue in the harder conditions which would ensue."

10. Anthony Glees and Philip H.J. Davies, "Intelligence, Iraq and the Limits of Legislative Accountability during Political Crisis," 848-883.

The authors use the inquiries of the UK's Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) and the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) into the issue of Iraq's possession/nonpossession of weapons of mass destruction to frame their discussion of the impact of political loyalties on the legislative oversight function. They conclude that "[a]s a means to provide reliable, trustworthy and hence legitimate and effective oversight,... the legislature and its committees are limited tools.... Legislative oversight ... needs to be combined with various forms of oversight such as independent, judicial and administrative arrangements."

11. Michael Fitzgerald and Richard Ned Lebow, "Iraq: The Mother of all Intelligence Failures," 884-909.

This is a devastating assessment of the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq. It is, however, difficult not to consider it a polemic, rather than an analysis. Also, the comparison to a Greek tragedy is a little too cute for my taste. That said, however, the authors make too many valid points to be ignored. They state that "[t]he underlying principle of the Bush administration goals in the Middle East and, ironically, the roots of its failure," is found in its "assumption that military force could achieve political goals throughout the region.... [T]he decision to invade Iraq was not a response to any imagined WMD threat.... While the [CIA] is not entirely without fault, blaming it for the failure to find WMD is an oversimplification and a convenient distraction.... The fundamentally flawed nature of the administration's assumptions doomed the occupation to a long list of poor decisions and failed policies which began even before US forces captured Baghdad."

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