THIS BOOK IS A HIGHLY PERSONAL and doubtless somewhat idiosyncratic description of the role of intelligence analysis in the making of national security decisions in the U.S. government. It focuses on analysis because that is the aspect of the process that I know best and, more importantly, because intelligence analysts are at the nexus between decision makers and the vast apparatus constructed to reduce uncertainty by providing information and insight tailored to the specific needs of “customers” ranging from the president and Cabinet secretaries to troops in the field, cops on the beat, members of Congress, desklevel officers in Washington and embassies around the world, developers of military equipment and tactics, and myriad others. During my career, I had opportunities to interact directly with many such customers, at many levels. I also had the privilege of working with and for many dedicated and in certain respects extraordinary intelligence professionals. This book presents my take on a complex set of issues, institutions, and expectations, but my views have been shaped by mentors and colleagues as well as my own experiences. This is the place to thank them for their guidance and to absolve them of responsibility for the judgments and shortcomings of my effort to explain what we do to support the national security enterprise.
I learned to be an analyst as a Cornell undergraduate and as a graduate student at Stanford. My principal advisor and mentor at both schools was John W. Lewis. His pioneering work on leadership in China, intellectual curiosity, and passion for teaching gave me the incentive and the tools to tackle tough subjects and eschew superficial conclusions. These lessons were reinforced by other teachers who later became colleagues at Stanford, including Alex Dallin,