Reforming Intelligence: Obstacles to Democratic Control and Effectiveness

By Thomas C. Bruneau; Steven C. Boraz | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION
INTELLIGENCE REFORM:
BALANCING DEMOCRACY AND
EFFECTIVENESS

Thomas C. Bruneau and Steven C. Boraz


A FRAMEWORK FOR STUDYING INTELLIGENCE

While there is probably agreement on the importance of the topic of studying intelligence, there is little published material on how to do so. This is paradoxical, because as a category of individuals, it would be difficult to find a more self-critical, analytical, and demanding group of people than intelligence personnel. As a profession, they more closely approximate university professors than any other discipline or calling. We thus find it striking that whereas intelligence officers and the organizations within which they function in the intelligence community (IC) are extremely rigorous methodologically in conducting their work, when we turn to the study of intelligence structures and processes by outsiders and retired intelligence professionals, there is little rigor and virtually no consensus on how to research and analyze the IC. The result is that there has been very little accumulation of public knowledge on intelligence (exceptions include the 9/11 and WMD commission reports). When studies of intelligence are in fact published, some of what passes for data or analysis in the unclassified literature can be wrong, and, unlike academia, there is no public control or competing position to correct the errors. Despite the huge array of books and articles referred to in the bibliography, there is, in fact, very little available analysis, and even less comparative analysis, on the organization of intelligence.1

Clearly, the problem in studying the IC is due to the essential, fundamental requirement for secrecy. After all, what intelligence personnel do can be effective only if they do it in secret, and the commitment to maintain secrecy after leaving the community results in minimal exposure and dissemination of information on the IC and its opera-

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