Strategic Intelligence

By Winn, Arthur C. | Parameters, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Strategic Intelligence

Winn, Arthur C., Parameters

Although the use and misuse of intelligence has been a matter of front-page news since 9/11, the intelligence communities of America and nations around the globe have been fighting the silent war related to strategic intelligence long before those planes so vividly destroyed the future as we knew it. In a world where the use of information in war--the gathering of intelligence, conducting surveillance and reconnaissance--is central to winning, a tremendous void exists with regard to the roles and missions of intelligence agencies. The publishers at Praeger Security International have attempted to correct that omission for the general reader, as well as students of military affairs, with the publication of a five-volume series on strategic intelligence. This series offers unique insight into a world built on the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information. This comprehensive survey of how 16 major American intelligence agencies operate, how they collect and share information, and many of the "special" problems incurred along the way is edited by Loch K. Johnson, Regents Professor of Public and International Affairs, School of Public and International Affairs, at the University of Georgia.

The five volumes present empirical inquiries, historical views, theoretical frameworks, memoirs, case studies, interviews, legal analyses, comparative essays, and ethical assessments. The authors come from varying backgrounds, including academia, intelligence agencies, think tanks, Congress, the State Department, the National Security Council, the legal field, and from seven countries. Each author has different personal experiences and writes from his or her own perspective. The books provide an excellent reference for students of the military, political affairs, foreign policy, or strategic planning. The supporting notes at the end of each chapter are especially helpful and should not be overlooked by the reader.

Volume 1. Understanding the Hidden Side of Government (11 chapters and eight appendixes)

Chapter 1. "An Introduction to the Intelligence Studies Literature" by Loch K. Johnson highlights the literature, identifies the authors and subjects, and in 136 notes identifies other related literature. The author's stated objective "is simply to give the reader a sense of the chief topics and some of the major works that have addressed them." He highlights the literature on intelligence history; structure and theory; intelligence missions; collection, analysis, and dissemination; counterintelligence; covert action; accountability; ethics and reform; intelligence leadership and management; and "The Future Research Agenda."

Chapter 2. "Cloaks, Daggers, and Ivory Towers: Why Academics Don't Study U. S. Intelligence" is by Amy B. Zegart, an Associate Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles. The author is a specialist on national and homeland security and has served on the National Security Council staff.

Zegart notes that intelligence agencies are particularly difficult for outsiders to study due to the "over-classification of information" and because classification "has engendered a culture of secrecy inside the intelligence community that makes even unclassified information difficult to obtain." The article details the difficulty in getting the government to comply with the 30 business days time requirement of the Freedom of Information Act of 1966. In particular, she notes that the "ticking tenure clock creates strong incentives for rising academics to research topics with data that is readily available so publication can be produced quickly. Those topics are found more often and more reliably outside the U.S. intelligence community."

Chapter 3. "Studying Intelligence: A British Perspective" is authored by Timothy Gibbs, a final-year doctoral student in history at Robinson College, Cambridge University, and a member of the Cambridge University Intelligence Seminar. …

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