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Analyzing Intelligence: Origins, Obstacles, and Innovations [Paperback]

Roger Z. George , James B. Bruce

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Book Description

Feb. 14 2014
This collaboration between GU Press and Georgetown's Center for Peace and Security Studies is an exposition and critique of US intelligence analysis. Drawing on the individual and collective experience of numerous intelligence experts, all of whom were career intelligence officers and some who now teach intelligence in the classroom, the 20 chapters explain how analysis has been conducted and how it can improve. There are six parts. The early chapters examine how intelligence analysis has evolved since its origins in the middle of the 20th century, focusing on traditions, culture, and, ultimately, its mixed track record. Middle parts examine how analysis supports the most senior national security and military policymakers, and how analysts must deal with the perennial challenges of politicization, analytical bias, and denial and deception. (Note distinction between Helms and Casey.) Why do analysts make mistakes? How can they perform better? In the final parts of the book contributors propose new ways to address perennial issues in warning analysis and emerging analytic issues like homeland defense; they suggest new forms of analytic collaboration in a global intelligence environment, and imperatives for the development of a new profession of intelligence analysis. This is key: The editors want to ensure that intelligence analysis becomes a professional discipline, more than a political consideration, with increased training and increased accountability. The book, which includes internal references to fellow chapters, is rife with examples of US intelligence successes and failures throughout the past 65 years: Pearl Harbor, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Central America, and, of course, 9/11, Afghanistan, and the Iraq WMD justification for the current war.

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"[A] practical and wide-ranging study of intelligence analysis. The editors have done a superb job of seamlessly editing the work of a number of the world's recognized experts of intelligence gathering and analysis. Of special interest to readers should be those chapters related to the relationship between analysts and national-level security and policymakers. This book will be an invaluable resource for future analysts and those professionals currently involved in overcoming the enduring challenges associated with the role of intelligence in a free society." -- Parameters " Analyzing Intelligence is the most comprehensive book on the subject to date -- a really valuable treatment for those anticipating becoming an intelligence analyst, as well as for those who already are." -- Studies in Intelligence "Law and policy recognize that intelligence is the strategic pivot of the current fight [against terrorism], so readers of Proceedings who seek a deeper understanding of how we might wage war more effectively should put Analyzing Intelligence at the top of their reading list." -- Proceedings

About the Author

Roger Z. George is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and is currently a senior analyst at the CIA's Global Futures Partnership. He is a career CIA intelligence analyst who has served at the Departments of State and Defense and has been the National Intelligence Officer for Europe. He has taught at the National War College and other private universities and is coeditor of Intelligence and the National Security Strategist: Enduring Issues and Challenges. James B. Bruce is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. He is a retired career CIA intelligence analyst who has served with the National Intelligence Council, within the Directorates of Intelligence and Operations, and has worked extensively with other intelligence community organizations. He has taught at the National War College and has authored numerous studies on intelligence and deception.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must have" for the intelligence analyst's bookshelf July 2 2008
By Robert Clark - Published on
This is not an Analysis 101 book. It is a serious, insightful look at the important aspects of intelligence analysis as it is practiced and should be practiced. The contributors include the elite of the intelligence analysis business - Heuer, Kerr, Davis, Gannon, and Lowenthal, among others. They are people who speak with authority based on their expertise and experience in all aspects of intelligence. The contributors had the agenda of elucidating for readers the heart and soul of intelligence analysis, and they succeeded.

Several chapters by themselves would be worth the price of the book: John McLaughlin's chapter on dealing with the policymaker customer; Dick Kerr's chapter on the CIA analysis history; or Jack Davis' chapter on analytic pitfalls, among others.

The book reflects the political and military analytic background of the contributors. Consequently, it gives less attention to the economic and S&T/weapons systems analysis perspective - not a serious flaw, since these are rather specialized fields of analysis having a distinct customer set. The only chapter that could be substantially improved is the one of military intelligence analysis, which spends too much space lamenting the lack of respect accorded to military intelligence analysis and insufficient space in discussing what it really is all about. Overall, this book is a major contribution to the intelligence literature and should be on every analyst's bookshelf.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Relatively current, but not the best out there July 3 2010
By E. M. Van Court - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well researched, documented, and written works on intelligence analysis are fairly scarce. Although "Analyzing Intelligence" meets these goals, there are other works I would recommend before this one.

Well researched, and thoroughly cited by the intelligence professionals who wrote each essay, it is a collection of essays about intelligence analysis, but more about the circumstances that surround analysts, and approaches to dealing with the challenges that arise in these circumstances. Of the eighteen articles, only three directly addressed analysis, the rest dealt with organizational challenges, the relationship between policy makers and analysts, the management of analysts, and other arcane concerns. This was one of the merits of this book; it brings some of the occult practices of the intelligence world into the light where citizens can gain some insight into processes that determine the fate of our nation. The experiences the authors share give perspectives on historical events that seldom get heard in the mainstream histories and popular accounts.

On the other hand, the authors are mostly CIA (at least 12 out of 18), and all with extensive experience inside the Beltway. Consistently, I got the impression that this work was much more about asserting the superiority of CIA analysts than about nominal subjects of the essays. Sherman Kent And The Board Of National Estimates: Collected Essays did more to impress me with the competence of the CIA than this work, and Richards Heuer's Psychology of Intelligence Analysis was much more informative about the challenges and approaches to addressing those challenges. Several times I got the impression that there was a degree of bitterness; "What I could have done if..." sort of comments. This detracted from the appearence of professionalism in the essays where it appeared.

It is a good work, relatively current (2 years old as I write), and a source of insights into recent history and the dynamics of the intelligence community. The perception of being written by a closed circle and the negative tone distracted and detracted from the tone of the collection though, and makes it difficult for me to recommend it.

E. M. Van Court
22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Of, By, and For USA Status Quo Bubbas--Essential but Very Partial July 14 2009
By Robert David STEELE Vivas - Published on
This is a very fine book, not least because of its inclusion of Jack Davis (search for <analytic tradecraft> as well as Carmen Medina (see her presentation to global audience via, but in its essentials this is a book of, by, and for the status quo ante bubbas--the American bubbas, I might add.

If you are an analyst or a trainer of analysts or a manager of analysts, this is assuredly essential reading, but it perpetuates my long-standing concerns about American intelligence:

1) Lack of a strategic analytic model (see Earth Intelligence Network)

2) Lack of deep historical and multi-cultural appreciation

3) Lack of a deep understanding and necessary voice on the complete inadequacy of collection sources, the zero presence of processing and lack of desktop analytic tools, and the need for ABSOLUTE devotion to the truth, not--as is still the case, "within the reasonable bounds of dishonesty" aka "slam dunk"

4) Lack of integrity in so many ways, not least of which is the analytic abject acceptance of the false premise that the best intelligence is top secret/sensitive compartmented information--see the online CounterPunch piece on "Intelligence for the President--AND Everyone Else."

Below are ten books I recommend as substantive complements to this book:
The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past
Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth'
Fog Facts : Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin (Nation Books)
Lost Promise
The Age of Missing Information (Plume)
Informing Statecraft
Bureaucratic Politics And Foreign Policy
A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility--Report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional read July 29 2009
By Jesse Wilson - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was an exceptional read. Each chapter, written by a leader within the community, touches on a critical topic in the field of intelligence analysis. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is serious about broadening their understanding of analysis and ways to improve the discipline.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An impressively articulate and scholarly body of work Aug. 8 2008
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Expertly compiled and deftly co-edited by Roger Z. George (a career analyst serving in the CIA, State Department, and Defense Department) and James B. Bruce (a retired career CIA intelligence analyst who served with the National Intelligence council, in the Directorates of Intelligence and Operations, as well as other intelligence community organizations), "Analyzing Intelligence: Origins, Obstacles, And Innovations" is a compilation of informed and informative essays and articles on the subject of intelligence analysis providing academia, professionals, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject with a comprehensive overview of the issues, tools, and resources that American intelligence services and departments have with respect to obtaining and understanding the information that they collect. Beginning with a basic introduction to intelligence analysis by James B. Bruce and Roger Z. George, the knowledgeable contributors cover analytic tradition and history, the role of the analyst, the challenges endemic to intelligence analysis, common problems and concerns associated with intelligence analysis, as well as trends and changes within the field of intelligence analysis. An impressively articulate and scholarly body of work, "Analyzing Intelligence" is especially recommended for academic, governmental, and community library reference collections, and the supplemental reading lists of students, journalists, and interested general readers with an interest in the subject.

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