Analyzing Intelligence

Title:                  Analyzing Intelligence

Author:                 Roger Z. George

George, Roger Z.(2008) and James B. Bruce (eds.) Analyzing Intelligence: Origins, Obstacles, And Innovations. Washington DC: Georgetown University

LCCN:    2007031706

JK468.I6 .A843 2008


Date Updated:  September 2, 2015

Drawing on the individual and collective experience of recognized intelligence experts and scholars in the field, Analyzing Intelligence provides the first comprehensive assessment of the state of intelligence analysis since 9/11. Its in-depth and balanced evaluation of more than fifty years of U.S. analysis includes a critique of why it has under-performed at times. It provides insights regarding the enduring obstacles as well as new challenges of analysis in the post-9/11 world, and suggests innovative ideas for improved analytical methods, training, and structured approaches.

The book’s six sections present a coherent plan for improving analysis. Early chapters examine how intelligence analysis has evolved since its origins in the mid-20th century, focusing on traditions, culture, successes, and failures. The middle sections examine how analysis supports the most senior national security and military policymakers and strategists, and how analysts must deal with the perennial challenges of collection, politicization, analytical bias, knowledge building and denial and deception. The final sections of the book propose new ways to address enduring issues in warning analysis, methodology (or “analytical tradecraft”) and emerging analytic issues like homeland defense. The book suggests new forms of analytic collaboration in a global intelligence environment, and imperatives for the development of a new profession of intelligence analysis.

Analyzing Intelligence is written for the national security expert who needs to understand the role of intelligence and its strengths and weaknesses. Practicing and future analysts will also find that its attention to the enduring challenges provides useful lessons-learned to guide their own efforts. The innovations section will provoke senior intelligence managers to consider major changes in the way analysis is currently organized and conducted, and the way that analysts are trained and perform.

Sources of intelligence is a major part of this book. Michael Warner[1] contributed a chapter[2] to the book, Handbook of Intelligence Studies. A summary of this chapter follows.

“Intelligence [is] that which states do in  secret to support their efforts to mitigate, influence, or merely understand other nations (or various enemies) that could harm them.” Disclosure of an advantage is tantamount to loss of the advantage. Therefore intelligence is conducted with a cloak of secrecy. Intelligence resists scholarship, especially from the inside.

Sources for the study of intelligence are inside and external. Internal sources include:

  1. Files
  2. Cable traffic
  3. Budget data
  4. E mail records.

External investigators have to rely on fragments, not much on files. Rumor and myth abound. The Senator Frank Church Report[3] on the intelligence community gives external investigators and excellent window into intelligence operations. Declassified documents are useful, but seldom complete, relevant, or pertain to the most important activities. New reports are fragmentary and often wrong. Memoirs of intelligence professionals and decision makers are useful but must be used guardedly.

Research methods, both inside and outside are developed from diplomacy, reconnaissance, and internal security. One key method of internal researchers is drafting a reliable chronology. Reliable organizational charts guard against wandering among the mirrors of spy legends. Scholars must use comparison, objectivity, and impact as standards.

Inside and outside scholars find objectivity is vital in intelligence scholarship. Partisan biases have always afflicted writings about recent events. Often “The man who saves his files tells the story.”


[1] Michael Warner is the Historian for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

[2] Chapter 1. “Sources and Methods of Intelligence”

[3] The report is familiarly known as the Church Committee Report. The entire report is archived at


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3 Responses to Analyzing Intelligence

  1. Pingback: Handbook of Intelligence Studies | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  2. Pingback: The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  3. Pingback: Analyzing Intelligence | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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