Why Secret Intelligence Fails

Title:                      Why Secret Intelligence Fails

Author:                   Michael A. Turner

Turner, Michael A. (2005). Why Secret Intelligence Fails. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books

LCCN:    2004013763

JK468.I6 T863 2005


  • The uncertainty principle — Intelligence, American style — Pitfalls of American-style intelligence — The foreign experience — Requirements and priorities — Perils of intelligence collection — Analytic snafus — Getting intelligence to the right people — Contributing factors — Toward smarter intelligence.


Date Updated:  September 1, 2015

Little is known about the causes of intelligence failures, partly because policy makers and intelligence officials hesitate to talk about this issue. It seems that the media overly inspects and criticizes the intelligence failures. This is only true because the public does not know about the intelligence successes compared to the failures. This has turned into a consequence for U.S. national security, affecting its lawfulness and the benefits of funding. U.S. intelligence strengthens U.S. security beneficially, but it also does so while dealing with the problems that are associated with the failures. The understandings of the failures are required with the ability to handle them.

One of the most interesting times for U.S. intelligence was during the 1990s. After the Cold War, U.S. intelligence would have a new national security agenda from ethnic cleansing, international crime, to international terrorism. One can see this in the terrorist attacks in Africa and the Middle East on American interests. The 1990s is an excellent reminder for reflection on the study of U.S. intelligence failures, but the attacks on September 11th will always be seen to be most dominant of these attacks reflection wise. The inability to find WMD during the George W. Bush administration will be in the public for quite some time to come.

There are many flaws within the Intelligence Community; mostly because they are the forerunners of our failures and identifying these causes are not guarantees for success in the future. The most frustration part is that very little can be done about intelligence failures because the causes are fixed into the intelligence procedure itself.

Actions for corrections can only be acted in order to reorganize the process. The best hope is to reduce the chances of intelligence failures by encouraging intelligence sources to collect in a timelier manner for the most significant intelligence information, and also for national leaders to make wise decisions for comprehensive policies.

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