New Frontiers of Intelligence Analysis

Title:                      New Frontiers of Intelligence Analysis

Author:                  Carol Dumaine

Carol Dumaine (2005) and L. Sergio Germani, eds. New Frontiers of Intelligence Analysis: Shared Threats, Diverse Perspectives, New Communities. Washington, DC: Sherman Kent School, Central Intelligence Agency

OCLC:    310754405

UB250 .N49 2005

Date Posted:      January 21, 2014

This series of papers are worthy of study by scholars and practitioners of intelligence, yet they are found in only two publicly accessible libraries (Worldcat.org) that I could locate.

These imaginative articles discus various analytic techniques and concepts that suggest ways current practices can be improved, and the problems of dealing with vast amounts of open source and classified data.

Whatever their specialty, analysts of all stripes—from photointerpreters to regional specialists—know the problem of “information overload.” Is it realistic to expect the problem to be solved? Gilman Louie, former CEO of In-Q-Tel, suggests in his contribution to this volume that Generation-X may grow up with a solution. Today’s teenagers talk on cell phones, watch TV, do homework, use laptops for writing and searching, and listen to music, almost simultaneously. Louie argues that “volume is an asset” (131) and then explains why.

The Louie paper was one of 15 interesting presentations at an April 2004 conference in Rome, jointly sponsored by the publishers of this volume. While the term “New Frontiers” is something of a cliché, the idea that changes are necessary in order to cope with the increasing volume of data and complexity of analysis was taken seriously by the participating academic and intelligence professionals, who came from 12 countries and represented 35 organizations. The Introduction by conference co-directors Carol Dumaine and Luigi Sergio Germani outlines the major themes of the book and provides a useful series of guideposts for improving intelligence analysis.

Several of the papers look at transnational issues. One by Rob Johnston discusses the value and problems encountered when integrating methodologists into teams of substantive experts. His comments on the poor track records of analytic experts who make forecasts are surprising and supportive of the value of secret intelligence. Phil Williams provides one of the more sophisticated looks at the problem of coping with ever-increasing complexity by applying “complexity theory” and the new approaches it involves.

David Chuter takes another tack, considering “The Buddha as an Intelligence Analyst.” At several points, Chuter challenges the reader with such comments as: “Changes in recent years . . . move towards an Open Source model of violence, coordinated by peer-to peer networks” (123). He leaves one asking “So what?” and seeking examples that even management can understand. In the end, though, he invokes Buddha, who “claimed to have the power to see things as they really were” (124), and, from this, one can infer that analysts should strive for the same goal, making it a matter of course.

For analysts who neglect the lessons of history because of information overload—or any other excuse for that matter—Christopher Andrew provides a health warning for a new malady: HASDD—Historical Attention Span Deficit Disorder. Failure to recognize the symptoms and take corrective action risks more than repeating history; it increases the chances of new and even more damaging surprises.

From network-centric thinking to GOOGLE-like analytical innovations, this volume does indeed stimulate thought and deserves serious attention.

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One Response to New Frontiers of Intelligence Analysis

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

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