Title: The Intelligence Establishment
Author: Harry Howe Ransom
Ransom, Harry Howe (1970). The Intelligence Establishment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press
- United States. Central Intelligence Agency.
- Intelligence service–United States.
- National security–United States.
- First ed. published in 1958 under title: Central Intelligence and National Security.
Date Updated: June 10, 2016
For Walter Pforzheimer, this revised and expanded version of Central Intelligence and National Security is “less accurate and credible.” It includes “a shallow look at the CIA and other members of the Intelligence Community, but with certain errors in his treatment of clandestine and modern technological intelligence activities.” Constantinides notes that the book is mostly concerned with the CIA, with the FBI getting little attention. Although he has no experience in intelligence work, Ransom “displays a good grasp of intelligence techniques, organization, and functions. The presentation is fair and unemotional.”
Reviewed by George C. Constantinides
In 1958 appeared the author’s Central Intelligence and National Security based on material Ransom had prepared for a Harvard seminar. The Intelligence Establishment is a revised, updated, and enlarged version of the original. Ransom made it clear he did not pretend to write a complete or inside story of the U.S. central intelligence system; his purpose was to describe and analyze the U.S. intelligence community, which he felt was needed but required tight control by policymakers and attention by students of government and politics. The book is mostly concerned with CIA; the FBI gets very little attention. Ransom was a pioneer in academia’s study of U.S. intelligence, and his writings were among those of serious academics raising the question of the role of intelligence in a constitutional society and the problems associated with its growth and control. He likewise perceived the relative neglect of intelligence by U.S. scholars and teaching institutions. Though Ransom had no experience in intelligence work or access to classified information (except, apparently, to one classified Air Force study he quotes from in his notes), he displays a good grasp of intelligence techniques, organization, and functions. The presentation is fair and unemotional; what views he expresses on organization, control, cover, and secrecy are set forth calmly. Much of the descriptive detail is now dated, and Ransom displays little knowledge or interest in counterintelligence. These faults and the errors to be found should not deflect attention from the central questions he raises of intelligence’s role in a democratic society. It is interesting to note that while Blackstock and Schaf’ s bibliography, Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage and Covert Operations, called it “the best single work on the subject,” DIS’s Bibliography (see below) found it “less accurate and credible” than the 1958 version and said that it contained (unspecified) mistakes in its treatment of clan-destine and technological operations. [See Blackstock comments below.]
This is a review by the Defense Intelligence School.
A revision and expansion of the author’s Central Intelligence and National Security, but less accurate and credible. Discusses the nature of intelligence and the problems of intelligence in a democratic society. Includes a shallow look at the CIA and other members of the intelligence community, but with certain errors in his treatment of clandestine and modern technological activities for which his “library intelligence” research methods are understandably deficient.
Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf
The best single scholarly work on the subject. Ransom’s goal was “to describe objectively contemporary central intelligence insofar as this can be done from non-secret sources.” He summarizes the contents of his work as “a descriptive analysis of the nature of intelligence, the development of the central intelligence structure, an overview of the national intelligence community, intelligence in the military services and other major government agencies, top-level coordination of intelligence, the issue of secrecy and congressional surveillance, a description of how the British have managed similar problems and functions, and a discussion of some major problems of organization, procedure, and performance.”
Further review by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf
“The Intelligence Community, Other Principal Members,” In The Intelligence Establishment, pp. 126-33.
The roles and functions of the National Security Agency in signal intelligence by a leading author on the subject of intelligence organization and procedures.
 Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 385-386
 Blackstock, Paul W.(1978) and Schaf, Frank L. Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co.
 Defense Intelligence School (1981). Bibliography of Intelligence Literature: A Critical And Annotated Bibliography of Open-Source Literature (7th ed, rev.). Washington, DC: Defense Intelligence School, p. 54
 Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p. 17
 Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p.125