The Future of American Secret Intelligence

Title:                      The Future of American Secret Intelligence

Author:                  George S. Pettee

Pettee, George S. (1946). The Future of American Secret Intelligence. Washington, DC: Infantry Journal Press

LCCN:    46008204

HV8141 .P4


Date Updated:  March 21, 2016

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

During World War II, Pettee was with the intelligence unit of the Foreign Economic Administration as an analyst; he was also in OWI. When this was written, he was on the faculty of Amherst. Kent in Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy[2] labeled it a trailbreaker in the literature of strategic intelligence. Pettee was first to write of the experience gained in the late war in producing strategic intelligence, the shortcomings, and the need for U.S. strategic intelligence in the postwar world. He discussed means and steps to be taken to create the necessary intelligence capability. Pettee’s perspicacity went far: he recognized intelligence as a special field requiring great competence, the accumulated knowledge of various disciplines and fields, and better governmental organization and saw the need for a central intelligence authority. The revolution in collection capabilities was also identified, as was the need for the proper organization and ways of handling and analyzing the information. Hilsman in Strategic Intelligence and National Decisions[3] classified the book as one of the three studies on intelligence that had attempted a serious analysis of the subject; Ransom in The Intelligence Establishment[4] called it one of the three groundbreaking treatises on intelligence. Even though it is dated, it is a book of historical value for the role it played in formulating ideas and ultimately the organization of U.S. intelligence in the postwar era.

This is a review by the Defense Intelligence School.[5]

Although now dated, this book has historical value in its discussion of specific intelligence substantive and organizational problems which occurred during WWII and prior to formation of the CIA.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[6]

Written by a World War II intelligence analyst and professor of political science at Amherst, this is the first published comprehensive critique of wartime strategic intelligence. Pettee summarizes the shortcomings of wartime strategic intelligence production, sets down the essential lessons to be learned from the wartime experience, and forecasts the steps necessary to ensure proper intelligence support of the nation’s decision process in both war and peace. He was one of the very first authors to set down the requirements for the management of big postwar strategic intelligence. Despite its date of publication the book remains valuable.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 368-369

[2] Kent, Sherman (1966). Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy. Hamden, CT: Archon Books

[3] Hilsman, Roger (1956, 1981). Strategic Intelligence And National Decisions. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press

[4] Ransom, Harry Howe (1970). The Intelligence Establishment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press

[5] 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. 50

[6] 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. 16


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One Response to The Future of American Secret Intelligence

  1. Pingback: Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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