Analyzing Intelligence

Title:                      Analyzing Intelligence

Author:                 Roger Z. George

George, Roger Z. (2014) and James B. Bruce, eds. Analyzing Intelligence: National Security Practitioners’ Perspectives, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press

LCCN:    2013016839

JK468.I6 .A843 2014


Date Posted:      September 2, 2015

Compiled and Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake.[1]

In the first edition of Analyzing Inte!ligence: Origins, Obstacles, and Innovations[2], former senior CIA analysts Roger George and James Bruce presented 19 contributions from experts that reviewed the history of intelligence analysis, discussed its current status as a profession, and assessed promising analytic techniques. The second edition has 20 articles, arranged in six parts. Eight of the articles are new, and those retained have been updated. All reflect progress in training, analytic rigor, and professional certification compelled by developments since the previous edition.

The six parts are entitled: “The Analytic Tradition,” “The Policymaker-Analyst Relationship,” “Diagnosis and Prescription,” “Enduring Challenges,” “Analysis for Twenty-First-Century lssues,” and “Leading Analytic Change.” The specific subjects cover a range of issues: essential knowledge, reliability, dealing with uncertainty, developing relationships among analysts and collectors in different organizations (civilian and military), and new analytic techniques. The occupational hazards inherent in intelligence analysis-methodological, psychological and bureaucratic-are spelled out by CIA analyst emeritus Jack Davis, a protégé of Sherman Kent, in his article, “Why Bad Things Happen To Good Analysts.” In contrast, “Building a Community of Analysts” and “Analytic Outreach” consider the impact of IC-wide changes, their effect on collaboration, and the importance of “getting it right.” (p. 288)

The idea of analysis as a profession is a common theme throughout the book. Just what does it mean to be a professional intelligence analyst? Does the term impart the same cachet and prestige as “lawyer” or “doctor”? Most authors say, “Not yet,” and go on to suggest what needs to be done to achieve that goal. One article, “Is Intelligence Analysis a Discipline?” suggests that achieving a status comparable to “law, medicine and library science” (p. 57) requires that analysis have the specific standards and certifications associated with a professional discipline. It also involves acknowledgement of the ‘(risk mitigation” factor—a recognition that analytic results often put human lives at risk. Requirements for professional standing would include mastery of standardized critical analytical methods, development of analytic tradecraft, interaction with academia, and—unique to intelligence analysis—protection of sources, which is treated in the final chapter.

Analyzing Intelligence is an important, thoroughly documented book that clarifies the vital importance of analysis to the intelligence profession. It should be carefully read by students and practitioners alike.

[1] Hayden Peake, “Intelligence Officer Bookshelf,” The Intelligencer: Journal of U. S. Intelligence Stuidies (21, 2, Spring/Summer 2015, p.118 )Hayden Peake is the Curator of the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection. He has served in the Directorate of Science and Technology and the Directorate of Operations. Most of his reviews cited have appeared in recent unclassified editions of ClA’s Studies in Intelligence. These and many other reviews and articles may be found online at

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

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