The limits of intelligence: Iraq’s lessons

  • Gormley D
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Abstract

In allocating blame for the intelligence failure over Iraq, critics of the Bush administration focus on former CIA Director George Tenet's bending to White House pressure or the administration's mishandling of intelligence. Supporters of the president downplay White House responsibility and focus instead on the failings of the intelligence community and the possible need for structural reforms. Neither side has it completely wrong – or right. There is substantial evidence that the Bush administration – like many of its predecessors – oversold the threat to sell its preferred policy choice. But any quest to ‘fix’ intelligence merely through reorganisation will be futile insofar as it avoids the more prosaic but more critical matter of intelligence effectiveness. This depends far less on structural reform than on the quality of collected intelligence, the nature of the analytic process and, ultimately, the relationship between intelligence and policymaking officials.

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Authors

  • Dennis M. Gormley

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