Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Missing the Plot? Intelligence and Discourse Failure

Missing the Plot? Intelligence and Discourse Failure

Recent Congressional inquiries have blamed the intelligence community for failing to anticipate the scale of the terrorist threat leading up to 9/11 and, thereafter, for failing to ascertain the scope of Iraqi WMD prior to the United States’ invasion of that country. But mistakes in intelligence are only part of the story. Public perceptions tend to view intelligence agencies as independent research institutes charged with forecasting future political events and providing accurate advice to policy makers. In reality, intelligence organizations can never aspire to the ideal of an autonomous institution freely purveying objective information and assessment to politicians. Intelligence agencies reflect national priorities, and in democratic states, especially, they will invariably exhibit all the characteristics that mold a particular culture and civilization. In this respect, intelligence agencies often mirror their own societies.

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