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The Art of Intelligence

Strategy Page by Austin Bay

[...] Last month, the CIA inspector general’s office released its assessment of the CIA’s pre-9/11 efforts. The report was damning. The CIA had sources, leads and facts, but it lacked imagination — the dynamic imagination to foresee al-Qaida’s planned attack.

The CIA is a bureaucracy. Bureaucracies are hell on artists, which is OK if you’re pushing pencils but not OK if you are puzzling through an intricate design. The 9/11 plot was an intricate design.

Intelligence is an art — a grand, interpretive collusion of linguistics, geography, mathematics, history, theology, psychology, physics, metaphysics and every other human means of analysis and explanation. Former CIA Director James Schlesinger nailed it in October 2003 when he said: “But major organizational change (of U.S. intelligence agencies) is not the salvation. I would submit the real challenge lies in recruiting, fostering, training and motivating people with insight.”

Insight. If that sounds artsy, well, it is. Continued...

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