Review: Strategic Intelligence–Windows into a Secret World

5 Star, Intelligence (Government/Secret)

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Instant Best Reference on Intelligence,

May 15, 2004
Loch K. Johnson
The publisher should be spanked for failing to provide Amazon with proper information (e.g. the Table of Contents and copy of the cover) for this book, which is an instant best reference on intelligence for the English-speaking audience.This anthology brings together 36 world-class authorities on their respective domains to discuss in nine parts: Introduction to US Intelligence; Intelligence Collection; Intelligence Analysis; The Danger of Intelligence Politicization; Intelligence and the Policymaker; Covert Action; Counterintelligence; Accountability and Civil Liberties; and Intelligence in Other Lands.

The book is very strong on historical overviews of US intelligence, and is easily the single best collection of US-oriented materials available to the professional or students of intelligence. Absolutely recommended as a readings book for all university classes, both graduate and undergraduate, focusing on intelligence.

I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my very old articles on open source intelligence (from about 1995) in the book. It was sufficient for the book’s purposes, but suffered from not having been sent to me for review–for example, on page 115 the practical example that was attributed to a Marine Corps wargame on Somalia is a repeat of an editorial error at the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. This performance was actually for the Aspin-Brown Commission, where 6 telephone calls, on an overnight basis, produced vastly more than the US Intelligence Community was able to find with its billions of dollars in capability. I hope and suspect that the other chapters do not have the same problem as OSINT is the most vibrant and newest aspect of intelligence, and the other articles and authors have a richer past and more stable story. To update on OSINT, Google for <Open Source Intelligence OSINT> without quotes or the brackets.

The book is weak in failing to properly criticize the US clandestine service, in failing to examine the complete lack of multi-disciplinary processing and lack of analytic toolkits and trade-craft (Jack Davis should have been in this book, Google for “analytic tradecraft”), and in failing to both examine other nations such as China and Israel and The Netherlands, as well as other intelligence tribes and the prospects for collaboration among national, military, law enforcement, business, academic, NGO-media, and citizen-labor-religious intelligence.

The book would have benefited from a tenth section focusing on intelligence challenges of the future, including special chapters on peacekeeping intelligence, medical intelligence, environmental intelligence, corporate and common crime intelligence, and religious or cultural intelligence.

The bibliography is weak and appears to have been thrown together, failing to list most of the top 25 books on intelligence that I have listed as essential reading for Amazon (see more about me should really say see my other reviews and lists–follow it for the lists on information society, intelligence, emerging threats, strategy & force structure, etc.).

The publisher should immediately correct the deficiencies in this book’s listing here at Amazon, because this is a superb book that merits the respect of every professional and every professor teaching intelligence. It should be a standard reference in the military and law enforcement schoolhouses. However, the publisher should immediately begin planning a second edition with an improved bibliography, an index of relevant web sites, and the new Part X suggested above.

Kudos to Johnson and Wirtz for a job well done. The intellect and time that went into selecting each contributor is not to be underestimated. This is a magnificent effort and will be very valuable to all students in all seven tribes (all of whom are now using MeetUp to link up in cities around the world). I want the second edition, improved as noted above, out within the year.

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