Martin Petersen: Lessons Learned Doing Intelligence Analysis for Makers of US Foreign Policy

Advanced Cyber/IO, Cultural Intelligence, Ethics, Government, IO Impotency
Martin Petersen
Martin Petersen

What I Learned in 40 Years of Doing Intelligence Analysis for US Foreign Policymakers

Martin Petersen, Studies in Intelligence, 2011

PDF (8 Pages): Petersen-What I Learned-20Apr2011

Policymakers do not always see how we can help them.


Truth number one: the product is “optional equipment” for many key consumers.

Truth five: our customers are smarter and more sophisticated than we give them credit for; they have their own independent sources of information and analysis with which we are competing.

In 40 years I learned that quite often the most important piece of the puzzle, and often the hardest one to get a handle on, is what the United States is doing in a given situation—or, in military intelligence terms, understanding the “Blue” component of a situation.

Second, intelligence failures come from failing to step back to think about underlying trends, forces, and assumptions—not from failing to connect dots or to predict the future.

The key to making the complex comprehensible is having in mind a specific audience and a very precise intelligence question for the analysis to tackle.

Phi Beta Iota: Some elegant useful thoughts, merits reading in its entirety. Noteworthy in part for confirming that CIA is still in the foreign policy business, not the whole of government decision-support business; still obsessed with the 24-hour news cycle not the fullness of encyclopedic, warning, and research intelligence; and still struggling to understand the US Government and how it makes policy without rhyme or reason (counterintelligence is not something CIA does seriously, not does the FBI, for that matter).

See Also:

Intelligence Analysis @ Phi Beta Iota

Intelligence Failure @ Phi Beta Iota

Jack Davis @ Phi Beta Iota

Greg Treverton @ Phi Beta Iota

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