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Some Lessons

Some Lessons

These are some of the questions that must be asked to learn lessons for the future. A resource commitment needs to be commensurate with the value added. And in these cases, the value added must be measured in terms of the contribution made to policy formulation and execution-not against a concept of precision that becomes an end in itself. Such painful questions should not be probed to assess guilt or virtue in the past but to make better use of our analytic tools and resources in the future. The ultimate ``tyranny of numbers'' is when arguments over them obscure the issues that the numbers are supposed to clarify.

Perhaps the most difficult and disturbing question to come from a review of the record has been posed by some who have for the first time fully reviewed the record-how could the world at large, including so many former policy officials, have developed such a distorted perception of what the CIA said? This might be understandable if it were attributable to a few individuals who-justified or not-may have had a grudge against the CIA, but the near universality of the perception and its articulation by former policy officials who should have had access to the products cited above is most disturbing.

What the enormous gap between CIA's analytic record and the perception of that record demonstrates-at least in the view of this author-is that the channel of communication between CIA and the policy community has, at best, been poor, and for good portions of the time it has been nonfunctional. Of all the issues that have to be addressed in considering the future of intelligence, this may well be the toughest and most relevant.

 

 


Historical Document
Posted: Mar 19, 2007 02:26 PM
Last Updated: Jul 07, 2008 01:11 PM