Intelligence Today and Tomorrow

A Personal Perspective
Intelligence and Policy The Case for Thin Walls as Seen by a Veteran of INR

Bowman H. Miller, PhD

Each new presidential administration brings with it fresh expectations of the Intelligence Community (IC) that serves it. Given the fraught relationship evident in recent exchanges between the White House and former IC leaders over the IC’s 2016 report about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, there is reason to worry about today’s relationship between the intelligence and policy communities and to revisit the timeless questions, “How high and thick should the wall between the communities be?” and “Should there be a wall at all?”

As a veteran of State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), in my judgment, the model relationship—preserve a wall, but make it closer to none—exists within the State Department. A thick and impermeable wall does a great disservice to the nation, to its leaders, to sound decisionmaking, and to America’s allies and partners. Trust must be established and intelligence judgments must be received with confidence in the abilities of those who produce those judgments and in their good and honorable intentions.

In this essay, I argue that, while distinguishing between policy and intelligence is fundamentally important, the wall between the two needs to be characterized by the insights, experience, and wisdom of the likes of Sherman Kent and Sir Percy Cradock. These two titans in the annals of intelligence, American and British, rightly advocated for thin walls between intelligence and policy.

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Posted: Jul 16, 2018 03:14 PM
Last Updated: Jul 16, 2018 03:14 PM