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The Intelligence-Policy Nexus

Synthesizing with Clients, Not Analyzing for Customers

Josh Kerbel and Anthony Olcott

What if the Intelligence Community were to reimagine itself as a service-provider geared to engaging in goal-focused conversation as a well-defined regular activity? What, in other words, would happen if the IC were to become a provider of knowledge services, rather than a producer of information?

What is the Proper Distance Between Analysts and Policymakers?
Histories of the early stages of the modern Intelligence Community (IC) concur that by the start of the Cold War, most senior policymakers wanted more information to support their strategies and so tinkered with ways to configure an IC supportive of those efforts. There is no suggestion, however, that they were ever concerned about analysts somehow getting too close to them, and so usurping their policymaking prerogatives. The fear that analysis might be tainted or compromised by proximity to the policy process seems to have come entirely from the analytical community, which struggled from the beginning to keep itself at arm’s length from policymakers.

Even though analytic units have begun in recent years to lean closer to policymakers by offering “opportunity analysis” and by sending analysts into National Security Council support jobs, the idea that a firewall between analysts and policymakers is needed remains an IC shibboleth.

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All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this article are those of the author. Nothing in the article should be construed as asserting or implying US government endorsement of an article’s factual statements and interpretations.


Posted: Jan 12, 2011 11:01 AM
Last Updated: Jan 12, 2011 11:01 AM