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The Organizational Design of Intelligence Failures

Listed author(s):
  • Michael McKee

While the detection, and prevention, of the September 11, 2001 plot would have been ideal, I argue that the more major intelligence failures occurred after the attacks of September 11. The erroneous intelligence concerning the WMD presence in Iraq permitted the Bush Administration to order the invasion of Iraq. Systematic underestimates of the budgetary costs and personnel requirements of the war meant that Congress did not give the matter the debate that it warranted. Finally, incorrect (or incomplete) intelligence concerning the extent of the informal opposition to the U.S. led forces resulted in inadequate numbers of allied forces being deployed and a protracted period of conflict and disruption in Iraq. These facts are all well known to anyone who reads newspapers. I make three arguments in this paper. First, the collection of the intelligence data and its evaluation does not occur in a vacuum. There must always be an organizing theory that motivates the collection and evaluation of the data and that this theory is formulated at the highest levels of the decision making process. Second, it is not possible to construct a truly neutral or objective (analytical) hierarchy. Third, it is impossible to separate the analytical evaluation of the data from the decision that will be based on such evaluation. As an inevitable consequence of these arguments, intelligence analysis and the resulting conclusions are driven by top-down considerations rather than bottom-up as has been argued by some reviewers of recent intelligence failures. Key Words: stable coalitions, self-enforcing agreements, compliance, enforcement, public goods

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Appalachian State University in its series Working Papers with number 08-11.

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Date of creation: 2008
Handle: RePEc:apl:wpaper:08-11
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