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The Organizational Design of Intelligence Failures

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  • Michael McKee

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

  • Michael McKee, 2008. "The Organizational Design of Intelligence Failures," Working Papers 08-11, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:apl:wpaper:08-11
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    File URL: http://econ.appstate.edu/RePEc/pdf/wp0811.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
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    4. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
    5. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
    6. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
    7. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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