SEST-521 Theory and Practice of Intelligence
Intelligence organizations have two qualities that Americans instinctively fear and distrust: secrecy and power. While the intelligence community can attempt to alleviate this fear and mistrust, the secret nature of intelligence work can never wholly put them to rest. Moreover, Americans, particularly since 9/11, hold two opposing views of the intelligence community: that it is both omniscient and incompetent. This course is intended to explore, test, and challenge both of these notions. Intelligence is generally viewed as an applied subject, studied by practitioners. This course bridges the gap between theory and practice, encouraging students to understand the role of intelligence among American institutions as well as how it both challenges and contributes to broader theoretical concepts of transparency and governance. Further, it engages with comparative issues in terms of the study of intelligence, focusing on intelligence themes that transcend individual national political contexts.
This course examines the role of national intelligence in national security, policy formation, diplomacy, homeland security, and other national priorities. We will explore clandestine operations and technical collection disciplines, intelligence technology, analysis, covert action, and policy support. We will also investigate the post-9/11 emergence of domestic intelligence and homeland security. Beyond the technical details of the practice of intelligence, this course will place intelligence within the political context, focusing on how intelligence operates in a democracy and how it is held accountable to the public.
The course will be conducted as a seminar and students will be expected to participate fully in class discussion. Requirements include reading presentations, a policy memo, an in-class simulation, a case study, and a final take home exam.
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Spring '14: Lester G (file download)
Fall '13: Lester G (file download)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.
SEST-521-01 Theory and Practice of Intelligence
No faculty information available
The purpose of this course is to provide students with an appreciation for the impact of intelligence on national security decision-making. The course will explore the theory of intelligence and its practice in the 20th century, emphasizing the American experience and the challenges of managing intelligence processes within democratic systems of government. Intelligence collection, analysis, and evaluation will be discussed with particular attention to the ways in which successes and failures have affected foreign policy and military outcomes. Covert action, paramilitary activities, counterintelligence and liaison management will be distinguished from the traditional elements of the intelligence cycle. Students will develop the skill of writing short, concise briefing memos that are well researched, involve careful analysis and are persuasive.
Prerequisites: SSP Students Only
SEST-521-02 Theory and Practice of Intelligence
Fall for 2013-2014
The Theory and Practice of Intelligence
Taught by an intelligence practitioner, this course focuses on clandestine
operations and technical collection disciplines, intelligence technology,
analysis, covert action, and policy support. We will examine the role of
national intelligence in national security, policy formation, diplomacy,
homeland security, and other national priorities. Using the United States
as a model but exploring other national systems, we will review the Cold War
emergence of a modern national intelligence community. We will study the
partnerships between that community of intelligence agencies, military
services, academic, scientific, and industrial institutions in developing
practices and powerful technological systems to address the collection and
analytic challenges of the Cold War and post-Cold War worlds.
Intelligence collection disciplines, analysis, and policy support, to
include covert action, will be discussed in detail, drawing on concrete
examples of intelligence practice. The challenges of conducting secret
activities within a democratic society, and issues of defining and
recognizing success and failure will be considered. Finally, the course
will analyze the implications of the Revolution in Military Affairs and the
war in Iraq for the intelligence community, look at the "marriage" between
intelligence and the military in the Afghan and Iraqi military campaigns,
and study the intelligence community's effort to implement new practices and
technologies and transform itself into an integrated team of agile agencies
under a new Director of National Intelligence.
The course will be conducted as a seminar and you will be expected to
participate fully in class discussion and possible individual presentations.
Given the topical nature of the course, your class notes will be an
important source of essential course information. You will also demonstrate
your research, analytic, and writing skills in two brief papers and a
Prerequisites: SSP Students Only
Other academic years
There is information about this course number in other academic years: