SEST-524 Intelligence Analysis, Policy and Politics
Spring for 2016-2017
Intelligence issues have been at the center of US security policy controversies since Benedict Arnold spied for the British during the American revolution. In recent years, critics have blamed U.S. intelligence agencies for failing to prevent the 9/11 attacks, missing the mark on Iraq’s WMD capabilities, and underestimating the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear programs. Critics also have zeroed in on the collection side of the intelligence business, questioning the efficacy and morality of harsh interrogation techniques, the disclosure of NSA’s collection capabilities by Edward Snowden, or the implications of intelligence gathering in the cyber world.
These 21st century controversies have resurrected fundamental questions about the relationship between intelligence and national security policy decision-making: What role should the intelligence community play in the formulation and implementation of US foreign policy and broader national security strategy? How should one define “success” and “failure” in the intelligence business, and who should make these determinations?
This seminar provides an overview of the varied aspects of the intelligence business—espionage, technical collection and analysis-- and the relationship between intelligence agencies and policymakers, with a main focus on the period from World War II to the present. It also provides a short history of the U.S. intelligence community and the ongoing efforts to reform it. Finally, it discusses the uneasy role of clandestine and covert intelligence activities in a democracy.
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Spring '17: Clement P (file download)
Fall '16: Gannon J (file download)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.
SEST-524-01 Intelligence Analysis
This course will examine the evolution of US Intelligence Community analysis from its origins in the National Security Act of 1947 to the Bush Administration in 2003. There are no prerequisites. Students will assess the performance of IC analysis on The Soviet Strategic Threat, the Soviet Economy, the 1962 Cuban Missile Threat, Viet Nam, the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars, Afghanistan, the collapse of Communism, German Unification, the Balkans, International Terrorism, China, North Korea, and contemporary Iraq (presence of WMD, linkage to Al Qaeda). Readings and class discussions will also focus indirectly on structure and organization of analytic programs, management challenges, tradecraft, and on IC relations with policymakers and the Congress how analysis gets done, is delivered, and is used. Students will participate in two scenario-based exercises on the production of national intelligence estimates and on policymakers' use of intelligence analysis.
Other academic years
There is information about this course number in other academic years: