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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/7/09

PANETTA WATCH 6: CAN INTELLIGENCE BE 'HATCHED'?

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There is a still more subtle form of subjectivity, only tangentially “political”, that can creep into Intelligence analyses – conventional wisdom that may become enshrined within CIA as what psychologists have called “Groupthink”.  During the 1970s and 1980s, neo-conservatives accused the Agency of blindness in their estimates of the “Evil Empire” Soviets, and proposed, as antidote, the novel concept of “Competitive Analysis”.  That is, having the same information available to CIA analysts interpreted by an outside Team of experts unhampered by the Langley mindset of the moment.

Might this idea, minus its original ideological trappings, be reinvented on Mr. Panetta’s Watch?  Food for thought on another day.

Meanwhile, the point here, as painfully discovered by one best-intentioned CIA Director after another, is that keeping Politics and Policy out of Intelligence is sometimes far from simple.

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Smith is an historian and public policy consultant.

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