Intelligence Analysis: Once Again
This essay provides a sense of the literature written specifically about
,including general definitions, themes, divergent views, and observations on gaps in literaturecoverage. A comprehensive review of the literature indicates that while much has been written,largely there has not been a progression of thinking relative to the core aspect and complexitiesof doing intelligence analysis; hence, the title, “Once Again,” with all its connotations. Theessay focuses on the core aspect of analysis, the determination of meaning. After a brief reviewof Sherman Kent’s comprehensive work, the role of mental models in determining meaning isdiscussed, followed by recurring alternative views of analysis processes and their chronologies.Key elements of the analysis processes are then discussed, including hypotheses, informationresearch, and the marshalling of evidence, including how they influence the determination of meaning. The literature on rigor in intelligence analysis is reviewed, including the role of structured analytic techniques and automated tools. The essay concludes with observations onthe state of the literature.Hundreds of works have been written on intelligence.
Many of these works at least touchon the subject of intelligence
. However, while still a large body of work, it is aconsiderably smaller set that specifically addresses the core aspect of intelligence analysis. Bynecessity, the literature represented in this essay is a much smaller set than that reviewed in its preparation. Consequently, the same can be said of this essay as Platt (1957:xvii) indicatedabout his classic book on strategic intelligence, quoting Vannevar Bush, “Everything I say would be contested in some quarters.”2