By Thomas Fingar

The US govt spends billions of bucks each year to minimize uncertainty: to watch and forecast every little thing from the elements to the unfold of sickness. In different phrases, we spend some huge cash to expect difficulties, determine possibilities, and stay away from errors. a considerable element of what we spend—over $50 billion a year—goes to the united states Intelligence Community.

Reducing Uncertainty describes what Intelligence neighborhood analysts do, how they do it, and the way they're stricken by the political context that shapes, makes use of, and infrequently abuses their output. particularly, it seems to be at why IC analysts pay extra consciousness to threats than to possibilities, and why they seem to concentration extra on caution concerning the probability of "bad issues" occurring than on offering the enter priceless for expanding the possibility of confident outcomes.

The publication is meant to extend public knowing of what IC analysts do, to elicit extra appropriate and positive feedback for development from open air the Intelligence neighborhood, to stimulate innovation and collaboration between analysts in any respect grade degrees in all companies, and to supply a center source for college kids of intelligence. the main worthwhile element of this publication is the in-depth dialogue of nationwide Intelligence Estimates—what they're, what it ability to assert that they signify the "most authoritative judgments of the Intelligence Community," why and the way they're vital, and why they've got such excessive political salience and symbolic value. the ultimate bankruptcy lays out, from an insider's viewpoint, the tale of the wrong Iraq WMD NIE and its effect at the next Iran nuclear NIE—paying specific cognizance to the heightened political scrutiny the latter bought in Congress following the Iraq NIE debacle.

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In the much simpler—but more dangerous—days of the Cold War, “all” we had to worry about was the existential threat to our nation and our way of life posed by the Soviet Union and its allies. The target was big, slow moving, and predictable. Over the decades, we became very good at watching the Soviets. We spent years developing capabilities to penetrate specific targets, acquiring essential skills, and building a large cadre of people with the linguistic, technical, political, and other areas of expertise needed to address a single, overriding threat.

14 Most of the time, the goal of the nonintelligence inputs is to argue for a particular decision or course of action, such as sending military assistance to Georgia after the August 2008 military clash with Russia or mounting a public diplomacy campaign to discredit Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. At other times, it is to put pressure on the president and/or other senior officials to stop deliberating and “do something” to stop the killing in Darfur or human rights abuses in Burma. Intelligence is not supposed to—and in my experience very seldom does— advocate specific courses of action.

We succeeded. That is not just my assessment; it is what I was told directly by the president, our congressional oversight committees, the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, and senior officials across the policy community. BOUNDING—AND FULFILLING—EXPECTATIONS The Intelligence Community is a can-do organization, but it cannot do everything. Over the course of the last twenty years, four phenomena or streams of developments have interacted in ways that severely stressed the ability of the Community to provide the level and types of support required to satisfy escalating and expanding demands for information and insight.

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