The purpose of national security intelligence is to provide policy officials with an advantage in the making of effective policy, based on the collection and analysis of accurate information from around the world that can help to illuminate a decision. Foreknowledge is invaluable in the service of a nation’s security; and, in the gathering of useful information, technological innovations in the world of intelligence can result in a stronger shield to protect citizens against the many dangers that lurk across the continents in this uncertain and hostile world.
Despite all the marvels of modern espionage tradecraft, the governments that rely on them must still deal with the human side of intelligence activities. Unfortunately, arrogance, shortsightedness, laziness, frenetic schedules, and the corrosive influences of power (among other flaws) often lead policy officials to ignore or warp the advantages they could accrue from advanced intelligence spycraft, if they would only use these sources and methods properly. This article examines some of the problems that imperfect human behavior has created for intelligence in the United States at the highest levels of government over the past two decades.
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