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Perspectives on Security and Terrorism: Analysis of Thinking Straing and Talking Straight: Problems with Intelligence Analysis

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The problems faced by modern intelligence services are inherent to their composition and methods of operation. According to Douglas Hart and Steven Simon, authors of Ð''Thinking Straight and Talking Straight: Problems of Intelligence Analysis', such problems include issues with recruitment of personnel, intensely bureaucratic structures, and lack of collaboration between agencies and between other intelligence professionals. This work will consider the above points from the perspective of several other works, and will add novel perspectives to selected issues.

According to Simon and Hart, the intelligence community is faced with the need to recruit personnel from a pool that is ill-equipped to deal with challenges posed by the current international environment. They identify the deficiencies within the recruitment pool primarily as a complete lack of critical-thinking abilities. Colonel Andrew Smith has commented on new recruits as well, however from a completely opposite perspective. The Colonel argues that it is practical and acceptable to have fixed "countermeasures" and counter-terrorism models to particular terrorist actions. This removes the need for critical-thinking abilities.

It is, however, my concern that having fixed solutions to preconceived problems poses a difficulty should the problem alter in any way. This perspective exemplifies the lack of critical thinking abilities within the intelligence services. His approach denigrates the intelligence community into mindless robots utilising pre-prepared fixes to foreseeable crises. This entails that intelligence personnel will be ill-prepared to face new, unique, and unforseen challenges that occur outside of the predicted parameters.

In this respect I agree with Simon and Hart who identify critical-thinking as the primary attribute of would-be counter-terrorism personnel. Furthermore, they suggest that this lack of critical-thinking ability is due to a rise in anti-intellectualism culture. According to Richard Hofstadter, this culture is fostered by a rise of evangelical religion, business-orientated education, and populist political style. All of the concerns mentioned foster a common understanding of complex issues; individualism is either frowned upon, or is simply impractical.

However, due to the age of this source, it is questionable as to how applicable its conclusions are to current conditions. Nonetheless, even if this particular source is outdated, Simon and Hart note that students in American institutions are taught to requirements of standardised examinations. This implies that students are not required to critically analyse the examinations; they are only required to regurgitate information given to them by a lecturer for particular situations. Critical-thinking is reduced in value and the intelligence community has no new recruits to replace retirees who were familiar with the concept.

Another issue to be considered is the need to purge bureaucracy from the apparatus responsible for drawing meaningful conclusions from raw intelligence. This has been proposed by several authors including Lieutenant Colonel Orme in Intelligence and Security Studies and Stephen Walt in The Renaissance of Security Studies. What is interesting is that these papers are separated by seven years and still utter much the same sentiment. The paper under review echoes these sentiments Ð'- eight years later.

In chronological order, in 1991 Walt wrote that politicisation of research support is a serious danger to producing usable intelligence; that if access to research support becomes contingent upon Ð''correct' political views the integrity of security and intelligence studies will be gravely threatened. This is added to by Colonel Orme in 1998 who had stated that the "best long-range intelligence estimates have been made by individuals and the worst by the committees on which current intelligence bureaucracies are based". Critics will argue that the applicability of these sources is somewhere between limited to irrelevant due to their age. However, if one takes a holistic approach to the matter, they show the progression of bureaucratic intervention with intelligence

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