Friday, February 22, 2008

Must See TV On Recent NIEs, Intel Processes (

DDNI for Analysis, Thomas Fingar, in a 14 February speech in front of the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, talks in detail about the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq WMDs, the recent Iran Nuclear Capabilities and Intentions NIE and reform efforts in the intelligence community. While Dr. Fingar's pacing and rhetorical style takes a little bit of time to get used to, I consider it must see TV for any Intel Studies students.

A few of my favorite quotes and factoids:

Washington is a "political theme park surrounded by reality".

The current officials in the intel community have an opportunity to do what "42 studies and commissions failed to accomplish".

"The best way to get more money and more people is to screw up."

"We are dealing in a realm that can be likened to a thousand piece puzzle. You've got eight pieces and someone lost the box top with the picture."

"...the goal is not to make us smarter but to make policy better..."

"...roughly 55% of the community" has joined since 9/11.

The Iraq WMD estimate was like "having your yearbook photo taken on your worst bad hair day ever."

"We need to move beyond a federation of agencies coming together, to build a community of analysts. Analysts who don't pay any attention to the agency lanyard around their neck, that engage and mix it up."

"...I had learned long ago in Washington that there are only two possibilities. There are policy successes and intelligence failures."

On the Iran NIE: "...there were in excess of 100 people who worked on it..."

On the Iran NIE: "No need to deal with the substance of the product if you can have an ad hominem attack that discredits the product."

Intelligence Priorities: Terrorism, counterproliferation, cyberthreat, Iran, instability, military modernization of Russia and China

"Reputations matter" and then later, "We want people to have the equivalent of an EBay reputation."

"We're right most of the time...and that bothers me. Not because I don't like being right but because I think we ask too many easy questions."

The first two clips are excerpts on the Iraq WMD Estimate and the Iran Estimate. The third link is to the full speech and Q and A.

Flaws In the Iraq WMD Estimate

Iran's Nuclear National Intelligence Estimate

Intelligence Reform and the Iran NIE

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I find the video of Thomas Fingar's speach to be enlightening and fascinating. It proves to me that we, as the general public, often are influenced by the media's interpretation and coverage, and truly do not know the details of events and situations as well as we should. Learning from people involved in decision making exactly how decisions are arrived at and knowing the human aspect of how the process of collecting intelligence and analyzing it, and then how policies are made according to it, clarifies to me that we, as the general public form opinions not based on the entirety of a situation, but on the outcome as reported by the media.