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«Relations between Intelligence Services and Policy Makers: An Analysis of challenges and their causes This article addresses the relations between ...»

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As was mentioned in the first part of this article, the intelligence process has ambiguities by its nature and this leaves space for obscurity and interpretation, which might lead to distorted intelligence information and to its use for political or other reasons37. Hendel presented a variety of historical examples in his book, such as when during the Vietnam War, US intelligence had the tendency to underestimate the antigovernment forces of Viet Cong, which enabled the demonstration of the effectiveness of the US forces combat activities and gave optimistic expectancies38. As Thomas Hughes noticed, frequently analysis of intelligence differs from preconceptions of the policy former and that “almost always there will be a difference between the clear picture seen by a convinced policy-maker and the cloudy picture usually seen by intelligence”39. Given this, a politician might try to enforce his views on the intelligence service by using his power, so that the ‘clear picture’ he sees would be reflected in intelligence

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Hughes, T., “The Fate of Facts in a World of Men: Foreign Policy and Intelligence Making”, Headline Series, No 233. New York: Foreign Policy Association, 1976, p.19.

evaluations. US intelligence e�pert, Jack Davis, gave numerous e�amples of the negative effect of politicians’ impact on intelligence: influencing intelligence officers in order to change the content or conclusions of intelligence evaluations or trying to force their opinion on intelligence services, so that it was presented later as intelligence information40.

In the first part of this article it was mentioned that almost all intelligence (irrespective of its sources) should be classified to some extent, with some exceptions, for example when it is necessary to warn the society on threatening dangers, such as particular threat of terrorism. The necessity of classification is based on the need to protect intelligence services from involvement in politics.

Otherwise, openly publicizing intelligence evaluations (like on the threats a certain state poses or, on the contrary, an absence of such threats) an intelligence service can become involved in the state’s political process, in some cases without even leaving the possibility to political institutions to take diplomatic or political measures. An intelligence service is the state’s secret service that provides its government with intelligence, which helps solve problems or challenges and it is not a political or academic institution that can openly express its opinion. Given a political – diplomatic necessity, a state’s political institution can present information received from an intelligence service publicly, of course, provided that it will not compromise the sources of this information or methods that were used to get it.

As intelligence is a delicate process, there has to be mutual understanding between both intelligence officers and politicians or decision makers. When it is absent, it is difficult or almost impossible, to organize intelligence activity properly. Intelligence is provided to customers in order to facilitate the decision making process. Problems might occur when the presented intelligence evaluations and analyses do not support the decision maker’s policy (in contrary to its expectations), or when politicians or decision makers ignore the received intelligence. In the above-mentioned forum of intelligence leaders and politicians at the University of Georgetown, it was noted that some politicians and decision makers try to adopt intelligence to their needs, so it would support the decisions they have made or are planning to make41. As an example, an episode from World War II could be mentioned: in September of 1944 the Allies carried out operation ‘Market Garden’ in the Netherlands, commanded by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. This operation was distinguished by the immense amount of airborne forces used, but it was also probably the only defeat of Allied Forces (at least at such a large scale) during the entire World War II. The Alliance planned to take the main bridges in the city of Arnhem with the help of airborne forces, so they could facilitate the attack of American and British advanced troops. As both political and military leaderships were expecting the Davis, 2006, p. 1017-1018.

Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University, “Challenging the Red Line between Intelligence and Policy”, prepared by Dr. James E. Steiner, March 2004, http://www.ciaonet.org/wps/stj05/ index.html, 2008-02-10.

quick fall of Nazi Germany, planners of the operation surrendered themselves to the euphoria of the upcoming victory and disregarded intelligence on the real capacities of the enemy. As a result of this the operation failed and joint forces of US, Great Britain and Poland suffered great losses42. It is worthy to mention that initially one of the reasons for this defeat was cited as the lack of intelligence about German capabilities. The release of information after its declassification in 1974, however, proved the contrary: the technical capacities of Great Britain’s intelligence allowed the unprecedented possibility to read deciphered reports of German military leaders, thereby the planners of the ‘Market Garden’ operation received accurate enough intelligence on the adversary’s forces43.

Handel performed extensive and detailed analysis on the relations between intelligence officers and politicians. He describes intelligence politicization as any political interfering with intelligence process that distorts intelligence information and assessments, which makes an impact on analysis or distribution of intelligence products44. By using a comparison between intelligence, medicine and meteorology, Handel stated that in all these professions, none of them is an e�act science, as each has to invoke quantifiable dimensions as well as forecasts, experience and intuition45. In the case of any of these three professions, decisions are often made in obscurity, with pressures imposed by responsibility and the understanding that mistakes will have negative consequences. Only the intelligence officer, however, has an additional challenge – the frequent interference of politicians in the process of intelligence46. This can be explained (but not justified) by the fact that politicians and leaders make decisions relying on information they have. In the modern world the significance of information has grown considerably - it has become an instrument and a weapon. In the age of information, when information technologies have developed and various private information companies operate in the market (among these are media, many political – analytical agencies of strategic analysis and think tanks), intelligence services have lost much of their monopoly of information, which they had just a few decades ago. Yet in the shape of the government, intelligence services still maintain a certain information monopoly, providing less choice to politicians in search for effective information tools for implementing their policy. Besides, this also furthers the requirement for closer relations between politics and intelligence, which was mentioned earlier in analyzing the divide between politics and intelligence and the approach of internal and external policies. Due to the influence of the current dynamic security environment and conditions of the above-mentioned internal and foreign policy aspects, a Bradley, G. Ph. “Market Garden”: Was Intelligence Responsible for the Failure?” A research report.

Alabama: Maxwell Air Force Base, April 2001, p. 14 – 15. http://www.iwar.org.uk/sigint/resources/ market-garden/bradley.pdf, 2008-08-08.

Jeffson, J.J. “Operation Market-Garden: Ultra Intelligence Ignored” A Master Thesis,

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Laqueur, W., “The Question of Judgement: Intelligence and Medicine”, Journal of Contemporary History, No. 18, October 1983, from Handel, p. 188.


completely different reality exists in practice: unavoidable interference of politicians in the intelligence process. Therefore, the model of intelligence process presented in the first part of this article is rather theoretical or idealistic. In reality, intelligence is constantly affected by the surrounding environment, in which the state’s politicians, decision makers and society all participate. The theoretical model of the intelligence process does not reflect the influence of this environment. Gill and Phythian have offered a more accurate model of the intelligence process, called ‘the funnel of causality’ (Figure 2)47.

Figure 2. Intelligence process according to Gill and Phytian

This funnel shows that not necessarily all analyzed information reaches the consumer. An element of collected information is filtered out as unnecessary, other parts being rejected concerning the specification of demands received through the feedback (or sensed intuitively by intelligence service) and another part is not analysed after processing and sanitization. Unlike the traditional process of intelligence, this funnel graphically demonstrates the environment around the exterior of intelligence that exists in reality, including the policy makers, who influence the intelligence process. In pursuing effective intelligence activity and its successful results, it is necessary to accordingly organize the intelligence process, considering the inevitable interference of policy makers.

This interference can have positive effects when it is limited to giving the priorities of policy makers to the intelligence service, acknowledging with it their interests and the affecting circumstances: there is no discussion on undisputable right of politicians to perform the parliamentarian control and oversight of intelligence services. Better knowledge of the political sphere allows an intelligence service to answer the requirements of policy makers more effectively.

Gill ir Phythian, p. 4.

This supports once again the argument of Laqueur, mentioned in the beginning of this article about the essential necessity of intelligence services to train their customers. An additional measure in securing the impartiality of intelligence services is appropriate professional organization of intelligence. This should be aimed at the professionalism of intelligence officers and the standardization of intelligence activity itself, in order to evade the distortion of intelligence information and its adjustment to political decisions or expectations. In addition, the intelligence service should establish the objective criteria and standards for intelligence analysis, which would be difficult to ignore.

concluding Remarks Intelligence services carry out their activity on behalf of policy makers with the purpose not only to respond in a timely manner to possible threats to the state’s security, but also to provide their customers (policy makers) with the required intelligence, in order to support the implemented and planned policy of the latter’s represented institutions. In other words, most institutions of democratic states (first and foremost those responsible for the state’s foreign, defence and security policies and their executive agencies) directly participate in the process of intelligence or affect this process in other ways and its outcome. Such institutions should not ignore the intelligence, as it may have a negative effect on the intelligence process. If an intelligence service’s participation in the process of decision making is inadequate (for example, when policy makers use alternative information sources) its activity can become irrelevant to the state’s priorities and interests. This is why an adequately close interaction should be organized between intelligence services and its customers. This allows for setting the correct tasks while organizing intelligence activity so that the intelligence process corresponds with the state’s primary objectives and interests. Intelligence officers, being informed of politicians’ intentions, capacities and problems have to become experts in the ‘political sphere’.

The realization of these conditions, however, leads to inevitable participation and even interference from politicians in the intelligence process. In order to avoid the negative effects of politics on the intelligence process, it is necessary to ensure that intelligence services do not get involved in the process of forming and implementing policy. The divide between politics and intelligence must be balanced – intelligence officers should not become responsible for the successful execution and realization of actions and decisions, based on the intelligence information they present. The conditions of effective intelligence – objectivity, reliability and impartiality – can be achieved if sufficient confidence and professional understanding exist between a state’s intelligence services and the institutions about each other’s capabilities and limitations. Effective intelligence is also predicated on systemic relations based on juridical acts being established which provide e�ecutive control of these services and set requirements upon them.

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