Intelligence Gathering

A Veritable Intelligence?

In Praise of Ignorance

As early as 1944, the British military historian B. H. Liddell-Hart noted in his delightful (and short) book "Why Don’t We Learn from History?" [1] that generals and politicians – those who had a personal stake in the way history would depict them, made the least reliable witnesses with regard to affairs in which they had been personally involved. I was reminded of it while watching the TV program "The 50 Years War: Israel and the Arabs". To my great surprise, some academicians, with whom I later spoke, not only liked the program but also believed that it was good and credible because the people interviewed were the generals and the politicians who at the time were at the center of the events and made the crucial decisions. The presentations were straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Only, that exactly was the reason why I personally, had strong reservations about this program. Especially so, as there was not even an attempt to add another perspective to the content.

Cultural Clues: An Inquiry Into The Nature Of Intelligence In The Wake Of Rabin’s Assassination

[Published in The International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, spring 1996]

The assassination of the Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin was a significant global event that sent hordes of intelligence analysts on a frenzied attempt to figure out its effects on Middle Eastern and world politics. As we well know, the answers to all questions are closely related to the way we phrase them and the phrasing itself is often affected by a preconceived hypothesis or a "concept" about the problem in question. Bearing this in mind, I would like to address myself here to this very question of how we know what is it that we should know in order to come to a conclusion. In other words: how do we categorize "clinchers?". I will do it through sharing with you my personal impressions while watching the tube from Saturday afternoon – a short time after the assassination, until about Monday noon – after the funeral. This was a very illuminating experience, as many of the people who were interviewed were former decision makers, such people as Kissinger, Baker, Eagleburger, Brzezinski or Kirkpatrick, and for many years now I have been wondering, what part of the information gathered by the intelligence services is really reaching the executive level.