REVIEW: Strategic Intelligence. Windows Into A Secret World


By Loch K. Johnson and James J. Wirtz, eds. Los Angeles: Roxbury Publishing Company, 2004. 473 pages, end of chapter notes, bibliography, charts, tables, index

The editors of this anthology have assembled 35 articles on the major functions of the intelligence profession written by intelligence officers, national security journalists, academics, think-tank analysts, novelists, and politicians.

Topics range from the familiar history of the Intelligence Community, collection and analysis, foreign intelligence, counterintelligence, and covert action, to those with particular contemporary relevance, as, for example, the relationship of intelligence to policy, the danger of politicization, accountability, the quandary of intelligence reform, and establishing intelligence services in new democracies.

With so many contributions, selecting a few for comment risks unintended offense. Still, by its mere inclusion, one raises the explicatory question: what does a novelist—in this case Percy Kemp—have to contribute to a non-fiction reader on intelligence? Mr. Kemp’s interesting contribution, “The Rise and Fall of France’s Spymasters,” argues that before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the first Gulf War, the French government concluded it did not require “first rate intelligence organizations” (438). After those events, the reverse was true. He presents names, facts, and figures in support of arguments that make intuitive sense, but he makes clear that the paper is “based on private conversations with former and present French intelligence operatives” and diplomats (442). Thus he leaves readers with a conundrum the answer to which is left as an exercise for the student.

The purpose of creating this book was to fill a gap that has grown as more and more courses on intelligence matters have appeared in university curricula over the last 30 years. So many valuable texts were written to meet the demand that no course could assign them all and parts of their contents were soon out of date. What was needed, then, was a reader with contributions by recognized professionals that covered the main issues of the profession—the proven practices and the controversial policies—from many points of view. This book meets that need.

Since all the articles have appeared..

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