Why Secret Intelligence Fails

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Michael Turner is an experienced intelligence specialist with considerable experience from the American perspective. The book reviews the reasons and effects of intelligence failures that will be of interest to intelligence professionals but is written in a jargon-free style that even a reader coming fresh to the subject will find entertaining, engaging and informative. Even within the intelligence community the whole subject of classification and sensitivity is confusing and creates debate. Information which should be available to citizens is frequently buried as classified material and other information that should be available only on a need-to-know enters the public domain. Where information is strongly protected, the potential enemy gains access but the citizen who funds the gathering and analysis of intelligence is unable to read it. There are many cases where this confusion over classification is used to hide failures and leads to lessons not being learned. The primary motivation for the author may well be the serious intelligence failures that led to the US-led invasion of a sovereign power. If this was the primary motivation, the treatment of the subject is oblique. The author has set out in a very easy to understand manner a catalogue of intelligence failures down the years and sets out some of the remedies that could be employed to avoid repeats of these failures. What he has not covered, probably because the information was not available to him at the time of writing, are the very special factors that applied to intelligence on Iraqi threats. Since the tragic death of Dr David Kelly, the story has been emerging of how the Blair regime published propaganda masquerading as intelligence reports and summaries that were designed to mislead the British Parliament, the British people, the US President, and the US people.

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