Reassessing the Intelligence Failure at Pearl Harbor

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Authors
Dahl, Erik J.
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Date of Issue
2011
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Abstract
The intelligence failure at Pearl Harbor is perhaps the most widely studied intelligence failure in American history. The lessons of that failure included the belief that warnings are invariably available before such a disaster, but missed, and that a major part of the solution is to improve the ability of analysis to find the key signals amid the background noise. These lessons have become conventional wisdom, and have been often reaffirmed since then, including after the 9/11 attacks and the Christmas Day 2009 airline bombing attempt. But this paper argues that the conventional wisdom about what went wrong with intelligence prior to Pearl Harbor is incorrect, and that this misconception has contributed to continuing intelligence failures today. This paper proposes a new model that better explains the failure of Pearl Harbor, and which can help improve intelligence performance today.
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Article
Description
Prepared for delivery at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, September 2011
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National Security Affairs (NSA)
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Naval Postgraduate School (U.S.)
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This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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