The Art of the Intelligence Autopsy
Wirtz, James J.
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Although intelligence postmortems are a common practice in the aftermath of intelligence failure, little is known about how they are conducted. This article explores the methodology employed by Robert Jervis in intelligence postmortems that followed the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979 and the formulation of the 2002 Iraq national intelligence estimate that warned of the possibility that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program. The analysis reveals the challenges faced by scholars as they attempt to assess why analysts failed to offer accurate estimates and the way contemporary international relations theory can be applied to the realm of policy. The findings of the postmortems also shed light on areas where additional collaboration among scholars and analysts can advance the art of intelligence analysis.
This article was previously published in a collection of essays in honor of Robert Jervis; see James W. Davis (ed.), Psychology, Strategy and Conflict: Perceptions of Insecurity in International Relations (Oxford: Routledge 2012).The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02684527.2012.748371
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