DO POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS CREATE POLITICIZED INTELLIGENCE?
McDermott, Kevin C.
Dahl, Erik J.
Simeral, Robert L.
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A resilient nation must not only have a strong and functional military for defense, but also have the capability to collect tactical intelligence about adversaries to inflict the greatest potential damage in potential conflict. Regardless of the size and strength of forces, intelligence sharpens the military force’s lethality, ultimately making a nation powerful. Fundamentally, intelligence should be unbiased and objective. However, as the United States polarizes itself politically today between its two dominant parties, that objectivity is at risk. Political bias has been included in U.S. intelligence analysis and through a study of two cases, it is apparent that politicized intelligence often negatively impacts the intelligence community (IC), the military, and the citizens of the United States. The current system of appointing senior intelligence officials inevitably fosters politicized intelligence because of an inherent obligation of those appointed to serve the administration that selected them. This thesis recommends that to reduce politicization, legislation must require IC leaders to have served as intelligence officers first and with positional term limits, essentially making them professional, not political, appointments. The objective of this legislation would be to maintain the policymaker and IC leadership relationship while ensuring the public that the IC remains capable, knowledgeable, and unbiased.
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