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You will assess case studies of how the intelligence and policy communities have worked together or could have collaborated better to respond to specific issues and incidents. The course explores the limits of intelligence in informing policy-making and the impact of other influences in decision-making. This includes the benefits that intelligence and policy professionals bring to these processes. It examines the impact of the Independent Review of the Intelligence Community and implementation acheivements and challenges to date including the establishment of the Office of National Intelligence and the Department of Home Affairs.

Participants can expect to establish ongoing professional linkages with a diverse range of national security community representatives. What this course did for me was to allow me to put my intelligence knowledge into a related but different environment, allowing me to see how intelligence works in influencing policy, and the challenges faced by policy makers even with good intelligence at their disposal.

This course is open to officers from all national security organisationas who are working in either the intelligence or policy-making streams. The gaps remain in that none of the works delve further into that relationship, research the problems, nor provide suggestions for better interactions. Numerous works exist covering the importance of maintaining objectivity and mitigating bias [xv] within the intelligence community. However, very little research has been done into how the IC can maintain its objectivity and freedom from politicization while still being convincing enough to overcome the biases of the policymakers they serve.

In order for the intelligence community to provide an objectionable, timely, and accurate product there needs to be a systematic and proven methodology to its work. By providing structure to the research and analysis process, the IC can ensure that is products remain free from partisan political influences, objective, and accurate.


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Clauser [xvii] provides a cornerstone work in this area. Clauser, however, focuses on the analyst and the organization of the intelligence community and does not take into account the relationship with its masters the executive authority. Providing a brief overview of history and a summary of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act lays the foundation for his book. The increase in intelligence briefings and product dissemination to the lawmakers of the country has grown tremendously since the s [xix]. More and more reliance is being placed on intelligence as an integral part of the lawmaking process as can be seen from the hundreds of briefings the IC provides the Congress every year.

While Ford does a superb job in defining the role the IC should play with the Congress and discussing the need for a more full intelligence disclosure with them he fails to speak to the relationship between the IC and the executive.

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Many of the same principles applied to the Congress can also be applied to the relationship with the President and his cabinet. In this work, Major brings the analytic community back to its basic roots and discusses the finer points of clear and concise communication.

After all, if we hope to be able to convince the executive that certain analyses are accurate and pertain to policy it must be of utmost importance how that information is relayed. First, you have to be right …. Reviewing these basics should be one of the first steps in analyzing how the relationship between the executive and IC has apparently faltered. Finally, the literature review must include source information dealing with the case study that will help to explore the thesis.

Locating sources for this case was also stymied by the fact that much of the inner workings of the executive and cabinet level officials here are still classified. That being said, open-source resources were abundant and should provide a sufficient level of insight into the case to allow it to be studied.

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Perhaps the best place to begin is with a background of the entire incident. Although Burton and Katz write the book with a certain amount of Hollywood flair and an eye for the action reader they still provide a great review of the events before, during, and after the attack.

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Furthermore, it is evident that they did an enormous amount of homework during this work that included numerous interviews of people directly involved in the incident. This coupled with the insight they provide into U. State Department makes this book an integral foundational piece to understanding the attacks that fateful night halfway around the world.

While Burton and Katz did a fabulous job recounting the attacks they, sadly, failed to continue their investigation into the post-mortem investigations and public criticism that followed. For that insight the literature turns to Interim Progress Report for the U. House of Representatives [xxiii]. Taking into account the report was written for the members of the House Republican Conference it is necessary to recognize the potential for partisan politics and, hence, bias is high; especially in the atmosphere following the attacks and Congressional investigations that followed.

However, the report does provide some interesting insight into the actions taken by officials in the executive in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. Specifically the report zeroes in on the reduction of security levels prior to the attacks, even though Diplomatic Security DS agents and the ambassador had made numerous requests for higher security, the alteration of the IC provided talking points after the attacks, and the allegation that those alterations were made for purely political gain.

Central to this investigation are the numerous emails cited throughout the report that provide the context around the why for which the talking points were changed. The report is well written and done so in an environment of policy considerations and decision making that makes it a necessary source for this paper. Providing further evidence into the aftermath of the attacks and policymaker attitudes comes from the independent review board [xxiv] sanctioned by the State Department to investigate the incident. This investigation was sanctioned as an independent review of policies and actions taken by the State Department that led to the attacks.

While the investigation focuses on the actions of the State Department itself and not the entire executive authority it does provide some level of insight into the organizational dynamics of the Obama Administration and its decision-making process. The report highlights some of the administrative failures to provide security to the Special Mission that, from which, inferences can be made as to how the Department reacted to current intelligence being provided it.


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  5. Even with this allegation the report still provides a somewhat non-biased account of policymaking and decisional processes. Another interesting piece of evidence surfaces in the statement provided by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence ODNI Public Affairs office [xxv] in which the IC appears to defend itself from the allegations that faulty intelligence was to blame for the attacks.

    This statement is important in its rarity that IC agencies do not normally make public statements contrary to the party-line of the sitting administration. The report also corroborates other open-source reports from the U. This then can be extrapolated to identify some of the biases present on the side of the policymakers and further the thesis of this paper for it is rare that researchers have the luxury of personally interviewing the rational actor of IR themselves. Further sources for this paper include the numerous open-source documents from news media outlets covering the ongoing investigations.

    While these sources naturally contain a certain amount of spin and bias they do help to shed light on public opinion and the overall perception of the events. Investigation into allegations that previous jihadist rallies provided warning [xxvi] and investigative reports into the Accountability Review Board ARB report [xxvii] all provide tertiary source information that further validates, corroborates, and helps identify policymaker cognitive errors that can be explored.

    Furthermore, intelligence reports citing the past IED attacks on intelligence compounds [xxviii] in Libya help provide that intelligence did exist and was or should have been known to decision makers.

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    The framework of this research paper focused on identifying the policymaker biases in the Benghazi incident and applying consistency theory to them. Consistency theory argues that actors will attempt to maintain consistency in their cognitive processes and strive to maintain that consistency by any number of ways [xxix]. When actions or people within that environment then become incoherent it becomes necessary to attempt to make them coherent once again. Given that political actors charged with making policy and conducting international affairs are highly educated professionals with little time to concentrate on any one specific issue it stands to reason that they are more prone to fall victim to these biases.

    Furthermore, in the highly charged political environment in which they operate, this bolstering and then defending leads to a groupthink environment in which bolstering is reinforced. Another theory the author will explore involves high-risk low-probability theory. High-risk low-probability argues that decision makers often justify failure to act on certain crises prevention methods due to the perceived low probability that the crisis will actually occur [xxxiii].

    Even when confronted with evidence i. Again, the author will take into account the nature of American politics and the fact that American policymakers are so heaped with responsibilities that high-risk low-probability is a natural side effect of consistency theory. The methodology used for this research paper will incorporate the Benghazi attacks as a theory testing case study to analyze the biases and information processing errors that existed.

    The dependent variable of the study will be the IC mitigation of policymaker bias and information processing errors with the independent variables being made up of the biases and high-risk low-probability phenomenon affecting policymaker decisions coupled with intelligence analysis processes and final intelligence production. The emphasis of the research will not focus on the dependent variable so much. Rather on the independent variables and how they shaped the outcome of this particular case.

    After all, cognitive processes and bias will be different with each individual case and the combination of differing biases can be as infinite as the personalities of those involved. This makes focusing on the independent variables much more noteworthy than the outcome; only by understanding this can the IC truly hope to mitigate them. Analysis of the event will be conducted by breaking the crisis down into three manageable parts: pre-crisis, during crisis, and post-crisis.

    Variables will be identified for each part and the concepts of consistency theory applied to identify the biases present and their effects on the intelligence production process. Second, those variables will be further broken down into dependent and independent ones in order to search for the relationship between the parts. The next step will be to match specific biases with specific events in the crisis-management process made by the policy making community. By breaking down the evidence available and categorizing the biases of the policymaker it should be easier to offer mitigation practices that will help prevent future failures.

    Identification of patterns will further highlight and help this process.

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    By answering these questions it should be possible to identify specific actions or procedures the IC as a whole can take to steer policymaking while remaining objective and free from undue political influence. Limitations to the study include the fact that this incident is relatively fresh happening only one year ago and much of the information surrounding the specifics of the attacks remains either classified or still under investigation. Furthermore, due to the freshness of the event, peer-reviewed material and in-depth post-mortems are few and far between.

    Finally it will be impossible to conduct interviews of any kind with the policy makers involved in this incident thus making the narrowing down of bias a matter of inference. This, in turn, makes the answers to the question-set heavily dependent upon inference. However, enough material exists to provide a solid foundation for the analysis of policymaker bias and its effects on intelligence production making this dependence easily articulable.

    For this reason, the results of this analysis will be more qualitative than quantitative. With many of the events surrounding the Benghazi attacks still under investigation or classified, analysis of the events was driven by media articles, Congressional investigative reports and correspondence, and a documentary action novel written by a former Diplomatic Security Services DSS officer. A close examination of the available media, while differing in its political spin, does lay bare certain events that all sources accept as true and provided the basis for this analysis.

    These biases, now identified, were compared against the intelligence reporting surrounding the crisis and current analytic practices of the community in order to identify whether or not the IC could properly mitigate them. After analysis of the evidence it was determined that mitigating steps by the IC were near impossible given the relationship it has with the executive authority and the mission it is mandated to accomplish; provide actionable, timely, and accurate intelligence to guide policy making decisions.

    For this reason, focus shifted to a more government-wide solution that would allow the intelligence community to provide a further check and balance to governmental affairs. The following in-depth analysis will show that what is needed is some sort of Inspector General IG or an organization similar to the Government Accountability Office GAO that provides the IC with a voice to address harmful political practices that negatively affect national security and public trust. This may be more so than normal due to the fact that the sitting Administration was in the middle of a tense Presidential re-election campaign.

    Because of the domestic re-election campaign it would be more important for the sitting Administration to maintain a sense of consistency and normalcy. After all, it should not be forgotten that who fills those positions in the top leadership circles that presided over the Benghazi incident are appointees of the President.

    Therefore, not only is the continued reign of the president on the line, but so are the numerous cabinet level officials that manage the nation and are responsible for crisis-leadership. Therefore, a sense of normalcy and consistency becomes important for political reasons; especially for an Administration with a questionable foreign policy history. In the case of Benghazi numerous pieces of evidence existed to guide decision-makers down the path of realization that the security environment was tenuous at best [xxxiv]. While it is not the purpose of this paper to regurgitate previously reported facts and circumstances, it does become necessary to provide a background from which the analysis was made.

    In fact the situation had deteriorated so much that the British closed its Benghazi mission just days after the failed assassination attempt on Ambassador Dominic Asquith [xl]. Inconsistent information can be ignored or distorted in order to provide an appearance of consistency with attitudes and cognitive processes [xli]. Inconsistent information is then compartmentalized allowing people policy-makers to refuse to see their actions as serious and sets the stage for bolstering [xlii].

    In this case, the knowledge of a high-threat environment and inadequate physical security protocols in Benghazi was inconsistent with the then-current desired domestic view of an Administration in control of foreign policy and able to concentrate on domestic issues dependent variable. This was especially true in light that Libya was widely seen as a foreign policy success.

    The systematic withdrawal of security assets and the denial to provide replacements independent variables then became acts of compartmentalization and bolstering, providing the cognitive thought processing error that led in part to the crisis. The intelligence community provided ample warning that threats existed and these have been well documented.

    Other Western countries had also recognized the growing threat environment and had begun taking action to mitigate it e. All of these warning indicators were readily available to USG officials. Government USG had ample evidence available to conclude that the security environment in Libya was rapidly waning.

    This is further evidenced by the fact that a CIA post was in place in Benghazi at the time and actively reporting on the activities of the various groups and militias [xliv]. Taking into account the intelligence function of providing intelligence to guide decision making therefore, the effects of compartmentalization and bolstering were minimal. Political Intelligence continues to grow its expertise around a wide range of practice areas, sharing public affairs techniques over multiple sectors, seeking to provide the most innovative services to our clients.

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