35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A significant contribution to intelligence literature
This valuable and recent contribution to the intelligence bookshelf promises to become a classic text for any practitioner and student of intelligence. Understanding how the intelligence process can work efficiently, how consumers of intelligence can best utilize the process, and how essential it is for producers of intelligence to receive feedback by consumers (a...
Published on March 1, 2000 by David Jimenez
20 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good basic text on the subject
Mark Lowenthal knows the intelligence community and the process of producing intelligence. His works are recommended reading and occupy shelf space throughout the government.
My only caution is to take the review written by Mr. Steele with a grain of salt. Mr. Steele is the CEO of Open Source Solutions, the same company that Lowenthal is the COO for. Can you say...
Published on January 25, 2002
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A significant contribution to intelligence literature,
This valuable and recent contribution to the intelligence bookshelf promises to become a classic text for any practitioner and student of intelligence. Understanding how the intelligence process can work efficiently, how consumers of intelligence can best utilize the process, and how essential it is for producers of intelligence to receive feedback by consumers (a critical and often lacking element), are among some of the major themes discussed. Perhaps one of the most valuable sections of the book is the chapter on the analysis process itself, considered to be the most difficult process in the intelligence cycle. The author clearly provides the reader with exceptional comments regarding analyst training, politicized intelligence, and mirror imaging, and offers many unique insights into the process itself. Intelligence: From Secrets To Policy, contains well developed chapters on Counterintelligence, Covert Action, and Ethical and Moral Issues. Mr. Lowenthall also provides the reader with unique appendices that include excerpts from the National Security Act, Executive Order 12333, and a listing of intelligence related web sites. Comprehensive and yet easy to understand, this publication is highly recommended for those of us wishing to examine, or reexamine, the crucial roles of consumer, producer, and analyst, and the ever-increasing importance of feedback in the intelligence cycle.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction for newcomers and reminder for old hands,
This review is from: Intelligence: From Secrets To Policy, 4th Edition (Paperback)
I was an Air Force military intelligence officer in the late 1990s. I've been working in computer security since then. I read Intelligence, 4th Ed (I4E) to determine if I could recommend this book to those who doubt or don't understand the US intelligence community (IC). I am very pleased to say that I4E is an excellent book for those with little to no intelligence experience. I also found I4E to be a great way to catch up on changes in the IC, particularly since Congress passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA).
Mark Lowenthal struck me as an author who really understands the IC. When I read his descriptions of MASINT not being appreciated (p 96), the institutional bias against open source intelligence (p 105), and related cultural issues, I thought he offered a view of the IC not found in other sources. His explanations of friction between agencies, between various Congressional oversight committees, and between branches of government were very enlightening. The interests and bias of each party were interesting; for example, Congress (like Chief Information or Technology Officers) likes to buy new tech (satellites, etc.) instead of investing in analysts! I appreciated his description of the importance of Congressional authorizers vs appropriators, and how those duties affect the IC budget.
I4E really frames IC issues in a way that makes sense to the reader. For example, p 2 says "Intelligence agencies exist for at least four major reasons: to avoid strategic surprise; to provide long-term expertise; to support the policy process; and to maintain the secrecy of information, needs, and methods." He explains that while Pearl Harbor was a strategic surprise, 9/11 was a tactical surprise. On p 1 he explains that "Intelligence refers to information that meets the stated or understood needs of policy makers and has been collected, processed, and narrowed to meet those needs. Intelligence is a subset of the broader category of information; not all information is intelligence." In Ch 4 he describes the seven phases of the intelligence process as 1) identifying requirements, 2) collection, 3) processing and exploitation, 4) analysis and production, 5) dissemination, 6) consumption, and 7) feedback.
He emphasizes that professional intelligence officers do not offer policy recommendations. The two questions one must ask of new intelligence officers are 1) do they think interesting thoughts and 2) do they write well (pp 118-119). Good intelligence is timely, tailored, digestible, and clear, with objectivity assumed (p 147). On p 148 he makes the case that "the 'big things' tend to be the hardest to foresee for the very reason that they run counter to all of that accumulated intelligence," and on p 167 he says government actors tend to have "an inability to use historical examples. Decision makers are so accustomed to concentrating on near-term issues that they tend not to remember accurately past analogous situations in which they have been involved... they learn somewhat false lessons from the past, which are then misapplied to new circumstances." I also liked his discussion of the "capabilities vs intentions" debate, where he differentiates between those who worry about parties because of what they can do, vs those who worry about parties because of what they want to do.
Despite being a book on intelligence, the author manages to transmit a really dry sense of humor -- if you know where to look. For example, p 107 features Table 5-1 comparing advantages and disadvantages of various collection disciplines. SIGINT lists "voluminous material" as an advantage, and "voluminous material" as a disadvantage. Both are true, which is a subtle joke.
Finally, the author shares some really helpful insights regarding the two biggest intelligence issues of the last decade: 9/11 and Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. On pp 310-311 he says the following:
"Both of these events have entered into popular legend as to the mistakes that were made and the necessary fixes. However, a critical examination of the 'received' lessons of these two events... reveals that they are almost diametrically opposed.
- Warning: The lesson of September 11 is to warn as stridently as possible to make sure that policy makers comprehend the gravity of the situation. But the lesson of Iraq WMD is to warn only when you are absolutely certain that the situation is real. You can warn extravagantly or cautiously but not both.
- Information sharing: The lesson of September 11 is that intelligence must be shared broadly across the intelligence community so that necessary connections can be made. But the lesson of Iraq WMD is to be careful and not share information that is dubious, such as the discredited reporting of the human source known as CURVEBALL.
- 'Connect the dots': If we overlook the inappropriate relationship of this phrase to the work of intelligence, for the moment, we see that the lesson of September 11 is the need to connect the dots. But the lesson of Iraq WMD is not to connect too many dots and create a false picture." Well said!
Anyone interested in learning about the IC and how professional intelligence officers think and act will enjoy reading I4E. Great work!
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A readable, well balanced treatise on the subject,
Mark's latest book is a well-written, accurate depiction of the US intelligence business and various areas of intelligence tradecraft. His section on the US intelligence community will become outdated in time, but in it he develops an interesting functional view of the community. The book is very readable for newcomers while still being of interest to veterans of the business. It is intended to have broad coverage rather than depth. It would be admirably suited as a textbook for a short course on intelligence.
34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Primer for Presidents, Congress, Media, and Public,
Mark Lowenthal, who today is the Associate Deputy Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis and Production (ADCI/A&P), was briefly (for a year) the President of OSS USA (I created OSS Inc., the global version). So much for disclosure and "conflicts of interest". The previous review, after a year of being irritatingly present, needs to be corrected. Dr. Lowenthal was for many years the Senior Executive Service reviewer of intelligence affairs for the Congressional Research Service, then he went on to be Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence & Research (Analysis), and then he became the Staff Director for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he supervised one of the two really serious really excellent studies on all that is wrong with intelligence and what needs to be fixed. OSS was lucky to have him contribute to its development for a year before he moved on to another corporation and then to the #5 position in the US Intelligence Community. He needs no help from me in either articulating his ideas or doing good work.
What the previous reviewer fails to understand is that Dr. Lowenthal's book represents the *only* available "primer" on intelligence that can be understood by Presidents, Congressmen, the media, and the public. While my own book (The New Craft of Intelligence) strives to discuss the over-all threats around the world in terms meaningful to the local neighborhoods of America, Dr. Lowenthal's book focuses on the U.S. Intelligence Community itself--the good, the bad, and the ugly. He is strongest on analysis and the politics of intelligence, somewhat weaker on collection and counterintelligence covert action. There is no other book that meets the need for this particular primer, and so I recommend it with enthusiasm. It is on the OSS.NET list of the top 15 books on intelligence reform every written.
24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book used by the Research Intelligence Analyst Program,
This is the book we use at Mercyhurst College to train both undergraduates and graduates in preperation for future work as an intelligence analysts. Highly recommended. The only college granting a degree in intelligence thinks you should read it. So do I.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Review,
Mark does it again. He hit a home run with this updated version of his 1992 work. Once again Mark puts a very difficult and most classified subject and turns it into a straight forward, easy to read and to understand volume. This will be the new text book for the graduate and undergraduate students at the Joint Military Intelligence College in the subject of Intelligence Community and will aid in the understanding of the Intelligence arm of the National Security Structure and Process. Well done, Mark!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Introduction to American Intelligence...,
Mark Lowenthal, a long-time veteran of the Intelligence Community, is the author of "Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy," a superb introduction into the American Intelligence Community and its transition from the long Cold War against the Soviets to the current battles against rogues states and transnational terrorists.
Lowenthal writes at the survey level for an audience with a general understanding of American history and governmental processes but limited knowledge of how intelligence fits into either. In sequencial steps, Lowenthal explains what intelligence is supposed to be, how U.S. intelligence developed, and how the Intelligence Community operates. He reviews the intelligence process, the major collection disciplines, and the moving parts of subcomponents such as analysis, counterintelligence, and covert action. The last chapters explore the difficult issues of interaction with policy-makers, oversight, and transformation.
Lowenthal's narrative is remarkable on at least two counts. He appreciates just how challenging it is to produce timely, accurate, and useful intelligence, and he is exceptionally even-handed in describing all the things that can go right or wrong in the process. While no one topic is covered in significant depth, his coverage of the whole is very solid and perfectly suited to entry-level classes on intelligence and its interaction with policy. A nice selection of anecdotes and examples help provide depth to what might otherwise turn into dry narrative.
"Intelligence: From Secrets To Policy" is very highly recommended as an introduction to the intelligence business for use at the collegiate level and for the general reader.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Version Review,
This review is from: Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy (Kindle Edition)
A warning to those getting the Kindle version: It's rife with errors. I assume this comes from OCR processing. "Intelligence" is spelled three different ways on one page. If they are going to put such raw processing up for sale, they could at least have made it one of the $9.99 books.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good IC primer for the layman,
This is as good a primer on the US intelligence community as you're likely to come across in open literature. Mr. Lowenthal is well qualified to provide insights into the IC, though I'd have to caveat it by saying his CIA-centric view often shows up in the text. As someone who sees things from the DoD perspective, I'll agreeably disagree on some of his observations regarding roles and missions. The 3rd edition is good with most of the recent changes in the IC, though some even more recent changes have not been reflected in the book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction Book,
Mark Lowenthal's book on intelligence is a great starting point for anyone looking to get aquainted with intelligence. It covers all aspects and will give the layman a new and better understanding of both the polictics and the process behind intelligence. The only reason I'm giving this game 4/5 is because in places the book becomes almost too rudimentary which I guess is expected of an introductory book. In short the book is organized like a series of lectures on the topic of intelligence, informative reading, midly entertaining, but over all a great book.
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Intelligence: From Secrets To Policy, 4th Edition by Mark M. Lowenthal (Paperback - October 17, 2008)
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