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Transforming U.S. Intelligence 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-1589010697
ISBN-10: 1589010698
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Paperback, August 30, 2005
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Editorial Reviews


"It would be extremely difficult to find a better team of contributors for a book of this nature."―Parameters


"America is in the midst of a national debate on intelligence reform. Unfortunately, some of the loudest arguments come from amateurs. Sims and Gerber have assembled the thoughts of genuine experts. This book merits a prominent role in an essential debate."―John J. Hamre, president and CEO, Center for Strategic and International Studies

"There is a consensus that intelligence reform is imperative, but little agreement on how to translate the imperative into action. This thoughtful volume brings the expertise and ingenuity of a pack of informed observers to bear, producing thorough and balanced recommendations that advance well beyond the loose talk, glittering generalities, and political heat that have dominated public discussion."―Richard K. Betts, director, Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University

"A country obtains quality intelligence only if it has sound intelligence policies. In this fine volume, a smart and seasoned group of observers, all with direct intelligence operations experience, lays out the policies the United States must adopt in order to get the quality intelligence it so clearly needs."―Robert J. Art, Christian A. Herter Professor of International Relations, Brandeis University

"In this new security environment challenges are likely to arise out of confused and chaotic local settings, and involve nimble enemies that can lose themselves in civil society. In struggling to cope with these challenges, the U. S. intelligence community can appear lumbering and muscle-bound. To help the community raise its game, Jennifer Sims and Burton Gerber have brought together an expert group with inside knowledge and some imaginative proposals."―Lawrence Freedman, professor of war studies, King's College, London


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press; 1 edition (August 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589010698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589010697
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #679,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 3, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a valuable book and merits careful study by policymakers, practitioners, and students who may be future intelligence professionals. The book is not, however, transformative, nor is it particularly innovative, and for that, I must with reluctance limit it to four stars, but with the caveat that it is a "must read."

Some of the best contributions are those of Jennifer Sims, and the deeper that I read into the works of others, the more I wished that she had had the time to make the entire book her own, casting a broader net for iconoclastic thinkers, foreign intelligence practitioners, non-governmental experts in open source intelligence, religious and labor experts on foreign threats from foreign religions, whose thoughts do not appear in this book.

The book's major premise is that it was not the institutions that failed, but rather leadership--that all that is needed is a change in priorities, perspective, and methods. This is typical of books written by those who, by their own admission, were "part of the problem."

The section on new requirements is more than adequate if one wishes to continue to focus on unilateral secret intelligence about major state threats but fails to acknowledge that we earned a D, at best, on everything else, to include terrorism, proliferation, environmental scarcity, ethnic conflict, and dictatorial corruption (our friends) as a long-term threat to our vision of participatory democracy and moral capitalism. The requirements section suffers from a rather staid focus on states and "actor" threats, with little mention of history, geography, culture, religion, or demographics, all forces vastly more potent than your average failed state or single transnational group.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Margahm on March 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For those with an understanding of or great interest in the U.S. intelligence system this book offers a great collection of essays by a long list of intelligence experts on how improvements might be made. If you don't already have a solid understanding, however, you may struggle with understanding the full context as each essay is its own argument and there's not a building-up of an argument. I personally found the sections on technology and big data and open-source intelligence most useful. Some of the others that got deeply into systems I found a bit less useful.
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21 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Retired Reader on October 7, 2005
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This book is precisely what is not needed at this time: a generic look at "transforming" intelligence by a group of intelligent and sincere individuals who have virtually no understanding of how intelligence is actually produced. The authors who collaborated on this book include many with experience in the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) yet that experience scarcely extends to actually engaging in working level analysis and reporting, recruiting agents, interpreting fuzzy photographs or attempting to convert distorted signals into readable data. Burton Gerber, one of the authors is a retired CIA operations officer it is true, but my guess is that was a long time ago in a galaxy far away. If the IC is to be truly transformed, someone had better start considering such difficult problems as the culture of the workforce, the actual processes by which raw data is transformed into intelligence and the antiquated organizational structures and governance of U.S. intelligence agencies. So far no one either in the IC or at its fringes (with the exception of General Odom U.S.A. retired in a rather flawed book "Fixing Intelligence") have made any effort to even consider these problems except in the most general way. Creating an impotent Director of Central Intelligence and changing the faces managing the agencies of the IC is not going to solve anything.

Saying this book is not needed is not to say it is without value. Its contributing authors are thoughtful and careful writers. They are scholars or senior intelligence experts who clearly have thought long and hard about the issues presented the book. For your average private citizen or congressman who knows little about the IC this is a very good if very general book. Unfortunately what is needed is a detailed analysis of the operational working levels of the IC and the culture that guides it. I don't think the authors of this book are the ones to do that.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ceasar L. Martinez on February 12, 2009
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I had to purchase the book for school and we just started going through it, the information is on point and leaves an opening for many discussions. I received the book in more than a timely manner (surprisingly fast actually) and in pristine condition. Highly recommend.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen on February 8, 2008
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A good collection on intelligence community topics. It has a variety input since it is a collection of writings from vaious authors.
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