Getting Intelligence History Right: Reflections and Recommendations from the Inside

Nicholas Dujmovic

in The Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780195375886
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Getting Intelligence History Right: Reflections and Recommendations from the Inside

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From its earliest years, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has counted on various specialists it has employed, particularly historians, to document, reflect on, and interpret the Agency's past with an view to understanding its present and future. Intelligence organizations like the CIA employ historical staff because of the idea that history aids the intelligence agency to figure out who they are by illuminating the value of the often misunderstood profession, the mistakes and achievements of the past and how they came about, and the ways to improve work and appreciation of the reasons for public criticism, distrust, and the occasional call to disband the CIA. The CIA History Staff has an external function although its most important function is internal. Even so, the internal historical function of the CIA History Staff depends on the histories and historical treatments of CIA conducted by outsiders. Intelligence historians working within the CIA and outside historians mutually benefit from the works of each other. Intelligence historians directly benefit from outside histories so do outside historians from the work of CIA historians. This article describes the function and work of “inside” intelligence historians. It offers some recommendations for “outside” historians to make their work more precise and relevant to all.

Keywords: Central Intelligence Agency; historians; CIA; historical staff; history; CIA History Staff; intelligence historians; inside intelligence historians; outside

Article.  7678 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations

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