Intelligence Analysis in an Uncertain Environment

William M. Nolte

in The Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Intelligence Analysis in an Uncertain Environment


This article discusses intelligence analysis in an uncertain environment. It discusses the development of intelligence analysis and the challenges faced by the intelligence services at the end of the Cold War. While the Cold War ended one aspect of the national security environment, it was preceded by the information revolution. The duration of this transforming change, its pervasive impact, and its two-edged implications make this the center of any effort to renew twenty-first-century analysis and analytic methodology. The article also discusses the still ongoing information revolution. In this environment, information scarcity was the norm not the exception. In the twentieth century, with the rise of totalitarian regimes whose first order of business was information control in the service of state security, even the flows of information formerly available, were closed off. This development forced responses even from democratic states. One direct consequence was the development of better and more complex intelligence organizations to collect, evaluate, and analyze information. The other, slightly more indirect, was the increase in the emphasis on covertly acquired information, with the resulting devaluation of information openly acquired. This development, in the Second World War, accelerated in the Cold War, especially in what became a “golden age of technical intelligence”. Other topics included are: the fiduciary relationship between the analyst and client, the development of analytic research, and the ethics of twenty-first-century analysis.

Keywords: intelligence analysis; development; information revolution; complex intelligence organizations; technical intelligence; fiduciary relationship; analyst and client; analytic research; twenty-first-century analysis

Article.  8263 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations

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