The Perils of Politicization

Paul R. Pillar

in The Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Perils of Politicization

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  • Politics
  • International Relations



Objectivity is inherent to the meaning of intelligence. However, objectivity is often challenged by the emergence of politicization and preferences. Politicization is the compromise of the objectivity of intelligence or of how intelligence is used to serve policy or political aims. Politicization of intelligence arises from a broad spectrum. It may come from senior policymakers, from the intelligence officers themselves, and from the public. This article discusses politicization and the dangers of it. First, it discusses the two basic forms of politicization: the public use of intelligence by the policymakers in bolstering support for their policies; and the influence of political or policy preferences on the judgments of intelligence services and intelligence officers. It also discusses the responses of the intelligence system to influences and the implications of politicization and the prospect of combating politicization.

Keywords: objectivity; intelligence; politicization; politicization of intelligence; forms of politicization; public use; policy preferences; influence; implications of politicization

Article.  6293 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations

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