Cover: Reshaping National Intelligence for an Age of Information

Reshaping National Intelligence for an Age of Information

Posted on 2001

by Gregory F. Treverton

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The world of intelligence has been completely transformed by the ending of the Cold War and the onset of an age of information. Prior to the 1990s, U.S. government intelligence had one principal target, the Soviet Union; a narrow set of "customers," the political and military officials of the U.S. government; and a limited set of information from the sources they owned, spy satellites and spies. Today, world intelligence has many targets, numerous consumers — not all of whom are American or in the government — and too much information, most of which is not owned by the U.S. government and is of widely varying reliability. In this bold and penetrating study, Gregory Treverton, former Vice Chair of the National Intelligence Council and Senate investigator, offers his insider's view on how intelligence gathering and analysis must change. He suggests why intelligence needs to be both contrarian, leaning against the conventional wisdom, and attentive to the longer term, leaning against the shrinking time horizons of Washington policymakers. He urges that the solving of intelligence puzzles taps expertise outside government — in the academy, think tanks, and Wall Street — to make these parties full colleagues and co-consumers of intelligence, befitting the changed role of government from doer to convener, mediator, and coalition-builder.

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