Daily Speculations

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Department of Connections

Yishen Kuik: Intelligence and Speculation

I was just reading my July 31st copy of the Economist, special article on Intelligence Services by guest writer Efraim Halevy, head of Mossad 1998-2002.

He made a few comments on Intelligence Services which was most perceptive, but also, I thought, highly illuminative with regards to speculation. I just had to write this down for the list.

#1 Hubris from Having Superior Resources

"Yet Israel's most costly and fateful failure was its mistaken estimate of Egyptian and Syrian intentions on the eve of the Yom Kippur war in 1973 ... At the time Israel had it all : superior intelligence ... excellent human resources, high level dialogue with more than one Arab or Muslim leader ...but despite all of the above, we got it wrong. The abundance of information led us to intelligence 'hubris': we trusted our superior analytical prowess rather than ominous indicators on the ground."

#2 Process is Secondary

"There is a belief that the more a system is streamlined, the greater the possibility that the final product will be accurate and properly exploited. That better organization is ....desirable cannot be disputed ... however this in itself will never produce the ultimate panacea and should not be a central focus of action."

#3 Group Thought

".. the danger of 'group thought' and the tendency to blur reservations and caveats as the intelligence product makes its way to the top. Intelligence is not a science, certainly not a natural science. It is an art or a craft ..."

#4 Creativity

"Intelligence officers must be gifted with imagination and creativity, enabling them to peer behind the curtain of apparent reality."