An invisible government agency called the ‘National Intelligence Council’ produces crucial national security intelligence, but is anyone listening?


This year marks the 40th anniversary of a little-known U.S. organization that has provided crucial intelligence and analysis to presidents for all those decades: the National Intelligence Council.

Right after World War II, President Harry Truman understood that the United States was embarking into a new world order and required, in the words of one observer, guidance on “the big job – the carving out of United States destiny in the world as a whole.”

He established a Board of National Estimates deliberately outside the White House, State Department and Pentagon so that strategic intelligence would be provided with a degree of independence and detachment.

As national security scholars and practitioners, we believe it was a wise judgment. In our experience, when intelligence analysts are close to policy operators, the risk grows that assessments will be cut to suit the cloth of policy – a frequent problem with military intelligence.

In the 1970s, the

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