Panel 10: Practical Problems of Analysis Post 9/11 Part 11: Practitioners' Perspectives
Chair: Robert Fahlman, CISC
Presenters: Richard Evans, Jane's; Stuart Farson, Simon Fraser University; Steven Rieber, Sherman Kent Center
Rapporteur: Ross O'Connor, Laval University
This panel focused on the problems of analysis of intelligence in a post 9/11 world. These included three distinct themes: the exploitation and access to open source data, the concept of risk, and methods for improving judgment in the analysis field.
Steven Rieber of the Sherman Kent Center based his presentation around some of the methods of analyzing intelligence and how to determine which tend to be the useful and efficient. Mr. Rieber suggested that in order to make these determinations, there must be empirical testing through various scenarios with measured results. Conclusions can then be made about efficiency. He invoked such methods as averaging out opinions of experts rather that finding a consensus and argument mapping as promising new concepts in judgment analysis.
Stuart Farson of Simon Fraser University dealt principally with the question of risk and how intelligence agencies deal with risk. Often citing the previous work of Erikson in the same field, he compared how different professions, such as police and insurance, deal with risk, and how these might be applied to the intelligence world. The most compelling undercurrent of the discussion was how each individual perceives risk in different ways and how this, ultimately, will outcome risk determination. Some surprising findings were that organized crime, human security and the environment were not found to be among the individual immediate risk as opposed to WMD for example.
Richard Evans of the Jane's Information group made a point regarding the management of the vast amounts of information available to intelligence analysts. He argued that open source intelligence such as Jane's, are useful as they bring new points of view to problems even if they do not provide new information. He also stressed the need for better categorization of information and better designed databases to help analysts sift through the very tidal wave of information available in today's global village.
An interesting commentary was brought forth by Blair Seaborn about the distinction was to be made between a more scientific analysis of risk versus a more social or gut feeling interpretation of it. He also made the point of the importance of looking towards long-term problems such as disease, migration patterns and population growth rather than focus solely on terrorist threat.
A final question rounded out the session by asking how to reward the better analysts as to prevent them from leaving the public service to the private sector. All agreed this was a problem that needed to be addressed sooner rather than later and that certain measures were already underway.
Panel 11: Failed States and the Progress of Democracy in the Western Hemisphere
Chair: Gérard Hervouet, Université Laval
Presenters: Paz Buttedahl, Royal Roads University; Margaret Purdy, University of British Columbia; Cristina Rojas, Carleton University
Rapporteur: Jorim Disengomoka, Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, University of
Paz Buttedahl focused on two points; the notion of failed states and Canada roles in nation building. From her experiences, she notes that 1) new knowledge reflect to capacity building and 2) failed states absorb too much energy and no noticeable change emerge from intervention. Therefore, she suggested that for Canada to be effective in nation building, its intelligence apparatus should be random and more effective than specific and less effective, and that failed states have 3 stages available to them to be off the list of the failed states status. They are as follows; 1) Government assistance: ask a neighbor country to help you manage your affairs, 2) Partial state control: the state gives partial power to the UN, and 3) Relinquish power: the state gives full control to the UN.
Margaret Purdy started the forum by asking the question; how critical it is to engage in national security? Intelligence, police, military, and long-term policies development are critical pillars for national security. She identified the first three pillars have been given 100% consideration without properly identifying the root causes of Islamic terrorist. She stated that there are 10 factors for root causes of Islamic terrorist but due to the fast paste of the forum, only 8 are listed: 1) Poverty, 2) Youth population: susceptible to any teaching and doctrine, 3) Failed states, 4) Repressive regime, 5) U.S policies, 6) The rise of radical Islamic school, 7) Anger & humiliation, 8) Globalization. But since 9/11, the root causes has been put in the last pages of every majors policies or documents published by governments. By not tackling the root causes, governments will get no tangible results and unfinished business will be left for the first three pillars to produce results like we have seen in Iraq, a full scale military attack on terrorism.
Cristina Rojas admits that we are not getting it right when the subject of failed states is on the menu. Failed states are unable to govern themselves thus they poses a problem to global security, something should be done but what? She used Columbia as example for the war on terror. Although, Columbia is not a failed state to warrant international scrutiny for the war on terror, Columbia is plague by the war on drugs, which is equally and formidable as the war on terror. A failed Columbia will threaten the U.S with an unprecedented influx of drugs and refugees. Another path has to be established to properly fight the war on drugs, because increase U.S policies in the regions bring about the decrease of solidarity among ambient states. Ambient states are states that rest between the western hemisphere and North America.
Panel 12: The Intelligence-Policy Interface: Have We Got It Right?
Chair: John Neily, RCMP Criminal Intelligence Directorate
Presenters: Michael Herman, Oxford University; Dan Livermore, Foreign Affairs Canada; Philip Davies, Brunel Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies
Rapporteur: Jeff T. Grenon, NPSIA (Conflict Analysis), Carleton University
Michael Herman's presentation posed a straightforward question: "Does intelligence do more harm than good for international relations?" He lamented that the consequences of Intelligence Community (IC) assessment failings on Iraqi WMD were more damning than the mere loss of prestige for the IC, but in fact, have spoiled the stature of good government itself. Tragically, these failings were not inevitable, as it was not the information on Iraqi WMD that deceived the IC, but instead, the IC "deceived itself". Herman then postulated that there may be no such thing as intelligence objectivity at all, given that "Anglo-Saxon spectacles" are too often used to arrive at conclusions. In examining these difficult questions Herman nevertheless remained optimistic about the utility of intelligence as a "force for good". The most important way to accomplish this, he said, was the most simple to conceptualize, yet the most difficult to implement: namely, have good people apply good judgment within a policy system that both supports and demands such apolitical assessments. Herman hinted, however, that such common sense views unfortunately remain quite uncommon.
Dan Livermore's presentation focused on four maxims: first, that intelligence is actually a simple business, noting that it is often the relationship between the IC and policymakers that too-often makes it more difficult than it necessarily must be. Second, intelligence failures are actually rare; instead, the problem lays in the misinterpretation of intelligence jargon by policy-makers, in particular confusion over words such as "likely and highly probable". Third, intelligence should be a matter of information demand focused on client needs, as opposed to the IC defining the issues and 'targets' of intelligence for policy-makers. Finally, intelligence is "only information," as opposed to the more common rendering of intelligence as being what one does with such information. This last point was elaborated-on with particular emphasis on what Livermore called "CheapInt" or 'open-source' information and the utility of this for IC assessments and in turn, for policy-makers.
Philip Davies' presentation answered the question "are we getting it right" with an unequivocal "NO". He pointed to the structural problem within the U.S. IC whereby various departments and agencies bided "for market share" of the finite space within assessments destined for the highest echelons of government. Policymakers in turn utilized those assessments most favorable to Administration goals on Iraq, despite the lack of consensus within the IC itself. As for the U.K., Davies delivered a scathing report about how rampant pre-dispositions on Iraqi WMD by a few key policymakers led to the cautionary character of the IC assessments being essentially ignored. He concludes that the assessments were not used to inform policymakers, but rather, to act as a post-invasion public-persuasion tool. Davis even breached the taboo by 'naming-names' within the U.K. he contends are responsible for these biases.
Wrap-Up Panel: Summary and Conclusions
Chair: Tony Campbell, Campbell Intel Services Inc., CASIS President
Presenters: Markus Ederer, Germany; Martin Rudner, Carleton University; Reg Whitaker, University of Victoria
Rapporteur: Liam van Beek, MA, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS
The Wrap-up session presented an overview of the many topics that had been considered by previous panels over the two days of the conference. Most of these panels centered on the question: "Are we as Canadians getting it right?" Over the course of the conference this question has been answered with varying responses from a variety of academics and policy makers.
Richard Aldrich set the tone of the discussion by first contrasting what he called American "targetism" to the broader application of intelligence in Canada. This theme of a wide-ranging intelligence policy that looks beyond a narrow definition of terrorism dominated the final remarks of the conference.
Markus Ederer continued, noting that the application of policy and the study of intelligence must incorporate an understanding of the many socio-economic factors that are the root causes of conflict in the world today. Ederer commented that drawing attention away from "terrorism" and looking at issues such as education and the environment will lead us to a more balanced and successful relationship with countries in conflict.
Martin Rudner explained that while the conference panelists demonstrated extensive knowledge and insight on the role of intelligence, law enforcement, the armed forces and state building, he also noted that there was a striking silence in the area of public awareness. Rudner elaborated saying that we as Canadians need to recognize the real threat that terrorism poses to our value system, and to our own national security. He stressed that in order to accomplish this, it is necessary to increase and make available valuable information to the public.
Finally, Reg Whitaker, coming back to the issue of targetism, argued that the American approach has focused too narrowly on persons and not enough on the process of terrorism. By declaring war on particular tactic, American policy makers have drawn attention away from the broader significance of the terrorist threat, centering instead on the toppling of specific regimes and the overthrow of individual terrorist organizations and networks. Whitaker concluded that a broader framework is necessary to properly fight terrorism, and that Canadians, by actively participating in the process, were indeed on the way to getting it right.