On June 4th, Dr. Thomas Fingar
, Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, spoke at the New America Foundation on public controversy surrounding recent National Intelligence Estimates and reforming the data collection and analysis processes used to generate them.
began by discussing the wide ranging process of data collection and intelligence input needed to produce a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a procedure that can include input from as many as sixteen different government agencies. He then explained the process used to generate a complete NIE, from conception to publication and presentation, which can take more than a year for cases such as Iran, where information is spotty and constantly changing.
He also called the flawed Iraq NIE a crucial “vehicle for transformation of the agency” which provided an impetus to implement wide ranging reforms in the NIE generation process, including: increased emphasis on source accuracy, noting and explaining dissenting opinions, the adoption of clear analytic standards, and the use of in-house analyst evaluations. Another important reform has been an extensive effort to sever analysis from political affiliations.
A question and answer session followed with questions including the differences between classified and publicly available NIE’s, the level of pre-existing politicization in the analysis process, and the utility of open source functions in data assembly and analysis.-Ian McAllister, Research Intern, American Strategy Program
New America Foundation
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