The Recent Past and Future of Intelligence Politicization

"There is a thin line between the right and duty to formulate a policy based on subjective political values, and the conscious or unconscious temptation to abuse or ignore the intelligence process. It is one thing for a statesman to listen carefully to his intelligence advisers, then make a decision counter to their best judgment; and another for him to wield his political strength and authority in the interest of receiving only that information which conforms to his preconceived ideas and political biases. . . . It has been suggested that the unresolvable tension between policymaking and intelligence rests in fact on an unresolvable problem. For no one agrees on what is policy and what is intelligence."

-- Michael Handel, The Politics of Intelligence, 1987


How can we characterize the politicization of intelligence in the Bush years? And what are the portents for the integrity of intelligence in the Obama era? Before trying to answer those questions, it bears noting that it's almost impossible to find any serious student of intelligence who believes that intelligence, the intelligence cycle, or the intelligence community is, or has ever been, immune from politicization.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.