Fifteen Axioms for Intelligence Analysts
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WASHINGTON DC CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF INTELLIGENCE
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Recently, the Directorate of Intelligence DI has seen a spate of new thinking on its mission and on how it conducts that mission. As well-meaning and insightful as all this new thinking is, however, most is coming from senior DI managers, not from the analysts and other junior and mid-level officers who carry out the DIs mission on a daily basis. In addition, some frontline DI officers -- myself included -- would take exception to the idea that the concepts put forth in Tradecraft 2000 truly represent new thinking. Much of it is merely a return to the basics of DI tradecraft that many of us in the Directorate seem to have forgotten. Before leaving the DI on a rotational assignment, I endeavored to set down some of the axioms by which I have tried to live in my career. To experienced analysts, many of the principles will sound like truisms. But the new DI analyst, and more than a few old hands, would be well served by remembering these 15 principles in their everyday conduct. The principles are as follows 1 Believe in your own professional judgments 2 Be aggressive, and do not fear being wrong 3 It is better to be mistaken than to be wrong 4 Avoid mirror imaging at all costs 5 Intelligence is of no value if it is not disseminated 6 Coordination is necessary, but do not settle for the least common denominator 7 When everyone agrees on an issue, something probably is wrong 8 The consumer does not care how much you know, just tell him what is important 9 Form is never more important than substance 10 Aggressively pursue collection of information you need 11 Do not take the editing process too seriously 12 Know your Community counter parts and talk to them frequently 13 Never let your career take precedence over your job 14 Being an intelligence analyst is not a popularity contest and 15 Do not take your job or yourself too seriously.
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