Welcome to the Blog

I created this blog to share some of my posts from my grad school studies
at Mercyhurst University.

I’ve always had an interest in world events, international relations, and intelligence analysis. For the first time in my life, I have the ability to combine all three.

Feel free to comment and offer your thoughts and opinions. I hope that I can learn as much from you as you can learn from me.

(As a side note, all sources are cited in APA format…to the best of my ability! I don’t claim to be an expert in APA, and am still learning the proper way to format all sorts of sources.)


Intelligence Failure: Iraq and WMDs

Intelligence Failure of Iraq allegedly having WMDs 

I would argue that this intelligence failure is a failure in strategic intelligence. To do that I would like to first define strategic intelligence. This definition has a military slant, which I believe is applicable to this discussion: “the product of gathering information about foreign military capabilities, intentions, plans, dispositions, and equipment; analyzing the contents of that information; and disseminating the findings to decision makers, combat troops, and other recipients” (cited in Haigler, 2012, p. 51). 

The failure occurred in two places in the intelligence cycle: collection and analysis. Both of these are critical in strategic intelligence as noted in the above definition. The chart in this unit’s Prezi showed that the collection failure included missing key information and failure in denial and deception. The analysis failure was in poor imagination, faulty assumptions made, misrepresenting information, and an uncorrected impact of denial (Nitsch, 2016).  Continue reading

America after 9/11: Are we safer?

The below discussion focuses on the question is America any safer since 9/11 and has the intelligence community been politicized. Before writing this post, I viewed Frontline’s video report “Top Secret America – 9/11 to the Boston Bombings” at http://video.pbs.org/video/2365004424/. As a side note, this post was originally authored in the beginning of April 2016.

September 11, 2001: Policy Implications 

The United States’ reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks was unprecedented. The President and the Congress were willing to take whatever measures were necessary to bring the terrorists to justice. This included, first, the relaxing of the “normal” rules America has played by in the past, and second, a massive amount of spending. Central to the policy shift was the broad Authorization of Use of Military Force (S.J. Res. 23), which was granted to the President by Congress and the executive interpretation of the boundaries (Yoo, 2007). 

In an interview with Frontline, former CIA attorney John Rizzo, was asked about the one billion dollars President Bush gave the CIA to respond to the attacks. Rizzo stated that before the money could be addressed, they needed a presidential authorization or finding. In reference to the finding that was drafted, Rizzo stated, “I have never in my experience been part of or ever seen a presidential authorization as far-reaching and as aggressive in scope. It was extraordinary” (Moughty, 2011, para. 18). 

The phrase Rizzo recalled was from Cofer Black, former head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. He approached this very aggressively and referred to it as “take(ing) the gloves off” (Moughty, 2011). His meaning was described as the President wanting options and operations to find those responsible for the attacks and prevent them from happening again (Moughty, 2011, para. 24). 

CIA’s response to 9/11

Cofer Black and the CIA had options ready for the president—everything from enhanced interrogation to renditions to later building their own jails in foreign countries. These actives were guided by the broad legal interpretations of executive authority (Yoo, 2007).  The CIA was also the first to have “boots on the ground” in Afghanistan as part of Operation Greystone. President Bush wanted the CIA in there first to wage a covert war. They did this by keeping the number of CIA personnel low and working with locals. It showed that the CIA was capable of fighting—and winning—battles (Frontline, 2013). Michael Morell, former Deputy Director of the CIA, noted, “This was the CIA’s finest hour . . . A handful of CIA officers working closely with a small number of military Special Forces operators moved mountains . . . Twenty-first century military tactics merged flawlessly with methods from the seventeenth century” (Morell, 2015, p. 70). Morell gives credit for the CIA’s success to building a relationship with Afghan tribal leaders. Money probably didn’t hurt either: “One of my friends once delivered a briefcase holding a million dollars to one of the key Northern Alliance leaders” (Morell, 2015, p.70).  Continue reading

A Confederate Spy: Rose O’Neal Greenhow

Spy:  Rose O’Neal Greenhow


Source: Wikimedia Commons. Library of Congress.

Spied for:  Confederacy

Time Frame:  Civil War

Rose O’Neal Greenhow was born in Maryland, and raised by an aunt in Washington, D.C. She was reportedly a beautiful, intelligent woman who captured the eye of many men. At the age of 26, she married Dr. Robert Greenhow, 43, of Virginia (Burgess). Between her own intelligence and charms and with her husband’s connections, she had many well-known, powerful friends and found herself among Washington’s powerful social circles. Some of those with whom she associated were Dolly Madison and Daniel Webster. The important person–the one who helped fuel her devotion to the South–was John C. Calhoun, a statesmen from South Carolina (Farquhar, 2000).

After her husband died, Rose stayed in Washington with their children. By then there was no question that she was a Southern sympathizer (Smithsonian Institution). When the war began, she went a step farther, becoming an activist for the Confederacy (Burgess). Rose came to know Lt. Col. Thomas Jordan who was establishing a spy ring in the Capitol. He taught Rose how to use a 26-symbol cypher, and Jordan used her connections to Washington’s elite to gather information about the Federal troops (Burgess). Continue reading

Threats to Israel from the IDF POV

Threats to Israel from the Perspective of the Israeli Defense Forces

While Mossad is likely the more well-known intelligence agency in Israel, the IDF—Israeli Defense Forces (Israel’s military)—has its own intelligence component called the Intelligence Corps. The mission of the Corps is twofold: first to supply the military and the government with warnings when Israel is at war, and second, to provide warnings about terrorist organizations (IDF, 2015).


WikiMedia Commons image taken by The Israeli Defense Forces. 22 July 2014, 18:03

The Corps uses a variety of methods to collect information—everything from the media to electronic sources. They are always looking to improve their methods of collection, processing, and evaluation through the use of new tools and systems (IDF, 2015). 

In August 2015, Lt. General Gadi Eisenkot, IDF’s Chief of Staff, released a public version of the IDF’s five-year plan, simply titled “IDF Strategy” (Melman, 2015). The doctrine espoused in the Strategy is based on four pillars: deterrence, early warning, decisive outcome, and defense. Continue reading