New Report: Challenging Biases and Assumptions in Analysis: Could Israel Have Averted Intelligence Failure?

The human tragedy continuing to unfold in Gaza and Israel reminds us how important it is to get strategic forecasting right. While in no way excusing Hamas’ culpability for 7 October, we also cannot dismiss the fact that the failure to anticipate and prepare for such an attack has had grave consequences for communities on both sides of this conflict, undermined efforts to bring peace and prosperity to the region, and affected global interests through the expansion of the conflict to the Red Sea and potentially beyond.

Read more of our new report written by Beth Sanner and Adam Siegel here: https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/challenging-biases-and-assumptions-analysis-could-israel-have-averted-intelligence

The Intelligence Project seeks to build a new generation of intelligence practitioners prepared to serve in a rapidly changing world and to help future policymakers and intelligence consumers understand how best to interact with intelligence to gain a decision advantage. Building on multi-disciplinary research being conducted at the Belfer Center, from history to human rights and cyber technologies, the Intelligence Project links intelligence agencies with Belfer researchers, Faculty, and Kennedy School students, to enrich their education and impact public policy.

Intelligence Practice: Rapidly changing technology, epochal geopolitical shifts, and evolving conflict dynamics, will all severely challenge the work of intelligence agencies in the decades to come. Traditional threats such as terrorism, great power competition, and espionage, have been joined by new challenges posed by cyber-attack, massively scaled disinformation, and climate change. The Intelligence Project examines the intelligence methodologies, technologies, human cadres, and organizational structures, which will shape how well intelligence agencies protect nations facing these challenges. It does so through weekly term-term speaker and discussion events, which explore fundamental questions about the use and abuse of intelligence by governments— past, present, and future.

Intelligence and Policy: For many aspiring policy-makers, the first time they are exposed to the capabilities and benefits of the intelligence community in policy-making happens when they arrive at their first government job authorizing them a security clearance.  This is too late to prepare to wade through the reams of classified data, which can either illuminate or obfuscate reality depending on the ability of a reader to interpret it. The Intelligence Project acquaints students and Fellows with the intelligence community and its strengths and weaknesses for policy making.  Discussions with active and retired intelligence practitioners, scholars of intelligence history, law, and other disciplines, help students and Fellows prepare to best use the information available through intelligence agencies while avoiding the pitfalls of over-reliance on intelligence products in making policy.

Recanati-Kaplan Fellows Program:  The Intelligence Project sponsors the Recanati-Kaplan Foundation Fellows Program, which educates the next generation of thought leaders in national and international intelligence and supports their research to develop policy-relevant knowledge for the most pressing security issues.

Elbe Group: As US and Soviet forces converged in Germany in the final days of WWII, soldiers from both armies met at the River Elbe near Torgau. That historic meeting of comrades, united in the face of common threats, is the inspiration for the creation of the Elbe Group to maintain an open and continuous channel of communication on sensitive issues of US-Russian relations.  The members of the Elbe Group are senior retired military and intelligence flag officers, all of whom have strong connections back into their governments. It is an unprecedented gathering of senior veterans from the Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU), Ministry of Defense, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and Department of Defense (DoD).

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INTELLIGENCE STUDY GROUP 

The Intelligence Project is now accepting applications for the Spring 2024 Study Group. 

Please submit your application by completing the application form by January 29th, 11:59pm.

The Intelligence Study Group is designed for Harvard students considering careers in government or the private sector as well as those interested in a broad introduction to intelligence. Over 10 sessions, participants study fundamentals, history, methodology, and organizations. The group uses case studies, scholarly works, and vibrant discussion to examine how intelligence enhances decision-making, supports policy, where it fails, and the differences between democracies and one-party states.

Sessions are co-convened by the Belfer Center Intelligence Project including Director Mark Pascale, Harvard Lecturer and Project Manager Dr. Michael Miner, Project Manager Dr. Maria Robson-Morrow, and Intelligence Historian Dr. Calder Walton. In addition, many sessions feature special guests from the Belfer Center Intelligence Project's core group of fellows and school visitors. Each session offers a grounding in core intelligence concepts alongside deep practitioner experience and insight on world affairs.

Participation is limited to 30 students determined by application. The study group is open to all Harvard students, faculty, fellows, and staff. No prior experience with, or knowledge of, the topic is necessary. Participation in discussion and weekly attendance is expected by successful applicants. The study group is conducted under Chatham House Rules and located on the HKS campus. 

We will meet on Wednesday afternoons from 4:30PM to 6:00PM beginning February 7 through April 24. The application will remain open until January 29 at midnight with initial decisions shortly thereafter.