ANALYSIS

Estimative Intelligence

S - Z

Smith, Abbot E.

1. "Notes on 'Capabilities' in National Intelligence." Studies in Intelligence 1, no. 2 (Winter 1956): 1-18.

This article represents an early attempt to establish a functional doctrine for intelligence analysts (as opposed to military analysts) in writing national estimates.

2. "On the Accuracy of National Intelligence Estimates." Studies in Intelligence 13, no. 4 (Fall 1969): 25-35.

"A master estimator discusses the difficulties of scoring the accuracy of National Intelligence Estimates and of estimating in general."

Smith, Michael Douglas. "The Perils of Analysis: Revisiting Sherman Kent’s Defense of SNIE 85-3-62." Studies in Intelligence 51, no. 3 (2007): 29-32. [https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol51no3/index.html]

"The crucial lesson" to be drawn for SNIE 85-3-62 "is that simply being aware of our mental traps is not enough. To reduce the potential for analytic errors, some form of analytic structuring technique must be used to overcome cognitive traps." See Sherman Kent, "A Crucial Estimate Relived." Studies in Intelligence 8, no. 2 (Spring 1964): 1-18; and Studies in Intelligence 36, no. 5 (1992): 111-119.

Smith, R[ussell] J[ack]. "Coordination and Responsibility." Studies in Intelligence 1, no. 4 (Fall 1957): 19-26.

In recent years increased coordination has become a necessity "primarily because national intelligence has become an integral part of the complex machinery for planning and policymaking of the US Government.... National estimates are not scholarly essays. They are primarily work documents for planners and policymakers."

Stech, Frank J.

1. Estimating Intentions in Military and Political Intelligence. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1985.

2. Political and Military Intention Estimation: A Taxonometric Analysis. Bethesda, MD: Mathtech, Nov. 1979.

Steury, Donald P., ed. Sherman Kent and the Board of National Estimates: Collected Essays. Washington, DC: History Staff, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 1994.

Sherman Kent chaired the Board of National Estimates from 1952 to 1967. His influence in that time on the way the CIA and the intelligence community prepared the centerpiece National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) was substantial. This book brings together some of his writings on intelligence topics. Of particular significance is his article "The Law and Custom of the National Intelligence Estimate."

Treverton, Gregory F. "Estimating Beyond the Cold War." Defense Intelligence Journal 3, no. 2 (Fall 1994): 5-20.

Vice Chairman, National Intelligence Council (NIC).

U.S. Congress. House. Subcommittee on Evaluation. Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Iran: Evaluation of U.S. Intelligence Performance Prior to November 1978. 96th Cong., 1st sess., 1979. Committee print. Washington, DC: GPO, 1979.

Usowski, Peter S. "Intelligence Estimates and U.S. Policy toward Laos, 1960-63." Intelligence and National Security 6, no. 2 (Apr. 1991): 367- 394.

"On the whole, the assessments, judgements, and forecasts contained in the estimates were clear, well-founded, reliable, and, for the most part, accurate.... The available record shows that during Kennedy's three years of dealing with Laos the impact of intelligence estimates on major decisions was limited.... In specific policy areas, however, the CIA's assessments were influential."

Valero, Larry A. "An Impressive Record: The American Joint Intelligence Committee and Estimates of the Soviet Union, 1945-1947." Studies in Intelligence 9 (Summer 2000): 65-80.

This is an excellent introduction to one of the least known of U.S. intelligence organizations during and immediately after World War II. Although the focus of the article is on JIC's early estimates regarding the USSR for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, broader coverage of JIC formation and operation provide a useful and interesting background.

Vetterling, Philip, and Avis Waring. "Tonnage Through Tibet." Studies in Intelligence 7, no. 2 (Spring 1963): 1-25.

The author discusses a methodology for estimating "the size of military force that can be supported" in campaigns that are "dependant on supply by road." The central example is the "Communist Chinese threat along the northeastern border of India."

Waller, John H. "In Search of Wisdom: When Estimates Are Wrong and Actions Defy Logic." Intelligencer 15, no. 3 (Summer/Fall 2007): 39-41.

Philosophical musings on "wrong" intelligence estimates.

Wark, David L. "The Definition of Some Estimative Expressions." Studies in Intelligence 8, no. 4 (Fall 1964): 67-80.

"Survey shows general agreement on the meaning of 'probable' and some equivalents, elsewhere much disagreement."

Wheaton, Kristan J. "Evaluating Intelligence: Answering Questions Asked and Not." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 22, no. 4 (Winter 2009): 614-631.

"The fundamental problem with evaluating intelligence products is that intelligence, for the most part, is probabalistic." The author looks at the Iraq WMD estimate of October 2002 and two Intelligence Community Assessments (ICA) completed in January 2003 and concludes that considered together the estimative conclusions in the three documents "seem to track pretty well with historical norms and leadership expectations."

Wheaton, Kristan J. "The Revolution Begins on Page Five: The Changing Nature of NIEs." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 25, no. 2 (Summer 2012): 330-349.

The focus here is the "Explanation of Estimative Language."

Whitman, John. "On Estimating Reactions." Studies in Intelligence 9, no. 3 (Summer 1965): 1-6.

Estimating Communist reactions to a U.S. course of action is the "most fascinating and frustrating of the National Intelligence Estimates" that an estimates officer will write.

Zlotnick, Jack,. "A Theorem for Prediction." Studies in Intelligence 11, no. 4 (Winter 1967): 1-12.

"Experimental application of probability mathematics to predictive intelligence estimates reveals a disciplinary potential."

Return to Analysis Table of Contents