A Compendium of
Analytic Tradecraft Notes


Foreword by the Deputy Director for Intelligence

The core mission of the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence, which I head, has remained the same despite a decade rocked by profound changes in the world. As the analytical arm of the CIA, we seek to provide the most useful, high-quality analysis to US policymakers, lawmakers, warfighters, law enforcement officers, negotiators, and other officials responsible for protecting US national interests. Our analysis continues to draw from a wide range of sources - from newspapers to the most sensitive technical collection systems.

How we fulfill our mission, however, has changed dramatically. Intelligence analysts are challenged as never before to be creative and proactive in meeting intelligence needs. Long analytic papers largely focused on the Soviet threat worldwide that were the norm 10 years ago have given way to a combination of briefings and short but insightful written and multimedia products covering a broad range of regional and transnational issues.

Now more than ever, new products are tailored to the individual intelligence consumer's concerns. Our analysts put the highest premium on knowing what their consumers need.

The revolution in information technologies has improved our access to sources and our ability to quickly deliver intelligence. But it has also made our work more challenging as we are bombarded with information of varying quality, relevance, and depth.

To meet the challenge of political change and technological advances and take advantage of the opportunities they present, the Directorate of Intelligence has reexamined its core analytic "tradecraft" skills, updating them to reflect how we do our business. The word "tradecraft" comes from our colleagues in the clandestine service, who use it to embody the special skills and methods required to do their business. We have borrowed it to capture our special skills and methods.

We are making the Compendium of Analytic Tradecraft Notes available to scholars to shed light on how we support intelligence consumers. This release, although unusual for an intelligence agency, reflects our renewed commitment to reach out to academia and the public, as defined in the Directorate's new Strategic Plan.

Pursuit of expertise in analytic tradecraft is a central element of this plan. Our tradecraft enables analysts to provide "value-added" to consumers of intelligence by ensuring:

Analytic tradecraft skills also serve as "force multipliers," helping us provide top-quality analysis:

The author of the Tradecraft Notes is Jack Davis, a retired CIA officer who has spent 40 years as practitioner, teacher, and critic of intelligence analysis. The Notes benefited from the foresight and sharp editorial pen of F. Douglas Whitehouse, Chief of the Directorate's Product Evaluation Staff, during 1994-96. Above all, they reflect the strong commitment to raising analytic standards begun by my predecessor, Douglas E. MacEachin, who served during 1993-95.

Requests for additional copies of Tradecraft Notes or copies of the Strategic Plan should be addressed to my Communications Chief, Jon Nowick, on (703) 874-3882. I also welcome your comments on this volume as my colleagues and I work to enhance the way we serve our nation.

John C. Gannon
Deputy Director for Intelligence
Central Intelligence Agency

 

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