Intelligence and Surprise Attack: Failure and Success from Pearl Harbor to 9/11 and Beyond

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9781589019980: Intelligence and Surprise Attack: Failure and Success from Pearl Harbor to 9/11 and Beyond
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A defining book in understanding intelligence failure. It deserves to be a text studied heavily by students of intelligence, practitioners and policymakers. -- Kristian Gustafson International Studies Review Where this book breaks new ground is in the examination of warning of terrorist attack, an area where there is comparatively (and surprisingly) little in the way of scholarly research and publication ... Professor Dahl has produced a well-written and thought provoking book that provides well-researched analysis of what makes warning intelligence work. It is a worthy addition to the scholarly literature on indications and warning and 'Intelligence failure.' Proceedings A seminal work of original scholarship and should be a part of every community and academic library Security Studies & Intelligence collection. Midwest Book Review It encourages the comparison of cases of intelligence failure and success and thus fills an important gap in existing literature on intelligence failures and paves way for future research. Furthermore, it provides a valuable dataset on unsuccessful terrorist attacks against Americans and American targets for future research ... It is an important book and in time will find its place among other classic and prominent works on the phenomenon of surprise attacks. Intelligence and National Security Too many assume failure is inevitable, but [the author] shows that it isn't and explains how to make intelligence far more reliable to avoid future surprise attacks. The Intelligencer

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Why do surprise attacks-whether from terrorists or from conventional enemies-succeed even when some advance warning frequently seems clear in hindsight? Ever since Pearl Harbor the conventional wisdom has been that surprise attacks succeed because intelligence and national security officials lack the imagination or capacity to "connect the dots" from the available information or lack "game-changing" strategic intelligence. But this work argues that the conventional wisdom is wrong: by comparing cases where intelligence failed to anticipate and stop a surprise attack with cases where intelligence did prevent the attack, Dahl find that the key to success is not more imagination. Rather the acquisition of specific, tactical-level intelligence, combined with the presence of decisionmakers who are receptive to the warnings they are given makes the difference. Strategic intelligence is often what decisionmakres say they want, but Dahl finds that in practice, strategic intelligence is generally non-specific and thus doesn't foster a sense of urgency to act. This book offers a theory of preventive action and advances the literatures on intelligence and surprise attack.

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