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Intelligence and Terrorism

Erik J. Dahl


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Comment on this article   Although the literature on intelligence and terrorism has burgeoned since the attacks of September 11, 2001, scholars and practitioners have long studied the challenges that terrorism presents for intelligence. It is widely agreed that terrorism is an especially difficult problem for intelligence agencies and officials, and that in response those agencies must increase their focus on domestic collection, expand efforts at international cooperation, and make greater use of human intelligence. But beyond these generalities there is little agreement in the literature on what specifically must be done to improve intelligence performance against terrorism, or even on whether significant improvement is possible. This essay reviews this literature and develops a typology of three schools of thought into which much of this work can be organized. It argues that even though the scholarly and policy literature on intelligence and terrorism has grown significantly in recent years, a number of areas remain understudied and deserve further research. As an example of the limits of the literature, more than eight years after 9/11 there has been surprisingly little in-depth, empirical work produced on the intelligence aspects of those attacks. Amy Zegart's Spying Blind ( Zegart 2007a ) is the first book-length academic study of that intelligence failure to be published; ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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