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National Security Intelligence

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4940-5
256 pages
December 2011, Polity
National Security Intelligence (0745649408) cover image


National security intelligence is a vast, complicated, and important topic, made doubly hard for citizens to understand because of the thick veils of secrecy that surround it. 

This definitive introduction to the field guides readers skillfully through this hidden side of government. It not only explains the three primary missions of intelligence – information collection and analysis, counterintelligence, and covert action – it also explores the wider dilemmas posed by the existence of secret government organizations in 'open' societies. With over thirty-five years of experience studying intelligence agencies and their activities, Loch Johnson illuminates difficult questions such as why intelligence organizations make mistakes in assessing world events; why some intelligence officers decide to work against their own country on behalf of foreign regimes; and how agencies succumb to scandals, including spying on the very citizens they are meant to protect.

National Security Intelligence is tailor-made to meet the interests of students and general readers who care about how nations protect themselves against threats through the establishment of intelligence organizations - and how they continue to strive for safeguards to prevent the misuse of this secret power.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables vi

List of Abbreviations viii

Preface: The Study of National Security Intelligence xii

Acknowledgments xvi

1 The First Line of Defense 1

2 Intelligence Collection and Analysis: Knowing about the World 35

3 Covert Action: Secret Attempts to Shape History 77

4 Counterintelligence: The Hunt for Moles 109

5 Safeguards against the Abuse of Secret Power 144

6 National Security Intelligence: Shield and Hidden Sword of the Democracies 177

Notes 187

Suggested Readings 213

Index 218

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Author Information

Loch K. Johnson is Regents Professor of International Affairs at the University of Georgia.
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"In this finely crafted introduction, Loch Johnson offers a lively and accessible overview of the issues, theories, and themes that constitute both the study and practice of intelligence."
James J. Wirtz, Naval Postgraduate School, California

"As the Cambridge historian of intelligence Christopher Andrew observed, it's a shame that the best-known figure in intelligence, James Bond, is both fictional and very misleading about intelligence officers and their work. There is no one better than Loch Johnson to serve as a corrective. His lifelong scholarship has been more than punctuated by stints inside intelligence on Capitol Hill. And this volume does just that correcting, laying out clearly the basic intelligence functions as well as the challenge of accountability in the American democracy. So, too, his twin themes are wise reminders often lost in the din of public recriminations: intelligence does not and cannot predict the future, and its agencies, almost by nature, can be a danger to open society."
Gregory Treverton, RAND, California

"This book provides an illuminating guide to issues of national security intelligence organization, mission, and accountability. Written by one of the key thinkers in the field, it is an excellent introduction to the subject."
Mark Phythian, University of Leicester

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