National Intelligence Council Project

Summary: CISSM''s National Intelligence Council (NIC) Project, was initiated in late 1999 and managed by Bill Lahneman to make the U.S. intelligence community aware of the leading scholarly research on:
  • Broad trends shaping the future international environment,
  • Potential future threats to U.S. and global security, and
  • Opportunities and challenges that these developments pose for the continued peace and prosperity of the United States and the stability of the international system.
A two-volume final report on "The Future of Intelligence Analysis" was published in March 2006.Bill Nolte is now the Director of the Program in Intelligence Research and Education (PIRE) at the Maryland School of Public Policy. The School also continues to provide executive programs in intelligence analysis and counterterrorism for government and private sector clients.Jump to PapersDescription:Given the continuing information revolution, intelligence organizations cannot hope to be the sole source and repository of privileged information upon which policy makers base many crucial decisions. Rather, intelligence analysis can profit greatly by tapping into the vast expertise, research, and other information found in academia, nongovernmental organizations, the business sector, and various intergovernmental organizations. The NIC Project''s goal was to enhance policy formulation by improving the breadth and depth of the analyses upon which policies are based. To this end, the project brought groups of scholars and other experts together with members of the U.S. intelligence community to examine central questions about the international challenges facing the United States in the twenty-first century. The project utilized both foreign and domestic open sources of information. All work was conducted on an unclassified basis.Initially, the project assisted the NIC in formulating its views on the evolution of the nation-state in conjunction with the publication of Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment Experts.Next, it investigated the sources of intrastate or internal conflict, the factors affecting the intensity and duration of violent internal conflict, the role of third party military intervention in these conflicts, and the rationale and mechanics associated with post-conflict nation-building efforts. This work was summarized in William J. Lahneman, ed., Military Intervention: Cases in Context for the Twenty-First Century (Boulder, CO: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004).Other projects'' topics have included:
  • Prospects for Succession and the Orderly Evolution of Political Power in Cuba
  • The Dynamics of Islamic Politics
  • Organized Crime and the Corruption of State Institutions
  • The Future of the Internet
  • Methodologies for Measuring Sustainable Development
  • The Economics of HIV/AIDS
  • The Implications of Climate Change
The project then assisted with the NIC 2020 Project, an ambitious, yearlong study that will engaged a broad range of foreign and domestic experts and challenged them to think in new and provocative ways about the forces that will drive global developments to the year 2020.Typically, each phase of the project began with a survey of the scholarly literature and a poll of leading scholars to identify the different and often competing approaches to the topic in question. Then, relevant experts were invited to participate in the project through one or more of its venues for conveying information directly to the members of the NIC.
  • Expert consultations - One or two experts are brought in for discussions with the appropriate National Intelligence Officers (NIOs).
  • Workshops - These one-day events expose several NIOs (and often members from other intelligence agencies) to short presentations by three or four experts. The goal is to showcase several research efforts that, when taken together, provide insights into a number of dimensions of the topics under examination while highlighting disagreements among findings.
  • Commissioned Papers - When appropriate, the project asks a scholar to draft a short paper summarizing his/her view of a subject. A group of papers on related topics may be commissioned with the intention of providing the NIC with a comprehensive view of some multi-faceted phenomenon (e.g. non-state actors) that is best captured by the use of several scholars, each of whom has expertise in a particular aspect of the subject area.
  • Conferences - These one-day events present all of the findings on a particular topic to an audience drawn from a variety of U.S. government agencies. Conferences include not only summary presentations by scholars who have already contributed to the understanding of the topic through consultations, workshops, and papers, but also presentations by new participants.

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