Critical Intelligence studies

1. What is “intelligence”? Does the United States need an intelligence function?

The term intelligence refers to the collecting and processing of information concerning foreign nations and their agents. A government requires the information for its policy and national security, implementation of foreign policy, product and process protection, and protecting the nation against unauthorized disclosure. Intelligence involves the conduct of covert activities abroad to enhance foreign policy implementation. Covert in this context is non-attributable, implying that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure the events are not disclosed; this explains why the United States needs an intelligence function.

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According to the history related to the end of the cold world war and lessened focus on the former Soviet Union, it is arguably essential to have an intelligence function to help the community focus on the new mission or justify its existence (Hess, and Friedel). Contrary to the core mission of the U.S, intelligence has remained relatively constant. They have been some positive impacts on the nation as a result of the substantial shift and support from the intelligence department away from the cold war targets. As a result, the intelligence agency’s missions are still expected to perform continuously. The U.S has two primary intelligence functions, the first one is collecting and analysis, and the second one is covert actions. These functions are essential for a nation once they are understood and accepted. However, in most instances, covert operations have received rejections as a suitable intelligence purpose because of the limited understanding about the critical need for counterintelligence (Hidek). The covert function is essential, but it must be reliable with regard to the precise U.S foreign policy missions in the targeted area. It should be undertaken in areas with compelling reasons, and the nation’s involvement cannot be disclosed.

Additionally, the range of the covert function should be known to ensure that the strategies used are only aggressive as expected to accomplish the objectives.

Another need for an intelligence function in the U.S is counterintelligence. This includes identifying and examining foreign intelligence activities and services. It supports also supports investigating employees suspected of espionage, among other essential needs. There is a need for a continuous and genuine evaluation of the intelligence collection to avoid any intelligence abnormalities common among some intelligence analysts. Historically, most of the intelligence agencies have failed in performing crucial functions as expected. The majority of them have experienced severe loses because they were unable to acknowledge the unusual behavior concerning their employees. For instance, the Ames spy case openly reveals the critical issues in the intelligence categories. In the Ames case, the intelligence community started overhaul changes to its intelligence framework, where new leaders were assigned to manage counterintelligence activities and to evaluate information concerning foreign intelligence threats.

U.S also needs intelligent functions to provide support to its military operations as its traditional core mission. The mission involves caution of attacks on the U.S territory and also giving information essential in planning for and carrying out all kinds of military missions. It also consists of important provision essential in supporting the military forces, their location, morale, and capabilities. This mission is still rapidly expanding to date. An example of a situation where intelligence function is essential is during the end of the cold war, where the commission discovered that the U.S requires constant and persistent intelligent factions.

2. An example of overseas covert activity in which the United States has engaged. Was it an intelligence success or an intelligence failure?

A covert is one of the many foreign policy apparatus utilized by policymakers in managing national interests. It involves a wide range of activities besides the traditional intelligence operations. The covert actions produce outcomes and otherwise unavailable information. However, when appropriate covert measures are put in place through secret means, then it is possible to attain the preferred end or a specific policy goal. Covert activity is necessary but sometimes controversial. It was once a challenge of the soviet hegemony and a prime intimidation to national security. However, the U.S utilized it on a full scale in combating the risks to the global soviet dominations. The outcome had varying degrees of success.

An example of an overseas covert activity that the United States has engaged in is the “operation Ajax covert action”. The CIA plot was all about oil (Krstic). Most of the oil companies were the region’s oil companies and were to be controlled after the leaders were overthrown, whether the company as Arabian or Anglo Iranian. In early 1951, amid the tremendous popular claims, the Iranian oil company was nationalized by Mossadegh. The United Kingdom was not happy about it and immediately began linking with the U.S intelligence service to conquer Mossadegh to ensure that the monarchy was restored under the Shah. The coup began on August 15, 1951, to fight Mossadegh a part of U.S covert activities, but this was suddenly thwarted. Mossadegh made several arrests, including Gen Fazlollah Zahedi, a top conspirator who went to hiding, and other leaders like Shah went out of the nation. Since the coup had failed, the CIA had to call it off. The following day on August 153, the CIA, through the crowds, supported the coup that ended up succeeding. The transnational hero was arrested, the monarchy reinstated under the Western-friendly Shah, and Anglo-Iranian oil was renamed British Petroleum. The conduct which involved covert action was an essential device for U.S national security interest. This is so because the covert action was successfully carried out.

The Afghanistan raid by the soviet was enhanced by the CIA when it initiated its most significant ever covert action program to help arm the Afghan win the war. The use provided the U.S Saudi Arabia and Pakistan with a huge sum of money for weapons, supplies, and advanced anti-aircraft missiles (Shaw). This aid was a strategy to neutralize the Soviet air support in the latter stages of the conflict. It is also the same reason that caused the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan. Contrary to this, a number of the fighters that the U.S trained and equipped may be fighting American and NATO troops to date in Afghanistan.

The operation Ajax covert action brought a more dignified role for congress in controlling and authorizing cover action. The CIA leader and the heads of all departments, agencies, and other governmental agencies supported the covert actions and keepingthe congressional intelligence committees fully informed.


In conclusion, intelligence is an essential function of the idea of national security because it links both state sovereignty and the core executive. As defined before, its significant role is to allow policymakers or operational commanders to generate more effective decisions. It is through intelligence that policymakers warn against surprise attack as one of the best priority intelligence requirements, and this has been fully conceptualized.



Hess, James, and Curtis Friedel. “Applying A Critical Thinking Framework To Improve Intelligence Analysis”. Global Security And Intelligence Studies, vol 1, no. 1, 2015. Policy Studies Organization, doi:10.18278/gsis.1.1.4.

Hidek, Matt. “Military Doctrine And Intelligence Fusion In The American Homeland”. Critical Studies On Terrorism, vol 4, no. 2, 2011, pp. 239-261. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/17539153.2011.586207.

Krstic, Marko. “Covert Actions: ‘Alternative Approaches’ Of Intelligence Services’ Activity”. Vojno Delo, vol 69, no. 4, 2017, pp. 119-133. Centre For Evaluation In Education And Science (CEON/CEES), doi:10.5937/vojdelo1703119k.

Shaw, Alexander Nicholas. “Propaganda Intelligence And Covert Action: The Regional Information Office And British Intelligence In South-East Asia, 1949-1961”. Journal Of Intelligence History, 2019, pp. 1-26. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/16161262.2019.1659579.

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