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The Problem of Secret Intelligence$
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Kjetil Anders Hatlebrekke

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780748691838

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748691838.001.0001

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On Collection

On Collection

Chapter:
(p.133) 4 On Collection
Source:
The Problem of Secret Intelligence
Author(s):

Kjetil Anders Hatlebrekke

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748691838.003.0005

Blind belief in the force of history make intelligence operatives think that history repeats itself. But history, of course, never repeats itself. Nor do threats repeat themselves. However, they do appear in new forms and varieties, and these may easily be misjudged as historical echoes. This may lead to orthodox beliefs that fuel a classic threat discourse that easily misleads. The US intelligence community thus failed to capitalise on the collected material they already had, and they were therefore not able to identify the change that had occurred on their threat radar. This chapter demonstrates how the US intelligence community’s focus on Afghanistan and bin Laden indicates that bin Laden in practice operated as his own diversion and scapegoat, since he managed to have the US intelligence community focusing more on him than on his organisation and on the threat evolving on American soil. Whether it was intentional or not is unknown, but the focus of US intelligence on bin Laden and al Qaeda in Afghanistan led them away from the terrorists in the US. It led the focus of US intelligence away from al Qaeda’s real target; New York and Washington.

Keywords:   Bin Laden, Collection-driven, Threat Perception, Surprise, al Qaeda, Massoud, Predator

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