The analysis of intelligence cannot be controlled politically

Any political influence must be strictly prohibited. You must be able to trust your analysts.

Finland is developing security police against an international intelligence organization modeled after the CIA. Police activities are gradually being curtailed and taken over by other local organizations responsible for national security and intelligence activities.

An important area in which the new international intelligence organization is practicing is the analysis of the material collected. Different countries have different methods, standards, and systems for how these analyzes look and what is considered important. Russia, China, the United States, and other countries have systems that are not necessarily comparable in all respects. Understand the priorities and analytical methods of different countries and, of course, how this change is important.

The US Ombudsman for Intelligence Analysis, Barry Zulf, released an unclassified report in early January of this year (6.1) in response to a question about the politicization of the country’s intelligence analysis under the Trump regime. The report concluded that the political elite greatly influenced the content and conclusions of a large number of intelligence analyzes. The analyzes were manipulated, altered, and presented a distorted picture of reality. This was especially true of Russia and China. General provisions regarding how intelligence analyzes should be formulated were not adhered to. The reports were not objective and influenced by political goals – they were politicized.

The Ombudsman report comes with a number of recommendations on how to build new confidence in CIA analysis. The first and most important recommendation is that you already have analytical and professional knowledge. Any political influence must be strictly prohibited. You must be able to trust your analysts.

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The US report can be extremely useful when Finland is now transferring its security police to the CIA. It doesn’t seem useful if you only have one person and their organization monitoring the international intelligence organization in the country. It requires self-control as well as extensive skills and knowledge of the employees you hire. International experience is very important, and so is well-trained staff. The US Ombudsman stated in his report that even US intelligence analysts have wide gaps in their training and knowledge.

In Finland, we are just starting an international intelligence organization. Of course, we have experience working with similar organizations from our European Union membership. But we do not belong to international intelligence networks, at least not on an equal footing. Bilateral cooperation is good, but working in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and other regions where Finland may have interests related to security policy requires direct local knowledge, presence and good communication networks. This information must then be analyzed and the risks assessed for the decision makers. This is the challenge.

Jan Peter Paul, Helsinki


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