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29 January 2008

The expanding intelligence studies web

We note today a few excellent resources for the intelligence professional newly brought to the online environment. The public internet presence of the community continues to expand apace as the value of Metcalf’s law is realized, and the protocols for an appropriate public discussion of the field slowly continue to evolve.

The National Defense Intelligence College (pronounced JMIC by those seeking to avoid confusion with the ill-starred Drug Intelligence Center by the same acronym) has dramatically expanded its public presence. Most importantly for the intelligence scholar, they are releasing in electronic form a whole selection of works from their press, with the promise of more to come. Many of the files are large, so the usual admonition regarding server courtesy is in order. However, we are exceptionally pleased to see these materials being made available more widely for use in other academic programs. This will do much to combat the problem of seeing the better recent unclassified intelligence literature circulating only as 5th generation samizdat photocopy from hand to hand, due to a limited print run. We hope to see at least a selection of their voluminous collection of theses likewise circulated. We also sincerely wish that the civilian academic programs around the country will take an example from the College and cease attempting to reinvent their own wheels, but rather pursue unique studies of lasting value to the field.

We also note, thanks to our friend Michael Tanji, the venerable and respected OSS Society has also expanded its online presence into something akin to a blog. We look forward to their contributions and stories, which have already gotten off to a good start with discussion regarding the potential rebirth of the Office of Strategic Services in the Long War. Regardless of the relative merits of the proposal itself, the idea does capture the imagination. We would love to see a modern version of the kind of stories told in the classic You're Stepping on My Cloak and Dagger for our new era.

The imperative of Sherman Kent’s original vision of an intelligence literature continues to call to professionals. We are grateful to see the benefits to the history and the appreciation of the field that have already resulted, and we look forward to future developments.

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