Preventing Surprise Attacks: Intelligence Reform in the Wake of 9/11; Remaking Domestic Intelligence; and Uncertain Shield: The U.S. Intelligence System in the Throes of Reform, by Richard A. Posner


  • Wayne Renke Professor and Vice-Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta.



Judge Richard Posner responded to the issues of post 9/11 domestic United States intelligence system reform through an article published in the New York Times Review of Books, which grew into a book, augmented by a monograph, and updated by another book. As might be expected of Posner, these short works are lucid, provocative, and informative. The New York Times article, "The 9/11 Report: A Dissent,'" is a review of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Preventing Surprise Attacks' elaborates the article's arguments, particularly in light of the passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (which adopted the Commission's main recommendations), and engages relevant historical and organizational theory literature. The monograph Remaking Domestic Intelligence, focuses on the role of the FBI in domestic national security intelligence. Uncertain Shield updates Preventing Surprise Attacks by addressing the implementation of the IRTP Act and the report of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. Certainly these works are valuable for students of American intelligence organization and policy. Posner's treatment of four themes, though, should interest a broader readership. These themes concern (1) the limitations on the capabilities of our intelligence organizations to prevent surprise attacks; (2) the inappropriateness of centralizing the organization of domestic intelligence; (3) the relationship of law enforcement and intelligence gathering; and (4) our attitudes and expectations respecting our safety.




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