Cognitive Bias in the U.S. Intelligence Community

Essay Exam Question

For decades, the US Intelligence Community has studied the cognitive traps that can lead intelligence analysts down the wrong path or keep them from seeing. Choose any current or historical example and introduce the flawed intelligence, highlight and explain the cognitive bias, describe associated logic errors, and describe how policy was adversely affected. Historical examples include the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq; Yom-Kippur War; Battle of Austerlitz; Operation Allied Force (Kosovo), Pearl Harbor, Cuban Missile Crisis, or the German attack on the Soviet Union. Guidance Concerning Paper Structure: Your paper will address an issue affecting intelligence and democracy. Approach this paper as if you are developing policy position for your boss to take to the Director for National Intelligence or a congressional hearing. Essays will contain four main sections, labeled as follows: 1. Description – Briefly describe the issue and provide background information needed for the subsequent sections (who, what, when, where, and how – set the conditions for your argument). 2. Explanation – Identify the main elements or “drivers” of this issue. What are the most important aspects that, if resolved, could lead to a solution? 3. Analysis – This is the part of the paper where you examine the drivers and decide which ones are most important. In many cases, this will involve value judgments on your part. Most of the scholarly sources you have used will already have done this, so you should not find yourselves having to do this from scratch. It’s ok to say that source A analyzes the issue this way, while source B analyses it another way. At the end of this section, state your position and justify your reasoning. 4. Recommendations – Make suggestions for resolving the issue. Critical thinking and imagination are applied here. As you develop your recommendation imagine that you are answering the question for your boss who is preparing to brief the President on your findings. These can be solutions you have developed on your own. They also can be ones you have read in your sources, as long as you reference them

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