Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Intelligence Analysis in the Civil War

Edwin Fishel's The Secret War for the Union illuminates how the first intelligence analysts in American history emerged during the Civil War. Hired by George McClellan to analyze the intelligence gathered by his spy chief Allan Pinkerton, our first intelligence analysts were not Americans. They were French.

This team consisted of a family of Bourbon pretenders to the French throne, from the royal family deposed by the French revolutions of 1789 and 1830. Louis Philippe d'Orleans and his brother, Robert d'Orleans, lived in exile in Britain. They served without pay under McClellan. They were joined by their uncle, the prince de Joinville. The two brothers turned laborious intelligence reports into summaries used by the general-in-chief.

In the present time, long delays in security clearance are required to be an intelligence analyst in any of our spy agencies. The director of National Intelligence, Mitch McConnell, once joked,"We are improving our security clearance process. We've whittled it down to eighteen months." I have a feeling that McClellan's security clearance of the Bourbon brothers consisted of a five-minute interview. Intelligence was a truly ad-hoc arrangement during the Civil War.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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