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Professor Richard H. Immerman

CENFAD has published two issues of Strategic Visions every year since 2000. For each I wrote a “News from the Director” column. I always submitted the copy on time.

I was late for this spring 2007 edition. I have a reason. For this same reason I will not write the “News from the Director” column next year.

I am taking next year off, from both Temple and CENFAD. It’s not that I need a break from either. Nor, for that matter, am I again taking a leave to research and write. Were that the case, similar to when I was in London I doubtless would still write my column.

No, next year I will be doing something different. You may recall that in my fall 2003 “News from the Director” piece, I underscored the extent to which the debates over what was at that time the early stages of the War in Iraq engaged academic interests that I’ve pursued for decades. Chief among these is the role of intelligence in the formulation and implementation of U.S. security policy. From my perspective as a scholar, I wrote, the performance of both the policymaking and intelligence communities with regard to Iraq caused me to “recoil in horror.”

I doubt very much whether anyone in Washington read my column. But a couple of months ago something very strange happened—something that had never happened to me before. I received a phone call out of the blue asking if I might consider accepting the position of Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analytical Integrity and Standards. I was being offered to direct an office, to quote the relevant statute, “responsible for ensuring that finished intelligence products produced by any element or elements of the intelligence community are timely, objective, independent of political considerations, based upon all sources of available intelligence, and employ the standards of proper analytic tradecraft.” The premise is that I could teach intelligence analysts to “incorporate new ideas for improving analytic performance.” The ODNI was “reaching out” to me in an effort to bridge the divide between the scholarly and public policy universes.

My first response: This is crazy. I can’t go to Washington. But I then decided that I had to. My entire adult life I’ve been a backseat driver/Monday morning quarterback to those who did what I studied. “They” were now asking, inviting me, to “apply” my methods as a scholar (skepticism about the reliability of sources, ability to distinguish between evidence and interpretations of that evidence, recognition of the need to express uncertainty, etc.) to step up to the plate and serve the public good. I was to stop criticizing and start “doing.” How could I say no? I couldn’t (although my inability to commit caused the delay in my writing this column!).

So next year I’ll be in Washington. I’ll report what I can when I can. Wish me luck. CENFAD won’t need any. Will Hitchcock has agreed to direct CENFAD in my absence; anyone who has attended one of the International History Workshops Will has organized knows that CENFAD is in the best of hands. What is more, Regina Gramer is not going anywhere. To quote from a song, “Who could ask for anything more?” Like many of you readers, I’ll attentively follow along by email announcements, the web page, and Strategic Visions. I’ll doubtless be able to attend some events, but too few of them. Fortunately, I know I can depend on my assets for special intelligence.