Rhetorical intelligence : the role of rhetoric in the US intelligence community
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In the wake of the misbegotten US invasion of Iraq in 2003, we have to acknowledge that there are critical flaws in how our intelligence community (the CIA and its “sister-agencies”) produces knowledge. Instead of arguing that the intelligence community acted in bad faith, or that the mistaken pre-war intelligence was a “perfect storm” of bad luck, as others have, this dissertation argues that the intelligence community’s rhetorical culture led it into fatally flawed epistemological practices, demonstrated most dramatically in the mistaken pre-invasion allegations of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs. Chapter one explains the problematic assumptions behind the question of whether or not the intelligence community overtly politicized its pre-war intelligence estimates. In chapter two, the intelligence community’s theories of language are explored. Chapter three addresses how the intelligence community teaches and practices writing. The intelligence community’s inflexible commitment to writing in a “clear” prose style proves problematic when that clarity belies the uncertainty of its estimates. The fourth and final chapter addresses issues of disciplinarity in the intelligence community, explores the possibility of a rhetorical theory of intelligence, and offers conclusions.
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