US Intelligence and Democracy: Now More Important than Ever

James Bruce
Politics / Current Events

Course Description

Today, the major US intelligence agencies are under attack, not only from their customary enemies abroad, Russia being the prime example, but also from powerful domestic critics, including the President and his political allies in Congress and the media. No government organizations are perfect or above criticism. And all are accountable for their performance and any wrongdoing. No different from other parts of government (or even private-sector organizations), the Intelligence Community has its share of problems and issues. Still, a little understood and much under-appreciated role of US intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies such as the CIA and FBI is the vital support they provide to democratic institutions and processes. This support consists of three essential elements: Providing true facts and objective judgments to support rational policy-making and US national security decision advantage, serving as apolitical, non-partisan institutions in a democratic form of government where such institutions must be counted on for their independence, no matter which political party or leader happens to be in power, and in the case of CIA, providing covert action support to democracies and democratic institutions and movements abroad. This lecture examines these complex issues with the aim of illuminating the basis of the current controversies, and provides practical suggestions to understanding and interpreting the most important ones that may arise in future US national elections.

About the Instructor

  • Dr. James Bruce, PhD is an adjunct researcher at the RAND Corporation and formerly a Senior Political Scientist there, a retired senior executive officer at CIA, and an adjunct professor at Georgetown and Florida Atlantic Universities. At RAND, he leads research projects for US Intelligence Community and DoD clients. He retired from CIA in 2005 after nearly 24 years where he held management positions in the Directorate of Analysis and in the Directorate of Operations. He served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Science and Technology, and as Chief of Counterintelligence Training. He also served as a senior staff member on the President’s Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (Silberman-Robb WMD Commission). He has published numerous articles in scholarly journals, and co-edited Analyzing Intelligence: National Security Practitioners’ Perspectives, 2nd ed. (Georgetown University Press, 2014). He is a US Navy veteran.