Abram Shulsky is a neoconservative scholar who has worked for U.S. government, RAND Corporation, and the Hudson Institute. Shulsky served as Director of the Office of Special Plans, a unit whose function has been compared to the 1970s Team B exercise. In the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Shulsky approved OSP memos with talking points about Iraq and weapons of mass destructionand terrorism. Shulsky is critical of the traditional intelligence analysis, which is based upon the social-scientific method, and of independent intelligence agencies. Shulsky favors a military intelligence model which can be used support policy as, in Shulsky’s words, “truth is not the goal” of intelligence operations, but “victory”.
Shulsky, a Straussian, argues that Leo Strauss would have attacked the dominant method of U.S. intelligence analysis “known as the “social-scientific method,” an approach advanced by Sherman Kent, a former Yale History professor and member of the WWII-era Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor to the C.I.A.)”. Shulsky critiques the social-scientific method for its potential to err by mirror-imaging. In Silent Warfare Shulsky and Schmitt write, “social science can provide the facts … but policy makers have a monopoly on choosing the values to be pursued”.
Shulsky favors the military intelligence model, “in which the intelligence officer works for the commander rather than an independent intelligence agency”. “He can scour the intelligence agencies for information his commander needs and represent the commander’s priorities with respect to the collection and dissemination of intelligence”, write Shulsky and Schmitt in Silent Warfare. Additionally, “In a supportive role, intelligence must concentrate its efforts on finding and analyzing information relevant to implementing the policy” as “truth is not the goal” of intelligence operations, but “victory”. By contrast, in a paragraph discussing Shulsky’s views, Dr. Michael Warner of C.I.A.’s History Staff states “the goal of intelligence is truth” but concurs with Shulsky’s idea that secrecy is endemic to intelligence.
In a 1999 paper, “Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence (By Which We Do Not Mean Nous),” also co-authored by Schmitt, Shulsky writes that “Strauss’s view certainly alerts one to the possibility that political life may be closely linked to deception. Indeed, it suggests that deception is the norm in political life, and the hope, to say nothing of the expectation, of establishing a politics that can dispense with it is the exception.”