2006 Global Terrorism Nie Like Any Intelligence Essay

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2006 Global Terrorism NIE

Like any intelligence product, the declassified Key Judgments of the 2006 National Intelligence Estimate "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States" relies on certain explicit and implicit assumptions as a part of its analysis. Identifying these assumptions is crucial for evaluating the accuracy of any piece of analysis, and intelligence products in particular. Explicit assumptions may be identified by looking out for key words, while implicit assumptions require more in-depth consideration.

The explicit assumptions in the 2006 NIE are identified by certain key words which inform the reader that the following information is not verified fact, but rather based on an assumption, which itself may or may not be based on specific evidence. These key words include terms like "probably," "likely," "could," and "would," because all of these words signify that the statements being made are conditional, rather than definitive. In other instances, the explicit assumption is revealed through a more lengthy hedge; for example the first significant explicit assumption in the 2006 NIE appears when the authors state "although we cannot measure the extent of the spread with precision, a large body of all-source reporting indicates that activists identifying themselves as jihadists, although a small percentage of Muslims, are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion" (ODNI, 2006). Though the authors reference "a large body of all-source reporting," the notion that jihadists are increasing in number and geographic dispersion must be taken as an assumption, because the authors cannot be sure, and thus are careful to state as much (though in strictly legal terms this would likely be termed a presumption rather than an assumption, for the purposes of this study the latter term will suffice).
The second major explicit assumption appears when the authors state that "new jihadist networks and cells, with anti-American agendas, are increasingly likely to emerge," because the word "likely" signals to the reader that the statement is an assumption, rather than a statement of fact (ODNI, 2006). Another significant explicit assumption comes in the section concerning vulnerabilities in the jihadist movement, when the authors state that "exposing the religious and political straightjacket that is implied by the jihadists' propaganda would help to divide them from the audiences they seek to persuade," because this statement assumes that individuals are motivated to join the jihadist movement due to a desire to enact the movement's ultimate goals, rather than any wide variety of reasons that individuals have been known to join violent or extremist groups (ODNI, 2006). The last two significant explicit assumptions in the 2006 NIE concern the importance of democratic reforms and the centrality of key figures in the jihadist movement. The authors state that if democratic reforms proceed in Muslim majority nations, "political participation probably would drive a wedge between intransigent extremists and groups willing to use the political process to achieve their local objectives" (ODNI, 2006). Later, they assume that "the loss of key leaders […] in rapid succession, probably would cause the group to fracture….....

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