and methods of non-state organisations built on a special interest (whether criminal, religious or political) can be particularly hard for members of a stable society to assess.
There is also the risk of ‘group think’ – the development of a ‘prevailing wisdom’. Well- developed imagination at all stages of the intelligence process is required to overcome preconceptions. There is a case for encouraging it by providing for structured challenge, with established methods and procedures, often described as a ‘Devil’s advocate’ or a ‘red teaming’ approach. This may also assist in countering another danger:when problems are many and diverse, on any one of them the number of experts can be dangerously small, and individual, possibly idiosyncratic, views may pass unchallenged.
One final point should be mentioned here, to which we return in our Conclusions. The assessment process must be informed by an understanding of policy-makers’ requirements for information, but must avoid being so captured by policy objectives that it reports the world as policy-makers would wish it to be rather than as it is. The JIC is part (and an important part) of the UK’s governmental machinery or it is nothing; but to have any value its product must be objective. The JIC has always been very conscious of this.
THE USE OF INTELLIGENCE
In addition to the use of intelligence to inform government policy, which we describe in Chapters 2 and 3, there are important applications in the enforcement of compliance with national law or international treaties and other obligations, in warning of untoward events, in the support of military and law enforcement operations, and in long-term planning for future national security capabilities. The British Government’s machinery for the areas covered by our Review is described at Chapter 4.