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Filling in the “Unknowns”: National Missile Defense and the Rumsfeld Commission

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Abstract

It was not until June 2002, amid the growing controversy over intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and supposed evidence of links to Al Qaeda that Donald Rumsfeld, then Secretary of Defense, informed a press conference of one of “Rumsfeld’s rules”: that those who wrote and read intelligence analyses should always beware of “the unknown unknowns,” the things that policy makers and analysts were not even aware that they did not know about.2 From then on the “unknown unknowns” became irrevocably associated with intelligence and the 2003 Iraq War. However, it was not the Iraq case that had inspired this Rumsfeld “rule.” This most infamous of Rumsfeld’s aphorisms had been coined four years earlier while its author served as head of the Congressionally mandated Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States.

Keywords

Heritage Foundation Intelligence Community Clinton Administration Unknown Unknown Missile Defense 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 8.
    Bradley Graham Hit to Kill: The New Battle over Shielding America from Missile Attac. (New York, 2003), 34;Google Scholar
  2. Kevin P. Stack, “Competitive Intelligence,” Intelligence and National Securit., Vol. 13, No. 4, Winter 1998: 194–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 24.
    Rhodri-Jeffreys-Jones, The CIA and American Democrac. (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, Third Edition, 2003): 213.Google Scholar
  4. 25.
    Anne Hessing Cahn, Killing Détente: The Right Attacks the CI. (Pennsylvania State University Press, Penn., 1998): 147–52.Google Scholar
  5. 26.
    Maria Ryan, “Filling in the ‘Unknowns’: Hypothesis-Based Intelligence and the Rumsfeld Commission,” Intelligence and National Securit., Vol. 21, No. 2, April 2006: 286–315;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Charles Krauthammer, Cutting Edges: Making Sense of the 80’. (Random House, New York, 1985): 3–7.Google Scholar
  7. 32.
    Quoted in Cahn and Prados, “Team B”: 28. On mirror-imaging, see Robert C. Reich, “Re-examining the Team A—Team B Exercise,” International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. Vol. 3, No. 3, Fall 1989: 387–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke, America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Orde. (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2004): 224–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Maria Ryan 2010

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