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Customer reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
Securing the State (Intelligence and Security)
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on 22 October 2010
What makes this book so good is that it covers such a vast area of intelligence work and that it is so well written. The author also brings to it his unique experience, as director of the GCHQ etc. Many similar books fall in the trap of saying too little, thus they become dull.

Except for some unnecessary repetitions, a few words missing in sentences and an occasional error this book is exiting to read from the beginning to its end. Some chapters are a bit too short, but then the book itself is long enough.

The book simply explains why we need secret intelligence services. As its starting point it takes the famous Frescoes by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in Palazzo Pubblico in Siena known as "Allegory and Effects of Good and Bad Government". The return to the notion of bad and good government throughout the book is a pedagogical masterwork. Omand shows what needs to be kept hidden and what should be kept open, placing equal responsibility on the shoulders of both intelligence organization and the public. The author does a good job at setting the rules for intelligence work, all well explained with examples. Omand explains what has become different in the world of intelligence since 9/11, how intelligence organizations from around the world have been forced to cooperate, and what can be outsourced and what must be done in-house. The only surprise here is that Omand argues so strongly for private contractors in combat situations. He also suggests that Open Source Search is better left to private actors (P. 311).

The strongest part of the book is in my opinion how Omand professionalizes the profession. This view is best summoned up in the sentence "The Intelligence Community is a Knowledge Industry" (P. 294). He then goes on to explain how this should be done, first of all by looking at the Intelligence profession more strictly as a producer of material for making decisions. The focus should be on objectivity, the truth, on risk management and intelligence analysis. In particular I enjoyed the discussion of different biases (group thinking, mirror-imaging etc). At the end the author sees the professions job as one of reducing ignorance, at the end to increase the public good.

Omand also suggests how to tackle future challenges, like new technology, the abundance of OSINT and how to work in interactive networks. More importantly he uses his experience to tell others how to give advice, that is, how to present intelligence to decision makers. In so doing he effectively discusses the difference between policy and intelligence facts.

Furthermore he wants to educate the public, telling them what they can and cannot expect from the services, summed up in the phrase "living with and not being surprised by surprise". We are also given some interesting tit-bits, like that it is estimated that 60% of the President's Daily brief content does not appear in the Media (P. 193). He also promises the reader that the UK Intelligence branches, unlike certain others, does not carry out extra-judicial targeted killings.

Omand acknowledges the importance of reaching out to the Academic Community (p. 295) and welcomes a UK Intelligence academy. He seems to want a joint intelligence organization, but know that the political leaders will not buy it, afraid that too much influence will end on too few hands. The most problematic suggestion in the book may be the argument for more Pre-emptive Secret Intelligence (PROINT), indicating further and extended loss of privacy. It is a difficult idea to sell to the public in this new social contract. Let us snoop more into your personal affairs and you will be safer. The alternative is of course less security, that is, more "intelligence gaps".

Dr. Klaus Solberg Söilen
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on 6 January 2017
An excellent book! If you read only one book on security and intelligence, read this one. A masterpiece. The author captures brilliantly the issues in a way that professionals, academics or those with an interest in national security can easily follow.
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on 24 March 2013
The book Securing the State by Sir David Omand is rubbish. Sir David Bruce Omand GCB talks about how Governments recognise that national security in the turbulent conditions of the early twenty-first century must centre on the creation of public confidence that normal life can continue even in the face of threats such as terrorism and proliferation, and of natural hazards such as pandemics and climate change.

David Omand's book does not clearly demonstrates a highly sophisticated, critical and thorough understanding of the
topic. Provides clear evidence of originality and independence of thought and clearly
demonstrates exceptional ability to develop a highly systematic and logical or insightful
argument, solution or evaluation.

Securing the state by David Omand does not show an exceptionally high level of
clarity, focus and cogency in communication.
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on 1 January 2015
Should be read by everyone that deals with intelligence, national security, defence, homeland security, etc.
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on 20 September 2013
Brilliant in analysis. Thorough in coverage. This man knows his subject well. A must for all University deoartments in International Relations.
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on 5 August 2010
A book aimed at the specialist and those who work in government but is extremely interesting and valuable for someone interested in the secret world, managing crises along with the process of government and regulation in this difficult area. Explanations are given about the collection of secret information, its analyses and circulation to the end user. Given the role of the author in government and the security agencies much of what he writes is reassuring.
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