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Fixing the FactsFixing the Facts

National Security and the Politics of Intelligence

Joshua Rovner

Winner of the 2011 Edgar S. Furniss Book Award given by the Mershon Center for International Security Studies; Winner, 2012, International Security Studies Book Award (International Studies Association)

Narrated by Jay Glick

Available from Audible

Book published by Cornell University Press

What is the role of intelligence agencies in strategy and policy? How do policymakers use (or misuse) intelligence estimates? When do intelligence-policy relations work best? How do intelligence-policy failures influence threat assessment, military strategy, and foreign policy? These questions are at the heart of recent national security controversies, including the 9/11 attacks and the war in Iraq. In both cases the relationship between intelligence and policy broke down—with disastrous consequences.

In Fixing the Facts, Joshua Rovner explores the complex interaction between intelligence and policy and shines a spotlight on the problem of politicization. Major episodes in the history of American foreign policy have been closely tied to the manipulation of intelligence estimates. Rovner describes how the Johnson administration dealt with the intelligence community during the Vietnam War; how President Nixon and President Ford politicized estimates on the Soviet Union; and how pressure from the George W. Bush administration contributed to flawed intelligence on Iraq. He also compares the U.S. case with the British experience between 1998 and 2003, and demonstrates that high-profile government inquiries in both countries were fundamentally wrong about what happened before the war.

Joshua Rovner is the John Goodwin Tower Professor of International Politics and National Security at Southern Methodist University, where he also serves as Director of Studies at the Tower Center for Political Studies.


Fixing the Facts is an insightful exploration of how relations between intelligence officers and policymakers too often go sour. Joshua Rovner convincingly shows that politicization has been a persistent phenomenon and that many of the best-known errors and controversies involving intelligence are rooted in politics and in efforts by leaders to sell their policies to the public.”

—Paul R. Pillar, Georgetown University, former senior CIA official

“Does intelligence shape policy, or do policy and politics shape intelligence? Joshua Rovner's careful theorizing and in-depth historical studies provide a comprehensive and systematic analysis of the complex relationships among intelligence, policy, and politics. Fixing the Facts is essential reading for theorists, historians, and the intelligence and policy communities."”

—Jack S. Levy, Board of Governors' Professor, Rutgers University

“If leaders are free to disregard unwelcome intelligence estimates, why would they pressure analysts to alter their reports? Joshua Rovner answers this question by identifying how intelligence can empower officials facing domestic political pressures and constraints. Fixing the Facts advances our theoretical and practical understanding of intelligence politicization by highlighting the politics at the heart of the intelligence-policy nexus.”

—James J. Wirtz, Dean of the School of International Graduate Studies, Monterey, California

“Intelligence should inform policymakers without pandering to them. In practice, it proves easy to honor either one of these aims but surprisingly hard to accomplish both at once. Joshua Rovner's careful study of the subtle dynamics of this balancing act is a model of intelligent, balanced, and policy-relevant scholarship.”

—Richard K. Betts, Director, Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University

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University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks