Political Science 473 The Craft Of Intelligence Analysis: Prediction And Connecting The Dots.

Fall, 2021

W 2:00 - 4:30 PM, HRZ 211



Mr. Stoll
120 Herzstein Hall
stoll AT rice DOT edu

Office Hours

Tuesday   2:30 -  3:30
Friday  11:00 - 11:50

or by appointment Note: you can meet me face to face (masked and observing physical distance of course), over Zoom, or by phone.

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes

The analysis of intelligence plays a vital role in protecting and advancing the national security of the United States. Analysts never have all the information. In addition, some of the information they do have is incomplete or incorrect. At the same time, there is usually too much information and too little time to allow analysts to fully explore everything. So how should they proceed? This course has 2 objectives: (1) To get you familiar with the US intelligence community, and (2) To give you an idea of how intelligence analysts do their work.

By the end of the course students will:


We will read all of the following books. There may be additional readings.


The following is the percentage of your grade for each component of the class.

25% Reports
25% Assignments
20% Participation
30% National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)

Absence Policy

All students are expected to attend all the classes. Note that 20% of your grade is based on participation. If you cannot attend a class, contact me (email is the best way to do this).

Honor Code

Rice has an Honor System. The Honor System places a great deal of trust -- but also responsibility -- on the student. All graded work in this course is covered by the Honor System. In each case I will explain what limitations and restrictions you should observe in order to comply with the Honor System. But there may be times when my explanations are incomplete or a situation arises that raises questions for you. The best way to avoid any potential problems with the Honor System is this: if you ever have any questions about how the Honor Code applies to anything in this course, contact me.. I stongly urge you to contact me before you begin to work on something for the course.

Reading Assignments

Aug. 25 The Fall of Saigon. 2 part interview with Frank Snepp. The Cassandra, part 1 and 2.
Sep. 1 Lowenthal ch. 1-3. What is intelligence? History of US intelligence. The intelligence community.
Sep. 8 Lowenthal ch. 4-5. The Intelligence Process.
Sep. 15 Lowenthal ch. 6, Heuer Part 1. Analysis. How we think about intelligence.
Sep. 22 Heuer Part 2. Tools for thinking.
Sep. 29. Heuer Part 3-4. Cognitive biases.
Oct. 6. Lowenthal ch. 7-9, Beebe and Pherson ch. 1-2. Aspects of Intelligence.
Oct. 13 Lowenthal ch. 10-11, Beebe and Pherson ch. 3-4. Oversight, targets of intelligence.
Oct. 20 Lowenthal ch. 12-14, Beebe and Pherson ch. 5-6. Current issues in intelligence.
Oct. 27 Jervis ch. 1-2. Failure in Iran.
Nov. 3 Jervis ch. 3-4. Failure in Iraq.
Nov. 10 Priess ch. 1-4. Beebe and Pherson ch. 7-10. The PDB: origins through Nixon.
Nov. 17 Priess ch. 5-8. Beebe and Pherson ch. 11-14. The PDB: Ford through Bush I. Rosenbach, Eric, and Aki J. Peritz. 2009. “National Intelligence Estimates.” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/national-intelligence-estimates
Nov. 24 ** Thanksgiving Recess **
Dec. 1 Priess ch. 9-12. Beebe and Pherson ch. 15-17. The PDB: Clinton through Obama.

Note: the reading assignments listed above are from the books for the class. There may be some additional reading assigned in class.

Title IX Responsible Employee Notification

Rice University cares about your wellbeing and safety. Rice encourages any student who has experienced an incident of harassment, pregnancy discrimination or gender discrimination or relationship, sexual, or other forms interpersonal violence to seek support from The SAFE Office. At Rice University, unlawful discrimination in any form, including sexual misconduct, is prohibited under Rice Policy on Harassment and Sexual Harassment (Policy 830) and the Student Code of Conduct. As the instructor and a responsible employee, I am required by Title IX to disclose all incidents of non-consensual interpersonal behaviors to the Title IX Coordinator on campus. Although responsible employees are required to make this notification, it is the student’s choice to pursue a formal complaint. The goal is to make sure that students are aware of the range of options available and have access to the resources when in need. For more information, please visit safe.rice.edu, titleixrice.edu, or email titleixsupport@rice.edu.

For questions, please email Cathryn Councill at cc92@rice.edu or the Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Richard Baker at rab20@rice.edu.

Chosen Names and Personal Pronouns

Everyone has the right to be addressed by the name and pronouns that correspond to their gender identity, including non-binary pronouns, for example: they/them/theirs, ze/zir/zirs, etc. Rosters do not list gender or pronouns so you may be asked to indicate the pronouns you use so that I don't make assumptions based on your name and/or appearance /self-presentation (you are not obligated to do so). If you use a chosen name, please let me know. Chosen names and pronouns are to be respected at all times in the classroom. Mistakes in addressing one another may happen, so I encourage an environment of openness to correction and learning. I will not however, tolerate repeated comments which disrespect or antagonize students who have indicated pronouns or a chosen name. Chosen name and personal pronouns may evolve over time, so if at any point during the semester you would like to be addressed differently, please let me know.

Special Needs

If you have a documented disability that may affect academic performance, you should:
  1. Make sure this documentation is on file with the Disability Resource Center;
  2. Meet with the Disability Resource Center to discuss your accommodation needs;
  3. Meet with your professor/instructor to discuss implementing your accommodations.
Contact information for Rice Disability Resource Center:

  • Phone (main): 713-348-5841
  • TDD: dial 711 or 800-735-2988
  • E-mail: adarice AT rice DOT edu
  • Changes to the Course

    The information contained in the syllabus may be subject to change with reasonable advance notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.