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What Biases May Be Present in the Intelligence Report, and What Accounts for These Biases?


Policy strategy formulation from intelligence reports can be difficult because it requires supporting significant action using volumes of evidence. The process is influenced by several biases developed from inclinations and preferences by the intelligence parties leading to distortion of an impartial judgment. According to theories of intelligence, a common source of bias is human cognition, which results in simplified information processing that results in regular and expected mental errors. In the intelligence report by the Joint Intelligence Commission (JIC) on the Suez Crisis, it is clear that evidence was provided. However, the intelligence report was ignored and used to support existing policy. This source analysis report provides possible bias in the report and its sources.

Biases in the JIC Report

The Suez Canal crisis ended after political pressure from the Soviet Union and the US compelled Britain, France, and Israel to withdraw. Colonel Nasser had nationalized the Suez Canal prompting the war between Israel, the UK, and France to regain control of the canal. Later, it turned out that the invaders had conspired to plan the war. The main bias in the intelligence report was human cognition, which exists as mental errors leading to a simplified nature of processing information. Cognitive bias has a different influence on the intelligence report because even after people become aware of its nature, it remains compelling and cannot be avoided. An intelligence report needs to maintain a high level of objectivity and provide information that is processed without bias to inform policy and strategy formulation.

Sources of bias in the Intelligence Report

The leading source of bias in the Intelligence report is provided hindsight, which is simply knowing its effect. This was a major concern in the intelligence report because it resulted in an overestimation of the truth provided by the intelligence report and previous decisions. For example, in 1951, the JIC provided information about successful coups by military officers and the type of governments that resulted from such activities (Aldrich et al., 2014). In particular, the intelligence report demonstrated how Colonel Gamal Nasser had been welcomed in London as a suitable collaborator, resulting in a mutual defense agreement. Evidence from the intelligence report showed that Colonel Nasser faltered in 1955, the two factions disintegrated into war, and the collaboration for Britain to supply arms to Egypt ended (Aldrich et al., 2014). However, even with the intelligence report, Nasser went on to strike a deal with Czechoslovakia to supply arms in 1955 (Aldrich et al., 2014). There was much evidence provided in the intelligence report, like Russia’s willingness to bankroll its activities, but the policymakers marginalized and ignored all this. In this context, the policymakers could not reconstruct their own pre-existing mental set of ‘people they could do business with.

The pattern of bias shows that human beings tend to identify causal relationships with all parties even where they are non-existent. It is imperative that Egypt’s policymakers should have identified the main causes of the Suez crisis to eliminate the possibility of linking with agents. For instance, Colonel Nasser was welcomed to London as somebody the British could trade with. However, the actual intention was the vital role the Suez Canal played in the British defense strategy and not the economy (Aldrich et al., 2014). More effort was placed on confirming information and failing to assess its correctness. The decision to partner with Czechoslovakia to supply aims indicates a pattern of bias that illustrates the disregard for non-supporting options.

Bias in the intelligence report was compromised by mirror-imagining, resulting in false evaluations of foreign leaders. The decision of Nasser to nationalize the Suez Canal clearly indicates the mirror-imaging source of bias in the intelligence report. The report considers that this decision’s motive was to diverge domestic attention and create an opportunity to strike back at the west. The latter was perceived as a triumph, but this led to failure because Nasser was an emotional demagogue who believed in the success of nationalism by observing regional states (Aldrich et al., 2014). In reality, the actions of the west would influence the decision-making process of Soviet countries and eruption of conflict between Egypt with the soviet countries.

Lastly, the availability rule in Egypt influenced how JIC assessed anecdotal data as critical as statistics provided by a thorough inquiry. For instance, it was difficult to predict the Suez Canal crisis because it had not occurred before 1956 (Aldrich et al., 2014). The JIC considered nationalist uprisings due to the communist-supported insurrections, where one occurred because of the other. This indicates that the report considered data that would not support rigid ideas. The nationalization of the Suez Canal lacked a multi-faceted analysis but was only based on communism as the actual cause of insurrections.


The intelligence report analysis is important in policy formulation because it eliminates decision-making challenges. The Suez Canal intelligence report by the JIC affected human cognition as the main source of bias. This resulted from hindsight, motivation bias, mirror-imaging, and the availability rule. Consequently, the intelligence report was only used to support an existing policy decision.


Aldrich, R. J., et al. (2014). Spying on the World: The Declassified Documents of the Joint Intelligence Committee, 1936-2013. Edinburgh University Press, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central.


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