Abram Shulsky

From Citizendium
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is developing and not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
This editable Main Article is under development and subject to a disclaimer.

Abram Shulsky is an American national security policy expert, generally associated with an interventionist foreign policy. He has been associated with the political philosophy of Leo Strauss, [1] and was a housemate of Paul Wolfowitz at Cornell and Chicago. [2] Along with Douglas Feith, he is now a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Philosophy of intelligence

Shulsky, along with Gary Schmitt, rejected the idea that statistics the social sciences were the appropriate background for intelligence, as originated by Sherman Kent[3] and elaborated on by Dick Heuer[4] and others. He coauthored a 1999 essay about Strauss and intelligence. [5], which sharply contrasts with the works of training documents [6], thoughtful intelligence consumers, [7] and people more directly involved in the intelligence process such as W. Patrick Lang and Rob Johnson. [8] Rather, they felt intelligence should be based on political philosophy about the behavior of rulers such as Thucidydes.[9]

With his coauthor, Gary Schmitt, the arguments are sophisticated, as he points out that the classical social science do not routinely deal with the deliberate deception faced by intelligence analysts. See cognitive traps for intelligence analysis. [10] Following this argument, they show that counterintelligence is inherent to the intelligence cycle.

Shulsky and Schmitt do raise the possibility of open source intelligence (OSINT) both bypassing the secrecy concern and also being subject to deception. Validated OSINT, however, is evolving as a means of dealing with deceptive published material.


He was on the staff of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in the 1980s.

Ronald Reagan Administration

In the Reagan Administration, he worked for Richard Perle.


After the Reagan years, he was at the RAND Corporation.

George W. Bush Administration

He headed the Office of Special Plans, officially under William Luti, who, in turn, reported to Douglas Feith. Shulsky's work helped the Administration justify the invasion.

Retired Air Force LTC Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked in the Near East South Asia directorate at the Department of Defense and who "observed firsthand the formation of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans," wrote that she "had a clear sense that Abe [Shulsky] ranked high in the organization, although ostensibly he was under Luti. ... Shulsky's real boss was somebody like Douglas Feith or higher" [11]

Hudson Institute

At the Hudson Institute, he has returned to arms control, coauthoring a position paper on how the US should regard renewing treaties with Russia.[12]


  1. Seymour Hersh (May 12, 2003), "Annals of National Security, Selective Intelligence: Donald Rumsfeld has his own special sources. Are they reliable?", New Yorker
  2. George Packer (2006), The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN 0374530556, p. 105
  3. Kent, Sherman (1965), Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy, Archon Books
  4. Heuer, Richards J. Jr. (1999). Psychology of Intelligence Analysis. Chapter 2. Perception: Why Can't We See What Is There To Be Seen?. History Staff, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved on 2007-10-29.
  5. Gary J. Schmitt and Abram N. Shulsky (1999), Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence (By Which We Do Not Mean Nous)
  6. Central Intelligence Agency, Directorate of Intelligence (February 1997), A Compendium of Analytic Tradecraft Notes. Retrieved on 2007-12-03
  7. Davis, Jack (1995), "A Policymaker's Perspective On Intelligence Analysis", Studies in Intelligence (no. 5)
  8. Johnston, Rob (2005), Analytic Culture in the US Intelligence Community: An Ethnographic Study, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved on 2007-10-29
  9. Packer, p. 106
  10. Abram Shulsky and Gary Schmitt (2002), Silent Warfare: Understanding the world of intelligence (Third Edition ed.), Potomac Books, ISBN 1574883453, pp. 171-172
  11. Karen Kwiatkowski, "The New Pentagon Papers", Salon.com, March 10, 2004). http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2004/03/10/osp_moveon/print.html
  12. Douglas Feith, Abram Shulsky, Jack David (2 July 2009), START Treaty Renewal and America's Strategic Posture, summarized through excerpts of the Final Report of the Congressional Commission of the National Security of the United States'