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Constructing CassandraReframing Intelligence Failure at the CIA, 1947-2001$
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Milo Jones and Philippe Silberzahn

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804785808

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804785808.001.0001

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The Iranian Revolution

The Iranian Revolution

(p.80) 3 The Iranian Revolution
Constructing Cassandra

Milo Jones

Philippe Silberzahn

Stanford University Press

This chapter presents an overview of the CIA's analysis of events in Iran that led to the Islamic revolution in 1978–79. It first documents the scale and scope of the intelligence failure concerning Iran, and then describes how the CIA's internal culture and collective identity distorted its views of Iran prior to and during these events. It contrasts Agency views of the situation in Iran with those of Cassandras, people outside the Agency who anticipated the possibility of a revolution. It documents how the Agency's homogeneity of personnel, scientism, its preference for secrets and its drive for consensus led to a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation there, and thereby created the proximate conditions for an intelligence failure.

Keywords:   Iran, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Islamic revolution, intelligence failure, President James Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, signals intelligence, Islamic fundamentalism, Stansfield Turner

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