From The Guardian:
Intelligence agencies more than any other professional body have “official amnesia” and repeatedly fail to learn the lessons of the past, a panel of espionage experts has said.
Christopher Andrew, the writer of an authorised history of MI5, said intelligence chiefs ignored or did not know about historical mistakes, and the reason was obvious: the operations were always secret.
Referring to friends and Cambridge colleagues who had worked at Bletchley Park, he said: “None of them knew that what they had been doing in the second world war, breaking Hitler’s codes, was much what their colleagues had been doing at the beginning of the 19th century, breaking codes with equal success. No profession is as ignorant of its history as the profession of intelligence.”
Andrew said neither Herbert Henry Asquith nor Woodrow Wilson, the UK prime minister and US president respectively during the first world war and two of the most highly educated people to hold office, knew anything about intelligence. If George Washington had used intelligence in the same way Wilson later did, the American success in the war of independence would have taken much longer, he said.
. . . .
Rory Cormac, an academic in international relations, said he had searched laboriously through 50 years of archive material looking at how intelligence services operated and had found them doing one thing for a year, realising it did not work, and then people moving on and the service going back to what it had been doing. “They are constantly failing to learn from their mistakes.”
He said he was in Whitehall last week and offered some suggestions but was rebuffed.
Link to the rest at The Guardian