Two Chanticleer Intelligence Brief senior analysts, Ana Maria Lankford and Derrick Storzieri, have published an article about the United States Intelligence Community’s dissemination of warning intelligence about COVID-19, prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. The article, entitled: “Spies and the Virus: The COVID-19 Pandemic and Intelligence Communication in the United States” has been published in the peer-reviewed Frontiers in Communications. Headquartered in Switzerland, Frontiers is considered one of the most prestigious open-access journal publishers in the sciences and social sciences, and is the world’s fifth most-cited publisher. It is extremely rare for undergraduate students to publish peer-reviewed research.
Along with Lankford and Storzieri, the article was co-authored by CIB Faculty Mentor Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis. The article was published in the journal’s special issue on the topic: “Strategic Narratives in Political and Crisis Communication: Responses to COVID-19”, alongside research from Germany, Sweden, Italy, Austria, China, Australia, Brazil, and the United Kingdom, among other countries. A report featuring information about the article has been published by the Edwards College at Coastal Carolina University. This research came out of the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief’ COVID-19 Intelligence Project, which the CIB launched last spring, as soon as the CCU campus shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The project was highlighted by CCU and drew national attention.
The paper sheds light on the early-warning role of United States intelligence agencies. It demonstrates that the intelligence components of the federal government’s Biological Defense Program offered actionable forewarning about an impending pandemic in the years leading to the COVID-19 outbreak. But it also posits that the means of strategic communication employed by intelligence experts to alert the White House to the threat were unproductive. These alerts were communicated largely through the President’s Daily Brief, an archaic and ineffectual method of communication that is not designed to facilitate the kind of laser-focused, unequivocal exchange of information needed when potentially catastrophic threats confront the world. The authors propose that the United States Intelligence Community must implement more direct, immediate and conclusive methods of communicating intelligence to decision-makers, and should seriously consider creating a new line of products that addresses existential challenges to national security.