America spends $75billion per year on intelligence functions. It sounds a lot, but that is only about $250 per citizen. The question for outsiders, and for questioning Americans, is why such a vast investment in intelligence seems to produce such patchy results. We hear of the occasional coup such as the discovery of Osama bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan, but then we must ask why did it take ten years, given the resources put to it?
It's not as if the value of intelligence is a new idea. People who fight with sticks and stones rely on knowing where the enemy is and what he (or it) is likely to do next. Arguably, modern technology gives governments greater capacity than they have ever had to keep tabs on people at home and abroad.