Elizabeth MacKenzie Biedell

Washington, DC; New York, NY
September 2009 - September 2011

Elizabeth MacKenzie Biedell, a former intelligence analyst, is researching a book on how classified intelligence can undermine checks and balances in political decision making. MacKenzie Biedell wrote daily briefings for the White House and senior cabinet leaders during the buildup to the Iraq war. As an Open Society Fellow, she is proposing methods to enable the U.S. Congress, journalists, and the public to evaluate a future rationale for war from a president acting on the basis of classified information.

MacKenzie Biedell argues that in the sometimes chaotic buildup to military action, Congress may miss opportunities to perform its duty to ensure that intelligence analysis is sound. For this reason, stronger checks should be built into the system of intelligence briefings, and the media need to be better prepared to hold both Congress and the President accountable for the intelligence they use to justify war.

MacKenzie Biedell worked at the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. State Department before starting her fellowship project. She was based in Europe and the Middle East during her government service and holds a master's degree in international peace and conflict resolution from American University and a master’s degree in theology from Wesley Seminary.