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Reforming Intelligence

Obstacles to Democratic Control and Effectiveness

Edited by Thomas C. Bruneau and Steven C. Boraz

Publication Year: 2007

These days, it’s rare to pick up a newspaper and not see a story related to intelligence. From the investigations of the 9/11 commission, to accusations of illegal wiretapping, to debates on whether it’s acceptable to torture prisoners for information, intelligence—both accurate and not—is driving domestic and foreign policy. And yet, in part because of its inherently secretive nature, intelligence has received very little scholarly study. Into this void comes Reforming Intelligence, a timely collection of case studies written by intelligence experts, and sponsored by the Center for Civil-Military Relations (CCMR) at the Naval Postgraduate School, that collectively outline the best practices for intelligence services in the United States and other democratic states. Reforming Intelligence suggests that intelligence is best conceptualized as a subfield of civil-military relations, and is best compared through institutions. The authors examine intelligence practices in the United States, United Kingdom, and France, as well as such developing democracies as Brazil, Taiwan, Argentina, and Russia. While there is much more data related to established democracies, there are lessons to be learned from states that have created (or re-created) intelligence institutions in the contemporary political climate. In the end, reading about the successes of Brazil and Taiwan, the failures of Argentina and Russia, and the ongoing reforms in the United States yields a handful of hard truths. In the murky world of intelligence, that’s an unqualified achievement.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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pp. v-vi

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Foreword: Intelligence, Civil-Intelligence Relations, and Democracy

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pp. vii-xix

Intelligence and intelligence services are simultaneously necessary for democracy and a threat to it. But this topic is remarkably little developed. There are bookshelves of studies of civil-military relations but almost no counterpart investigations of intelligence. Intelligence failures have fascinated scholars (and exasperated decision makers), but even here our knowledge is thin, and in other areas of intelligence the studies are thinner. This is particularly true for...


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pp. xxi-xxii

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Introduction: Intelligence Reform: Balancing Democracy and Effectiveness

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pp. 1-24

While there is probably agreement on the importance of the topic of studying intelligence, there is little published material on how to do so. This is paradoxical, because as a category of individuals, it would be difficult to find a more self-critical, analytical, and demanding group of people than intelligence personnel. As a profession, they more closely...

Part One: Challenges to Effective Intelligence in Modern Democracies

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One: Executive Privilege: Intelligence Oversight in the United States

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pp. 27-50

The institutions that have been created to control intelligencein the United States, as elsewhere, reside formally in executive, legislative, judicial, and internal controls as well as informally in public scrutiny of the intelligence community (IC). And although these structures and processes exist, they have been part of and continue to evolve. This chapter will discuss these procedures, their origins, and the impact of recent changes in oversight stemming...

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Two: Rethinking Judicial Oversight of Intelligence

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pp. 51-72

To function effectively, all democratic governments must subject their actions to open public debate, review, discussion, and response. These are the essential ingredients of oversight and accountability. Yet, to survive in an often hostile world, these same governments must also be able to collect, analyze, and use foreign and domestic intelligence—information of ongoing value only insofar as its methods of collection and secrecy can be maintained. This is the...

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Three: U.S. Intelligence Prior to 9/11 and Obstacles to Reform

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pp. 73-95

Many factors contributed to the failure of the U.S. intelligence community (IC) to detect the al Qaeda terrorist network’s plans to use hijacked commercial aircraft to carry out the suicide attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. This chapter focuses on those features of IC performance that were affected by the United States’ political tradition based on democratic principles that emphasize and protect the individual freedom of each...

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Four: Keeping ‘‘Earthly Awkwardness’’: Failures of Intelligence in the United Kingdom

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pp. 96-120

The production of intelligence is a process by which knowledge is developed so that it provides support and/or justification for government action—that is, policy. As such, intelligence production represents one particular example of the more general social phenomenon by which knowledge interacts with power. But it is a particularly important example because the consequences of the intelligence/policy nexus can, quite literally, be matters of life and death. ...

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Five: Cultural Legacies of French Intelligence

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pp. 121-146

Many countries have ambiguous relations with their intelligence services. Even mature democracies find intelligence-state relations to be subjects of some delicacy. Given a history of war, invasion, empire, and on occasion a shaky but ultimately triumphant tradition of republican control of the military, one might logically conclude that, of all countries, intelligence should play a critical, central role for France. But while that role has been central, it...

Part Two: Democratic Control of Intelligence in New Democracies

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Six: Structural Change and Democratic Control of Intelligence in Brazil

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pp. 149-169

Structural change has been the main feature of the Brazilian intelligence sector since 1999. In order to evaluate the achievements, failures, and consequences of this structural change, this chapter will explore two separate paths simultaneously. Regarding the first path, one must start searching for an explanation for the causal nexus between the processes of institutional transformation (i.e., organizational and legal changes) and degrees of democratic control. It is important to know how much the changes observed...

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Seven: Taiwan’s Intelligence Reform in an Age of Democratization

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pp. 170-194

Four factors shaped the reform of security and intelligence agencies in the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan: democratization; Taiwanization of the state and the Nationalist Party; continuing concerns over the People’s Republic of China (PRC); and scandals related to intelligence failures or malfeasance.1 For most of the cold war, the Nationalist regime was authoritarian but never sought the degree of totalitarian control that its rivals across the strait, the...

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Eight: Establishing Democratic Control of Intelligence in Argentina

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pp. 195-218

The involvement of the legislative branch in setting up and controlling intelligence activities is a crucial aspect of establishing democratic control and effectiveness. This supervision must be in accord with two basic parameters: the control of the intelligence operations (which, in order to be effective, need to be secret); and budgetary control, because intelligence is an activity that is highly specialized and, at least in some areas of tradecraft, involves significant...

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Nine: Romania’s Transition To Democracy and the Role of the Press in Intelligence Reform

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pp. 219-240

Since the end of the Communist regime, Romania has tried to consolidate its democracy by gaining acceptance from elites and civil society, reforming and restructuring the economy, and bringing the armed forces and intelligence agencies under democratic, civilian control. Years after the end of the cold war, the postcommunist intelligence community, once persona non grata has, surprisingly, becomeone of the more trusted state institutions in Romania. Two factors can...

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Ten: Transforming Intelligence in South Africa

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pp. 241-268

By most objective standards, intelligence sector reform in South Africa seems to be a model for success. Not only have the intelligence services been transformed from militarized and highly repressive instruments of internal control into what appear to be more transparent and democratically accountable civilian-led agencies designed to inform policy, but they have done so in a systematic manner that conforms to policy prescriptions and theories of experts in...

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Eleven: Terrorism’s Threat To New Democracies: The Case of Russia

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pp. 269-300

In this chapter, I address the relationship between democratic civilian control over intelligence and security agencies in the Russian Federation.1 Since the mid-1990s, Russia has had to deal with increasingly frequent acts of terror committed by (or sometimes only attributed to) the Chechen separatists. I examine the relationship between the government’s response to terrorism and the reform of the intelligence agencies. Russia is perhaps the most difficult case of all postcommunist states...

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Twelve: Ethical and Moral Issues in Intelligence Reform: The Philippines

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pp. 301-330

Reform of security services in emerging democracies is one of the most important tasks facing these governments in the process of democratization.1 This chapter will examine the tortuous road to intelligence and military reform since the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines in 1986. The Marcos period (1965–1986) was marked by an unprecedented politicization...

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Conclusion: Best Practices: Balancing Democracy and Effectiveness

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pp. 331-343

Intelligence reform will undoubtedly continue to be an extremely important issue, and sometime dilemma, for every democratic nation. For those countries that are (or will be) on the path toward democratic consolidation, restructuring intelligence organizations is, as the authors have made clear throughout this book, an exceptionally difficult task, with many pitfalls and no clear road map. It is also obvious that democratic consolidation cannot occur without establishing...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 345-355

About the Contributors

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pp. 357-361


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pp. 363-385

E-ISBN-13: 9780292794764
E-ISBN-10: 0292794762
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292716605
Print-ISBN-10: 0292716605

Page Count: 407
Illustrations: 9 figures, 5 tables
Publication Year: 2007