Intelligence and security: Role of intelligence within machinery of government
Coinciding with the centenary celebrations of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, aka MI6) and the Security Service (MI5), a special issue of Public Policy and Administration published this week by SAGE explores the relationship between intelligence, security, and government and public administration.
Access to information on the intelligence services has become more open since the early 1990's. In the last decade, terrorist attacks and wars have placed intelligence in the spotlight, but without any close examination of the machinery of government intelligence agencies and intelligence communities form part of.
Exploring both practitioner accounts and academic theory, the collection presents a fascinating analysis of historical and contemporary security and intelligence, exploring organisational structures; relationships between different intelligence agencies; the concept of the 'intelligence community'; and the role of intelligence within the machinery of government.
The special issue includes articles from Sir David Omand and Sir David Pepper, both ex Directors of the government intelligence communications centre, GCHQ, writing in a personal capacity. Writing on his experiences of both US and UK intelligence communities, Sir David Omand's article indicates how separate funding arrangements within government, the need for separate advice and the reality of rivalry has in the past led to the difficulty of seeing intelligence as a single focused arm of government; yet the need for co-ordination and 'joined up' approaches especially after 9/11 make the case for a stronger sense of intelligence community. Sir David Pepper's article shows how GCHQ used modern management approaches often adapted from the private sector in the wake of massive changes in the post Cold War security environment, particularly in the context of the explosion of the internet as a communications media.
Leading academics contributing to the special issue include Philip Davies, Christopher Grey and Andrew Sturdy, Martin Smith and Christopher Murphy. Presenting historical investigations of individual agencies, Grey and Sturdy provide a controversial analysis of Bletchley Park, the site of British Allied code breaking during World War 2, suggesting that the success of the organisation was a result of its chaotic, informal approach and the lack of focused organisational structures. Chris Murphy presents a less successful model from the Special Operations Executive, the body set up to encourage resistance in occupied Europe and the British Empire.
Other articles provide a general understanding of how intelligence communities work. Philip Davies outlines various perspectives on the intelligence and security communities: from part of the 'core executive' of government to the organisational politics of inter-agency dependence and the rivalrous search for primacy and influence, to the playing out of bureaucratic power building and 'bureau shaping'.
"Taken together this collection is unique," commented joint editor Duncan McTavish. "The journal and its editors (including the editor of this special issue Philip Davies) have facilitated and published a major contribution to scholarly thinking in the field."