Intelligence services

Simon Chesterman

in Private Security, Public Order

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199574124
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191721816 | DOI:
 Intelligence services

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This chapter surveys the manner in which US intelligence functions have been outsourced in collection activities such as electronic surveillance, rendition, and interrogation, as well as the growing reliance on private actors for analysis. The different incentives that exist for private and public employees call for wariness in determining whether and to what extent intelligence functions should be outsourced. The simplest way of containing some of the accountability-related problems would be to forbid certain activities from being delegated or outsourced to private actors at all. A determination of which activities to forbid, however, is far from simple. In the United States, this question is framed in the language of ‘inherently governmental’ functions: those to be carried out by government employees only. There is, however, great uncertainty over the meaning of the term and little prospect of intelligence agencies adopting a robust definition of ‘inherently governmental’ functions.

Keywords: privatization; private military and security companies; PMSCs; intelligence agencies; inherently governmental functions; accountability; transparency; limits on privatization

Chapter.  9711 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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