Actions

Intelligence and Surveillance

From Baripedia


How can the logic of intelligence, its transformations, but also the intelligence professions and the different intelligence agencies, their transformation, be read and understood through the common thread of state building and the role of violence management in the process of state building and its contemporary aftermath? Intelligence is both a practice and a profession, there is a fairly clear affinity in terms of risk logic.

The emergence of intelligence within the State and the structuring of its various agencies[edit | edit source]

Birth of Intelligence[edit | edit source]

The spy is a very common actor in our landscape and our everyday imaginary world. Nevertheless, intelligence is an institutionalized practice. The will to know where the occult and secret dimension of politics is something that has always existed. The practice of secrecy and intelligence, but also of concealment and conspiracy is something that has always existed. In the exercise of power, there is always an occult secret part. Inform him is very early appeared in the practice of war, knowing the movements of his enemies is a valuable information in the course of a fight and a war.

It was only from the second half of the 19th century onwards, and at the beginning of the 20th century, that intelligence was established as a specific discipline that became professionalized and institutionalized. Alain Dewerpe talks about a bureaucratization of secrecy. Dewerpe wrote Espion which is an excellent book on the advent of information. The invention of modern intelligence is linked to the emergence of the state, which is linked to a widely discussed phenomenon of bureaucratization and rationalization. This results in rationalisation. A bureaucratic logic takes us away from the romantic view of intelligence. A logic of bureaucratization means that when we talk about intelligence, we are in a logic of knowing as precisely as possible. We're gonna know better than guess. When the modern state is interested in intelligence, it will do so in the form of bureaucratization with a desire to have more and more accurate intelligence.

A programme of Total Science[edit | edit source]

According to this logic, intelligence becomes a total science with the aim of informing political decision making. It's a political science of state secrecy. As early as the 19th century, intelligence, by institutionalizing and bureaucratizing itself, proposed to go relatively far. We are in positivism, that is to say, we are moving towards a logic of trying to have the most total science possible. Intelligence is intended to go beyond the social sciences. Intelligence informs political decision making just as political science is supposed to do. In this institutional context, intelligence is a total science. In 1789, Des Essarts says that there are no limits to state security when its security is engaged. Intelligence becomes the service of state security, which is gradually institutionalized. This information is primarily police information. There is an obsession with microscopic detail with an attempt to have a perfect knowledge of society.

Since the beginning of the 19th century, there has been a police knowledge that was developed, eventually giving rise to the notion of "State security" and "State protection". At the doctrine level, it is rather at the level of military know-how that intelligence will be structured. We have seen the importance of looking separately, but also in parallel to the police security logic, we are faced with parallel development. Police development is linked to state security, but also to the practice of war itself. Until Napoleon, intelligence was not something permanent. A trusted officer was mandated to make reconnaissance, intelligence was carried out in a temporary form. There was no intelligence structure remaining. With the establishment of a second office, a permanent monitoring structure was set up. In an increasingly total logic of warfare, the practice of security extends to the entire political space. In a total war, we are no longer only interested in intelligence on the ground, but also in knowing what is happening behind the lines and in particular the morale of the population, the state of the country's living forces itself, its population, its resources; there is a need to map everything. From the moment that the idea of intelligence is implemented as a total science as Dewerpe postulates, intelligence is limited only by the means at its disposal. The current mass monitoring is because it is technologically possible, one remains in a will of total knowledge, but one cannot have and must analyze.

It is at the beginning of the twentieth century that it was institutionalized as known today. The first secret service bureaucracies emerged in particular around the fight against anarchist movements in Europe. Russian and Austro-Hungarian intelligence was among the most active in the struggles against opponents, anarchists and early communists. An authoritarian regime is obsessed with an internal enemy. Intelligence watchers are interested in looking for an enemy and finding out what is happening abroad. Very early on, cooperation was established between states that were not necessarily democratic in terms of intelligence. In Switzerland, the birth of intelligence is linked to the will to fight against subversive elements, but also to a strong push by foreign governments in order to be able to exchange information about these potentially subversive elements installed in Switzerland. The birth of the federal police force is strongly linked to this demand for cooperation.

At the turn of the 19th century, around the fight against anarchy and various other subversive elements, the first secret services appeared, as they appear today in Europe. From the 1930s to the 1950s, there was an expansion and intensification of these bureaucracies. In the United States, the CIA was only created after the Second World War. There is an intensification as there will be more and more efficient services. It was only in the 20th century, then, that the idea and practice of permanent and institutionalised secrecy became established.

Nature of the information and its agencies[edit | edit source]

What is intelligence as it is practiced and how does it work? What are the different canons of the trade?

Two definitions can be distinguished. According to Stéphane Leman-Langlois,"Intelligence is the logical, useful and efficient organization of a series of information on a particular subject. It's a pretty narrow definition. One of the central issues of intelligence and information and the triage of information that is analysis. According to Jacques Baud,"The primary purpose of intelligence is to provide the decision maker with information relevant to his decision-making and to inform the decision. It is the "raw material" of the decision and should therefore ideally be based on accurate, accurate, complete and objective information ". This definition is more operational. We see the importance of intelligence, that is to say, we do not make good decisions without good information; we need a concrete and objective definition.

Quite quickly intelligence is distinguished by different practices. Three can be distinguished, but there is a fairly extensive literature on the subject:

  • criminal intelligence: refers to perpetrators, events, sentences, networks, assets and liabilities, travel, places, means of transportation, methods of communication, but which have in common to be related to common crime. We are in a classic police intelligence logic because to conduct an investigation, we need information in order to build a file that allows us to be investigated. Intelligence is an integral part of the judicial police. We are going to gather clues, but as such it is not evidence, but evidence to investigate a case. Intelligence is part of criminal justice, but framed within a legal framework that is a rule of law. Intelligence can be provided within a specific legal framework.
  • Security Intelligence: deals with the prevention of attacks on national security (subversion, foreign interference, espionage, terrorism). Security intelligence extends abroad and concerns the protection of the state, at the internal level, we are in the "high police". Security intelligence is something that is spreading, especially abroad. Criminal intelligence is internally regulated by a legal framework, and external intelligence is not regulated by the same rules. The same rules do not apply to intelligence services if they are internal or external. One is a legal framework and the other is beyond the domain of state reason.
  • military intelligence: refers to the equipment, manpower, movements, methods, technologies, strategies and tactics of foreign military forces. In a new security environment, we can see that military intelligence is no longer necessarily the main component of intelligence today, even if it exists everywhere.

But intelligence is not evidence. These types of information differ in the context in which they occur, but in any event, regardless of the type of information collected, intelligence is not evidence. The evidence is of a different nature, it is aimed at charging individuals and must meet strict legal criteria. Thus, knowledge is not equivalent to being able to prove.

There are two types of intelligence sources: open and closed sources. An intelligence officer will not only be interested in closed sources:

  • Open sources ": in general, corresponds to what is available to the public, i. e. the media, official documents, publications, public speeches, trials, expert reports, internet or annual reports;
  • Closed sources "" sources "": what is confidential, reserved, exclusive use, or "secret defence"; infiltration, denunciation, direct observation, interception, surveillance, exchanges, analysis with "added value".

There is enough distinction between the types of sources with human intelligence:

  • HUMINT "(Human Intelligence): corresponds to all human sources, testimonies, infiltration, observation, interrogations, denunciation, direct listening.
  • SIGINT SIGINT (Signal Intelligence): here we group together the various interceptions of communications, and by extension the sources involving a form of surveillance technology.

This distinction is very important and today is the focus of much debate in the intelligence community as since 9/11, American intelligence has shifted to technological intelligence. The PRISM program is about technology intelligence. From the NSA's perspective, this is the most effective way to do intelligence. This has always been a structuring dimension of intelligence and today, technological intelligence is being promoted and increasingly used.

Intelligence has been theorized in the form of an intelligence cycle that will identify a need, collect information and then process the information by analyzing it. Since we cannot know everything, we are going to enter into interpretive logics entering into proactive logics. The last stage of the cycle is dissemination and communication to States, but also to private actors. Economic intelligence also operates on the same principle. Private intelligence follows the same logic in the information cycle, its logic and processing.

Intelligence agencies are thus very diverse and obey different logics according to their field of action, whether it is internal or external, there will be agencies that will distinguish themselves. In the United States, the FBI conducts criminal investigations does not necessarily operate proactively, whereas the CIA deals with the outside world acting outside the United States, which is not subject to the same rule as the FBI. Targeted killings take place outside any legal framework. The internal is the external is structuring in the constitution of intelligence agencies. After 9/11, one of the main criticisms was that the CIA and the FBI had not cooperated enough. Things are going the same way in other countries. In France, there was the DGSI inside and the DGSE outside, there is this differentiation between internal and external and what distinguishes the two is a legal framework. In Switzerland, there was the SRS and SAP which in 2010 merged. It is the idea of merging intelligence services in a world where threats have become transnational. There is considerable reluctance within agencies with different work cultures, but it is also legally complicated because these agencies operate according to completely different logics.

Two objections must be kept in mind when we talk about intelligence agencies, which is the opposition between internal and external with the mission of fighting crime and protecting the ground.

The transformation of intelligence practices: towards mass surveillance?[edit | edit source]

We will see that when we look at contemporary logics and transformations, these distinctions are beginning to break down and blur between the internal and external, between a clear legal framework and no legal framework, but also between the private and the public.

Intelligence and new challenges of globalisation[edit | edit source]

We see that with the imposition of a discourse on globalized security, there will be a need to transform intelligence as a practice and thus reorganize it by moving the lines. According to the 2008 CSS ETH report,"At the end of the Cold War, the threat spectrum became more complex and broader. There was no central stereotype of the enemy. We see how the end of the Cold War reappears as an admission of loss of meaning. That's the confession we're lost. The purpose of intelligence is to be able to make prospective analysis all the more if one is completely lost. We're going to need more and more prospective analysis. We fall into the logic that intelligence officers become like a form of meteorology. This part of the intelligence profession will become extremely important. The rationality and logic of risk have extremely clear affinities with intelligence taking on an increasingly important role. We're in a risk rationality. At the end of the Cold War, there appeared a fairly clear affinity between the affinities underlying the practices and the logics underlying those practices. For Didier Bigo, we went from the red wire to the green wire. If there is confusion is a lack of understanding, it is also because there is confusion is an incomprehension in the heads of people who are supposed to explain what is happening. We are faced with fears that are within our very societies, being both in a transnational and societal logic of our societies. Intelligence is faced with the same problems and will reorganize itself according to this same problem common to the different professions and practices.

Does the broadening of the threat spectrum in a global security context justify a transformation of intelligence practice?

Edouard Snowden worked for a private company that worked with the NSA. This whistleblower revealed the existence of NSA mass surveillance programs such as PRISM and other integrative platforms. PRISM, also known as Xkeyscore, involves delivering large amounts of data from private players such as Skype and Facebook and telecoms without users being notified in advance. The upstream is truly representative of mass monitoring by connecting to cables to extract information directly from them. We are not looking for something specific, there are flows in which we will store something we are looking for. Beyond the NSA, which deals with electronic surveillance, other countries have been more or less involved in this matter. The NSA and other agencies collaborated with other intelligence services to conduct mass surveillance beyond democratic and parliamentary scrutiny. Some states will work together, but not on everything. France also has a system managed by the DGSE with a upstream project, notably on cables in Djibouti. Even with Great Britain, there are cases where the NSA did not exchange information. Collaboration takes place on specific issues, particularly in terms of counter-terrorism issues. Various intelligence specialists exchange information, the best known of which is the Bern Club.

From targeted to mass surveillance[edit | edit source]

The upstream logic means that we don't know why the data are collected because we can monitor everything is anything. There is a difference between targeted intelligence and mass surveillance. There is an imbalance with respect to a targeted intelligence operation since the same data could be targeted for counter-terrorism, illegal immigration or economic intelligence. The more targeted way of functioning is linked to a way of doing things in liberal democracies, that is, there is a sort of tacit agreement that a democracy functions according to a logic of power and counter-power with the possibility of bringing intelligence services to order.

The transition to mass surveillance is not insignificant. In the past, this was justifiable in relation to suspicions, we were going to target someone in relation to a specific framework. The shift to mass surveillance is not insignificant because it completely reverses the burden of proof. We are in a reverse logic of mass surveillance where the challenge is to manage information flows, it is up to individuals to lift the suspicion on their behaviour by showing transparency. Everyone is potentially suspicious. This idea is typical of an authoritarian regime and a police state that is controlling its population because we fear that it threatens us. Mass surveillance is for authoritarian states.

At the end of the 1980s, it was made public that the Swiss federal authorities and cantonal police forces had observed about 900,000 people in Switzerland (700,000 people and organisations according to official sources) more or less actively and had thus produced fact sheets on these people. The purpose of this file was to protect Switzerland from subversive communist activities. The discovery of the card scandal raised widespread protests at the time. This undermined confidence in the Swiss state. Finally, all departments and the army maintained secret databases. There was an obsession with files with between 700,000 and 900,000 people registered for a population of 6 million in Switzerland. There have been a series of parliamentary committees that have brought out cases.

In general, in liberal democracies, there is no mass filing except for a few exceptions such as Switzerland with the case of cards. We have remained in a logic of democratic collective, currently, Switzerland, on the issue of data protection has a protective legislation and where the intelligence services are relatively controlled and supervised. During the Cold War, the entity that dealt with the card was the BUPO, the Bundespolizei. Intelligence in Switzerland today has changed a lot.

A distinction must be made between an authoritarian regime and a liberal democracy. The practice of mass surveillance finds it rather difficult to find its place in a democratic system. A democratic regime could be differentiated from a police regime based on the scale of intelligence surveillance. This consensus has been somewhat undermined today. It is precisely the purpose and scale of surveillance that differentiates a democratic regime from a police state.

Transforming National Security[edit | edit source]

It would be untrue today to think that we are in an Orwellian logic referring to the 1984 work with an eye that would keep an eye on everyone in order to monitor and control people. One of the issues in order to understand the arrival of mass surveillance and the acceptance of mass surveillance in our liberal societies is that there is a transformation in liberal democracies in the report to surveillance. There is a need to identify new enemies in a context of globalization of the threat. Resistance to mass surveillance has been weakened by the September 11 attacks and the War on Terrorism. The questioning becomes that of the relationship between security and freedom. There was a perception of the relationship between security and freedom as a balance. That was the image that was served during those years. From the moment we accept this image, it is security that wins because we are afraid. Technological innovations allow the processing of a much larger volume of data, henceforth, one manages a huge number of data. The Echelon program, which was unveiled in the early 2000s, was based on a series of stations in the United States, Great Britain, and also in New Zealand to receive almost all telecommunications around the world. In this context, there will be some form of redefinition of national security. The lines will get blurred.

In this context, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the judiciary to supervise intelligence activities. In other words, by benefiting from the vagueness between internal and external, but also between the private and the public, it becomes all the more difficult for the judiciary to supervise intelligence. In this indifference between the internal and the external, between the fight against crime and the protection of the State, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between the interests of the State, i. e. what is really dangerous and, above all, which indistinguishes the interests of the State from those of private actors. All this mixing creates some kind of madness. Mass surveillance goes beyond the defence of privacy, and this mass surveillance questions the very definition of democracy, since these are practices that cannot be legally supervised and controlled. Recently, Switzerland has signed the PMR agreements with Russia, which are agreements for the exchange of traveller information between countries, but we do not know what happens to this data.

The question of the acceptance of mass surveillance in liberal society raises a paradox. In a democracy, mass surveillance raises the paradox that it is justified in the name of protecting our democratic values, i. e. we are going to accept surveillance for our own protection.

Towards mass cyber-surveillance?[edit | edit source]

Mass monitoring was made possible by the change of scale by technological means not previously available. This is now possible. This series of programs based on technological intelligence in relation to human intelligence has produced effects. This is not only a reason for surveillance, but there are different reasons that will explain the implementation of these mass surveillance tools. The practice of mass surveillance involves dangers. A series of programs since the early 2000s such as PNR or MATRIX, and developing integrated platforms, have blurred the distinction between targeted surveillance (justified by the fight against crime) and data mining, which by its logic entails the risk of extending the scale and nature of surveillance. The very logic of intelligence will have consequences, that is to say, knowing who decides which reading key to choose. While there is consensus on what is dangerous, there are different ways of dealing with these problems. The way we deal with information, decide what we get out of it or profile it, are the fruits of different agencies that do not necessarily agree. It is possible to use the same data to do a lot of things. There is a digitisation of the state reason that means of surveillance are no longer there to give orders, but to ensure protection.

We could also say that we are transforming ourselves too. Perhaps something that has changed is that there is a certain acceptance that assumes that we are all more or less involved in these networks. In the Orwellian vision, surveillance has an oppressive form. Today, monitoring logic is accepted as part of everyday life. Perhaps these means of surveillance have finally been accepted because they are there to protect us.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Where to draw the red line? What is acceptable or unacceptable about monitoring and what can be done about it? Is that acceptable and should we drop some of our freedoms, are there legal provisions that would allow us to draw a red line between what is acceptable and unacceptable?

Today, when we see the answers to the PRISM case in particular, we are in a geopolitical cyber-political situation where the reaction of most States has been a national reaction to guarantee the security of their own citizens. The question of a sovereign answer was ultimately only to recreate a form of geopolitics in cyberspace. In After Snowden: Rethinking the Impact of Surveillance published in 2014, it is shown that this is not a cosmopolitan reaction, the answers are quite national.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]