Intelligence: A PD Nightmare

“Intelligence has never played so prominent a role in the public affairs of western societies as it does today” (Scott & Hughes, abs, 2009).

Following September 11, 2001, this statement has taken on a new meaning of truth. Nations have to address to what end they are willing to push intelligence for the sake of national security, to what place intelligence gathering is going in the future. Moreover, the more technology advances, the easier it becomes to collect crucial intelligence. In the face of today’s challenges with terrorism and cyber threats, critical questions must be answered on how the intelligence community (IC) will approach them in the future while instilling confidence that the process works in the favor of public interest.

As our nation draws down from two devastating conflicts, the IC has serious questions to answer about what role they will play in the future. Our country will inevitably – as recent events have shown – have to continue to fight a global war against terrorism and extremism, but as the fog of 9/11 lifts, both policymakers and the public will levy more scrutiny on intelligence gathering processes. In addition, as the focus has been so intimately on counter-terrorism in the Middle East and surrounding areas, it remains to be seen on how the IC will adjust to the new foreign policy missions and threats that face our nation.

In the realm of how foreign nations view our country, this also lends a prominent face to the US. With the latest reveal of NSA wiretapping programs, and the ill-fated PRISM, it will inevitably be harder to convince the world that the goals of US foreign policy are to promote freedom from tyranny. The main argument for the two programs is that they are consistent with FISA statute, and only used to target foreign citizens. While the mainstream media is focused on whether or not these programs violate our own citizens constitutional rights, they should also take into account how this will be messaged to foreign populations. PD should be used to communicate this, but it is likely it will be lost in the internal debate in the US.

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