The vigilant state: the politics of intelligence and secrecy po382

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The University of Warwick
Department of Politics and International Studies



Undergraduate Module Handbook, 2014-15 – updated 1 October 2014

Lectures Wednesday 12.00 LIB1
Seminars Thursday 11.00 S2.81

Thursday 13.00 H3.02

Thursday 14.00 S0.28

Thursday 15.00 S0.03

Friday 11.00 H2.45

Module tutors: Richard J. Aldrich & Dina Rezk

Office hours: Wednesday 13.00-14.00 (Aldrich) C1.04

Thursday13.00-14.30 (Rezk)




Module aims and objectives 3

Assessment 4-5

Non-Assessed Essays 5

Assessed Essays 6-7

Lecture schedule 8

Seminar schedule 9

Approach to Reading and Key Material 10

Reading List 12

* The title of this module draws its inspiration from Bernard Porter, The Origins of the Vigilant State: The London Metropolitan Police Special Branch before the First World War (1991).

Module Overview
This module aims to investigate the nature of the 'vigilant state'. It focuses upon the apparatus developed by modern states to permit the surveillance of both international and domestic threats to their security. It will examine the major competing theories concerning the repeated failure of the vigilant state in the face of surprise attack at the international level, subjecting these to careful comparative analysis and reviewing the competing theoretical explanations. Consideration will be given to the role of domestic political monitoring within both democratic and authoritarian states. Attention will also be given to the problem of reconciling clandestine and/or covert methods, traditionally associated with operational efficiency, with the degree of transparency and accountability normally expected of the executive of a democratic state. The final section of the module will turn to look at the future development of some of these issues against a background of rapid technical change and globalisation.
In short, this module aims to introduce to the various debates that have characterised the use of secret service by the state in the international and domestic context. Although the terms 'espionage', 'intelligence' and 'secret service' are all central to the concerns of this module they have been deliberately avoided in the above module description given in the handbook. This is because this module aims to situate all these things in a broader governmental context, viewing them as aspects of international statecraft or as constitutional problems or as issues of civil rights. Accordingly, this module is as much about how policy-makers make use, or fail to make use, of intelligence, and how secret services might be regulated within a constitutional framework, as about the practice of secret service itself.
Aims - The module aims to:

  • develop an understanding of the origins and developments of intelligence services

  • explore the main theoretical approaches to intelligence and surveillance

  • offer an understanding of the issues surrounding intelligence failure

  • analyse key ethical and policy dilemmas and issues raised by CT intelligence

  • assess the contemporary debates about globalization and the future of intelligence

Objectives- On completion of this module, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate an appreciation of the historical context of intelligence

  • critically discuss the characteristics of the accountability frameworks

  • assess the strengths and weaknesses of the key theoretical debates governing the intelligence cycle

  • critically analyse, both orally and in writing, the current issues facing national and regional approaches to intelligence

Learning Methods

There will be a weekly lecture and a weekly seminar running through the academic year. This is a lecture and seminar-based module, entailing a 45 min lecture by Richard Aldrich on Wednesdays. This will be followed on Thursday or Friday by a seminar discussion of the previous week's topic, led by Dina Rezk, with student presentations and structured student interaction (in the form of group discussion, for example). Presentation topics will be allocated in week one. Students are expected to complete the essential reading for each week and to actively contribute to the discussion. Students are further expected to engage in independent study, employing the reading lists and other sources to deepen their knowledge of the subject.

The mode of assessment for this module is via one of three methods outlined in the undergraduate handbook. Please see this for details. NB essays are 3,000 words.
All students handing in assessed work should ensure that they are aware of the

relevant information in the Undergraduate Handbook.

- for the assessed 3,000 word essay, you can either choose a title from the Assessed Essay title list, or alternatively you can negotiate your own title. I recommend the former.
- if you negotiate a title with your tutor you must submit a title form to the office by the Negotiated Title Deadline listed in the PAIS Undergraduate Handbook.
- do not produce fact-hogging 'term papers' on 'topics' as they will get low marks
- pay attention to identifying where the schools of thought are
- include an element of literature review and tell us who argues what
- make sure you produce an essay that answers the question directly
- do not hesitate to take issue with the wording of the question
- get it in 24 hrs before the deadline to allow for computer problems


Non-assessed Essays (Formative)


1. Is it best to conceptualize intelligence largely in terms of "information" or in terms of "secrets" or in terms of “conspiracies”?
2. Can most states now abandon costly secret collection through human and technical methods, in favour of harnessing abundant open sources such as the internet?
3. Critically assess Michael Handel’s view that surprise attacks are best explained in terms of "paradoxes" ? Are these paradoxes impossible to resolve?
4. Who are the characteristics of a good consumer of intelligence?
5. Why has there traditionally been so little multi-lateral intelligence sharing? Has this changed since 9/11?
6 Reading Week
7 "9/11 was primarily a failure of intelligence collection” Discuss
8 Why have conspiratorial accounts of 9/11 proved to be so widely accepted in the United States?
9 Given that Iraqi WMD was a familiar 'Cold War Type' intelligence problem of strategic weapons estimates, why did western agencies get this so wrong?
10 Can effective counter-terrorist intelligence be reconciled with the robust protection of civil liberties?
11 "The paramilitaries in Northern Ireland were largely defeated thought the remorseless application of intelligence pressure." Discuss.
12 Discuss the changing role of intelligence in US counter-terrorist activity between 2001 and 2011?
13 Was secret policing the defining characteristic of Hitler’s Germany?

1 What is secret intelligence? 1 Oct in LIB.1


2 In the field: the gritty problems of collection 8 Oct in LIB.1

3 Estimates and interpretation: the problems of analysis 15 Oct in LIB.1

4 Intelligence at the top: producer-consumer linkage 22 Oct in LIB.1

5 Liaison: the delicate diplomacy of intelligence 29 Oct in LIB.1
6 Reading Week: No Lectures 3-7 Nov

7 9/11 - What kind of failure 12 Nov in LIB.1

8 Proliferation and WMD - the Iraq Case 19 Nov in LIB.1

9 Intelligence and the liberal state: counter-terrorism [VIDEO] 26 Nov in LIB.1

10 Intelligence and counter-terrorism: the market state 3 Dec in LIB.1

11 Intelligence and Tyranny: the non-democratic State 7 Jan in LIB.1


12 The problems of accountability and democratic control 14 Jan in LIB.1

13 The problems of civil rights and intelligence 21 Jan in LIB.1

14 Ethics and Espionage 28 Jan in LIB.1

15 Torture and Assassination 4 Feb in LIB.1
16 Reading Week 9-14 Feb

17 Covert Action 18 Feb in LIB.1

18 Intelligence and Deception 25 Mar in LIB.1

19 Intelligence for NGOs and Peacekeeping 4 Mar in LIB.1


20 Intelligence in a globalising world 11 March in LIB.1

21 Revision Q&A session 22 April in LIB.1


Your presentation topics will be allocated in week one

1 Meet to assign seminars and roles 2 Oct

2 What is secret intelligence? [Bring your 50 word definition] 9 Oct

3 In the field: the gritty problems of collection 16 Oct

4 Estimates and interpretation: the problems of analysis 23 Oct

5 Intelligence at the top: producer-consumer linkage 30 Oct

6 Reading Week: No Lectures 3-7 Nov

7 Liaison: the delicate diplomacy of intelligence 13 Nov

8 9/11 - What kind of failure 20 Nov

9 Proliferation and WMD - the Iraq Case 27 Jan

10 Intelligence and the liberal state: counter-terrorism 4 Dec

11 Intelligence and counter-terrorism: the market state 8 Jan

12 Intelligence and Tyranny: the non-democratic state 15 Jan


13 The problems of accountability and democratic control 22 Jan

14 The problems of civil rights and intelligence 29Jan

15 Ethics and Espionage 5 Feb

16 Reading Week 9-13 Feb

17 Torture and Assassination 19 Feb

18 Covert Action 26 Feb

19 Intelligence and Deception 5 March

20 Intelligence for NGOs and Peacekeeping 12 March
21 Intelligence in a globalising world 24 April


1. Quantity and Quality of Reading
The module text books. You are expected to read widely, but selectively. As a broad guideline, for most essays, semester-time or exam-time, it is sufficient to look at the two course text books, two additional books and four articles. There is a lot of reading on this list because different books address different essay titles under each topic heading, and also because I wish to ensure an ample supply of literature.
Please note that this is a relatively new module at Warwick, confronting the Library with the problem of trying to acquire a lot of books that are now out of print. They have done wonders!!! They do not yet have everything on the bibliography - but they have secured almost all the material. If it is not yet there I have entered NIL - but new stuff is arriving all the time, so if the class mark is not added, that does not mean its not there – so check!
This is a fast-moving subject, never more so than the last few years. Accordingly, journal articles are increasingly important. Warwick has everything we need here so if in doubt head for the journal articles. Many of the best ones are collected in the various edited collections/readers.
Copies of most core readings are available either in the Library Short Loan Collection (SLC), Learning Grid or online. If a core reading is not available in this manner, you should consult the Subject Librarian and your module tutor.

2. Case Studies

You may approach your essays in a variety of different ways. You may wish to write a broad generic essay (and this is a broad generic module) or you may wish to choose to answer a question by focusing upon one or a number of case studies. HOWEVER, YOU MUST BE CLEAR THAT CASE STUDIES IN THIS MODULE ARE INTENDED TO THROW LIGHT UPON GENERAL IDEAS AND PRINCIPLES, NOT VICE VERSA.

3. Module text book -

* CM Andrew, R.J. Aldrich & W.K. Wark (eds), Secret Intelligence: A Reader (London: Routledge, December 2008). 540pp. 978-0-415-42024-2 UB 250.S3
The Andrew/Aldrich/Wark reader is closely attuned to this module for obvious reasons. It also has reading lists and seminar questions.

Six other books/readers that overview well are available - >
Peter Gill and Mark Phythian, Intelligence in an Insecure World (Cambridge: Polity 20012 2nd edition) UB 250.I6
M. Herman, Intelligence Power in Peace and War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996) & UB 250.H3
L. Johnson & J. Wirtz (eds.), Intelligence and National Security: The Secret World of Spies OUP UB 250.I6
M.M. Lowenthal, Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy (Third Edition -Washington DC: CQ Press, 2006) UB 271.U6
D. Omand, Securing the State (Hurst/Columbia University Press, 2010) UA 647.043
A. Shulsky, Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence (NY: Brasseys, 2nd edition 1993) UB 250.S4

5. Key Journals are -


6. Key Handbooks: The major edited collections of essays for this subject are:
a. Loch Johnson (ed.) Strategic Intelligence - 5 Volumes UB 250.S6385
b. Loch Johnson (ed.) Handbook of Intelligence Studies JC 842.H2
c. Loch Johnson (ed.) Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence UB 250.O9
d. R. Dover, M. Goodman and C. Hillebrand, Routledge Companion to Intelligence Studies, 
7. Coursework Support

Please contact us if you have any difficulties with the course or the course work. We are available to see you during our office hours. You can also contact us by e-mail at or

8. Module Evaluation

Feedback and evaluation are crucial to the success of any module. We want students to have their say on Politics modules. If there are problems with book availability please raise it with the tutors for the module immediately.


  1. What is intelligence? How is it defined?

What does “intelligence” mean in different countries?

For this seminar you will be asked to each prepare a definition of intelligence that is no more than 50 words long and bring it with you to the seminar. You might find it useful however to reflect on the questions below.
Possible seminar paper questions -

    1. To what extent does the nature and value of 'intelligence' differ from 'information'?

    1. How far do you accept Michael Warner's definition that "Intelligence is secret, state activity to understand or influence foreign entities" ?

1.3 How far do you accept Michael Herman's contention that it is useful to talk about secret intelligence as a form of 'state power', akin to economic or military power?

1.4 Why is political science literature on intelligence so often about America - and is this a problem?
1.5 If we can we meaningfully talk about national strategic culture, can we also talk about national intelligence culture?

Books - Core Reading

Andrew, Aldrich & Wark (eds), Secret Intelligence Chs.1&2 UB 250.S6

B. Berkowitz and A. Goodman, Strategic Intelligence for American National Security UB.250.B3

P. Gill, S. Marrin & M. Pythian, Intelligence Theory: Key Questions and Debates Chs 2, 3, 4, 5. UB 250.I6

M. Herman, Intelligence Power, chs 1-3, 7, 21, UB 250.H3

L.K. Johnson & J. J. Wirtz, Intelligence and National Security: The Secret World of Spies UB 250.I6

L. Krizan, Intelligence Essentials for Everyone [a good short primer] UB 271.U6

Mark Lowenthal, Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy chapter 1. UB 271.U6

M. Warner, The Rise and fall of Intelligence (Georgetown UP 2013)

Books - Supplementary Reading

A. Dulles, The Craft of Intelligence [old but a good primer] UB 270.DB

J.R. Ferris, Intelligence and Strategy UB 250.F47

Peter Gill and Mark Pythian, Intelligence in and Insecure World, chapters 1 & 2. UB 270.G535

R. Godson, Intelligence Requirements, vols 1-4, UB 250.I6

Michael Herman, Intelligence Services in the Information Age UB 250.H47 chapter 1.

L. Johnson, Strategic Intelligence, Volume I. Understanding the Hidden Side of Government esp. chapters 1-3 UB 250.S6385 REF ONLY

R.V. Jones, Reflections on Intelligence UB 251.G7

J. Keegan, Intelligence in War, pp. 7-26, 321-52 UB 250.K4

S. Kent, Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy chapter 1 UB 250.K3

W. Laqueur, World of Secrets: The Uses and Limits of Intelligence pp.4-70 UB 271.U6

R.P. Pfaltzgraff et al (eds.), Intelligence Policy and National Security ch. 3. UB 250.I6

Abram N. Shulsky and Gary J. Schmitt, Silent Warfare: chapter 1. UB 250.S4

G. F. Treverton, Seth G. Jones, Steven Boraz, Phillip Lipscy, Toward a Theory of Intelligence Workshop Report, RAND available at --

B. Westerfield, Inside the CIA's Private World UB 271.U6
Articles - Core Reading

Christopher Andrew, 'Intelligence, International Relations and "Under-theorisation"' in L.V. Scott & P.D. Jackson, (eds.), Understanding Intelligence in the Twenty-First Century: Journeys in Shadows, pp.29-41. [this book is also Intelligence and National Security, 20/1 (2004)] UB 250.U53

P. Davies, 'Ideas of Intelligence: Divergent Concepts and National Institutions', Harvard International Review 24/3 (2002): 62-66

P. Gill, ‘Theories of Intelligence’, in Loch Johnson (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence.

L.K. Johnson, 'Preface to a Theory of Strategic Intelligence', International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 16/4 (Winter 2003-2004): 638-663.

D. Kahn, 'An Historical Theory of Intelligence', INS 16/3 (2001): 79-92. Good on the issue of intelligence and international stability.

D. Omand, 'Reflections on Secret Intelligence' in Peter Hennessy (ed.), The New Protective State pp.97-122. Also at -

L. Scott and P.D Jackson, 'Journeys in Shadows', Ch 1. in LV Scott and PD Jackson (eds.) Understanding Intelligence in the 21st Century [this book is also Intelligence and National Security, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Summer 2004)] UB 250.U53

Jennifer Sims, 'The Theory and Philosophy of Intelligence, The Theory and Philosophy of Intelligence', in R. Dover, M. Goodman and C. Hillebrand, Routledge Companion to Intelligence Studies, Ch.4.

Michael Warner, 'Fragile and Provocative: Notes on Secrecy and Intelligence', INS 27/2 (2012): 223-240.

Michael Warner, 'Theories of Intelligence: The State of Play', in R. Dover, M. Goodman and C. Hillebrand, Routledge Companion to Intelligence Studies, Ch.2. (London; Routledge, 2014)

Articles - Supplementary Reading

James De Derian, 'Anti-Diplomacy, Intelligence Theory and International Relations', INS 8/3 (July 1993): 29-51.

S. Farson, 'Schools of thought: National perceptions of intelligence', Conflict Quarterly 9/2 (1989) pp.52-104. Good on the issue of different national cultures of intellgence.

J. Ferris, 'The Historiography of American Intelligence Studies', Diplomatic History 19, 1 (Winter 1995).

M.R.D. Foot, ‘What Use Are Secret Services?’ in In the Name of Intelligence: Essays in Honor of Walter Pforzheimer, (eds.) Hayden B. Peake and Samuel Halpern, 277-282

M. Handel, 'The Politics of Intelligence', INS 2, 4 (October 1987): 5-46.

L.K. Johnson, 'Bricks and Mortar for a Theory of Intelligence', Comparative Strategy 22, 1 (2003)

Loch K. Johnson, 'Preface to a Theory of Strategic Intelligence,' IJICI 16/4 (2003): 638-663.

A. Rathmell, 'Towards Postmodern Intelligence', INS 17, 3 (2002) pp.87–104.

J. Sims, 'What Is Intelligence? Information for Decision Makers' in Roy S. Godson et al., eds., U.S. Intelligence at the Crossroads: Agendas for Reform,

T.F. Troy, ’The 'Correct' Definition of Intelligence’ IJICI 5/4 (Winter 1991-1992): 433-454.
See also: Intelligence and National Security, 26/6 (2011) Special Issue: Intelligence in the Cold War: What Difference Did It Make?

Specifically for the questions on culture, US dominance, alternative national approaches and ethnocentrism -

Philip H. J. Davies (Editor), Kristian C. Gustafson (Editor) Intelligence Elsewhere: Spies and Espionage Outside the Anglosphere, Georgetown 2013

S. Farson, P. Gill, M. Phythian & S. Shpiro (eds.), PSI Handbook of Global Security and Intelligence: National Approaches: Volume 1 - The Americas and Asia, & Volume 2 - Europe, the Middle East and South Africa (Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2008). NIL

Michael Kackman, Citizen Spy: Television, Espionage, and Cold War Culture PN 1992.8.S67  

Michael Schoenhals, Spying for the People: Mao's Secret Agents, 1949-1967, Cambridge UP 2012

A.Soldatov and I. Borogan, The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB, JN6529.I6 S67 and book

Xuezhi Guo, China's Security State (Cambridge UP 2012)


Intelligence and National Security, 26/4 (2012) Special Issue: Intelligence and Strategic Culture: Essays on American and British Praxis since the Second World War
R.J. Aldrich & J. Kasuku, ‘Escaping From American Intelligence: Culture, Ethnocentrism and the Anglosphere’, International Affairs, 89/5 (2012).

J. Anderson, "The Chekist Takeover of the Russian State", IJICI 19/2 (2006): 237 - 288.

Adda Bozeman, ‘Political Intelligence in Non-Western Societies: Suggestions for Comparative Research’ in Roy Godson (ed.) Comparing Foreign Intelligence: The U.S., the USSR, the U.K. & the Third World (Washington: Pergamon-Brassey’s International Defence Publishers, 1988).

R. Callum, 'The Case for Cultural Diversity in the Intelligence Community', International Journal of Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, 14/1 (2001).

S.H. Campbell, 'A Survey of the U.S. Market for Intelligence Education', International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, 24/2 (2011), pp.307 — 337.

I. Duvesteyn, Intelligence and Strategic Culture: Some Observations, INS 26/4 (2011): 321-30. And also see the other essay in this special issue.

Colin S. Gray, “National Style in Strategy: The American Example,” International Security, 6/2 (Fall 1981), pp.21-22.

Alastair Iain Johnston, ‘Thinking about Strategic Culture,’ International Security, 19 (Spring 1995), pp.36–43;

Colin S. Gray, 'Strategic culture as context: the first generation of theory strikes back', Review of International Studies (1999), pp.49–69;

Alastair Iain Johnston, 'Strategic Cultures Revisited: Reply to Colin Gray; Review of International Studies, 25/3 (Jul., 1999), pp.519-523.

Robert L. Paarlberg, “Knowledge as Power: Science, Military Dominance, and U.S. Security”, International Security, 29/1, (Summer 2004), pp.122-151.

Mark Phythian, 'Cultures of National Intelligence', in R. Dover, M. Goodman and C. Hillebrand, Routledge Companion to Intelligence Studies, Ch.3.

M.A, Turner, ‘A Distinctive US Intelligence Culture’, IJICI 17/1 (2004) 42–61.
See also Loch Johnson (ed.) Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence UB 250.O9 Part X - Intelligence in Other Lands ; Especially chapters 46, 47, 48 and 49.

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