The Fourth Eye

International Intelligence Cooperation: An insider perspective

Lander, Stephen, 2004, International intelligence cooperation: an insiders perspective in Cambridge Review of international affairs 17:3

Advocates for a new UKUSA agreement, with more partners

  • Intelligence organisations and collection are at first national activities, power and self-interest. It is a competitive activity but there are increasing need for collaboration between states and services such as terrorism, drugs and people smuggling
    • Maximises effectiveness of your own defence forces by illuminating others capabilities and dispositions
    • Secures political or strategic advantages by disclosing others intentions
    • Protects safety and well being of your own citizens, if necessary, at the expense of someone else
  • Poverty of accurate public comment about intelligence sharing
  • The end of the Cold War has led to greater competitiveness and divisions between former Western allies and their intelligence services – on some issues allies and on other issues adversaries.
  • Increasing realization that “there are relationships and understanding in their intelligence communities which can be used diplomatically.
  • Harry Hinsley, wrote the multi volume the Official History of British Intelligence in the Second World War – he played a part in the negotiation of the 1946 UK USA Agreement
  • UK Security Services Act 1989, The Intelligence Services Act 1994, and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 – three pieces of legislation moved the agencies from “the rather dubious assumption that if something was not expressly illegal then it was okay. Now we had the assurance of statue law as opposed to the insecurity of the royal prerogative, under which much agency activity hitherto notionally took place.” P. 143
  • Origins of the UKUSA Agreement were ‘in exchanges of naval intelligence which went back to the late 1930s, but they deepened and extended after American entry into the war, and again at the end of the war as the Soviet threat and the treachery of the atom spies became apparent. The immediate post-war period saw the creation of agency architecture on both sides of the Atlantic, which has remained to this day”
  • 144 the shock of the discovery of the atomic spies and soviet penetration, “Sorting out the consequences of those two blows was to take two decades, and in my view, to leave the UK community with a defensiveness, introspection and damagingly strict need-to-know culture that it only finally shook off during the 1980s and 1990s under the pressure of responding to terrorism and with a new generation of staff.”
  • The UKUSA works because “First, the intelligence relationship is part of a wider political relationship and depends in good measure on that wider context….Second, the relationship also pretty obviously prospers because of long-standing institutional integration that has flowed from the 1946 UKUSA agreement is so widespread that Sigint customers in both capitals seldom know which country generated either the access or the product itself.
  • The UK agencies, unlike any other potential intelligence ally, retain worldwide and subject-wide capabilities. Still has worldwide dependent territories providing Sigint and other intelligence collection opportunities – what one US intelligence chief called “islands with aerials”, and also has languages expertise, and unrivalled experience dealing with terrorist threats.
  • In both the US and UK intelligence is collected across government, it is seen as a collective asset, not as the property of the individual minister or agency. CRAP!!!
  • Assessment is more decentralized in the US than the UK, but decision makers on both sides of the Atlantic expect to use intelligence routinely.
  • “Since so much intelligence is shared, the UK weekly Survey of Intelligence and the presidential Intelligence brief probably look very similar most weeks and that tends to reinforce the closeness of the world view of the two governments. And that in turn, of course, reinforces the intelligence relationship.” P. 145
  • “Third comes a list of softer issues about personalities, shared experiences, friends in adversity, etc. which may not carry political or public weight but matter in institutional relationship, particularly those which have an operational element. …Those joint activities generate friendships, trust with sensitive material, mutual respect and confidence, as well as understanding about constraints and difficulties. They matter. P. 146
  • When it started in the 1960s, the Club of Berne involves security services from nine West European countries, now 17 and growing.
  • UK pressing intelligence needs are on WMD programs in order to disrupt, preemptive intel on terrorism threats to interests and allies, intel on the production and distribution and financing of hard drugs, intel about identity, fraud and misuse and intel on migration patterns and illegal immigration facilities.
  • What intelligence cooperation involves is the a) sharing of intelligence-based assumptions, long been currency in the Five Eyes community in which assessments are shared routinely. “This works well and gives wider perspectives to all parties. There are some subjects on which national sensitivities preclude sharing, but the volume of exchange remains high.” B) sharing of assessed by single-source reporting.
  • “Third comes raw product. This is seldom exchanged routinely, but is particularly valuable because it enables recipients to visit and revisit the material in the light of developing understandings of the a target.”
  • Finally comes operational collaboration. Involving agency personnel from different countries working together against a common target and may involve surveillance, joint angel handling, sharing of linguists, changes of tech know how and equipment, common trainings, the sharing of analytical staff.


Leave a Reply