Public and private intelligence: Historical and contemporary perspectives

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Intelligence is often regarded as information that is special or different, which must be safely kept. When sought, collected or used by the private sector, as opposed to public agencies, concerns are raised on the purpose and propriety of such an activity. However, in an historical context, intelligence collection or sharing between public and private interests for the purpose of national security was not unusual, particularly during the Cold War. Case studies from this era indicate that overlapping concerns were economic success combined with political strategy. Glimpses of these shared interests between the state and business can also be identified in the immediate post-Cold War era, and the aftermath of terrorist attacks in 2001. Perhaps the greatest contemporary change is not that "private" and "public "intelligence is shared between business and state, but the extent of such an enterprise. Further issues related to this change are: state dominance in the public-private relationship; potential fragmentation in the intelligence process; gaps in the historical record; and implications for future generations of intelligence professionals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-39
Number of pages19
JournalSalus Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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