Sharing secrets: how and why governments and third-party stakeholders disclose intelligence
Why do governments choose to disclose intelligence and what factors shape how they do so? And what roles and influence do non-state third-parties have in disclosure decision-making and practices?
Secrecy is vital to any national intelligence community. And intelligence is generally collected and assessed for internal government customers. Why, then, do governments choose to disclose intelligence and what factors shape how they do so? And what roles and influence do non-state third-parties have in disclosure decision-making and practices? These are the questions that lie at the heart of this study of intelligence disclosure in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (UK).
These questions have gained increasing scholarly and societal attention due to the public stance several NATO member governments have taken to communicating intelligence about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But these questions concern practices that pre-date this invasion and have implications far beyond it. These practices impact the work of state intelligence and cyber security institutions. They inform how senior elected representatives communicate knowledge and policy to the public and, behind closed doors, to allies and partners. And they shape - and are potentially shaped by - how third-party stakeholders such as journalists, open-source intelligence organisations, and cyber threat intelligence companies both engage with and communicate government secrets and disclose their own independently sourced information. Through such disclosures, therefore, intelligence is inherently tied to the influencing of external opinions and actions.
Given these practices cut across institutions, societal stakeholders, and scholarly disciplines, the inter-disciplinary approach of this project is vital. The comparative case study approach will produce empirically rich findings on two countries whose governments have engaged in intelligence disclosure to different degrees and in different ways. Moreover, this project will act as pilot research for a more ambitious multi-national grant-funded study of the project’s core themes.