September 20, 2010
Interpreting a Culture of Deception and Secrecy
Since the failure to anticipate the timing and magnitude of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the study of “intelligence” is ever more pressing.
Twenty-seven-year-old PhD student Lesley Copeland is examining this field in an innovative way by studying how the culture of intelligence affects the way states perceive threats. “Intelligence culture is important,” notes Copeland, “because states are now part of a globalized network of communications of all sorts. Unlike diplomacy, intelligence is always about deception and secrecy.”
Copeland credits her fascination with the study of security, the military and strategic thought to growing up in Ottawa.
“You feel you have a connection outwards and internationally,” says Copeland, who studied international relations at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, and then moved on to study intelligence for her master’s at York University.
Carleton’s attraction for Copeland was its Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies (CCISS), the only university centre dedicated to research and intelligence and national securities studies. Going into her fifth year of doctoral studies, Copeland is examining the concept of intelligence culture in the United States and, specifically, its origins – how it has changed since the bombing of Pearl Harbour during the Second World War, and since the 9-11 attacks.
There is a need to look at how states approach intelligence.
Copeland has been influenced in her studies by former CCISS head Martin Rudner, an expert on terrorist networks, current CCISS director and Copeland’s committee member Jez Littlewood, her supervisor Mira Sucharov and associate political science professor Brian Schmidt, a pioneer of international relations history.
Since 9-11, there has been a tendency to question the institutionalization of intelligence, notes Copeland. “There is a need to look at how states approach intelligence. Certain elements need to be re-debated. My research could lead to some soul searching and to reform of intelligence culture.”
Copeland’s idea that national intelligence communities possess specific cultures is innovative, says Sucharov, adding, “(Her) project will make clear strides in helping bridge the gap between security strategies and the ideas that underpin them.”
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