Oversight Cooperation

Discussion Prompt: Why don’t intelligence oversight bodies cooperate as well as intelligence agencies? And is there reason to believe that could be changing?

A series of terror attacks, most notably 9/11 and the 2015 Paris attacks, has led to an ever-closer cooperation among European intelligence agencies. The bodies tasked with monitoring these agencies, however, rarely engage in direct cooperation, let alone conduct joint investigations into intelligence cooperation. This discrepancy engenders an oversight gap, whereby intelligence data and activity eludes nationally mandated review as it crosses national borders. Simply speaking, transnational intelligence practice and national oversight have historically been an accountability mismatch, which in turn undermines the democratic legitimacy of intelligence agencies and their work. This discussion question interrogates why oversight bodies don’t have similarly extensive international relationships and what the likely trajectory is for intelligence oversight in an increasingly transnational security context.