Parliamentary Inquiries into Intelligence: Informational Battlegrounds

Claudia Hillebrand, Cardiff University

The realm of intelligence provides an important space to examine openness and secrecy in a democratic context. I am particularly interested in how transnational intelligence cooperation and counter-terrorism interact with practices of secrecy, accountability and oversight. My current project examines parliamentary inquiries into intelligence as informational battlegrounds. For example, Bundestag room U1 215 in Jacob-Kaiser-Haus is the meeting and reading room for the parliamentary oversight body of German intelligence services. The windowless room is reportedly bug-free, secured with three locks and a swipe card. This room is a great reflection on the paradox conducting secret activities in a democracy. How can something secret be overseen in a supposedly transparent society? Members of parliamentary oversight bodies struggle with this dilemma on a practical, daily basis.