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Outsourcing US Intelligence

Contractors and Government Accountability

Damien Van Puyvelde

Hardback (Forthcoming)

Explores the evolving role of contractors in the US Intelligence Community, particularly after the Cold War

  • Draws on declassified documents and exclusive interviews with key stakeholders
  • Develops a new conceptual framework to analyse intelligence accountability issues
  • Provides a balanced analysis of intelligence outsourcing based on empirical evidence
In the 21st century, more than any other time, US agencies have relied on contractors to conduct core intelligence functions. This book charts the swell of intelligence outsourcing in the context of American political culture and considers what this means for the relationship between the state, its national security apparatus and accountability within a liberal democracy. Through analysis of a series of case studies, recently declassified documents and exclusive interviews with national security experts in the public and private sectors, the book provides an in-depth and illuminating appraisal of the evolving accountability regime for intelligence contractors.

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List of Abbreviations
1. Broadening Intelligence Accountability
2. A Shared History of Successes and Excesses
3. The Growth of Intelligence Contracting in the Post-Cold War Era
4. The Accountability Regime for Contractors during the Global War on Terrorism
5. Improving Government Oversight of Intelligence Contractors
6. The Future of Intelligence Outsourcing

About the Author

Damien Van Puyvelde is Lecturer in Intelligence and International Security at the University of Glasgow. He has published widely on the role of intelligence and security agencies in contemporary democracies. A member of the editorial boards of the International Journal of Intelligence, Security and Public Affairs and Sécurité et Stratégie, he also co-convenes Intelligence Studies networks at the International Studies Association and the Association pour les Etudes sur la Guerre et la Stratégie.


Privatization can be for the public good, even in the realm of national security. That is the hypothesis that this accomplished and profoundly significant volume sets out to test, and the author’s insights are crystal clear.

- Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, author of We Know All About You: The Story of Surveillance in Britain and America

The role of outside contractors in government intelligence activities has been controversial. In the face of impediments to research, this book provides a wealth of insight into the challenges of accountability when democracies outsource their intelligence responsibilities.

- Loch Johnson, University of Georgia

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