Moral conduct in intelligence practice: lessons from the British experience in Northern Ireland, 1968-1998

Kalajdziovski, Natasia (2021) Moral conduct in intelligence practice: lessons from the British experience in Northern Ireland, 1968-1998. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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The aim of this thesis is to investigate how the British state and its security establishment attempted to navigate moral conduct issues within the intelligence practice it employed during the conflict in Northern Ireland. It seeks to fill two gaps within the literature, related to both the Troubles’ historiography and the sub-field of ethics/morality within the larger intelligence studies field. The latter is underdeveloped, and previous contributions to it have focused on a high-level proscriptive or framework approach, with little focus on how moral conduct issues are navigated on the ground, of which this thesis seeks to highlight by employing a large case study to pose its questions. Further, although the Troubles has been written on extensively, the intelligence war narrative is not as developed as the rest of that historiography, particularly in the context of the conflict’s full scope. As such, the findings of this thesis seek to develop some of the more shadowy narratives of the conflict and offer a more practical analysis of moral conduct issues as faced by practitioners.

This thesis begins with the concept that national security is the first obligation of good government, where its maintenance is an ‘end’ in which intelligence practice is used as a ‘means’ used to secure it – but one which could present, in its application as a means, some moral quandaries for the state. Moral conduct is defined by drawing from concepts presented by David Omand and Michael Ignatieff, in which Ignatieff’s navigations of ‘lesser evils’, alongside Omand’s acknowledgement that intelligence practice requires a level of non-civilian morality to be effectively undertaken, form the investigatory lens through which analysis is conducted. The chronology of the Troubles is then used as a ‘site’ of investigation from which to glean analysis, using the historical method as a framework to do so. It posits that the decisions undertaken within the moral conduct space during the critical juncture period of the conflict – that is, from 1968 to 1972 – produced lessons learned which dictated the intelligence-related decisions made going forward. It ultimately found that the more controversial narratives which continue to form the collective memory of the conflict – that is, allegations of collusion, the criminal conduct of agents working on behalf of the state, and whether a shoot-to-kill policy was sanctioned – had their direct roots within the intelligence-related decisions undertaken during the critical juncture period, the ramifications of which continue to be felt today.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Law and Politics
B. > Theses
Item ID: 33774
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2021 07:43
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2021 13:18

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