From the “Five Eyes” to the “SIGINT Seniors Europe”: The intelligence community as a transnational field

Ronja Kniep


This paper argues that the rule-making of the transnational intelligence field and internet rules are closely intertwined. It has two main goals. Firstly, on a methodological level, it proposes to combine information provided by the internal NSA documents with historical research, declassified documents and witness statements of intelligence personnel in order to analyse previously secret intelligence communities and their practices. By doing so, it wishes to stimulate a critical discussion of ethical and methodological rules for using leaked documents in academia. Secondly, it argues that Pierre Bourdieu’s field concept, and specifically its application on transnational fields by Didier Bigo, provides a useful heuristic to analyse the internet’s role in the transnational field of intelligence. The paper discusses two interrelated assumptions. Firstly, that the global infrastructure of the internet has set new rules for the intelligence agencies’ struggle over access to communication. Secondly, it argues that the autonomization of the intelligence field potentially affects the rules of the internet.


Intelligence, surveillance, internet policy, field theory

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