Intelligence heads

As the international community digested its outrage over the August 21 sarin gas attacks in Syria, various intelligence services scrambled to figure out who did it. The United States immediately revealed its suspicions – based on satellite surveillance and communications intercepts (very likely furnished by the Israelis) – and Secretary of State John Kerry publically outlined the conclusions published in a declassified document: Bashar al-Assad was the culprit. The French followed suit, publishing their own assessment in a declassified report put together by their own intelligence services. Russia, on the other hand, which earlier in the year had diffused their own intelligence report, were pointing the finger at the rebels. Throughout all the back-and-forth, China has stood by, not making waves, supporting Russia, and gaining advantages where they can.
As these most recent crises illustrate, the activities of intelligence services are proving to be an integral element in diplomacy, which has seen a resurgence since US President Barack Obama threatened a limited military strike to deter and degrade Syria’s the Assad regime.
Now with the internet spreading information more quickly than the traditional press, intelligences services must take into account the effect of disinformation. And apart from the diplomatic ballet revolving around the Syria crisis, concerns for cyber-security have radically changed governments’ approaches to intelligence gathering.