Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Review of Blurring Intelligence Crime: A Critical Forensics


crime intelligence CIA accountability lawlessness forensics corruption politics

This book, written in remarkably short order between March and October 2020, offers a highly sophisticated theorisation of the central problem of our time: intelligence crime. This is transnational crime committed by shadowy actors in the highest echelons of power who know how to manipulate national security apparatuses to advance agendas that benefit themselves while inflicting near unimaginable harm on others. Committed on a scale almost defying comprehension, yet somehow remaining ‘invisible’, unpunished and under-analysed, intelligence crime and the means of its concealment have attracted far too little scholarly attention. In Blurring Intelligence Crime, Willem de Lint makes a vital contribution to remedying that problem.

His point of departure is that ‘mainstream criminology is dominated by state-centred attributions of crime such that some of the most egregious and wilful harms remain under-investigated’. Whereas such harms are often referred to under the category of ‘state crimes’, de Lint points to ‘deep state networks’ as the agents responsible. For example, just as NATO’s covert Gladio network was behind the ‘strategy of tension’ in Cold War Italy, so the author opines that ‘the war on terrorism is stoked and inflamed arguably more from within than from without by authorities who are dependent on the controlled production of “unease” ’ to maintain their rule. A ‘select group of national security actors’ operating under the aegis of those networks orchestrates ‘intelligence crime’, whose covert nature makes it hard to know and define. De Lint also coins the term ‘apex crime’ (others would use the term ‘false flag’) to refer to a ‘watershed event in which the state or government names itself or the national interest as the victim and one of its primary opponents as the likely offender, thus, providing a government narrative that is mediated through official sources’. To make sense of these types of crime, de Lint founds the new subfield of ‘critical forensics’, which in Foucauldian style ‘examines the conditions under which disciplinary, organisational or political interests intrude upon, influence and challenge expert jurisdiction and craft principles’.

A fourth neologism, ‘intelligence blur’, refers to ‘the distortions of authority concerning knowledge and discovery’ in cases of intelligence or apex crime. Blurring Intelligence Crime is, thus, as theoretically innovative as it is intrepid in seeking to ‘encourage greater scepticism about self-serving government accounts’ that mask the crimes of the powerful. Yet, given that ‘forensics is the application of scientific methods to problems of law’, one wonders to what extent the fundamental purpose of forensics is undercut by a ‘critical’ approach that shifts the focus away from scientific methods and objective truth about crime towards considerations of power (and what de Lint calls ‘power-knowledge’).  (more...)

Review of Blurring Intelligence Crime: A Critical Forensics

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