This paper highlights the need for additional research concerning intelligence agency openness or transparency. Our literature review indicates that both qualitative and quantitative research are needed. Possible variables that may be used to collect data and evaluate the openness of intelligence agencies include information releases, declassification initiatives, documentaries, current and former intelligence agency employees’ media appearances, books, podcasts, and teaching assignments, published priorities, public apologies, LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and more) policies, and websites. Our research indicates that 225 (54.1%) of the 416 national security intelligence organizations we identified in 113 countries operate websites. We hypothesized that more democratic countries would have more intelligence organizations with websites as a proxy for transparency. We fitted a Poisson model to our count data and found that democracy is a statistically significant predictor of the number of intelligence organizations with websites in a country. We believe this is the first published research substantiating the effect of democracy on intelligence agency transparency.  


Andrew Macpherson

Andrew Macpherson is an Assistant Professor of Security Studies at the University of New Hampshire. He teaches courses in national security intelligence, terrorism, and technology policy. His research interests include national security intelligence, political violence, and security studies. Prof. Macpherson earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from Northeastern University, an M.A. in the History of International Relations from the London School of Economics, and a B.A. in Research and Intelligence Analysis from Mercyhurst University.

James Ramsay

James Ramsay is a Professor of Security Studies and head of the Department of Security Studies and Criminology at Macquarie University. He has over twenty years of experience in public health, security, emergency management, and environmental security. Prof. Ramsay's primary research area is climate security and its relationship to national and homeland security strategy. He is the Editor in Chief for the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. He serves on the editorial review boards for Homeland Security Affairs, the Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counterterrorism, and is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Security, Intelligence and Resilience Education. His latest text is Theoretical Foundations of Homeland Security, and his current project is developing a text on Climate Security.

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No. 5 Are Intelligence Agencies Opening Up? A Proposed Research Agenda