COLL-X311 Intelligence and National Security (Coyle) (3 cr.)


With the growth of asymmetrical threats from non-state actors in the 21st century, the role of intelligence has become even more important than it was during the Cold War. The combination of the shifting threats primarily from nation states to small groups or individuals and the growing availability of small, portable WMD weapons has forced the U.S. Government to realign its concept of national security and the U.S. Intelligence Community to change its methodologies to confront today’s dangers.

This course will begin with a look at the traditional role of intelligence during wartime and peacetime in American history and focus on the occasions when intelligence played a key role in the success of U.S. foreign policy and when it failed. We will then compare that to the post September 11, 2001 world and how the U.S. Intelligence Community has had to shift its tactics and emphasis to counter non-state terrorist threats. During the Cold War, the threat of massive retaliation against a nation that attacked the United States served as a deterrent to most, but when the attacker today may be only a handful of people motivated by religious, political or even ecological reasons and willing to be suicide martyrs, this is no longer a practical strategy. The changed threat requires a greater emphasis on Human Intelligence (HUMINT) and we will examine how an American intelligence officer goes about recruiting another person to become a spy. We will also look at the civil liberty issues as the line between foreign and domestic intelligence activities has blurred in order to counter terrorist threats that have no distinction of borders.

While the course is best suited for juniors and seniors with an interest in international relations, there are no prerequisites and is open to students of all majors who would like to learn something about the real world of espionage, intelligence and current threats to American national security. The course is taught by a recently retired 30-year veteran of the CIA.