Monday, April 19, 2010

The enemy within: An ugly dossier of espionage is revealed

While I was an exchange student at L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, otherwise known as Sciences Po, I took a class called "Intelligence Agencies in Democratic Societies." My professor was an interesting fellow, very knowledgeable about the inner workings of the American CIA, the British MI6, and the French Renseignements Generaux (RG), among other agencies. To be honest, I did not pay much attention in class throughout the semester, partly because I ended up in that course by some mistake of Science Po’s scheduling software. However, an event in Colombia last week reminded me of some of the things I learned in that class and I would like to start take this column from there.

On one of our first sessions in that class, I had to give an oral presentation about the following question: Is espionage a trans-historical phenomenon? (L’espionnage est-il un phenomene transhistorique ?). In other words, is espionage (euphemistically called "intelligence" in modern times) an element inherent to human civilization? Soon after I started my research, some ancient voices spoke to me with a very clear answer.