Governments recognize the public depends on the certainty, however illusory, that they are safe from terrorism, war, or nuclear attack. They need to believe that the government can protect them from pandemics and climate change. Yet when political institutions fail to balance justice, liberty, privacy, and civic harmony in the pursuit of security, they jeopardize the very trust and confidence they hope to inspire. Drawing on decades of experience as a security analyst and political insider, David Omand argues that while public security is necessary for good government, the erosion of civil liberties, however slight, tips the balance in favor of bad government and, ultimately, creates an insecure state. Omand details the fine line between delivering security and violating public safety, establishing a set of principles for the intelligence community that respects the requirements of basic human liberties. He proposes a new approach to generating secret intelligence and examines the issues that arise from using technology to access new sources of information.
He dives into the debate over the purpose of intelligence and its ability to strengthen or weaken a government, especially in our new, jittery era. Incorporating numerous examples of security successes and failures, Omand speaks to realists, idealists, scholars, and practitioners, resetting the balance for a crucial issue of public policy.