In the past decade, a number of international organisations have conducted inquiries into aspects of international intelligence cooperation. In doing so, these institutions have ensured that oversight and review have finally begun to reflect the increasing internationalisation of the work of intelligence services. Institutions within the Council of Europe (CoE), the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) have examined a number of examples of international intelligence cooperation, and sought to hold states and their intelligence services to account for these activities.2 A combination of the inherent weaknesses of national accountability structures, and the innate characteristics of international intelligence cooperation, have made it extremely difficult for national oversight bodies to hold intelligence services and their political masters to account for international cooperation. The resulting accountability gap has been a crucial factor behind the establishment of inquiries at the international level. This chapter will examine two such examples: the inquiries conducted (in 2006-2007) by the European Parliament (EP) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) into the secret detention and the illegal transfer of suspected terrorists on European territory.3 It will be argued that although these inquiries were limited in their capacity to hold states and their intelligence services to account, they demonstrated a number of broader contributions that international inquiries can make to a pluralistic, multi-level accountability structure. The EP and PACE inquiries were selected for analysis because they addressed the same areas of international intelligence cooperation over a similar time period: the American-led programme of rendition and secret detention of suspected terrorists.4 In addition, both inquiries were undertaken by international parliamentary assemblies and, thus, represented comparable public accountability exercises. This chapter focuses on the inquiry processes, it does not attempt to analyse the findings of the inquiries or to discuss the legal aspects of
extraordinary rendition and secret detention.5 We will begin by situating the analysis of the EP and PACE inquiries within the context of the accountability gap that exists for international intelligence cooperation, and locating this research within the broader framework of the existing literature on intelligence governance.