Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Intelligence and kairos

Denmark had its largest anti terror raid in recent years the other night, when the apartments of seven men were raided by the police and the Danish Security Intelligence Service (DSIS or PET).

However, today only two men have been held on charges, the other five remain in custody and the police have 72 hours to substantiate. Berlingske writes about it here (in Danish).

Right from the outset it has been communicated that the raid was done early in a planning-phase that would lead the young men to detonate a powerful bomb somewhere in Denmark. The officials from PET have stated that they didn't dare wait longer, as the plot had moved into a certain phase.

This is a classical problem of doing police intelligence in a democracy: wait too long, and the bombs might go off, interfere too soon, the suspects will walk away due to a lack of evidence.

In the 1990s after the first World Trade bomb, there was a case where PET did apprehend a man because he had stocked large amounts of fertilizer. A map was found, that was said to depict the American embassy in Copenhagen. However in court the man held that the map was produced by his son while playing the role playing game "Shadowrun". He was cleared of all charges. (I can't remember what was said about the fertilizer, but if he had hoarded it because he got a cheap deal, that would probably have set him in a good light with the Danish public).

In rhetoric the term "Kairos" is used for the notion of the right moment or "timeliness". In this kind of intelligence-work, you could contend that timeliness is the essence, and that the skill to define the opportune moment is one of experience, not theory.


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