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As our readers know, one of the missions of Intelligence & Interview is to bolster the debate on intelligence and security services all around the world. This is particularly true in Europe, in which we are inside the same community, but there is still no unified intelligence. For this simple reason, I believe it would be imperative to know more about each country and each institutional and historical experience. The diversity of European history should be a strength in a world in which the challenges are so global, whether we like it or not. Since I started studying philosophy during secondary school, I had the chance to dive into the Dutch philosophers, historians, and Dutch history. Since then, I deeply appreciated such a great country, which was and is at the forefront of all human thought, science, and art. (And they had always had great chess players as well!) For this reason, moving to the present, I had the pleasure to discover how different European intelligence services are, and this interview will bring you to a better understanding of Dutch intelligence directly from a practitioner with a scientific background. Paul Abels is Professor by special appointment in Governance of Intelligence and Security Services at Leiden University. It is a real honor for me. Without further ados, it is then with my distinct pleasure to publish the interview on Scuola Filosofica – for those who don’t know it yet; it is one of the leading cultural blogs in Italy. In the name of Scuola Filosofica Team, our readers, and myself, Giangiuseppe Pili, Paul: thank you!
1. Professor Paul Abels, let’s start from the basics. How would you like to present yourself to the International readers and Philosophical School (Scuola Filosofica)?
I am what you could call a practitioner with scientific background and affinity. I studied history, wrote a PhD on ‘radical reformation in the 16th century’, worked as a journalist and during the last 37 years first as an intelligence producer at the Dutch Intelligence and Security Service and after that as an intelligence consumer, being head of the analysis department of the office of the National Coordinator on Counter-Terrorism and Security (NCTV). In 2017 I became a policy adviser in the same office and started for one day a week as a special professor on the subject of Governance of Intelligence and Security Services at the University of Leiden.