Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

First Advisor

John Winkle

Relational Format



SYDNEY CAROL STANARD: Dismantling the “Deep State”: The Evolution of Legitimacy in the American Intelligence Community (Under the direction of Dr. John Winkle)

This thesis explores the nature of legitimacy and how it applies to the American intelligence community. The laws and regulations that allow the intelligence community to be a legitimate actor within the American democracy have changed over the years, and there have been periods where these safeguards have failed. I will examine how and why these legitimacy crises, were rectified in the past and how current legitimacy questions are affecting the intelligence community. My research is based on open-source information, such as the work of political scientists, statements by former intelligence professionals, and the legal and legislative record.

My research finds that the legitimacy of the intelligence community is based on its neutrality, transparency, and accountability, with specific care being placed on accountability. The process of making the intelligence community accountable is reactionary, however. Current questions of the intelligence community’s neutrality being made by prominent politicians and political pundits are largely unfounded, though these questions may have a negative effect on perceived neutral

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