Term Paper: Law and Intelligence Agencies: Counterintelligence

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Law and Intelligence Agencies

Counterintelligence, by its very nature, is designed to be intrusive. This means that, very often, it steps outside the bounds of what ordinary Americans consider to be their right to personal privacy. Essentially, when intelligence officers seek to recruit moles in foreign intelligence agencies and, to a greater extent, when individuals attempt to acquire jobs within U.S. intelligence agencies, they become subject to an intense level of scrutiny -- ideally, from the perspective of the agency, the maximum amount of scrutiny they are capable of. After all, the main tool of intelligence organizations is simply information. The more information the agency has upon an individual, the more capable it is of identifying or predicting potential breeches in security due to that individual. However, when dealing with civilians -- namely, people who have not voluntarily undergone the rigors of a CIA or FBI investigation -- the law is specifically in place to limit the amount of power the intelligence agency conducting the investigation is capable of wielding. This, of course, is absolutely essential to the freedoms promised under the United States Constitution. Nevertheless, there is vague boundary between the public and private world is virtually wiped away for employees of intelligence organizations.

It seems like an inalienable right that people have to some form of personal privacy; however, even if it is admitted that this premise is true, it is not altogether apparent precisely where public knowledge ends and private knowledge begins. Furthermore, intelligence organizations are, in their nature, concerned with maintaining a productive and efficient workplace; and in these organizations, much more so than ordinary businesses, gathering information on employees becomes a very high priority in maintaining a productive and effective agency; obviously, this broad goal could, under any number of circumstances, interfere with the concept of individual physical privacy. This conflict of interest becomes increasingly difficult to navigate through as new technologies, such as genetic testing and email surveillance, become available. After all, there is little legal precedent to tell, one way or the other, whether such information is a bit of personal or public information -- no such stipulations appear in the U.S. Constitution. Overall, privacy should be a key concern of employees, employers, lawmakers, and interpreters of the law; it remains up to the lawmakers and judges to make informed and ethically-driven decisions regarding the issue -- both on a case by case basis, and with broad legislation.

Electronic surveillance is emerging as one of the most common ways in which employers monitor the actions of their employees: "Over two-thirds of all employers in America conduct some form of electronic surveillance of employees." Although it has been identified by a number of civil rights organizations as a serious threat to individuals' rights to privacy, employers tend to view it as an essential component of maintaining a functional workplace. Naturally, these measures are of fundamental importance within counterintelligence investigations; yet, it should be explicitly stated, within the employer/employee contract, that these sorts of measures, and intrusions into personal privacy will occur routinely, and without warning. Perhaps the easiest form… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Law and Intelligence Agencies: Counterintelligence."  Essaytown.com.  July 31, 2007.  Accessed August 22, 2019.