Define a code of ethics



Intelligence challenges in the 21st century: ethical and legal limitations on the intelligence community


Assignment Overview

The Ethics of Intelligence Collection

There has been heavy criticism of the IC largely focused on domestic intelligence collection. In July 2013, the U.K. Guardian newspaper's Glenn Greenwald showed a 2008 NSA PowerPoint presentation about the X-Keyscore program-which he published nearly in full-as proof that any NSA could easily query a massive NSA database that holds "nearly everything a user does on the Internet." Sample searches include looking for Intel by email address, phone number, files looked at, search terms used, or even cookies on a person's computer.

*A slide on "finding targets" suggests why a person might be in the NSA's crosshairs: Someone "whose language is out of place for the region they are in," "someone using encryption," and "someone searching the web for suspicious stuff." (The presentation again reinforces that anyone going to extreme measures to protect their privacy becomes a target, with use of encryption and VPN mentioned as reasons to seek information on someone.) The PowerPoint looks much like one worked up by a database vendor for a Big Data conference-but with much more references to jihad, Iraq and Osama Bin Laden. It claims "300 terrorists captured" based on Intel from the tool.

Most of this criticism has an ethical dimension contending that the Intelligence Community not only did something incorrectly, but also should have done better in some ethical sense.

Greenwald, G. (2013). XKeyscore: NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet.' The Guardian (U.K.), July 31, 2013.

Case Assignment

1. Review the Principles of Professional Ethics for the Intelligence Community.

2. Define a "Code of ethics" and the elements of an ethical dilemma.

3. Explain whether the Principles of Professional Ethics for the Intelligence Community is or is not a "Code of Ethics" as called for by Hudson (2010).

4. Explain whether you believe there is or is not a universal code of ethics among professional intelligence officers.

5. Find a professional code of ethics from another profession (medical, nursing, law enforcement, military, legal, or a similar profession) and provide a link to the code.

6. Summarize the key points of the chosen code of ethics, including penalties for breaking the code (in 1 paragraph).

7. Compare what you believe is the most important aspect of the Principles of Professional Ethics for the Intelligence Community with your chosen code, and highlight any differences.

8. Properly cite your quotations that you use to support your statements.


Intelligence challenges in the 21st century: ethical and legal limitations on the intelligence community


NOTE: Session Long Projects 1 through 4 are concerned with the scenario outlined in Module 1 SLP. Please review that basic information before proceeding. Each module's Session Long Project builds upon the other.

For the SLPs in this course, your assignments will be based on a scenario in which you have been assigned as a Terrorism Liaison Officer (TLO) at a local police or fire department. You may pick which city will apply in your SLPs. As the TLO, you will have a lot of duties, in addition to your regular duties. Among the additional duties:

1. The TLO primary function is to help line staff identify terrorism related situations and share intelligence related to terrorist activity.

2. TLOs serve as the point-of-contact within their agencies for questions and information regarding terrorism, and terrorism-related tips and leads.

3. In most cases the TLO position is a collateral duty. TLOs shall not independently investigate tips or leads unless directed to do so by the proper authorities i.e. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), Fusion Center, etc., and stay within the responsibilities of their assigned duties.

4. A TLO is to have a working relationship with the local Regional Terrorism Threat Assessment Center (RTTAC), designated Intelligence Center and JTTF, to help facilitate the movement of terror related information to and from field personnel.

5. A TLO shall disseminate terrorism-related information and intelligence to personnel within their agencies' in an efficient and lawful manner. TLOs are responsible for verifying that all personnel with whom they share terrorism-related information have a valid need- and right-to-know the information.

6. TLO s are responsible for educating personnel within their agencies' regarding the procedure(s) for submitting tips and leads to the proper investigative authorities. For purposes of efficiency, it is not ideal for TLOs to function as the collection point for tips and leads.

7. TLOs are encouraged to pursue advanced level Homeland Security training courses as recommended and provided by their respective RTTAC.

8. The TLO should be flexible to fulfill other expectations and/or functions that may be determined by each individual RTTAC


As your city's TLO, you have been invited to tour a JTTF site nearby. You are shown several of the capabilities of the JTTF, and the ways in which the IC can assist local LE. During your visit, people become very excited about something that is going on. You are allowed into a large briefing room, and the analysts are reviewing a video.

After the video, one of the analysts comes to you in the hallway very upset. He says that the video that you saw showed Reuters journalist Namir Noor-Eldeen, driver Saeed Chmagh, and several others as the Apache shoots and kills them in a public square in Eastern Baghdad. They are assumed to be insurgents. After the initial shooting, an unarmed group of adults and children in a minivan arrives on the scene and attempts to transport the wounded. They are fired upon as well. The attack was based on intelligence that she had a part in analyzing, and she feels sick about it. To make matters worse, the U.S. Army just released a statement denying responsibility for the attack.

She is very afraid that the video will be made public, and that the analysts involved will be "thrown under the bus." She has come to you as an outsider, for your perspective and advice.

1. Review the video, and comment about what the video shows versus what she is afraid it shows (assume that the video has not been made public). Is she justified in her fears?

2. Develop specific advice for her about the ethical dilemma she faces, and whether and how she should report it, and to whom. Explain any penalties that he/she might face if the dilemma is not confronted.

3. Determine whether you have a responsibility to report the video to your supervisors, and what you would say - thinking about what they will need in order to ensure that you are not somehow implicated. If you believe that you will not need to report the video, explain why. Support either point of view with the codes of ethics you looked at, the definition of a dilemma.

4. Provide quotation(s) to support your response.

Although this video may stir emotions and/or challenge your belief system, you must make ethical decisions based on the facts as presented. What would you suggest to the analyst? Will you report it? Whatever you decisions, support them with references.

Required Reading

Greenwald, G. (2013). XKeyscore: NSA tool collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet.' The Guardian (U.K.), July 31, 2013.

Hudson, W.E. (2010). The ethical spy: Towards intelligence community rules of professional conduct. Georgetown University Law Journal, 98, 1415-1439.

Nussbaum, B. (2007). Protecting global cities: New York, London, and the internationalization of municipal policing for counter terrorism.Global Crime, 8(3).

Steiner, J. (2009). Needed: State-level, integrated intelligence enterprises.Studies in Intelligence, 53(3).

U.S. Army (via Wikileaks) (2013). Collateral murder (video).

U.S. Government (2004). Intelligence reform and terrorism prevention act of 2004.

U.S. Senate (2004). Summary of intelligence reform and terrorism prevention act of 2004.

Required Websites

The NSA's X-Keyscore program revealed by the U.K. Guardian

Principles of Professional Ethics for the Intelligence Community

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