Ethics And Intelligence Collection

Title:                      Ethics And Intelligence Collection

Author:                 Ross Bellaby

Bellaby, Ross (2014). Ethics And Intelligence Collection: A New Framework. London ; New York : Routledge

LCCN:    2013040770

JF1525.I6 B45 2014

Summary

  • “This book starts from the proposition that the field of intelligence lacks any coherent or systematic ethical review, and then develops an ethical framework for intelligence based on the notion of harm and the establishment of the Just Intelligence Principles. This book argues that the most appropriate ethical framework for intelligence collection is one which is able to recognise that intelligence collection does indeed cause harm, but that sometimes this harm is necessary in order to protect the political community. It tackles this tension by creating an ethical framework specifically designed for intelligence that is able to balance the need to limit the damage caused while securing the political community. This is achieved by developing an ethical framework of two parts. The first part is designed to recognise those features of intelligence that might be considered ethically unacceptable by highlighting the ‘harm’ it can cause. Once the harm is understood, the second part of the ethical framework establishes a set of Just Intelligence Principles that outline if and when the harm caused is justified. These Just Intelligence Principles are developed by drawing upon the just war tradition and its criteria of just cause, legitimate authority, right intention, last resort, proportionality and discrimination. By placing the harm that intelligence can cause into context of the Just Intelligence Principles it is possible to ensure that intelligence collection is only carried out when the circumstances demonstrate a suitable level of threat, authorised by a sufficient level of authority, carrying a right intention, that the damage is proportional to the expected information gains, and discriminates between legitimate and illegitimate targets. The main feature of the ethical framework created, however, is that it recognises that different intelligence collection activities can cause different levels of harm and that as a result the circumstances needed to justify them must also change. The book examines three of the main collection disciplines in the field of intelligence studies: imagery intelligence, signals intelligence and human intelligence. By applying the ethical framework established at the beginning of the book to these three important intelligence collection disciplines, it is possible to better understand the ethical framework while also demonstrating its real-life applicability. This book will be of much interest to students of intelligence studies, ethics, war and conflict studies, security studies and IR”– Provided by publisher.
  • “This book starts from the proposition that the field of intelligence lacks any systematic ethical review, and then develops a framework based on the notion of harm and the establishment of Just Intelligence Principles. As the professional practice of intelligence collection adapts to the changing environment of the twenty-first century, many academic experts and intelligence professionals have called for a coherent ethical framework that outlines exactly when, by what means and to what ends intelligence is justified. Recent controversies, including reports of abuse at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, allegations of extraordinary rendition programmes and the ever-increasing pervasiveness of the ‘surveillance state’, have all raised concerns regarding the role of intelligence in society. As a result, there is increased debate regarding the question of whether or not intelligence collection can be carried out ethically. The Ethics of Intelligence tackles this question by creating an ethical framework specifically designed for intelligence that is capable of outlining under what circumstances, if any, different intelligence collection activities are ethically permissible. The book examines three of the main collection disciplines in the field of intelligence studies: imagery intelligence, signals intelligence and human intelligence. By applying the ethical framework established at the beginning of the book to these three important intelligence collection disciplines, it is possible to better understand the ethical framework while also demonstrating its real-life applicability. This book will be of much interest to students of intelligence studies, ethics, war and conflict studies, security studies and IR”– Provided by publisher.

Subjects

LCCN

  • 2013040770

Date Posted:      August 29, 2016

Caveat. Perpendat itaque lector cavendum (civilis).[1]

Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake[2]

The world of intelligence is “in dire need of an ethical framework…it has never before been subjected to any extended effort to ethically evaluate it.” So argues Aberystwyth University scholar Ross Bellaby in his book, The Ethics of Intelligence. Ignoring the Church and Pike Committee hearings, Bellaby claims that former DCI Allen Dulles asserted that “any restrictions on the Intelligence Community would be counterproductive in regards to its overall mission,” though he provides no source that Dulles ever made such a statement. (p. 1) Based on these questionable presumptions, Bellaby acknowledges the “unsavory” nature of espionage, concluding it must nevertheless “be made to respect ethical norms.” (p. 2) After drawing on Just War Theory and several other concepts, he offers a modest proposal for accomplishing that objective—the “Ladder of Escalation.” (p. 3)

The qualitative unit of measure Bellaby applies is “harm.” He accepts the vital necessity of intelligence but assumes that the “notably disreputable” profession can cause damage, or harm, in various degrees. Thus “there should be limits on its use” and he develops a “set of Just Intelligence Principles to determine if and when these harms are justified.” (p. 16) Bellaby establishes a basis for his ethical concerns by examining intelligence collection in the form of IMINT, SIGINT, and HUMINT. In the first two, privacy and individual autonomy are the principal concerns. With HUMINT, the means of acquisition are the issue. He provides lengthy discussions of potential problems each area of intelligence collection presents. For example, with HUMINT, he deals with questions of ethics involved in deception and manipulation, false flag operations, defectors, agent recruitment, blackmail, and torture. All this is necessary, he concludes, because “professional state intelligence has yet to develop an ethical framework that offers a means of determining if and when intelligence collection is ethically justified.” (p. 171) His “Ladder of Escalation” provides a step-by-step procedure with questions for filling this gap that should be asked at each rung.

But is Bellaby’s picture complete? His conclusion does not consider the possibility that an ethical framework already exists and that the ethical issues he raises are, in fact, part of the operational training and field procedures employed by intelligence officers. Under these conditions, violations of ethical norms might better be treated as a legal matter.

The Ethics of Intelligence raises important conceptual issues involving the intelligence profession, but it should not be accepted without further scholarly inquiry.

[1] On occasion, personal loyalties and opinions can be carved in stone and defended with a vengeance — at times with some venom thrown in. In these situations, the actual importance of the subject matter is dwarfed by the amount of aggression expressed. Retain a sense of proportion in all online and in-person discussions. [From The Intelligencer: Journal of U. S. Intelligence Studies.]

[2] Peake, Hayden in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (22, 2, Spring 2016, pp. 119-120). Hayden Peake is the Curator of the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection. He has served in the Directorate of Science and Technology and the Directorate of Operations. Most of these reviews appeared in recent unclassified editions of CIA’s Studies in Intelligence, Other reviews and articles may be found online at http://www.cia.gov

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