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Law and Ethics: Intelligence Information Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jan 21st, 2021

As much as several scholars argue that there has been a marked improvement in sharing intelligence information since the 9/11 attacks, the claim may not be practical on the ground. For instance, we have witnessed numerous cases whereby gross disharmony exists between the law enforcement agency and the rest of the Intelligence Community (IC) team. A case in point is the sour working relationship between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and police officers. It appears that the FBI often attempts to overrule the mandate of police officers. Duplication of roles and responsibilities is rampant among members of the IC team. This explains why there is an urgent need to streamline the operations of the IC to improve both the integration and effectiveness of intelligence information.

Why should the Intelligence Community be risk-averse when it comes to sharing intelligence information among its officials? The moment some agencies are excluded from the system of sharing information, it might lead to the poor collection, analysis, interpretation, and utilization of intelligence data. No agency does not add value to the community. For instance, “local agencies are more adept at seeing local factors of terrorism than are federal agencies” (Jones 2011, 178).

It is agreeable that sharing intelligence information bears several risks. Even though a multiagency approach is desirable when sharing intelligence data, it is crucial to weigh all the possible risks before adopting the method. Also, both cultural and technological impediments are inevitable whenever an Intelligence Community seeks to integrate itself. On the other hand, technology is merely a subset of human input (Bellaby 2012, 98). Therefore, it is unwarranted to blame technology for the lack of full integration and adequate sharing of intelligence information. If an agency like the Department of Homeland Security Law Enforcement Information Sharing Service (LEISS) can develop a harmonious working relationship with both CIA and FBI, then it can be possible to realize the benefits of integration.

Indeed, effective sharing of intelligence information requires articulate consideration of all aspects of the IC team. The National Strategy for Information Sharing (NSIS) should not just provide guidelines on how intelligence information should be shared among parties. Perhaps, the strategy team should go beyond and make follow-ups on whether the International Community is adhering to the set guidelines. However, the initiatives of NSIS demonstrate the much-needed commitment in the integration of the Intelligence Committee (Pfaff and Tiel 2006, 5).

When it comes to the nature of the information to be shared, it is crucial to mention that the whole Intelligence Community should exercise due caution when releasing sensitive information to the public. Not every piece of information may be suitable or appropriate for everybody. If intelligence agencies can be classified in terms of their similarities at work, then it will be a lot easier to share information. Agencies with similar operating features can be merged for the sake of reducing budgetary costs and inefficiencies. A case in point is the current working relationship between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Defense. Besides, some non-intelligence agencies may still positively affect the working efficiency of the Intelligence Community. Needless to say, it cannot be harmful to incorporate such agencies. The director’s office on national intelligence always reiterates that “the IC must tap outside expertise and build and expand relationships with non-intelligence government agencies, academic, business, non-governmental organizations, and think-tank communities” (Office of the director of National Intelligence 2007, 2). This implies that integration and effective sharing of intelligence information demand thorough input from all agencies including members of the public.

References

Bellaby, Ross. 2012. “What’s the Harm? The Ethics of Intelligence Collection.” Intelligence and National Security 27, no. 1: 93-117.

Jones, Jason. 2011. “The necessity of federal intelligence sharing with sub-federal agencies.” Texas Review of Law & Politics 16, no. 1: 175-210.

Office of the director of National Intelligence. 2007. “Intelligence Community Directive Number 200”. Web.

Pfaff, Tony, and Jeffrey Tiel. 2006. “The ethics of espionage.” Journal of Military Ethics 3, no. 1: 1-15.

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