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CIA General Counsel Speaks at Harvard Law School

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by Publius
Posted April 11, 2012, 10:48 AM

Yesterday at Harvard Law School, CIA General Counsel Stephen Preston delivered remarks on "The CIA and the Rule of Law."  Lawfare published the speech in full.  Here is how it begins:

For those working at the confluence of law and national security, the President has made clear that ours is a nation of laws and that an abiding respect for the rule of law is one of our country’s greatest strengths, even against an enemy with only contempt for the law. This is so for the Central Intelligence Agency no less than any other instrument of national power engaged in the fight against al-Qa’ida and its militant allies or otherwise seeking to protect the United States from foreign adversaries. And that is the central point of my remarks this afternoon: Just as ours is a nation of laws, the CIA is an institution of laws and the rule of law is integral to Agency operations.

***

Before we get to the rule of law, I want to spend a moment on the business of the CIA.

I will start off with two observations that I think are telling:

First, the number of significant national security issues facing our country may be as great today as it has ever been. Just think of what the President and his national security team confront every day: the ongoing threat of terrorist attack against the homeland and U.S. interests abroad; war in Afghanistan and, until recently, Iraq; complex relations with countries like Pakistan and India; the challenges presented by Iran and North Korea; the emergence of China and its growing economic and military power; the growing number of computer network attacks originating outside the United States; profound change in the most volatile area of the world, the greater Middle East, with new regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, and continuing violence in Syria; the financial challenges faced by countries in the Euro zone; and the violence associated with drug trafficking in this hemisphere. And the list could go on.

Second, the national security issues facing our country today tend to be intelligence-intensive. Intelligence is fundamental to the efforts of policy-makers to come to grips with nearly all of the issues I have just listed – whether international terrorism, the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, the conduct of non-state actors and rogue states outside the community of nations, cyber security, or the rise of new powers. The nation’s leaders cannot fully understand these issues or make informed policy on these issues without first-rate intelligence.

Putting these two dynamics together – the multitude of different national security issues and the fact that intelligence is critical to almost all of them – it may be that intelligence has never been more important than it is today. At the very least, the intel business is booming.

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