Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Ethics Code
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Ethics Code
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a department in the U.S. federal government that gathers information. This information is associated with the foreign affairs of the state. The agency is administered by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), who receives orders from the president. According to Salter (2007), the network was established by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The main function of the CIA is to inform the Homeland and National Security Councils about matters that concern federal intelligence.
The CIA is headed by the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), who was formerly the administrator of the DNI. The structure of the DNI is usually changed in cases where the U.S. security needs to be enhanced, for example, during terrorist attacks. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) was created in 2004 through the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act. The main aim of this office was to assist the DNI in providing intelligence information to Homeland Security.
The key ethical codes of the CIA include integrity, service and excellence. The CIA preserves its integrity by ensuring that the staff members and the public are provided with credible information. The nature of this information relies solely on the level of honesty between the agency and the public. The CIA also strives to maintain the best conduct when handling the public and staff members. In addition, the CIA tries to be an honorable agency, through recognizing all the colleagues who have been employed in the past. The CIA ensures that they provide quality services to the public. This implies that they cater to the public and the country before considering themselves. The CIA has efficient crisis response measures that enhance their services to the public. The CIA also strives to maintain excellence, through accounting for all their actions without blaming external factors. This enables the agency to uphold high standards of operation since it gives room for reflection and improvement of mistakes.
The ethical principles of the CIA are divided into two portions including the code of conduct and procedures taken if it is violated. These procedures assist the CIA to maintain an ethical society within the agency. Additionally, they educate the staff members on the steps that should be taken to provide excellent services to the public. The code of conduct of the CIA is divided into three sections including the principles, rules and notes. According to Gaines and Miller (2004), the principles are general guidelines made to maintain good ethical conduct within the CIA. The rules contain vital practices that should be followed by staff members of the CIA. Furthermore, the violation of these practices leads to disciplinary actions. The notes contain information that helps the staff members to abide by the code of conduct.
The most vital ethical code of the CIA is the principle of integrity. Currently, the integrity of the CIA is questionable because of the lack of maintaining good ethics. The public is not satisfied with the manner in which the CIA addresses arising issues and problems. In defense of the CIA, many organizations fail because of going against ethical behavior. However, unethical behavior in the CIA is attributed to individual staff members and not the entire agency. This affects the integrity of the whole agency, especially when members who are unethical, hold offices of authority. The main issues that affect the integrity of the CIA include opposing decisions, management, beliefs and failure. These issues have greatly undermined the ethics of the CIA.
The management of the agency has an influence on the operations of the CIA. This is because all the decisions made by the CIA are determined by its management. Unethical members of the management exhibit poor leadership skills, and as a result, the operations of the agency are not based on integrity. However, good ethics in management enhance the efficiency of the operations within the CIA.
The CIA considers ethical behavior as an organizational and personal issue. According to Chauhan (2004), the agency has modeled its new structural operations, in order to enhance strong ethical values. Moreover, the structure creates a new ethical culture within the agency, which helps to educate staff members on the importance of ethics. In addition, the program helps staff members to tackle issues based on ethics within the agency. This improves the performance of the CIA.
The Ethical Dilemma
The main ethical dilemma that undermines the integrity of the CIA is the relationship between the law-enforcers and the informants. Two levels of human intelligence are used by law-enforcers to gather information, including criminal and civilian informants. Criminal informants are people who are aware of the unlawful activities, because of their direct involvement with the lawbreakers. However, civilian informants are not linked directly to criminal activities, but are aware of them. Both relationships with the police officers pose ethical dilemmas among the staff members of the CIA. This is because civilian informants should be offered protection by the agency for them provide law-enforcers with information without being exposed to security risks. Therefore, this collides with the ethical principles of the CIA because they are supposed to provide full protection to all people at all times whether they are informants or not.
The CIA uses the various informants associated with criminals to enhance the information that they acquire from these sources. As much as this practice is done to improve the security status of the state, the ethical behavior of the law-enforcers is in question because according to the principles of the CIA, the law-enforcers are not supposed to associate themselves with criminals in any way. According to Albro (2012), the relationship between the CIA and criminal informants has been criticized by many commissions of inquiry.
The CIA also faces the ethical dilemma of providing credible information to the public. This dilemma occurs when information that is given to law-enforcers conflicts with the honesty and reality of the problem. Sometimes, when issues are related to terrorism, the CIA provides the public with positive information just to keep them at ease and show that they are in control. This goes against the ethical principles of the CIA because they will have failed to serve the public with honesty. This could have severe effects on the internal security of the state because the problem will not be solved.
These dilemmas pose enormous challenges to the CIA. One of the challenges faced is the poor decision-making by the management of the agency. According to Delattre (2011), the poor decision-making has been caused by the loss of ethical values since the Cold War era. As a result, the execution of tasks by the CIA is biased, and this makes the agency provide poor services to the public. Another challenge that is faced within the CIA is the lack of communication between staff members. This causes a disparity between staff members, thus hindering the effective communication and execution of tasks within the agency. Furthermore, the individual ethical behaviors of staff members will be affected because they will not have clear mentorship guidance from seniors within the department. Another challenge faced by the CIA is the effects of promotions within various departments of the agency. This causes staff members to struggle to impress their seniors through any means necessary. Most of these incentives that motivate staff members to get promotions go against the ethical values of the CIA.
Recommendations for the Dilemma
One of the solutions towards solving this ethical impasse revolves around reconstructing the relationship between informants and law enforcers. Currently, the association between these two parties is not clearly defined and this makes it very difficult to separate personal and organizational interests. This conflict of interests interferes with the CIA operations that depend on confidentiality, discretion and secrecy (Albro, 2012). Therefore, the contact between an officer and their informant should be limited by introducing official procedures of creating and maintaining contact. The CIA should develop a comprehensive program that briefs and debriefs informants without exposing them to chance where they can create personal relationships with the officers. The changes should also incorporate disciplinary measures for both parties in the event that the regulations concerning contact with informants are flouted. This recommendation will go a long way in discouraging unprofessional contact between informants and CIA operatives (Delattre, 2011).
Maintaining any form of contact between the CIA and criminal groups presents several ethical issues that can jeopardize the activities of the agency. Therefore, the CIA should put a stop to any activities involving informants and instead focus on using their own resources to thwart all forms of criminal activity. The CIA has enough financial and human resources to develop their own intelligence officers and create new contacts that can assist them in catching criminals. The changes can include training officers to infiltrate the gangs, creation of new offices and purchase of advanced equipment to compliment the intelligence operations (Albro, 2012).
Albro, R. (2012). Anthropologists in the securityscape: Ethics, practice, and professional identity. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, Inc.
Chauhan, S. S. (2004). Inside CIA: Lessons in intelligence. New Delhi: APH Pub. Corp.
Delattre, E. J. (2011). Character and Cops: Ethics in Policing. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Pub. Group.
Gaines, L. K., & Miller, R. L. R. (2004). Criminal justice in action. Princeton, N.J: Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.
Salter, M. (2007). Nazi war crimes, US intelligence and selective prosecution at Nuremberg: Controversies regarding the role of the Office of Strategic Services. New York: Routledge-Cavendish.
Vallabhaneni, S. R. (2013). Wiley CIA Exam Review 2013, Part 1, Internal Audit Basics. New York: Wiley.