Search This Blog

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Questions from my Intelligence Law Course

While going through some of my old files, I came across an assignment that I once gave students in my intelligence law course a number of years ago. I gave them no information other than what I will post below.

Which body of law to apply? You decide. But  I did require students to point to a treaty, statute, regulation, executive order, directive, or judicial decision in support of their answers.

The questions ask whether a certain activity is legal, not whether the action is ethical or effective or a good idea.

Get them a try if you like a challenge.


Is it legal for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to:

  1. Conduct surveillance of a U.S. citizen in Denver who is suspected of having ties to Esuskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA)?

  2. Work out of the U.S. embassy in Belgrade under diplomatic cover?

  3. Infiltrate a mosque in Brooklyn, New York suspected of having links to militant groups in Gaza?

  4. Recruit a Russian embassy official in Quito, Ecuador in an attempt to collect information about Russian intentions regarding Iran, Syria, and North Korea?

  5. Clandestinely enter South Waziristan, one of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas?

  6.  Hack into an e-mail account of a Yemeni citizen living in Ta'izz, Yemen? The e-mail account resides on a server in California. 

  7. Take into custody a Russian citizen, of Chechen origin, studying at the University of Virginia and then transport this person to a facility in Bulgaria for questioning about his possible ties to terrorist groups operating in Iraq? 

  8. Break into the apartment of an American defense contractor living in London, who is suspected of passing national security secrets to the Chinese government, in order to tap his phone?

  9. Break into the office of a French defense contractor in Toulouse, France, who is suspected of selling high-tech missile technology to the North Korean government?

  10. Enter Somalia using the cover of an aid worker from the International Committee of the Red Cross?

  11. Become a drug trafficker in order to penetrate the Mexican drug cartels?

  12. Tap into an underground communications cable that runs out of the South African embassy in Washington?

  13. Tap into an underground communications cable that runs out of the Chinese embassy in Oslo, Norway?

  14. Forge a Canadian passport for use in traveling to Iran?

  15. Use sleep deprivation as a means of wearing down the resistance of a U.S. citizen under interrogation after being captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan fighting alongside the Taliban?

  16. Use sleep deprivation as a means of wearing down the resistance of a non U.S. citizen under interrogation?

  17. In New York City, question U.S. businessmen from Goldman Sachs returning from a business trip to China about conditions in China?

  18. In New York City, question journalists from the New York Times who just returned from assignment in Beirut, Lebanon?

  19. Bribe an employee of a power company in Jakarta, Indonesia to shut off the power grid in the neighborhood of the Israeli embassy for one hour?

  20. Recruit as an asset a member of Al-Qaida known to have participated in the planning for the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya in 1998?