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Podcast: The European View of American Intelligence

Podcast: The European View of American Intelligence

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In this podcast, American Military University (AMU) sits down with Dr. Casey Skvorc to discuss European intelligence law and ethics. Dr. Skvorc is one of AMU’s professors within the field of Intelligence Studies. Below is a transcript of the podcast.

AMU:

Hi, I’m Jessica Stasiw with American Military University. Today we’re going to be talking about a really insightful topic on European intelligence law and ethics, and I’m joined by Dr. Casey Skvorc one our intelligence faculty members at the University. Welcome Casey.

Dr. Casey Skvorc:

Hi Jessica. Thank you for having me. So to start off, what are the key differences in intelligence laws and ethics between European countries and the U.S.? Very briefly Jessica, in Europe in the United States there are strikingly different and distinct global legal traditions Anglo American common law and Romano-Germanic civil law as well as Napoleonic code law. These systems have evolved in what are now known as the accusatorial and the inquisitorial criminal system. These diverse legal traditions and their historical roots create enormous procedural differences. They greatly impact criminal justice in the United States and the United Kingdom, compared to European and Latin American countries. At times the traditions have interacted such as when an American citizen is subject to indictment and trial in Europe or vice versa.

AMU:

So can you provide a couple of European case studies or examples?

Dr. Casey Skvorc:

Yes, I think I’ve got a really good one for you. There was a fascinating international legal situation that unfolded in 2009 when Italian courts issued a conviction in absentia for Sabrina De Sousa, a former American CIA agent, for kidnapping. Based upon her role in the 2003 abduction of the radical Egyptian cleric Abu Omar. He was kidnapped in Milan and subsequently tortured. She was sentenced to four years in prison for her role in the kidnapping.

A European arrest warrant valid only in Europe was subsequently issued for her arrest and she was arrested in Portugal in 2015. When she left the United States and was en route to visit her mother in India. She was due to be extradited back to Italy to serve her sentence after she exhausted her appeal rights against her extradition in Portugal. When the president of Italy issued her pardon ending extradition proceedings against her in 2017. She claimed to be a former CIA field officer who used diplomatic cover and in 2009 she had sued the US State Department claiming that the State Department should grant her diplomatic immunity for her role in the kidnapping. Irrespective of the fact that diplomatic immunity is granted only by a host country. The State Department denied that she had diplomatic immunity and she lost her lawsuit against the United States.

AMU:

So how are ethical dilemmas unique for those who work in the intelligence community?

Dr. Casey Skvorc:

It’s a great question and there is an essential tension for those who work in the intelligence community between secrecy and deception and the fine lines that are continually encountered in maintaining national and diplomatic internal security and acting in a manner that is forthright and transparent. It is at times highly complex to separate one’s professional and personal roles in these matters.

Intelligence professionals are called upon to act in ways that if not for their professional role would be termed as wrong. It has been said that in a profession of espionage one begins to be soiled when you want to do the dirty part of espionage rather than feeling you must do it to achieve a noble goal. Secrecy and confidentiality are integral parts of diplomatic relations. Stereo-typically diplomatic agent distrust diplomatic counterparts and treads very carefully in order to avoid the dissemination of classified information. However now states are increasingly working together in a manner that requires trust and loyalty rather than distrust and the shielding of information intelligence is shared and institutionalized diplomatic ways. Similarly a greater degree of openness can be seen in the relationship between diplomats now in its diplomatic missions established dialogues actively using both old and new media to inform and engage with domestic and foreign publics.

AMU:

Many who work in the intelligence community operate in a classified or covert environment. How do agencies ensure people are abiding by legal and ethical boundaries?

Dr. Casey Skvorc:

So the CIA on its public website has an entire section focused upon integrity ethics and the CIA. This site provides a candid analysis of the agency’s elements of integrity. The challenges that are inherent to these elements encouraging dissent and accepting bad news. Redefining failure and the fear of taking risks such as when agents fear they will be blamed for anything short of an optimal outcome.

Encouraging them to cut corners and cover up mistakes versus a lack of accountability and ethical interview format has also been established for candidates in which they’re asked to describe in detail their own ethical boundaries and compasses in the context of covert operations.

AMU:

So, Casey what should be the key takeaways for a doctoral student at the university when learning more about extradition laws and other ethical concerns?

Dr. Casey Skvorc:

It’s critical to understand there is no 60 second soundbite that can rapidly and comprehensively address the intricacies associated with legal and ethical concerns. Each situation must be analyzed when possible. And it’s not always possible from a standpoint of evaluating as much relevant information as possible input from subject matter experts involving legal issues and possible ramifications and reliance upon agency training regarding legal and ethical protections. Integrated with a well-defined sense of personal ethics and guidelines which ultimately direct each person’s individual behaviors. A major and a positive consequence of studying ethics and law in the intelligence community, is self reflection then exchange with other intelligent students in the evaluation and formation of one’s personal ethics.

AMU:

Great, thank you so much Casey for being here today.

Dr. Casey Skvorc:

My pleasure.

AMU:

For more information about our University’s doctoral programs visit us at AMUonline.com/doctoral-degrees.

About Dr. Casey Skvorc

Dr. Casey Skvorc has a J.D. in Law from the University of Oklahoma; a Ph. D. in Medical Psychology from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; and an M.S. in Medical Psychology from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Dr. Skvorc is an instructor with AMU’s School of Security and Global Studies.

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