As a tool for national security, counterintelligence is as important as the armed services, if not more so. By definition, counterintelligence means to counter the information gathering efforts of a hostile intelligence agency. Along side it’s sister service, intelligence, counter intelligence, helps defend a nation from both internal and external aggression. This is generally done by guarding information storage sites, or by capturing enemy spies. Also, counterintelligence is interchangeably used with counterespionage. Counterintelligence is generally considered the younger, less attractive sister agency to intelligence. While Intelligence is considered to have a gentlemanly air about it; counterintelligence is generally considered to be full of “professional paranoids”. This is mainly because counterintelligence operatives must operate with the highest level of mistrust and secrecy. In fact, at one time it was believed in the Central Intelligence Agency that the counterintelligence staff operated under the assumption that the KGB (Soviet intelligence agency) had penetrated many high levels of the government (CIA and the Cult of Intelligence). This also tends to portray the attitude the rest of the intelligence community holds for counterintelligence operatives. The intelligence community tends to believe counterintelligence operatives are underhanded and unnecessarily paranoid. This attitude does not affect the need for a strong counterintelligence ability in any national intelligence community. Without a strong counterintelligence ability, any intelligence gained about any target may prove to be useless. This happens because the target in question may have the ability to penetrate the surveying intelligence agency’s operation, and find out what information has been gathered. Then, the target will be able to completely change their strategy. Thus, counterintelligence as a tool for national strategy is unequivocal.
In the United States, for example, intelligence and counter intelligence are broken up into two broad categories, foreign and domestic. Each of these categories falls under the jurisdiction of two different agencies. All foreign intelligence and counterintelligence activities fall under the control of the Central Intelligence Agency (here out, referred to as CIA). While all domestic intelligence and counterintelligence activities are the responsibility of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (here out, referred to as FBI). While the missions are the same, each agency has adapted different methods of engaging in these activities. This difference has occurred because the two agencies operate in different environments. On one hand, the FBI is able to take a strong-arm approach. The FBI is able to do this because they are operating on native soil. They do not have to worry about a foreign government finding out about their operation and shutting it down (along with other adverse consequences). While on the other hand, the CIA is not afforded the same luxuries. The CIA must operate in foreign, and sometimes hostile, nations. This forces the CIA to adopt a more covert mode of operating, while the FBI is able to freely tail their subjects. The CIA must split their effort to survey the target AND themselves (for security reasons). While neither agency admits it, they are both woefully behind in the counterintelligence department. For example, if the CIA has such a strong counterintelligence department, how could Aldrich Ames spy for the Soviet Union for nearly thirty years? This sort of incident screams for counterintelligence improvement. Eleven CIA case officers in charge of Aldrich notice several warning signs (White House press release, February 22, 1994), some of which included alcohol abuse, but none of them notified any of the proper authorities (namely the counterintelligence department, or internal security). To this day the United States is unsure how damaging Aldrich was to national security.
Some may wonder why the United States has let its counterintelligence abilities become so weak, but in the world of political correctness it is quite clear. Some suggestions have been made: Admitting the need for counterintelligence is suggesting that security measures are, and have been, inadequate. It also brings up the sticky assumption that there are individuals within the framework are not to be trusted. Both of these issues tend to conflict with egos that may be in-charge. A third and more insidious suggestion is that the powers that be may believe counterintelligence has no place among their departments. What they do not realize is that timely and effective intelligence is highly dependent on