CIA and the Rule of Law

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 Qaeda and its militant allies or otherwise seeking to protect the United States from foreign adversaries. And that is the central point of this piece: 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.

By Stephen W. Preston

Stephen W. Preston is General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency. Mr. Preston was previously a partner at the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in Washington, DC, where he was co-chair of the Defense and National Security Practice Group, as well as a member of the Regulatory and Litigation Departments. He joined the firm in 1986. Mr. Preston served as Principal Deputy General Counsel of the Department of Defense from 1993 to 1995, during which time he served for an extended period as Acting General Counsel. From 1995 to 1998, he served as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice responsible for civil litigation in the courts of appeals on behalf of the United States. From 1998 to 2000, Mr. Preston was General Counsel of the Department of the Navy.

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