The United States government’s 1793 prosecution of Gideon Henfield represents the first instance of the lawfare engaged in by the fledgling government. Over the course of the decades that followed, criminal prosecution became a default selection for addressing national security threats. This article examines how the Washington Administration utilized law as a weapon to defend itself from the British and French and set the precedent for using prosecutions to achieve national security objectives.
In his symposium speech, the General Counsel of the National Security Agency, Raj De attempts to bridge the gap between the public discourse about NSA and the reality of the legal rules, oversight, and responsibility that currently exist at the agency. De sought to clarify NSA’s activities relating to data collection and storage and what legal authorities the agency relies on. De makes clear that certain limitations are imposed on NSA practices, including minimization and retention procedures within the agency and oversight from both the executive and legislative branches and the FISC.
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.