The United States Government has the solemn obligation, and shall continue in the conduct of intelligence activities . . . to protect fully the legal rights of all United States persons, including freedoms, civil liberties, and privacy rights guaranteed by Federal law.[1]

Definition[edit | edit source]

Intelligence activities are

any activity conducted for intelligence purposes or to affect political or governmental processes by, for, or on behalf of a foreign power.[2]
all activities that elements of the Intelligence Community are authorized to conduct pursuant to law or Executive Order 12333, as amended, or a successor order.[3]

Historical background[edit | edit source]

The earliest intelligence activities of the United States were carried out by the Committee on Secret Correspondence of the Continental Congress. This committee was created on November 29, 1775, to correspond with "friends" in other parts of the world.[4] This committee even had authority to keep certain information secret from the Continental Congress. For example, when the Continental Congress requested certain information from the committee on May 10, 1776, it authorized the committee to withhold "the names of the persons they have employed, or with whom they have corresponded."[5]

Overview[edit | edit source]

The term intelligence activities includes all of the following:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Executive Order 12333.
  2. The Attorney General's Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations, at 43 (full-text).
  3. Executive Order 13526, at §6.1(y).
  4. 3 Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (for the period 1775), at 392 (GPO 1905); 2 Secret Journals of the Acts and Proceedings of Congress, at 5 (Thomas B. Wait, Boston, 1820).
  5. 4 Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (for the period 1776), at 345 (GPO 1906,).
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