The Anatomy of Counterintelligence: European Perspective

Indexed in: EBSCO

In recent decades, a significant volume of literature on the subject of counterintelligence has become available. The knowledge given by this literature has addressed the confusion surrounding ...
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The Foundations of Counterintelligence: Definition and Principles

Pp. 24-42 (19)

Gasper Hribar


The comparative analysis of American and European literature has revealed the main reasons for the differences in the understanding of counterintelligence; these are the result of varieties in linguistic use, the different interpretations of the expression counterintelligence, and the grouping of various activities under a single umbrella activity and service due to similar methods of work, identical or common threats, and similar goals. The wealth of available literature demonstrates that counterintelligence has been given increasing research attention; however, there is no consensus regarding the definition of counterintelligence. This is further reflected in practice, which then feeds back into the theoretical development of counterintelligence. To remedy this, we propose a new definition of counterintelligence, which was shaped on the basis of analyzed literature and therefore stems from theory rather than practice. On the basis of definition, we have come up with two representations: 1) representation of the counterintelligence process; 2) representation of the counterintelligence process operating against foreign intelligence activity. These two representations illustrate the working of counterintelligence and counterintelligence services in practice; they are based on the proposed definition and the idea that counterintelligence is aimed at foreign intelligence activity and processes but not at foreign security and other security threats, which are not the result of intelligence activities. The chapter concludes with the description of some unwritten counterintelligence principles, which are part of counterintelligence subculture.


Counter-espionage, Counterintelligence process, Counterintelligence service, Definition of counterintelligence, Principles of counterintelligence, Security service.


Department of Security, Defense and Military Logistics, University of Maribor, Mariborska cesta 7, SI-3000 Celje, Slovenia.