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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Some Counterintelligence Dilemmas

Pp. 133-141 (9)

Iztok Podbregar


The chapter presents contemporary issues worthy of more detailed attention in theory and especially in practice of counterintelligence. The first dilemma concerns the question of ethics in counterintelligence, which has long been a source of contention among lawyers, sociologists, philosophers, and practicians in the field of security. The text furthermore highlights the problem of ‘grey zone’ in counterintelligence and explains why ethical counterintelligence is an oxymoron; it confronts the reader with the ethical dilemma of the relative importance of national security vs. individual’s human rights. A slightly less known modern issue is the question of OSINT and its legality; foreign intelligence services can use OSINT to extend from ostensibly legal into half-legal or illegal fields of activity and thus avoid counterintelligence surveillance and the activities of other services. The last issue presented is the question of trust among partner state services; in 2015 we witnessed the disclosure of documents revealing the extent of NSA surveillance of leaders, ministers, and state body officials from Germany, France, Brazil and Japan. These revelations sparked a debate on the acceptability of spying on ‘friendly’ or partner states; in itself this is not a new dilemma, however it was previously unknown to the public.


Disinformation, Eavesdropping, Ethics, Exploitation, Friendly intelligence, Grey zone, Manipulation, National security, NSA, OSINT, Oxymoron, Semi-legal, Torture, Trust, WikiLeaks.


Department of Organization and Management, Faculty of Organizational Sciences, University of Maribor, Kidričeva cesta 55a, SI-4000 Kranj, Slovenia.