Publication Date

Spring 4-23-2018


Helms School of Government


International Relations


National Security, Civil Liberty, Intelligence Community


National Security Law


For years, the US Intelligence Community has worked to maintain the thin and often wavering line between civil liberty and national security in its attempts to protect the American people while simultaneously preserving their constitutional rights. However, this line has often shifted with the course of American history, including events such as the Alien and Sedition Acts, the establishment of the Church Committee, and the publication of the NSA’s data collection program. One of the most significant of these factors was the passage and eventual amendment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which opened the door to later constitutional controversies. In the midst of this ever-changing national landscape, how is the US Intelligence Community to strike a balance between protecting the American people and ensuring their civil freedoms?

The Intelligence Community must remember that it has a responsibility to protect both the American people and their constitutional freedoms. The Intelligence Community faces the unique challenge of reconciling the freedom of the American people to live safely and the freedom of the US government, embodied by the executive branch, to lead. In recent history, it has done a remarkable job of instituting measures of oversight and enacting greater controls on itself as part of the executive branch to avoid the unconstitutional missteps it has taken in the past. Intelligence agencies in the present and future must continue to prioritize not only on the safety of the United States and its people but also on the maintenance of the liberties guaranteed to them under the US Constitution.