Is there such a thing as an ethical spy?
A group of current and former intelligence officers and academic experts think there is, and they are meeting this weekend to dissect what some others in the field consider a flat-out contradiction in terms.
The organizers say recent controversies over interrogation techniques bordering on torture and the alleged skewing of prewar intelligence on Iraq make their mission urgent. At the conference on Friday and Saturday in a Springfield, Va., hotel, the 200 attendees hope to begin hammering out a code of ethics for spies and to form an international association to study the subject.
Conference materials describe intelligence ethics as "an emerging field" and call the gathering, not sponsored by any government agency, the first of its kind. The topics include "Spiritual Crises Among Intelligence Operatives," "Lessons From Abu Ghraib," "Assassination: The Dream and the Nightmare" and "The Perfidy of Espionage."
Organizers said conferees would ponder such timely issues as how many civilian deaths can be justified in a C.I.A. Predator missile strike to kill a known terrorist, or what legal assurances a National Security Agency eavesdropper should demand before singling out the phone calls of an American who was linked to Al Qaeda.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
It's taking university philosophy departments by storm. In fact, I'm working on a paper entitled "Diversity and Identity in Perfidious Spying and Assassination Dreams":