One approach to
defining a code of ethics, as a general construct for a profession, comes from
Hudson’s (2010) analysis of ethics in the intelligence community. He asserts
that the American Bar Association’s Model Rules is an ideal example of a
professional ethical code. Based on this example, an ethical code can be
defined in accordance with five main components: The code must treat the
profession “as an ethical pursuit” (p. 1431); the role of the
profession must be contextualized in a broader sociopolitical framework; the
code must provide “specific guidance on issues particular to a given
profession” (p. 1431); competence and expertise must be the primary
qualifications for professional membership; and dedicated disciplinary
processes must be identified to protect the profession’s integrity.
dilemmas can be defined, within Hudson’s (2010) framework, as situations in
which there is a conflict between two categorical rules. For instance, one
categorical rule may be that intelligence professionals must always protect the
nation’s security. Another categorical rule may be that intelligence
professionals must always protect intelligence sources. Situations may arise in
which it is not possible to fully comply with one of these rules without, to
some extent at least, compromising the other. This is a true ethical dilemma:
when a person is faced with a conflict between two legitimate ethical rules or
principles that cannot both be satisfied.
The Principles of
Professional Ethics for the Intelligence Community as issued by the Director of
National Intelligence (2014) meets some, but not all, of Hudson’s (2010)
criteria for what a code of ethics should include. It does treat intelligence
as an ethical pursuit, place it into a broader social context, and highlight
the importance of competence and expertise. It does not, however, provide
extensive guidance on profession-specific issues, nor does it identify
specific, dedicated disciplinary processes to be used. The principle of
stewardship does briefly touch on these issues by referencing the protection of
intelligence sources and methods, along with the obligation to report
wrongdoing through appropriate channels.
reasonably assert that the Principles of Professional Ethics for the
Intelligence Community serves as a universal code of ethics for professional
intelligence officers. This code, it is worth noting, is not particularly
detailed; it falls short of the standards that Hudson (2010) has recommended
for a code of ethics modeled after that of the American Bar Association. In
practical terms, it may be true that most professional intelligence offers rely
more on the guidance provided by their particular agencies than they do on this
code. However, the code still provides high-level guidance regarding the
general principles by which intelligence professionals are expected to abide.
Further, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (U.S.
Senate, 2004) made some progress in improving coordination between agencies and
reducing the previous balkanization within the intelligence community.
of a professional code of ethics is the American Psychological Association’s
(APA, 2017) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. This
code of ethics identifies five primary ethical principles that should guide
practicing psychologists: beneficence and non-maleficence, fidelity and responsibility,
integrity, justice, and respect for rights and dignity. The code also contains
ten additional sections that provide guidance on resolving ethical issues,
competence, human relations, privacy and confidentiality, advertising,
recording keeping and fees, education, research, assessment, and therapy.
Violation of the code can be reporting to the American Psychological
Association’s Ethics Committee, which investigates and may impose sanctions
that include termination of membership and reporting to professional
accrediting bodies. In practice, this means that ethical violations can result
in the suspension of professional licenses and a psychologist being barred from