The United States Counterintelligence - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1144 Words
Date:  2022-12-05


An effective counterintelligence system is central to the security and safety of any nation. It is the responsibility of a country to employ counterintelligence in safeguarding its interests both at home and in the international space (Jackson, Schaefer, Noricks, Goldsmith, & Lester, 2009). Therefore, the nature of counterintelligence that the country uses is a critical determinant of her ability to defeat the enemy and achieve sustainable national security. Based on the changing face of international security, the United States which mainly uses aggressive counterintelligence currently should also integrate domestic intelligence service model to attain holistic security locally and overseas.

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Nature of the United States Counterintelligence Today

Arguably, the United States of America is one of the global powers that currently faces significant risks of attacks. This is high attributable to its counterintelligence strategy which seems to be offensive and externalist. Today, the United States has adopted a proactive as opposed to reactive counterintelligence approach in securing her foreign and domestic interests. The United States focuses on gathering foreign intelligence through the Central Intelligence agency (Jackson et al., 2009). The country lacks a dedicated local intelligence agency which is devoted to significant threats such as terrorism but has established seamless cooperation between the CIA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a way of ensuring domestic safety. The FBI is mandated with providing domestic intelligence and law enforcement.

The United States currently predominantly employs offensive counterintelligence which targets to exploit the organization of the enemy, tracking their networks and attacking before they execute their plans (Harber, 2009). The counterintelligence strategy typically takes the war to the enemy and avoid scenarios in which the country has to fight the enemy within its bordered. No wonder, most of the intelligence gathered by the US agencies are executed in terms of military activity outside the borders of the United States.

The United States uses its intelligence to identify, assess, and neutralize their enemies in their locations. This is evidenced by the activities of the United States Central Intelligence Agency in the Middle East where they seem to be literally on a phishing expedition on information about perceived enemies (Harber, 2009). This externalist employment of intelligence is sometimes counterproductive and results in a series of back clashes as the United States face the reality of retaliation from external aggressors. Whereas the United States has established a clear homeland counterintelligence framework, it uses a lot of resources in foreign intelligence gathering. The US foreign intelligence services that seek to gather information against American targets is linked to its foreign policy which aims at securing America through both domestic and international espionage (Harber, 2009). The US military is always readily available to respond to any external intelligence and takes the war to the enemy. For instance, due to the threat that the United States faced from the extremist groups such as Al Qaeda, she has over the years deployed her military to Afghanistan, Iraq and other Asian countries.

Pros and Cons of Adopting a Domestic Intelligence Service Model

Following the September 11, 2001 attack on two important US installations, there have been questions on the country's domestic counterintelligence mechanisms. Pundits have argued that the state not only needs to revamp her domestic counterintelligence but also adopt a local intelligence service model. The adoption of this model has both pros and cons.

Pros of a Domestic Intelligence Service Model

A domestic service model is essential in emphasizing the commitment of the government in reducing the possibility of an imminent attack. The local intelligence model focuses on establishing a substantial nexus between domestic and foreign threats (Burch, 2007). This is important in achieving greater precision in framing and categorizing internal risk.

The model also minimizes the common competition for resources and focus on law enforcement and intelligence. The model solves the infighting and contestations between agencies that focus on national security. For instance, the FBI which deals with local intelligence, law and order and the CIA which has an extensive mandate may not develop a seamless system of operations due to their internal struggles (Burch, 2007). The domestic intelligence model increases coordination and planning efforts for intelligence gathering and execution. It helps in exploring the underlying support networks for crimes which directly support investigatory efforts.

Cons of Domestic Intelligence Service Model

Revamping domestic intelligence may be an ideal way of cost-effectively securing the United States of America. However, it presents myriads of challenges such as promoting reactive counterintelligence as the probability of enemies intruding and jeopardizing the domestic security becomes high, difficulty in attaining the optimum balance between civil liberties and sheer need to maintain intelligence (Jackson et al., 2009). With primary domestic security which is not supported by vibrant foreign counterintelligence, it becomes difficult to identify the small number of threatening groups and individuals in a diverse as well as a populous country such as the United States of America. A focus on domestic security often fails to attain the best balance between individual civil liberties and national security. Therefore, the approach loses public goodwill thus defeating the nobility of the initiative. The tension about the imbalance between civil rights and national security often become prominent during periods of war.

A solely or predominantly domestic counterintelligence model also increases the possibility of security breaches as the aggressors use clandestine mechanisms to infiltrate the borders of the country thus increasing the chances of having to fight the enemy from within. This homeland counterintelligence, therefore, has a higher probability of causing national instability as the country is turned into a battleground (Jackson et al., 2009). It further reduces the preparedness of the country to the activities of enemies such as terrorists who may organize and group outside the country's jurisdiction before they attack. A domestic counterintelligence thus fails in neutralizing the enemy before they execute their plans within their target country.


Currently, the United States employs externalist counterintelligence which is characterized by aggressively pursuing the enemies to their locations before they attack. The FBI also manages domestic intelligence. The offensive counterintelligence which is the primary approach of the United States had been attributed to be the cause of the perennial terror attacks on the United States. Pundits have argued on the need for US to concentrate on using domestic intelligence service model to attain national security. However, to attain a holistic security of the United States, the domestic intelligence service model must be combined with a vibrant offensive counterintelligence.


Burch, J. (2007). A domestic intelligence agency for the United States? A comparative analysis of domestic intelligence agencies and their implications for homeland security. Naval Postgraduate School Monterey CA Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

Harber, J. R. (2009). Unconventional spies: The counterintelligence threat from non-State actors. International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, 22(2), 221-236.

Jackson, B. A., Schaefer, A. G., Noricks, D., Goldsmith, B. W., & Lester, G. (2009). Challenge of Domestic Intelligence in a Free Society, The. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation

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