Army Defines Legitimate and Questionable Intel Activities

12.12.06 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Updated Below

A recently updated U.S. Army regulation (pdf) defines the parameters of legitimate military intelligence activities and outlines procedures for identifying “questionable” intelligence operations.

Among the permissible activities, for example, military intelligence “may conduct nonconsensual physical surveillance of U.S. persons who are– military personnel on active duty status; present or former intelligence component employees; present or former intelligence component contractors and their present or former employees; applicants for intelligence component employment or contracting” and “persons in contact with those who fall into [the above categories] to the extent necessary to identify the person in contact” (sect. 9-2).

“Nothing in this procedure will be interpreted as authorizing the collection of any information relating to a U.S. person solely because of that person’s lawful advocacy of measures opposed to Government policy” (sect. 2-5).

However, “commonly reported questionable intelligence activities [include] improper collection, retention, or dissemination of U.S. person information [such as] gathering information about U.S. domestic groups not connected with a foreign power or international terrorism” (sect. 15-4).

Other “commonly reported questionable activities” include “searching or monitoring a U.S. person’s private internet account, under the guise of determining if the individual was passing classified information, without an authorized counterintelligence or law enforcement investigation and proper search or electronic surveillance authority.”

Also considered “misconduct” is “coaching a source or subject of an investigation prior to an intelligence polygraph examination in an effort to help the individual pass the polygraph.”

In one new provision, the regulation notes that intelligence personnel must ordinarily use government computers for official government business. But, it says, “if operational security so requires, such as to protect a Government computer from hacker retaliation, a … commander may approve nonattributable internet access” (sect. 1-9).

The 2005 regulation was released in its entirety this week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Secrecy News.

See “U.S. Army Intelligence Activities,” Army Regulation 381-10, 22 November 2005 (2.7 MB PDF).

Update: The Army Regulation seems to assert that “Attorney General authorization” is an acceptable alternative to authorization from the FISA court for domestic intelligence surveillance, the New York Times noted. See “Deletions in Army Manual Raise Wiretapping Concerns” by Eric Lichtblau and Mark Mazzetti, New York Times, January 14, 2007.