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The job of protecting security and privacy - ODNI's Alex Joel discusses his role as the Intelligence Community's Civil Liberties Protection Officer

August 13, 2013

By Alexander W. Joel
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Many Americans probably don't know that there is a senior official whose job by law is to help ensure that civil liberties and privacy protections are built into intelligence programs. I am that official - the "Civil Liberties Protection Officer." I engage with the director of national intelligence and other intelligence officials to oversee and guide intelligence activities.

I lead a team of experts who coordinate not only with intelligence operators and analysts, but also with government lawyers, inspectors general, compliance officials and oversight boards, to help shape intelligence activities and oversee their implementation. As the intelligence agencies seek to protect the nation's security, they must also protect civil liberties and privacy.

Explaining to the public how all of this comes together is important, but is hard to do because it involves sensitive information that adversaries could exploit to avoid detection. By definition, most intelligence work can't be done openly. A fully transparent intelligence service, after all, could not be an effective one.


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