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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Being Ethical While Being a Spook

For John, BLUFEthics is about what we owe ourselves, not what we owe our bosses.  FYI, Spook as in Spy.

Retired CIA Officer Burton Gerber Shares Spy Stories

The title of Mr Burton Gerber's talk was "The Ethical Aspects of Intelligence Work: The Cold War and Beyond"  The Ethical Aspects...  A very good topic.  In the article at the DePauw University website are embedded links to audio of the talk.

Here is the early part of the article:

March 22, 2001, Greencastle, Ind. - It may seem like an oxymoron, but a man who spent virtually four decades in the Central Intelligence Agency says spies have a moral imperative to be ethical.  Burton Lee Gerber spoke on "The Ethical Aspects of Intelligence Work:  The Cold War and Beyond" in a Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture on the DePauw University campus today.

Gerber spent 39 years in the CIA as a case officer and chief of station.  "As a case officer.. a guy who goes out and recruits other spies abroad, I was lying and cheating and stealing," Gerber explained to the audience gathered in Meharry Hall of historic East College.  "All of you were taught as youngsters not to lie, or cheat or steal.  But yet we expect the people who are going to be the case officers for our intelligence agency to do those things."  The retired CIA veteran said, "the question in the business of spying is, for what ends are you doing it?  You are lying, cheating and stealing but it's your job and it's for the good of the country."

That said, Gerber said he has not always agreed with CIA assignments, which are dictated by presidents and their cabinets.  For instance, the veteran spy said he opposed CIA efforts to assassinate Cuba's Fidel Castro.  "Some people would say killing one person could save 1,000 other lives, but I would say that I'm more interested in saving my soul."

Gerber was also very interested in the welfare of those who were spying for him.  "Spying is, by definition, risky.  You're putting people's lives on the line, you're asking them to do dangerous things. And you should be troubled by that," he said.

Regards  —  Cliff

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