The Extraordinary Restrictions on the Constitutional Rights of Central Intelligence Agency Employees: How National Security Concerns Legally Trump Individual Rights
Florida State Journal of Transnational Law & Policy, Vol. 21, 2011
60 Pages Posted: 7 May 2012
Date Written: May 6, 2012
Employees of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA or “the Agency”) engage in activities designed to protect the nation’s security and, at heart, its Constitution. Ironically, however, CIA employees, by dint of their employment with the Agency, are required to forego many of the very constitutional protections they fight so hard to protect. U.S. law and Agency regulations restrict the ability of CIA employees to engage in political activity, take outside employment, or travel internationally. The CIA significantly invades the privacy of its employees by requiring extensive and intrusive background checks of its employees including blood tests and polygraph examinations. The Agency even goes so far as to limit who its employees can befriend, date, and marry. To top it all off, CIA employees are greatly precluded from contesting these limitations as Congress has prohibited them from forming unions or going on strike, and the Judiciary has greatly limited the ability of Agency employees to bring claims in U.S. courts. Failure to comply with any of the above restrictions can result in disciplinary action and even termination of employment. CIA employees recognize, upon voluntarily joining the Agency, that their constitutional freedoms will be restricted to protect national security; yet few Americans realize the breadth and depth of those restrictions. This article examines the legality of the various restrictions imposed on CIA employees. It concludes that virtually all pass constitutional muster but that one – prohibiting employees from maintaining a substantial and personal relationship with any citizen from certain designated nations – could raise legal concerns.
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