What is Counterintelligence?

Counterintelligence is defined as the governmental act of gathering info, analyzing intelligence and conducting operations in order to prevent crimes, espionage, sabotage and even assassinations. Almost every government in the world has some form of counterintelligence group or organization to defend their country against external threats.

An Overview of Counterintelligence

Counterintelligence activities are conducted by the FBI, CIA, NSA and DHS. These federal agencies collect data to support operations, exploit opportunities and share actionable intelligence with each other. Every day, thousands of intelligence analysts create written reports and oral briefings to senior leaders who use them to protect the country. Counterintelligence officers usually have tactical and operational experience in foreign countries, government agencies or military branches. They often specialize in specific global theaters, foreign countries and exploitation operations.

Hollywood directors have glamorized the secretive and powerful CIA through blockbuster films like Central Intelligence with Dwayne Johnson and True Lies with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Jason Bourne film series promotes a realistic, yet entertaining view of the horrors, sacrifices and challenges of the world of counterintelligence.

CIA Counterintelligence

The CIA is tasked with protecting the country from external threats through defensive and offensive programs. Most readers will recognize popular counterintelligence figures from Cold War era films, such as 007 James Bond, but they don’t realize that these old threats rarely go away. For example, the KGB is now the Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki Rossii (SVRR) and China’s National Bureau of Investigation and Statistics (NBIS) is now the National Security Bureau (NSB). The SVRR recruited and handled some of the most infamous traitors of American history, such as FBI special agent Earl Pitts and CIA agents Aldrich Ames and Harold Nicholson. The CIA continues to maintain aggressive counter offenses around the world in order to protect American assets, people and freedom. Interagency conflict, legal obstruction and public opposition are three problems that the CIA deals with while monitoring, controlling and preventing crimes against the country.

FBI Counterintelligence

The FBI has maintained a robust counterintelligence program since their inception in 1917. They identify, analyze and neutralize national security threats from foreign organizations and intelligence services. The bulk of the FBI’s resources and energy traditionally focused on the Soviet Union and their communist allies. Today, the FBI deals with everything from religious terrorists planning mass mayhem in major cities to graduate degree holding eco-terrorists who plan non-lethal attacks on commercial properties, activities and equipment. The FBI’s Counterintelligence Division handles national security threats from foreign intelligence organizations. They expose, prevent and investigate hostile and foreign intelligence operations that occur within the country. The FBI uses intelligence analysis to prevent espionage, drive investigative efforts and maintain collaborative partnerships with other government agencies.

Related Resource: What Military Jobs are in Counterintelligence?

Many jobs are available in counterintelligence within our government. If you enjoy analyzing intelligence and protecting the country while you do it, the field of counterintelligence will be a good career path.