Heads Up: Insuring Intelligence

You might not think about it, but there is a new threat in the global war on terror: getting sued if you’re an intelligence officer. But all risks can be minimized and according to Newsweek, intelligence officers are turning to insurers.

To protect themselves, many CIA officers take out insurance policies, according to current and former intelligence officials who, like all agency employees, would not be named. For a $300 yearly premium, Wright & Co. (known around the agency as Wright Brothers) will cover legal fees for CIA employees sued in the line of duty. Last week, at CIA headquarters, agency employees darkly joked among themselves about the possible fallout to come. “A lot of people are checking their Wright Brothers insurance,” says a former senior Clandestine Service official.

Why would this be important? Well, what if you kidnap someone and the world finds out about it? What happens if the world gets grumpy? What happens if the federal prosecutor in some backwater country presses charges? (Again from Newsweek)

As many as 20 CIA officials and contractors could face legal charges in Germany for their alleged role in the abduction of Khaled el-Masri, a German national once wrongly suspected of involvement with 9/11 conspirators, German officials say. Amid new disclosures last week by a German TV show, a Munich prosecutor confirmed to NEWSWEEK that he is conducting a probe into the people who carried out the abduction—an inquiry that could soon lead to arrest warrants.

Most people might attribute a willingness to get sued or prosecuted to a certain fanaticism. Perhaps. But why is the CIA so willing to torture people in the first place? The LA Times has an excellent article explaining this.

But [Paul] Pillar[, former deputy director of the CIA counterterrorism center,] and others noted that spies, unlike soldiers, are not afforded the protections of the Geneva Convention. Therefore, agency officials are less preoccupied with the concern over reciprocity articulated by Powell and others.

The convention spells out elaborate protections for captured soldiers, and sets minimum standards for others who are captured who are not in uniform.

But spies fall into a separate category. Those engaged in espionage “shall not have the right to the status of prisoner of war,” according to the convention, which also says that an occupying government “may impose the death penalty” in cases when a prisoner is guilty of espionage.

All three articles are eye openers. Both into the nuts and bolts areas of intelligence work but also in a shadowy area of the insurance industry.

Now if the intelligence community could just insure success…

Hat Tip: Laura Rozen, who put this really remarkable connection together. (I just fluffed and trimmed a bit. Laura Rozen, Goddess of the News.)

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