Stephen W. Preston
“For those working at the confluence of law and national security, the President has made clear that ours is a nation of laws and that an abiding respect for the rule of law is one of our country’s greatest strengths, even against an enemy with only contempt for the law."
General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency
Stephen W. Preston is the chief legal officer at the Central Intelligence Agency, which is responsible for providing national security intelligence to senior U.S. policymakers. He has held numerous other high-level national security–related positions, including general counsel of the Department of the Navy and principal deputy general counsel and acting general counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense.
In remarks released April 10, 2012, Central Intelligence Agency General Counsel Stephen W. Preston addressed a broad range of issues related to the constraints and oversight under which the agency operates. The remarks, originally presented in a closed-door forum at Columbia Law School on October 4, 2011, were revised and made public today in conjunction with another address by the General Counsel. In his Hertog program presentation, entitled “CIA: Lawless Rogue or Regulated Business?”, Preston addressed Columbia students, faculty, alumni, and invited guests with compelling and insightful examples of the manner in which activities, such as the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound, are stringently reviewed and approved.
In his opening remarks, Preston asserted:
“For those working at the confluence of law and national security, the President has made clear that ours is a nation of laws and that an abiding respect for the rule of law is one of our country’s greatest strengths, even against an enemy with only contempt for the law. This is so for the Central Intelligence Agency no less than any other instrument of national power engaged in the fight against al-Qa’ida and its militant allies or otherwise seeking to protect the United States from foreign adversaries. And that is the central point of my remarks this afternoon: Just as ours is a nation of laws, the CIA is an institution of laws and the rule of law is integral to Agency operations.”
Read the entire presentation by CIA General Counsel Stephen W. Preston (PDF)