68. Spying

Military & Political Espionage

Military and especially political espionage should be globally illegal. Each should be punished severely. Prison time should be given until the possessed knowledge is outdated and/or heavy fines should be applied to any person working as a military or political spy against the United States and who transferred or can be proven to have been on the verge of transferring classified and/or ‘sensitive’ information relating to intelligence or national security to foreign entities. In cases where the leakage of information has resulted in the death of another person, the spy should be given the death penalty but only at the end of very lengthy debriefings and other punishments and perhaps also after the convicted spy had paid for all costs associated with his crime (at least court and detention costs). Penalties for lower magnitude military or government spying should include the immediate revocation of all security clearances, a lengthy prison sentence or very close supervision, and a large fine, an order to never communicate without supervision with people who have access to classified information or with people who may reasonably be assumed to desire important information that the spy may have or know. Punishments for espionage should also include intensive education consisting of lengthy explanations as to why it is essential that certain information not be divulged.

Exceptions would be allowed if the transfer of such information would have clearly benefited the populations of both countries (or all parties) involved. Immoral or clearly illegal activities would also be exempt from punishment if such information was first revealed through the proper channels or chain of command.

Economic Espionage

The spying on any business or industry (foreign or domestic) is obviously immoral and should be globally illegal and punishments should be severely enforced.  These crimes should be described as thefts and denominated mainly in terms of money.  Though many foreign governments habitually engage is such activities far more often than Americans, all should be prosecuted with the same heavy standard.  Attempts to justify these actions (including bribery) by claiming to ‘level the playing field’ with competitors should be completely invalid defenses. It should be widely advertised that, as with any other crime, any person who has information about any past, current or future crime that would lead to the capture of the criminal(s), that person should be rewarded with an amount of money equivalent to an average of about 10% of the total financial penalty imposed on the criminal(s) (namely the spies and the beneficiaries of such illegal information). Courts should assign a value for the illegally obtained information and punishments should be widely advertised, as they should for all crimes.  This way the general population would always have a general idea in their minds as to how much money a person would earn for turning over information to the authorities. Then when a spying episode surfaces, the entire population would theoretically already know what the rewards would be. This may make for a potentially quicker resolution and capture of the spy.

In addition to punishing specifically identified criminals responsible for espionage, national government should also have the right to impose (or have an international authority impose, if one were to exist) tariffs on the imports of products from countries which have benefited from such spying. For example, there was a case in the 1980s when the French intelligence agency (DGSE) helped win a $2 billion fighter airplane deal with India. Such actions should be punished by an international authority (ideally) through the imposition of a fine on the French government (ideall). However, the second option would be for the victimized party (the U.S.) and any other nations who agree in principal, to impose tariffs on all imports from France and keep them in place until a predetermined amount of revenue has been raised.

Additional punishment options could include sanctions of some sort or temporary bans on imports of certain products from offending countries.

Naturally, espionage (especially economic) and bribery constitute forms of corruption that make the world less fair for everyone.

It is currently the case that some countries engaged in significant spying against the United States are those that receive significant military or economic aid from the US. This aid, either in the form of military or other economic aid, should be used, at least in part, as leverage to encourage such countries to cease their spying on us and to actually encourage them to help police this area and find out who else is spying on us. Enforcement could be done by withholding an aid amount equivalent to whatever the estimated damage of a spying scandal has been. Further, aid could be increased when such countries submit information that leads to the proper resolution of other spying activities against the US. Such a punishment and reward principal has been previously proposed in these points. This principle would work the same regardless of the entity or the scale of the entity that is participating.


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