Ethics is one of the basic philosophical concepts, which consists of and establishes principles and norms upon which social rules for relations between people in society are created. The economic and political system of the State influences the ethical behaviour of its individuals, which is reflected in all layers of society and professions. Intelligence is one State tool that guarantees the safety and progress of its citizens in accordance with the social contract. Totalitarian-type societies espousing National Socialism and/or communism were based on bent and distorted ethical norms. For the purpose of enforcement of these ethical norms, totalitarian regimes have falsified the scientific theories of Charles Darwin and Friedrich Nietzsche. Intelligence was throughout history an element of abuse and repression of totalitarian systems and one major guarantee of their respective existence. In the classification of the type of intelligence approach, totalitarian systems used drastic forms of realistic concepts of intelligence where, for the protection of the state, which included political elites and political ideology, all means were allowed, included physical liquidation of all ‘enemies’ of the regime. An important part of the repressive tools of totalitarian systems was the so called ‘preventive security activity,’ which regimes used too often and without reason for breaking all ethical norms and all human rights and liberties of modern civil society. For the implementation of such measures, just the perception of a possible threat was enough. Due to the extensive security control and political and ideological repression of a society, orchestrated by the intelligence and security services, the society itself has been oppressed by anguish und uncertainty. While primal fear spread among the population, and forced many people to inform on each other for survival, totalitarian systems succeeded to isolate every individual to the level of practically ‘imprisoning’ them, while still supposedly being free.
For the period of transition we have established that it marks the time of the changes between two political systems. Political transition is marked on one side by the process of the disintegration of an authoritarian regime, and on the other side with the establishing of a specific type of democracy. Transition can, in certain cases, lead to an even more authoritarian regime, or the establishing of a revolutionary alternative. The achievement of high ethical standards is, in transitional societies, still quite challenging. The accomplishment of general good, which is specific for democratic systems, can not be totally achieved, since transitional societies are still in many ways framed by the legal and social rules of the old totalitarian systems. The economy of a transitional society is marked with economical and social challenges such as; high unemployment, high rate of inflation, lack of corporate skills and initiatives, undeveloped infrastructure, a not completely established legal system, moral challenges, and social inequality.
For the establishment of effective intelligence and security systems in a time of transition, the execution of security reform is also very important. The main goal should be to discontinue with all the patterns of totalitarian regimes and to carry out the process of rebuilding structures and levers of a democratic state. Security reform has to include all dimensions from political (oversight and laws), economic (size of the apparatus, expenditure of financial and other resources), social (inner service and external economical security of employed) and institutional (organizational framework of security sector and separation from other bodies of government). While successful security reform also implements democratic legal standards and standards of institutional oversight, it should also encompass the process of reconstructing the organizational side of the service from a military/police type into a highly professional and legally transparent public service. In comparison to the normative-ethical base, which should guide societies in the principles of human rights and liberties, as well as respect of human dignity, transitional societies are using more and more an utilitarian (consequentialist) paradigm as a model in intelligence collection. That is why, along with the process of security reform, completing of the process of lustration is advisable. Lustration should help to cut the ties to legal, ideological non-ethical practices of totalitarian regimes and help to invest the trust into the institutions of the new, democratic, system. As direct or indirect obstacles and challenges in setting ethical and professional criteria in the field of intelligence, we can point to; the slow process of establishing a new political culture; the influence of established networks of service’s ex-employees, understanding the concept of secrecy as a leverage of power of social elites. All these challenges and obstacles of transitional societies need to be incorporated in wider political and social dialogue, which should unify our goals, opinions and views on a common future in democratic society.
Modern democratic societies are encountering modern-era security threats, which are marked by forms of hybrid, cyber and asymmetrical warfare. The state apparatus of modern democratic society can counter these threats with adapted and effective intelligence activity. A new intelligence approach to dealing with these modern threats is based on the implementation of new technological innovations, which in some cases could also deeply interfere with the field of ethical competences of an individual and can also threaten basic human rights and liberties. Distinctive in modern societies is an utilitarian approach to intelligence ethics, which strives to achieve the highest possible social benefit and consequently, social welfare. The weakness of this paradigm is, in fact, that even though intelligence methods with an utilitarian approach can formally be legal, we can lose the feeling of ethical and moral responsibilities of individuals in the individual stages of the intelligence process, if this process is too fragmented and if guidance’s of this process are under strict assertion of the authority concept. This can, in consequence, lead to abuse of the individual as a human being and his personal dignity in the whole intelligence and security process.
For all intelligence activities, a respect of the basic ethical norms and rules is essential. Until the concept of the just (ethical) intelligence is accepted, the Just War Theory could be used for explanation and ethical use of specific intelligence methods, which are based on the concept of self-defence and the right of society and humans to take care of their own security. For the benefit of high ethical and professional standards and due to the high ethical challenges and special requirements of intelligence work, a “Code of ethics of the members of intelligence services” should be adopted. The main goal of modern and ethical intelligence should be a creation framework, which would, on practical findings, be able to implement applicative intelligence ethics, thus helping to resolve the controversies in society and enhancing of respect for ethics in the field of intelligence and security. Furthermore, modern intelligence concepts should be used as the instrument of functioning and protecting of democratic and ethical state, which protects an individual as a human being, as well as its dignity and respect for human rights and liberties.