Intelligence Law School - Course 1: Lesson 4.1.4 U.S. Code Titles Relevant to U.S. Intelligence Law

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4.1 Introduction to Statutory Law

4.1.4 U.S. Code Titles Relevant to U.S. Intelligence Law

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4.1.4 U.S. Code Titles Relevant to U.S. Intelligence Law Code-Centric Pedagogy for Courses

Before I get started running through all the fundamental information about statutory law, I want to start you out with a preview of the most relevant titles of the U.S. Code for purposes of U.S. intelligence law.


The statutory law discussion in my substantive intelligence law courses is always centered on the U.S. Code rather than individual statutes in the Statutes at Large.

I’ll explain what both of these publications are in a minute. 

For now, I just want to let you know the titles of the U.S. Code that are relevant to intelligence law.


The goal of my courses is to train you to the point where you could theoretically go out and handle a lawsuit dealing with intelligence matters.

The U.S. Code is what lawyers use first when dealing with statutory issues, which is why I think it should be the centerpiece of your intelligence law education, rather than something you learn about later on in practice.


Ø  Conceptual Framework for Understanding Statutory Intelligence Law: You’ve no doubt heard commentators rattle off a giant list of different statutes by their popular names and maybe even said to yourself, “forget becoming a lawyer; I’m never going to remember all those names, let alone where to find them.”

o   Wrong.

o   You don’t have to remember every statute enacted by Congress to govern the intelligence community.

o   Eventually, you’ll know them all by heart, but it’s not necessary to learning all the statutes governing U.S. intelligence agencies.

o   All you have to do is familiarize yourself with the layout of the U.S. Code, and you will know where to find every statute relevant to various topics covered in intelligence law or any other federal law topic.

o   Every time a statute relevant to foreign intelligence surveillance is passed, a team of experts at the Office of Law Revision in the House of Representatives sits down and pulls out all the most relevant provisions and places them next to all the other foreign intelligence surveillance provisions in Chapter 36 of Title 50 of the U.S. Code.

o   And remember, if you know where to find everything in the Code, then you’ll always be able to find the most recent version of the most important statutes in force that deal with U.S. intelligence law. Relevant Titles of the U.S. Code Generally

17 of the 51[1] Titles in the U.S. Code have material that is somehow relevant to U.S. intelligence agencies:


  1. Title 2: The Congress
  2. Title 3: The President
  3. Title 5: Government Organization and Employees
  4. Title 6: Domestic Security
  5. Title 8: Aliens and Nationality
  6. Title 10: Armed Forces
  7. Title 14: Coast Guard
  8. Title 18: Crimes and Criminal Procedure
  9. Title 22: Foreign Relations and Intercourse
  10. Title 28: Judiciary and Judicial Procedure
  11. Title 31: Money and Finance
  12. Title 32: National Guard
  13. Title 41: Public Contracts
  14. Title 42: The Public Health and Welfare
  15. Title 44: Public Printing and Documents
  16. Title 47: Telegraphs, Telephones, and Radiotelegraphs
  17. Title 50: War and National Defense


Title 34 on the Navy was repealed and rolled into Title 10: Armed Forces.

Title 37 deals with Pay and Allowances of the Uniformed Services, and Title 38 deals with Veterans’ Benefits, but neither has more than ancillary relevance to U.S. intelligence law. Title 50 and Title 18: The Two Most Important Titles of the U.S. Code for Purposes of U.S. Intelligence Law

Most of these 17 Titles have only a few relevant provisions.


There are really only 2 titles that are of critical importance to intelligence law:


Ø  Title 50: War and National Defense; and

Ø  Title 18: Crimes and Criminal Procedure.


They are by far the most important Titles in U.S. intelligence law.


Ø  Title 50: War and National Defense: Title 50 is important because it contains two critically important chapters that are the primary focus of U.S. intelligence law:


o   Chapter 15: National Security: Chapter 15 is the National Security Act of 1947, which contains a lot of provisions relevant to intelligence law, including most of the relevant organic statutes for agencies like the CIA and key personnel like the Director of National Intelligence.


o   Chapter 36: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance: Chapter 36 is the other important chapter in Title 50.

§  It codifies the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and various amendatory statutes enacted afterward.

§  It is the framework statute governing the conduct of electronic surveillance within the United States for foreign intelligence purposes.


Ø  Title 18: Crimes and Criminal Procedure: In addition to Title 50, Title 18 is also important to intelligence law because it contains most intelligence-related crimes, like the Espionage Act, as well as various statutes related to the FBI.

o   Title 18 also contains the Classified Information Procedures Act in the appendix.


Those are the main titles.

I’ll explain each one in more detail in this lesson after I go back and discuss some of the fundamentals about statutory law.



[1] For years there were only 50 titles of the United States Code, but a new title—Title 51: National and Commercial Space Programs—was enacted by Section 3 of Public Law 111-314 on December 18, 2010. 124. Stat. 3328. See United States Code Document, Office of the Law Revision Counsel, United States House of Representatives,


© 2012 David Alan Jordan. All rights reserved.