An Ethical Dilemma in Government Term Paper by Nicky

An Ethical Dilemma in Government
A look at a situation involving an ethical dilemma in government.
# 149041 | 1,042 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2011 | US
Published on Nov 21, 2011 in Law (Administrative) , Hot Topics (Terror and 9/11)

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This paper examines some actions by the CIA which involved destroying video tapes. The paper considers this situation in light of the Federal Records Act (FRA), which states that federal agencies are charged with an affirmative responsibility to ensure that government records are preserved. The paper presents the case as an ethical dilemma, pointing out how the videos potentially compromised the nation's counter terrorism and national security efforts. The paper also explores what happened relative to legislation that existed at the time. The paper concludes by stating that the fundamental principles of American government must be upheld. Despite this, the magnitude of some threats to the nation suggest that threats of sufficient magnitude justify suspension of virtually any governing principle for the sake of saving lives.


Introduction - Background and History of the Issue
The Ethical Dilemma
Principle vs. Necessity

From the Paper:

"The Circumstances giving rise to Chairman Waxman's concerns involve the nation's counterterrorism and national security efforts, but the actual violations alleged are largely tangential to the most important contexts in which the issue arises in connection with the contemporary threats to the nation and its core values. Even in the event that specific types of circumstances could conceivably justify suspension (or outright violation) of fundamental principles, there is no question that government authorities must comply with the FRA.
"Perhaps circumstances could also justify sealing those records; but to whatever extent governmental actions preserved in those records are represented as justified violations of national principles or statute, the information itself must be available for future evaluation of that characterization by subsequent administrations, legislators, historians, and the general public. Therefore, if the factual circumstances relied upon to justify water-boarding (or any other illegal interrogation methods used against) Abu Zubaydah were, in fact, completely justified violations of the Geneva Convention and applicable U.S. law, the destruction of the records of those sessions is inexcusable."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Allison, Graham. Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe. New York: Henry Holt, (2004).
  • Dershowitz, Allan. Why Terrorism Works: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge. New Haven: Yale University Press, (20021)
  • Dershowitz, Allan. Shouting Fire: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age. New York: Little Brown & Co, (20022).
  • Evans, Michael. The Final Move Beyond Iraq: The Final Solution While the World Sleeps. Lake Mary, FL: Front Line, (2007).
  • Larsen, Randall. Our Own Worst Enemy: Asking the Right Questions About Security to Protect You, Your Family, and America. New York: Grand Central Publishing, (2007).

Cite this Term Paper:

APA Format

An Ethical Dilemma in Government (2011, November 21) Retrieved August 15, 2022, from

MLA Format

"An Ethical Dilemma in Government" 21 November 2011. Web. 15 August. 2022. <>