- "Few presidents have ever granted the Fifth Freedom. It's the right to defend our laws, by breaking them. To safeguard secrets, by stealing them. To save lives, by taking them. To do whatever it takes to protect our country. The Fifth Freedom is mine alone. I am Sam Fisher. I am a Splinter Cell."
- ― Sam Fisher in the "Official Fifth Freedom Trailer" for Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist.
The Fifth Freedom is a concept not derived from the Four Freedoms articulated by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the State of the Union Address he delivered to the United States Congress on January 6, 1941, but rather that of Tom Clancy who made it up. In the address (also known as the Four Freedoms speech), FDR proposed four fundamental freedoms that humans "everywhere in the world" ought to enjoy, including:
- Freedom of speech and expression
- Freedom of religion
- Freedom from want
- Freedom from fear
In the universe of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, the Fifth Freedom is the implicit freedom that exists to protect the other four. When all other means are exhausted, this unofficial Fifth Freedom permits disregard to any law, agreement or framework of ethical behaviour in order for a Splinter Cell to accomplish the mission and protect the other Four Freedoms of United States citizens. As Dermot P. Brunton put it, "All means are acceptable." The Fifth Freedom is also understood as "to do whatever it takes to protect the United States."
For example, with the Fifth Freedom, a Splinter Cell may kill in combat or by assassination, may torture or kidnap people, may deploy on U.S. soil, and may spy on other U.S. government agencies. Another notable example was when Isaac Briggs was forced to exercise the Fifth Freedom by killing Secretary of Defense Lester Gollancz, since the latter was about to give Majid Sadiq access to America's top secret files.
Not all missions grant the Fifth Freedom to Sam, some of them have limitations as well, mostly because they would compromise it (i.e. no fatality in some missions).