Judge Posner calls for a Domestic Intelligence service

In Opinion Journal, Judge Posner writes an article entitled A Domestic CIA. Highlights include:

The British understand that a criminal-investigation culture and an intelligence culture don't mix. A crime occurs at a definite time and place, enabling a focused investigation likely to culminate in an arrest and conviction. Intelligence seeks to identify enemies and their plans before any crime occurs. It searches for terrorist sleeper cells in the U.S. with no assurance of finding any. Hunting needles in a haystack is uncongenial work for FBI special agents.


FBI special agents–the bureau's only operations officers–want to make arrests, and so they zero in on animal-rights terrorists and ecoterrorists–people known to be committing crimes and therefore relatively easy to nail. These people are criminals and should be prosecuted, but as they do not endanger national security, prosecuting them should not be an intelligence priority.


Just eight months after the president forced a fiercely recalcitrant bureau to combine its intelligence-related divisions into a single unit (the "National Security Branch"), the unit's first and only director has resigned to become the security director of a cruise-ship line. The FBI's primary mission is and will remain fighting crime; and just as crime-fighters don't make good intelligence operatives, intelligence operatives don't make good crime-fighters. The FBI fears compromising its main mission by embracing its secondary one.

I have called for the creation of an American MI5 style Domestic Intelligence Service before. My view is unchanged. the US needs an American MI5 – the sooner, the better.

The small shocker for me in the article was that the chief of the National Security division left to direct security for a cruise-ship line. Obviously, that person was not right for the national security division post in the first place. I can't imagine somebody with a such a great professional opportunity (re-shape,focus and lead the FBI's national security activities in a time of war), walking away from it. A true committed professional would have stayed on the job and had a man-with-mission mindset.

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