Notes from Uncertain Shield : The U.S. Intelligence System in the Throes of Reform by Richard Posner

While killing time last Monday, I “evaluated” Uncertain Shield by Judge Posner while drinking an Iced Cafe Americano (espresso + ice water + ice).

These notes will not be comprehensive, they are just what I found interesting at the time: establishing a Domestic Intelligence/Security MI5-ish organization. I have blogged on the need for an American MI5 before, as well as Judge Posner’s views on the topic.

Here are my notes:

  • form a new Domestic Intelligence Service (DIS), an American MI5
  • Do not just break out the FBI National Security Division
  • FBI culture is wrong for the DIS
  • FBI intelligence/security specialization career is not rewarded in FBI
  • Crime fighting and intel/counterintel not compatible
  • New DIS can work with FBI, like MI5 works with Special Branch
  • If the USA group is proportionally the same size as MI5 to US population, it would be 8000 people
  • DIS could “buy” domestic intelligence from local police (defers local police costs, builds network, reduces size below 8000 people)
  • Discussion – if DIS should be in DHS (folding in DHS intelligence, Coast Guard Intelligence, some Secret Service intel activities, and new resources)
  • Concern about bureaucracy.
  • Is there an upside to putting DIS in DHS? I don’t think so.
  • Alternative: have a DIS coordinating committee composed of SecDHS, AG, DNI.

Here is what I take away from Posner and add to my own ideas for an American MI5:

  1. Buy intel from local police to form tight networks between local police and DIS
  2. Don’t just transfer part of the FBI and its culture to the new DIS – start from scratch (though I assume some FBI Analyst and Special Agents would apply to transferto the new organization)
  3. The DIS should be an independent agency but have an executive advisory committee consisting of the SecDHS, the Attorney General, and the DNI

I still don’t know what it should be called: DSS (Domestic Security Service), DIS (Domestic Intelligence Service), DSIS (Domestic Security Intelligence Service), or CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit). Readers: any suggestions?


4 Responses

  1. DHS is currently instituting its own domestic intelligence component headed by a legend in the CIA named Charlie Allen. It is in the process of being stood up and is referred to as DHS Intelligence and Analysis.

  2. Hi Anonymous,

    Do you know how this unit will interact with the rest of the IC?

    What will be the boundaries between the FBI National Security Division (or is it directorate) and DHS Intelligence and Analysis?
    Will it be just be an analysis unit, or will it have collection/operational functionality?



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