Bush to announce new domestic intelligence agency.
June 6, 2002 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Bush to announce new domestic intelligence agency. Just what we need, more spooks.
posted by hob (44 comments total)
so since politically they can't manage to combine the intelligence agencies that we already have (or even get them to stop their internecine squabbling during a time of war) they're going to create yet another level of government bureaucracy. cool.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 8:17 AM on June 6, 2002

I liked what Edward Kenedy had to say:

“The question is whether shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic is the way to go.”
posted by password at 8:22 AM on June 6, 2002

Kennedy... sorry.
posted by password at 8:24 AM on June 6, 2002

I agree with Zoo (aboive)...right on. But let me add this: It was Bush and his pals in GOP who were always badmouthing the Dems for Big Govt, adding new agencies and Secretaries of this and that...
Creating more positions is poor management. Worse: making this and other changes (as FBI has done) is stupid! Why not wait till the investigation reveals what went wrong and how and why? Then, with this before you, work out a plan to correct matters.?
posted by Postroad at 8:26 AM on June 6, 2002

excellent take on it zoo. We already have the CIA, FBI, NSA, not too mention the Military branches and their "intelligence" commands. We have the new Home Defense office with the former gov of Penn. And now this?
Just another agency that won't talk to other agencies. It would have been more prudent to get the current groups streamlined and working together efficiently, before creating another whole new group that probably isn't even necessary. Where is the funding coming from? All these agencies have to fight and squabble for resources from the same pool. Aren't some (CIA) already underfunded, or so they claim?
posted by a3matrix at 8:26 AM on June 6, 2002

I would comment, but I am sure the FBI will start reading MetaFilter pretty regular and I don't like people knocking on my door.
posted by thirteen at 8:42 AM on June 6, 2002

they're going to create yet another level of government bureaucracy

and this from the president who dismissed a report on climate change from his own EPA as "the report put out by the beauracracy." One can assume that he'll dismiss reports from this new beauracracy just as casually, if they don't jibe with his political goals.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:50 AM on June 6, 2002

bush and domestic intelligence......glad to see his cat getting the recognition it deserves.
posted by johnnyboy at 8:59 AM on June 6, 2002

Hehe...good one johnnyboy.
A clue for the new agency: Don't look in D.C., especailly the White House if you want to find intelligence domestically.
posted by nofundy at 9:04 AM on June 6, 2002

Personally, I wonder about the idea of presumed innocence, which is a legal stance we hold dear here in the good ol' USA. It seems that recently this concept has become more and more focused on individuals and individual cases, and the idea of a collective presumption of innocence is slipping away from us. We all get searched at the airport because we presume that everyone's a terrorist, we all get watched by the police because we assume (with some justification) that everyone is a lawbreaker.

Now we are all going to be watched by this "domestic intelligence agency" because we're all presumed to be enemies of the state. I'm sorry if this is sounding all libertairan-conspiracy-theory, but it seems to me as if part of what was supposed to differentiate us from the Bad Guys was this presumption of collective innocence. I understand that this is a fiction, a leap of faith; obviously there are always going to be bad people in a group. But I wonder if this leap of faith is not necessary in order to construct and maintain a free and just society.
posted by hob at 9:18 AM on June 6, 2002

Well, Tom Ridge has done such a bang-up job so far, he deserves to have a Cabinet-level post. I'm always comforted by his security briefings and the stoplight of terror.

Actually, this job already exists: the Director of Central Intelligence "serves as head of the United States Intelligence Community; acts as the principal advisor to the President for intelligence matters related to the national security; and serves as the head of the Central Intelligence Agency."

And "To the extent recommended by the National Security Council and approved by the President, the DCI shall have access to all intelligence related to the national security which is collected by any department, agency or other entity of the United States."

So, I'm not sure why we need a new Cabinet positiion.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:34 AM on June 6, 2002

This is so boneheaded, even the warbloggers will be up in arms. I had already posted (somewhere else) about how I had given consideration to the idea of a specific counter-terrorism agency, separate from the FBI, similar to what some European countries have. This, rather than reorient the entire FBI such that things we're used to it paying attention to -- SEC investigations, the Mob, kidnappings -- won't be overlooked. Then I considered that inter-agency communication was now being shown as one of the weakest links in the whole system; and that when terrorism finally winds down (next year? next decade?), it will be, as usual, more difficult to get rid of such an agency when it's no longer needed.

To me, this proposal just screams "future turf wars", and that seems like the last thing we need right now.
posted by dhartung at 10:44 AM on June 6, 2002

I wonder what will happen with those people who supported Bush because of his promises to 'shrink the government.' Will they turn on him for not throwing away a basic tenet of modern Republicanism? Or will the stay in step simply because it's not a Democrat expanding the government this time?

And doesn't his actions seem to say that if you want to take action and affect major change in this country, reducing the government is not the way to go? How can any Republican candidates support this and run on 'government bad' issues in the next election?
posted by Dirjy at 10:48 AM on June 6, 2002

Postroad: Why not wait till the investigation reveals what went wrong and how and why?

Excellent question, which I think is answered by this:

"The White House acknowledged that the timing of the announcement could help shield the administration from criticism as Congress opens hearings on what the government knew before September 11 and what many lawmakers have described as major intelligence and law enforcement lapses."
posted by homunculus at 10:49 AM on June 6, 2002

Why is his nose always red? It's disconcerting. There I am, trying to pay attention to his, um, important announcements, and there's this band of red across the narrow bridge of his tiny nose. It's weird, I tell you. Weird.

posted by solistrato at 10:50 AM on June 6, 2002

Also included are efforts to broaden the government's powers

This is the part that scares me. [BTW: isn't this a republican administration?]
posted by srboisvert at 11:04 AM on June 6, 2002

On a more general tip, there have been serveral studies showing that global terrorism was in decline post 9-11. Al-Qaeda is a very serious threat, but can anyone show that there are other terror groups that have similar capabilities? When the US smashes Al-Qaeda, will there be other groups that want to take up the mantle? Do our existing agencies really not have the ability to kill this group once and for all?
posted by cell divide at 11:13 AM on June 6, 2002

with the steel and softwood lumber tariffs, the farm subsidy bill and the seemingly ever expanding government sector ii's tough to tell if these are really repubs, ain't it?
posted by zoopraxiscope at 11:15 AM on June 6, 2002

isn't this a republican administration?

"I'll show you politics in America here, right now;

'I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.'

'Well I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.'

'Hey, wait a minute - there's one guy holding both puppets!'

posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:17 AM on June 6, 2002

'Hey, wait a minute - there's one guy holding both puppets!'

Scary but true. The Democrats and Republicans have spent so much time appealing to the middle that they've essentially melted into the same entity. Slightly exaggerated, of course, but this type of thinking, IMHO, is in the correct direction.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:25 AM on June 6, 2002

It's very simple really. Once we have enough intelligence agencies, anyone left who isn't a spy must be a terrorist.


Ah, if only it were that easy.
posted by jjg at 11:50 AM on June 6, 2002

How very peculiar. A pile of recent press artciles (and even threads on MeFi) take Bush & Co. severely to task about what he should have done to prevent 9/11. Many little bits of information from a variety of our intelligence agencies - had they all been seen as single picture rather than seperate bits of data - might have painted a picture that permitted proactive action. These brilliant people, with the benefit of hindsight, have been busy ripping Bush, the FBI, and CIA new ones for not preventing the attacks.

Bush now initiates a government intelligence re-structuring, that will, in part, "include a new Cabinet-level department and within it an intelligence clearinghouse to gather and analyze information from an array of sources with the goal of heading off terrorist attacks and activities."

Naturally, he is again ripped a new new one on MeFi.

Fortunately, most of the opinions expressed here are largely irrelevant to the people in government that are actually doing the hard work of trying to elevate the protection of US Citizens. Despite MeFi's perfunctory quasi-hip cynicism, usual implications that he's just doing it to avoid criticism (and on MeFi - everything he's done since getting into office apparently is for that sole purpose) and dark hints that a totalitarian regime of some sort is taking over, he's probably actually going to go ahead anyway.

The liklihood is that the country will be safer for the effort.
posted by MidasMulligan at 2:35 PM on June 6, 2002

Personally, I'm a big fat fan of proactive action. It's much more better than the other kind.
posted by muckster at 2:46 PM on June 6, 2002

I miss Bill too.
posted by tetsuo at 4:36 PM on June 6, 2002

He's talking about Bill Hicks, btw- for those of you who thought he was making a Clinton reference and were about to riff on it.
posted by hincandenza at 5:09 PM on June 6, 2002

Apparently, Bush only told his own cabinet yesterday, and hasn't consulted with Congress at all. That's what worries me most about this administration- its opaqueness. Regardless of what party holds what chambers, I trust the transparent politics of Congress much more than the shadowy ones of the the executive.
posted by gsteff at 5:22 PM on June 6, 2002

First, Midas, the idea of there being a "voice of metafilter" other than one Matthew Haughey is a little disingenuous. I thought the point of this place was to be a forum where there would, by definition, be opposing views.

Second, the actual speech... what he's talking about, apparently, is simply centralized command and control of "agencies concerned with homeland security."

Pros: Central C&C (allegedly) makes for better information flow and better communication. CC&C *could* actually serve to further the mandate of smaller government by eliminating competing layers of management. CC&C allows the implementation of consistent policy.

Cons: CC&C eliminates overlaps which may serve as a form of redundancy, such that the Coast Guard may in fact catch something that the Border Patrol missed because they're not following the same script. CC&C could easily *hinder* information flow and communication by enforcing a single "view of the world" from the top down and squashing opposing (possibly correct) views. "Smaller government" in this case is read to mean "less people with more power." The CC&C policy could be wrong, and nobody would be acting to fill in the gaps.

posted by hob at 5:53 PM on June 6, 2002

I don't know why he would want to invoke the beginning of the Cold War intelligence apparatus in his speech. That was the beginning of all the activity that makes me mistrust these shadowy parts of the government. If he's seeking to extend and enhance their power, that seems to me to be the wrong way of bringing it up.
posted by mblandi at 6:04 PM on June 6, 2002

Thanks, MidasMulligan. While there is a chance that Bush's re-org will not yield better results, or a more streamlined intelligence operation, I sincerely believe that this move is a good thing.
posted by davidmsc at 6:06 PM on June 6, 2002

This reminds me of the pro-gun people telling the government that gun control laws exist why don't you enforce them instead of trying to pass new legislation. Same deal here, instead of looking at the massive intelligence failures and trimming the fat we're adding a new layer of intelligence that is arguably not needed and furthers the cause of distrust of the US government.

Of course these are the very same Republicans that don't mind spending millions of dollars and how many intelligence man-hours investigative the previous president's cock and where it might have been put.
posted by skallas at 6:45 PM on June 6, 2002

So, ah, what exactly happened to the concept of smaller government? This whole thing reminds me of a maxim I picked up at a Peter Drucker seminar one time: One of the time honored rules of a failing organization is, when confronted with something you don't understand, reorganize."
posted by MAYORBOB at 7:10 PM on June 6, 2002

The liklihood is that the country will be safer for the effort.

I doubt it very much, given our draft-dodging president's failure to do much before 9/11.

But next time certain citizens start their perpetual whine about "decreasing the size and scope of government" (mostly sobbed aloud by business people who fear governmental restrictions on business' slimy soul), we'll be sure to remind them of their hypocrisy.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 7:15 PM on June 6, 2002

"we'll be sure to remind them of their hypocrisy."

posted by clavdivs at 7:23 PM on June 6, 2002

The GOP only talks about smaller government when it wants to elimiante social programs, or so it seems and no one seems to have a problem with military spending never being part of this 'smaller government.' Its all and when it serves them, state's rights are used when they need to get over some local environmental laws, but not when it comes to "crazy" ideas like death with dignitary laws or medical marijuana.
posted by skallas at 8:00 PM on June 6, 2002

Secession is the only solution.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:49 PM on June 6, 2002

What dhartung said.
posted by donkeyschlong at 12:12 AM on June 7, 2002

Fortunately, most of the opinions expressed here are largely irrelevant to the people in government that are actually doing the hard work of trying to elevate the protection of US Citizens.

I might add: except for yours. Midas Mulligan and the people in the government doing the hard work to keep us safe are one in the same. Detract Detract ye small liberals, important work to secure your very safety is being done here. If only you knew how difficult it was to do the job of a g-man. Walking spys safely across busy intersections. Clearing the streets for high ranking foreign politicians so that dissent appears at a minimum. But that's it though, isn't it? Dissent. Things are much safer sans dissent. The American People want to roll right now. So, Let's Roll! Let no American believe that there is actually any kind of rational, qualitative dissent. Only waxings and wanings of soundbites and televised presidential appeals. No fucking substance. The only substance of any kind of issue one can find anymore is that there is terrorism and that it must be quelched. We asked the question months ago openly. But the question still stands and remains unanswered: Could you kindly define terrorism? Straight and simple, many worry that dissent (in its many forms) may be stifled with measures that extend the secrecy of what shadows many Americans believe the FBI and CIA to lurk in. Not that they're lurking after us. But that lurking is what these agencies do for Christ's sake! To keep us safe!

Talk about a spin on the old bleedin' heart pejorative. Soon, with conservatives like yourself spoutin' off TrueBelief like that, we're going to have to recognize US government employees as minorities. All they need is a fair shake. Y'know?

Where we rollin'?
posted by crasspastor at 2:39 AM on June 7, 2002

I'm with donkeyschlong on this one, too, dhartung--you've hit the nail on the head here, and quite concisely, too. When the FBI, complete with colored chart, leaks their self-serving spin on the CIA and the two hijackers they were tracking, I'm thinking what we don't need right now is yet another intelligence agency to play gotcha with the others--turf wars indeed.
posted by y2karl at 2:44 AM on June 7, 2002

Democracies are by nature not very good at the intelligence game. The US is no exception and never will be, not unless given total power like the KGB or somthing.
posted by stbalbach at 3:20 AM on June 7, 2002

So it is a re-org to form a single chain of command overseeing the various agencies. I misunderstood initially.
Well, congress has to have their say, so it should take quite some time for that hot air to dissipate.
Having heard in full the proposed plan, it sounds like it could have potential, if it gets passed congress. Then there will be the early years of growing pains and settling. Who knows, maybe a good shakeup would help at this point.
Good luck with it. A daunting task to be sure.
posted by a3matrix at 5:20 AM on June 7, 2002

Found this great quote in a paralel conversation on Plastic.

"We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising, and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralisation."

Caius Petronius, AD 66
posted by homunculus at 10:55 AM on June 8, 2002

Great quote! And accurate. The purpose is self destruction. The FBI and CIA are incapable of change the only option is to destroy through the creation of a new entity.
posted by stbalbach at 6:31 PM on June 8, 2002

Given the pressing nature of anti-terrorist work, it's probably more practical to simply start from scratch than to do what's necessary to streamline and improve existing agency structures. The basic idea of this re-org sounds pretty reasonable to me. There's plenty of information that gives indications when something is amiss; the problem is putting it all together. Scanning the huge amount of information collected for indications of terrorist activity requires applying a different filter than looking for drug activity, criminal activity, or material of political interest, so everybody else passes their info on to the terrorism specialists. I'd probably be on the boat with a lot of the criticism offered here if the plan was a straight-out merger of the FBI and CIA. Advantage with the current plan, as I see it, is that the new agency gets a more limited portfolio of terrorism only. Seems to me this topical demarcation would afford some of the same advantages you see with separating DEA out of the FBI. As one TV commentator noted, the big question is going to be in the details of how it is implemented.

(No doubt all of this looks very different to people who are actually in the business watching the DC bureaucracy grind away on a daily basis.)
posted by sheauga at 2:47 PM on June 9, 2002

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