Technically speaking, I’m part of the “intelligence community” in this country. My involvement is very minimal and I really don’t know how the reorganization recommended by the [Deleted on May 18, 2005 in an attempt to please PNNL management] a friend running for U.S. Congress asked me for my thoughts on the issue so I’m going to do my best. 9-11 commission would affect “our“ effectiveness from an insider viewpoint. However, My “position” inside the intelligence community contributes essentially zero to this. My position would be the same even if I were still working on the “outside”. [Deleted on May 18, 2005 in an attempt to please PNNL management]
The specific questions I was asked were:
- Would you favor consolidating intelligence-gathering into an agency independent of the Pentagon?
- Do you believe the chief of any such agency should also be independent of the White House?
- What one measure most needs to be enacted to make our nation more secure?
The U.S. intelligence agencies are tasked (and rightly so) with invading the privacy of people and countries who might wish to do us harm. Information is a very powerful thing and extreme power needs to be carefully controlled. The U.S. military is the primary consumer of the information because they are tasked with preventing harm to us. So having them control the intelligence agencies seems to me to be a good idea. Furthermore the U.S. military is specifically forbidden from acting against U.S. citizens (the National Guard is under the authority of the individual states) . This is a very good thing. Many other countries do not have this restriction on their military and this has lead to some very serious problems (genocide).
But what about gathering information on people that are in our country already and wish to do us harm? The FBI and other law enforcement people have to “jump through hoops” to gather information — probable cause for search warrants signed by judges, that sort of thing. The NSA and the CIA don’t bother with such niceties (although I suspect they have their own internal controls). As severe as I think the threat from terrorists is I still fear our own government more. A look at history will show that more innocent, non-combatant, people have been killed by their own government that by the governments of others. And the terrorists that confront us now do not have the capacity to kill millions (as much as they would like to). I believe the wall between the law enforcement and intelligence agencies is a long term good thing even though short term is it seen as a hindrance to security. The wall doesn’t need to be complete, there should be information shared but it must exist and having the military in control of the intelligence side of the house is a good way (in my mind) to help keep an appropriate wall in place.
As to “What one measure most needs to be enacted to make our nation more secure?“ Security might be enhanced by deporting anyone professing Islamic faith. But that would be a violation of the 1st amendment. Security might be enhanced by eavesdropping on all electronic communication but that would violate the 4th amendment. But the one thing we can do that will not infringe on anyone’s inalienable rights is to enable preventive measures that would have stopped the 9-11 attacks and have stopped the attack on the school children of Russia the other day. Enforce the restriction imposed by the Second Amendment on the states, cities, and agencies of the U.S. government. The 2nd amendment says “… the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The 14th Amendment says the states, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States…“ The States and government regulations that prohibit adults from carrying firearms and other defensive tools in schools and on airplanes should be immediately abolished. We don’t want any more commercial airplanes used as guided missiles or our schools used as killing fields. Allow people to defend themselves and the lives of other innocent people. Enforce the 2nd amendment through the use of the 16th amendment. Any government employee who violates the 2nd amendment rights of a citizen under the color of law should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
So…. to answer the questions:
- No. I am not in favor of consolidating the agencies independent of the Pentagon.
- If such a consolidation were to occur I would want it to be independent of direct political control. I think we learned that lesson with Richard Nixon. If he had an first class intelligence agency rather than second rate burglars to spy on his political opponents he would have violated the rights of a lot more people and probably gotten away with it.
- Abolish all gun laws against law abiding adult citizens.