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Intelligence Issues In The United States

By Expert Author: Chris Bjorklund

The United States over the last couple of decades has seen numerous difficulties in counterintelligence (CI), which guides many professional and nonprofessional observers to conclude that the CI needs some form of retooling. After the cold war (1947-1991), the CI community stagnated due to uncertain objectives from CI executives and the oval office concerning internal espionage. Further complicating matters is ease foreign intelligence Security Services (FISS) access to U.S. classified information through cyber penetration and traditional HUMINT means. The question fundamental to the CI issue on a larger scale essentially, is the FBI capable within their current culture able to prevent the CI threat both internal and external to US interests. Moreover, has the legislature acted appropriately to ensure success of the CI platform in the FBI? Concerning the previously mentioned independent variables, it is not likely the FBI now or in the future will be successful due to the absence of legislative action and culture within the FBI.
The current culture in the United States is one of personal privacy has precedence over security concerns of the state, and the sole federal law enforcement agency, the FBI, can handle the delicate balance of investigating, counterintelligence operations, and not interfering with constitutionally mandated right to privacy. The philosophy of the FBI is of law enforcement, not of security, and both apparatus encompass different distinctions, which impedes the FBI’s ability to concentrate on the organization’s CI responsibilities. Pre information warfare, especially during the cold war, the FBI was able to perform CI operations with moderate success until the intelligence bloodbath of the Church and Pike committees. However, the effect throughout the intelligence community (IC) was to restrict security investigations within agencies and throughout the country even with suspected FISS penetration. Thus, after the cold war, the U.S. CI scheme has deteriorated to the point of inefficiency. Primarily because of the culture of the FBI, this enables FISS, organizations, and internal espionage to take full advantage of this shortcoming.
To counteract the FISS and domestic espionage risk within the IC, an independent security apparatus is a necessity because at the culture of the FBI is not one of security; rather it is the ethos of securing convictions, not investigating and preventing breaches in security. In the view of the Efraim Halevy, former director of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, this is the foundation of security of every democratic society in the world except for one, the United States. In this one topic, the 9/11 commission report failed the American people in providing the necessary structural framework in preventing futuristic attacks; which prevention, or the inability to prevent is unwavering by the competency and capacity of internal CI strategies. Halevy writes, “The principle failure that allowed system terrible event to occur was the absence of security service... Law enforcement, which has been the prime task of the FBI since its inception, does not go hand-in-hand with security.” Having a security force which functions under the law enables dynamism in CI operations by launching vigorous operations only if evidence warrants such an action; this is the cornerstone of all of the other counterintelligence mechanisms in democratic societies worldwide.
Constitutionally, having a security service is against everything the country stands for, personal freedoms, expressions, and agendas as individuals sees fit throughout their lives. In the opinion of many, it is a road going down the path to security state such as many countries found in the Middle East, for example, the dictatorships of Iran and Syria. Demonstrating theological differences of Muslim fascist nations and sovereign republics as found in the United States. Many believe an internal security service advocates a totalitarian style system, and contrary to the ideals and principles the American way of life, which having such, a security service will allow the government’s access to a citizen’s personal information. Halevy would have to admit, however, on the outside it would seem to have a security service such as one described above would be a constitutional crisis in the making, infringing on people’s rights and liberties mandated by the United States Constitution. Furthermore, with such a mechanism, who would be responsible for oversight and other such activities to ensure its proper execution of CI operations?
Aside from the constitutionality of internal security, counterintelligence law is currently in a format written that highlights the investigation element of espionage not prevention. Under the guidance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and the Counterintelligence Improvement act of 1994, logic suggests that congress attempted to sidestep the issue of a security service within the borders of the United States unless it specifically needed due to world events. To emphasize the sidestep, the Counterintelligence and Security Enhancements Act of 1994, section 811- paragraph E, Coordination of Counterintelligence Matters with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, talks about internal unauthorized disclosure of classified information. In addition, SEC 811 discusses the methodology of the FBI mandate after an incursion takes place, not a detailed methodology in preventing the act(s) in taking place.
Even with all the preconceptions, there is validity to the argument for a security service. As stated by Halevy, “… The security agent is primarily trained to prevent an act from being committed, to reveal the environment and support systems that make an act possible or probable, and to gather sufficient evidence ~sufficient intelligence~ enable the political level to obtain a clearer picture of the masses and what they entail for the individual.” Halevy is not indicating that CI moderation in information gathering is not inappropriate for the state. What is said, in this passage that with the current state of affairs throughout the world, concerning terrorism, rogue states, and internal matters of the United States, a security service would effectively help in policing offensive FISS access to sensitive and classified materials.
In the past, traitors such as Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansson with their extreme ambitions were more about materialism and ego not ideology, however, in the new generation of traitor idealism, above all else, is the fundamental driving force behind their actions. The new generation’s fanatical dedication to ideology is no different from the Vietnam protests of the 1960’s. As Michael Scherer of Time Magazine stated in his report the Informers, he argues the relationship between the two generations is merely more than coincidence. Scherer writes, “Just as antiwar protesters of the Vietnam era argued that peace, not war, was the natural state of man, this new breed of radical technophiles believes that transparency and personal privacy are the foundations of a free society.” The extreme view that information should be available, coupled with reckless disclosure practices, the intelligence community has perpetrated unnecessary risk of classified information without rationally realizing it.
This approach closely correlates with the leaking of intelligence that currently plagues the intelligence community, perpetrated by individuals who have access to information, which has the potential damage American credibility with dissemination of classified material. For example, if opinions and comments from Edward Snowden and analytically scrutinize his viewpoint an idea develops of the fundamental drivers. When Snowden stated, “The public needs to decide whether those programs and policies are wrong or right,” it shows how deep fundamentally Snowden and his generation believe that all information, classified or not, needs to be available for public debate. As abnormal as that may sound, to the IC, it is necessary to understand exactly why Snowden and his generation obtained that line of thought for countermeasure development and deployment during the screening process for contractors and government workers. Snowden and his generation essentially gained their insights of antigovernment in the post 9/11 world, when the intelligence community embarked on an indispensable configuration overhaul. Their ideals morphed in chat rooms and social media outlets that grew this generation’s resentment for authority and fostered a free-data ideology.
When political and governmental leaders enact sweeping process or system wide changes such as seen after the publishing of the 9/11 report, it is likely these overhauls can lead to catastrophic collapse more damaging than the original failure. The presumption is under the theological Law of Unintended Consequence (LUC), which states:
1) Any deliberate change to a complex (social or technical) will have unintended (and usually unforeseen) consequences.
2) The consequences are normally undesirable.
LUC provides a framework even though a dogmatic one, that danger exists with the over value of information sharing. With the underlining principle, that the 9/11 terrorist attack culmination resides purely at the doorstep of the intelligence community because of the lack of sharing intelligence information. The argument essentially is if all agencies had access; working intelligence smarter; analysts and senior leaders would have connected the dots, prevented the tragedy, and saved thousands of American lives in the process. This bold new idea was first discussed in the 9/11 report and soon after mandated by law through the USA Patriot Act.
However, this interagency sharing program has not only granted unchecked interagency sharing, but has strengthened the new generation’s belief that all information should be available to everyone unchallenged by authoritarian rule posed by democratic governments. Thus, in their view, let the people decide what is right and wrong. For example, if Bradly Manning’s comment, “It (intelligence information) belongs in the public domain,” once examined, the public can conclude that it is a profound one. This radical mental model demonstrates the egocentric nature not only the new generation, but also the future intelligence personnel of the United States. Without regard to the reasons why information is secret, all this group of individuals concern themselves with is that the American people do not have access to classified and sensitive information, which ultimately, contradicts their personal moral code and ideology. This approach further substantiated by comments by Edward, Snowden, when he expressed his opinion of classified information. “When you are subverting the power of government, that is a fundamentally dangerous thing to democracy,” Snowden proclaimed proudly of his actions. As stated earlier, the mental model is incredibly similar to the thought process of the anti-war protests of the 1960’s and early 1970’s.
The question remains, how to fix the problem, and to have government officials, and counterintelligence professionals are part of a study in plugging this crack in security. However, in fixing the issues, it will have to encompass all facets of American society to accomplish this task. As stated by Bobby Allen that fixing the counterintelligence security leak in the scope of a cyber-threat professional will take some time, and it will allow professionals from all corners American society for successfully implementing any change. Allen writes, “The task of protecting information systems, and other critical infrastructures require the combined effort of the best minds of civilian industry, military, government, think tanks, and academia.” This also includes identifying better indicators of security risk in the cyber-generation in hopes of preventing the next Edward Snowden incident.
That said, meaningful conversations are essential to take place between the Department of Justice and Homeland Security to determine if the FBI is the proper instrument for CI operations because of the culture within the agency. Either way if the agency is capable or not, the American people need to make a clear and concise decision, either the people like enhanced security, which includes infringement of constitutional mandated rights. Alternatively, if people want to keep their personal freedoms, this action will impede law enforcement capacity to protect the public safety. There will be consequences with either decision. Furthermore, the citizens, congress, and the Oval Office cannot rationally expect both.

Allen, Bobby. “The New Counterintelligence Response to the Cyber Threat.” military intelligence professional bulletin 29, no. 3 (2003). http://search.ProQuest.com/docview/223172535? (accessed April 8, 2013).
Clark, Robert M. Intelligence Analysis: A Target-centric Approach. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2007.
Halevy, Efraim. Man in the Shadows: Inside the Middle East Crisis with a Man Who Led the Mossad. New York: St. Martin's press, 2006.
Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Intelligence Community Legal Reference Book. Washington DC: Office of General Counsel, 2012.
Scherer, Michael. “Informers.” Americas Secret Agencies, 2013.
Thomas, Gordon. Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad. New York: St. Martin's Griffin-Thomas Dune books, 2007.

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