Simi Valley Sophist

The Simi Valley Sophist ruminates on all manner of topics from the micro to the macro. SVS travels whatever path strikes his fancy. Encyclopedia Britannica: Sophist "Any of certain Greek lecturers, writers, and teachers in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, most of whom travelled about the Greek-speaking world giving instruction in a wide range of subjects in return ..."

Location: California, United States

Retired: 30years law enforcement-last 20 years Criminal Intelligence Detective.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Can the FBI Cut the Intelligence Mustard?

The FBI is considered the premier law enforcement agency in the nation. Or, at least the FBI considers itself to be the premier agency. The same could be said for the Los Angeles Police Department and probably several other law enforcement agencies. There is considerable disagreement on the matter. What is in agreement is that the New Orleans Police Department is not in the running.

For as long as anyone can remember there has been a deep rift between the FBI and local agencies. That is not to say that there has not been considerable success with the FBI and locals cooperating on cases. And, it is certainly true that a considerable amount of respect exists between and among individuals in federal, state and local agencies. Nevertheless, the FBI has a well earned reputation of taking information from locals, not sharing information with locals, and taking the credit. The problem was so bad in the 1950's that local and state law enforcement agencies created their own networking organization, the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (L.E.I.U.). Until this year, federal agencies were not allowed to join L.E.I.U., not that they were clamoring to join anyway. L.E.I.U. formally recognized this year that if law enforcement is going to step up to the bat and provide the necessary services to the country in terms of developing a competent domestic intelligence network, it is necessary that the rift be mended. Accordingly, L.E.I.U. made the first step and invited federal agencies to join L.E.I.U. in an attempt to facilitate information sharing and training.

Over the years, there have been important improvements in law enforcement information sharing. Playing a significant role in the improvement is undoubtedly the formation of the regional Joint Terrorism Task Force groups consisting of federal, state and local participants.

Sixteen years ago, when I began the intelligence portion of my local law enforcement career, it was not uncommon for someone to take a shot at the FBI from the podium at law enforcement intelligence conferences and training seminars. As an indicator of the improving environment, those shots occur infrequently now. However, on a local individual investigator level, it is still common discussion that the FBI does not share information.

Quite a number of years ago, the FBI held a training session for local intelligence officers on the militia and white supremacy movements. While general information and trends were discussed, virtually no groups nor significant individuals were cited. I returned to my office and found a mailing from the Southern Poverty Law Center naming and describing all of the major players in the country. In other words, the FBI did not give to me information already in the public domain.

In fairness to the FBI, it should be noted that they have had investigative cases burned, as we say, by local law enforcement. Nevertheless, in today’s environment it is imperative that all law enforcement work together. No single agency can hope to handle the challenge posed by Islamo-fascism. An example: Torrance Police Department in Southern California arrested a couple of armed robbers and subsequently uncovered information indicative of pre-incident terrorism indicators. In stepped the FBI and the JTTF. Even though it is known by the law enforcement intelligence community that Islamo-fascism has infiltrated black prison gangs and the black community, there is no indication that the FBI had prior knowledge of this particular group, which was on a short count-down to committing terrorist attacks. I wrote on the Torrance case here and here. Read Daniel Pipes and Hugh Hewitt’s interview of Frank

Law enforcement is primarily reactive in nature, and it is slowly beginning to recognize that it is far more efficient to engage in predictive or "intelligence led policing." More on that subject in a future blog. The FBI is no exception to the reactive mold, and the majority of its investigations are strictly criminal in nature. With the FBI’s limited resources and recognizing that the FBI is designated as the lead law enforcement agency in response to terrorism, it is time for the FBI to begin shedding its role in criminal investigations and turning most of that responsibility over to state and local law enforcement. It is time for the FBI to begin an evolution in earnest of converting from a criminal investigative agency into a domestic intelligence agency. I liken such a task to be similar to a giant ship bearing down on a collision course with an ice berg. The ship’s captain orders the pilot to turn the ship to another course, but it takes a long time to actually turn the ship. Everyone crosses his fingers and hopes that the course will change before a crash. That’s what law enforcement is hoping relative to the FBI and terrorism. Certainly, reforming the monolithic FBI is problematic to say the least. It will take the political will of both the federal legislative and administrative branches of government. Frankly, the Democratic Party does not have an admirable record on these matters.

As in all well entrenched bureaucracies, the FBI is not without its resistors to migrating into the intelligence function. A bright light in the picture is, or was, Maureen Baginski. Baginski began here intelligence career with the NSA as an intelligence analyst. FBI Director Muller brought Baginski into the FBI and put her in charge of developing a new FBI intelligence directorate. She made significant strides toward improving the picture including creating a new Field Intelligence Group (FIG) in each FBI field office. Baginski is, or was, a breath of fresh air to the domestic intelligence community as she reached out to make contact with the state and local intelligence community. It would not surprise me if she made many enemies within the FBI. Read here about Baginski’s efforts and the struggles that the FBI is having with its evolving intelligence function.

I recently heard a rumor that Bagisnki is no longer heading up the FBI’s intelligence function. A corroborating article states,

Baginski, former head of the FBI's intelligence directorate and now an outside adviser to Muller, said field offices were given just three months to have the groups up and running by December 2003, with no additional money to do it.

Baginski, who spent 25 years at the National Security Agency, says analysts must be able to speak to their colleagues in other agencies. "Talking to other analysts is critical,..."

She said desktop Internet access, for example, is "very important" but often too expensive. Even analysts in the New York office cannot access the Internet from their desks.

The current state of the FBI is deplorable. The biggest part of the problem is the lack of political will to fund and task the FBI with the proper function. However, a secondary and significant part of the problem is bureaucracy and a self-induced better-than-thou culture. To best prepare and answer the already begun Islamo-fascist terror war on this country, we, the public, must do the following:

  • Task the FBI with a primary responsibility for terrorism and require them to no longer engage in most criminal investigations.
  • Task the FBI with reforming itself into an efficient domestic intelligence agency.
  • Task the FBI with reaching out to and actively embracing and sharing information with other federal, state and local law enforcement.
  • Adequately fund both the FBI and greatly expanded joint domestic intelligence task force units involving federal, state and local law enforcement.
  • Task state and local law enforcement to shoulder most of the criminal investigations currently carried by the FBI.
  • Task state and local law enforcement to join the FBI in joint domestic intelligence task forces.
  • Task the FBI, state and local law enforcement with educating the public on the necessity of the domestic intelligence functions and enlist the assistance of the public.
Islamo-fascism is escalating its direct attack on the U.S. and U.S. interests. The FBI must take the lead and be followed closely by state and local law enforcement. That takes the political will of you and me. STAND UP AND DEMAND THAT IT BE DONE.