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Military "scope creep" into domestic intelligence gathering and law enforcement


When the WSJ article, Is Military Creeping Into Domestic Spying And Enforcement?, can describe the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) as a "nonprofit, left-leaning think tank in Washington" you have a calibration of my comment that the "WSJ is to the right of Genghis Kahn as the NYT is to the left of the Jacobins" (with the Post center right on that spectrum despite what a lot of untutored conservatives say about it). FYI, when people have either asked me about editorials from these and other papers, or have sent me editorials, my stock response is 'I do not read or track them as they are even more excessive that the center of their reporting and I prefer to think for myself' (based on my own reading). I do follow specific reporters on specific topics that have delivered what I call a good track record.

Continuing this diversion, I think FAS is excellent and use much materials from it and other NPs and NGOs in my own analysis. (Groups like this have the time and the commitment to collect solid data streams, almost like a Reuters stream of continuous news, instead of the 'hop-around, spot light here, spot light there' habit of most any newspaper.) I also think that FAS thinks about things that need attention and I am a center-right fellow that has not been called 'left-leaning' in recent memory.

All that said, there is -- must be, I believe -- an adjustment must be made in our interpretation of posse comitatus in light of the kind of terrorist (domestic and foreign) threats that we now face. (Also while I see little in regards to cooperation between domestic and foreign terrorist, I feel that is a matter of time and opportunity just as it has been in earlier marriages of convenience between certain Patriot right and Black militant groups.) It is a very delicate balance, just as is adjusting, or bridging, the historically divided roles of CIA and FBI. We generally haven't minded the military assisting in drug interdiction but the actions of CIFA (Counterintelligence Field Activity) established by DoD in February 2002 strike much closer to home. I think it not possible to have a seamless and proactive threat defense (spanning early external detection through final domestic facility perimeter defense) without altering the roles of many federal agencies, the military included. Your mileage may vary, but I would use the same caution as I would in tinkering with, say, the Bill of Rights, which is just another way of framing this question:

Is Military Creeping Into Domestic Spying And Enforcement?
March 9, 2004

"...Another little-known Pentagon group, the Counterintelligence Field Activity, was set up two years ago. With 400 service members and civilians stationed around the globe, the CIFA was originally charged with protecting the military and critical infrastructure from spying by terrorists and foreign intelligence services. But in August, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, issued a directive ordering the unit to maintain a "domestic law-enforcement database that includes information related to potential terrorist threats directed against the Department of Defense."

The CIFA also works closely with the FBI and is conducting some duties for civilian agencies. For example, according to Department of Agriculture documents, the CIFA is in charge of doing background checks on foreign workers and scientists employed by the department's agricultural-research service. The group also provides information to the Information and Security Command, or Inscom, the Army's main intelligence organization, based at Fort Belvoir, Md."

Gordon Housworth

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