This morning, I shared this very long piece by Angelo Codevilla, who outlines what close observers have figured out for themselves.
What, then, is CIA good for?
Its founding myth combines a historical falsehood with reference to technical circumstances that have not existed for at least a generation. (…)
The truth that analysis of Intelligence must include a multiplicity of sources, and that a central repository of information is needed for that, was always the strongest argument for the existence of some sort of central facility where “all source analysis” could be done. But, since at least the 1980s, computers have made it possible and imperative for all analysts, regardless of their location, to access everything securely. Nowadays, ironically, CIA’s insistence on managing the access and distribution of information is the biggest barrier to universal, all-source Intelligence analysis.
Today, CIA is good for confidential meetings with the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC News, etc., through which it joins—if it does not lead—campaigns to shape domestic American opinion.
What is the FBI good for?
Once upon a time, FBI foreign counterintelligence officers were cops first. Like all good cops, they knew the difference between the people on whose behalf they worked, and those who threaten them. They had graduated from places like Fordham, a Catholic, blue-collar university in the Bronx. Like T.V.’s Sergeant Joe Friday, they wore white shirts and said yes, sir, yes, ma’am. Unlike CIA case officers, FBI officers mixed with the kinds of people they investigated, and often went undercover themselves. The FBI jailed Capone and dismantled the Mafia. Because it used to take counterintelligence seriously, it was able to neutralize Soviet subversion in the USA. The old joke was that, in any meeting of the U.S. Communist Party or of its front groups, a majority of attendees were FBI agents. The only U.S. Intelligence penetration of the Kremlin was the FBI’s recruitment of a U.S. labor activist whom high-level Soviets trusted.
In the late 1970s, that began to change. Director William Webster (1978-87) refused to back up the officers who had infiltrated and surveilled the New Left’s collaboration with the Soviets against America in the Vietnam War. Webster also introduced contemporary political correctness into the FBI. Asked by the Senate Intelligence Committee why his FBI had neither infiltrated nor disrupted the Jim Jones cult that resulted in the deaths of 900 Americans in Jonestown, Guyana, he answered that he would no more have interfered with that religion than with the Catholic Church. Not incidentally, the Jim Jones cult was associated with the Democratic party.
Thus FBI officers became standard bureaucrats who learned to operate on the assumption that all Americans were equally likely as not to be proper targets of investigation. They replaced the distinctions by which they had previously operated with the classic bureaucratic imperative: look out for yourselves by making sure to please the powerful.
Take a cup of coffee or tea and read the whole thing. And I should point out that I’m old enough to remember when it was considered paranoid and crazy to believe that the intelligence agencies were domestic enemies of the American people.
Their concerted efforts against Donald Trump, however, have turned out to be a vast miscalculation.
Do I think that these agencies could be scrapped? Yes, but one might liken it to surgical removal of an aggressive cancer: expensive and painful, the body will need time to recover, and the surgeons will have to monitor the patient for new growth.
It can be fixed but it will never be over.
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