MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Abolish FISA, Reform FBI, & Break Up CIA – The American Mind

Posted by M. C. on September 22, 2021

The President of the United States should control Intelligence by the very means by which he controls all other parts of the National Security establishment: The National Security Council. That is, assuming that he controls it, and not the other way around.

https://americanmind.org/memo/abolish-the-cia/

Angelo Codevilla

This is the first in The American Mind’s new Rethinking Policy series. Throughout 2020 we are publishing essays that boldly reframe, reorder, and reprioritize our political goals in order to directly address the real challenges of our time. These essays are intended to spur clear, sharp discussions that rid us of obsolete ideological frameworks and point towards viable paths forward. Amid today’s realignment, we must discern and articulate vital principles and national purpose free of the ideological encumbrances of the past. —Eds.

America’s Intelligence agencies are the deep state’s deepest part, and the most immediate threat to representative government. They are also not very good at what they are supposed to be doing. Protecting the Republic from them requires refocusing them on their proper jobs.

Intelligence officials abuse their positions to discredit opposition to the Democratic Party, of which they are part. Complicit with the media, they leverage the public’s mistaken faith in their superior knowledge, competence, and patriotism to vilify their domestic enemies from behind secrecy’s shield.

Pretenses of superior knowledge have always tempted the Administrative State’s officials to manipulate or override voters. Hence, as Justice Robert H. Jackson (who served as chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials) warned, they often turn their powers against whomever they dislike politically, socially, or personally and try to minimize the public’s access to the bases upon which they act.

But only the Intelligence agencies have the power to do that while claiming that scrutiny of their pretenses endangers national security. They have succeeded in restricting information about their misdeeds by “classifying” them under the Espionage Act of 1921. Thus covered, they misrepresent their opinions as knowledge and their preferences as logic. Thus acting as irresponsible arbiters of truth at the highest levels of American public life, they are the foremost jaws of the ruling class vise that is squeezing self-rule out of America.

As Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) truly told President Trump, “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” As we shall see, Intelligence officials have proved Schumer correct.

What follows begins with an overview of the threats today’s intelligence agencies pose to self-government in America.

Next, it touches on U.S. intelligence’s dismal professional record, and suggests that the measures needed to refocus them on professional performance would also separate them from domestic politics.

In sum, we find:

  • CIA is obsolete. Cables show agents’ intelligence takes are inferior to diplomats’. Agent networks are unprotected by counterintelligence. FBI success at counterintelligence ended when the Bureau was politicized and bureaucratized in the 1970s. CIA bottlenecks and incompetently controls strategic intelligence, while the Army and Marines show demonstrable tactical superiority.
  • As a result, CIA is ideologically partisan. Its strength is in leading or joining domestic campaigns to influence public opinion. FBI has followed suit.
  • Senior intelligence officials were the key element in the war on Donald Trump’s candidacy and presidency. CIA used meetings that it manufactured as factual bases for lies about campaign advisors seeking Russian information to smear Hillary Clinton. Intelligence began formal investigation and surveillance without probable cause. Agents gained authorization to electronically surveil Trump and his campaign and defended their bureaucratic interests, sidelining Lieutenant General Michael Flynn and denying or delaying Trump appointments and security clearances.
  • Partisanship produces failure. FISA has incentivized political abuse. “Profiling” has failed repeatedly in high-profile cases like the Atlanta Olympics bombing and the anthrax mail attacks. Perjury trapping has become commonplace.

Finally, we outline the steps that presidents and Congress might take to improve matters:

  • FISA must be repealed legislatively or through Constitutional challenge in court. It unconstitutionally mingles judicial and executive power in secret. It gave Intelligence a blank check. Hardly “an indispensable tool” for national security, it is now indispensable for partisanship. Broad consensus exists for a legislative “fix,” but none is possible. The secret court’s existence, the heart of the law, allows partisan bureaucrats and allied judges to do what they want in secret.
  • Functions currently performed by CIA should be sheared down. Data infrastructure and consultant networks should be eliminated. Bipartisan opposition to the Intelligence threat should use fierce resistance and lobbying from Intelligence as evidence of why cuts are in the national interest.
  • CIA must be disestablished. Its functions should be returned to the Departments of State, Defense, and Treasury. FBI must be restricted to law enforcement. At home, the Agencies are partisan institutions illegitimately focused on setting national policy. Abroad, Agencies untied to specific operational concerns are inherently dangerous and low-value.
  • Intelligence must return to its natural place as servant, not master, of government. Congress should amend the 1947 National Security Act. The President should broaden intelligence perspectives, including briefs from State, Defense, and Treasury, and abolish CIA’s “covert action.” State should be made responsible for political influence and the armed services for military and paramilitary affairs.

Sword and Shield

See the rest here

Angelo Codevilla is a Senior Fellow of the Claremont Institute and professor emeritus of International Relations at Boston University.

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