Wednesday, May 23, 2012

FBI = Foggy 'Bout Intelligence

FBI Deputy Director Mark Felt, the future Deep Throat, demonstrates "the FBI Crouch" (1958)

In the May 13 edition of Politico, Ambassador Henry A. Crumpton, formerly the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the State Department and a senior official of the CIA's Clandestine Service, asks the question - can the FBI understand intelligence?

He gives ten reasons why the answer is "no."

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the FBI, the world’s leading law enforcement agency, has labored to transform itself into an intelligence organization — while preserving its policing pre-eminence. This challenge has proved difficult.

There are major cultural and structural differences between law enforcement and intelligence. I saw how different when I was a senior CIA officer on loan to the FBI, as the deputy chief of the International Terrorism Operations Section from 1998 to 1999. I retired from government service — but recent conversations with knowledgeable government officials suggest that this remains true today.

Here are 10 key differences, as noted in my new book, “The Art of Intelligence.”

#1 - "The FBI valued oral communications as much as or more than written ... It harbored a reluctance to write anything that could be deemed discoverable by any future defense counsel ... Its agents were not selected or trained to write."

#2 - "The second major difference between the FBI and CIA was their information systems. The FBI did not have one — at least one that functioned."

#3 - "The third difference was size ... The FBI’s New York field office had more agents than the CIA had operations officers around the world."

#4 - "A fourth difference was the importance of sources. While both the FBI and the CIA placed a premium on a good source, the FBI did not actively pursue them beyond the context of an investigation."

#5 - "A fifth difference was money ... [The FBI's] process to authorize the payment of an informant or just to travel was laborious ... As a CIA officer, however, I routinely carried several thousand dollars in cash ... When I told FBI agents this, they seemed doubtful that such behavior was even legal.

#6 - "Sixth, the FBI harbored a sense that because it worked under the Justice Department, it had more legal authority than the CIA. Some, after a few drinks, expressed moral objections to the CIA’s covert actions."

#7 - "Seventh, the FBI loved the press and worked hard to curry favor with it. For the CIA’s Clandestine Service, the media was taboo ... A CIA operations officer avoided the press like the plague ... For the FBI, it was the opposite."

#8 - "Eighth, the FBI collected evidence for its own use, to prosecute a criminal ... The FBI, therefore, lacked a culture of customer service beyond the Justice Department."

#9 - "Ninth, the FBI’s field offices, especially New York, acted as their own centers of authority, even holding evidence, because of their link to the local prosecutor ... The CIA station instead had to report intelligence to Langley, because the incentive came from there and beyond — particularly the White House.

#10 - Tenth, the FBI worked Congress. Every FBI field office had representatives dedicated to supporting congressional delegates ... But the CIA, particularly the Clandestine Service, had minimal leverage with Congress. Most CIA officers engaged Congress only when required to testify.


Anonymous said...

Great picture TSB! I'll digest the rest. Did you know there is a revolution brewing in Mexico? Yo soy 132! 30,000 students demonstrated today in Mexico City..similar arising all over the country to unseat the oligarchs in the July elections. Educated young mexicans are fed up with the 1% and will probably vote them out since registering is easy for everyone in Mexico... unlike here! gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: I forgot to say that the current young handsome rich guy running for PRI is backed by former oligarch Presidente Salinas. He flies private jet while his opponent flies Aero Mejico. He got rich on taxpayers money. There are only 2 tv news channels and they are both in the bag for the oligarchs. They even have a Mexican Andrea Mitchell! gwb

Anonymous said...

And one reason why the FBI is a superior intelligence agency; it has penetrated every major criminal organization in the United States with its paid informers or agents working under cover.

Ditto the ATFE for similar intelligence based penetration of outlaw motorcycle gangs.

And the best intelligence agency, one that does both excellent law enforcement and superior intelligence, the DEA.

Of course, we don't know about many CIA successes except for finding Bin Ladin, after ten years, but can anyone name any DOS intelligence coup or earth shattering diplomatic success?

Every major American diplomatic success came out of the White House; vis Nixon to China, collapse of Communism, etc. While all that was going on the DOS was thoroughly penetrated by Cuban, yes Cuban spies.

TSB said...


That's what Crumpton says, too - the FBI arrests people great. Producing intelligence for national strategic purposes and White House users is a different matter entirely. The FBI just doesn't do that, whereas the CIA does.

The only part of DOS that is in the intelligence community is the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Their boast is that they inserted a dissenting view on the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq and WMDs. As we now know, they were right and the rest of the community was wrong, so there's that.

Re the Cubans, you mean Kendall Myers? I'm not sure he could do much damage as a contract instructor at FSI, or even in the seven years he spent as a European political analyst. Not nearly as much as he wanted to do, I'm sure. Anyway, the Cubans had all the success they needed with Eva Montes, the Senior DIA analyst on Cuba.