Politics & Policy

Terror-Warrior Perks

A little push in fighting the war.

Incentives matter.

The mere presence of carrots in one’s face can change human action. This fact should guide managers and congressional overseers of the FBI, CIA, INS, and other federal agencies involved in the war on terror. Uniquely effective and vigorous U.S. agents should be rewarded and showcased to inspire others.

Anti-terror warriors should earn merit pay. Supervisors at security agencies should be able to offer instant bonuses and promotions to those who uncover terrorist suspects, crack perplexing codes, or blow whistles when colleagues drag their feet rather than disarm potential mass murderers. Seeing an industrious coworker pocket $25,000 or score a corner office would encourage counterterrorists to fight more diligently.

Atop the operatives who have excelled in the shadows, some in the spotlight lately deserve recompense. These include Kenneth Williams, the Phoenix G-man whose spidey sense led him to urge FBI headquarters (FBIHQ) last July 10 to scrutinize young Middle Eastern men at U.S. flight schools. (His advice went unheeded.) Ditto the FBI and INS agents who collared Zacarias Moussaoui, the accused “20th hijacker,” in Minnesota last August 15. Special Agent Coleen Rowley also is worthy. Her 13-page letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller outlined high-level obstruction of the Moussaoui probe and apparently catalyzed the Bureau’s recent reorganization.

President Bush should foster such professionalism by inviting these and similarly valiant counter-terrorists to the Rose Garden to express America’s gratitude for their exemplary service. For those who require anonymity, Bush could say thanks at their agencies’ headquarters, away from news cameras.

Disincentives matter, too.

Carrots entice good behavior, but sometimes it takes a stick. A few well-aimed two-by-fours should correct lackadaisical, dangerously cautious or even devious federal employees. Specifically, prominent dismissals would stir the sub-par at key federal agencies.

‐Thanks to INS sloth, the NYPD had to release seven Middle Eastern illegal aliens discovered in a battered van entering the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel on May 24. Several of the mainly Pakistani men carried phony identification, including one with a bogus passport. Local INS officials seemingly vanished over the Memorial Day holiday. Its weekend contact number rang at a regional facility in Burlington, Vermont. Absent INS intervention, Brooklyn prosecutors freed four of the men whose IDs looked valid. The next afternoon, INS supervisor Frank Ciringione phoned and sprang the other three, promising subsequent INS follow-up.

INS “didn’t want to be bothered,” one angry lawman complained to the New York Post’s Murray Weiss. INS went AWOL the same weekend New Yorkers braced for attacks on the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Those behind this travesty should be pried from their beach towels and hurled into the sea.

‐As NRO’s Byron York reports, FBI counterterrorism specialist James T. Caruso told the House Homeland Defense Subcommittee last October 3 that the Bureau had “conducted vigorous investigation of Moussaoui” in mid-August including “seizing his computer” and “seeking a number of authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act…” Coleen Rowley’s memo reveals, however, that the FBI thwarted the Moussaoui probe, seized but did not search his computer until after 9/11 and rejected requests for a FISA warrant to search Moussaoui’s laptop and possessions. If Caruso intentionally misled Congress, he should be sacked.

‐Rowley’s memo claims that an FBIHQ supervisor “deliberately further undercut” her office’s search warrant request by withholding French intelligence data on Moussaoui “and making several changes in the wording of the information” before submitting the documents for Justice Department approval. Justice attorneys rejected the adulterated application.

Frustrated Minneapolis agents joked that some of their FBI colleagues “had to be spies or moles…who were actually working for Osama bin Laden,” Rowley wrote. She said that this paper-altering supervisor has been promoted. Instead, he should hand in his badge.

‐Given the national nail-biting they engender, FBI Director Mueller, CIA chief George Tenet and INS commissioner James Ziglar also deserve to walk the plank. Before and after 9/11, they and their agencies have dropped enough balls to fill a driving range. Terminating incompetents at these organizations would send lawmen and spooks a message: Mediocrity will not be tolerated.

A sensible blend of incentives and disincentives would motivate federal employees to stop shielding their tushes and start foiling terrorists before they reduce any more Americans to body parts.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


The Latest