The Corner

Mi-5

Most positive development of the morning: the unanimity against the creation of a new intelligence bureaucracy, the American MI-5 — much discussed in today’s NYT. The idea of such a creation would be to take away the FBI’s counter-terrorism portfolio, thus divorcing the intelligence function from the law enforcement function. It take eons to get such a bureaucracy up and running efficiently (think: Department of Homeland Security). Perhaps more importantly, anyone who has ever dealt with informants knows it is very often the threat or reality of prosecution that gets people to cough up the most sensitive information — information which itself leads to more informants and more information. What is needed is time and appropriate resources (a mere fraction of what a new agency would cost) to make the FBI’s natural advantage and acquired expertise work better. As Louis Freeh put it, if you think the “wall” between intelligence and law enforcement information was a problem, the separation between intelligence and the enforcement function would be a “fortress.”

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