Federal Fixits - Part 1
See Chris Cobar Article List at bottom of page.
Why We Should Expect Another 9/11
Article #20 –
We’ve finally arrived at my favourite phase: ‘Federal Fixits.’ The whole point of these articles was not to point fingers or apportion blame; the government spent a couple of years doing that. We all know that the intelligence community is broken. 9/11 proved that.
The goal here is to come up with some possible solutions, outside the box, so we do not continue to remain vulnerable victims. Our government broke it, so at the end of they day, it’s their responsibility to fix it. However a little outside help never hurts and let’s face it, Uncle Sam needs all the help he can get.
As mentioned in the beginning, more precisely in Article #2, I am using the FBI as my guinea pig. This is not because I’m exercising a personal vendetta or taking cheap shots, I just happen to know them a lot better. I spent over 20 years cooperating with the FBI on a myriad of matters, as compared with 9-10 years with the Secret Service, 3-4 years with the Defense Intelligence Agency and less time with a bunch of other agencies.
Secret Service doesn’t count. By definition, they are ‘proactive.’ After all, you can’t wait for formal permission in triplicate to take a bullet for the President. Everybody else, FBI, CIA, NSA, etc. are ‘reactive.’ They wait for something to happen, like a bank robbery for example, and then follow up. It is a totally different mindset between the two.
It wasn’t the ‘proactive’ people who missed the boat on 9/11; it was the ‘reactive’ folk. I’m addressing the ‘reactives.’
O.K., we’ve pretty much covered all the caveats, so let’s get on with it.
As I see it, Accountability and Deniability are two sides of the same coin. With Accountability, one takes responsibility for one’s actions or inactions. With Deniability, one actively avoids taking responsibility by building in a back door to avoid doing so. Sometimes the lines get blurred.
On 20 May 2002, the Director of the FBI announced that they knew that Al-Qaeda was targeting tall buildings. At first glance, this looks like an act of accountability.
However, when it is noted that it was known that on the following day, 21 May 2002, two of their own FBI Special Agents, Coleen Rowley and Kenneth Williams, were both going to publicly confirm that their warnings were either ignored or thwarted by Headquarters, it puts a whole different complexion on the matter. Seems to me like it was more an act of ‘coming clean’ before they got ‘busted’ on the following day. Actually, this was an act of Deniability which went south. Accountability was the only remaining option.
The cardinal credo of the FBI management is”
“No decision is better than a wrong one.”
After all, how can you get in trouble if you never made a decision or took any action? Since much of the counterterrorism information is time-sensitive, all one has to do is wait it out. Then it becomes a moot point – no hit, no foul.
My first Federal Fixit is to change the credo to:
“A wrong decision is better than no decision.”
Since like every good bureaucracy, the Bureau is anal retentive; every communication is date and time stamped. As we already know, the government likes colour codes as exhibited by our national security threat level.
Simple; each communiqué is coded: red for ‘critical’ requiring a 4 hours response time, orange for ‘medium hot’ allowing for a 12 hour response time and green for ‘no big deal’ granting a few days grace.
Everybody signs off upon receipt. Anyone who misses a deadline gets a red flag in his folder. X number of red flags equals a demotion or termination. This is not rocket science here, just common sense.
The private sector lives by accountability. If you don’t do your job, you get fired. The same rules should apply to the public sector. If you don’t do your job, you get fired. A ‘no decision’ should qualify as not doing your job.
After all, the government was created to “serve” the American citizens, not be ‘served’ by them. They should be held fully accountable. The American people are always held accountable, so why not their own government?
If this change was invoked, all of a sudden, the ‘no decision’ option becomes a lot less desirable. Nobody is perfect; there will be ‘wrong’ decisions’. That’s acceptable and to be expected. However, it sure beats the hell out of a ‘no decision.’ By definition, a ‘no decision’ is always a ‘wrong decision.’
The second Chris Cure is case specific. In its simplest terms, the FBI is the Federal cop shop. So what is it doing reporting to the Department of Justice?
Look at your own home town; do lawyers run the police department or judges run the sheriff’s department? Hell, no. Like accountability and deniability, they’re different sides of the same coin. Cops bust ‘em but it’s the job of justice to send ‘em up the river.
The Bureau needs a cop to run their shop. Their job is to bust folk. It’s the Department of Justice’s job to prosecute. The FBI should do what they were chartered to do and the DOJ should do what they were chartered to do – separately.
That’s it for the first installment of Chris’ Cures.
Thanks for your comments, please keep them coming –
Please visit my new blog, www.terrorlog.com
P.S. For those of you who want more than a snappy synopsis of the whys and wherefores of 9/11, I refer you to www.intelwire.com. It is managed by a good friend, John Berger. He is a certified terrorist consultant, who documents his colons and commas. If it's there, you can take it to the bank.
Copyright 2010 Cook Communication