Sunday, April 28, 2013

Counterintelligence should be CIA, not FBI, function

Counterintelligence should be CIA, not FBI, function, It's time to rethink which of the 17 agencies comprising the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) should be in charge of counterintelligence (CI) within the U.S. I believe the FBI should assume less, while the CIA more. The FBI represents law enforcement (LE) and they are spread paper thin trying to adequately fulfill the roles of both LE and CI.

After all, Russian authorities contacted the FB I with concerns about Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev not once but “multiple’’ times. They even alerted the FBI after Tsarnaev was first investigated by FBI agents in Boston. The FBI interviewed Tsarnaev in early 2011 after it was initially contacted by the ­Russians, but by the summer of 2011, they completed their review and found no evidence that Tsarnaev was a threat.

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Last week, the FBI reported that it requested but did not receive more specific or additional information from Russia. Is that reason to "conclude" a review on a suspected radicalized Muslim terrorist? Such reports should spawn ongoing reviews that never conclude. Sadly, Senator Richard Burr, A North Carolina Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he believed that Russia alerted the United States about Tsarnaev in “multiple contacts,” including at least once since October 2011.

I believe the CIA should be in charge of a robust counterintelligence (CI) operation inside America. We can't afford worry whether or not the FBI will pay more attention to future radicalized Muslim bombers. The IC has to hit a home run every time it's up at the plate; terrorists only have to hit a homer once every few years to have a long-lasting effect on America's psyche.

I also feel there is a connection between lack of communication before 9-11, the occurence of the Boston Marathon bombings despite Russia's warning to the FBI, and the quick and intense FBI investigation of CIA Director David Petraeus after receiving a complaint that his biographer Paula Broadwell was sending harassing e-mails to another woman close to him.

It is shameful that the FBI's investigation of Tsarnaev wasn't as rapid and robust as their investigation of CIA Director General Petraeus. A woman made the initial complaint to the FBI about Petraeus; Russian intelligence made multiple
complaints to the FBI about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Ironic how both complaints to the FBI conclude with General Petraeus’ resignation (A blow to the spirit of the men and women working for the CIA's counterintelligence division) and two blasts ripping through the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 180 others.

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Personally, I don't think General Petraeus should have resigned. His situation was unlike the other adultery-guilty leaders like Newt Gingrich, Larry Craig, David Vitter, John Ensign, Mark Sanford, Senator John McCain, Bob Livingston, Bill Clinton, President John F. Kennedy, Anthony Weiner…the list is endless. He didn‘t resort to lies, cover ups, deceptions and mendacity's, like the others…he simply fessed up to the truth and assumed all blame.

Too bad the swift and passionate FBI investigation into General Petraeus wasn't replicated in their Tsarnaev probe. Neither Petraeus' girlfriend (Broadwell) or the other woman she was emailing was a "Honey Trap", a CIA term for female foreign agents who befriend Americans and obtain vital classified information from them. Even if either woman turned out to be, and Petraeus found out about it, he would have privately informed CIA counterintelligence (CI), assumed the role of a double agent and fed her false information to harm whatever foreign intelligence service she was working for. General Petraeus is well aware of the importance CI plays in aggressively penetrating and thwarting hostile intelligence organizations and radicalized Islamic groups and individuals bent on harming America.

I also wonder if the FBI’s underlying motive for the Petraeus investigation was to demonstrate their supremacy over the CIA on American turf. For years there has been a battle between law enforcement (LE), like the FBI and counterintelligence (CI), like the CIA over who should take over domestic counterintelligence. This battle between the LE and CI cultures has grown and the FBI may play a diminishing role in domestic surveillance activities. The CI professionals in the CIA say that the FBI’s LE culture cannot fight terrorism effectively by slapping the cuffs on and making speedy arrests as soon as enough evidence is collected to prosecute effectively in court.

The CIA's CI culture, which lacks the power to arrest, desires to postpone arrest and continue surveillance in order to gather ever more vital information about the suspects, their friends and visitors, strangers they meet, etc. I'll wager that if the CIA received the Russian intelligence warning about Tamerlan Tsarnaev back in 2011, he would have been put on intense and on-going surveillance and the Boston Marathon bombings would never have occurred.

I believe 9-11, the Boston bombings and the signation of CIA Director General Petraeus all stem from the LE- CI rift and the dire need for the FBI to relinquish its CI duties to the CIA. It was the law enforcement mentality that spawned the releasing of General Petraeus' extramarital affair. If there was a remote possibility that either Broadwell or the other woman were a possible "Honey Trap", this whole affair should not have been exposed so quickly and both women should have been put under intense surveillance... everywhere they went and everyone they contacted should have been collated and observed as well....until they were proven not guilty...which would have lessened the impact on General Petraeus.

Does the General Petraeus affair highlight the division between the LE and CI cultures? I attended an Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) seminar 7 years ago in Tyson Corner, VA, and listened to members of the Intelligence Community (IC) explain why domestic spying and counterintelligence should be conducted by the CIA counterintelligence community (CI) and not by the FBI (LE). At one point, an FBI agent grew so angry that he stood up and began swearing (using 4-letter words) at the CI panel members.

I believe this on-going LE and CI culture clash may be behind the reason why the FBI speedily released the information about Petraeus' extramarital affair, simply because he was CIA Director. I wonder if the FBI brass and agents in their CI division toasted his resignation at the local pub. I hope not, for it was this rift between the FBI-LE mentality and CIA-CI mindset that did NOT prevent 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings from happening. The United States needs a dedicated domestic CI division and it should be centered at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. I've written articles justifying that we permit the CIA to conduct counterintelligence inside America. Excuse me whilst I duck!

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes the online spy series "Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean." His ideas are his own and do not represent those of any organization he's a member of.

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