Our Post-9/11 Response Deprived Us of Liberty and Didn’t Stop Terrorism. Let’s Not Venerate or Expand It.
Writing at The Daily Beast, Jeff Stein asks whether America needs a new federal spy agency focused on domestic threats in the wake of the attack on the U.S. Capitol by Americans who refuse to accept that outgoing President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election.
But we already have such an organization. It’s called the FBI. Stein argues that the FBI is so focused on solving and clearing crimes that it’s not able to effectively engage in domestic intelligence gathering. He asks whether a new federal agency should be created for that purpose.
In reality, the FBI is set up just fine for intelligence gathering. In fact, under Trump, the FBI’s authority to secretly snoop on American citizens was actually expanded. The intelligence failures that preceded the attack on the Capitol involved a lack of communication between law enforcement agencies about the intelligence that had been gathered. It’s not entirely clear how yet another federal surveillance agency would fix that problem.
Stein does quote a number of experts who throw cold water on the idea of creating a new domestic surveillance agency, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who says, “Whenever something goes wrong, the knee-jerk Beltway reaction is, ‘Let’s reorganize,’ when more often than not, that’s not the problem.”
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