Intelligence or lack thereof

This posting was prompted by Dean Scoville’s Aug 25 blog on PoliceMag.com titled “Your Role in Homeland Security”  (http://www.policemag.com/Blog/Patrol-Tactics/Story/2009/08/Your-Role-in-Homeland-Security.aspx )–essentially sharing that police officers have a significant role in national security.

I’ve been toying with writing about this issue since I read an address by Ambassador Chas Freeman at the Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired (DACOR) on June 12, 2009.  He called it Foregone Conclusions: Vested Interests and Intelligence Analysis.  Then, shortly after that, on Just 22, 2009, Newsweek ran a brief article “Shooting the Messenger”.

In Newsweek, Mark Hosenball wrote, “In February, the Missouri Information Analysis Center, one of several ‘fusion’ centers created after 9/11 to share intelligence among local, state and federal agencie, issued a “strategic report” warning about a resurgence of the modern militia movement.  Last week, on the same day that White Supremacist James Va Brunn alledgedly killed a guard at Washington’s Holocaust Memorial Museum, Missouri’s police chief informed legistlators that the fusion center had suspended production of such reports.  Why? Outcry from the conservative activist, who felt they were being tarred, too. Similarly in April, Rush Limbaugh and other conservateies badgered the Department of Homeland Security into backing away from a repost about growing far-right extremism.”

Ambassador’s Freeman’s remarks offer a similar analysis on a larger, international scal.  He noted the the “intelligence community provides the sensory aparatus of the state, without which the inner reaches of our government are blind, deaf, numb and heedless of threats and opportunities alike.  Intelligence agencies assure situational awareness and alertness to trends.”

Freeman adds, “for our leaders to be able correctly to judge what we should do and how they should adjust…our best informed aqnd most free-thinking analysts must be free to reach considered judgements without censorship and without compulsion.  The analytical process must strive to understand and portray reality as dispassionate examination finds it to be, not as ideology or interested parties stipulate it should or must be.”  (for the entire transcript click or paste:  http://www.mepc.org/whats/cwf090612.asp )

Hosenball and Freeman suggest (and warn?) that “the very notion that analysis should be vert frei–value free–has come under strong attack in recent years.”

The dynamic nature of “home grown” threats, those connected to narco-terrorism, and the ubiquitous ‘global war on terror’ compounded with the politicization of intelligence even at the local level (think of how local politics influences law enforcement), in my opinion, creates as situation that’s as f***** up as a soup sandwich.

The fact that the collective we have not or chosen not to learn from politicized intel-related issues after 9/11 is a recipe for disaster that deserves much more public discussion than has been given.

While I have some appreciation for DHS Chief Napolitano’s call for “more intensive cooperation between the federal government and local law enforcement officials, and greater involvement by civilians in watching for and responding to terrorist threats” (NYTimes, July 30), the cynic in me says, “We’ve heard it all before.”

How many other fusion centers, like Missouri’s, other regional entities or local agencies put in a great deal of work and energy, only to have their efforts disregarded? No wonder terrorism intelligence isn’t widely made available to police officers.  It’s stopped before it can trickle down that far.  And, if law enforcement or community leaders are so influenced by outside influences, how are patrol officers to take their role with the seriousness it deserves?

Just my two bits for the day.

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