Archive for the ‘Bureauracy’ category

Kill the Alligators, Then Drain the Swamp

August 2, 2017

Kill the Alligators, Then Drain the Swamp, Front Page MagazineBruce Thornton, August 2, 2017

(Please see also, The Administrative State Declares Independence. — DM)

Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to “drain the swamp” ––the D.C. establishment made up of most Congressmen from both parties, employees of executive agencies and bureaus, the political appointees who head up those agencies, and the hordes of lobbyists, fundraisers, Congressional staffers, “consultants,” “journalists,” and pundits. These are the “Beltway insiders” or the “political establishment” whose natural habitat is the swamp. These are the alligators Trump needs to get rid of.

Of course, many of these D.C. denizens of the establishment are permanent dwellers in the swamp, beyond the reach of the president or even Congress. Besides, monitoring Congressmen should be the business of their constituents, who should hold them accountable. But too often voters like the pork their alligators bring back to their states or districts. As for pundits, consultants, lobbyists, fundraisers, and journos, they are employees of private businesses, with the right of political free speech and association. Keeping them in line is the responsibility of citizens trading in the market-place of ideas, and imposing ballot-box accountability to punish the office-holders corrupted by these parasites.

Then there are 2.1 million federal employees. They manage the federal government’s agencies, execute the laws that they, not Congressmen, actually write, and judge whether the rest of us comply––collapsing together and usurping the separation of powers central to our Constitutional order. And they do so without any accountability to the voters who pay their handsome salaries and Cadillac benefits (85% higher in value than private employees’). They are, no surprise, stalwart supporters of big-government Democrats, to whom this last election they gave 95% of their political donations. And don’t forget the 3.7 million federal contract-workers who also do the federal Leviathan’s bidding.

Something could be done about reducing the size and intrusive scope of this bureaucratic behemoth. Trump has made a good start. He has left many vacancies open with a hiring freeze, and has proposed reducing some agency budgets in order to starve the beast and prune the regulations that empower it. In his 2018 budget proposal he also called for eliminating cost of living raises for employees in the Federal Employee Retirement System, cutting the Civil Service Retirement System’s COLAs by 0.5%, and making employees contribute more to their retirement annuities. If Congress approves, of course. Good luck with that. But he has not yet tackled reducing the more shadowy contract workers, although some are a legitimate resource for the military. When it comes to domestic affairs, however, they carry out the bidding of the federal agencies while most of us citizens have no clue who they are or what they’re up to.

As for Congress, it could pass legislation changing the laws that make federal employees almost untouchable. Like unionized teachers and professors, federal employees benefit from both union protections and virtual tenure––the civil service regulations that make disciplining or firing federal workers time-consuming and costly. There’s nothing to keep Congress from abolishing unions for federal employees, which were created 55 years ago by John Kennedy through an executive order. One of Ronald Reagan’s boldest and most consequential domestic actions came in 1981 when he fired nearly 12,000 air traffic controllers and decertified their union. A Republican Congress should likewise defang this reliably Democrat voting bloc.

Political appointees are another matter, since they’re easier to get rid of. They serve at the pleasure of the Chief Executive. There is no law that keeps the president from firing political appointees. There may be political costs, as Richard Nixon found out, but there are no Constitutional limits, outside of criminal behavior, on the reasons why he fires a political appointee. This is where Trump has been remiss.

Start with former FBI director James Comey, who immediately after the inauguration should have heard Trump’s trademark “You’re fired!” Comey’s careerism and arrogance made him mishandle the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s patent violations of the laws governing classified material, and her probable obstructions of justice. An indictment could have been justified based simply on the information already made public. Indeed, Comey himself laid out the predicates for indictment in his infamous July 2016 announcement. Then he rewrote the relevant statute to let Clinton off the hook, simply to spare AG Loretta Lynch, who had met with Bill Clinton in a private confab in an airplane, the pretext Comey used for usurping the prosecutor’s role. Along the way he violated the foundation of any free government––equality before the law.

Next, as soon as Jeff Sessions was confirmed as AG, Trump should have cleaned out every Democrat appointee left in the DOJ, starting with Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein. If he had, the whole “Russia collusion” and “hacking the election” fictions, which have led to an investigative slow death from a thousand leaks, would not now be assailing the Trump administration. The messy firing of Comey in May, which created the perception that Trump was trying to stop the Russia probe because he had something to hide, wouldn’t have happened. With Rosenstein replaced by a Trump appointee, Sessions could have recused himself more easily, knowing a politically reliable deputy would be making the decisions.

And that means Rosenstein, who appointed Robert Mueller as special prosecutor, wouldn’t have been around to turn a counter-intelligence investigation into a criminal one. Comey couldn’t have engineered his close friend Robert Mueller’s appointment by using illegal leaks to the media. There would be no investigative team stocked with Democrat donors and wannabe Javerts like Andrew Weismann. And Mueller would not now be running a partisan investigation in search of a crime, and providing endless leaked chum to the Trump-hating media sharks circling the president.

Instead, perhaps Sessions would have ordered a special prosecutor to investigate the real crimes that endangered national security, like Hillary’s illegal email server and pay-for-play State Department. Maybe then the real Russia “collusion” story could have been exposed––from the allegations that Hillary facilitated the Russian takeover of American uranium mines in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation, to the FBI’s buying a Russian-produced vulgar fake “dossier” about Trump from a “researcher” at GPS Fusion, a firm also patronized by Democrats, who are now helping the outfit’s chief stonewall Congress.

And let’s not forget the Obama administration’s partisan “unmasking” scandal, the leaking nearly 100 citizens’ identities that appeared “incidentally” in the course of surveilling foreign nationals. Or the Democrats’ IT scandal, in which a crooked, overpaid IT tech had access to the computer data of over 24 Democrat Congressmen as well as the Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs committees. Or Loretta Lynch’s meeting with the politically powerful husband of a person under investigation by Lynch’s FBI, or her browbeating the “Boy Scout” James Comey into spinning the Clinton investigation into a mere “matter.” Of course, nothing is stopping Sessions now from naming a special prosecutor to investigate any of these likely felonies, but he has been publicly battered by his boss and seems demoralized by this whole chain of events.

And that’s on Trump. His browbeating and humiliation of Sessions is unseemly because it was Trump who didn’t clean house on day one, and so created the circumstances that now distract him. And it’s not just the DOJ or FBI. Why is well-connected, long-time D.C. alligator John Koskinen still running the IRS? The same guy who was less than helpful (remember those “missing” emails?) in getting to the bottom of one of the worst scandals in IRS history? Even though the IRS, with the active, nay eager participation of Director of Exempt Organizations Lois “Toby Miles” Lerner, had been weaponized against conservative advocacy groups? That was one of the most despicable official acts against the Constitution and the citizenry in recent memory, a gross violation of equal protection under the law, the rules protecting citizens’ privacy, and the First Amendment, all to serve naked partisan interests.

Talk about “interfering in an election” with impunity. Nothing the Russians have done with their “hacking” of the DNC’s amateurishly secured computers, or their preposterous fabricated “dossier” on Trump, comes even close to what Lerner pulled off. Yet Koskinen, whom the House failed to impeach, let Lerner retire with a full pension and a $129K bonus. That was after she got away with providing misleading testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, being found in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena, and then pleading the 5th Amendment, a de facto admission of guilt. But AG Loretta “Tarmac” Lynch’s DOJ just shrugged away this gross undermining of the integrity of a presidential election.

I’m not sure Trump really gets the depths to which Democrats and establishment Republicans despise and resent him for trashing their Kabuki theater of “decorum” and “acting presidential” and “bipartisan” comity, the whole hypocritical camouflage of “traditional protocols” and “selfless public servants” that hides the brutal, bare-knuckle politics, rank partisanship, featherbedding, and logrolling that has defined democracy ever since the ancient Athenian orators and comic playwrights accused their political rivals of being treasonous homosexual prostitutes spawned by barbarian whores.

If Trump did get it, he would realize it’s not enough to Tweet late-night insults and bluster. Such outbursts can never counter the Democrats’ willingness to lie shamelessly, and their advantage in having the deep-state 5thcolumnists, hysterical Republican NeverTrumpers, and squadrons of flying media monkeys eager to attack Republicans 24/7. Deeds, not words, are the best defense. And the most important action of a new administration is to clean out the partisan alligators who make the swamp so deadly.

The Administrative State Declares Independence

August 2, 2017

The Administrative State Declares Independence, Power LineJohn Hinderaker, August 1, 2017

Yates argues for a permanent bureaucracy in Washington that is impervious to the wishes of the voters, who may occasionally be so imprudent as to elect a Republican president. In Yates’s view, that must not be an obstacle to the liberal policies of the Justice Department or, by analogy, any of the dozens of other federal agencies that are manned nearly exclusively by liberal Democrats.

The administrative state is by far the greatest contemporary threat to the liberty of Americans. The appalling Sally Yates urges that the Constitution be left in the dust, and that unelected bureaucrats be elevated above the president whom they ostensibly serve. It is hard to imagine a theory more at odds with our Constitution or our political traditions.

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Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama holdover, recently authored one of the most pernicious columns within memory in the New York Times. Her column was titled, “Protect the Justice Department From President Trump.” Yates argued, in essence, that there exists an Executive Branch that is independent of, and superior to, the President–at least as long as that Executive Branch is staffed pretty much exclusively by Democrats. This is, of course, a boldly unconstitutional theory.

The invaluable Manhattan Contrarian deconstructed Yates’s novel theory:

As I have pointed out multiple times, there is nothing complicated about the constitutional law on presidential control of the Justice Department. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution places all of the executive power of the federal government in the President: “The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” The Justice Department is an executive agency, and therefore reports to the President in every respect. That of course does not mean that it is a good idea for the President to get personally involved in day-to-day prosecutorial decisions; but he is perfectly entitled to do so if he wants. And he certainly has final say on all policies of the Department.

Yates has a different view. Here are a few key quotes from her op-ed:

The president is attempting to dismantle the rule of law, destroy the time-honored independence of the Justice Department, and undermine the career men and women who are devoted to seeking justice day in and day out, regardless of which political party is in power. . . . [Ed.: When liberals refer to the “rule of law,” they nearly always mean rule by liberal lawyers, having no reference to any actual laws.]

The Justice Department is not just another federal agency. It is charged with fulfilling our country’s promise of equal and impartial justice for all. As an agency with the authority to deprive citizens of their liberty, its investigations and prosecutions must be conducted free from any political interference or influence, and decisions must be made based solely on the facts and the law. To fulfill this weighty responsibility, past administrations, both Democratic and Republican, have jealously guarded a strict separation between the Justice Department and the White House when it comes to investigations and prosecutions. While there may be interaction on broad policies, any White House involvement in cases or investigations, including whom or what to investigate, has been flatly forbidden.

Yates doesn’t trouble herself to give us a citation of something in the Constitution that supports her position. Nor does Yates inform us of the origin of what she calls the “time honored” “strict separation between the Justice Department and the White House” that has supposedly been followed by “past administrations, both Democratic and Republican.” … If we’re going to talk about “dismantl[ing] the rule of law,” how about the rule that says that every four years the people get to elect a new guy, with policies different from the prior guy, and the new guy gets to implement his policies?

This is the heart of the matter, of course. Yates argues for a permanent bureaucracy in Washington that is impervious to the wishes of the voters, who may occasionally be so imprudent as to elect a Republican president. In Yates’s view, that must not be an obstacle to the liberal policies of the Justice Department or, by analogy, any of the dozens of other federal agencies that are manned nearly exclusively by liberal Democrats.

The permanent staff of the Department of Justice, which Yates wants to be independent of, and superior to, any president who is actually elected by American voters, is relentlessly left-wing. The Contrarian documents this in great detail at the link; this is just a sample:

Just in case you have the exceedingly naive impression that the lawyers at the Department of Justice really are neutral and apolitical, and just “seeking justice,” perhaps it is time for a brief history lesson focusing on the years of the Obama administration. Here goes:

* First, Jonathan Swan at The Hill on October 26, 2016, helpfully did a comprehensive analysis of political contributions made by bureaucrats in the various federal agencies in the 2016 election cycle. Here’s the result for the Justice Department: “Employees of the Department of Justice, which investigated Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of State, gave Clinton 97 percent of their donations. Trump received $8,756 from DOJ employees compared with $286,797 for Clinton.”

The administrative state is by far the greatest contemporary threat to the liberty of Americans. The appalling Sally Yates urges that the Constitution be left in the dust, and that unelected bureaucrats be elevated above the president whom they ostensibly serve. It is hard to imagine a theory more at odds with our Constitution or our political traditions.

VA secretary says agency ‘clearly broken,’ urges action by Congress

May 31, 2017

VA secretary says agency ‘clearly broken,’ urges action by Congress, Washington TimesS.A. Miller, May 31, 2017

In this photo taken May 11, 2017, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Shulkin is warning the VA is “still in critical condition” despite efforts to reduce wait times for medical appointments and expand care.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Wednesday that the agency is “still in critical condition” with patients waiting too long for services and a bureaucracy unable to fire poorly performing employees.

Mr. Shulkin, the only holdover from the Obama administration in President Trump’s Cabinet, urged Congress to give the agency more power to discipline employees and expand the Veterans Choice program that allows vets to get treatment from private-sector doctors and hospitals.

Current rules prevent the VA from suspending or firing employees in a timely manner, including a recent case where it took more than a month to fire a psychiatrist caught watching pornography on his iPad while seeing a veteran.

“Our accountability process are clearly broken,” said Mr. Shulkin, a physician.

He said that despite limitation in the law, the VA has moved to purge executives and others for poor performance and mismanagement.

The agency recently fired the medical director and other executives in the D.C. facility and the medical director and three other executive in the Shreveport, Louisiana, facility.

A pattern of negligent and mistreatment at VA hospitals came to light in 2014. A report by CNN found that at least 40 veterans died while on long waiting lists for care at a facility in Phoenix.

More problems emerged at facilities across the country, including secret waiting lists that were kept hidden by executives in order to collect bonus pay.

The Veterans Choice Program was created in response. The program, however, was opposed by Democrats who warned it was an attempt to privatize the VA.

Mr. Trump last month signed into law a bill that extended the program.

Mr. Shulkin also credited the president with taking executive action to create a VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, which reports directly to the secretary.

“But that isn’t enough,” Mr. Shulkin said. “We need new accountability legislation and we need that now.”

The House passed a bill to make it easier to fire bad VA employees. The Senate has yet to act.

Report: ICE Has 27 Different Databases for Visa Overstays, Catches Only 0.4%

May 7, 2017

Report: ICE Has 27 Different Databases for Visa Overstays, Catches Only 0.4%, Washington Free Beacon, , May 7, 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 14: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), agents detain an immigrant on October 14, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Immigrations and Custom Enforcement cannot account for all visa overstays due to inefficiencies in the agency, according to a new report.

ICE arrested just 0.4 percent of visa overstays it could account for, according to an audit by the inspector general.

The agency has 27 different databases used to investigate and track immigrants who remain in the country past the deadline issued on their temporary visas. The lack of a cohesive system has “produced numerous inefficiencies,” making ICE ineffective at catching visa overstays who may pose security risks, according to the audit.

“Department of Homeland Security IT systems did not effectively support ICE visa tracking operations,” the inspector general said. “ICE personnel responsible for investigating in-country visa overstays pieced together information from dozens of systems and databases, some of which were not integrated and did not electronically share information. Despite previous efforts to improve information sharing, the DHS Chief Information Officer (CIO) did not provide the oversight and centralized management needed to address these issues.”

The inspector general said ICE agents are not receiving proper training to use the systems, which can contain up to 40 different passwords for ICE officers to login.

“Because of these systems and management limitations, DHS could not account for all visa overstays in data it annually reported to Congress,” the inspector general said.

“Manual checking across multiple systems used for visa tracking contributed to backlogs in casework and delays in investigating suspects who potentially posed public safety or homeland security risks,” the inspector general added.

ICE reported to Congress there were 527,127 nonimmigrant overstays in 2015, but the numbers did not include student visas or anyone who crossed the border from Mexico or Canada.

“Because of unreliable collection of departure data at these ports of entry, the Department could not account for these potential overstays,” the inspector general said. “Therefore, the report was limited in that it only included individuals traveling to the United States by air or sea on business travel or tourism.”

Of the more than 500,000 identified overstays, only 3,402 were arrested, which amounts to less than 0.4 percent.

ICE’s databases also had inaccurate information recorded on those who were arrested.

“In some cases, the individuals arrested had been reported in DHS systems as having already left the United States,” the inspector general said. “Because this information was not recorded, ICE personnel were unable to provide an exact number when asked during our audit.”

The United States issued more than 10.8 million nonimmigrant visas in 2015. The inspector general said that although only a small percentage overstay their visas, those individuals could pose severe national security risks.

“For example, two of the 19 hijackers on September 11, 2001, were visa overstays,” the inspector general said. “This prompted the 9/11 Commission to call for the government to ensure that all visitors to the United States are tracked on entry and exit.”

The audit noted that the department has 27 different databases for handling visa overstays, leading ICE officers to be “unsure of which system to use.” There are 17 separate systems that are used only for conducting the initial part of the overstay investigation.

Even the most experienced officers have trouble navigating the ICE database system. One agent with over two decades of experience said he was not aware of a database that is often used for national security vetting of overstays.

L.A. Police Commission Makes Violent Protests Like UC-Berkeley More Likely

April 28, 2017

L.A. Police Commission Makes Violent Protests Like UC-Berkeley More Likely, PJ MediaJack Dunphy, April 28, 2017

(Jack Dunphy is the pseudonym of a police officer in Southern California. — DM)

University of California, Berkeley police guard the building where Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos was to speak. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

Announce that the law will be enforced, then do it. Perhaps this is too much to ask these days.

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Imagine you’re at work one day when your boss calls you into his office. “Uh oh,” you think, “this can’t be good.” And indeed, despite the gloss he tries to put on it, it isn’t. The company has adopted a new policy, he tells you, one that will change the way you are evaluated in the performance of your duties.

There are new criteria to be used, criteria designed not to measure how well you performed a given task, but rather to inform you that, no matter how well things may have turned out for you and your company, you should have performed it differently. What’s worse, the judgment will be made not by your peers, your superiors, or even by people in your line of work, but rather by people who have never done your job – and couldn’t if their very lives depended on it.

If you didn’t quit on the spot, you would very likely look askance at your boss and this nonsense he’s peddling. And you would return to your office in the discomfiting knowledge that the place is being run by imbeciles.

You now have a sense of what it’s like to be a police officer in Los Angeles these days.

I have often written of the politics of Los Angeles, one of the more peculiar aspects of which is that the city’s police department is overseen by five mayoral appointees to the police commission. In addition to setting policy, the commission is vested with the authority to determine the propriety of an officer’s use of deadly force.

In making these determinations, the commissioners weigh not only an officer’s decision to fire his weapon, but also the tactics he used as the incident unfolded. And, even though an honest appraisal of such an incident would presumably require a certain level of experience and expertise, not one of these commissioners has ever served so much as a single day as a police officer.

Last October, I wrote in this space on the current fashion of police “de-escalation,” i.e., the avoidance of using force in restoring order, obtaining compliance, and making arrests. Like all fashions, this one was inspired by ephemeral considerations, to wit, mostly ill-informed opinions on high-profile police use-of-force incidents recently seen in Los Angeles and across the country. The Los Angeles police commissioners, five of the most ill-informed people you’re ever likely to find in one room, recently codified this fashion in the form of a new use-of-force policy for the LAPD.

In truth, the new policy (PDF) is not at all a drastic departure from the one it replaces. The changes amount to no more than a few words, these intended to emphasize the desire for alternatives, if any are available, to the use of deadly force. So it is not the policy itself that officers find objectionable. Rather, it is the knowledge that their fate may one day rest in the hands of the people whose idealistic notions of police work cannot be squared with how police work is actually performed.

In my October piece, I linked to this Los Angeles Times article concerning the September 2015 shooting of Norma Guzman, who was killed while approaching officers with an 8-inch knife. Though LAPD Chief Charlie Beck ruled the shooting to be “in-policy,” the commission disagreed, arguing that the first officer to fire on Guzman should have “redeployed” to a safer place.

And this is where the commissioners’ lack of real-world experience becomes obvious and alarming. They disapproved of the outcome, so they propose that different actions by the officer would have resulted in a better one. But in doing so they fail to consider what might have happened had the officer done what they think he should have.

In the video accompanying the Times’s story, we can see that the passenger officer alights from the police car and apparently spots Guzman walking toward him. He draws his weapon and, we are told, orders her to stop and drop the knife. She fails to comply and is shot when she gets to within about ten feet of the officer.

The driver officer, having exited the police car and come around the rear, also fires as he sees Guzman approaching his partner. In the commissioners’ imagination, the passenger officer should have distanced himself from Guzman before firing. But consider that in doing so, he would also have distanced himself from his partner, whose view of Guzman was momentarily blocked by the police SUV.

One can easily imagine a scenario in which the passenger officer “re-deploys” only to expose his unwary partner to the danger posed by Guzman. What’s more, this scenario might easily have resulted in Guzman being between the officers, thus creating the danger of deadly cross-fire.

What’s more, had the passenger officer “re-deployed,” the commission’s euphemism for “run away,” he may have violated the LAPD policy that prohibits partners from separating. Had he done so and left his partner to face Guzman alone, the commission surely would have found fault with either officer or both if Guzman had been shot.

It’s one thing for police officers to critique the actions of their peers with the aim of improving safety, it’s quite another for five political appointees with no relevant experience taking months to evaluate decisions officers must make in an instant. No less authority than the U.S. Supreme Court has made this clear, ruling in Graham v. Connor (1989) that “the ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.”

In the current climate, hindsight on police matters abounds, and the acuity is most often less than 20/20, with the L.A. police commission perhaps in need of a long white cane and a seeing-eye dog. And with all this myopic second-guessing comes the apparent reluctance among some police managers to uphold the law whenever there is a risk of a violent encounter with those who are breaking it. The most notable recent example can be found on the campus of the University of California, in Berkeley, where the campus police chief so disgraced herself at the Milo Yiannopoulos event earlier this year.

Following that disgrace, I offered some advice to her and her campus overseers on how to handle a visit to the campus by Ann Coulter, who was scheduled to speak on April 27. Already the campus officials have embarrassed themselves once more, first by rescinding the invitation to Coulter, then by rescheduling her appearance to a date during the week before final examinations.

In first canceling the event, university officials said it was “not possible to assure that the event could be held successfully — or that the safety of Ms. Coulter, the event sponsors, audience and bystanders could be adequately protected.” In this they admit their own ineptitude and their unwillingness to accept the fact that in order keep these people safe they may have to use force against those who threaten them.

It’s quite simple: Announce that the law will be enforced, then do it. Perhaps this is too much to ask these days.

Border Patrol union urges Trump to cut Obama’s red tape holding back agents

April 3, 2017

Border Patrol union urges Trump to cut Obama’s red tape holding back agents, Washington Times

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine agent peers out of the open door of a helicopter during a patrol flight over McAllen, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border. (Associated Press)

The Homeland Security Department has been reluctant to send helicopters on nighttime missions to aid the Border Patrol, leaving agents to face drug smugglers and illegal immigrants without critical air cover, the chief of the agents’ labor union told Congress late last month.

Brandon Judd, an agent who is also president of the National Border Patrol Council, said that unless President Trump can solve that kind of bureaucratic bungling — and is willing to oust the Obama administration figures who botched the policies — he will struggle to secure the border.

The helicopters are one example of that, Mr. Judd said.

Mr. Judd said that when the Border Patrol controlled its own helicopters, it got the air support it needed. But after the Homeland Security Department was created more than a decade ago, the helicopters were turned over to the Office of Air and Marine, which has been reluctant to fly the nighttime hours the agents need.

“Right now the Office of Air and Marine, they fly very little at night,” he told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “In fact, in [the Rio Grande Valley sector], we had to use Coast Guard to fly sorties in certain areas. And when their apprehensions became so great, it’s my understanding the officer at Air and Marine asked them not to fly anymore at night in RGV because it was making them look bad.”

Officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency that oversees both the Border Patrol and the Air and Marine division, declined to comment.

But Mr. Judd said it’s just one example of a bureaucracy erecting hurdles — what he called “kingdom-building” — that he said could stymie Mr. Trump’s immigration goals.

“We talk about securing the border, and the border — we can absolutely secure it, but it cannot be secure if our operations are not sound,” Mr. Judd told The Washington Times.

“What’s very concerning to Border Patrol agents is, to this point, we still have the same people who gave us all of the failed operations, who were the authors of the catch-and-release program. They’re still in charge — even under this current administration,” the union chief said. “That’s head-scratching, especially since the president said we’re going to drain the swamp.”

Mr. Trump’s early changes to enforcement policy, freeing agents to carry out the law enforcement duties they signed up for, has helped boost morale, said Mr. Judd and Chris Crane, the head of the union for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council.

But they said the agencies’ leadership needs attention.

Mr. Crane said “a good ol’ boy network” pervades ICE, which he said is too heavy on managers who get in the way of agents trying to enforce immigration laws in the interior. He said agents are eager to enforce laws against employers who hire illegal immigrants, but their hands are tied.

The complaints of bureaucratic bungling struck home with both Democrats and Republicans on the homeland security committee, who said they are eager to find bipartisan areas where they can help the agents get things going.

One challenge is the polygraph test, which all Border Patrol applicants must pass. The agency’s 75 percent failure rate is higher than that of any other law enforcement department, but the top brass say they are committed to it — even as they prepare to try to hire 5,000 more agents to comply with Mr. Trump’s executive orders.

Even police officers who have passed polygraphs for their current jobs but who are looking to transfer can end up failing, Mr. Judd said.

Both Democrats and Republicans said they are eager to clean up the immigration agencies within the Homeland Security Department and would like to find common ground with the agents and officers.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, said the panelists want to know the names of bureaucrats who are standing in the way of smart enforcement — though she said the ICE and Border Patrol unions, which endorsed Mr. Trump in the election campaign, may have a greater claim to the president’s ear.

Still, one Democrat, Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California, said she worries that the agency is expanding too quickly, without training to protect illegal immigrants from overzealous enforcement. She wanted to make sure agents weren’t going after lesser-priority targets.

“When troops on the ground have not been trained, it leads to dysfunction because there is a lack of consistency and accountability and direction,” she told Mr. Crane, the chief of the union for ICE agents and officers.

Mr. Crane told her she misunderstood how agents in the field carried out their priority targeting.

Mr. Crane and Mr. Judd also said the government needs to be careful about salaries. Because ICE agents have higher pay and often have better living options away from remote border communities, Border Patrol agents may rush to join the other force.

Part of the problem is the complicated bureaucratic web.

ICE and the Border Patrol are separate law enforcement divisions within Homeland Security.

That bureaucratic mess also helps explain the problem with helicopter patrols along the border.

The Border Patrol used to have its own helicopters, but after CBP was created as part of Homeland Security, the Air and Marine division was created as a separate agency within CBP. Now, when agents want the assistance of eyes in the sky, they have to go outside their own chain of command.

Mr. Judd said the helicopters are a perfect illustration: Most illegal crossings are attempted at night, and air support is critical for maintaining visibility.

Just as important, when those attempting to sneak in hear a helicopter overhead, they are less likely to run — making the apprehension easier and less dangerous for agents.

Mr. Judd said the air division has dedicated most of its resources to the Border Patrol, but not at the right times, leaving the agents without night cover.

“We expected to see a huge change in the way CBP operates. There’s been no change to this point,” he said.

CBP has long faced questions about its use of air resources. The Homeland Security inspector general has been particularly withering in its evaluation of the drone program, saying CBP has a tough time keeping its aircraft aloft and in scheduling missions and can’t demonstrate the worth of the program.

CBP officials have said the inspector general is using suspect calculations.

Flights themselves can be dangerous.

In 2015, a helicopter was called in to assist local police who were trying to stop a drug smuggling attempt near Laredo, Texas. As the helicopter was making its second pass, it took fire from the Mexican side — perhaps as many as 15 rounds, two of which struck the aircraft.

CBP officials later said the man who fired on the helicopter was a specialized contractor whom the smugglers used to provide cover for their operations. Mexican authorities caught the man.

But in hopes of sending a message to the cartels, CBP sent to the region several Black Hawk helicopters, which can be armored to withstand enemy fire while continuing to fly.

View from Sweden: Donald Trump was Right

February 26, 2017

View from Sweden: Donald Trump was Right, Jihad Watch

(Please see also, Trump Is Completely Right About the Crisis in Sweden. — DM)

sweden_riots

In a speech February 18, President Trump made an offhand remark about my home country of Sweden. He said:

“We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening in Brussels. You look at what’s happening all over the world. Take a look at Nice. Take a look at Paris. We’ve allowed thousands and thousands of people into our country and there was no way to vet those people. There was no documentation. There was no nothing. So we’re going to keep our country safe.”

The statement met with a lot of criticism in Sweden. Former Prime Minister Carl Bildt tweeted:

“Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?”

But Trump wasn’t talking about a terror attack; he was talking about a new set of problems that very few people would associate with Sweden. The relevant question is – what has Carl Bildt been smoking to avoid seeing the fast, negative changes his country is now going through?

The answer is that Bildt has been getting high on over-consumption of Swedish mainstream media. Swedish journalists lean heavily towards the liberal left, and are marinated in the consensus culture that is so prevalent in Sweden’s academic institutions, where you are required to have the right opinions in order to fit in. One way to achieve this is to criticize Swedish and Western culture – and the United States in particular – but be very open-minded towards other cultures. When it comes to the issue of immigration, this means ignoring problems and dismissing those who want to discuss them as racists.

Journalists and politicians can look the other way, because they don’t live in the same world as ordinary people. Stockholm, in particular, is characterized by total segregation. Some areas are inhabited exclusively by rich, white ethnic Swedes. This is where most journalists live and work. And then there are the suburbs, where some, like Rinkeby – a part of Stockholm that has gained international notoriety due to recent riots and car fires – are inhabited solely by immigrants. You will be hard put to find any journalists in these areas. Thus they are unaware of the problems regular people in mixed suburbs and smaller cities experience, in places where things happen closer to home.

To most journalists, a critical view on immigration is just a negative theory and a theoretical, political viewpoint, not an actual observation of people’s everyday reality.

This is precisely why they believe the problems don’t exist – they themselves have never encountered them. And this legitimizes their fierce attacks on those who try to highlight the problems created by massive immigration from non-Western countries, Muslim countries in particular. A fresh example of this phenomenon is when the Swedish-Czech author Katerina Janouch spoke out recently and criticized Sweden’s migration policies on Czech television. Janouch was chastised by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven himself, who stated that he thought her remarks were “very odd”, and a bookstore in Uppsala withdrew all her books. Another example is economist Tino Sanandaji, who recently released his book Mass Challenge. In the book, Sanandaji criticizes the Swedish open-door migration policy, using statistics as a tool. A number of Swedish libraries have declared that they refuse to purchase the book, because it supposedly violates the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

But despite the political and media establishment’s attempts to put a lid on the problems, the truth is now seeping out, and reality is reaching a boiling point.

A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed a Detective Inspector who investigates serious crimes in the immigrant-heavy neighborhoods of suburban Stockholm. He noted that while one squad car is enough to secure a “Swedish” suburb of Stockholm almost every day of the week, that would be unthinkable in the immigrant suburbs of Stockholm, where cars are set ablaze every week. In the immigrant suburbs, the police must be prepared for riots, violence and threats, and the risk of police vehicles being vandalized. False alarms are commonplace, the purposes of which are to lure the police into a trap and then pelt them with rocks. A friend of mine who lives in this kind of area has also attested to this happening on a regular basis.

The Detective Inspector also told me that a patriarchal Islamic culture has gained foothold in Rinkeby. Young women cannot go out at night, lest they be branded as whores. Ethnic Swedes – both men and women – run the risk of being brutalized. Further, there is an active “sharia police”: Muslim men approach women who they feel dress indecently, and explain to them that they need to cover themselves up. The Detective Inspector had observed such incidents in person, but since it is not a crime for men to approach women and talk to them, the police had been unable to intervene.

The Detective Inspector also told me that the rescue services – like the fire department and ambulance service – will not go into these suburbs without police escort. He also confirmed what police officer Peter Springare from Örebro has previously stated: when it comes to violent and serious crimes, you rarely see a Swedish name in the investigation papers.

Besides criminal activities in the suburbs, Sweden also has a problem concerning jihadism and salafism. At least 300 “Swedes” have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State. Historically, Sweden has had no experience of jihad or a paradise of virgins.

I have myself met with several salafists. In 2007, I had coffee with a crowd from the Örebro mosque (and briefly met Mehdi Ghezali, the “Swede” that was imprisoned at Gitmo), and I asked them what their view of the then-living terrorist leader Usama bin Laden was. Was bin Laden right or wrong to attack the United States? Wrong, they said. However, when asked to explain why he was wrong, it wasn’t the immorality of attacking what we in the West would call innocent civilians that disturbed them. Instead, they explained that bin Laden was wrong because only a caliph can order jihad. And bin Laden was, in their eyes, no caliph. This was the reason his actions were wrong. They also explained that they believed it is right to stone adulterers to death, but that the penalty can only be carried out in an Islamic state. When I asked if they wanted Sweden to become an Islamic state, they said yes.

Salafists have for a long time flown under the radar in the Swedish “exclusion areas”. A heartbreaking example from Rinkeby was the imam Fouad Shangole. He came to Sweden in 1994 and worked as an imam in Rinkeby, by all accounts living well off the Swedish welfare system. The Swedish security services had their eye on him, on good grounds. In 2004, he left Sweden and went to Somalia, where he became a leader within the Islamist militia movement Al Shabaab. Four years later, it was reported that a 13-year-old Somali girl, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, had been raped. When she reported the crime, a sharia court found that she was to blame. She was sentenced to death and the punishment was carried out by stoning. The judge who sentenced her was none other than the Swedish Rinkeby-imam. Ten years in Sweden didn’t seem to have rubbed off as far as Swedish values were concerned at all.

The purpose of this text is not to portray Sweden as a land of lawlessness. You do not have to be afraid to visit Sweden. The country still works, thanks to a historic spirit of entrepreneurship and bureaucratic order. However, it is quite possible that Sweden is changing along the lines that American documentary filmmaker Ami Horowitz described in his report on Sweden. A dark, parallel Sweden has emerged. And things are changing quickly.

The Swedish journalists and elite politicians such as Carl Bildt seem unable to understand this. And that is why it is very encouraging for the Swedes who want to defend the Sweden we love to hear the President of the United States talk about the things we can see with our own eyes, but about which we get no response from the elites who are more likely to travel to New York than to a Swedish suburb or small city.

It’s time to for the silent majority of the Swedish people to wake up and make Sweden great again. Mainstream media and establishment politicians won’t do it for us.

Highly Classified National Security Information Must Not be Leaked

February 20, 2017

Highly Classified National Security Information Must Not be Leaked, Dan Miller’s Blog, February 20, 2017

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

Evidence of political corruption should be.

It has been obvious since the early Republican primaries that most media coverage of a Trump presidency would be adverse and presented out of context. Perhaps a recent editorial at The Week Magazine explains why, albeit inadvertently. Or maybe this cartoon better explains the media view:

Trump and Putin as seen by the lamebrain media

Trump and Putin as seen by the lamebrain media

According to The Week Magazineall leaks are equal. However, we approve of those which fit our politics and disapprove of those which don’t.

Live by the leak, die by the leak. When WikiLeaks was releasing a steady stream of embarrassing emails hacked from Democratic officials during the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton and her supporters cried foul, and urged the press not to report their contents. Donald Trump applauded every new revelation, saying the leaks provided voters with important information, and gleefully invited the Russians to find and publish emails she had deleted. “Boy, that WikiLeaks has done a job on her, hasn’t it?” Trump exulted. Now that it’s Trump who is being tortured by leaks, he’s complaining they’re illegal and “un-American.” Democrats, meanwhile, are welcoming the torrent like a rainstorm after a long drought. (See Main Stories.) When it comes to leaks, everyone is a hypocrite. “Good” leaks are ones that damage our opponents. “Bad” leaks are those that hurt Our Side. [Emphasis added.]

But let’s set partisanship aside for a moment. Is it always in the public interest for government officials to leak, and for the media to publish leaked material? Crusading journalist Glenn Greenwald—who angered the Obama administration by publishing Edward Snowden’s trove of stolen NSA documents—argues in TheIntercept.com this week that all leaks exposing “wrong-doing” are good ones, regardless of the leaker’s motives. “Leaks are illegal and hated by those in power (and their followers),” Greenwald says, “precisely because political officials want to be able to lie to the public with impunity and without detection.” The implication of this argument, of course, is that governments, politicians, and organizations should not keep any secrets—that when people in power conceal documents, emails, or information that could embarrass them, they are by definition deceiving the public. Radical transparency certainly sounds noble—but I suspect it’s a standard no public official, or indeed most of us, could survive. It’s so much more convenient to have a double standard: Transparency for thee, but not for me.

I disagree. Leaks of unclassified materials demonstrating corruption of the political process by either party are necessary for an effectively functioning democracy. Leaks of highly classified national security information — particularly in the area of foreign policy — endanger our democracy, are crimes and the perpetrators should be dealt with accordingly. When the media sensationalize leaks of the latter type, they are complicit and must be criticized vigorously.

The press has long served as an objective fail-safe to protect the public from the powers-that-be. That objectivity is now absent and the media’s role in our democratic society is in jeopardy. Rather than self-reflect as to how they got off course, the press have opted to label the man who exposed this derailment as un-American.

What’s un-American is the belief that the press should be unaccountable for its actions. What’s un-American is the belief that any attempt to criticize the press should be viewed as heresy. What’s un-American is the belief that the press is akin to a golden calf that compels Americans, presidents included, to worship the press.

Two very different types of leaks

a. DNC and Podesta e-mails:

The DNC and Podesta e-mails were released as written and posted by DNC officials and Podesta for transmission on unsecured servers easily hacked by modestly competent teenage hackers. I have seen no suggestion that the e-mails were classified. The intelligence community opined that Russian agents had done the hacking, but offered no significant proof beyond that the methods used by the hacker(s) were comparable to those used by Russian hackers in the past.

They found no discrepancies between the original e-mails and those posted by WikiLeaks (which denied that Russia had been the source). The e-mail leaks damaged the Clinton campaign because they portrayed, accurately — and in their own words —  dishonest efforts of high-level DNC and Clinton campaign personnel to skew the Democrat primary process in Ms. Clinton’s favor. They did not involve American foreign policy until Obama — who had previously done nothing of significance to halt Russia’s hacking of highly classified information from our intelligence establishment beyond asking, “pretty please, stop” — decided that Russia must be punished for Hillary’s loss of the general election through sanctions and by the expulsion of thirty-five of its diplomats.

Russian president Vladimir Putin had been expected to respond in kind, with the expulsion of US diplomats from its territory.

However, he later said he would not “stoop” to “irresponsible diplomacy”, but rather attempt to repair relations once Donald Trump takes office.

Mr Trump praised the decision as “very smart.”

b. Flynn telephone conversations:

Neither transcripts nor audio recordings of the Flynn telephone conversations were released. Instead, conclusions of the leakers were released. According to House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes,

“I think there is a lot of innuendo out there that the intelligence agencies have a problem with Donald Trump. The rank and file people that are out doing jobs across the world — very difficult places — they don’t pay attention to what is going on in Washington,” the California representative told CBS “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson.

“What we have is we do have people in the last administration, people who are burrowed in, perhaps all throughout the government, who clearly are leaking to the press,” Nunes added. “And it is against the law. Major laws have been broken. If you believe the Washington Post story that said there were nine people who said this, these are nine people who broke the law.” [Emphasis added.]

Nunes said the FBI and other intelligence agencies ought to investigate who has leaked information to the press because so few people in the administration knew these secrets, that it would have had to have been someone at the “highest levels of the Obama administration” who is an acting official until Trump replaces him or her.

Did the leaker(s) try to present the conversations honestly, or to damage President Trump’s efforts to deal with Russia in matters of foreign policy where American and Russian interests coincide? To disrupt America’s badly needed “reset” with Russia which seemed likely to succeed under President Trump after Clinton’s and Obama’s efforts had failed?

resetbutton

Remember the Obama – Romney debate when Romney characterized Russia as America’s greatest geopolitical threat and Obama responded that the cold war was over and that “the 1980’s are calling and want their foreign policy back”?

The position now asserted by the Democrats and the media seems rather like the position that Obama rejected. If the position(s) of the Democrats and the media are now correct and Russia is again our enemy, might it be due to actions which Obama took or failed to take over the past eight years?

It is unfortunate that there has been a resurgence of Democrat (and some Republican) Russophobia when Russia is reassessing her relationship with Iran and America.

On January 22, 2017, the Russian media outlet Pravda.ru published an analysis on Russia-Iran relations. According to the article’s author, Dmitri Nersesov, Iran is becoming a problem for Russian interests. Nersesov also added that Iran wants Russia to choose between Iran and Washington. “Iran wants Russia to recognize that Teheran holds the key to the regulation of the Syrian crisis. Should Russia decide that the real strategy is built on the cooperation between Moscow and Washington, rather than Moscow and Teheran; the Islamic Republic will be extremely disappointed,” Nersesov wrote. [Emphasis added.]

An American – Russian realignment in areas of mutual concern — which as suggested below had seemed to be progressing well until General Flynn ceased to be involved — would be good, not bad. We have many areas of mutual concern, and Iran is one of them. The war in Syria is another. When were Russians last directed to yell Death to America? Or to refer to America as the “Great Satan?”

c. General Flynn, Russia and Iran

General Flynn had, at President Trump’s request, been dealing with Russia concerning the future roles of Iran, Russia and America in the Syria debacle:

Overlaying US President Donald Trump’s extraordinary, hour-long skirmish with reporters Thursday, Feb. 16, was bitter frustration over the domestic obstacles locking him out from his top security and foreign policy goals. [Emphasis added.]

Even before his inauguration four weeks ago, he had arranged to reach those goals by means of an understanding with President Vladimir Putin for military and intelligence cooperation in Syria, both for the war on the Islamic State and for the removal of Iran and its Lebanese surrogate Hizballah from that country. [Emphasis added.]

But his antagonists, including elements of the US intelligence community, were turning his strategy into a blunderbuss for hitting him on the head, with the help of hostile media.

Thursday, in a highly unconventional meeting with the world media, he tried to hit back, and possibly save his strategy.

That won’t be easy. The exit of National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, the prime mover in the US-Russian détente, sent the Kremlin a negative signal. The Russians began unsheathing their claws when they began to suspect that the US president was being forced back from their understanding. The SSV 175 Viktor Leonov spy ship was ordered to move into position opposite Delaware on the East Coast of America; Su-24 warplanes buzzed the USS Porter destroyer in the Black Sea.

Before these events, Washington and Moscow wre moving briskly towards an understandingdebkafile’s intelligence sources disclose that the Kremlin had sent positive messages to the White House on their joint strategy in Syria, clarifying that Moscow was not locked in on Bashar Assad staying on as president. [Emphasis added.]

They also promised to table at the Geneva conference on Syria taking place later this month a demand for the all “foreign forces” to leave Syria. This would apply first and foremost to the pro-Iranian Iraqi, Pakistani and Afghan militias brought in by Tehran to fight for Assad under the command of Revolutionary Guards officers, as well as Hizballah. [Emphasis added.]

Deeply troubled by this prospect, Tehran sent Iran’s supreme commander in the Middle East, the Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, to Moscow this week to find out what was going on.

Flynn’s departure put the lid on this progress. Then came the damaging leak to the Wall Street Journal, that quoted an “intelligence official” as saying that his agencies hesitated to reveal to the president the “sources and methods” they use to collect information, due to “possible links between Trump associates and Russia.. Those links, he said “could potentially compromise the security of such classified information.”

A first-year student knows that this claim is nonsense, since no agency ever share its sources and methods with any outsider, however high-placed.

What the leak did reveal was that some Washington insiders were determined at all costs to torpedo the evolving understanding between the American and Russian presidents. The first scapegoat was the strategy the two were developing for working together in Syria. [Emphasis added.]

Defending his policy of warming relations with Moscow, Trump protested that “getting along with Russia is not a bad thing.” He even warned there would be a “nuclear holocaust like no other” if relations between the two superpowers were allowed to deteriorate further.

It is too soon to say whether his Russian policy is finally in shreds or can still be repaired. Trump indicated more than once in his press briefing that he would try and get the relations back on track.

Asked how he would react to Russia’s latest provocative moves, he said: “I’m not going to tell you anything about what responses I do. I don’t talk about military responses. I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in North Korea,” he stressed.

At all events, his administration seems to be at a crossroads between whether to try and salvage the partnership with Russia for Syria, or treat it as a write-off. If the latter, then Trump must decide whether to send American troops to the war-torn country to achieve his goals, or revert to Barack Obama’s policy of military non-intervention in the conflict. [Emphasis added.]

Substantially more is generally involved in matters of foreign policy than is facially apparent or than government officials should discuss publicly, particularly while negotiations with foreign powers are underway. Leaks by held-over members of the intelligence community did much to reveal the opinions of the leakers but little to reveal what General Flynn had been doing, while upsetting the chances of better American – Russian relations in areas of mutual concern.

Conclusions — The Administrative State

The Federal Government has grown far too big for its britches, giving the unelected “administrative state” substantially more authority, and hence power, than is consistent with a properly functioning democracy. As they have been demonstrating in recent months, holdovers from one administration can succeed, at least partially, in paralyzing a new and democratically elected president. Holdovers with political appointee status can generally be fired. Few others who should be can be.

Getting rid of the obstructionist “civil servants” who have become our masters should rank very high on President Trump’s “to do” list and should be accomplished before it’s too late. The task may be difficult but is not impossible. Perhaps some particularly obnoxious Federal agencies (or departments within those agencies) can be relocated to places less congenial than Washington. Inner City Chicago comes to mind. So do otherwise pleasant cities in California, where housing prices are much higher than in the Washington, D.C. area. How many Federal employees faced with the choice of relocating or resigning would choose the latter option?

There are likely other and probably better ways to get rid of the fatheads. President Trump’s administration should devise them.

How President Trump Can Make American Intelligence Great Again

December 13, 2016

How President Trump Can Make American Intelligence Great Again, Center for Security Policy, Fred Fleitz, December 12, 2016

(But please see, Abolish the CIA? Perhaps Trump’s CIA will be better than the old CIA.– DM)

ciastuff

Source: National Review

In 2010, when I was on the staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I attended a committee hearing on the North Korean nuclear program. That hearing epitomized the failure of post-9/11 reforms of U.S. intelligence and showed why the Trump administration must take aggressive steps to streamline American intelligence. Only then can it can return to being the great institution that provides the intelligence support our presidents need to protect our nation against national-security threats facing our nation today.

This process should start by sharply scaling back or eliminating the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

The lead witness at this hearing, seated at the center of a long witness table, was the ODNI North Korea issue manager. Seated next to him on each side were the ODNI issue manager for WMD proliferation and the director of the ODNI National Counterproliferation Center.

Joining them were the National Intelligence Council (NIC) officers for WMD proliferation and East Asia, both part of the ODNI. The CIA sent two witnesses, from its proliferation and North Korea–analysis offices. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the State Department, and the Department of Energy sent one witness each.

In addition to these 10 witnesses, other senior intelligence officials attended as backbenchers. There also was a gaggle of aides, handlers, and congressional liaison staffers. There were so many that they could not all fit into the hearing room.

The hearing seemed to go on forever, since the lead witness kept inviting all his colleagues to weigh in on every question asked by committee members. Some of the backbenchers spoke too. This became monotonous, since every witness (except for the one from DIA) parroted the same watered-down consensus view. Making this worse, the witnesses’ consensus statements were proven to be completely wrong a few months later.

This mob of intelligence officials spouting the same watered-down pablum exemplified why the reform of U.S. intelligence mandated by the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) has been an utter failure. Although IRTPA created the position of the director of national intelligence as a new official to oversee all U.S. intelligence agencies, to ensure that these agencies would cooperate and share information, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has developed into a huge additional layer of bureaucracy, with far too many officials, that has made American intelligence analysis and collection less efficient and more risk-averse.

This is in part due to blowback from 9/11 and Iraq War intelligence failures, but also is a typical situation for a 70-year-old, multi-billion-dollar bureaucracy that has become complex and complacent. As is true with many established government bureaucracies, political factors and fear of being wrong weigh heavily on the operations of U.S. intelligence agencies. While America still has the world’s best and most capable intelligence service, it has lost the “can-do” intrepid spirit of its predecessor, the heroic World War II-era Office of Strategic Services.

The ODNI has made this problem much worse — not just because it is an additional layer of stifling bureaucracy, but also because it has become a 17th intelligence agency, with its own intelligence analysts, thousands of employees, and a huge — and ever growing — budget.

In 2007, House Intelligence Committee members were so disturbed about the rapid growth of the ODNI bureaucracy that they approved, on a bipartisan basis, an amendment to the 2008 intelligence authorization bill to freeze the ODNI staff to the number working for it as of May 1, 2007. I drafted this amendment, which was co-sponsored by Congressmen Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) and Alcee Hastings (D., Fla.).

Hastings said at the time about this amendment:

We will not give you a blank check with which you could continue to grow a new bureaucracy before we know what you are doing with what you already have. A bigger bureaucracy does not make better intelligence.

Although Hastings was right, the Hastings/Rogers amendment was never implemented, since Congress did not pass an intelligence authorization bill that year. I hate to think how many times the ODNI staff has doubled since the House Intelligence Committee attempted to halt its growth in 2007.

The IRTPA reforms have hurt U.S. intelligence in other ways. The President’s Daily Brief (PDB), which used to be a lean and effective daily intelligence publication for the president produced by the CIA, has become an ODNI publication, weighed down with bureaucracy to make it “fair” so that all 17 intelligence organizations can participate and use it to publish articles justifying their budget requests to Congress.

The ODNI bureaucracy has also burdened intelligence agencies with unnecessary reports, regulations, and foreign travel by ODNI staff.

Aside from being an attempt to improve the sharing of information between intelligence agencies in the aftermath of the 9/11 intelligence failures, the ODNI also was created because some believed it is impossible for the CIA director to both manage the CIA and oversee the rest of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

I have long believed that these reasons are false. The CIA director, as the director of central intelligence (DCI), worked well for decades as the head of all U.S. intelligence agencies. The failure to share intelligence between U.S. intelligence agencies prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks could have been addressed without creating the DNI position and its huge and plodding bureaucracy. Moreover, intelligence agencies have failed to share crucial information despite the creation of the ODNI.

For example, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) issued a damning report in 2010 on how U.S. intelligence agencies failed to share information that could have prevented Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — the 2009 “underwear bomber” — from boarding a plane from Europe that he almost blew up over the city of Detroit. The report found that U.S. intelligence agencies had the information to stop Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from boarding a plane to the United States but had failed to cooperate with each other and share intelligence. According to the report, “no one agency saw itself as being responsible” for assessing such threats. The report identified 14 specific failures by intelligence agencies which included a bureaucratic process for adding names to terror watch lists that was too complicated and too rigid to address quickly emerging terrorist threats.

Concerning the argument that the CIA director can’t simultaneously manage the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community, if the president can manage the White House and the entire U.S. government, there’s no reason why we can’t have the CIA director in charge of his home agency and overseeing other U.S. intelligence agencies.

Eliminating the ODNI and rolling its duplicative organizations into the CIA would save at least $1 billion and could make U.S. intelligence more efficient and nimble. Such a move should include eliminating the huge number of redundant ODNI managers and officials such as those mentioned above.

More needs to be done to streamline U.S. intelligence and fix problems caused by earlier reforms and reorganizations.

For example, CIA director Brennan carried out a huge and controversial reorganization in 2015 that many critics believe created a confusing and bloated bureaucratic structure that will hurt long-term analysis and create security risks. This reorganization needs to be carefully reviewed by the next CIA director and possibly reversed.

There also are redundant units in multiple intelligence organizations that perform identical missions that should be streamlined. More of these crop up every year.

For example, U.S. intelligence agencies have increased their efforts to counter cyberwarfare over the last few years by creating large, separate organizations to address this issue. These include:

  • The ODNI Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center, created in 2015.
  • The U.S. Cyber Command, created in 2009, to defend Department of Defense networks, systems and information, to defend the homeland against cyberattacks, and to provide support to military and contingency operations.
  • The Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, created in 2009, to monitor cyber threats across government agencies and critical infrastructure.
  • The CIA Directorate of Digital Innovation, created in 2015.

There are many other examples of such duplication and redundancy, especially concerning counterterrorism.

To the greatest extent possible, these types of offices should be streamlined into a single inter-agency entity with one agency having the lead.

A reconstituted DCI should also take the lead in doing a better job of encouraging cooperation between intelligence agencies by pressing intelligence officers to take temporary assignments in other agencies. Having worked as an analyst with CIA and DIA, I know their analysis missions are very similar and would greatly benefit from closer collaboration, possibly by creating a joint CIA/DIA intelligence analyst service.

Managers and experts need to be brought in from outside the U.S. intelligence community to challenge the groupthink and analysis-by-committee that has gripped our intelligence agencies in the aftermath of the 9/11 and Iraq WMD intelligence failures. To deal with emerging security threats, we need more out-of-the-box and “competitive” analysis that provides policymakers with alternative assessments of global threats. There also is a great need for better strategic analysis of future threats.

U.S. intelligence agencies also need to improve their efforts to analysze and collect against new technological developments and challenges, including social media, big data, and hostile actors utilizing increasingly powerful encryption.

Outside managers and experts could also help counter the politicization of intelligence by intelligence officers who don’t like President Trump. This was a serious problem for previous Republican presidents. Recent leaks to the press by intelligence officers about Trump’s daily briefings suggest this problem has already resurfaced.

Implementing intelligence reforms to make U.S. intelligence agencies into the innovative and effective institution they once were will take strong leaders in top intelligence positions who will act independently and are not beholden to the intelligence community. These officials must have the full backing of the president.

President-elect Trump, by appointing Mike Pompeo as CIA director, General Mike Flynn as National Security advisor, and KT McFarland as deputy national security advisor, is off to an excellent start to implementing these kinds of intelligence reforms to make American intelligence great again.

Our Eternal War For Independence

July 4, 2016

Our Eternal War For Independence, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, July 4, 2016

usflag-wikimediacommons

We were not meant to be a society of sinecures for public servants. We did not come into being to be ruled by bureaucrats. Our birth of freedom was not meant to give way to the repression of a vast incomprehensible body of regulations administered by an elite political class in Washington D.C.

Americans are rebels. And if we are not rebels, then we are not Americans.

We are not a nation founded by men and women who followed the rules. It is not our capacity for obedience that makes us true Americans, but our capacity for disobedience. 

*****************************

How will you celebrate the Fourth of July?

With fireworks and parades, hamburgers and hot dogs, sweating bands playing Sousa marches and parades down Main Street? Will you remember the men who fell in the first war and all the following wars that were fought to preserve our political and personal independence from foreign and domestic tyrannies? Will you consider what you might have done in the days when revolution was in the air?

Those are all good things. They remind us to celebrate and what it is we are celebrating.

I sat on the warm grass beneath the shade of a spreading fig tree listening to a band run through a repertoire of everything from Yankee Doodle Dandy to Over There. An elderly disabled veteran with a flag listened intently to the orchestra and a small child clambered awkwardly up a tree as his father worriedly urged him to climb down. It could have been a scene from any century. The Fourth is timeless.

It is timeless because it is still going on. The War of Independence went on underneath that fig tree, it continues on in your town, your city and in your community on this day and on every day.

Independence Day is a commemoration, but it is not a mere commemoration. The struggle is not over.

America became America out of a hatred of powerful central government. The War of Independence was not a battle between two countries. America’s Founding Fathers started out as Englishmen who wanted to preserve their rights from a distant and out of touch government.

The War of Independence was a civil war between those who wanted a strong central government and those who wanted to govern themselves. The fundamental breach between these two worldviews led to the creation of an independent nation dedicated to the preservation of independence. This independence was not mere political independence. It was personal independence.

America as a separate nation did not yet exist. Even the Constitution that embodies its purpose was a decade, a war, a failed experiment in government and many bitter debates away.

Nations come and go. Political unions are created and dissolved. There are nations today named Egypt and Greece that have little in common with the historical entities that once bore those names. The Declaration to which those remarkable men pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor was not for a flag, which then still bore the Union Jack, or for the invention of yet another administrative body, but for the rights of peoples, nations and individuals to be free to exercise their personal and political rights.

The war for these things was fought, but it has not ended. It began then, but it continues today.

It is not a war against King George III. It is the ongoing struggle between the people and those who would govern them that is at the heart of our independence.

There are two visions of how men are meant to live today, just as there were in 1776. Revolutions and wars may occasionally clarify these visions, but they do not permanently resolve them. New governments are quick to adopt old tyrannies. Freedom is a popular rallying cry for rebels. But few rebels wish to be rebelled against. That is what made America unique. That is what still does.

We were not meant to be a society of sinecures for public servants. We did not come into being to be ruled by bureaucrats. Our birth of freedom was not meant to give way to the repression of a vast incomprehensible body of regulations administered by an elite political class in Washington D.C.

Americans are rebels. And if we are not rebels, then we are not Americans.

We are not a nation founded by men and women who followed the rules. It is not our capacity for obedience that makes us true Americans, but our capacity for disobedience.

The Declaration of Independence was a document of rebellion by a band of rebels. “Damned rebels” as the big government monarchists saw them. The men who signed it pledged their lives because they expected to be executed for treason. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were acts of rebellion against the entire order across what was then seen as the civilized world.

American greatness came about because we were willing to break the rules. It was only when we began following the rules, when as a nation we made the maintenance of the international order into our notion of the greatest good and when as individuals we accepted the endless expansion of government as a national ideal that we ceased to be great.

When we think of great Americans, from Thomas Jefferson to the Wright Brothers, from Andrew Jackson to Daniel Boone, from Theodore Roosevelt to today’s true patriots, we think of “damned rebels” who broke the rules, who did what should have been impossible and thumbed their noses at the establishments of the day. American greatness is embodied in individual initiative. That is why the Declaration of Independence places at the center of its striving, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

It was for these individualistic ends of freedom that government had to be derived from the consent of the governed, that a war was fought that changed the world and it is these ends that we must celebrate.

Rebellion does not always mean muskets and cannon. Long before the War of Independence, we had become a nation of rebels who explored the wild realms of forests and streams, who forged cities out of savage lands, who argued philosophy and sought a higher purpose for their strivings, who refused to bow to their betters out of an accident of birth. And at our best, we are still rebels today.

When we dissent from the system, we rebel. When we refuse to conform, when we think differently, when we choose to live our own lives instead of living according to the dictates of our political rulers and pop culture arbiters, then we are celebrating the spirit of freedom that animates the Fourth.

When we defy the government, when we speak out against Obama and the rest of our privileged ruling class, when we demand the right to govern ourselves, when we fight to hold government accountable, when we question what we are told and the need to be told anything at all, then we are keeping that old spirit of rebellion alive. We are still fighting for our independence from government every day and every year that we choose to live as free people. That is the glorious burden of freedom.

Freedom is not handed to us. It is not secured for us by politicians. Like the Founding Fathers, we are made free by our fight for freedom. Preserving their legacy cannot be meaningfully recreated through any means other than the committed struggle for the same ideals.

This Fourth of July, celebrate by continuing to be a rebel, question and challenge the left’s worship of government. And don’t stop on the Fifth or in July. Or in any year or any decade or any century.

We here at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and at Front Page Magazine don’t.

Our family of writers, activists and commentators, and that includes you, inspired by David’s courageous spirit continue to question authority, challenge government and fight for the independence of the individual against the tyrannies of the radical left and Islamic theocracy, every day, week and month of the year.

And we welcome you to our revolution.