CFR Member Urges Domestic CIA


Richard Moore

'Domestic CIA', or 'Global Gestapo'?

Notice how Mr. Halperin projects a pro-civil liberties image, 
as a sugar coating around the bitter pill of his actual proposals.

Much better him to go public with this proposal rather than
one of his overtly right-wing fraternity brothers. Thus 
thriveth the Matrix.



CFR Member Urges Domestic CIA

UPI | September 27 2005

WASHINGTON -- The United States needs a lean and focused
counter-terrorism agency to fight threats both at home and
abroad, a leading Democratic Party security expert and civil
rights proponent told UPI in an interview.

"There is no value in restructuring the agencies. We need an
anti-terror entity that functions both at home and abroad and
takes that function from (both) the CIA and the FBI," Morton
H. Halperin, a senior vice president of the Center for
American Progress and former director of policy planning at
the State Department under President Bill Clinton told UPI.

There has been much debate and argument that the U.S.
government may need to split the counter-terrorism domestic
intelligence functions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
from it and center them in a new agency modeled on MI5,
Britain's domestic security service. The argument goes that
the giant FBI has institutionally never given sufficient
priority to counter-terrorism operations, especially in the
years before Sept. 11, 2001, while the CIA deals only with
overseas threats.

However, Halperin, who is also a director of U.S. advocacy for
the Open Society Institute, argued that it is not enough to
separate domestic counter-terrorism security functions from
existing giant bureaucracies. Islamist extremist organizations
like al-Qaida operate around the world while trying to pull
off major attacks and build underground infrastructures within
the United States. Therefore to fight them, a U.S.
counter-terror agency must be free to operate both abroad and
at home, he said.

"You don't (maintain) separate law enforcement from (the)
intelligence function. It would be counter-productive,"
Halperin said. "There is no distinction when you're fighting
terrorism between domestic and abroad, or between intelligence
and enforcement."

"Neither the CIA nor the FBI are structured to fight this
(kind of war)," he said.

"We now know that seven or eight Americans were close enough
to Osama bin Laden (before Sept. 11, 2001) to know something
terrible was going to happen. None of them were CIA or FBI,"
Halperin said. "The FBI gets defectors. They don't know how to
recruit people. The CIA structure with its relatively high
profile fixed stations around the world is not the way to
infiltrate international terrorist organizations."

Separating anti-terrorism functions in both intelligence
gathering and operations from both the CIA and the FBI would
also be a major boost for the cause of maintaining civil
liberties while fighting the war against terror more
effectively, Halperin said.

"This also helps civil liberties. You give this new agency and
no one else powers they need to fight this threat. And you
give it vigorous oversight," he said.

Halperin also said that curtailment of civil liberties did not
automatically make the fight against terror more effective.
Often precisely the opposite was the case, he said.

"Dick Clark (Richard Clarke, the former counter-terrorism
chief for both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush)
said that he never saw a limitation on civil liberties that
would help you fight the terrorism threat. I believe that is
true," Halperin said. "The problem comes if you put
sacrificing civil liberties in front of the other fighting the

Very often, giving police and domestic security services, a
free hand to investigate or crack down on what should be
legitimate public political activity only gave them an excuse
to ignore the far more dangerous and clandestine operations of
espionage organizations and terrorist groups, Halperin said.

"It's a lot easier to investigate lawful political activity
than to infiltrate al-Qaida or other terrorist organizations,"
he said. "When you let law enforcement go after lawful
political activity, genuine counter-terrorist operations
suffer. It's a threat to effective law enforcement.

"We now know there were high Soviet spies in the U.S.
government throughout the Cold War yet the FBI was obsessed
with whether Martin Luther King was a communist."

The widely publicized mistreatment of terror suspects and
other prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at Guantanamo
Bay on the island of Cuba had also done very serious damage to
the crucial public diplomacy and public opinion aspects of the
war against terror, Halperin said.

"This is a global war about ideas and we undermined our own
case when we treat prisoners badly at Abu Ghraib and
Guantanamo," he said. "As a result, repressive regimes around
the world, for example, in Uzbekistan, can seek to use the
negative precedents that we set to justify their own

"I think conditions now at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are
probably getting a little better but it's clear that there are
still things going on there that should not be," Halperin
said. "The rule of law is not operating there. As many memos
have revealed, there is still a widespread sense that the
administration is above the law and they haven't abandoned

"We are very much isolated in the world. The administration's
policies are isolating us from our European allies on issues
such as our insistence on the death penalty. And we refuse to
give information to them to bring terrorist suspects to
judgment. When you pick up people on the streets of Italy and
disappear them, you're cutting yourself off from your natural
allies. (However) I think this isolating policy is
reversible." We should be able to do law enforcement and
intelligence at the same time.

Halperin told UPI he feared a lot of energy and resources in
the Department of Homeland Security was going into taking
precautions against attacks that al-Qaida and other groups
could not now replicate however much they wanted to, while
resources to defend crucial infrastructures like power
stations and major chemical plants had been dangerously

"They're not going to board a plane again and hijack it," he
said. "The people won't let them because everyone knows now.
Once you know what the people on the plane in Pennsylvania
did, you can't hijack a plane anymore. People will charge the

As it is, he said, "We have a long and silly list of people
who can't go on planes. That is not a responsible response."

By contrast, Halperin said, "There are at least 100 major
chemical plants in close proximity of urban areas with more
than a million people whose security against terrorist attack
has not yet been sufficiently secured.

Halperin was citing conclusions reached by the Congressional
Research Service. Richard A. Clarke, former counter-terrorism
chief for both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush told
a meeting at the New America Foundation on Aug. 30 that the
number of such plants at risk had been slightly reduced over
the past four years, but only from 123 to 110 today.

On civil rights, Halperin voiced optimism that Republicans as
well as Democrats in both houses of Congress. "In the House
version of the Patriot Act (there remain) many small bad
things," he said. "(However) the Senate version is a
significant step forward. It doesn't change what the security
agencies can get access to but it requires them to define
their terms more tightly."

"You now have two serious Republican challenges to the

The McCain Amendment and the (Sen. Arlen) Specter bill," he
said. "Both of them have significant political support. If
they stick, it could be a turning point."

"A lot is hinging on these two fights," Halperin said. "The
Specter bill passed the Senate unanimously and there is some
support in the House for both bills. There is a lot of unease
in the House on the Patriot Act including among Republicans.
The question is, if it comes to a vote, then both might pass.

"It's especially likely that the Specter bill will pass,"
Specter said. It is a lot easier for House Republicans to
support it because Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rick
Santorum (R-Penn.) have come out in support of it. That will
give a lot of House Republicans them political cover."

The increased concern for the protection of civil rights in
Congress reflected a broad, general change around the nation,
Halperin said. "People are coming back," he said. "There is a
growing sense in the country that whatever you think about the
Iraq invasion, we have to recognize that this is a long

In some respects, the strategic picture in the war against
terror and on the protection of civil rights was now a lot
better than it was immediately after the Sept.11, 2001,
mega-terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center
and mauled the Pentagon, Halperin said.

"They don't have the capacity to do a 9/11 every two weeks as
we feared after the New York and Washington, DC attacks," he
said. "And there is a growing willingness on the part of
centrists and moderates Republicans in this country to speak

"There is still clearly a fight going on in the
administration. The way we've treated Muslims in particular
and immigrants in general tightening of visas are making
difficult the kind of cooperation we need from the Muslim
community to fight this struggle," Halperin said. "The
violations in the United States have largely been focused on
the immigrants."

"I'm not sure there's been a centralization of power," he
said. "I am much more concerned about the leadership of the
administration and its attitude."

The threat to civil rights and the open expression of
legitimate political dissent "is less intense and less
sweeping and has had less impact on our policies than what
happened in the 1950s and 1960s," Halperin said. "(However)
there is a danger that if we see another terrorist attack
(attitudes could become much more extreme."

Much credit went to the judicial system that acted early to
prevent sweeping abuses, Halperin said. "If the administration
had not over-reached so soon, I think the courts would not
have reacted so soon," he said.

Nevertheless, some of the new administrative powers the
administration had declared remained very worrying, he said.
"The president can make up a category secretly and put someone
in custody on the basis of it and say that no court can act
upon it. I find it astonishing that there has not been more
outrage on that.

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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

"Apocalypse Now and the Brave New World"

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