Tuesday, April 20, 2004

What would I do if I were NSA? Part III

This is another edition of What would I do if I were NSA?

To start off here look at Arkhangel's section where has a section discussing how to fix Iraq. Hat Tip to Brad Delong. You can compare to oldman's plan.

For this edition, it goes without saying that the oldman has grave doubts about Negroponte's nomination to be the next Iraqi Ambassador.

Clearly the situation in Iraq has calmed down. The oldman is pleased to say he was wrong about the degree of escalation of violence. However his estimation was based, possibly erroneous, on taking Centom at its word when it declared without equivocation that they would 'kill or capture' Sadr and that it would not stop until it had subdued Fallajuah.

Personally the oldman is quite pleased to find that the revolt in the ranks of the generals over low troop levels and the civilian foreign policy apparatus stopped the leadership from pushing both situations to a castrophic moment.

For the record, the oldman while a sincere believer in the divine is a lapsed church-goer. However as they say, there are no atheists in foxholes. Certainly the situation and the seemingly cluelessness of the leadership visa via Iraq inspired a certain amount of beseeching prayer.

Indeed, the oldman was wrong because he was wrong about the possibility of the White House backing down over Najaf and Fallujah. The defection of Spain and Honduras at the possibility of an Iraq firestorm set off by an invasion of Najaf was only averted by a change in policy from 'kill or capture' to 'containment'.

Clearly this was not some brilliant plan all along by the US government. The reason is that by first stating a 'kill or capture' policy and then having to scale it back when Sistani and the Najaf clerics provided a united front, means that we backed down. Having blinked in the face of the confrontation, we have lost face and Sadr has gained credibility. He faced off with the Americans and he came out alive and free (at least as long as he stays in Najaf)

Clearly Negroponte's appointment is important in the follow way. It shows that the Administration is not serious about rebuilding Iraq. What experience does Negroponte have in reconstructing war-torn countries or rebuilding economies or keeping peace in war-riven lands? None. But he is awful good at following orders. So his purpose must be to enforce Administration edicts and keep the lid on until after November. (link via Atriois)

The Administration has clearly given up on Iraq as a democracy whatever their rhetoric. (The Agonist)


Besides appointing somebody with ideas about reconstruction or who has peacekeeping experience, how about just not making promises I couldn't keep! It was completely inappropriate to announce such a blatant kill or capture Sadr policy from the get-go. The word put out to the public should have been that we were

... pursuing the apprehension of Sadr in conjunction with Iraqi officials pursuant to the warrent for his arrest.

See how much less confrontational and there less to have to back away from than 'kill or capture'? Furthermore we should have said that we were doing our utmost to respect Iraqi law and custom. That way when Sadr holed up in Najaf we could have cited in the stand-off situation the principle of religious sanctuary which says that religious officials can give sanctuary in some cases to fleeing wrong-doers.

That way we didn't have to get egg all over our faces.


My friend Julienne who works in a National Laboratory in the Great Lakes area had these thoughts to share about the intelligence problem. I thought I would post them here and elaborate on them later.

1. Create a Domestic Intelligence Agency wing of the Central Intelligence Agency.
2. Continue the separation of criminal and intelligence functions.
3. Make the FBI counter-terrorism role enforcement and prosecution (with Justice Department)
4. Expand the role of Intelligence warrents for searches
5. Pass a law restricting legal usage in criminal prosecution of non-terrorism evidence found.
6. Create a cabinet Secretary of Intelligence / elevate DCI to cabinet appointment position
7. Make the Central Intelligence Agency director the undersecretary of Intelligence

The later two suggestions just essentially are the same setup we have for the FBI. Remember that the FBI still is technically under the wing of the Justice Department and the Attourney General is a cabinet level position. Making the DCI a political appointment but making the CIA director a long term appointment like the FBI director is (ten years in the FBI director's case) makes sense as it puts criminal investigation and intelligence on an equal bureacratic footing.

We can still respect civil rights and increase domestic intelligence survellience if we are willing to pass a law that says if you aren't involved in terrorism, material unearthed cannot be used in a court of law unless inevitable discovery applies. For instance, if a spook stumbles over a dead body parked in a car outside that's admissable evidence since somebody it is arguable would have discovered that body inevitably. This would put a damper on the temptation to use intelligence warrents to pursue searches of ordinary criminal violations.

On the other hand, when the spooks wanted to arrest or raid someone they would call the FBI to set up the the bust. As my friend Julienne put it so elegantly, the FBI would be on a need to know basis.

On the other hand, if someone is for instance smuggling cigarettes or laundering money as part of a terrorist enterprise or to support terrorist enterprises, this should be admissable evidence since it's a terrorism-related activity. The standard legal interpretations carried in acts like RICO or the Federal Racketeering act would apply. So if the spooks found out that you had stolen money, you couldn't be charged for grand larceny unless somebody would have discovered the theft anyway or you were stealing the money to help terrorists.

It's clear that in order to protect privacy we should keep something of a firewall between criminal enforcement and prosecution but we also need robust intelligence sanctions in order to protect society collectively.

This would be my advice to the President as NSA.


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