As he prepares to take office, President-elect Barack Obama is relying on a small team of advisers who will lead his transition operation and help choose the members of a new Obama administration. Following is part of a series of profiles of potential members of the administration.
Name: Jamie Gorelick
Being considered for: Attorney general
THAT ought to make al Qaeda happy! I fear it will make intelligence professionals queasy, uncertain, and thus less likely to cooperate.
The last time that happened, we lost:- Three WTC towers- 20% of the Pentagon- Four airliners with their passengers- 3000+ citizens
And here...we GO again!
Y'all know that Gorelick built the "wall" which discouraged intelligence professionals from cooperating with each other. At least, that's Gorelick's rep.
That rep will likely discourage the sharing of intelligence related to domestic security---here's how.
Domestic intelligence is different from military/foreign-focused intelligence in a critical way.
In a military intelligence operation, information is shared widely. (Yes, this wasn't always the case, but it really is now).
We post relevant information on a server or a website. If you have access and the appropriate passwords, you go get what you need from those sources when you want it. You don't have to ask for prior permission.
When it comes to intelligence on places within the US, though, the procedures are very different.
If you want data, you have to ask for it. Formally, and in detail. You don't get raw data until/unless someone affirmatively decides to give it to you.
If someone wants to deny you that data, they can do it in a way that doesn't point back to them. They don't come out and officialy deny your request. They simply say nothing. "No answer" or "we're considering your request" has the same effect as "no." It means the analyst doesn't get the data.
Imagine if you're a CIA or DIA intel analyst who's been working counterterrorism the past few years. You've supported law enforcement agencies extensively---but always within the law.
You hear whispers that Team Gorelick is coming back. And, you remember that the new White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel is known as a man who "makes lists of his enemies, then makes lists of his enemies' friends, then makes lists of how they'll pay."
You realize that you don't know what it takes to get on one of those lists---but you do know that you don't want to find out.
And you know that the new Attorney General is not fond of intelligence agencies cooperating with law enforcement agencies
Just then, a request from the FBI hits your desk. One of their field offices has detained someone who they think might be tied to terrorism. The prisoner had a laptop, and they want help analyzing and exploiting its contents.
Until just a few weeks ago, you'd have acted on this request quickly. You know intelligence is perishable.
But this is today. A new sherrif and her enforcers are coming to town.
They might want to collect a scalp or two quickly, so they can prove they mean business. And you determine that, perhaps, it's a good idea to keep a low profile until you can feel out the new crew.
On second thought, maybe we'll file that FBI request for further review and vetting.
I fear that al Qaeda is thinking the same thing. Excuse me...hoping the same thing.