As spotted in the Irish Times[subs req] by Sean O’Driscoll in NY, former director of the FBI, Louis Freeh took exception to the suggestion by Richard Posner writing in the Wall Street Journal[subs again] that the FBI should be restructured, in Freeh’s description “take away the FBI’s counterterrorism and counterintelligence jurisdiction and create a secret, national police to exercise these most important and sensitive duties”, ie to resemble MI5. Louis Freeh’s response was posted on the FBI website here – relevant excerpts belowFrom the Irish Times
Mr Freeh has worked very closely with British spy agencies and police, and had serious confrontations with Bill Clinton because of his insistence in prosecuting US-based IRA members during sensitive moments in the Irish peace process.
President Clinton and a former Miami FBI chief have publicly acknowledged that Clinton and Freeh had shouting matches over the president’s opposition to prosecuting four Miami-based IRA gunrunners in the early 1990s.
Establishing in effect a secret police to monitor, collect and keep under observation those whom a nontransparent agency believes to be a threat to the republic is a dangerous and dumb idea. Judge Posner’s citation to England’s MI5 is romantic enough but needs to be qualified by the long and painful history of its operations in Northern Ireland, which are still unfolding after decades of secrecy and nontransparency. I suppose that this secret-police agency would appear before Congress in closed sessions and operate with a black budget. We accept this necessary covertness in order for the CIA to operate securely outside the U.S. and against foreign enemies. Americans in my opinion will never accept this mission to be directed against them as well as the many noncitizens who live and work under our flag.
Additionally, the practical dysfunction of such a secret-police agency is apparent to those who would be charged with the annoying details of executing such a knucklehead plan. For example, consider how the country’s 17,000 other police agencies, myriad federal civilian, military and other public-safety and security institutions would liaise with this secret police. To say nothing of how the 193-odd foreign law-enforcement and security agencies would try to interface with this outfit. Would this secret agency have a platform in our foreign embassies, or would we confine its presence to our cities and countryside? What would be the intersection between it and what is left of the FBI? If an intelligence matter became criminal –or the reverse—how would the “handoff” be made in a manner that would protect evidence, sources and liberties?
Here’s one example of how the “hand-off” is to be made..