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Irrefutable Evidence

It is not clear to me that stories like this can continue to be published without some action being taken on the part of Justice, Congress, the Executive or some combination thereof. The perception that CT work, much less tangential law enforcement work, is being hindered by such useless bickering is beyond comprehension.

First, it is important to note that there is not exactly a dearth of good CT work going on at the Bureau (I have no insight into ATF ops), but – at the risk of sounding cliché – it isn’t very glamorous and doesn’t get a lot of pub (which is good). Having said that . . .

Make no mistake: there is no functional reason why the responsibilities and equities of everyone involved could not be addressed when it comes to data, training, etc; this is about the powerful but ultimately useless issue of sentiment. It is a key reason why so many governmental mergers or attempts to team become fiascos: the irrational fear that somehow involving someone else will negatively impact the glory that falls on your shoulders. Newcomers to the business need only think back to the last time their Boomer supervisor told them to stop sharing or collaborating because “they might steal our ideas” to understand what I am talking about. The fact that not working together ultimately produces an inferior result, or that while we bicker the adversary gets better, never enters the calculus.

The fact that two important agencies (and truth be told you could insert any two random agencies in the IC and the story would still hold up) are at bureaucratic war with each other more than they are against the common adversary will be particularly hard to swallow if another significant terrorist attack occurs on US soil. That such conditions exist at all much less persist years after alleged reforms suggests either willful ignorance or a staggering level of conceit that – thanks to a “no fault” culture – no one in a leadership position will have to answer for.

Progress, like so many endeavors that involve more than one human being, requires getting over one’s self (on an individual and enterprise-level) and the idea that if you get hit by a bus tomorrow a given case or mission would come to an end. Most people in the national security establishment have careers filled with very small victories; the people with actual medals and high accolades is pretty small and the criteria for selection sometimes questionable. The best of the best (as far as I am concerned) are never going to become household names: that’s essence of the deal when you sign up for “selfless service.”

That serious, severe action on this front (as well as broader sharing and collaborative efforts IC-wide) has not been taken is really the only metric one needs to measure when assessing how much of a priority these issues truly are at the highest levels.