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Not Either, Or

The problem with so much national-security thinking – among other things – is that everything is viewed as a zero-sum equation. "I can't do mission X if you want me to focus on mission Y." Well, some discrete missions that may be true, but when there are nexi (foci?) between missions (e.g. terrorism, financial fraud, border security, etc.) its not a question of either-or, it’s a question of how do you work together?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is struggling to find enough agents and resources to investigate criminal wrongdoing tied to the country’s economic crisis, according to current and former bureau officials.

The bureau slashed its criminal investigative work force to expand its national security role after the Sept. 11 attacks, shifting more than 1,800 agents, or nearly one-third of all agents in criminal programs, to terrorism and intelligence duties. Current and former officials say the cutbacks have left the bureau seriously exposed in investigating areas like white-collar crime, which has taken on urgent importance in recent weeks because of the nation’s economic woes . . .

So depleted are the ranks of the F.B.I.’s white-collar investigators that executives in the private sector say they have had difficulty attracting the bureau’s attention in cases involving possible frauds of millions of dollars . . .

According to previously undisclosed internal F.B.I. data, the [agent manpower] cutbacks have been particularly severe in staffing for investigations into white-collar crimes like mortgage fraud, with a loss of 625 agents, or 36 percent of its 2001 levels.

Its situations like this that make collaboration and share-by-default policies so critical. Manpower may be finite, but you can overcome many physical limitations by adopting a virtual way of work. Hey, eight guys in their respective garages just did as well as our Uncle ever has.

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