Domestic Intelligence

Thursday - 10/7/2010, 10:36am EDT

JJ Green, National Security Correspondent

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A very interesting dialogue unfolded yesterday in Washington.

Richard Falkenrath, former Deputy Commissioner of Counter-Terrorism of the New York City Police Department moderated a panel discussion on "FBI Intelligence Transformation". On that panel was Sean Joyce, executive assistant director (EAD) of the FBI's National Security Branch (NSB), Michigan Republican Congressman MIke Rogers, a former FBI Agent and Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA.

The FBI was being praised for not allowing any terror attacks on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001, but in a strange kind of way the FBI was the target of strong criticism about how it handled the Christmas Day bomber (Mirandizing him before interrogators were done extracting intelligence) and numerous other elements of its domain. But it wasn't the entire FBI.

The ground level agents and supervisory personnel out in the field offices were praised for excellent work, but "inside the Beltway" is where things started to breakdown.

It was pointed out that their work appears to be compromised by the culture of schizophrenia in Washington.

Rogers said, "we tell the FBI we want you to change, we want you to go into the intelligence business and we also tell them, Gee! By the way we want you to read Miranda rights, we want you to collect intelligence and we you to put them in jail."

Joyce seemed to squirm, understandably during remarks that painted the FBI's decision making process as a big part of it's problems.

The overt agenda for the panel was to examine how domestic intelligence is collected in the U.S. but reading between the lines, the body language in the room and listening to the coded language of intelligence professionals during the breaks, it was clear the FBI was being taken to task.

The really weird thing was there seemed to be a lot of animosity in those hushed conversations being directed at the FBI, from a variety intelligence professionals.

What's behind that animosity? I think a lot of the press people at the event are going to start digging into that.