January 9, 2014
By: Kelly Diamond, Publisher
While no one was watching, Federal agencies decided to repurpose themselves.
Is there a reason for this and for its timing? There are at the very least some very educated guesses.
What do I mean by “repurpose”? Well, imagine if you had a deli in your neighborhood that you visited somewhat regularly, and one day you noticed on their take-out menu the tag-line went from “quality is what we are about” to “fast and friendly”. Wouldn’t your brows raise just a bit? I mean, why would you change your tagline from emphasizing quality to emphasizing speed? You visit and you quickly find out why… because the quality isn’t what it used to be, but your wait wasn’t as long. (Okay, that’s more rebranding or redefining… but you get the point…)
Now look pan over to the FBI. The Federal Bureau of Investigations was supposed to be the federal government’s police arm: investigate federal criminal behavior such as white collar crimes, human trafficking, and that sort of stuff. But, whereas at one point the primary function of the FBI per their own fact sheet was “law enforcement”, now their primary function seems to be… “national security”. This is something that a Washington-based national security lawyer noticed in a FIOA request (which he regularly receives in his line of work).
Well, that’s odd. Not surprising that every federal agency since the events of 9/11 has turned in part toward counter-terrorism activity, and the FBI is no exception. Still, the recent modification in its fact sheet is interesting.
There is a cynical side which suggests that they changed their fact sheet in response to their failure to act on the Boston Marathon pressure cooker bombing. I mean, there was a damn announcement in the freakin’ Boston Globe! How do you not have federal agents at the ready? (A better question is, WHY did they have nine thousand officers ready to respond so quickly? But I’ll spare you my foil hat musings.) Then there is an equally cynical side which suggests that counter-terrorism are the magic political buzzwords to get funding and exemptions from disclosing some information.
Either way, this isn’t accidental or insignificant. IF in fact there is some political or monetary favor to be gained from this modification, then we have federal agencies behaving like farmers looking for subsidies. When government offered large farms subsidies to grow corn, they took it and repurposed their land to meet the government demand for the government subsidy. Well, what about the demands of the market? We didn’t want that much freakin’ corn, for crying out loud!
Corn got expensive because we were using it for fuel (inefficient as that was). But the land used to grow the other produce the market was demanding reduced, so the prices of all the other produce went up. Lower supply with the same demand means higher prices, right?
In the case of the FBI, however, their original primary function was to pursue federal criminals. The problem is, they have repurposed such a large amount of the staff toward counter terrorism that thousands of white-collar crimes were falling … NOT slipping, but FALLING… through the gaping cracks. ForeignPolicy.com has this to report on the consequences of the depleted white-collar division of the FBI:
“According to a 2007 Seattle Post-Intelligencer investigation, the Justice Department did not replace 2,400 agents assigned to focus on counter-terrorism in the years following 9/11. The reductions in white-collar crime investigations became obvious. Back in 2000, the FBI sent prosecutors 10,000 cases. That fell to a paltry 3,500 cases by 2005. ‘Had the FBI continued investigating financial crimes at the same rate as it had before the terror attacks, about 2,000 more white-collar criminals would be behind bars,’ the report concluded. As a result, the agency fielded criticism for failing to crack down on financial crimes ahead of the Great Recession and losing sight of real-estate fraud ahead of the 2008 sub-prime mortgage crisis.”
Last April I wrote about the FBI’s eager desire to get MORE authority to intrude upon our privacy. They can’t get around the Wire Tap Act… but perhaps now that they’ve been repurposed in their mission statement or fact sheet, they can’t get that trump card to trample over our privacy with their cousins the NSA!
I’m not a huge advocate of government. But even if I put on my statist hat for a moment, and I considered what the scripted purpose of government is, I would expect the FBI to step up on white-collar crimes… especially ones that involve fraud and theft! These are crimes that ARE actually happening to people with REAL victims! Counter-terrorism is shadow chasing and dragon hunting in comparison because there is no actual crime being prevented, investigated, or prosecuted.
I mean, imagine if we were all suspects of murder every time someone died and police departments combed through every communication, phone log, piece of mail, etc. for every single citizen. This is what counter-terrorism is: a bunch of guys who are now dead ran a plane into a building… so now everyone is a suspect for something and presumed guilty.
Who’s next? The IRS? The Department of Treasury? I mean, the IRS is asking for full disclosure from all the banks… first it was a counter-terrorism measure, but now it’s a tax evasion prevention measure. Department of Treasury’s FinCEN could be after the virtual currencies under the guise of counter terrorism.
Counter-terrorism isn’t just a free pass to invade your privacy… it’s a meal ticket for funding. The irony is the federal incentive to divert resources leaves us vulnerable everywhere from which they pulled the resources: the needs and demands for practical services is abandoned.