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Location: Takoma Park, Maryland, United States

I'm now a 52-year-old American male raised as an Episcopalian, veteran of submarines, Peace Corps, and State Department. I like teaching people about what they can do with computers and have gotten by as an independent Microsoft trainer teaching networking, but I really hope to someday find a way to make a living traveling on my motorcycle, camping, and writing about places and people I meet along the way.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Secret Unit Expands Rumsfeld's Domain (washingtonpost.com)

Secret Unit Expands Rumsfeld's Domain (washingtonpost.com)

Today's Post has an interesting story describing Secretary of Defense Rumsfield's secret intelligence office. It puzzled me that the story did not point out that Defense has always had its own intelligence Agency, DIA, and how this office changes anything.

Questions that came to my mind, other than that last, pertained to the larger question of what values might best guide our national intelligence organizations. It seems to me that, as in most human endeavors, to the extent we have agreed upon, common values strife is minimized. Organization structure and boundaries do not matter too much as long as we have the same values and goals. Any need for reorganization is generally a sign of disagreements.

Why would there be disagreements?

My reading through the years has told me that DIA existed because Defense had a need for tactical intelligence to support military operations. Underneath DIA were the intelligence commands of each military branch: Naval Intelligence, Air Force Intelligence, and so on. Theater commanders concerned with minimizing casualties in the pursuit of orders sent from higher up, good tactical intelligence. Collection of such information was not the first priority of the Ivy League boys at CIA whose first priority was providing wise, global, strategic advice to the higher-ups.

So it was, perhaps, that prior to D-Day's invasion of Normandy, we needed to send underwater demolition teams to scout. Strategic intelligence, despite centuries of warfare between France and England whose history advised us, in itself was not adequate.

One of the principles that guide me, in general, when I examine our government and listen to those with criticisms is the notion that our government is made up of citizens. Our leaders are elected citizens. Our soldiers are citizens and the sons and daughters of citizens. Our civil service is made up of citizens as are the contractors who support and do business with our government. Those who work in protective services such as the Secret Service and the US Marshals are citizens. Other citizens come forward to work in voluntary ways serving on Presidential fellowships or perhaps as part of the National Science Council, advising our President and other leaders as best they can. When others suggest some conspiracy within our government, I'm always mindful of how different factions of the government struggle for budgets. Sins committed in secret tend to be shouted from the highest hilltop--or at least on the front pages of the nation's press.

Reading this article, I ask myself: "What difference in values does this new organizational structure represent?"

This question interests me. I find it interesting because so much of what happens in the intelligence world is a mystery to outsiders. I find it interesting because it involves real-life dramas which may or may not be as interesting as fictional spy stories. I find it interesting because, as a citizen, I will benefit or suffer as a result of decisions made in this gray world. Therefore, while I may not know any specifics of their business, I need considerable reassurance as to the integrity and character of those who perform such duties. At the very least, I want to know that the values guiding their work are correct and in the best interest of all citizens.

I know this is problematic. Leaders really do not want common citizens raising the question of values, in this regard. It may well be that we are better of not knowing what is in our best interests. Many Americans have liberal arts educations and grow up going to churches led by graduates of seminaries. Our leaders, however, do not often come from seminaries. We choose them according to how well they attend to more worldly matters. Sometimes, it seems, the public wants to have it both ways. We want a foreign policy that will win friends abroad so that American travelers will find good hospitatlity and affordable prices. We also wish to acquire the lion's share of the world's resources at bargain basement prices.

Chances are that our politicians will do exactly what they need to do to keep their jobs. They will create the militaries and intelligence services that they need. If policies do not seem as altuistic as we might like, it may well be because fewer of us think we can aford altruism. It is hard to promote a vision of the future predicated upon decreasing populations consuming fewer resources.
1 Corinthians 1:10-17: "I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.


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