Killing Terrorists and Bureaucratic Politics

Thom Shanker and Scott Shane report that, “The military is placing small teams of Special Operations troops in a growing number of American embassies to gather intelligence on terrorists in unstable parts of the world and to prepare for potential missions to disrupt, capture or kill them.”

That sounds like a good thing, right? After all, what could be better than disrupted, captured, or killed terrorists? Apparently, “it has drawn opposition from traditional intelligence agencies like the C.I.A., where some officials have viewed it as a provocative expansion into what has been their turf.”

Four and a half years after 9/11 and we’re still hearing about turf battles over who gets to protect us from terrorists? Isn’t it about time to shut down the CIA and FBI and start from scratch?

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, Military Affairs, Terrorism, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Steve Verdon says:

    I’ve been thinking that for sometime now. And starting from scratch would mean prohibiting hiring anybody that worked for those agencies before being shut down. After all you don’t want the same old baggage coming with the new agency.

  2. legion says:

    Well, that’s exactly the kind of thinking that led Bremer to dissolve the Iraqi army post-invasion… with little to lose and literally nothing better to do, they formed the early core of the insurgency.

    Trash doesn’t just disappear when you throw it out the window…

  3. anjin-san says:

    Yea, blame the screwups in Iraq on Bremer. After all I am sure he acted alone with no approvals from the WH or Pentagon.

  4. Steve Verdon says:

    Sooo legion, are you implying that if the FBI and CIA are dissolved, then the former employees would become spies and vigilantes operating for their own gain? And exactly how would this be different from what we have todya?[/cynicism]

  5. Jonk says:

    Shutting down the CIA and the FBI would be suicide and it is about in the same league as that San Franskook Sandoval stating we should disband our military.

    Now, the real problem is that DC politics is more and more effecting the way our intel does it’s work, rather than the intel helping to direct policy. It has been this way for a while, but it is worse now than ever. Personally, I think a lot of this will change once the contractor golden age dries up after Dubya leaves office…too many contracts are awarded for politics rather than skill sets. We need to let the dedicated professionals get back at the helm rather than these Beltway Mercenaries.

    Also, those old guard yahoos from the Cold War who hit their prime before the Church Commission need to retire, *now*.

  6. James Joyner says:

    Jonk: I wasn’t suggesting that we do away with federal law enforcement and intelligence gathering/analysis, merely that it might be time to break up the current organizational structure.

  7. Jonk says:

    I know what you mean, James, I was not clear in my post. There has been a general mood in DC to pass the blame buck to the Agencies rather than looking at the entire surrounding DC culture that is so disfunctional in the area where intel and politics cross — in higher management (they should *never* cross, but we both know that is not reality).

  8. anjin-san says:

    Four and a half years out from 9.11. Homeland security is a train wreck. Bin Laden is at large. Turf fights still trump getting the job done.

    A really, really fine performance by the Bush admin, who are busy trying to put an Arab company in charge of major ports, to the extent of threatening the FIRST veto of the Bush era to get them in.

    Un F________ believable.

  9. Herb says:

    And Anjin San, what are you doing to help the country except to bitch and complain about anything and everything the Bush administration has ever done.

    What are you doing to help our country and our troops fight the terrorist?

    What are you doing to help with the immigration crisis?

    What are you doing for the country in or with anything?

    Bitch, Bitch, bitch and complain, Thats all you ever do and thats all anyone here on OTB ever sees you do.

    You are a pathetic excuse for an American.

  10. anjin-san says:


    We are getting ready for the very difficult job that lies ahead repairing the damage the Bush admin has done to our country.

    I know it pains you to see people exercise free speech Herb. So I guess I will leave you to march on in lockstep and be told what you think. (If that word can be applied to you).

    How are you helping America Herb? By keeping you lips vacuum fused to Bush’s rear end? By cheering while real men go do the fighting and dying in Iraq, while Bin Laden remains free to plot against our country? By appointing yourself the judge of who is and is not a good American? Good ol’ Tail Gunner Herb…

  11. John Burgess says:

    Man, I so don’t want to see small teams of the US military staging in US embassies then going out to pop bad guys.

    We’re already violating international laws left and right in kidnapping bad guys and hauling them out of sovereign countries. And we don’t always get the right guys.

    The first not-right-guy killed by an American hit team will literally bring the house down on our heads. Since I don’t think we’re quite ready to actually fight a war against the entire world, I see this proposal as highly sub-optimal. Even if it make some chests swell with pride, and fills the righteous glands with patriotic jizz, this idea could only have been dreamed up by some black op at Kos.

  12. Herb says:

    That’s it Anjin S.

    Bitch, Bitch, Bitch, and make every excuse for your efforts to spread you personal hate towards Bush and anyone who supports him,

    Bitch, Bitch, Bitch, That’s all you ever do and try to cover it up with your gibberish of hate, and discontent disguised as Americanism.

    You really are a sad and disgruntled piece of work.