Cold War Documents Show The FBI Thinks It Can Be The CIA -- And The US Military -- If Just Given The Chance
from the holy-trinity-of-covert-intelligence-operations-[whites-only] dept
The FBI has, for years now apparently, always wished to be far more than it actually is. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the FBI shifted its focus from law enforcement to "national security." It continues to try to expand this role and believes it should be taking the lead in harvesting foreign informants and protecting the nation against overseas threats -- rather than an agency created solely for that purpose (the Dept. of Homeland Security) or one tasked almost solely with foreign intelligence gathering (the CIA).
This isn't a recent development. The FBI has long had CIA-envy, according to documents obtained by Mike Best and published at MuckRock. Long before Sarah Palin was keeping an eye on pesky Russians from the governor's mansion, the FBI wished to do the same. The FBI -- being neither a military force nor a foreign intelligence agency -- thought it should be able to run a covert ops station deep in the coldest part of the Cold War. Added bonus? Screwing the CIA out of prime surveillance real estate.
FBI files released earlier this year show the Bureau’s plan to build a secret network of “stay behind” agents in Alaska that would become active in the event of a Communist invasion. The file also reveals that Bureau personnel thought the biggest advantage to this plan was that it would screw over the CIA, ensuring the Bureau’s supremacy in their ongoing feud with other intelligence agencies.
As Best points outs, the FBI was its own worst enemy in this push for surveillance dominance. It had no idea how to successfully carry out this plan, but was imbued with enough hubris to ask for permission to do so anyway. It seemed to have little understanding of two key elements: military planning and foreign intelligence gathering. The FBI's folksy racism showed through, aligning it with movie producers of that era -- the kind who believed Charlton Heston could pass as Hispanic and John Wayne to be more than a capable Genghis Khan.
Covert surveillance calls for subtlety but if the natives couldn't be trusted, I guess it was up to the FBI's brightest and whitest to pass as Native Americans and Eskimos.
Agents selected should be residents of Alaska with established means of likelihood and logical reasons for being placed where they intend to operate and consideration should be given to businessmen, farmers, trappers, fishermen and "bush pilots." Selection of agents from the native groups, Eskimos, Indians, Aleuts should be avoided because of their basic unreliability.
Even this limited selection soon proved to be too expansive. The FBI feared informants willing to work for them might also be on the short list for deportation if tensions between the USSR and the US continued to escalate.
The files show the FBI was far less concerned with being right than it was with being first. It wanted to stick its flag in the Bering Strait before the CIA decided to do the same and start hoovering up all the intel in the area. In fact, the first advantage listed for the FBI's incursion is that it would be able to lock the CIA out of the market.
The principal advantage to the FBI in assuming joint responsibility in the two programs is that it will preclude any other intelligence agency, such as the CIA, getting into the intelligence field in Alaska at this time.
Given the agency's Hoover-induced rivalry with actual intelligence agencies, it's hardly a surprise information is rarely shared between agencies, even when the safety of the nation hangs in the balance. Budgets must be defended and credit acquired. That's apparently far more important than working together for the greater good. This sort of behavior isn't going to stop any time soon, not with the FBI helmed by a director willing to push his, and his agency's, agenda (not always the same thing…) with particular fervor.