Secrecy News 03/09/04


The JAG is talking about the "drastic" change in the way the US military conducts domestic ops. There are quite a few documents on the topic that have become available recently. Essentially, the main change is that the military is doing a lot more inside the US, where civilian law enforcement has traditionally been the mainstay. From Secrecy News (a contradiction in terms, yes?):

In the absence of clear guidelines and effective oversight, the U.S. military is becoming increasingly involved in domestic operations, including surveillance activities that blur the traditional distinction between foreign intelligence and domestic security.

"Since September 11, 2001, the role of the military in domestic operations has changed drastically," according to the 2004 Operational Law Handbook of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.

"Prior to September 11, military involvement in domestic operations was almost exclusively in the area of civil support operations. Post-September 11, the military's role has expanded to cover 'homeland defense' and/or 'homeland security' missions, somewhat undefined terms," the JAG Handbook stated (p. 355).

Several instances of "an expanding military role in domestic affairs" were reported today in the Wall Street Journal.

In one case, an Army intelligence officer demanded that a University of Texas law school turn over the videotape of an academic conference in order to identify "Middle Eastern" individuals who had made "suspicious" remarks....

One military intelligence organization with a domestic presence is the low-profile Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA).

Quietly created post-September 11, CIFA has a broad charter to provide counterintelligence and security support to the Defense Department around the world and within the United States.

"Worldwide, more than 400 civilian and military employees work for CIFA with the ultimate goal of detecting and neutralizing the many different forms of espionage regularly conducted against the United States by terrorists, foreign intelligence services and other covert and clandestine groups," according to the Defense Security Service.

"The threats posed by these adversaries include actions to kill or harm U.S. citizens; to steal critical information or assets (military or civilian); or destroy critical infrastructures."

CIFA was established in 2002 by Department of Defense Directive 5105.67.

There has been a lot of debate in Congress about establishing a domestic counterintelligence agency, like the British MI-5, so that the FBI won't have to try to carry counterintelligence as well as law enforcement. The two disciplines are very different, and the firewalls the FBI has to put up to make sure that the rights of citizens are protected makes them quite poor at CI. I've always been opposed to having a domestic CI branch, though there are good arguments on both sides. It looks a bit as if the DOD has gotten ahead of the Congress, and simply begun handling domestic military intelligence. I have complete faith in our military professionals, but I suspect that the Congress is going to resent the initiative as they become aware of it.

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