Sheriff David Clarke: Nation needs new intelligence agency to win war on terror

FBN 08 04 2016 11 44 31 Varney and Company – Sheriff on DC Metro officer – muslim convert; Somali kn

American citizens continue to face grave threats from domestic terrorism within our country’s borders, despite the hundreds of Americans killed in recent events across our land.

On Wednesday, a Washington, D.C. transit cop was arrested and charged with providing material support to ISIS. Nicholas Young is alleged to have bought $250 in gift cards for a person he believed to be working with ISIS. What’s more remarkable about this story is that Young had been under FBI surveillance since 2001. He had been tied to several others arrested in conjunction with terrorism, and had traveled to Libya and supposedly attempted to join rebel forces attempting to depose Moammar Qaddafi.

Six years of radicalization on our own soil and had he not bought some gift cards, it’s unclear if Young would still be under the watch of the FBI today. This exposes a central problem with our domestic counter-terrorism efforts: the wrong agency is handling our domestic intelligence. A true intelligence mindset warns decision makers about who the threats are, what their capabilities are and if they are planning an attack. The arrest of the suspect is secondary.

This has nothing to do with the fine work of FBI agents, but that this organization is designed around building cases to prosecute rather than pure intelligence production designed to detect, prevent, and disrupt large scale terror planning.

In organizing its counter-terrorism efforts domestically through the FBI, the United States government continues to use a law-enforcement model organized around not taking action until evidence exists to make an arrest for prosecution. That is inefficient, ineffective and proven dangerous in its inability to stop terrorism on our home soil. We are at war. Homegrown radicalization has the enemy inside our borders. Islamist radicalized Americans are not criminals, they are enemy combatants. They should not be processed in our criminal justice system they should be processed by military tribunals.

Contrary to countries like Great Britain and Israel, where terrorism efforts are focused on monitoring without the burden of seeking a prosecution, the FBI continues to drop future terrorists from its radar screen at a time when we need to be more vigilant, not less.

Omar Mateen, the Orlando nightclub terrorist, the Tsarnaev brothers, who executed the bombing of the Boston Marathon and Nadal Hassan from Fort Hood are just a few examples of how the FBI is ill-suited to the 21 st century counter-terrorism threats.

Beyond these horrific failures, outcry by the American people about such incidents falls on deaf ears – accountability is nowhere to be found.

A better approach is to create an agency solely dedicated to domestic intelligence – reducing the purview of the FBI and transferring these resources to an organization similar to MI-5 in the United Kingdom.

This new entity would approach terror in a way suited to the primary goal not of prosecution but pre-emption and would reflect the new reality of our world, which is that terrorism is no longer happening elsewhere. Instead, Americans if not our bureaucrats realize that the war has been brought to our own soil, and it’s time to stop being sitting ducks.

As a law-enforcement administrator, I understand what complexities this type of effort requires, and a wholly independent structure entity, which reports directly to the White House, is the answer for both accountability and reliability.

That we have done nothing to address the inadequate domestic intelligence functionality within our borders is reprehensible, and requires a sober and forthright national conversation about the deficiencies that have allowed deaths on American soil.

Clarke is the Milwaukee County sheriff. Follow him @SheriffClarke


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