Sheriff David Clarke: Our domestic security failure
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As another terror attack struck the homeland, this time returning to New York City, local politicians rushed to calm fears by parsing over whether it was an act of international terror or a “lone-wolf attack,” as if that matters.

In short order the FBI announced that an arrest has been made, which signaled to someone like me in law enforcement that we would learn the suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami was previously known to the FBI. He was.

We’re told that no probable cause existed to arrest Rahami before he attacked. We have seen this response over and over again. Although true, that statement also reveals a deeper, systemic problem.


ISIS has declared war on America. We need to use a war model to prosecute this campaign and instead we are using a law-enforcement model which seeks probable cause to arrest, a very high standard often times not achievable until after an attack (crime) occurs and then enough evidence that will stand up in a court of law. The actors, whether part of an international organization or radicalized American citizens, are enemy combatants, not common criminals.

As soon as the planning stage begins they should be picked up and held indefinitely, preferably at Gitmo.As a law-enforcement leader who deals with domestic terrorism and attacks on our population on the front lines, it is imperative that I relay one crucial bit of intelligence from my end: we are not structured properly and thus unable to defend the homeland adequately until our domestic intelligence apparatus changes drastically.

The mission of a true intelligence agency is to disrupt, prevent and detect terror attacks before they occur. An arrest is not necessarily the goal. Informing decision-makers in enough time to act is the goal.

I have been sounding the alarm about this for the past several years, but it is up to Americans to demand a change from their government. Our lives continue to be lost, people maimed, and populations increasingly terrorized, for the simple reason that we have put the wrong organization with the wrong mission in charge: the FBI.

President Obama declared this great work even though 29 people were injured and a million others psychologically damaged. It was an intelligence failure.

Americans respect their law enforcement and their government, but there comes a point when we have to ask for some accountability from those tasked with this job.

Right now, the FBI is the lead domestic security agency. As in nearly every other attack they looked, found no probable cause to arrest and turned away.

Continuing to ask the FBI to handle domestic security is wrongheaded and dangerous for one simple reason: the FBI is structured to investigate law violations, not produce intelligence. The FBI reports directly to the Department of Justice Attorney General—a highly politicized entity—and must establish the high standard of “probable cause” as part of their investigative approach to domestic security.

If there’s no viable case early on, as DOJ officials instruct, the scrutiny of a potential terrorist becomes a matter of wasted resources. Dangerous men and women fall off watch-lists and more Americans live in fear waiting for the next attack.


In the wake of recent attacks on American soil, from Orlando to San Bernardino and now Minnesota and New York City, it is clearer than ever that the FBI’s law-enforcement approach is unable to disrupt enough fatal and dangerous attacks against our domestic targets before they happen.

President Obama has offered a solution: the pathetic, weak, and un-American, “learn to live with it.”

That kind of capitulation to hate and murderers is not acceptable to me, nor should it be to any American. We don’t give up or change our way of life like at airports simply to protect a bureaucratic system that is failing, or because we are afraid of truly taking on an enemy intent on destroying Western culture.

We require the proper organization and organizing mission that focuses instead on identifying potential threats, establishing what capabilities they have, determining if an attack is being planned, and alerting decision-makers.

This organization does not exist here as of yet, but it needs to, and quick. A new entity focused on protection, not prosecution, is the only way to protect Americans.

We live in a new era; like it or not, the enemy is at war with us, and they’ve come to our home soil. This isn’t the time to plant rose bushes and go about our daily lives, it’s time to assess, adjust our protocol, and stand up for American lives.

President Obama isn’t doing it. The media isn’t able to even articulate what this war is about. It’s up to the American people to demand that a new domestic security entity take up the protection of the homeland.

Clarke is the Milwaukee County sheriff. Follow him @SheriffClarke


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