Saturday, December 6, 2008
Homeland Insecurity by Terry Turchie and Kathleen Puckett
Homeland Insecurity is written by Terry Turchie and Kathleen Puckett. Turchie was a former Deputy Assistnat Director of the Counterterrorism Divison of the FBI, and was involved in the Theodore Kaczynski and the Eric Rudolph domestic terrorism cases. Kathleen Puckett was an FBI Special Agent for 23 years, involved in behavioral consulting.
These authors wrote Homeland Insecurity because they believe the FBI is in a perilous situation due to political manuvering and change of the organization's primary mission. The connection between the FBI and the CIA is investigated, and how that relationship has changed since the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
One of the more interesting parts of the books is the authors' belief that politicians have weakened the FBI, both to protect themselves from criminal investigation for bribery or influence peddling, and to provide a scapegoat for terror incidents or to serve as a grandstanding platform to advance their own political careers. Politicians from both political parties are named, along with their actions that harm the FBI. Those named include Richard Nixon, Frank Church, Jamie Gorelick, Don Edwards, Patrick Leahy and Charless Grassley, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Richard Shelby and George Bush. It is the authors' contention that politicians are addicted to power, and it is an addiction like any other, causing the addict to do anything to procure their drug of choice. In addition to the named politicians, famous scandals such as the Archer Midland scandal are explained.
The other focus of the book is the focus on the change of mission for the FBI. The focus has steadily moved from the criminal investigations that the agency was created to combat, to a counterterrorism focus. Agents are now more collectors of information than investigators. While given responsibility, the agency is also restricted by artificial walls between agencies, and oversight regulations, that make their work more difficult. In particular, the relationship between the FBI and the CIA is strained and adversarial.
While interesting, I'm not sure I was convinced of all of the authors' contentions. Some of the evidence seemed to be presented in a less than impartial fashion, or interpreted in the agency's favor whenever there was a question of how events should be handled. This book is recommended for those who are interested in how governments and government agencies work, and those concerned with the antiterrorism structure set up to protect the country.