This article was published via internet November 2008 after the Barack Obama win of the Presidency:
Now that the Bush Administration is drawing to a close, it is now time for historians and other experts to ponder over the Bush Legacy and its impact on the World stage. In the midst of it all at the beginning it seemed very chaotic but having digested some of the programs and policies implemented over the last 8 years, I would say that we are at a much better place than 8 years ago. I will attempt to take a look at this administration’s events and policies that framed the US into what it is today.
At the beginning of the administration, we were faced with the unfortunate 9-11 attacks which brought to light several intelligence failures. These failures included but not limited to lack of inter-agency information/intelligence sharing, secure means of transporting people and cargo, and quick evaluation and dissemination of information of intelligence value.
These three issues were important enough to decide to create the Department of Homeland Security. This agency allowed what I see as the law enforcement agencies to fall under one structure. Additionally, the Bush administration created the Transportation Security Administration to monitor the various transport lines throughout the country. It may not be perfect but it was definitely better that what we had pre 9-11 days. Now many people say that under the Clinton Administration there was no need to this huge endeavor as his diplomatic style prevailed and we were safer then. This I would beg differs as the terrorist was budding then. They were flouring at the time 9-11 transpired. Americans tend to have short memories but it was in 1993 when a group of individuals trained in the Al Queda camps of Afghanistan took a car bomb and sent it into the World Trade Center. It was the same organization that was later found responsible for the 9-11 attacks.
Consolidating the intelligence community into one voice was another needed step that Bush and his council made to improve the community. The creation of FISA program is a very helpful asset in War on Terror but Congressional oversight will curb the abuses of using it to spy on innocent domestic citizens. People outside of the community still do not realize how important it is that the information flow upwards to analyst that can assess and produce finally evaluated intelligence materials that can presented to the President, and his top advisors in order to make strategic level decisions to ensure that he maintains the appropriate security for the United States.
What to do now? – Now there is a need for a couple of things that will enhance Bush’s initial program creations.
National Identification Program
The election 2008 where President-Elect Obama won the presidency has highlighted the fact that we need an National Identification Program. When people can vote more than once for different citizens for the same candidate, it frustrates me because now I lost the power I had to place my 1 vote. Similarly, when a person that is not even a citizen can place a vote before a law-abiding minority party member place a vote, that is a problem.
When I was in Iraq, there was the BAT (Biometrics Automated Toolset) Program, which basically was an identification program when we processed workers on the Forward Operating Bases. Now that was in its primitive state but with increased security levels, and biometrics preciseness it may be the right start to begin a national database.
I do not think, however, this type of database would be a “Big Brother” attempt to control and dominate but a away to standardize the Driver’s License and Identification Items to be used for the Voting Databases, I-9 Employment Verification (E-Verify), Border and Customs information, etc. This is a must implement!
Intelligence Strategic Conference
Before September 11 th , the CIA director gave a morning brief to the president. Since 9-11, I am unsure about the details of how the President receives his brief but what is certain that with the creation of DNI, DHS, and other institutions there needs to be at least a weekly ISC that will think forward of the threats both domestically and internationally.
People may say why DHS since it is an organization of Law enforcement. The thing is as an investigator, we run in to various sorts of information. Having investigator trained on what information is of Intelligence Value and providing reporting procedures (ie SPOT and IIR) for this information will give another resources to the President and his advisors. The problem was before that all the information went through Vice President Cheney and multiple sources were not begin acquired and/or verified. This will be away that DNI, DHS, CIA, State, Defense, Energy, and Transportation. Believe it or not the “Open Source” information is just as valuable as the Sipr, JWICS and other classified systems.
The analytical conference would allow top leaders to brainstorm on the upcoming threats for specific events. Example. After the election milestone, now planning for possible threats from now and inauguration. From inauguration, we plan for the threats from and to the first State of the Union. This allows the top leaders to be proactively engaged in threat assessment and vulnerabilities within their specific organizations. Of Course respective agencies would do their specific conference agency wide. And result sent and compiled at the Secretary level.
The Clinton Administration had its opportunity to enact the same changes that the current administration enacted. After the fact, it was apparent that members of Al Queda had been trying to attack us since then and managed to get us in Somalia, USS Cole and the two African Embassies. The threat posture should have been installed in 1993 instead of 2001.