OODA OriginalUncategorized

“Top” must mean something different there

The FBI’s National Security Branch, which leads the war on terrorism, is on its sixth director in four years. [former chief Gary] Bald lasted just eight months. Chris Swicker, the head of the bureau’s law enforcement division, is also leaving – after just three months. The head of the FBI lab and its cyber-crime chief say they’re leaving as well.

In case you forgot, Bald was the Bureau CT chief who knew terrorism like an ape knows quantum mechanics. Probably not that big a loss.

It gets worse in middle management. A new headquarters mandate that experienced supervisors must apply for jobs in Washington or be demoted has prompted an exodus estimated in the hundreds.

“In the last survey, about half of these field supervisors, which are being forced to move to headquarters or get out, about half of them said they were going to get out,” says Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who once served as a special agent.

Former FBI agents like Mike German say the problem is that most agents want to work cases in the field – not shuffle papers in Washington.

“That’s really a huge problem, especially here at headquarters,” he says. “Morale is so low people are taking retirement as soon as they’re eligible, which didn’t used to be the case.”

In a government agency, when you can’t even keep the top people on the job – usually those with the most to lose by leaving at all, much less leaving early – you have effectively closed that agency. People in the middle and at the bottom can read the writing on the wall and a similar exodus will take place at those levels too. Perfunctory tasks may get done, and a few intrepid souls will soldier on despite the neck-deep excrement they have to wade through, but you can forget any hope of progress or reform. Things will probably go retrograde before long, with disastrous results.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.