Reforming federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies

Willis Krumholz and Robert Delahunty offer Federalist readers suggestions for long-overdue federal intelligence and law enforcement reforms.

Evidence of serious abuses of power by our nation’s intelligence community (IC) has been steadily accumulating. Consider the revelations that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) used Hillary Clinton-funded opposition research to spy on the opposing party’s presidential campaign without either verifying those claims independently or disclosing their ultimate source to a court.

By those deliberate omissions, the FBI was able to obtain a national security warrant to spy on a U.S. citizen. During the Obama administration, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spied on Senate committee staffers overseeing the CIA and the rest of the IC. Members of Congress, along with reporters and their family members, were spied on as well. …

… First, Congress needs to pursue overdue civil service reform. This would affect the entire federal bureaucracy, not just the intelligence community.

The overriding question is of the civil service’s ethical culture. Restoring that culture will require a number of efforts. But serious legal reform can help bring the culture back in line. Too often, bad bureaucratic actions meet a shrug of the shoulders from our elected officials. …

… Structural change within the IC is also needed. We suggest that each agency in the intelligence apparatus have two heads who work in concert, one a Democrat, and one a Republican, both appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the president, and each able to block major actions the other proposes. Leaders of the party opposite to the president in Congress would suggest, but not appoint, one of the directors, and both would be subject to the normal confirmation process. The director of national intelligence would remain a single individual, appointed by the president.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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