Tuesday, 3 August 2010


After reading about how the US Federal Bureau of Investigations issued a take-down notice to Wikipedia--possibly confusing the web site with Wikileaks--to stop using its departmental logo in its article on the FBI, to which Wikipedia politely but firmly refuted by disabusing the FBI of its wrong interpretation of copyright law and public domain, I thought again about how stretched thin resources and bloated ambitions must be in the intelligence services.  Now the EU has been pressured to adopt a less-fortified version of the treaty to exchange banking data with the US, and analysts may be monitoring and archiving the length and breadth of all transactions soon, all in the name of fighting terror.  This dragnet will maybe nab some tax-dodgers, saving Germany from paying for another ill-gotten CD-ROM from a Swiss bank.  In conjunction with repeated volleys at the slouching towards Bethesda administration and reduplication of the US intelligence services overall, I wonder how useful this new mission could possibly be or is it just buring more shortcomings under other heaps of raw data.  Curious, I examined, through Wikipedia's article, the FBI's charges as compared to its successes:

Currently, the FBI's top investigative priorities are:

1.Protect the United States from terrorist attack
2.Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage
3.Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes
4.Combat public corruption at all levels
5.Protect civil rights
6.Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises
7.Combat major white-collar crime
8.Combat significant violent crime
9.Support federal, state, local and international partners
10.Upgrade technology for successful performance of the FBI's mission.

In August 2007, the top categories of lead criminal charges resulting from FBI investigations were:

1.Bank robbery and incidental crimes (107 charges)
2.Drugs (104 charges)
3.Attempt and conspiracy (81 charges)
4.Material involving sexual exploitation of minors (53 charges)
5.Mail fraud – frauds and swindles (51 charges)
6.Bank fraud (31 charges)
7.Prohibition of illegal gambling businesses (22 charges)
8.Fraud by wire, radio, or television (20 charges)
9.Hobbs Act (Robbery and extortion affecting interstate commerce) (17 charges)
10.Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)-prohibited activities (17 charges)

There seems to be a bit of a disconnect, and I doubt that deputizing every second US citizen as a spy and informant and being able to comprehensively and seemlessly babysit every hobgoblin could result in a decisive victory over terrorism.  How was public corruption fought or civil rights protected?  After all, it was not the work of a glamourous, glancing of Hollywood agent that foiled the Shoe Bomber or the Underpants Bomber but the slight viligance, attentiveness of the passenger sitting next to them.