You may not be aware that the FBI no longer considers itself to primarily be a law enforcement agency. At some point in the last year, it updated its official documentation to reflect that it now considers itself to be, first and foremost, a "national security" agency. When asked about the change by Foreign Policy's John Hudson, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson explained that this reflected a change in the Bureau's mission post-9/11, when they evaluated their top ten priorities, the top three were "[counterterrorism], counterintelligence, and cyber [security]." The change in their documentation simply publicly reflects this shift - which has also included a large-scale transfer of manpower from criminal investigation, both white-collar and violent, to secret investigations in the "security" sphere. The consequences are significant: white-collar prosecutions dropped from 10,000 per year to 3,500 per year from 2000 to 2005. (Interestingly, around the time that the mortgage industry skullduggery was heating up)
Now, I may be old-fashioned, but I think there's a certain value to the United States having a federal law-enforcement agency, especially with the wide variety of complex new crimes that have arisen in the past decades. I'm far less convinced that the US needs its own Second Directorate, a police agency dedicated to secret investigations of a sort which might result in "detention," but rarely prosecution. The argument that these are unprosecutable because of the sensitivity of methods is, more and more, an argument that the secret investigations of police must never be examined, because the police must remain secret.
I've seen secret police organizations before. I've even seen ones calling themselves departments, ministries, committees, and bureaus of national, state, and homeland security. Last time I checked, they were what America spent most of the twentieth century fighting. Did we just decide to chuck it all and say, "Hey, USSR - looks like you were right after all. Sorry about the whole 'democracy' bit. Hey, can you give us some tips on infiltration?"
I sure as hell didn't. And I hope you didn't, either.
h/t +Alex Scrivener
for finding the story.