Military-Intelligence Boundaries Grow Ever Fuzzier

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Greg Miller of the Washington Post reports on the latest developments in the military-industrial complex:

The Pentagon will send hundreds of additional spies overseas as part of an ambitious plan to assemble an espionage network that rivals the CIA in size, U.S. officials said….They will be trained by the CIA and often work with the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, but they will get their spying assignments from the Department of Defense.

….The sharp increase in DIA undercover operatives is part of a far-reaching trend: a convergence of the military and intelligence agencies that has blurred their once-distinct missions, capabilities and even their leadership ranks. Through its drone program, the CIA now accounts for a majority of lethal U.S. operations outside the Afghan war zone. At the same time, the Pentagon’s plan to create what it calls the Defense Clandestine Service, or DCS, reflects the military’s latest and largest foray into secret intelligence work.

The Post’s sources, naturally, say that this won’t really change anything, but that’s just not true. Ever since 9/11, the executive branch has been steadily moving assignments around so that they’ll be carried out by whichever agency has the loosest rules and the least oversight. Don’t like military restrictions on drones? Assign them to the CIA. Don’t like congressional oversight of clandestine operations? Assign them to the military. The Pentagon’s new plans make these boundaries even fuzzier than before, and allow President Obama to pay even less attention to pesky oversight rules than he has in the past.

Honestly, at this rate I wonder if we should just make the CIA the sixth branch of the military and be done with it. At least then we’d know which rules applied to everyone.

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