Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 24, 2009

Why the FBI cannot stop Wile E. Coyote. In spite of uniform, clear and simple intentions.

Filed under: Intelligence and Info-Sharing — by Christopher Bellavita on September 24, 2009

(The Wile E. Coyote story begins about half way down this post. But first, the Intro:)

We are approaching the 1st anniversary of the “Attorney General Consolidated Guidelines for FBI Domestic Operations.”

The Attorney General’s consolidated rules replaced six other sets of guidelines.

According to a joint FBI/DoJ press release

“Previously, several existing sets of guidelines applied to the FBI’s activities, with one set applying to ordinary criminal law enforcement activities; one set applying to national security efforts; another applying to foreign intelligence collection; and additional sets applying to other activities.”

OK.  Those days must have been confusing for agents.

The “… new, consolidated set of guidelines for domestic FBI operations…. provide more uniform, clearer, and simpler rules for the FBI’s operations. The guidelines are designed to allow the FBI to become, among other things, a more flexible and adept collector of intelligence….”

“Uniform, clear and simple.”  That must be a good thing for agents.

I read the guidelines a few days ago.  From an outsider’s perspective, I thought the well organized, clearly written document made a lot of sense.  It identified goals and problems, presented reasonable solutions, acknowledged nuance and was saturated with respect for the Constitution and the protection of individual privacy and rights.

Make up your own mind.  You can read about the guidelines and why they were needed here and here. You can read the actual 46 page Attorney General guidelines here.

But guidelines don’t change organizations.  It takes training and experience:

“Before the consolidated guidelines become effective on December 1, 2008,” said the Department of Justice, “the FBI and other affected Justice Department components will carry out comprehensive training to ensure that their personnel understand these new rules and will be ready to apply them in their operations. The FBI will also develop appropriate internal policies to implement and carry out the new guidelines.”

I am told that to implement the new guidelines and “appropriate internal policies,” each FBI agent had to undergo 40 hours of DIOG training. (DIOG stands for “domestic investigations and operations guidelines.”)  The training was based on a 175 page document describing how to implement the 46 page guidelines.  Training was also supplemented by more than 1,000 PIG pages.  (PIG means “policy implementation guidelines.”)  That’s a lot of PIG pages.

How is the change going?

I don’t have any objective evidence one way or another.

But I do have a story.

FBI agents who I respect — and who I do not know to be whiners — told me it is an anecdote that has made its way virally through a number of field offices.

So maybe what follows represents the whelping of a disgruntled old timer who doesn’t like where the post-9/11 Bureau is going.  But it could be a Web 2.0 version of the Soviet samizdat, a single voice trying to speak truth to a power whose ears may be otherwise occupied.

(One hopes it has absolutely nothing to do with the reports torturously unfolding one day at a time about the alleged New York-Denver hydrogen peroxide bomb plot.)

Here is the anecdote.   I translate the acronyms at the end of the post, even though real life doesn’t come with a glossary.

Summary of DIOG Training

Deputy Dawg (DD): Hey Agent G-Man.  I’ve got some info on Wile E. Coyote that you may be interested in.

Agent G-Man (AG):    Wait!  Don’t say anything else.

DD: Why?

AG:   Because I have to open a Level I Assessment to determine if Coyote is capable of carrying out criminal activity.

DD:  But hell.  I already know he is.  He’s the #2 guy at the mosque.

AG:   Nooooooo!  I can’t be aware of that information!

DD:   Why?

AG:    Because I don’t have a P.I. open?

DD:    A P.I.?

AG:    Yeah.  Oh crap! This is also a S.I.M.  My SSA is going to be pissed.

DD:   Look.  I’m not exactly following you, but I’ve got a source who tells me the organization is ready to blow up a building.

AG:   What!  You’ve got a C.H.S. in the organization?

DD:   Huh?

AG:    Son of a bitch!  Now we have to get the CDC and the SAC involved.  Who knows?  We probably have to get the DAD involved as well.  You have no idea how much reading I have to do.

DD:    Agent G-Man, you’re confusing the hell out of me.

AG:    What don’t you understand?  All of this is straight from the DIOG.

DD:    Di-what?

AG:    The DIOG.  The official FBI guidelines.

DD:    Say what?  Look.  All I want to do is pass this information on to you.  My source has convinced the group to delay the bombing, but he can’t hold them off forever.

AG:    The C.H.S. is influencing the organization?

DD:    Uhhhh yeah.  I mean….He’s making sure that a building doesn’t get blown up.

AG:    Your C.H.S. can’t do that!

DD:    You mean my source?

AG:    Of course I do.  With him taking part in the organization’s decisions, he’s participating in O.I.A.  Did you get proper authorization for O.I.A.?  Shit I hope it’s not tier II O.I.A.

DD:    What language are you speaking?

AG:    OK.  We can still deal with this.  Does anyone else in the target organization know about your C.H.S.?

DD:    Hell no!

AG:    Jesus Christ, Deputy Dawg!  Now we’ve got U.D.P.  My ass is in a wringer.  I don’t have a P.I. or an F.I. open.  I’ve got to get this information to the S.O.R.C. ASAP.

DD:   Get your panties out of your crack for a second G-Man.  We’re in control here.  My source introduced one of our other deputies and got him inside of the decision making circle.

AG:    Are you trying to get me fired?  You’ve got a C.H.S. committing O.I.A., an unapproved U.C.O., a U.C.E. who is committing U.D.P. and the EAD, the SAC, the OGC, the CDC, and my SSA know nothing about this.  I’m on the bricks for months, maybe a year because of this.  And that’s if I’m lucky.

DD:    Oooookkkkaaaaayyyyy G-Man.  So….When do you think you’ll be able to arrest these guys?

AG:    Arrest?  Are you kidding me?  The only person that is going to be arrested is me.  Do you comprehend how many of the bad guy’s civil rights we have just violated?

DD:    Yeah.  So what?  He’s a criminal.

AG:    Uuugggghhh!  You don’t understand.  Criminals have more civil rights than law-abiding citizens.  We have to honor those rights.

DD:    You’re serious?

AG:    It’s what the DIOG says!  We can’t violate the DIOG!  Shit.  I’m going to self-report these violations.  Maybe they’ll go easy on me.

DD:    What about the bad guys?

AG:    Well……I could probably get the proper approvals within the next three weeks if I push it hard.

DD:    We don’t have that kind of time.  My source can only delay this for so long.

AG:    Oh stop!  I’ve already violated DIOG so many times.  I’m not about to violate it further.

DD:    You know what, Agent G-Man.  Maybe I don’t need the FBI’s help.


ASAP = if you have to ask, please leave the internet
CDC = chief division counsel
CHS =  confidential human source
DAD = deputy assistant director
DIOG = domestic investigations and operations guidelines
EAD = executive assistant director
FI = full investigation
OGC = office of general counsel
OIA= otherwise illegal activity
PI = preliminary investigation
PIG = policy implementation guidelines
SAC = special agent in charge
SIM = sensitive investigative matter
SORC = sensitive operations review committee
SSA = supervisory special agent
UCE = undercover employee
UCO = undercover operation
UDP = undisclosed participant


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Comment by William R. Cumming

September 24, 2009 @ 9:25 am

Phil this is actually a great post but needs your Post Script. That P.S. would indicate what problems you believe have indicators in the Post above. Just so you know here is what I think is buried in the POST above.
1. FBI has an authoritarian management style based on the past. Probably cultural and cannot be corrected internally. Is it a necessary style for an investigative and analytical agency? Is the FBI a civil or criminal law enforcement agency or both? Does this impact its training regime? Who actually conducts the training? Retirees? Active duty types? Contractors?
2. The previous in effect guidelines as described:
“Previously, several existing sets of guidelines applied to the FBI’s activities, with one set applying to ordinary criminal law enforcement activities; one set applying to national security efforts; another applying to foreign intelligence collection; and additional sets applying to other activities.”
The above contains four completely separate categories superficially but supposing there were overlaps and this allowed to some extent consolidation. Also supposing that those who led the consolidation were rewarded. What were the objectives of the consolidation and have they been achieved? What critiques before, during, and after training were authorized by both instructors and trainees. In other words nothing is usually conceived perfectly in the bureacracy so how do the new consolidated guidelines get changed? Or is this new “Holy Writ” and no one below the Director can modify or adjust or tamper?
3. Did the organizational leadership find the Coyote story funny or otherwise? Why or why not? Is the story just a biopsy or the actual operation?
4. How does success or failure in mastering the new consolidated guidelines get reflected in personnel evaluations? And do all meaning all of the FBI personnel have to master this material? Is there an abbreviated version for more senior managers? The FBI has almost 36,000 FTE but only about 12,000 are Gold Badge agents retired for the most part after 20 years. Do others have to understand this guidelines in particular those who work with the Gold Badge agents but are not badged? A system of 20 years and out for the most part means that many experienced agents leave each year? What happens to them or is it like the flag ranks in the Armed Forces who after making field grade start planning and acting for their second careers with industry? Does this impact willingness to take bureacratic risks or do agents stack arms after the first decade? How many have been killed in the line of duty which theoretically together with physical fitness dictate 20 and out. Why not 25 and out? How much career time total is devoted to training? The assignment system in the bureau was long viewed as a vehicle for shunning and punishment of those who did not meet management’s expectations! What are the rights of badged and non-badged agents? Are there recruiting bonuses for certain employees like linguists or computer expertise? Is that managed properly.
5. Readers can see I am reading a lot into what looks superficially like a training document? But it looks more like an attempt to realign the Bureau with a common culture and wondering if that was the real purposed not enhancement of efficiency and effectiveness?
And now of course going to download and read the guidelines! Is this the first public availability of this document? Have STATE and LOCAL criminal law enforcement and FUSION CENTER personnel been shown this document? Should they see it? Should they also be trained on it?

This document may make the FBI reorganization announced in May 2002 by Director Muellar a success or failure. Interesting that only got out last year. So what happended in the meantime? Has the document helped to accomplish the Muellar goals as periodically announced. If so must be one of the most successful federal agency training docs of all time!

Comment by Clinton J. Andersen

September 25, 2009 @ 12:34 am


After reading your post I had to disconnect my laptop to take it to my wife to let her read it. In 2004, the FBI had a massive push for Intelligence Analysts (IA). My wife had just gotten her degree, applied, and was accepted. Both her and I were excited… that was until more and more frequently my wife became frustrated. Besides the fact that IA’s were respected (as it IS a law enforcement field) they got very little work done with very little efficiency. Too many times things would pop up that wouldn’t seem right and, to other individuals, would warrant an investigation. However, the FBI can not (or will not) start investigations themselves. There has to be a human source that initiates the query for them to be able to investigate. My wife thought, on many occasions, on just calling in and making an anonymous tip so they could get some work done. Because of the bureaucratic tape and the legal system favoring that one individual who ruins it for the rest, Special Agents (SA) would rather sit around and watch YouTube videos because they knew that pursuing the leads were a waste of time. 6 months ago I went through the FBI’s SA hiring process because even though I knew how they operated I was hoping that I would be able to make a change or at least be able to make a difference. I walked out of the interview knowing I didn’t make it, however, the more I read the more I am glad that it didn’t happen, at least now. Maybe in the future things will be different. I have classmates in my PhD class who are SA’s looking to join a different federal law enforcement agency because they’ve had enough. It’s sad, but it will continue.


1) When you have as many missions that they do (violent crime, hate crimes, terrorism, cyber crime) then yes, I would definitely think that having the analytical arm along with the investigatory arm would make a huge difference. If the SA’s didn’t have the IA’s, or other individuals, then they would never get anything done. It is both a civil and criminal organization that is taught, primarily, by older SA’s but also by retirees and contractors, for some classes here or there. As far as it’s impact… that’s a good question.
2. Beyond me.
3. I hope that any FBI leader who would read this would not find the Coyote story funny. If they did it’s because they’re laughing knowing the truth and because they are powerless to make any changes.
4. & 5. Training and Regulations make a difference but they don’t make THE difference. I’ve read plenty of things that say when an organization is wrong there is only one person you fire, the leader. A good leader will get rid of all the bad and bring in the new. Of course, we can sit here and talk about the deficiencies and problems of an organization all day. But when the only thing the people see are catching bad guys in New York and Denver and no terrorism in the mean time, nothing will change. It’s going to take another major screw up before any organizational change will most likely occur. Even then, somebody will probably write a report, somebody else will read it, they’ll split an organization and combine with somebody else, make a task force, and call it a day.

Comment by christopher tingus

September 25, 2009 @ 4:51 pm


As Mr. & Mrs. Citizen Joe, with all the fuss since 911 and the numerous cyber attacks and the threats, from our perspective on Main Street USA, reading this makes us wonder when all this bureaucratic politicing in the beltway – on both sides of the aisle – will be placed aside.

For those truly committed to the Constitution as well as the safeguarding of our communities, these dedicated folks must be allowed to perform in a professional and expeditious manner with all agencies working as a “team” for so many are diligent and committed at the FBI, NSA, CIA, DHS, FEMA and other agencies where all must be supported to protect us the citizenry from within as well as from those who seek our demise from younder without hesitation!

The clock is ticking…

All seems so disheratening these days…I hope we are prepared for it seems that the lack of dscipline and to understand that it is strength we must show. not weakness! This is no time to talk of less nuclear weapons and to turn cheek to a devaluating dollar and the impoverishment of Main Street USA!

The “Brutes of Tehran” and the “KGB Putinites” as I refer to them as they only respect our continued strength and let no one underestimate these adversaries….They have histories that tell all!

Our proud flag has endured much through the night and those who have given of themselves did so because they belived in this beloved nation and the Judeo-Christian values and principles it was founded from and apparently is being threatened by many differing adversaries. Yes, I believe we will prevail, however with less and less confidence.

Christopher Tingus
64 Whidah Drive
Harwich, MA 02645 USA

In my global business and initiatives, I am making every attempt in partnering with experts to bring valuable solutions to folks in Ghana, Rwanda, Nigeria, Pakistan and other global localities which have little water if any and when even thinking of a mere glass of water, hesitate – to those of us Blessed…

….let’s make every attempt to work together, strengthen our nation by going the distance and reaching outside the agency to help another for no matter what we do, we must all promote an America which is united rather than divided…

We here on Main Street USA rely on our intelligence and law enforcement communities to respect the law, however to thwart any and all criminal activity or terrorism schemes by the bad guys….and from what I see these days, there are numerous bad guys and no time for this disorganized, arrogant and lack of coordinated effort by government and its agencies.

We have been the Beacon of Hope to so, so many and if we do not continue to dedicate ourselves to our pledge in oath to stand tall next to our flag, we will lose and so will all of humanity.

Protect the Constitution and uphold it sspecifics whether government agency or individual –

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