(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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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