The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 6, 2012

Our View: Military intel changes

The Joplin Globe

— Throughout the post-World War II era, the Defense Intelligence Agency has been part of the larger intelligence collection organization of the federal government. It is under the direct control of the secretary of defense.

Its primary intelligence focus has always been on matters of military intelligence collection, how other nations develop their own military plans and hardware. That now may be changing.

Over the past several years it now seems that interagency agreements of a sort have been developed between the Central Intelligence Agency and the DIA. In part, the role of the DIA to insert secret agents into foreign countries and take secret military action against some countries is being at least considered if not actually in place. In other words, the DIA is becoming an action-oriented covert organization, much as the CIA has been doing for years.

The details of the activities will never be fully disclosed in public commentary. But public comment on significantly expanding the roles of various intelligence groups within the broader context of American intelligence collection and covert activity to protect and defend America is warranted.

It would seem that the ties between the CIA and DIA will be strengthened by such further distribution of authority and responsibilities. But the question would then become which agency in fact is in charge of such collection and covert actions.

The legal authority to take covert military action by members of the Defense Department, as opposed to the CIA, comes into question.

Taken to the extreme, would America now expect a military attaché in a foreign country to be legally enabled to direct and take covert military action to capture or kill people in those countries? And under whose authority would those actions be taken?

All covert drone attacks overseas are currently under the authority of the CIA, for example. Would our military now have the authority to direct such actions as well?

These are issues that deserve full disclosure and public discussion. Expanding deadly roles and responsibilities to other federal organizations is indeed a matter of public interest and debate.