I read regularly in the press about how “intelligence” foretold of the January 6 incursions at the U.S. Capitol. As readers of this blog know, I spent more than thirty years in intelligence, but all of it was directed at other nations, not internally toward citizens of the U.S. Its sources and methods were, and still are, classified. Of necessity, its functi0ns and results were concealed, not because the government didn’t want citizens of the U.S. to know the innards of its working, but to prevent the target nations from knowing we were spying on them, how we were doing it, and what we were able to learn about them.
Intelligence is by nature sneaky, devious, and underhanded. But it has resulted in major victories for the U.S. completely unknown to its citizens. I’m not free to inform readers of what those victories entailed. Nonetheless, it is clear to me that they changed history for the better.
To me the duplicitous nature of intelligence is justified by its results. But that judgment no longer applies if the target of intelligence is U.S. citizens. The idea that the U.S. government would spy on its own citizens is repellant. Tyrannies like China and Russia reconnoiter their own citizens. Democracies don’t.
So I am repeatedly disturbed by reports of American intelligence against American people. Police reconnaissance of known trouble makers is neither as sophisticated nor as penetrating as U.S. spying against other nations. It doesn’t qualify as “intelligence,” not should it be called that.