How is a new homeland security Cabinet agency better than beefing up the FBI/CIA?

What advantages are there in the creation of a new agency vs beefing up existing agencies?

I’m asking this as a question, not arguing any position (yet), since I don’t know enough about it to have a position.

The advantage is Bush can remove the rights of the civil servants in the department.

I would rather see a serious ass-whooping of the powers that be in the FBI & CIA. Stop being whiny bitches, stop this gay rivalry crap. Get your crap done.

Gay rivalry? What form, exactly, might that take? Best bar pick-up lines? Most showtunes named in under five notes?

(Trying to think of any other blatant stereotypes, and failing.)

What the hell does that line even mean?

I suppose he meant “gay” in the general negative sense. Let’s please try not to hijack this thread over the validity/non-validity/offensiveness of that use of the term, OK?

Off the top of my head, I think they’re separate and distinct, since the FBI and CIA are NOT a part of HSD IIRC.

Advantages of either action are hypothetical at this point. Presumably the parts of the HSD will (eventually) work together better than they do now. Separately, thanks to the changed labor rules, the Bush Administration (and future administrations) have a better chance to improve these agencies, particularly INS. INS must be one of the least effective departments in the federal government.

Beefing up FBI and CIA might be helpful, depending on what one means by “beefing up.” Do you have any specific suggestions for how these two agencies ought to be improved. Revtim?

No, not really. I guess I’m wondering what can be done by the proposed HSD that couldn’t be done by the FBI/CIA. And whatever it is the FBI/CIA can’t do now, why couldn’t they do it if they simply received the funding the HSD would be getting?

What rights are those?

The key reform involoves the employee’s right to a hearing, before all sorts of actions can be taken. This right allows determined federal employees to nearly paralyze the bureaucracy, by demanding full hearings at every opportunity.

However, I do not know what sort of remedies will be available in the HSD. All I know is that the employee’s right to hearings is considerably reduced.

The CIA is not supposed to deal with American Citizens, or “U.S. persons”, and has no enforcement ability. The FBI is not supposed to deal outside our borders, unless it is with Americans abroad.

I assume the HSD will be able to cross that line, but time will tell.

Did anyone actually blame Sept 11 on the FBI/CIA employee’s right to a hearing? Or am I off-base that the HSD is a direct result of Sept 11?

It’s a lot more than just rights to hearings. It’s about collective bargaining, pay, and the inability to refuse a transfer at the hands of an asshole boss who wants to be rid of you. You can argue whether or not such a move is good or bad for security, or whether or not it will get rid of the bureaucratic dead wood, but I’ll tell you this for certain: last week I got a letter from a certain federal office that’s about to be transferred over to Homeland Security, inviting me to an interview.

That letter went into the trash.

I may not be the best and the brightest, but I’m not stupid, either. If I want to serve my country through a government job I intend to get the best deal I can for it, and Homeland Security ain’t it. I’m willing to bet there’s slightly less than 170,000 other folks entertaining the thought of transfering out of there ASAP.

I’m sure someone will stomp on in here and yell, “good riddance,” so in advance I’ll offer these hypothetical questions: which people are more likely to take notice of a reduction in employee rights and attempt to leave before it affects them, motivated people, or unmotivated people? Given a choice between rights and reduced rights, which way do you think a reasonably bright prospective government employee is going to go?

So, it sounds like it’s a lot more than hearings, but still how does taking away the rights of federal agents help keep the homeland secure? Surely there must be more to the HSD, if just on paper, than reducing the rights of the agents?

Ast Revtim:

I think the idea is twofold. First, you restrict the collective bargaining abilities and tenure of the employees in order to wean out the unproductive and to abolish duplicative positions. HS is a streamlining effort along the lines of a corporate merger, and there’s no question in my mind that it has the potential to increase efficiency and responsiveness.

Second, you hold all the employees in the department to the same standard of those within other agencies essential to national security–make them liable to be assigned to any position, anywhere, where they are deemed necessary.

That’s quite reasonable, except that it’s going to be costly in terms of lost experience and short service. A librarian in Santa Fe might not be willing to pack up the family and leave everything behind for Anchorage, and might just quit rather than do so. With 170,000 employees–a figure almost certain to be reduced, but which will still remain large–Homeland Security dwarfs other agencies such as the CIA, NSA, or even the FBI, which are already subject to such conditions.

I don’t think Congress or the Executive Branch has considered the consequences of having such a large, largely civilian, workforce subjected to the same conditions that other, smaller organizations now accept as the norm. I’m not sure that it’s going to work. I am sure that I’m not going to find out for myself, because that’s not something I want to go through at this stage in my life.

As a former Federal employee (DOJ, Office of the Immigration Judge), and as someone who deals with INS on a daily basis in the course of performing her professional duties, I certainly think there are plenty of Federal employees who are in sore need of discipline and/or dismissal for laziness, insubordination, and sheer cluelessness. (It’s one of the main reasons I left the Feds; I couldn’t stand either watching certain of my co-workers lie to avoid doing their jobs, among other things, such as criticizing me and accusing me of favoritism whenever I went out of my way to help someone). So, depending on how it’s executed, modifying or curtailing the ridiculous disciplinary action system could potentially be a very good thing.

However, the manner in which Bush is proposing to restructure immigration functions is, quite frankly, terrifying. My firm, and the immigration bar nationwide, is already having huge problems with clients being denied entry to the U.S. or put back on planes to where they came from, for no good reason, without any recourse whatsoever, even if INS screws up.

I can provide more detail when I’m back at work on Monday, but I foresee this further dislocation having some very unhappy endings for immigrants and the people who have an interest in having the immigration function run smoothly, such as their U.S. employers and relatives. IMO if INS would just apply its own rules consistently, get a level of funding which allowed them to process paperwork within reasonable amounts of time (is there any reason it should take 2 years to process a green card application?), and had information systems which allowed, say, an airport inspector to call up a record and know with reasonable certainty whether the guy standing in front of him had ever committed an immigration violation, 90% or more of the ridiculous INS stories we hear on the news would no longer take place.

Can you believe that right now, there is no way for INS to run a comprehensive list of people who have overstayed their visas for any jurisdiction, among other things because until recently, there was no systematic tracking at all of arrivals and departures? It’s going to take a looooong time to fix this mess, and reshuffling is not a cure-all.