The Defense Clandestine Service: Our Glorious New Military Spy Agency

Before Kennedy came to power, military intelligence was carried out by individual branches of the military. Though the US still managed to win World War II, the fear of the Soviet Union's centralized spy apparatus likewise led the US to centralize military intelligence efforts under one single entity: The Defense Intelligence Agency. The DIA has since the Kennedy years provided intelligence to everyone from a 3-star general to a private on the ground. Last May, however, the US government created a new spy agency -- the Defense Clandestine Service -- to be under the umbrella of not only the Defense Intelligence Agency [Pentagon] but also the Central Intelligence Agency [civilian].

The creation of a new hybrid intelligence agency represents another direct blow to America's tradition of separating military and civilian affairs. Though the Defense Clandestine Service will be officially a subsidiary of the Pentagon (Defense Intelligence Agency), their personnel will report and work closely with CIA station chiefs. Yes, the military's new spy agency will be working closely with our former civilian spy agency -- as the CIA is now arguably a paramilitary force.

The National Clandestine Service will allow the CIA to concentrate more on drones, cyberspying, and counter-narcotics. Since the Defense Clandestine Service was not given the budget and personnel that it wanted in the latest National Defense Authorization Act, it may be a few years until we see just how bloated and powerful it becomes. However, the legal framework for more collusion between military and civilian elements in our government has been established.

Leon Panneta, then director of the CIA, was in charge of the Bin Laden raid, though it was carried out by military forces (JSOC.) It seems that beyond getting the military's 25,000 special forces under its command, the CIA also wants the Pentagon to spy on its behalf. In the same way that 9/11 brought us the centralization of power that is the Department of Homeland Security, so will the next major crisis lead to a further consolidation of power between military and civilian agencies.

Though the Constitution requires that Congress be the one to declare war, Obama went ahead and bombed Lybia. He overrode Congress by using money from the counterterrorism black budget that cannot be closely scrutinized by Congress. In using the military to bomb a foreign country without authorization from Congress, Obama gave himself further counterterrorism powers.

Since 9/11 the President has gained the power to: bomb foreign countries without consent from Congress, indefinitely detain US citizens, bomb US citizens suspected of having ties to terrorism, and to keep the reasons and evidence secret. Tomorrow we could have President Biden or President Shinseki, and they would inherit all these powers. A future Republican administration will likewise inherit all these powers and agencies. America is one major terrorist attack away from becoming a full-blown police state.