The Memo, the FBI, and Organization Theory. (A Long, Boring Post)

 

As we come upon the release of The Infamous Memo(TM) , there are a lot of people shouting, “Oh my gosh, how can anyone criticize the FBI and the Intelligence Community? These are respected national institutions that deserve our unquestioning loyalty, obedience, and respect.” as though it is inconceivable that the institutions of Government could be influenced by politics. History, on the other hand, has demonstrated consistently that the long-term drift of any large, bureaucratic organization is toward self-interest, politicization and corruption.

Is there any reason, outside of political expedience, to believe this FBI is immune from the history? If you look back at history, every organization instituted by mankind has gone through four distinct phases.

In the first phase, Inception, the organization comes into existence usually in response to a specific challenge. The FBI was created initially to enforce the Mann Act and, not long after, prohibition. In the Inception phase, everyone in the organization comes from elsewhere. They bring a diverse range of experience, and they focus on the original mission.

In the second phase, Maturation, the organization grows in size and the mission expands in scope. The bulk of the organization’s members still come from the outside and bring multiple perspectives to the mission. This is the most formative stage, where the structure and processes of the organization become formalized. If the organization is performing its mission successfully, it will gain the confidence and respect of the greater society in which it operates.

In the third phase, Institutionalization, the organization has been around for long enough that its workforce becomes more and more composed of people who have never worked outside the organization. As such, the organization becomes insular; external perspectives are no longer welcome and the culture rewards loyalty and conformity over merit. “It’s not how we do things at the FBI” becomes the standard response to any suggested change. Peformance of the mission becomes secondary to the organization operating according to its established protocols.

In the fourth phase, Perpetuation, the organization has become a society unto itself. This is where the greatest danger for corruption occurs. Incompetence and malfeasance will be covered up “for the good of the organization.” The organization has become hostile to “outsiders” and will resist any attempts at reform as a threat to its order. The organization nevitably becomes highly politicized as internal battles for power and status take precedence over the mission. The mission itself has become diffuse and unfocused because the original purpose of the organization is no longer relevant, or because the organization has taken on so many different missions and has so many competing internal interests.

The FBI and the CIA, and indeed, most all of the Deep State, are at Phase IV (only without the ants). They are staffed by “lifers” who have no experience outside their bureaucracies, they are all about self-perpetuation, and are beholden to the political class most likely to fund and expand them — the Democrats. If they were businesses, they would be Sears and Blockbuster Video; except there is no market incentive to weed them out.

Perhaps every Government bureaucracy should just be sunset after twenty years. If its work is still necessary, it could be performed by a successor organization with a fresh charter and new personnel.

There are 29 comments.

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  1. Dorrk Inactive
    Dorrk
    @Dorrk

    Victor Tango Kilo: The FBI and the CIA, and indeed, most all of the Deep State, are at Phase IV (only without the ants).

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    So is every organization doomed to dysfunction and disrepute? Wow, what a mess! I expect that each one goes through those phases at different speeds and varied levels of dysfunction. At least I hope so.

    • #2
  3. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Outstanding post.  Thank you.

    • #3
  4. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    You have described very well the life of a bureaucracy. It doesn’t really matter whether its government, charitable,religious or even business (although the behavior is expected from business), an entity starts with a purpose, often lofty, but eventually becomes all about its own self aggrandizement. I do not know how to fix it.

    • #4
  5. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    So is every organization doomed to dysfunction and disrepute?

    Yes, but when it happens to private organizations it’s much easier to reorganize.  They can be bought out.  They can sell off sclerotic divisions.  They can outsource non-core functions.  They can declare bankruptcy and start again.  Etc.

    e.g. Look at how Apple came back from its period of dysfunction and disrepute (and how it may now be entering a new one).  Look at how the movie studios reorganize themselves every generation or so.  Look at how IBM, with its reputation as a lumbering dinosaur, has reinvented itself several times over the course of its existence.  Look at how the Walt Disney Company now buys smaller production studios (Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm) and gives them free reign to do pretty much whatever they want, when in the 80s it had a reputation as a soulless tyranny run by malevolent accountants.

    The Sharp electronics company started out making mechanical pencils (hence the name of the company).  Nintendo started out making playing cards.  The businesses change, but the companies endure.

    • #5
  6. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    I know someone at the CIA whose father was CIA. Now his daughter is also CIA.

    • #6
  7. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Very well put.  I don’t doubt any of it because I came to the same conclusion years ago.  The other half of the story is that where there are markets and good law even when the same thing happens to big business organizations they have access to the information system of prices and costs and if they do not heed those signals, and cannot enlist the government as their protector, they either change or die.  Societies in general go through this as well because of the symbiotic relationships between government organizations, professional and other sector organizations and their large private sector counterparts and if they do not remain open to foreign competition and new technologies they stagnate and die as well.    The Federal government is pretty much all encrusted and stagnant.  The deep state is real and the FBI has been powerful, protected, masters of PR and untouchable for about a century, so it is almost certainly among the most culturally rigid and closed.  This doesn’t mean they’re not good at what they do, it’s that their top priority among many is themselves.

    • #7
  8. Gumby Mark Thatcher
    Gumby Mark
    @GumbyMark

    The FBI cycled through this once before with J Edgar Hoover, a skilled bureaucrat Presidents were afraid to fire because of his power.

    • #8
  9. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    And now, when one listens the left blathers their outrage…oh the horror, how can you ugly Republicans question the authority and integrity of the FBI? Such short memories. I can still remember, and many might call me an old man, just over year ago when the FBI chief was not so popular with th0se same people.

    • #9
  10. dnewlander Coolidge
    dnewlander
    @dnewlander

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    So is every organization doomed to dysfunction and disrepute?

    Yes, but when it happens to private organizations it’s much easier to reorganize. They can be bought out. They can sell off sclerotic divisions. They can outsource non-core functions. They can declare bankruptcy and start again. Etc.

    e.g. Look at how Apple came back from its period of dysfunction and disrepute (and how it may now be entering a new one). Look at how the movie studios reorganize themselves every generation or so. Look at how IBM, with its reputation as a lumbering dinosaur, has reinvented itself several times over the course of its existence. Look at how the Walt Disney Company now buys smaller production studios (Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm) and gives them free reign to do pretty much whatever they want, when in the 80s it had a reputation as a soulless tyranny run by malevolent accountants.

    The Sharp electronics company started out making mechanical pencils (hence the name of the company). Nintendo started out making playing cards. The businesses change, but the companies endure.

    Businesses have competition, at least in theory. Since we can’t shut down a government department or agency no matter how bad it screws up, what’s the incentive to change? Nothing, except the draw of money and the power that comes with it.

    • #10
  11. Richard Finlay Inactive
    Richard Finlay
    @RichardFinlay

    I have observed this phenomenon in departments/divisions within companies, as well.  IT and HR being only the most obvious examples.

    • #11
  12. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle
    @MattBartle

    cdor (View Comment):
    And now, when one listens the left blathers their outrage…oh the horror, how can you ugly Republicans question the authority and integrity of the FBI? Such short memories. I can still remember, and many might call me an old man, just over year ago when the FBI chief was not so popular with th0se same people.

    Just like we learned during the Valerie Plame affair that nothing is more important to the Left than protecting and defending the CIA!

    • #12
  13. blood thirsty neocon Inactive
    blood thirsty neocon
    @bloodthirstyneocon

    There’s no evidence that the Obama administration spied on Trump, but he deserved to be spied on, because he’s a tyrant who should be impeached. Therefore, shut up! There’s nothing to see here. Russia, Russia, Russia!

     

    Merry Memo-mas!

    • #13
  14. dnewlander Coolidge
    dnewlander
    @dnewlander

    blood thirsty neocon (View Comment):
    There’s no evidence that the Obama administration spied on Trump, but he deserved to be spied on, because he’s a tyrant who should be impeached. Therefore, shut up! There’s nothing to see here. Russia, Russia, Russia!

    Merry Memo-mas!

    As they used to say, “Fake. But accurate.”

    • #14
  15. blood thirsty neocon Inactive
    blood thirsty neocon
    @bloodthirstyneocon

    dnewlander (View Comment):

    blood thirsty neocon (View Comment):
    There’s no evidence that the Obama administration spied on Trump, but he deserved to be spied on, because he’s a tyrant who should be impeached. Therefore, shut up! There’s nothing to see here. Russia, Russia, Russia!

    Merry Memo-mas!

    As they used to say, “Fake. But accurate.”

    I apologize, I just got a little too worked up, like it’s Christmas Eve and I can’t sleep, so many sugar plums dancing through my little neocon head. Great post, Vic!

    • #15
  16. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    blood thirsty neocon (View Comment):
    I apologize, I just got a little too worked up, like it’s Christmas Eve and I can’t sleep, so many sugar plums dancing through my little neocon head. Great post, Vic!

    I feel the same way. I just hope it delivers the way that Hannity says it will (although probably it can’t, because…Hannity). It just better not be the right’s equivalent of Rachel Maddow and the Trump tax return.

    • #16
  17. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    And here’s the entire memo

     

    • #17
  18. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    I know someone at the CIA whose father was CIA. Now his daughter is also CIA.

    How can that possibly be healthy for the Republic?

    • #18
  19. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    The memo is out. Yes, the Steele “dossier” was the main foundation for the FISA warrant on Carter Page.

    • #19
  20. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    I’d love to have Peter Beinart et. al. come on here and tell us why even more government is more dependable and manageable than what we have now.

    • #20
  21. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    I’d love to have Peter Beinart et. al. come on here and tell us why even more government is more dependable and manageable than what we have now.

    As the anarchists say, “There’s no government like no government.” As political theory, it’s good copywriting.

    On a more serious note, while Charles Murray has referred to the American legal system as becoming for all practical purposes indistinguishable from lawlessness, some of what the FBI, IRS, DOJ, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, have been up to is actual lawlessness.

    • #21
  22. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. %1805(d)(1), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Then-DAG Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.

    These renewals continued, even after Steele was terminated as a source.

    So … Ricochet libertarians …. “Why are you okay with this?!” (First Principles and all)

    • #22
  23. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    According to the Memo, the application for the FISA warrant was defective because it failed to disclose information favorable to the target.

    The statute, 50 USC sec.1804, requires the application to contain a statement of the facts and circumstances “to justify [the applicant’s] belief” that the target is an “agent of a foreign power” and the place of surveillance is being used by an “agent of a foreign power.”  That statute does not specifically require the disclosure of information that may question the belief, although the judge may require additional information.

    The attorney general (who may act through an assistant unless a personal review is specifically requested) is required to review and approve the application, certifying that the application satisfies the criteria in the statute.  I suggest that an ethical attorney general would inquire whether there is any contrary information.  Of course, we don’t know if that happened.  We don’t know if the judge asked whether that there is any contrary information.

    The NSA Assistant to the President or another executive branch appointed designated by the President must certify certain things about the purpose of the application as well, so we may presume that the President had knowledge of the application.

    I think the statute needs to be amended to require full disclosure to the FISA judge.

    I also think, after reading that statute that there may be other defects in the FISA application, but it is hard to assess without reading the actual application.

     

    • #23
  24. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Columbo (View Comment):

    The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. %1805(d)(1), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Then-DAG Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.

    These renewals continued, even after Steele was terminated as a source.

    So … Ricochet libertarians …. “Why are you okay with this?!” (First Principles and all)

    Certain libertarians seem to be fine with it.

    • #24
  25. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Certain libertarians seem to be fine with it.

    Yes and that has certainly soured me on Ricochet a little bit. Its like being entertained by someone who is a great takedown artist until you or someone you know is a good person gets targeted, and then you see its not humor, its just clever narcissism.

    • #25
  26. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    If you read the memo, it is not just the FBI, but the DOJ and from other sources the State Dept as well.

    • Deputy Attorneys General Rosenstein, Bruce Ohr and Sally Yates all misrepresented to the FISA court the evidence for the warrant.

    • Secretary of State John Kerry also through in his own dossier misrepresented to the court similar material.

    But I think bigger things and fish to fry are afoot.  What if  a series of events unfolds like this:

    • Trump fires Rosenstein for his lying to the FISA court and to him as President.

    • Then Trump appoints Trey Gowdy as Assistant Attorney General to Jeff Sessions. The Pubs in Congress would have to approve Gowdy. There is no reason not to. And isn’t it interesting  Gowdy wants to leave Congress now?

    • In Trump’s game of chess, the Deep State’s Queen Jeff Sessions , who had held Trump as King in checkmate, against Mueller and against appointing new Special Counsels to investigate the many Clinton/ Obama scandals,  would now be vulnerable  to firing, because McConnell would not allow a recess appointment to any Sessions successor , and  because as is Sessions want, he will dither yet again on appointing a Special Counsel which will  bring an onslaught of cries for his dismissal.

    • Trump then fires Sessions and Gowdy becomes de facto Attorney General who can fire Mueller and who can appoint a raft of Special Counsels.

    • #26
  27. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    One may hope that this episode will cause the Judges of the FISA Court to be more skeptical of future wiretap applications from the FBI.  I think that would be a very good thing.  The FBI, of course, thinks that would be a very bad thing.  After all, why should these pesky Judges with their pesky Fourth Amendment be interfering if the FBI wants to spy on American citizens?  Haven’t the Democrats already told us that the FBI is beyond reproach and beyond rebuke?

    I do hope that there are some FISA judges who will be summoning the attorneys who lied to them into a hearing to answer some questions.

    • #27
  28. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    Larry3435 (View Comment):
    One may hope that this episode will cause the Judges of the FISA Court to be more skeptical of future wiretap applications from the FBI. I think that would be a very good thing. The FBI, of course, thinks that would be a very bad thing. After all, why should these pesky Judges with their pesky Fourth Amendment be interfering if the FBI wants to spy on American citizens? Haven’t the Democrats already told us that the FBI is beyond reproach and beyond rebuke?

    I do hope that there are some FISA judges who will be summoning the attorneys who lied to them into a hearing to answer some questions.

    The FISC judges may always request additional information before approving or disapproving a warrant application.  This shoudl be a lesson that they should always ask whether there is any contrary information.

    • #28
  29. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    Larry3435 (View Comment):
    One may hope that this episode will cause the Judges of the FISA Court to be more skeptical of future wiretap applications from the FBI. I think that would be a very good thing. The FBI, of course, thinks that would be a very bad thing. After all, why should these pesky Judges with their pesky Fourth Amendment be interfering if the FBI wants to spy on American citizens? Haven’t the Democrats already told us that the FBI is beyond reproach and beyond rebuke?

    I do hope that there are some FISA judges who will be summoning the attorneys who lied to them into a hearing to answer some questions.

    The FISC judges may always request additional information before approving or disapproving a warrant application. This shoudl be a lesson that they should always ask whether there is any contrary information.

    According to the Wall Street Journal,

    A person familiar with the matter said that four separate federal judges approved the surveillance of Mr. Page, and all of those judges were appointed by Republican presidents.

    There are only three FISA judges in the DC circuit.

    @davidcarroll, what do you make of the following analysis from The Conservative Tree House? He seems to believe that the FBI and DOJ were trying to keep any one FISA judge from having oversight of their actions.

    ♦Judge Rosemary M Collyer is the presiding FISA judge and was the signatory for the court’s 99-page opinion written, April 2017, in the aftermath of the DOJ, FBI and NSA admissions to violating the FISA-702(16)(17) rules and procedures.  [See Here]

    ♦Judge Rudolph Contreras is a FISA judge and the original DC circuit presiding judge who accepted the Mike Flynn plea (Dec. 1, 2017) and then ‘was recused’ five days later. [See Here]

    Accepting there are only three DC circuit judges:  Rosemary Collyer, Rudolph Contreras and James Boasberg; and accepting that four different judges approved the DOJ/FBI application and renewals for Title I surveillance of Carter Page; it seems almost certain that Collyer and Contreras were involved in the Justice Department effort to identify Carter Page as an ‘American working on behalf of a foreign government’.

    It would be ‘almost’ impossible to have four separate engagements with the FISA court, and gain a different judge on each encounter.  It would be entirely impossible to have four separate judges if the original application and all three subsequent renewals went through the same district.  (There are only three judges in the DC district – making four separate judges impossible.)   Something is entirely fishy about this.

    Either the WSJ source is incorrect, or the greater likelihood is the DOJ was strategically approaching a different FISA judge each time.

     

    • #29

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