I was reading, again with interest, the turf wars between the many intelligence agencies in the United States ….. in dealing with a common enemy in the form of Al-Qaeda, in its ‘war’ against terror.

The intelligence agencies that come under various departments (Dept of Homeland Security, Department of Treasury, Drug Enforcement Administration etc) are so many, all seeking to prevail one over the other that the so-called over-seer, Office of Director of National Intelligence has his work cut out for him in attempting to collate the morass of information churned, into insightful and informative information that would enable its agents and allies to eliminate the key terror operatives and its infrastructure.

The frustration of the Office of Director of National Intelligence is that not all the agencies report directly to that office, although they all ultimately report to the White House i.e. President Obama.

So, can you imagine the politicking and maneuverings that take place between agencies in order to look good ….. I suppose all for the sake of the ego! Of course, the result of all this is that information becomes compromised along the way. It is no wonder that the failure to cooperate amongst agencies has been blamed for lapses in security, the latest being the killing of 7  US operatives by a Jordanian double agent and the attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight over Detroit during Christmas. The failure to connect the dots became very apparent!

I suppose if the United States, a so-called Superpower, can experience these human failings in one of its most advanced, sophisticated and secretive sector in the political set up – SECURITY – it can happen anywhere!!!

Which really brings me to the point on accountability and responsibility. Turf wars between various Government agencies have become so acute that they sometimes become a Lord upon themselves! It has apparently come to the stage that the standard response to  a request for an agency to act is, “Hey, that’s not my job, it’s the other agency you should talk to.” They say this without blinking an eye-lid knowing full well that any fall-out would implicate their own agency as well! Sheesh!!!

Describing the above as an analogy may make my point evidently clear …. let’s call it the BRAIN SURGEON analogy:-

Let’s call AGENCY ‘C’ the Brain Surgeon.

Another related agency, AGENCY ‘S’ …. let’s assume them as the General Surgeon.

Both work at World Hospital ….. and a Patient (representing the COUNTRY’S SECURITY) gets wheeled into the Emergency Room (ER) with a cut on his wrist and is bleeding profusely.

Staff at the ER look for its on-duty General Surgeon but somehow he is not there and is un-contactable (note: The General Surgeon was in fact at the hospital library reading up on the latest medical papers and findings and got lost in his own time with his handphone on silent mode!).

They then make a call to the Brain Surgeon to seek his assistance. By the way, the Brain Surgeon used to be a General Surgeon before he decided to specialise a few years’ ago and is now the hospital’s eminent Brain Surgeon.

The Brain Surgeon vehemently refuses to treat the patient with the cut wrist …… “because that is not my job. It is the job of the General Surgeon.”

“But, sir, he is losing a lot of blood and may not survive and we can’t find the General Surgeon,” says the attending nurse.

“Not my problem,” is the response from the Brain Surgeon!

After 20 minutes of bleeding, that same patient (with the cut wrist and bleeding profusely) suffers resulting brain damage and lapses into a coma. The attending nurse dutifully calls the Brain Surgeon reporting that the patient is in coma with likely brain damage.

The Brain Surgeon immediately attends to the patient at the Emergency Room!!

The fact that he knew this was the same patient he refused to treat for the cut wrist just 20 minutes earlier, had no impact or effect on the Brain Surgeon whatsoever!! The patient subsequently dies!

That, my friend, basically sums up the sorry story of many government agencies the world over….. which I suppose applies to many other situations as well. Sigh!


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