Should We Have an MI-5?
One of the issues that emerged from the terrorist attack on the United States was the potential need for a domestic intelligence service to mirror the work of the U.S. Intelligence Community overseas. While Director Robert Mueller worked feverishly in 2003 to build such a capability into the FBI, some former intelligence leaders as well as members of Congress suggested that we needed an organization comparable to the famous British MI-5, the designation for its Internal Security Service. One of the most persistent supporters of creating a new agency was Lieutenant General William Odom, the former director of the NSA and a veteran of army intelligence, but he was not alone.
After the results of the Congressional investigation into the alleged intelligence failure before 9/11 was released, Senator John Edwards introduced legislation to establish a homeland security service along the lines of the British system.1 It also appeared that the study commission under Tom Kean would make a similar recommendation. Despite these recommendations, the issue was quite troubling to many who were already criticizing the George W. Bush administration for its heavy-handed tactics in dealing with suspected terrorists and immigration violators.
The United States has never had an internal security service, except for the brief period during the Civil War when Lafayette Baker sought to root out Confederate sympathizers in the North. His draconian tactics offended many, so when the new Secret Service was created after the war, its focus