- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 17, 2002

The FBI could be perceived as "a kind of secret police" if allowed to continue carrying out traditional law enforcement duties while also gathering terrorism intelligence, a federal commission said in a report issued yesterday.
The panel suggested creating a new agency to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence. The National Counter Terrorism Center would include analysts working for the CIA, FBI and other agencies.
"It is important to separate the intelligence-collection function from the law enforcement function to avoid the impression that the U.S. is establishing a kind of 'secret police,' " said commission members, comprising federal, state and local officials and chaired by former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III.
Justice Department officials opposed the recommendation. Attorney General John Ashcroft "believes that the FBI is well-suited to serve as the domestic intelligence and terrorism-prevention agency in the United States," spokeswoman Barbara Comstock said.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said in an interview last week that the FBI was "uniquely positioned" to do the job because it could both detect the threat and arrest any individuals involved.
"There has to be a mechanism for deterring those individuals," Mr. Mueller told the Associated Press. "We have the same people who have knowledge of intelligence and knowledge of criminal activity being undertaken by these individuals."
Mr. Gilmore said intelligence agencies still are having problems sharing information, and a new agency could help resolve those difficulties.
The panel warned that efforts to fight terrorism must not infringe upon Americans' civil liberties.
"If we pursue security to the point where we give up that which makes us Americans, the enemy has won," Mr. Gilmore said.

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