Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) have participated in hundreds of nighttime raids in Iraq and Afghanistan as forefront in the Bureau's evolution from a domestic crime fighting organization to an international anti-terrorism force, according to a Washington Post article published Thursday.
Reporting on the "little known alliance" between the Bureau and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the Post details how, since early 2003, the FBI's military role grew from shepherding other FBI officials outside of the Green Zone to fighting side by side with JSOC officers on nightly raids.
The Washington Post reports:
“As our effort expanded and . . . became faster and more complex, we felt the FBI’s expertise in both sensitive site exploitation and interrogations would be helpful — and they were,” a former U.S. military official said.
In 2005, all of the HRT members in Iraq began to work under JSOC. At one point, up to 12 agents were operating in the country, nearly a tenth of the unit’s shooters.
The FBI’s role raised thorny questions about the bureau’s rules of engagement and whether its deadly-force policy should be modified for agents in war zones.
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“There was hand-wringing,” Yacone said. “These were absolutely appropriate legal questions to be asked and answered.”
According to former FBI deputy director Sean Joyce, in 2010 after JSOC "shifted priorities" in Afghanistan—now targeting "local insurgents who were not necessarily plotting against the United States"—the FBI "drew down" their presence there and FBI-JSOC operations moved to "other parts of the world."
The implications of the reporting, according to independent journalist Kevin Gosztola, are far reaching. "This is the effect of the war on terrorism," he writes, "which has put America on a permanent war footing."
A domestic law enforcement agency has not only transformed into a domestic intelligence agency that has gone from fighting crime to countering terrorism. It has become increasingly militarized and developed into a force that can be deployed by presidents into any region.
FBI agents can be sent on missions with military or covert operations forces because the world is seen by U.S. officials as the country’s battlefield, and there is no place the U.S. cannot or will not go.