Edwards’ Controversial Spy Plan

Mr. Blechman stressed that the group would never compel the United States to give up high-level intelligence that would endanger any source, and said most of the sharing would be of communications intercepts that could help further the investigations of foreign agencies looking for the same suspects. Edwards’ speech called for CITO members to “voluntarily share financial, police, customs and immigration intelligence.”

And although Mr. Edwards made it clear in the same speech he would be willing to act unilaterally against terrorists—“I want to be clear about one thing: If we have actionable intelligence about imminent terrorist activity and the Pakistan government refuses to act, we will,” he said–his antiterrorism organization seems expressly designed to reassure the multilateralists in his party.

“National sovereignty will be a central premise of CITO,” says a fact sheet about the program distributed to reporters. “CITO will never sanction an operation without the consent of a host state.”

“It’s a great idea on paper,” said Mr. Baer, who said that when he was working as a C.I.A. agent in the Middle East, he would have loved to have had access to Israeli files. “It’s not going to happen.”

The Edwards campaign says that is just the sort of stuck-in-the-mud thinking of the past that it is looking to break away from.

“Whenever there is a new idea, you are going to get people in established agencies finding all the problems with it,” said Mr. Blechman. “When we came up with the idea of NATO there were all sorts of resistance to it from established organizations and governments.”

Mr. Edwards, he said, was “trying to think creatively.”