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Commission's Recommendations on Reforming the U.S. Intelligence Community
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the point that "things would never be the same" echoed throughout the country, and in some ways this has been true. Unfortunately, many observers also maintain that some things have not changed at all, especially the ability of the U.S. intelligence community to anticipate and prevent such attacks in the first place. Others, though, point to the numerous instances in which terrorist attacks have been preempted by timely action, as well as the death of Osama bin Laden as proof positive that things have indeed changed for the better. To determine who is right, this paper provides an analysis of the impact of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations on reforming the U.S. intelligence community in view of the major intelligence community components of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act, and the extent to which these initiatives have achieved their respective goals. Finally, a discussion concerning the status of reform in the U.S. intelligence community is followed by a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion.
Review and Analysis
Identify and analyze the 9/11 Commission's major recommendations for reforming the intelligence community.
According to Simon (2005), following its publication in July 2004, the final report of the 9/11 Commission was widely regarded as the most comprehensive and thorough investigatory effort that could provide the framework needed to protect the country's interests at home and abroad in the future. Generally, the 9/11 Commission's final report criticized both the Clinton and Bush Administrations for not making a strong enough effort to confront and disable the al Qaeda network, given the knowledge that was available concerning these events beforehand (Simon, 2005). Among the 9/11 Commission's major recommendations were several with salience for reforming the intelligence community, including those recommendations excerpted in Table 1 below.
Major Recommendations from the 9/11 Commission Report with Salience for Reforming the Intelligence Community
Strengthen counter-proliferation efforts
The United States should work with the international community to develop laws and an international legal regime with universal jurisdiction to enable the capture, interdiction, and prosecution of smugglers by any state of the world where they do not disclose their activities.
Expand the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)
The PSI can be more effective it is uses intelligence and planning resources of the NATO alliance. Moreover, PSI membership should be open to non-NATO countries. Russia and China should be encouraged to participate.
Support the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program
This program is in need of expansion to prevent weapons of mass destruction from entering the country.
Targeting Terrorist Money
These are proven methods. Vigorous efforts to track terrorist financing helps the intelligence community understand their networks, search them out, and disrupt their operations.
Targeting Terrorist Travel
This recommendation has the same potential as targeting terrorist money. The major imperative is to prevent those who represent overwhelming risks to the nation's interests from entering or remaining in the country undetected.
Integration of the U.S. Border Security System into a Larger Network of Screening Points
These and other innovative security devices such as biometric screening systems rely on physical characteristics that can be used at airports, customs, or other venues with high levels of international travel that can improve security including the U.S. Border System. A biometric entry/exit system for the U.S. is also recommended.
National Standards Should be Established for Identification
The federal government should set standards for issuing various types of identification (drivers' licenses, birth certificates) that are used to secure international travel documents.
Homeland Security Activities Should Be Based Strictly on Assessments of Risks and Vulnerabilities.
Policymakers should allocate resources to high-risk priority areas. These resources include local, state, regional and federal agencies, as well as private stakeholders.
Source: Adapted from 9/11 Commission Final Report
Identify and evaluate the major IC components of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act (IRTPA).
Among other things, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004 (hereinafter IRTPA) mandated the creation of the intelligence information technology "czar" (Intelligence CIO seeks to consolidate authority, 2005) in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (Sims & Gerber, 2009). Other major components of the IRTPA with salience for the U.S. intelligence community included those set forth in Table 2 below.
Major Components of the IRTPA with Salience for the U.S. Intelligence Community
Reorganization and improvement of management of intelligence community
This section describes the responsibilities of the Director of National Intelligence as well as which functions were transferred pursuant to this legislation.
Revised definition of national intelligence
This section operationalizes the terms "national intelligence" and "intelligence related to national security" to refer to all intelligence, regardless of the source from which derived and including information gathered within or outside the United States as qualified further in succeeding subsections.
Joint procedures for operational coordination between Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency
This section stipulates that the Director of National
Intelligence, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, shall develop joint procedures to be used by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency to improve the coordination of operations that involve elements of both the Armed Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency consistent with national security and the protection of human intelligence sources and methods.
This section describes the relevant stakeholders and establishes reporting requires to evaluate progress in achieving information-sharing goals between affected intelligence community agencies and organizations.
Alternative analysis of intelligence by the intelligence community.
This section mandates the Director of National Intelligence to establish a process and assign an individual or entity the responsibility for ensuring that, as appropriate, elements of the intelligence community conduct alternative analysis (commonly referred to as "red-team analysis") of the information and conclusions in intelligence products within 180 days of the effective date of the Act with subsequent reporting requirements as well.
Assignment of responsibilities relating to analytic integrity.
This section requires the Director of National Security to assign an individual or entity to be responsible for ensuring that finished intelligence products produced by any element or elements of the intelligence community are timely, objective, and independent of political considerations, based upon all sources of available intelligence, and employ the standards of proper analytic tradecraft.
Safeguard of objectivity in intelligence analysis.
This section requires the Director of National Intelligence to identify an individual within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to be available to analysts within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to counsel, conduct arbitration, offer recommendations, and, as appropriate, initiate inquiries into real or perceived problems of analytic tradecraft or politicization, biased reporting, or lack of objectivity in intelligence analysis.
Source: Adapted from IRTPA, 2004
Compare and contrast the 9/11 Commission recommendations with the IRTPA.
By and large, the recommendations from the 9/11 Commission were broad-based in scope and provided a framework in which the types of "nuts-and-bolts" requirements of the IRTPA could be achieved.
How the IRTPA has impacted on the national intelligence community.
The establishment of a national intelligence director has served as a catalyst for a reevaluation of intelligence-gathering and analytical methods that has achieved significant progress in recent years (Divoli, 2011).
How the reforms have impacted on the various agencies, and draw conclusion about if it has improved intelligence support to the policy maker.
Given the tens of thousands of individuals and hundreds of agencies that are actively involved in the intelligence community, the impact of the reforms naturally varies, but many authorities agree that the U.S. intelligence community has emerged from the reformation process stronger and is better prepared for future terrorist attacks based on what was learned from the investigation of the September 11, 2001 attacks (Zegart, 2009). Moreover, tThe 9/11 Commission final report emphasized that a great deal of progress had already been made in reforming the intelligence community, including the creation of an integrated watchlist that provides terrorist name information to law enforcement and border enforcement authorities (p. 385). In addition, there were several aspects of the way the 9/11 Commission conducted its investigation and launched its report that distinguished it from previous commissions that "suggest at least the possibility of a more enduring and powerful influence on both Congress and the Executive" (Simon, 2005, p. 1420).
Is intelligence reform complete?
It is axiomatic that there is always room for improvement, and it would be disingenuous to suggest that the reform of the U.S. intelligence community pursuant to the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission is complete. Indeed, Zegart (2009) cites "the deeply rooted organizational weaknesses that have afflicted U.S. intelligence agencies for decades" and concludes that the real cause of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks was "the stunning inability of U.S. intelligence agencies to adapt to the end of the Cold War" (Zegart, 2009, p. 37). Clearly, there is significant room for improvement in this area.
The research showed that the 9/11 Commission's recommendations…[continue]
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