The author of this report is asked to answer to a number of questions relating to counter-terrorism frameworks. First, the author is asked to provide a revised framework for the national terrorism prevention and response agencies in the United States. Per the parameters of the assignment, there are to be at least three agencies involved in the revised framework. Subsequent to that, the author is asked to answer to how and when the agencies will interact and why. The author is asked what tools can be used to help the agencies function and do their jobs and that will be included in the framework summary. The author is asked to wrap up the paper by enumerating at least three policy and/or procedural recommendations that should be implemented to make the existing framework gel and function more effectively.
The existing framework for law enforcement and terrorism preparation and response is to have a "master" and central Department of Homeland Security with all relevant functions and agencies being subservient and answering to DHS. The author of this response would not diverge too much from that basic structure but some of the structure and rules that are currently in place absolutely need to change. DHS would still be a master agency under this revised framework but the sub-agencies and how they work together would be rather different.
First of all, one agency would handle international matters of all sorts and this includes travel and immigration. As such, the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS, formerly known as the INS before the creation of DHS) and the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) and the United States Border patrol should really be under the same envelope as a master agency that handles immigration, visitation and departures of all foreign citizens. Occasional travelers should be allowed to come and go without a lot of trouble so long as their name is not flagged, their credentials are in order and they are not involved in criminal behavior including terrorism-related issues.
However, new citizens and temporary visa-holders should be made to offer DNA and fingerprint records so that their criminal history and other records can be tracked around the world. It would also be useful for tracking down non-citizen immigrants that are engaging in criminal behavior and/or are over-staying their visa. This immigration and border security agency should make all reasonable attempts to secure travel of all sorts as well as the borders themselves. The laws and guidelines that are on the books right now simply need to be enforced.
Another master sub-agency that should be created is a combination of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency. The propensity of the FBI to handle domestic issues and the CIA to handle clandestine foreign matters would not change but these two agencies need to be much closer than they are now. The "wall" that existed between these agencies in the days preceding 9/11 should NEVER happen again under any circumstances (DOJ, 2013).
The third part of the DHS tripod that the author of this report would suggest is the internet/technology realm. This would encompass the current functions of the NSA and the sub-functions of other agencies such as the FBI and the CIA. All internet and technology monitoring and surveillance would go through this third major sub-agency. This third and final sub-agency would work with the courts and the FBI/CIA wing of the revised DHS framework to watch and collect evidence and then either shut down attacks and/or make arrests. Given the many attacks from non-extradition countries, arrest will not always be possible but something has to be done to stomp out attacks as they happen and fester.
The first recommendation that should be implemented immediately is a complete re-write of laws relating to modern/current technology so that the laws being used to prosecute and regulate behavior matches up with the technology of today including social media, works/speech online and so forth. There is a gaping disconnect between some of the laws being used right now to do all this and it makes the applicability and legitimacy of said convictions questionable. Getting the laws rewritten would fix this problem and it would be something that would need to be maintained over the years or another massive fix and update would need to happen later on. This would require some cooperation with politicians and agencies, and this relates to the other two recommendations.
The second recommendation stems from the end of the first and that is for politicians to forget the partisan and ideological vitriol, at least as it pertains to just getting into spats rather than fixing problems, and get things done to protect the American people. There are some politicians that raise valid concerns and controversies such as the ostensibly illegal activities of the NSA as well as the intelligence surrounding pending action in Syria or prior action in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, offering ideological qualms that are simply ridiculous or created out of thin area is just silly. If someone is acting suspicious, they are acting suspicious. It is true that some people over-react and are bigoted but it is also true that there are tell-tale signs that something is going on and it is also true that some realms of crimes are committed by and large by certain groups. For example, poorer people are much more likely to commit crimes than more affluent people. As another example, the vast majority of foreign terrorists attacking the west are Muslim men 18-34 years of age. However, there are a large number of examples that defy both of those but trends are what they are and it's not silly or racist to point that out. It is silly, though, to assume things just due to gender and race and one should always be on guard.
A third example, and it's related to the second, is for people not to worry about who's going to get credit and share/collaborate on any relevant information that can get the job done. President Bush, as an example, had sky-high ratings after 9/11 and President Obama got a noticeable bump when Bin Laden was found and killed. However, the approval rate spikes from both of those major terrorism events/victories faded over time and there were a plethora of Democrats and Republicans involved in both events and processes. The American public coalesced behind President Bush and the country when 9/11 happened and Democrats followed suit even though it is no mystery that most Democrats did not like Bush one bit. Similarly, President Obama's victory in green-lighting the successful Bin Laden capture/death was started long before he took office and both parties were involved including elected office, appointments and regular workers.
The fourth suggestion is that terrorism suspects should never, and the author would stress the world "never," try terrorism suspects in standard criminal courts. Military tribunals should be the norm for terrorism suspects and this would include American citizens as well unless it is a lone wolf situation or something of that nature. The fact that Eric Holder ever suggested or attempted to try Khalid Sheikh Muhammad in New York City was ludicrous for a number of reasons. First, KSM was not a common criminal but was instead an international terrorism leader, Al Qaeda no less. Second, trying the man in the city that was the prime target of the associated attacks created a security nightmare for the city. The same would have been true if the trial site was in Washington DC given that one of the plans hit the Pentagon. Even if those two sites were avoided, trying KSM in a standard criminal court would afford him due process rights to which he is not entitled and said rights would give him a platform to make the trial farcical and pointless because his guilt is really not in doubt given his prior statements and evidence at hand. Even so, he should not get Miranda rights and treating what he did the same way as a common stabbing or robbery or even an isolated murder is preposterous.
The next suggestion was touched upon earlier but will be fleshed out there. At no point should there be any rules that unnecessarily inhibit or hold up the free flow of information between agencies. The only broad exception to this rule should be giving information to people with no security clearance and/or that had their clearance revoked. Also, and as made clear by the Edward Snowden/NSA debacle, security clearances should be handed out carefully and involving contractors (at least to excess in terms of access and such) should be avoided at all costs (Poulson, 2013). People should have the access they need to do their jobs and not a bit more beyond that. A corollary recommendation is to make sure that people do have the access and resources to do their job.
Next is to not be wasteful and inefficient. The recent report that the…