On September 11, 2001 the U.S. got a wake-up call from the real world. While terrorism was not new to the homeland, it had very little media play and consequently the public had no idea what was, and is, hurtling over the horizon at them. Suddenly the F.B.I. found itself embarrassingly out-of-touch and well behind the curve. Consequently the F.B.I. took quite a drubbing by the 911 Commission.
One of the key problems in 2001, and to an extent still today, was the F.B.I.’s predominant role as a prosecutorial agency with a limited intelligence function. In addition, historically the F.B.I. often functionally clashed with federal prosecutorial and intelligence agencies and local law enforcement. Turf battles, bruised egos and compartmentalization on all sides prevailed. The interagency lack of cooperation was so great that local law enforcement agencies created their own intelligence sharing organization, Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit
, in the 1950’s.
In the mid 1950's, local and state law enforcement agencies in the United States recognized that no single agency or organization was responsible for receiving, collating, maintaining, and disseminating information on persons involved in organized crime. These law enforcement agencies surmised correctly that organized crime would exploit advancing technologies in transportation and communications, become more mobile, and increase their spheres of influence and criminal activities.
As a result, twenty-six (26) law enforcement agencies met in San Francisco, California on March 29, 1956 to discuss problems and possible solutions. The most important result of that meeting was the creation of the LEIU – The LAW ENFORCEMENT INTELLIGENCE UNIT and the development of an organizational purpose that survives to this day.
You will notice that LEIU was originally comprised of, “…local and state law enforcement agencies in the United States…” Federal agencies need not apply. It is only in the last couple of years that LEIU invited federal agencies to join the organization in a somewhat limited fashion. Someone had to offer an olive branch after 50 years.
Local and state law enforcement has its own intrinsic problems. From my blog Domestically, How are We Doing on National Security?
Basically until the 9/11/01 attacks, local and state law enforcement was asleep and unaware of the magnitude of a problem not just on the horizon, but already entrenched in our towns and cities. That is especially true of the small and medium size departments, which were not members of a FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). Large departments, such as the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office, have enjoyed the luxury of holding full membership on the LA JTTF for many years. JTTF members are privy to a large amount of information concerning terrorist organizations and supporters present in the U.S. Unfortunately, that information is only sparingly and occasionally shared with non-member agencies even though the target individuals often work and live in a non-member’s jurisdiction. And, information that is potentially available from smaller agencies may not ever see the light of day or be passed to a JTTF.
In an effort to rectify the institutional barriers to sharing information and working together, the F.B.I. is beginning to reach out in areas previously un-served by a Joint Terrorism Task Force and create new multi-jurisdictional task forces.
In addition to solving inter-agency issues, the F.B.I. has internal issues that must be rectified as well. Like most law enforcement agencies, the F.B.I. has both sworn agents and civilian analysts. Needless to say, the agents have the prestigious jobs and the analysts as not so well esteemed by the organization.
The F.B.I. recognized that they needed to hire more analysts and other non-sworn positions, but they were having a difficult time getting the people. So in 2005, they recommended lowering the requirements to be hired to increase the potential pool of applicants. That was a wrong-headed suggestion. Quoted in my blog, FBI Suggests Lowering Requirements
The FBI, famous for its straight-laced crime-fighting image, is considering whether to relax its hiring rules over how often applicants could have used marijuana or other illegal drugs earlier in life.
The change would ease limits about how often — and how many years ago — applicants for jobs such as intelligence analysts, linguists, computer specialists, accountants and others had used illegal drugs.
The rules, however, would not be relaxed for FBI special agents, the fabled "G-men" who conduct most criminal and terrorism investigations. Also, the new plan would continue to ban current drug use.
I wrote in response to the suggested changes
Drug use and financial problems are key issues in law enforcement since both can make a person susceptible to corruption and recruitment to treason. Obviously law enforcement agencies can not afford to have officers corrupted. What is amazing is that the FBI considers analysts, linguists, computer specialists, and accountants of lesser importance than sworn officers. Is that an example of sworn officer elitism or FBI bureaucratic ineptitude? A foreign intelligence agent compromising an FBI intelligence analyst could be a far greater coup than compromising a sworn FBI agent.
The FBI is undoubtedly, like law enforcement in general, having a difficult time recruiting quality people. The problem is not that there is a lack of qualified people in the population, but rather a problem of competing with the wages, benefits, and working conditions of private industry.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post
reported that the F.B.I. in undergoing a reorganization
that is long over-due. To be successful in the new intelligence driven world, the F.B.I. must reform its bureaucratic and personal prejudices about sworn and non-sworn employees.
“David Laufman, a former Justice Department lawyer who prosecuted several of the government's major terrorism cases since the 2001 attacks…” stated,
…the FBI reorganization must "overcome the agent culture of the bureau" and allow intelligence analysts to drive the case agents, much like MI5's domestic intelligence, which drives the investigations of Scotland Yard in Britain.
"The key to making this successful is to build a first-class analytical cadre, give counterterrorism analysts equivalent stature to agents in the FBI's counterterrorism culture, and create an environment where analysts and agents continuously and seamlessly work together to identify relationships, sources of funding and operational plotting,"
Significant points to the current F.B.I. reorganization
The FBI has begun the most comprehensive realignments of its counterterrorism division in six years so it can better detect the growing global collaborations by terrorists and dismantle larger terrorist enterprises, according to senior bureau officials.
The bureau will merge its two international terrorism units -- one for Osama bin Laden’s followers and the other for more established groups such as Hezbollah-- into a new structure that borrows both from Britain’s MI5 domestic intelligence agency and the bureau's own successful efforts against organized-crime families…
Driving the reorganization is a recognition that terrorism is coming home to roost in this country and a significant amount of it is and will be from residents within the country.
The changes have been driven partly by a growing number of FBI cases involving self-styled terrorist cells inside the United States that were inspired by al-Qaeda and bin Laden but receive support, advice or encouragement from disparate sympathizers across the globe, making group allegiances far less important.
I wrote in 2005 about this issue in my blog Black Islamic Terrorism and Crime Linked in LA
There is a tremendous potential for American homegrown black Islamo-fascist terror in the U.S.
The F.B.I.’s evolvement from a primarily prosecutorial agency toward an intelligence driven model for counter-terrorism is significant and no easy task. Again from the WaPo article
Borrowing from its mob-busting strategies in the 1980s, the bureau will encourage counterterrorism agents to forgo immediate arrests when an imminent threat is not present, allowing the surveillance of terrorism suspects to last longer. The aim is to identify collaborators, facilitators and sympathizers who increasingly span across multiple groups and countries,…
The goal is,
The new approach is meant to channel raw intelligence and threat information through "desk officers" with expertise on specific world regions or terrorist groups, allowing those experts to spot trends and set investigative strategies for field agents and joint terrorism task forces that collaborate with local law enforcement,…
Those desk officers will in large part be civilian analysts. Let’s hope those analysts get the respect organizationally that they richly deserve. And, I hope the F.B.I. did not lower its hiring standards.Links in this blog:
Domestically, How are We Doing on National Security?
FBI Suggests Lowering RequirementsFBI Reorganizes Effort to Uncover Terror Groups' Global Ties
Black Islamic Terrorism and Crime Linked in LA