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Post 9/11 Lessons Learned
The Restructuring of the Intelligence Community
Intelligence and Strategic Analysis
George Washington University
Dr. María Vélez de Berliner, Professor
Latin Intelligence Corporation
The Restructuring of the Intelligence Community
The restructuring of the Intelligence Community (IC) was the national effort to rationalize unjustifiable back-to-back intelligence failures in 2001 and 2003. On September 11, 2001, the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda successfully coordinated attacks on the United States (US) World Trade Center; following these attacks, the US led an invasion of Iraq for unaccounted Weapons of Mass Destruction on March 20, 2003. In both cases, the IC was held accountable for misconduct. Later investigations into both of these incidents by the 9/11 Commission recommended organizational reform as a necessary mean to keep the American nation-state safe in the aftermath of these catastrophic events. Still, analysis of the reform over the last decade reveals the real intelligence affair at hand: the US is a country that is still learning from its’ mistakes. Positive changes have parented new and bigger problems.
On December 6, 2004, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) took bandages to the wounds of the community as it nailed down a bill to recondition the then/current state of security. First, the National Foreign Intelligence Program was re-appointed as the National Intelligence Program focusing on intelligence overall, at home and abroad. Changes within the program took place directly in the powerhouse. A Senate-confirmed Director of National Intelligence (DNI) position was then established within the IC; the appointment does not serve as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (DCIA) nor as the head of any other element within the IC (9/11 Commission, 2004). The position is also neither connected directly to any intelligence agency, but whoever holds the title does oversee them all. This person also has access to any and all intelligence and is responsible for ensuring that it is disseminated as needed across the IC (Lowenthal, 2012). Expansion was the second most significant change that took place. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was established to strengthen security through aviation security, border patrol, immigration, visas, and financial crimes (US Department of Justice, 2013). Currently, the DHS has 7 member agencies; the IC has 17. Next, the National Counterterrorism Center was established as the hub for all intelligence pertaining to terrorism, both foreign and domestic (US Department of Justice, 2013). At last, the greater concern of information-sharing through expansion, resulted in the establishment of the Information Sharing Council whereby all IC member agencies, including the DHS member agencies, are subject to participate (US Department of Justice, 2013). Consequently, this straightaway transition and integration created internal issues such as information overload, turf wars, competitive analysis, deficit spending, and a damaged intelligence-policy relationship to say the least.
The terror attack that took place on September 11, 2001, was ruled as a failure to “connect-the-dots” as analysts failed to imagine that al-Qaeda was capable of carrying out such a disastrous attack as well as failing to imagine the possibility that tragedy of such degree could strike on US soil. The Iraq WMD failure on March 20, 2003, has been criticized as a failure to coordinate as analysts produced an inaccurate estimate in regards to Saddam Hussain’s stockpile (Marianos, 2015). Since then, several violent jihadist attacks have taken place at home. In 2006, there was a shooting at the Jewish Federation in Seattle that killed 1; in 2009, a military shooting a Food Hood, Texas, resulted in 13 casualties; that same year, a shooting in Little Rock, Alabama, killed 1; in 2013, the Boston Marathon was bombed killing 4; in 2014, an individual was beheaded in Oklahoma; that same year, an joint killing spree in Washington and New Jersey killed 4; in 2015, another military shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, killed 5; and most recently, at the end of 2015, a shooting in San Bernardino California resulted in the death of 14 (New America). Two additional attacks have been recognized as plot failures—these are the Times Square Bomber in 2008 and the Christmas Day Bomber in 2009. In both cases, bombs were detonated, however the individuals failed to produce any casualties (Marianos, 2015). Trends continue to be identified as shooting and bombing patterns have emerged over the last decade. Despite the fact that these events have slipped through the security cracks, they have presented us with the opportunity to identify which changes have brought certainty and which changes are suffering the most. Terror threat detection and mitigating future terror threats remain a priority for the US.
Notable Post 9/11 Cases
Three of the above cases are significant to further strengthen security in different areas.
In the 2009 military shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, Army Major Nidal Hasan killed 12 soldiers and 1 civilian in a shooting massacre. He was a commissioned officer, who characterized himself as a soldier and psychologically counseled soldiers; he was also under investigation by the Department of Defense for communicating with Muslim Cleric and High Value Target, Anwar al-Awlaki (112 Congress, 2013). Prior to his commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had flagged Major Hasan as he publicly demonstrated violent extremism defending Osama Bin Laden both at religious events and in college papers. These details did not exist in both agencies. This intelligence failure demands improvements be made in both information sharing and connecting-the-dots (112 Congress, 2013).
In the 2008 Times Square bombing attempt, Faisal Shahzad, had more than enough materials present to cause massive damage. He had 3 forms of explosive on hand and plans to construct a Vehicle-Born Improvised Explosive Devise (VBIED). The problem was that the device was not constructed properly. Shahzad was confirmed to having been on US radar as he was traveling back and forth between Pakistan and the US several times over a 5 month period. Intelligence failed to thwart the threat because the current system does not have the ability to process all of the information that comes through (West, 2010). This is essentially an overload issue.
In the 2009 Christmas Day Bomber case, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, attempted to take down a plane with 278 passengers flying from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan. He was able to get through security with explosive materials hidden in his underwear. He was already in the US Intelligence database, however, his association remained undetermined so information was not shared with proper airport security officials in time (Schmitt, 2009). This was considered an intelligence failure because communication was not strong with British authorities.
Long term success demands the use of all elements of national power, diplomacy, intelligence, covert action, law enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, public diplomacy and homeland defense. If we favor one tool while neglecting others, we leave ourselves at risk and weaken our other efforts (9/11 Commission, 2004). The US’s current state of security is not a temporary security superstructure. This strategic vision for the war on terror also fails to include the fact the intelligence failure is inevitable; while it is, right now it is our own storm that’s pulling up the stakes on our security tent. The above analysis over the post 9-11 reform reveals that the US is still learning from its’ 9/11 and Iraq invasion mistakes. Today, Islam is the fastest growing ideology today. This indicates that many more interpretations will be extreme. As an effort to ensure stability and best practices, it is recommended that security clearances receive periodic re-investigation, data crates undergo filtering changes, and both internal and external relations refocus the importance of information sharing in this Global War on Terrorism in order to continue to deter larger threats in the future.
112 Congress. (2013). Lessons from Fort Hood: Improving Our Ability to Connect the Dots. Retrieved from US Government Printing Office: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-112hhrg81127/html/CHRG-112hhrg81127.htm
9/11 Commission. (2004). How to do it? A Different Way of Organizing the Government. Retrieved from Federation of American Scientists: https://fas.org/irp/offdocs/911comm-sec13.pdf
Lowenthal, M. M. (2012). Intelligence From Secrets to Policy. Washington DC: CQ Press.
Marianos, R. (2015, August 28). PSSL 6240: Political Violence and Terrorism (Lectures 1-8). Retrieved from George Washington University: https://www.learn.cps.gwu.edu
New America. (n.d.). Deadly Attacks Since 9/11. Retrieved from International Security: http://securitydata.newamerica.net/extremists/deadly-attacks.html
Schmitt, O. A. (2009, December 25). Terror Attempt Seen as Man Tries to Ignite Device on Plane. Retrieved from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/26/us/26plane.html?_r=0
US Department of Justice. (2013, September 18). The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA). Retrieved from Office of Justice Programs: https://it.ojp.gov/PrivacyLiberty/authorities/statutes/1282
West, B. a. (2010, May 6). Uncomfortable Truths and the Times Square Attack. Retrieved from Stratfor Security Weekly: https://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100505_uncomfortable_truths_times_square_attack
RUNNING HEAD: The Restructuring of the Intelligence Community 1
The Restructuring of the Intelligence Community 4
OFFICIAL: February 29, 2016
Copyright: All Rights Reserved To The Author Of This Product sharing and connecting-the-dots (112 Congress, 2013).
Long term success demands the use of all elements of national power, diplomacy, intelligence, covert action, law enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, public diplomacy and homeland defense. If we favor one tool while neglecting others, we leave ourselves at risk and weaken our other efforts (9/11 Commission, 2004). The US’s current state of security is not a temporary security superstructure. This strategic vision for the war on terror also fails to include the fact the intelligence failure is inevitable; while it is, right now it is our own storm that’s pulling up the stakes on our security tent. The above analysis over the post 9-11 reform reveals that the US is still learning from its’ 9/11 and Iraq invasion mistakes. Today, Islam is the fastest growing ideology today. This indicates that many more interpretations will be extreme. As an effort to ensure stability and best practices, it is recommended that security clearances receive periodic re-investigation, data crates undergo filtering changes, and both internal and external relations