AN INTELLIGENCE NETWORK TO MEET TODAY’S THREAT ENVIRONMENT
FBI Intelligence Executive Maureen Baginski Talks About It
start with a very basic question: just why is the FBI in the “intelligence” business
Ms. Baginski: In
fact, the FBI has always been in the intelligence business—think,
for example, of how it developed sources and information to disrupt and
dismantle organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and La Cosa Nostra. In today’s
world, we are simply adapting, expanding, and deepening our existing intelligence
business to defend against a different sort of adversary—namely,
shadowy, criminal-like terror organizations that are networked globally
and that use existing international criminal networks to achieve their
ends. For example, arms trafficking or money laundering networks. Because
the FBI has had a global law enforcement network in place for many years,
we’ve made remarkably fast progress responding to the post-cold war/post-9/11
But is that
progress fast enough? Is the FBI really the right organization to take
on this new threat environment?
Ms. Baginski: I’ll
take the second question first. Yes, the FBI really is the right organization
to take on this new threat environment, especially now that we’ve
been permitted by the FISA Court to combine the criminal and national security
information that we’ve collected. At so many points, now, we find
terrorists breaking laws to succeed in bombing plots—so our criminal
cases turn out to be the bloodhounds that sniff the terrorists out before
the bombs go off.
Beyond this, though,
are our longstanding, seasoned networks and relationships with all the
major players in law enforcement and intelligence operations at home and
abroad. We’ve trained and worked with state and local law enforcement
since the early 1900s—and worked shoulder to shoulder with them on
task forces since the 1980s. Likewise, we’ve trained international
law enforcement officers since the 1930s, worked with them through our
Legal Attache offices since 1942, and have forged close operational relationships
with them and with international intelligence officers over the years on
international cases--everything from organized crime to terrorism to drugs
to fugitives. FBI agents worked as intelligence officers during World World
II, by Presidential Directive, and the FBI has been a member of the U.S.
Intelligence Community ever since. Combining this kind of deeply laid network
with the tenacity and quickness of FBI employees gives me complete certainty
that the FBI is the right organization in the right place and at the right
time to successfully protect against today’s evolving threats.
As for the first question—let’s
face it: today’s dangerous climate makes even the most remarkable
progress not fast enough. But this particular race is necessarily a marathon,
not a sprint. We’re not as far along as we need to be and want to
be, but we have detailed implementation plans with deadlines and deliverables,
and we are on schedule, even ahead of schedule. Those achievements and
that kind of solid, measurable progress would likely be difficult to achieve
for some time if a new intelligence agency was created from the ground
up. It would, in effect, have to create a mirror network to the current
One last question
for today. The FBI has a network in place and has strengthened it by
establishing customized Field Intelligence Groups in all 56 field offices.
It has built a CONOPS for all intelligence operations. It has integrated
intelligence collection throughout all its investigative programs, its
laboratory and fingerprint and other service functions. And it is upgrading
analytical capabilities and requirements for all agents and all analysts.
What about progress in the “knowledge management” area?
Ms. Baginski: This,
of course, is still a work in process. Information sharing has always been
difficult to achieve, and for many different reasons. The pace of operations,
for example, doesn’t let you stop doing anything at the same time
you’re trying to make fundamental changes. Then you’re asking
people in the press of work to shift the way they’ve operated in
the past – when they took for granted that information was owned
by whoever collected and produced it. To defeat today’s global, networked
adversary, we have to learn to let go of information because we can’t
defeat the adversary alone. None of our information, alone, is enough.
Overall, I can say after 11 months of being on the job that I am thrilled
with what we’ve been able to achieve--but we still have a lot of
work to do. This is not a race for the short winded.
information on the FBI’s Intelligence