FBI Intelligence Chief Maureen Baginski Details Proposed Intelligence Directorate
Why are you
proposing an Intelligence Directorate inside the FBI?
Ms. Baginski: It's
the next logical step in improving our intelligence capabilities. If you
think about it, we started creating a "service within a service" right
after 9/11. In a disciplined way, we've gone from building our intelligence
capabilities in counterterrorism and then in the FBI as a whole with a
new Office of Intelligence and an Executive Assistant Director for Intelligence.
Now, we're moving to the next level with a proposal to create a Directorate
with authority over resources. It's something we have to do to better protect
the American people.
Why is that
budget authority so important?
Ms. Baginski: It
comes down to this: how do we make sure our intelligence program has the
right amount of influence within the organization? One essential way is
to let the intelligence authority control where resources are going, based
on the threats that it sees now and on the horizon. My job is to do the
threat forecasting, and the resources have to be lined up against those
threats. It's that simple.
What kind of
resources are you talking about?
Ms. Baginski: Here's
an example: our linguists. The 9/11 Commission correctly recognized that
our linguists weren't necessarily connected to our intelligence requirements
-- in other words, the information we've decided is most important to look
for in terms of the threats. We've made changes to improve that, but we
can do better. So we're now proposing that our language experts actually
be managed by the Intelligence Directorate so there is a close connection
between what the information the FBI needs as a whole and what they are
looking for when they do their translations.
How will centralized
management help in the collection of intelligence?
Ms. Baginski: It's
one of the lessons we learned from 9/11. What's most important is the information
itself, not how or why it's collected. And that information can come from
anywhere. You can't forget the criminal intelligence base this organization
has. You can get terrorism information from criminal cases, for example,
and we have. So it's paramount to have a mechanism in place to make sure
the information gets synthesized, regardless of where it comes from.
If the threats
to the United States change, will this structure be adequate to address
Ms. Baginski: Yes.
The Directorate would endure, because it's threat-driven. So if we begin
forecasting a threat five years out, we will begin hiring people to work
those threats and begin moving people in that direction. That way, we'll
be out ahead of threats as they are developing and we'll be the agile,
adaptive organization we need to be.
Are you proposing
this Directorate in order to head off efforts to create a separate domestic
Ms. Baginski: No.
Congress and the President will make that call. And we think this proposal
is necessary regardless of what's decided. Intelligence naturally flows
out of our investigative mission; it always has. I can't think of a time
when we wouldn't have vital information about those who would do us harm
that we would need to share with the larger national security and intelligence
community. So we have to get intelligence right, and this proposal will
deepen our capabilities.
Mueller's 6/3 testimony | FBI's