Reorganizing U.S. Domestic Intelligence

Reorganizing U.S. Domestic Intelligence: Assessing the Options

Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 150
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  • Book Info
    Reorganizing U.S. Domestic Intelligence
    Book Description:

    One of the questions in the fight against terrorism is whether the United States needs a counterterrorism domestic intelligence agency separate from law enforcement. Drawing on an analysis of current counterterrorism efforts, an examination the domestic intelligence agencies in six other democracies, and interviews with intelligence and law enforcement experts, this volume lays out the relevant considerations for creating such an agency.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4821-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Summary
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxi-xxiv)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction: Domestic Intelligence in Context
    (pp. 1-14)

    The terrorist threat to the United States varies in both form and source. Part of the threat comes from abroad, in the form of plots hatched overseas by foreign nationals who then come to the United States to finish their preparations and execute their plans, as was the case with the September 11 attacks. Terrorist threats can also develop within a country’s borders. This was the case with the bombing attacks on London’s public transport system on July 7, 2005, and a number of plots have been identified and disrupted inside the United States as well. Beyond the current focus...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Defining Domestic Intelligence
    (pp. 15-20)

    No consensus definition of domestic intelligence has been established in law or public policy (Masse, 2003 and 2006). Indeed, the absence of consistent definitions and a defined framework laying out what activities should be included in domestic intelligence and the range of goals domestic intelligence efforts are designed to achieve has been flagged as a major source of concerns about current activities (Heyman, 2007). We define domestic intelligence as follows:

    efforts by government organizations to gather, assess, and act (see Figure 2.1) on information about individuals or organizations in the United States or U.S. persons¹ elsewherethat is not necessarily...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Current Domestic Intelligence Arrangements and Their Performance
    (pp. 21-42)

    The central policy rationale for making major changes in domestic intelligence activities would be to correct perceived shortcomings in the way these functions and missions are currently being pursued. This chapter reviews the structure of current domestic intelligence arrangements, concerns about current capabilities, and the implications of intelligence efforts for civil liberties. Much of what follows does not speak directly to the organizational issue at hand but is being addressed so as to place that issue in the larger context of domestic intelligence performance more generally.

    To provide a basis for considering ways that domestic intelligence efforts might be restructured,...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR A Range of Options for Improving Domestic Intelligence
    (pp. 43-54)

    The concerns about domestic intelligence described in the previous chapter have to do withhoworganizations work, not the outcomes of that work. This is because it is difficult to specify, and even harder to measure, the relationship between domestic intelligence activities and counterterrorism success. Does the fact that we have had no domestic terrorist attacks since September 11 mean that U.S. domestic intelligence and other efforts to counter terrorism are good enough, that we were simply lucky, that the threat has been overestimated, or some combination of these explanations?

    In the absence of detailed assessments of particular agencies and...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Assessing Structural Options
    (pp. 55-88)

    Perhaps paradoxically, if the expert panel RAND assembled did not assess current arrangements very positively, neither were the experts enthusiastic about possible organizational alternatives. The four alternatives we offered were all assessed in the middle of a scale from “very good” to “very poor.” The highest score went to the idea of an autonomous service within an existing agency (a more autonomous version of the FBI’s existing National Security Branch), largely because the experts perceived the transition costs for it to be lower than for the other alternatives.

    The paradox suggests that the experts were pessimistic about the ability of...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Weighing Pros and Cons: An Approach for Considering the Uncertain Costs and Benefits of Organizational Change
    (pp. 89-100)

    A systematic examination of the pros and cons of making organizational changes to domestic intelligence activities can provide some insight into how creating a new agency might affect both the ability of the country to prevent terrorist attack and public concern about the effects of intelligence on the nation more broadly. However, doing so provides no clearansweron the advisability of such a reorganization. How much creating a new agency will actually reduce the risk of terrorist attack compared with the current structure of domestic intelligence activities is unknown.¹ Whether a reorganization would create more efficient oversight or, conversely,...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusions: The Path Forward
    (pp. 101-108)

    Caution and deliberations are the watchwords of this study’s conclusions. Data for judging performance are in short supply, uncertainties are large, and many of the critical issues turn on values. What we have suggested is a framework for sharpening and enriching the debate. Here, we identify information that would advance the discussion of a major policy issue within that framework.

    Beyond broad concerns about the current system, there is little information to actuallyassessits performance, nor to argue persuasively that the performance of a reorganized system would be clearly better than the status quo. How a new domestic intelligence...

  15. APPENDIX A Expert Panel Participants
    (pp. 109-110)
  16. APPENDIX B Domestic Program Map
    (pp. 111-112)
  17. References
    (pp. 113-126)