Foil­ing ter­ror­ism in U.S. re­mains crit­i­cal chal­lenge

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

De­tect­ing and dis­rupt­ing pos­si­ble ter­ror­ism acts against U.S. tar­gets re­main “crit­i­cal chal­lenges” fac­ing the Jus­tice De­part­ment to­day — six years af­ter adopt­ing coun­tert­er­ror­ism as its high­est pri­or­ity.

A re­port by the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s Of­fice of In­spec­tor Gen­eral (OIG) said that al­though the de­part­ment con­tin­ues to en­hance its coun­tert­er­ror­ism ca­pa­bil­i­ties, the threat of new at­tacks in this coun­try “re­quires con­tin­ual at­ten­tion and im­prove­ment.”

“The de­part­ment’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism ef­forts re­main a work in progress,” said In­spec­tor Gen­eral Glenn A. Fine, not­ing that re­views by his of­fice of the coun­tert­er­ror­ism chal­lenge show that the de­part­ment, in gen­eral, and the FBI, in par­tic­u­lar, are tak­ing a se­ries of pos­i­tive steps.

But while Mr. Fine said the FBI has con­tin­ued its trans­for­ma­tion into “a more proac­tive, intelligence-driven agency,” it con­tin­ues to be af­fected by fre­quent ro­ta­tions and turnover within its se­nior man­age­ment.

He noted that the FBI has made progress in im­prov­ing its use of intelligence an­a­lysts, and is us­ing threat- and risk-based cri­te­ria to de­ter­mine the num­ber of an­a­lysts needed and de­vel­op­ing suc­ces­sion and re­ten­tion plans for an­a­lysts.

Im­prove­ment, how­ever, is needed in the time re­quired to hire an­a­lysts, he said. In ad­di­tion, the FBI has strug­gled to de­sign a sat­is­fac­tory train­ing pro­gram for its coun­tert­er­ror­ism agents and an­a­lysts, and many agents still do not fully un­der­stand or ap­pre­ci­ate the role of an­a­lysts.

“A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of OIG re­views have found that the FBI’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism and intelligence-gath­er­ing ef­for ts have been ham­pered be­cause of out­dated in­for­ma­tion-tech­nol­ogy sys­tems,” Mr. Fine said. “The FBI re­cently has made progress in im­prov­ing its man­age­ment of its IT up­grades, but the FBI will not ben­e­fit from a fully func­tional case-man­age­ment sys­tem for at least two more years.”

Mr. Fine also said it is crit­i­cal to en­sure that the FBI pur­sues its coun­tert­er­ror­ism re­spon­si­bil­i­ties while ad­e­quately pro­tect­ing civil lib­er­ties. He said a re­view in March iden­ti­fied se­ri­ous fail­ures of ac­count­abil­ity in the FBI’s mis­use of na­tional se­cu­rity let­ter au­thor­i­ties, not­ing that the bureau did not pro­vide ad­e­quate guid­ance, con­trols or train­ing on the use of the let­ters and the FBI’s over­sight of them was in­con­sis­tent and in­suf­fi­cient.

“To achieve suc­cess in its coun­tert­er­ror­ism ef­forts while re­spect­ing civil lib­er­ties, the de­part­ment must main­tain a strong fo­cus on en­sur­ing ac­count­abil­ity in its ac­tiv­i­ties,” he said.

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