NEWS

9-11 Chairman Criticizes FBI's Counterterrorism Efforts

By Matthew Harwood

During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing yesterday, Thomas H. Kean, chairman of the 9-11 Commission, said intelligence analysts must stop being treated as "second class citizens" if the FBI is to become a terrorism prevention agency.

In his prepared statement, Kean spoke plainly:

[I]f fighting terrorism is the now the highest priority of the FBI, then the role of analysts at the FBI must change dramatically. Change is happening, but so far very slowly. Since 9/11, the number of intelligence analysts has doubled. Yet intelligence analysts are still answering the phones. They are still seen as support. They are still second-class citizens within the FBI. Why does this matter? If the FBI is going to become a terrorism prevention agency, intelligence analysis must become the core of its mission. Analysis determines the nature of the threat. The nature of the threat determines the allocation of resources. You cannot defeat terrorism by police work alone. Those efforts must be guided and targeted by our very best assessment of the domestic threat. That is why analysis – and the analyst – matters.

Kean also criticized the FBI for not providing adequate training to its analysts and recruiting the talent necessary to do counterterrorism right. Kean said there is a dearth of agents that speak important languages—Arabic, Pashto, Urdu—critical to counterterrorism work such as translation and infiltration of terrorist groups. Moreover, the FBI also does not devote enough resources to surveillance teams. 

Kean placed the blame for the FBI's problems on managerment. "Time and again, when the FBI has run into trouble...the central problem has been a failure of management," he said. "The FBI cannot become the first class terrorism prevention agency the country needs and demands, unless it has top-flight management."

However, Kean did called for more resources to the agency. He noted that since 9-11, resources devoted to criminal investigations are down 30 percent, while criminal prosecutions are down 30 percent. "You cannot have terrorism prevention and law enforcement on the cheap," Keane said before strongly opposing any budget cuts at the FBI.

However, Kean did applaud the Congress for consistently voting to increase the President's request for the FBI.

For more coverage of the hearing, including a list of problems at the FBI exemplifying its unwillingness to change, see this article from CQ.com's Homeland Security page.

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