The commission investigating the
terrorist attacks of September 11,2001 is hearing a number of proposals, some
of them from current and former top intelligence officials, about possible changes
to the U.S. intelligence structure.
Former intelligence officials say the U.S. intelligence community was shaken
to the core by the September 11 attacks. John MacGaffin, formerly the assistant
Deputy Director of Operations at the CIA, says the attacks underscore the need
for strengthened domestic intelligence.
"We have to have a proactive approach, and that is domestic intelligence," he
said. "And that is intelligence gathering. And that is very difficult for Americans
to contemplate. But if we don't do it, the bad guys are going to continue to
beat us as they beat us in 9-11 [September 11], which was truly an intelligence
failure, a systemic failure of which multiple elements of our government bear
In the United States, domestic and foreign intelligence are separate, with
domestic intelligence duties under the purview of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
which is primarily a law enforcement agency, and foreign intelligence gathering,
handled by the CIA.
Todd Masse, an intelligence specialist at the Congressional Research Service,
says the United States has always been wary of granting too much power to intelligence
agencies, especially in the domestic arena.
"Historically, the reasons why domestic intelligence was separated from foreign
intelligence in the United States is that the U.S. was simply reluctant to
have a domestic spy agency, a Gestapo," he explained. "I mean, coming out of
World War II, what we were operating against, and we didn't want it reinvented
here in the United States."
Analysts say there are three broad ideas for changing domestic intelligence.
One calls for beefing up the FBI's domestic intelligence capability. Another
would give the new Department of Homeland Security a domestic intelligence
arm. And the third is to create an entirely new, autonomous domestic intelligence
agency along the lines of Britain's MI 5.
There is considerable praise for the FBI's efforts. But many intelligence
analysts believe law enforcement and intelligence do not mix. Martin Rudner,
director of the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies at Carleton University
in Canada, says the cultures of intelligence agencies and police forces are
"I think the real tension there always is in intelligence, is between intelligence
and law enforcement," said Mr. Rudner. "And to use the metaphor, intelligence
tries to string you along. Law enforcement tries to string you up. They have
"The intelligence agency says, let's monitor this because we want to identify
all the people involved in the network of the violation of law," he continued. "Whereas
a law enforcement agency says, having seen a felony, it's my duty to bring
this to the prosecutors with the evidence so that charges can be laid."
Amy Zegart, an intelligence specialist at the University of California at
Los Angeles, says there is also a problem with coordination and cooperation
among the some 35 U.S. government agencies that deal with intelligence in one
form or another.
"There's no question that what we have is a community of a number of different
agencies which have a very difficult time working together, in part simply
because there are so many of them, in part because of legal barriers, and in
part because there's no one person in charge of the intelligence budget and
who can set the programmatic priorities and back those priorities up," said
Some observers, such as former CIA Director John Deutsch, also want to see
further centralization of intelligence, the creation of a kind of "intelligence
czar." In theory, there already is such a post. Under the post-World War II
National Security Act, the head of the CIA is also the Director of Central
Intelligence, the titular head of the entire intelligence community. But, in
reality, say intelligence analysts, he has virtually no control over the budgets
or programs of the multiplicity of agencies that deal in intelligence.