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FBI Intelligence Chief Maureen Baginski Details Proposed Intelligence Directorate


FBI Intelligence ProgramWhy 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 them?

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 intelligence agency?

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.

Source FBI