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9/11 For the Record: U.S. Intelligence
Department of Homeland Security
September 14, 2007

On September 10, 2007, Senator Joseph Lieberman, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, addressed the four current leaders of the U.S. Intelligence Community, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center John Scott Redd, and FBI Director Robert Mueller:

"As I look at the four of you, it is striking to me that three of you lead federal departments or offices that did not exist on September 11, 2001, and were provide better protection for the American people than they were getting from their government on this day six years ago."

The U.S. Intelligence Community has been drastically restructured since 9/11, in an effort to prevent future terrorist attacks, specifically concentrating on inter-department information sharing and on obtaining more focused analysis. Below are a few of the major changes implemented since the al Qaeda attacks:

Department of Homeland Security

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 established the Department of Homeland Security, with its primary functions being "preventing terrorist attacks within the United States, reducing the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism at home, and minimizing the damage and assisting in the recovery from any attacks that may occur."

In order to unify operations, several other departments were put under the jurisdiction of Homeland Security, including the Secret Service, FEMA, the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs, Immigration Services, and the Transportation Security Administration.

Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, 2004

On December 17, 2004, President Bush signed into law what he called, "the most dramatic reform of our nation's intelligence capabilities since President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947." Here are some of the key provisions of this law:
  • Establishment of the Director of National Intelligence (post currently held by Mike McConnell). Director serves as the head of the intelligence community and his office will not to be located within the Executive Office of the President.

  • Creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to assist the National Intelligence Director and serve as a hub for all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies

  • Codified the National Counterterrorism Center, "the primary organization in the US for integrating and analyzing all intelligence pertaining to terrorism and counterterrorism."
FBI National Security Branch

"The National Security Branch (NSB) was established on 9/12/05, in response to a presidential directive to establish a 'National Security Service' that combines the missions, capabilities, and resources of the counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and intelligence elements of the FBI under the leadership of a senior FBI official. In July 2006, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate was created within the NSB to integrate WMD components previously spread throughout the FBI."

The Patriot Act and Recent FISA Amendments

Expanding upon provisions in the Patriot Act, on August 5, 2007, President Bush signed into law the Protect America Act, which temporarily amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), allowing the government greater power to eavesdrop on telephone calls and e-mail conversations between American citizens and international suspects without warrants. The White House says that new Act provides necessary revisions to legislation which "has not kept pace with revolutionary changes in technology" and better addresses the needs of intelligence professionals.

Major changes instituted by the law include:
  • The Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence now have the power to approve the international surveillance, rather than a special intelligence court.
  • FISA Court now retroactively oversees government surveillance procedures after it's been conducted. It no longer scrutinizes individual cases.
  • The government can now latch onto large telecommunications switches, allowing for more comprehensive eavesdropping on fiber-optic phone and email lines.
  • Telecommunication companies can be compelled to allow access to switches through order by the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.
>more on the history of U.S. Intelligence

Published on September 14, 2007

Related Media:
"Buying the War" How did the mainstream media get it so wrong in the lead up to the Iraq War?

License to Spy Bill Moyers talks with former Congressman Mickey Edwards and ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero about revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
References and Reading:
Recent Statements of Intelligence Officials before Congress: In a New Video, Bin Laden Predicts U.S. Failure in Iraq
By Joby Warrick, WASHINGTON POST, September 8, 2007
"Ending a nearly three-year absence from public view, a dark-bearded Omasa bin Laden surfaced yesterday in a new video in which he repeatedly taunted the Bush administration but made no overt threats of renewed terrorist attacks."

Tracking Terrorism: Inside the world of Omasa bin Laden's al Qaeda network
Compiled by THE WASHINGTON POST, this report features an al Qaeda meline, permanent articles, photo galleries, related web resources about terrorism.

Read the recent BIG Report on CIA Accountability Related to 9/11 (pdf)

Read former CIA Director George Tenet's Statement about the recent BIG report

Read the WMD Commission Report, March 2007

View the National Intelligence Community's 100-Day-Plan Agenda

Intelligence Community to Reshape Personnel Practices
By Karen YoUng, WASHINGTON POST, April 12, 2007
Two years after the nation's intelligence community was ordered to fix problems that contributed to the failures of Sept. 11, 2001, its chief announced major changes yesterday in the way spies will be hired, assigned, evaluated and paid.

"Web 2.0" Intelligence Projects
  • Intellipedia: a wiki-pedia inspired intelligence forum where analysts share knowledge
  • A-Space: dubbed the MySpace for spies, A-Space allows analysts to share information through secure profiles and email exchanges
NIE: The Terrorist Threat to the US Homeland, July 2007
"Al Qaeda is and will remain the most serious threat to the Homeland, as it's central leadership continues to plan high-impact plots, while pushing others in extreme Sunni communities to mimic its efforts and to supplement its capabilities."
Also This Week:

Review the 9/11 Commission's findings on events and intelligence available before the 9/11 attacks and review new reports.

Review the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and check on the progress of implementation

Investigate the history of U.S. intelligence services and review post 9/11 changes.

Sites for further research

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