July 17, 2002
The principal objective of this report and the work of the House Intelligence Subcommit- tee on Terrorism and Homeland Security has been to review the counterterrorism capa- bilities and performance of the Intelligence Community before 9-11 in order to assess intelligence de- ficiencies and reduce the risks from acts of terrorism in the future.
The terrorist attacks perpetrated on September 11, 2001, constituted a significant stra- tegic surprise for the United States. The failure of the Intelligence Community (IC) to provide adequate forewarning was affected by resource constraints and a series of questionable management decisions related to funding priorities. Prophetically, IC lead- ership concluded at a high-level offsite on September 11,1998, that failure to improve operations management, resource allocation, and other key issues within the [IC], in- cluding making substantial and sweeping changes in the way the nation collects, analyzes and produces intelligence, will likely result in a catastrophic systemic intelligence failure.
The Subcommittee has found that practically every agency of the United States Govern- ment (USG) with a counterterrorism mission uses a different definition of terrorism. All USG agencies charged with the counterterrorism mission should agree on a single def- inition, so that it would be clear what activity constitutes a terrorist act and who should be designated a terrorist. Without a standard definition, terrorism might be treated no differently than other crimes. The Subcommittee supports a standard definition as fol- lows: Terrorism is the illegitimate, premeditated use of politically motivated violence or the threat of violence by a sub-national group against persons or property with the intent to coerce a government by instilling fear amongst the populace.
The Subcommittee concludes its work for this report by reflecting on three key areas:
RE: CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (CIA)
The summary finding regarding the CIA is that the CIA needs to institutionalize its sharp reorientation toward going on the offensive against terrorism. This report also arrived at the findings and recommendations that follow.
Keep the Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Mission Central. The CIA is the governments national HUMINT organization. It has to keep this mission at its center. The CIA did not sufficiently penetrate the al-Qaida organization before September 11th. Because of the perceived reduction in the threat environment in the early to mid 1990s, and the concom- itant reduction in resources for basic human intelligence collection, there were fewer operations officers, fewer stations, fewer agents, and fewer intelligence reports pro- duced. This likely gave the CIA fewer opportunities for accessing agents useful in the counterterrorism campaign and eroded overall capabilities. Several management deci- sions also likely degraded CIAs CT capabilities by, for example, redirecting funds earmarked for core field collection and analysis to headquarters; paying insufficient attention to the CIAs unilateral counterterrorism (CT) capability; relying too much on liaison for CT; and neglecting sufficient investment of foreign language training and exploitation. The dramatic increase in resources for intelligence since 9-11 improves the outlook for CIAs CT capabilities, but only if the CIA management acknowledges and deals with the systemic problems outlined in this report.
Recommendation: CIA leadership must ensure that HUMINT collection remains a central core competency of the agency, and should develop additional operational tools, in conjunction with other appropriate agencies (the FBI, etc.), penetrate terrorist cells, disrupt terrorist operations, and capture and render terrorists to law enforcement as appropriate. More core collectors need to be put on the streets.
Build New Platforms. The CIA needs to make longterm investments in new platforms to collect on the al-Qaida target. Using both unilateral and liaison resources will be neces- sary. Recognizing that liaison partners may have different interests, maintaining a unilat- eral capability is of key importance. More attention to individual al-Qaida network presence worldwide is necessary.
Recommendation: The CIA should ensure that a management structure is in place to steward the multi-year investments needed to build new platforms to collect on terrorist targets. The CIA must also ensure sufficient numbers of unilateral CT slots in field stations and bases.
Forewarning of Terrorist Intentions. There were a number of pre-9-11 successes, including a number of takedowns during the Millennium. There was also, however, intelligence acquired prior to 9-11 that, in retrospect, proved to be directly relevant to 9-11. The ability to watchlist terrorist suspects by the C1A and by other agencies proved inadequate. Fixing some of the structural issues identified in this report might have put the C1A in a better position to make use of such warning information.
Recommendation: The C1A should lead an effort to improve watchlisting to ensure that all relevant agencies, including the FBI, the Homeland Security agency and others, have access to a common database of up-to-date terrorist person-related data collected by US government agencies and other appropriate sources. The creation of a terrorism watchlisting unit in the C1A may be a useful first step.
Additional Attention to Foreign Language Training and Document Exploitation. The CIA has paid insufficient attention to foreign language training and document exploita- tion efforts requiring linguists. In the most recent class of new case officers in training, less than one-third had any language expertise. C1A also needs to focus on finding ways to provide clearances for people with the right language skills in less com- monly taught languages for document exploitation and other linguist needs.
Recommendation: Require all new case officers and analysts to achieve a level 3 language proficiency prior to initial deployment, and devise a mechanism for or means of ensuring language skill maintenance is incentivized and directly tied to performance evaluation.
Additional Institutional Support for the Counterterrorism (CT) Career Path. The CIA's Counterterrorism Center (CTC) more than doubled in size from September, 2001, to Spring, 2002, but these officers were not all experienced in the counterterrorism mission. The CIA needs to ensure that all training incorporates skill development to support the counterterrorism mission, and that home basing for Counterterrorism Center (CTC) case officers is a viable option and is career-enhancing.
Recommendation: The CIA should take immediate and sustained steps to dramatically improve all aspects of its CT training program. Establish structures to provide for homebasing in CTC in such a manner that ensures a normal career path for these officers. Incorporate counterterrorism-related skill development in all appropriate training for case officers and analysts.
Balance CIAs no threshold terrorist threat reporting policy. It has been increasingly difficult for consumers to determine the reliability of source reporting amidst the large volumes of reporting provided. One example of a CTC Summer, 2001, threat report, entitled Threat of Impending al-Qaida Attack to Continue Indefinitely illustrates the point.
Recommendation: Internal policies, such as CTCs no threshold threat reporting policy, should he reviewed and modified to ensure that consumers are getting the most reliable reporting and that sufficient analysis is applied to that product in advance of its wholesale dissemination, wherever possible.
Recruiting Assets. The availability and allocation of resources, including the redirection by CIA managers of funds earmarked for core field collection and analysis to headquar- ters, likely negatively impacted CIAs CT capabilities. The excessive caution and burdensome vetting process resulting from the guidelines on the recruitment of foreign assets and sources issued in 1995 undermined the CIAs ability and willingness to recruit assets, especially those who would provide insights into terrorist organizations and other hard targets. Despite a statutory requirement in December, 2001, to rescind the 1995 guidelines, the DCI still had not done so at the time this report was completed.
Recommendation: The 1995 guidelines must be rescinded immediately, and replaced with new guidelines that balance concerns about human rights behavior and law breaking with the need for flexibility to take advantage of opportunities to gather information on terrorist activities, as required by law.
The CIAs problems require more than just expressed commitment from senior CIA managers. They require sustained attention, and the subcommittee will be looking for deeds rather than words. As a start, the CIA should begin to develop and implement a strategic plan to address the shortcomings identified in this report.
The CIA may not be capable of providing information useful in preventing every 9-11 type incident, but it can certainly manage its resources more efficiently and effectively to enhance its CT capabilities and thereby reduce the likelihood that future 9-11s will oc- cur. HUMINT is one of our best hopes. We must not squander this historic opportunity to effect lasting positive change.
RE: FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI)
The summary finding regarding the FBI is that the FBIs main problem going forward is to overcome its information sharing failures. This report also arrived at the findings and recommendations that follow.
Enhance the FBIs Prevention Mission. The Subcommittee has found that the FBI focus has been investigating terrorist acts, but it has placed less emphasis on preventing such acts. The FBI identified many of its CT Program shortcomings prior to 9-11, but was slow to implement necessary changes. The FBIs policy to decentralize investigations was inefficient for CT operations, especially against the international terrorist target. The FBIs CT Program was most negatively impacted by the reticence of senior FBI mangers to institute broader information-sharing initiatives; a failure to leverage the FBIs ability to perform joint financial operations with other U.S. government agencies against terror- ists until after 9-11; an ineffective FBI headquarters-based CT analytical capability prior to 9-11; the failure to share field office CT expertise with the FBI community-at-large; and critical staffing shortages of translators, interpreters, and Special Agents with pro- ficiency in languages native to most terrorists. Since accepting the position as FBI Di- rector just a few days prior to the 9-11 attacks, Robert Mueller has mandated positive, substantive changes in the modus operandi of the FBIs CT Program.
Recommendation: Ensuring adequate information sharing should be communicated throughout the Bureau as the Directors top priority, and a clear strategy incorporating the personnel dimension, the technical dimension, and the legal dimension of the information-sharing problem should be developed and communicated immediately.
Improve Intelligence Gathering and Analytical Capabilities. Significant changes in law were made in the October, 2001. The USA Patriot Act and the May, 2001, changes ln the Attorney Generals guidelines were steps in the right direction. While these steps may improve intelligence gathering, however, the FBIs analytical capabilities remain insuf- ficient, pending the establishment of the new Office of Intelligence.
Address Foreign Language Shortfalls. A January, 2002, report noted that FBI projected shortages of permanent translators and interpreters in FY 2002 and 2003, and reported backlogs of thousands of un-reviewed and untranslated materials. In key counterterror- ism languages, the FBI reported, in June, 2001, having a critical shortage of special agents with some proficiency, and the FBI had very few translators and interpreters with native language skills in those languages.
Fixing Information Technology Challenges. The Webster Commission in March, 2002, noted in detail many of the information technology (IT) challenges of the FBI. The FBI has made concerted efforts to implement change to improve technology.
Recommendation: The FBI Director should review the IT implementation strategy to ensure that it incorporates plans to facilitate the necessary information sharing proc- esses needed within the intelligence and homeland security communities.
RE: NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY (NSA)
The summary finding regarding the NSA is that the NSA needs to change from a passive gatherer to a proactive hunter. There needs to be a revolution in how the NSA conducts its work. This report also arrived at the findings and recommendations that follow.
Ensure Appropriate Intelligence Collection Priorities. The Subcommittee found it trou- bling that more signals intelligence (SIGINT) resources were not devoted by the NSA to CT prior to 9-11, given the prior terrorist attacks against U.S. interests starting in 1983. Also of concern is the fact that the NSA hired virtually no new employees for an extend- ed period of time prior to 9-11, resulting in a negative impact in overall capabilities, including CT.
Recommendation: The NSA should review its processes for setting collection and analysis priorities to ensure that appropriate resources and effort are devoted to important targets like CT.
Address Analyst and Linguist Shortfalls. In April, 2000, the General Accounting Office (GAO) reported a significant shortfall in linguists at the NSA. After the 9-11 attacks, this shortfall actually increased slightly and was well below additional requirements identified since 9-11. A longterm linguist and analyst hiring strategy is required, as well as a me- thodical program to improve the skills of non-native linguists. The solution should not be agency specific.
Recommendation: In conjunction with the community, the NSA should develop a longterm strategy of ensuring appropriate number of linguists are available as well as ensuring a structure for surge linguist capabilities in unanticipated crisis areas.
Support Signals Research and Target Development. In the art of finding new targets, before 9-11 the NSA did not have a comprehensive, focused, counterterrorism target development effort. Although there were numerous analysts conducting the mission across the NSA and its collection sites, the NSA claims there were insufficient resources to conduct a focused CT-specific target development effort. The NSA needs an aggres- sive target development focus against CT and other targets that should not be in compe- tition for assets conducting sustained collection against established targets. The NSA also needs to strengthen a cultural norm in the organization to encourage target discov- ery.
Recommendation: The NSA should review its signals research and target development effort to ensure that longterm objectives in the counterterrorism effort are met, especially in follow-on phases beyond the campaign in Afghanistan.
Need for Worldwide Collection Across the Global Communications Network. The global communications network is increasingly digital, high-volume fiber optic cable rather than radio frequency, internet rather than telephone, and packet-switched rather than cir- cuit-switched, with customer instruments moving from fixed to mobile. The NSA has been unable to organize itself to define and implement an integrated system that can follow the target across the global intelligence network, beyond high-level goals and plans. The NSA also needs to develop methodologies to find non-governmental radical extremists who are associated with international terrorist organizations but might not be in direct contact with them. The NSA also needs to balance modernization funds across its collection systems in order to continue to produce intelligence on CT.
Recommendation: The NSA must define and implement an integrated system that can follow a target across the global intelligence network.
Fix Systems Development Deficiencies. The NSA has fundamental acquisition manage- ment problems. Technical solutions continue to be solved by tackling isolated, smaller manageable projects and lack a larger plan on how these small projects will integrate into a whole. The NSA has historically been able to successfully develop quick reaction solutions to address crisis needs, but has been unable to establish an effective requirements process for balancing systems acquisition with available resources.
Recommendation: The NSA should work with an outside body of experts on resource management and organizational restructuring to ensure that its organizational reform efforts currently underway appropriately align current mission needs, expected future needs, resources, and organizational processes and structures.
RE: WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION (WMD)
The summary finding regarding weapons of mass destruction terrorism is that terrorist interest in chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons has been strong enough to require that the U.S.A. address this threat more vigorously than it ever has before. This report arrived at the additional findings and recommendations that follow.
Strong Terrorist Interest in CBRN. Terrorist interest in CBRN weapons has been suf- ficiently strong to require that the U.S.A. address this threat vigorously with the highest priority. Osama bin Ladin declared, in 1998, that acquiring unconventional weapons was a religious duty. Documents recovered from Afghanistan show that bin Laden was pursuing a biological weapons research program.
Capabilities Are Not Widespread. Terrorist capabilities in CBRN have not been wide- spread, but determined groups could access chemical, biological, radiological and pos- sibly nuclear devices. Al-Qaida trainers prior to Sept 11th were training people in poisons. There were indicators that they possessed small quantities of toxic industrial chemicals, World War I-era chemical warfare (CW) agents, and biological toxins. The most lethal chemical, biological, and radiological devices are not easy to make, but non-state actors have demonstrated the ability to acquire or fabricate chemical and biological weapons materials, components, and complete weapons systems. There is much concern about dirty bombs, or radiological dispersion devices. Nuclear weapons design is much harder, but proliferation of fissile material and of expert knowledge from other states weapons complexes is continued cause for concern. Our intelligence col- lection needs to focus on acquiring additional information in these areas.
IC Response. The intelligence community is the first line of defense. A sharper focus on offensive preventive measures and deeper analysis will be necessary. It will remain necessary to maintain aggressive intelligence and law enforcement operations for some years to come to lower the probability of a CBRN attack by a non-state actor on the U.S.A. or its interests. A number of intelligence products note the gaps in IC knowledge of current CBRN capabilities of terrorists. Focused effort is more urgent than ever.
Recommendation: Congressional oversight committees, in conjunction with the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), should focus immediately on assessing improvements in IC knowledge of current CBRN capabilities of terrorists, as well as assist in identifying additional operational and analytic capabilities that are required to address the threat.
RE: OTHER ISSUES
The report also arrived at two findings and recommendations on additional important issues.
Prosecute Leaks. Several leaks have done major damage to the intelligence communitys efforts.
Recommendation: Devise a senior level mechanism for overseeing the investigation and, where possible, the prosecution of willful leakers.
Congress: Create a Leadership Staff Mechanism
Recommendation: The Subcommittee recommends the creation of senior staff positions within the leadership of both parties to coordinate and address terrorism and homeland security issues, and budgets, in conjunction with the existing committees of jurisdiction.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONGRESSIONAL ACTIVITY:
In addition to the specific recommendation set forth in the chapter on Congressional oversight, the report concluded that a number of other activities would be usefully undertaken by Congress.
Recommendation: The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) should continue aggressive oversight on a number of issues identified by the Subcom- mittee, including: ensuring robust unilateral clandestine collection capabilities benefit- ing counterterrorism collection; improving the core training program and career path for officers in the counterterrorism discipline; enhancing language training capabilities across the IC ; continued support to important signals research and target development sites; support to NSA to reform its acquisition process: global coverage capability for clandestine human intelligence collection and analysis.
Recommendation: The HPSCI should continue to work with the Director of Central Intelligence to examine emerging proposals for formulating one or several interagency counterterrorism analytical units.
Recommendation: The Speaker should direct the relevant committees of jurisdiction, including the HPSCI, the House International Relations Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and the House Judiciary Committee to conduct a joint assessment of the effectiveness of the U.S. governments strategy, capabilities, and budgets to combat CBRN terrorism.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER FOCUS IN THE FUTURE:
The Subcommittee views oversight of intelligence-related elements of terrorism and homeland security matters as critical to strengthening U.S. security and will concentrate on these matters in the coming months. This study has looked back. We must also raise questions for the future. The most important of these questions, which will assist in setting the Subcommittees agenda going forward, are listed below.
1. End State. What will the end-state homeland security architecture need to look like?
2. Intelligence Components. What are the key intelligence-related components neces- sary in such an architecture? Where they do not yet exist, how must we begin to build them?
3. Security and Other American Ideals. How should we rebalance Americas need for security--and strong intelligence and warning--with other American ideals, such as economic prosperity and personal liberty.
4. Intelligence Support to All Parties. As the roles of citizens, public and private sec- tors and first responders begin to clarify, how can the intelligence community be fully responsive to requirements for useful information on the nature of the terrorist threat.
5. Technology Plan. What ought to be the technological components--especially critical in intelligence collection and analysis--incorporated into the end-state homeland security architecture?
6. Legal Framework. What ought to be the legal framework guiding the homeland security intelligence collection and analysis missions?
7. Threat Assessment and Weapons of Mass Destruction. How will the homeland security architecture ensure a full, ongoing process for assessing the threat, including convention- al tactics of mass destruction as well as CBRN weapons.
8. Additional Threats. Although this report focuses on new capability to reduce the terrorist threat, it is important that, as priorities and resources shift other threats to our national security continue to receive sufficient understanding, monitoring, and warning.
The House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security expects this report to be helpful to the joint inquiry being conducted by the House and Senate Intelligence Com- mittees into the September 11 attacks. Some of the questions posed by this report may be answered in the course of their inquiry. Others will be the focus of this Subcommit- tees efforts in the weeks ahead, as it continues to work to reduce the threat of future terrorist attacks.