Center for American Progress

Improve Domestic Intelligence Analysis, Information-Sharing, and Warning Systems
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Improve Domestic Intelligence Analysis, Information-Sharing, and Warning Systems

The United States needs a domestic intelligence capability that rivals well-established foreign and military intelligence agencies.

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The United States does not need an American version of Great Britain’s MI5 “secret police,” which would be inconsistent with our laws and traditions. The United States does need a domestic intelligence capability that rivals well-established foreign and military intelligence agencies. While constructing a counterterrorism capability within the FBI has been uneven, its emphasis on the rule of law is an asset, not a liability. Further bureaucratic tinkering will only delay progress by another decade. The FBI needs to improve its ability to produce strategic (as opposed to case-specific tactical) analysis.

Some technical adjustments to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act are necessary, such as changes to monitor foreign-to-foreign communications that happen to flow through fiber optic cables. This can be achieved, however, while maintaining proper oversight of the executive branch by Congress and the courts. The Bush administration’s politization of the FISA issue is regrettable and unnecessary.

Better vertical integration, collaboration, and information-sharing among the federal government, state and local authorities, and the private sector must be accompanied by a cultural change that promotes “jointness” across the federal government and “inclusion” at lower levels. The Muslim community within the United States, more educated, prosperous, and integrated into American society than its European counterparts, is an untapped asset that can be more effectively engaged and employed to prevent radicalism at home and encourage reform abroad.

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