“Ambassador Negroponte’s position is one of the newest in the government, and one of the most demanding. Our nation is at war, and John [Negroponte] is making sure that those whose duty it is to defend America have the information we need to make the right decisions. He’s ensuring that our intelligence agencies work as a single, unified enterprise.” – President George W. Bush, 2005
Now John Negroponte is giving way to Admiral Michael McConnell as the nation’s Intelligence Czar or Director of National Intelligence (DNI), a position responsible for overseeing the work of several agencies charged with intelligence gathering and analysis.
With Adm, McConnell’s appointment as DNI, there is new hope that our nation’s intelligence deficiencies will be addressed.
Historically, intelligence and law enforcement agencies have operated largely in separate spheres. Law enforcement agencies were concerned with criminal activity inside the United States, while intelligence agencies concentrated on the plans and capabilities of foreign governments.
As criminal activity has become more global in nature, however, and as more US criminal statutes have been given extraterritorial application, law enforcement agencies have become increasingly interested in information about criminal enterprises outside of the United States. At the same time, collection and analysis of information about global crime also has become a priority for the intelligence community.
Increasingly overlapping interests in the same foreign groups and activities have caused conflicts between the two communities. Tensions result, in part, from their very different missions, goals, and legal authorities.
The mission of intelligence agencies is to collect, analyze, and disseminate intelligence to their consumers. Human sources and technical collection systems can be developed only over long periods of time and often at great cost. They are easily compromised and, when compromised, often cannot be replaced. Accordingly, intelligence agencies are by nature reluctant to permit consumers, including law enforcement agencies, to use intelligence in any way that might result in the loss of a source or collection method.
The mission of law enforcement agencies, in contrast, is to investigate and prosecute individuals who violate US laws. Like intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies want information about global crime, but as a means to a different end: the arrest and conviction of criminals. Law enforcement’s need for intelligence may not always be compatible with the methods of the Intelligence Community.
There are a number of specific areas of conflict between the two communities. Three stand out. First, there remains a mutual reluctance to share sensitive information. Law enforcement agencies, especially the FBI, have complained that intelligence agencies, citing the need to protect intelligence sources and methods, do not disseminate important intelligence reports or, more often, disseminate them with such onerous restrictions on their use that they are valueless to investigators and prosecutors.
Similarly, intelligence agencies complain that law enforcement organizations refuse to share information about terrorism, narcotics trafficking, and organized crime activities collected in the course of domestic investigations.
With largely unfettered access inside the United States and armed with enforcement powers, law enforcement officials often can collect information about individuals involved in global criminal activities more easily than intelligence agencies operating clandestinely overseas. Much of this information is potentially useful to the Intelligence Community, but law enforcement agencies are reluctant to share it lest it leak or be used in a way that would taint the prosecution’s case.
A second source of conflict involves the intelligence agencies’ refusal to accept direct collection tasking from law enforcement agencies. CIA and NSA interpret their legal authorities as permitting them to engage in intelligence collection only for a “foreign intelligence” purpose. Accordingly, while they invite law enforcement agencies to request information about specific targets, NSA and CIA will only go forward with the collection if they independently determine that the requested collection has a valid — in the view of NSA — a “foreign intelligence” purpose.
In almost all instances, requests for information about specific individuals involved in terrorism, narcotics trafficking, organized crime, and weapons proliferation are deemed to have foreign intelligence value. The intelligence agencies’ refusal to accept direct collection tasking, however, makes them appear to be unresponsive to the needs of law enforcement agencies and makes law enforcement reluctant to make further requests.
A third source of tension is an increased effort by law enforcement agencies, principally the FBI, to expand their activities overseas, both to engage in liaison with foreign law enforcement agencies, and to develop independent sources of information about global criminal activities that can be used more easily by investigators and prosecutors. Law enforcement agencies are hesitant to provide details about these overseas activities to intelligence and State Department officials because of concerns about leaks and possible tainting of their investigations.
During the last few years, the intelligence and law enforcement communities have taken a number of significant actions to resolve their differences. A Joint Intelligence Community-Law Enforcement working group was formed to devise solutions to the specific flashpoints between the two communities. Composed of experienced lawyers and other officials from all of the affected agencies, the working group has been meeting on a weekly basis and appears to have made significant progress in addressing problems.
A separate task force has been addressing the relationship between intelligence and law enforcement representatives stationed overseas, specifically focusing on the appropriate division of duties, guidelines for keeping each other informed, and mechanisms to resolve differences that may arise. At the same time, the Departments of State and Justice have negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding to govern the relationship between US Chiefs of Mission and law enforcement officials posted overseas.
Sources: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, US Department of Justice, National Association
”’Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com and PHXnews.com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own website is located at http://jimkouri.us”’