The 9/11 Commission’s New Report and its Implications for the FBI

Posted by mjperez on: August 5th, 2014

The former members of the 9/11 Commission recently released a new report, Today’s Rising Terrorist Threat and the Danger to the United States. Reflections on the Tenth Anniversary of the 9/11 Commission Report, (https://bipartisanpolicy.org/sites/default/files/%20BPC%209-11%20Commission.pdf) which revisited a number of the themes discussed in the 2004 document, including the FBI’s progress in evolving as an intelligence agency. This process, according to the authors, requires “a faster pace and deeper institutional change.” The role of the FBI’s intelligence analyst (IA) cadre continues to be a significant area of concern. Developing an IA workforce composed of talented individuals who continue to acquire knowledge throughout their careers is essential to the success of the FBI’s intelligence program.

• This starts with “sustained focus on recruiting high quality candidates”, a task which will become an increasing challenge, as, across the intelligence community, the surge of applicants which marked the years after 9/11 has subsided.

• Once analysts are on board, they need to see a future to which they can aspire and which provides a purpose to remain with the Bureau. This, to the Commission, means a career path for IA promotion and service in executive positions.

These changes occur within a larger organization and thus require a firm and confident managerial hand. However, the report criticized the frequent turnover of National Security Branch leadership that manages the intelligence program. The Bureau does not operate in a vacuum and its intelligence analysts can be significant participants in furthering integration with the broader IC.

The Commission members, in the new report, called on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to advance a variety of intergovernmental projects, including the joint duty program. Systematic FBI analytic participation in this program would contribute to mitigating the vulnerability in dividing the domestic and foreign threat pictures.

It would behoove analysts to weigh the new report against the state of affairs that the Department of Justice’s Inspector General presented in its 2005 report, The FBI’s Efforts to Hire, Train, and Retain Intelligence Analysts https://www.justice.gov/oig/reports/FBI/a0520/final.pdf. Is the Bureau closer to achieving the goals of professionalization, discussed above, than it was in 2004 (when the 9/11 Commission Report was published) or in 2005? What has worked and what remains to be done?

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