Civilian National Security Infrastructure

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chapter 8

At the apex of the U.S. federal government is the Constitution. (See Figure 8.1.) The Constitution gives the job of providing for America's national security to the president and the executive branch of the government, as well as to the legislative branch (the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate). It designates the president the commander in chief of the American armed forces. Executive branch entities involved in national security can be found at the White House level—for example, the White House Office, the National Security Council (NSC), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)—and all the way down to the subcabinet/department, independent-agency level—for example, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Most responsibility for day-to-day national security matters falls to the executive branch of government.

This is not to say that the legislative branch plays a passive role in national security affairs. While key powers requiring strong central direction, such as treaty making, the appointing of ambassadors, and committing armed forces to conflicts, are given to the executive branch, exercising these powers requires the approval of the Senate. Also, Congress has its own powers related to defense and national security. These include the right to declare war; to raise armies, navies, and militias; to provide money for those forces; to authorize a draft (the pressing of individuals into mandatory military service); to make rules regulating the armed forces; to make all laws "necessary and proper" for carrying out the foregoing powers; and to provide advice and consent to the executive branch in foreign affairs—for example, approval of treaties that the executive branch has negotiated and its appointments of ambassadors, ministers, and other key officers of government.

Presidential powers, especially those relating to unilaterally declaring wars, were greatly questioned during the Vietnam era. In August 1964 President Lyndon Johnson had used an alleged attack by North Vietnam on the U.S. Navy in the Gulf of Tonkin to justify a massive buildup of troops in South Vietnam. As the American public grew increasingly disenchanted with its extended military adventure in the Southeast Asian nation, they decided to limit the "imperial" war-making powers of the president. Despite President Richard M. Nixon's veto, Congress passed the War Powers Act in 1973. The legislative measure called for a sixty-day waiting period before engaging in an undeclared war.

Some political scientists claim that the War Powers Act is nothing more than a mere "paper tiger"—something that looks effective on paper but that does not work in reality. Since the act's passage, U.S. presidents have violated the measure and invaded several countries (such as Lebanon, Grenada, and Panama) without congressional approval. In October 2002 Congress, under joint Resolution 114, granted President George W. Bush full authority to use any "necessary and appropriate" force against Iraq to protect America and its citizens without returning to Congress for approval.

Typically, the U.S. national security infrastructure leaves the executive branch in the position of "proposing" national security or foreign policy initiatives, such as treaties and agreements. It leaves the Congress, especially the Senate, in the position of "disposing" them, as in ratifying treaties, approving foreign-aid budgets and defense appropriations, approving the appointment of ambassadors, and providing some oversight of intelligence and covert operations.

The roles of Congress and the executive branch are occasionally reversed. However, the experience of the Constitution's framers was generally that the Congress, a "deliberative body" (a group that must debate and vote on issues before acting on them), acts slowly compared with the executive branch. Therefore, it would not be appropriate for Congress to control functions requiring strong, immediate control, such as commanding the armed forces


or negotiating treaties. If Congress was responsible for these types of functions, it could potentially act incompetently, or it might not act at all.

On national security matters, the president first works with executive staff, then with certain executive departments. The executive staffs and departments involved in national security include the White House staff; the NSC and its staff; the State Department; the Department of Defense (DOD), including the secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS); the CIA; and the OMB. This chapter will specifically deal with the civilian branches of U.S. government that deal with national security. The military and its various aspects will be addressed in Chapter 9.


The office of the White House consists of personal and political assistants to the president, who serve at his request to facilitate his decisions. The White House staff has seen tremendous growth in the last several decades. The administration of President Herbert Hoover (1929–33) had three secretaries, a military and a naval aide, and twenty clerks in the office. In 1997 the White House office of President Bill Clinton had a permanent staff of more than four hundred people.

Growth has not been the only trend evident in the White House staff's structure over the years. Another has been the evolving and expanding role of the president's national security assistant, who heads the NSC staff. Since the early days of the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration (1953–61), the post of national security assistant (then called special assistant to the president for national security affairs) has become increasingly important. In each administration, the assistant's personal relationship with the president, and the president's wishes as to how the assistant should function, have modified the role. The national security assistant's role has also evolved as the NSC staff, which the assistant heads, has changed.


The president's principal cabinet officers also serve as his closest national security advisors. The president, the vice-president, the secretary of state, and the secretary of defense make up the NSC, which was established by the National Security Act of 1947. That act mandated that the CIA director, also known as the director of central intelligence (DCI), and the chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) also be advisors to the NSC. Present during most NSC meetings are the president, the vice-president, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, and the president's national security assistant. Others who may attend include the president's chief of staff and counsel, the attorney general, and other senior officials depending on their responsibilities.


The Department of State was created in 1789. Its first secretary was Thomas Jefferson, who went on to become the third president of the United States. The State Department represents the interests of the United States and its citizens in relations with foreign countries and also serves as a principal source of advice to the president on aspects of national security and foreign affairs.

The secretary of state faces the task of managing a huge bureaucracy. (See Figure 8.2.) For the most part, the U.S. Department of State is organized by function, such as counterterrorism, intelligence and research, protocol, and public affairs. However, under the undersecretary for political affairs, it is organized regionally, by foreign "desks," a classic structure found in many departments and agencies involved in foreign affairs, including the CIA. Throughout the department, there are distinct areas of functional or regional responsibility. Functional units naturally cut across regional lines, and within the foreign bureaus are special functional "desks." Sometimes analysis of an issue or problem by a foreign desk contradicts analysis from a functional bureau.

The secretary of state is the president's principal advisor on foreign policy, but history shows that the secretary's power has been weaker or stronger depending on a particular president's own interests and activities in foreign affairs. President Nixon appointed William Rogers as secretary of state in 1969 but bypassed him systematically to take matters into his own hands. Other presidents, such as Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, relied more heavily on their secretaries.

In addition to its national security objectives, the State Department remains responsible for the official day-to-day presence of the U.S. government in foreign countries. The department follows the "country team" concept. The American ambassador, who is a representative of the American government, oversees all U.S. programs and personnel within a country, with the exception of American military forces in the country that may be in the field or in combat roles.


The president and his advisors control the most powerful armed forces and intelligence systems in history. These are employed to defend and secure the vital interests and security of the most powerful nation on earth. Yet, their slightest move can cost millions of dollars. The president has little choice but to structure the priorities of national defense constantly within the defense budget.

The director of the OMB assists the president in preparing the federal budget and supervising its administration in executive branch agencies, such as those dedicated to defense and national security. The OMB helps formulate the president's spending plans, which means that it assesses the cost-effectiveness of agency programs, policies, and procedures. The OMB also resolves the competing demands of defense and national security agencies to set funding priorities, and ensures that federal agency reports, rules, testimony, and proposed legislation are consistent with the president's budget policies.

In addition, the OMB oversees and coordinates the administration's procurement, financial management, information, and regulatory policies. In each of these areas, the OMB's role is to help improve administrative management, to develop better performance measures and coordinating mechanisms, and to reduce any unnecessary burdens on the taxpayer. The largest items in the national budget are defense and national security, so the president relies heavily on the OMB to set funding priorities.



Below the level of cabinet members and presidential advisors is the next component of the national security


apparatus: the intelligence community. The intelligence community consists of executive branch agencies and units conducting a variety of intelligence activities in furtherance of national security.

The National Security Act of 1947 established the CIA and made the DCI an advisor to the NSC. The DCI directs not just the CIA but the intelligence community as a whole. Members of the intelligence community related to the DOD include the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and intelligence agencies of the various branches of the military. Non-DOD agencies include the CIA, State Department, Energy Department, Treasury Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Coast Guard. The CIA, DIA, NSA, NRO, and National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) are solely tasked with intelligence responsibilities, while the others are primarily concerned with other duties (such as law enforcement, border security, and the like) but deal with intelligence as a part of their mandate.

Information as Intelligence

What makes information intelligence? Intelligence is information that has a strategic value—information whose collection is instrumental in making important national security decisions by the president, the DOD, or others in government. What also makes information intelligence is that it has been gathered at a more or less central location, where it can be integrated with other data, including secret data, and carefully analyzed.

technical intelligence. The intelligence community refers to the collection of technical data on opposing forces' weapons systems, personnel capabilities, and other technical information as "techint." A surprising amount of relevant techint comes from open (unclassified) sources, such as foreign and domestic newspapers, magazines, government reports, technical and professional journals, news media, academic studies, and popular literature. A much smaller amount of relevant techint comes from obscure, classified, and secret sources, such as lost or stolen weapons systems and government documents, stolen classified documents, stolen weapons or classified facility blueprints, and classified maps.

human intelligence. Intelligence starts with spying, which was certainly the most common method of intelligence gathering prior to World War II (1939–45). In general, the community refers to the cultivation of human sources, whether open or secret, as "humint," short for human intelligence. Often, humint is the best (or only) way for U.S. defense planners to find out what another country's leadership thinks of its own capabilities. It is likely that humint will become more and more useful against threats like rogue states, transnational actors, terrorists, and organized crime, whose assets are smaller and thus less susceptible than sovereign states' forces to observation or surveillance via satellite imaging from space or by other processes.

CIA field agents are one source of humint. They collect information from open sources such as the media and recruit foreign citizens, either "defectors in place" (who volunteer their services) or "turned" informants (who are bribed or blackmailed into service). The latter can include foreign government officials or businesspeople, paid informants in terrorist cells, and members of organized crime groups, among others. Soviet Lieutenant Colonel Pyotr Semyonovich Popov, for example, contributed invaluable data on his country's missile systems during the 1950s.

Once CIA field agents have collected information, they turn it over to their superiors, the station chiefs, who send it to CIA headquarters. Unlike their counterparts in the State and Defense Departments, CIA agents in the field and analysts in the home offices do not rotate their focus on foreign areas. Rather, they are given long-term assignments to allow them to focus on specific areas.

signals intelligence. Signals intelligence consists of the interception and processing of electronic signals—for example, missile and satellite telemetry, shortwave radio transmissions, and cell-phone exchanges intercepted via ground-, air-, or space-based eavesdropping or monitoring equipment. The government devotes large sums of money to this activity. Most estimates put the budget of the NSA, the agency mainly responsible for this function, in the billions of dollars.

The federal government also funds In-Q-Tel, a notfor-profit venture-capital project allied with the CIA, which, among other endeavors, has pursued technology to facilitate monitoring of the World Wide Web through custom information retrieval and multiple-language and anonymous search services.

imagery intelligence. Imagery intelligence is collected using photography from reconnaissance satellites and aircraft, as well as other types of photographic and image-producing processes. The satellites and aircraft used are known as "overhead platforms," one famous example of which was the U-2, a high-altitude plane with sophisticated cameras that was promoted by CIA Director Allen Dulles in the 1950s. The U-2 was used extensively to monitor military and missile sites in the Soviet Union.

Intelligence provided by U-2 photo reconnaissance proved indispensable in defusing and managing the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, during which the Soviet Union threatened the safety of the United States by placing ballistic missiles in Cuba which were capable of striking major American cities. The administration of President John F. Kennedy had to decide how to respond to this threat. The reconnaissance images gave Kennedy an idea of the precise nature and extent of the new missile batteries, which he used in fashioning an appropriately measured U.S. military response. After a tense standoff involving a U.S. naval blockade of Cuba, the Soviets eventually withdrew their missiles.

measurement and signature intelligence. Measurement and signature intelligence (often called "masint") is produced by collecting, storing, and analyzing atmospheric and environmental emissions, including radar, infrared, chemical, acoustic, and seismic data, usually as detected by specialized sensors. The CIA Science and Technology Directorate, for instance, employs seismic sensors to keep tabs on global military activity and has researched methods of detecting poisonous gases. Masint, according to specialists, came into being as the result of the SCUD missile hunts of the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

Covert Action

Only the president can direct the CIA to undertake a covert action. Such actions are usually based on recommendations from the NSC. U.S. foreign policy objectives may not be fully realized by normal diplomatic means, but military action would be too extreme. In these cases, the president may direct the CIA to conduct a special activity abroad in support of foreign policy in which the role of the U.S. government is neither readily apparent nor publicly acknowledged. However, once ordered to undertake the activity, the DCI must notify congressional oversight committees.

In the past few decades, covert actions have often taken the form of assistance (money, equipment, and/or advice) to operatives in foreign lands, as those forces attempt to resolve situations in ways that are favorable to the interests of the United States. Most of these operations, being low level and involving only a few people, have remained secret. Others, being larger scale and involving many more participants, have found their way into the news.

Paramilitary operations are an extreme form of covert action. In these cases, CIA operatives go beyond giving advice to opposition groups and other elements and may actually lead the charge and direct them. Such activities can be very controversial because they fall within a gray area. Even though they do not involve uniformed U.S. military personnel, and so do not come under the presidential restrictions on war making of the War Powers Act, many people think such actions amount to undeclared war.

Among the more controversial covert actions under-taken by the CIA since the 1960s have been the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Phoenix Program. In the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion the CIA sent a force of 1,500 men to Cuba where, denied air support by President Kennedy, they were decisively defeated. DCI Allen Dulles resigned after the disaster. The Phoenix Program, which started in 1968, was designed to lessen support for the Communist Viet Cong in South Vietnam but resulted in the deaths of at least twenty thousand noncombatants.


The CIA's Role

Congress established the CIA to serve as a central depository for the various specialized intelligence and espionage functions within the intelligence community. This leaves the CIA, per Congress's intent, better able to focus directly on the overall community's three functions: (1) collecting vital intelligence; (2) disseminating it within the executive branch; and (3) conducting and coordinating spying, covert actions, and counterintelligence as effectively as possible.

The CIA's modern-day role derives from that of its World War II predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which had two main wartime functions: (1) for the first time in the nation's history, centrally gathering and analyzing intelligence; and (2) conducting covert operations, such as active aid to resistance movements in Europe, as authorized by the president.

The CIA is the only agency within the intelligence community authorized (and even then, only on a case-by-case basis) to conduct spying and covert actions abroad (although the president could conceivably order other agencies to be involved). However, both the National Security Act of 1947 and Executive Order 12333—United States Intelligence Activities (1981) prohibit the CIA from spying on or acting against U.S. citizens domestically. Executive Order 12333 specifically forbids "physical surveillance of a United States person in the United States by agencies other than the FBI." Counterintelligence—monitoring and thwarting spying and intelligence activities against the United States, mostly within the United States—is thus a function assigned to the FBI domestically, with the CIA and the intelligence units of the armed services also assisting abroad.

This subject has prompted renewed interest and debate since the passage of H.R. 3162, commonly known as the Patriot Act, in October 2002. This legislative measure calls for, among other things, fewer restrictions on information sharing among intelligence agencies and law enforcement authorities on suspected terrorists, as well as greater authority for law enforcement to monitor the phone conversations and e-mail activities of such individuals.

Secret versus Public Information about the CIA

Legislation passed in 1949 provided statutory authority for the CIA's undisclosed budget and staffing levels. The Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 exempted CIA funding from most of the usual appropriations procedures. Further, it allowed the agency not to divulge its "organization, functions, names, officials, titles, salaries, or numbers of personnel employed." The defense budget disguises funds intended for intelligence within the budgets of nonsecret defense agencies. Under the 1949 act, CIA funds listed in the budgets of other agencies could be moved back to the agency free of limitations placed on the original appropriations. In this way, intelligence community programs were shielded from outside evaluation, making it impossible for congressional overseers to get an idea of their cost-effectiveness and propriety.

As the cold war flourished from 1947 to 1977, the intelligence community was given unusual autonomy. Through 1977, thirty years after it was founded, the CIA was exempt from exposing and defending its budget. However, the gradual replacement of the cold war by détente (a period of new U.S.-Soviet understanding, especially about arms control, that developed in the early 1970s under President Nixon) and other developments led Congress to weaken the intelligence community's power in the mid-1970s. During the mid- to late 1970s, although the intelligence community's budget was not made public, congressional oversight committees were given more authority over the CIA's behavior, especially its espionage and covert actions.

Little official information about the CIA's size or appropriations is publicly available even now. For security reasons, the CIA keeps most of its activities and finances secret. The overall extent of the headquarters complex located in Langley, Virginia, suggests that the usual estimate of about twenty thousand employees at that location is accurate, but the number of agents, operatives, and others in various countries is unknown.

Estimates of current CIA budgets vary widely because CIA funds continue to be hidden in the annual budgets of other agencies. According to The CIA Factbook on Intelligence (Washington, DC: Office of Public Affairs, Central Intelligence Agency, 2004), the total intelligence budget for the U.S. government in 1998 (of which the CIA is one part) was $26.7 billion. More recent data had not been made public at the time of that publication.

Organizational Structure

A modern intelligence organization such as the CIA has a distinctive organizational chart, shown in Figure 8.3. There is a balance between functional and regional divisions as well as analytic and administrative divisions. Each of the CIA's three divisions, or "directorates," has its own deputy director. The Operations Directorate is responsible for covert actions and counterintelligence; the Science and Technology Directorate specializes in data interpretation; and the Intelligence Directorate generates reports based on analyses of raw data for the president and other members of the executive branch.

The DCI is distinct from other agency heads in that he or she serves as (1) head of the CIA; (2) head of the intelligence community; and (3) principal advisor on foreign intelligence to the NSC. Directors of other intelligence community agencies advise the DCI, in turn, by sitting on a number of specialized intelligence committees. Chief among these groups is the National Foreign Intelligence Board.

The DCI, in advising the NSC and the president, must be objective and resist political pressures that would influence his or her counsel. One way the CIA attempts to remain independent is by giving stable, lifelong careers to people who are not just competent technicians and accomplished specialists but who also pass a rigid background check, swear an oath of secrecy, and appear to possess such traits as loyalty, discretion, ingenuity, and a commitment to protecting and promoting American values. For this reason, the CIA places a high premium on trust and is often referred to by its employees as "the family." When the CIA's trust in its employees is misplaced, the consequences can be serious, as illustrated by the case of Aldrich Ames, a high-ranking CIA official who sold secrets to the Soviet Union (and later Russia) from 1985 to 1994. Not only did Ames's treachery as head of the CIA's Soviet counterintelligence unit result in flawed American policy, but it also cost several agents their lives.

The History of the CIA

the first three decades. During its first thirty years, the CIA became known as a producer and disseminator of the highest-quality intelligence. It developed economic forecasting methods that helped gauge the Soviet Union's strength; disproved the "missile gap," which assumed that American weaponry was insufficient to counter the Soviet threat; and provided useful information during the Vietnam War. However, the agency also fell short of expectations on some occasions. It failed to warn of the Suez Crisis in 1956 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

the 1970s: intelligence problems and congressional curbs. Congressional hearings during 1975 brought to light the CIA's role in several assassination plots against foreign leaders in Chile, the Congo, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Indonesia. Charges were also made that CIA surveillance programs had been aimed at innocent foreign students, visitors to the United States, and Americans traveling abroad. Domestic practices of the CIA were attacked as illegal extensions of the CIA's foreign duties: domestic wiretaps, break-ins, and mail intercepts; infiltration of religious groups; surveillance of national political figures; training of local law enforcement in espionage techniques; and involvement in the academic world through subsidies and research contracts.


Concerned about possible domestic spying, President Gerald Ford appointed the Rockefeller Commission to report on CIA activities within U.S. borders. Before long, a number of congressional and executive actions had defined and limited the CIA's activities. In 1974 the first major restriction on the CIA's activities passed: the Hughes-Ryan Amendments. They required the CIA to submit plans for covert activities to the president, who in turn had to justify them to appropriate committees of Congress as being critical to national security.

The U.S. Senate also conducted an investigation into CIA activities. The Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, popularly called the Church Committee for its chairman Senator Frank Church, issued fourteen reports during 1975 and 1976. They documented such abuses as the assassinations of foreign leaders and the clandestine monitoring of the domestic mail of American citizens.

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees, up until this time, had loosely supervised the CIA. Stricter supervision began when President Ford established the Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB) in 1976. The IOB is authorized to investigate the legality and appropriateness of intelligence activities and directs its reports to the attorney general. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) was set up in 1976, and the following year the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) came into being.

Although the number of employees and size of the CIA's recent budgets have not been publicly disclosed, they are scrutinized by several other government agencies. Along with the SSCI and the HPSCI, the OMB and the Defense Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committees in both houses of Congress must review these details. As with all other government organizations, an examination and approval process applies to the CIA's functions.

the 1980s: iran-contra. The infamous Iran-contra affair of the 1980s is one of the largest scandals to have plagued the intelligence community. The Reagan administration was determined to contain what it determined was a threat by the Sandinista government of Nicaragua to export communism to nearby countries. In April 1984, when word leaked out that CIA agents had helped place mines in three Nicaraguan harbors, several congressional representatives claimed that the CIA had not informed them properly, and some were convinced that they had been deceived. As a result, Congress passed a law in 1986, known some months later as the Boland Amendment to the War Powers Act of 1973, that prohibited any military aid to the Nicaraguan government's opponents, called the contras.

Still, Reagan's NSC was eager to continue such aid. The national security advisor and his staff, taking the view that the Boland Amendment did not apply to the NSC, continued aiding the contras by other means—for example, via private funds and contributions from other nations. The administration's efforts to skirt congressional appropriations (the only legitimate funds for national security) included efforts by members of the NSC to divert funds from sales of arms to Iran (although the sales of the arms were also done in an attempt to secure the release of American hostages).

Before long, Congress became extremely disenchanted with the CIA and the NSC. It investigated the Iran-contra connection, finding that CIA personnel in Central America had rendered logistical and tactical support and assistance even after passage of the Boland Amendment. Congressional committees investigating the affair also concluded that senior officials of the CIA had misled Congress, withheld information, or failed to contradict others who they knew were giving incorrect testimony.

the 1990s: additional scrutiny of the cia. Congress chartered the Commission on Roles and Capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community in 1994 to play an advisory role on the use of intelligence in national security. In the years that followed, it made a number of novel recommendations. One recommendation, for example, is that the government should disclose the current fiscal year's budget for the intelligence community and the total amount requested for the next fiscal year. As the commission noted in its final report, intelligence agencies "are institutions within a democracy, responsible to the president, the Congress, and ultimately, the people. Where accountability can be strengthened without damaging national security … it should be."

The 1996 report of a commission appointed by the Clinton administration to investigate the intelligence community also urged the CIA to pursue its mission with less secrecy and more accountability. The report suggested that the country take a middle-ground approach to the CIA's future by neither abolishing it nor giving it more powers.

The CIA Now and in the Future

Since the end of the cold war, the intelligence community has focused on such activities as fighting global terrorism, assisting law enforcement in fighting narcotics producers and traffickers, and collecting economic intelligence. Its strong mandate has been to cooperate more closely within the intelligence community and to reduce or eliminate duplications of effort. The CIA has established special multidisciplinary centers to address such major issues as nonproliferation, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, international organized crime and narcotics trafficking, environment, and arms control intelligence.

To address the threat of terrorism against American interests abroad, for example, the CIA created the Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC) in 1986, three years after the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks bombings in Beirut, Lebanon. This interagency group includes members representing the Pentagon and FBI, as well as the CIA. Though the CTC has been criticized for failing to prevent the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks masterminded by Osama bin Laden, it did succeed in capturing Abu Zubaydah, bin Laden's chief of operations and recruiting, on March 27, 2002.

In 2004, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States, popularly called the 9/11 Commission, studied how the government could be reformed to prevent terrorist attacks such as those on September 11, 2001. Their report made several suggestions as to how to improve intelligence operations in particular, including the creation of a National Intelligence Director. This director would oversee all intelligence operations, regardless of the specific agency conducting them. The commission's report stirred a series of proposals and arguments. On August 2, 2004, President George W. Bush called for Congress to establish the position of National Intelligence Director, who would be "the President's principal intelligence advisor and will oversee and coordinate the foreign and domestic activities of the intelligence committee." On August 27, 2004, President Bush issued executive orders enhancing the fiscal authority of the position of CIA director, creating a new national counterterrorism center, and authorizing the creation of a presidential board on safeguarding civil liberties.

Some Americans do not trust the CIA, and the intelligence community as a whole, and are wary of the national security agencies' sweeping new powers, provided through the Patriot Act, to conduct surveillance against U.S. residents involved in terrorist activities. Other Americans state that there has to be some entity protecting the country and that, pursuant to its mission, the tasks and abilities of the intelligence community need be potentially unlimited in technical and geopolitical scope. For better or worse, an intelligence system is indispensable to protecting national security, yet a balance between security and civil rights must be maintained.


The FBI is the part of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) charged with investigating crimes and working with law enforcement agencies. According to the FBI's official mission outlined at, its duties are:

  • To uphold the law through the investigation of violations of federal criminal law
  • To protect the United States from foreign intelligence and terrorist activities
  • To provide leadership and law enforcement assistance to federal, state, local, and international agencies
  • To perform these responsibilities in a manner that is responsive to the needs of the public and is faithful to the Constitution of the United States

How the FBI Is Organized

The FBI is located in Washington, D.C., and is headed by a director, who holds a maximum term of ten years. The director is appointed by the president but has to be approved by the Senate. The FBI director and the Washington, D.C., office coordinate the work of fifty-six field offices, about four hundred satellite offices (called resident agencies), and forty-five foreign posts (called legal attaché offices, or legats). As of June 30, 2003, there were nearly 28,000 FBI employees. About 11,633 of these were special agents, while 15,904 held support positions.

The FBI's goals are often confused with those of several other government agencies, notably the CIA, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). The FBI is distinct from the CIA in two major ways: (1) the CIA is specifically forbidden from collecting information on U.S. citizens or corporations (it is allowed to collect information only on foreign citizens and other countries); and (2) the CIA is not a law enforcement agency but rather collects and analyzes data pertinent to national security. The FBI differs from both the DEA and the ATF in that those agencies have very specific missions (the enforcement of drug laws and the enforcement of firearms statutes, including the investigation of nonterrorist arsons and bombing incidents, respectively), while the FBI, as stated on its Web site (, is the "primary law enforcement agency for the U.S. government."

The FBI's activities are monitored by a variety of government agencies. The FBI director reports directly to the U.S. attorney general. The FBI reports investigative findings to the attorney general and U.S. attorneys nationwide, and these findings are also often examined by judicial agencies. The U.S. Congress supervises FBI budget requests (in 2003, the budget was $4.3 billion), as well as its day-to-day operations and investigations.

The History of the FBI

the early years: founding to world war ii. The FBI came into being on July 26, 1908, when President Theodore Roosevelt's attorney general, Charles J. Bonaparte, ordered a group of special agents to report to Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch. In 1909 this force was designated the Bureau of Investigation. At first, the bureau mainly investigated crimes like antitrust or naturalization violations. After the outbreak of World War I (1914–18), its mandate expanded, with the bureau gaining some responsibility in such areas as espionage, sabotage, and selective service. It monitored individuals such as anarchists, communists, trade union activists, civil rights activists, and foreign resident agitators. However, after the war, the bureau was criticized for supposedly conducting illegal searches and denying suspects proper legal counsel.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s the bureau expanded. In 1924 perhaps the bureau's most famous director took office—J. Edgar Hoover, who would remain bureau/FBI director for almost half a century until his death in 1972. Hoover immediately began to reform and "professionalize" the organization. The fingerprint database, which would come to be the largest repository of fingerprints in the world, was created in 1924. The FBI Laboratory was established in 1932 to analyze physical evidence. In 1934 agents gained the legal right to make arrests themselves rather than having to rely on local law enforcement officials, and in 1935 the bureau became known by its current name, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

As World War II (1939–45) started in Europe, the FBI began focusing significant energies on such wartime issues as sabotage, and when the United States entered the war in 1941, the bureau's responsibilities increased again. This time, it was responsible for enforcing the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent, something that was done, supporters argued, for reasons of national security, despite J. Edgar Hoover's protests that it was an unnecessary measure.

controversial decades: the 1950s to 1970s. In the post–World War II period, the Soviet Union gained in power and became a major rival of the United States. In the late 1940s the Soviet army occupied much of Eastern Europe. China fell to the communists in 1949, the same year the Soviet Union tested its first atomic weapon. The combined specters of communist aggression and atomic weaponry made the American public nervous. The FBI began undertaking thorough background checks of applicants for government jobs—particularly those requiring access to nuclear data or materials.

Yet during the 1950s and 1960s, the FBI overstepped its bounds, providing secret assistance to the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HCUAA) and Senator Joseph McCarthy. The HCUAA and Senator McCarthy promoted communist "witch hunts" in an attempt to expose communist sympathizers, whom they believed had infiltrated all parts of American culture and government and who threatened national security. The FBI provided the HCUAA with information from confidential files.

The 1960s were a turbulent decade, during which the FBI was involved in civil rights cases in America's South. In the summer of 1964 the FBI investigated the murders of three voter registration workers in Mississippi. In 1967 seven men connected to the Ku Klux Klan were convicted of the murders. The FBI also investigated and made arrests in the assassinations of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr., and Medgar Evers. Violent groups such as the Weather Underground, who set off bombs in the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, and the Black Panther Party, whose members were involved in several shootouts with police, were also investigated.

In the 1970s there were attacks on the FBI's domestic information gathering after news damaging to the FBI emerged—notably, that many of the FBI investigations of the 1950s and 1960s were illegal. At the time, public scrutiny went beyond the FBI's information activities to its program of domestic covert actions, called COINTELPRO—shorthand for "counterintelligence program." COINTELPRO was evidently intended to disrupt and discredit the leaders of certain domestic dissident groups, such as "New Left" groups (who opposed the Vietnam War), the U.S. Communist Party, the Socialist Workers Party, the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazi Party, black nationalists, the Black Panthers, and other extremist groups. It became clear that these secret disruptive activities, which dated back to the 1950s, went well beyond the law in most instances.

According to Kenneth O'Reilly (in "Federal Bureau of Investigation," Dictionary of American History, Supplement, New York: Scribner's, 1996), "After Hoover's death in 1972, many of the FBI's files were opened under the Freedom of Information Act. They revealed that the bureau had done much more than compile intelligence on such 'dissidents' as civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Special agents committed thousands of burglaries to gather information and ran counterintelligence programs to 'neutralize' communists and anti-Vietnam protestors." The FBI also ran illegal wiretaps and collected and distributed information for political reasons. Special committees from the Senate and House investigated these abuses, and a 1977 DOJ task force referred to these types of actions as felonious conduct. It also became known that Hoover also used the power of the FBI to more or less blackmail politicians into keeping him in office. He used FBI staff to conduct research on prominent congressional representatives and senators, then used any negative information as leverage against them.

The 1970s were also made turbulent by the Watergate scandal, which forced President Richard M. Nixon to resign. It also led to the resignation of the acting FBI director, L. Patrick Gray, because he had destroyed Watergate evidence and had leaked information on the FBI investigation to White House staff. Watergate hearings revealed that President Nixon had used the FBI to conduct illegal investigations of his political enemies.

COINTELPRO was terminated by the attorney general in 1971. In the early 1990s, the FBI pulled back on its domestic counterintelligence activities, limiting its focus to domestic terrorist and antigovernment militia groups. In a way, this newfound restraint would be rewarded: the 1996 AntiTerrorism Law, passed by Congress in response to the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Atlanta, Georgia (Olympics), bombings, gave freer rein to the FBI to conduct surveillance and counterintelligence against truly violent groups.

recent history: the 1980s through today. In the early 1980s the prevalence of terrorism soared, and counterterrorism became an important part of the FBI's mission. At the same time, the FBI worked with the DEA to combat drug activity. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States was left as the one major superpower in the world. The FBI took this opportunity to concentrate more of its resources on domestic issues while still taking a large part in national security efforts. Some three hundred special agents were reassigned from counterintelligence work to domestic violent crime investigations. Not all of the FBI's domestic efforts were successful, and the shooting deaths in 1992 of two members of a white separatist family in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and the eighty deaths resulting from a standoff at the Branch Davidian religious sect compound in Waco, Texas, in 1993 turned some public opinion against the FBI. Many American politicians and citizens considered the Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents evidence that the FBI could not adequately handle "crisis situations."

In addition, then–FBI director William S. Sessions was accused of numerous ethical violations, including personal use of FBI resources. A DOJ investigation later confirmed these violations, but Sessions refused to resign, so he was fired by then-President Bill Clinton. Louis J. Freeh, who became FBI director in 1993, attempted to revitalize the beleaguered bureau, streamlining and overhauling various FBI procedures. An International Law Enforcement Academy was founded in 1995.

Terrorism continued to be a major issue throughout the 1990s, and the FBI participated in investigations of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City, the 1995 Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the "Unabomber" bombings of Theodore Kaczynski, and U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

The late 1990s saw more controversy, related to supposedly sloppy work at the FBI Laboratory and the investigation of Richard Jewell, who was questioned in connection with a bombing at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Jewell, a security guard who was working at the Olympics, was originally the FBI's prime suspect. Jewell was never charged, and his name was ultimately cleared, but the FBI was suspected of leaking his name to the media and of interviewing him outside the guidelines of the law. The FBI Laboratories were cleared by a 1997 DOJ investigation of the most heinous charges, but the FBI did censure agents for violating Jewell's rights when they interrogated him without his lawyer present.

The FBI took a leading role in investigations relating to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, including the perpetrators of the attacks, the anthrax-laced letters that followed, and the prevention of future attacks. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, more than half of the FBI's special agents were working on issues directly related to the attacks or prevention of future attacks.

FBI Investigations

On its Web site the FBI defines its "investigative functions" as "applicant matters; civil rights; counterterrorism; foreign counterintelligence; organized crime/drugs; violent crimes and major offenders; and financial crime." It can take on any investigation that Congress has not expressly given to another federal agency. Examples of investigations handled by other agencies include postal investigations, which are handled by the U.S. Postal Service; customs investigations, handled by the U.S. Customs Service; and counterfeiting investigations, handled by the Secret Service. The mandate of the FBI includes gathering information and evidence and making arrests (at least on U.S. soil—special agents generally do not have the power to make arrests abroad). However, the FBI has no power to prosecute or recommend prosecution for specific individuals; those decisions must come from federal prosecutors working for the DOJ.

special agents. The FBI staff who carry out investigations are called special agents. They have numerous powers to help them fulfill their duties, including the rights to carry weapons, to arrest suspects, and to subpoena witnesses of grand jury investigations. With judicial backing, they can tap telephone lines, read mail, and obtain personal documents such as tax returns and telephone bills.

sharing authority with local law enforcement. In investigations with "concurrent jurisdiction" (for example, where a crime is a local, state, and federal violation at the same time), the FBI does not "outrank" the other agencies. Law enforcement agencies representing all levels of government, including the FBI, often work cooperatively on investigations. Some of the ways in which the FBI can assist local investigations include:

  • Monitoring and identifying fugitives' fingerprints. The FBI maintains a Criminal Master File in its Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) that contains the fingerprints and criminal histories of more that forty-seven million individuals.
  • Entering data on local fugitives into its national database, the National Crime Information Center. In 2003 the center revealed that it processes about 3.5 million inquiries a day from law enforcement agencies across the nation.
  • Providing laboratory analysis of evidence
  • Pursuing and attempting to arrest fugitives who cross state lines or leave the country. According to information available on the FBI's Web site in October 2004, at any given time the FBI is searching for about twelve thousand fugitives.

Local law enforcement agencies assist the FBI by providing it with crime statistics, which are then collected in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. These statistics are provided by about seventeen thousand agencies, and the data represent 94% of the U.S. population. The FBI works with federal law enforcement agencies as well, both on specific investigations and in ongoing task forces, and also shares information with some foreign law enforcement organizations. Training of law enforcement officers is provided by the FBI to both domestic and foreign law enforcement staff.

international and terrorist threats. The FBI has various duties in regard to terrorism and espionage. It investigates bombings both on U.S. soil and abroad when the suspected target of the bombing is a U.S. citizen or a U.S. interest (such as an embassy). It works with other domestic and foreign agencies to share information that might be useful in combating terrorism. The FBI monitors hate groups and potential terrorist groups in accordance with guidelines set by the attorney general. Only those groups showing strong evidence of a predilection toward unlawful behavior are monitored.

Beyond terrorism, the FBI also has other duties to protect the country from international threats, including counterintelligence. According to information available on the FBI's Web site in October 2004, "the FBI is responsible for detecting and lawfully countering actions of foreign intelligence services and organizations that employ human and technical means to gather information about the United States which adversely affects U.S. national interests." This espionage can consist of "the acquisition of classified, sensitive, or proprietary information from the U.S. government or U.S. companies." The FBI estimates that espionage costs the United States $100 billion each year.

A Changing FBI in the Wake of 9/11

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against America, a new wave of criticisms were leveled at the FBI. Several different incidents provided detractors with ammunition. For one, a group of FBI counterterrorism special agents based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, learned of a new student at a Minnesota flight school—one Zacarias Moussaoui. Moussaoui piqued the agents' interest because he paid $6,200 in cash for flight training and only wanted to learn to fly, not land, Boeing 747s. When Moussaoui's visa expired in August 2001 and he continued to remain in the country, the Minneapolis agents arrested him and did a thorough background check, only to discover that his background included ties to followers of Osama bin Laden. The agents requested a special search warrant to check a computer disk owned by Moussaoui, but their request was denied. Less than a week later, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks rocked the nation. As of 2004, Moussaoui was being prosecuted as the alleged "twentieth" hijacker, who would supposedly have participated in the attacks had he not been in FBI custody.

A "whistle-blowing" letter from Minneapolis FBI Chief Counsel Colleen Rowley accused the FBI of deliberately obstructing the Minneapolis agents. Another FBI special agent, Kenneth Williams, wrote a memo in July 2001 warning of suspicious activity by Middle Eastern men in Arizona flight schools. The Phoenix, Arizona, agent suggested that FBI headquarters take a nationwide survey of Arab-American flight school students, but the memo was not passed along to the appropriate people and was never acted upon. The FBI director was not aware it existed until a few days after September 11, 2001. A 1998 memo out of the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, FBI office warned of a similar phenomenon but did not receive much attention either.

As part of the wave of reforms undertaken after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III instituted a major reorganization of the FBI to deal with such complaints. Director Mueller viewed his plan as an "evolving road map" that could be adjusted to meet the needs of American security. According to a June 6, 2002, statement before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary ("A New FBI Focus"), Director Mueller adapted previous strategic plans to come up with the following ten priorities for the FBI (listed here in his own words):

  1. Protect the United States from terrorist attack.
  2. Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage.
  3. Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes.
  4. Combat public corruption at all levels.
  5. Protect civil rights.
  6. Combat transnational and national criminal organizations and enterprises.
  7. Combat major white-collar crime.
  8. Combat significant violent crime.
  9. Support federal, state, municipal, and international partners.
  10. Upgrade technology to successfully perform the FBI's mission.

In the same statement, Director Mueller noted that the changes to the FBI to accomplish these priorities would


be "built upon three key interrelated elements: (1) refocusing FBI mission and priorities; (2) realigning the FBI workforce to address these priorities; and (3) shifting FBI management and operational cultures to enhance flexibility, agility, effectiveness, and accountability."

The priority reorganization led to important changes in the FBI's Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Laboratory divisions, and the establishment of a Cyber Division, as well as a Security Division, Records Management Division, and Office of Law Enforcement Coordination. Other changes included personnel reorganization, revised procedures for information sharing, and changes in the way the FBI conducts criminal investigations.

personnel changes. In addition to the movement of personnel from some divisions to others, the personnel reorganization led to five new executive assistant directors, who report directly to the FBI director. These assistant directors oversee the areas of intelligence, counterterrorism and counterintelligence, criminal investigations, law enforcement services, and administration. (See Figure 8.4). This relieved some of the burden formerly shouldered by the FBI's deputy director and increased accountability and oversight.

The restructuring plan also called for the nature of the FBI's workforce to change. Previously, most special agents had been generalists. After the reorganization the agency sought subject experts with extensive knowledge in such fields as information technology, foreign languages, engineering, and so forth.

information sharing and the office of law enforcement coordination. In a May 8, 2002, statement before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary ("FBI Reorganization"), Director Mueller admitted that "information sharing," or FBI coordination with state and local law enforcement authorities, left something to be desired: "[Our] history of solid, personal relationships alone was not addressing the basic information needs of our counterparts…. Adding 650,000 state and local officers to our efforts is the only way to make this truly a national effort, not just a federal effort." Many of the changes to specific FBI divisions integrated an increase in information sharing with state and local law enforcement agencies.

The FBI's plan also created a new Office of Law Enforcement Coordination, whose purpose is to "improve relationships and information sharing with state and local police professionals and others" ("FBI Reorganization"). The emphasis on information sharing had its genesis in local law enforcement complaints that the FBI sometimes kept local agencies "out of the loop" and that FBI personnel turnover had a damaging effect on cooperation efforts.

stronger fbi/cia cooperation. The FBI also strengthened its ties with the CIA to facilitate information sharing. In a June 27, 2002, statement before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs ("Homeland Security"), Director Mueller noted that the FBI/CIA "relationship has a long history, and is the subject of much contemporary comment, most of it critical. But for those commentators, I would counsel caution. The relationship has changed, and is still changing, all for the better." Under the new plan, FBI staff worked at CIA headquarters, and vice versa. Information about important security issues was exchanged between the two agencies on a daily basis.

security division created. The FBI reorganization plan included the creation of a Security Division, the purpose of which is to raise the level of FBI security practices and standards. This measure was in many ways a response to the 2001 arrest of Robert P. Hanssen, a veteran FBI special agent who was charged with selling national security secrets to the Soviet Union/Russia during a fifteen-year time span. As Director Mueller's May 8, 2002, statement declared, "We need to remedy the weaknesses that the Hanssen investigation made painfully obvious."

records management division established. The FBI reorganization plan established a new Records Management Division. This division is charged with modernizing FBI record-keeping systems, policies, and procedures in order to prevent important records from becoming lost or misplaced.

counterterrorism division reorganized. Much of Director Mueller's plan focused on improvement of the FBI's counterterrorism investigations and programs. The FBI Counterterrorism Division work was once done by local field offices investigating groups in their own areas, with little contact between them. In December 2001 the


FBI intelligence analysts, 2004
source: "Intelligence Analysts," in Report to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States: The FBI's Counterterrorism Program since September 2001, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, April 14, 2004, (accessed September 23, 2004)
FY 2001102342
FY 2002101296
FY 20031180250
Grand total460

Counterterrorism Division was reorganized into branches, sections, and units, each of which focuses on a different aspect of the terrorism threat facing the United States. (See Figure 8.5.) Each component within the division is staffed with intelligence analysts and subject matter experts who work with agents in the field, providing a real-time reaction to imminent threats.

After September 11, 2001, the number of FBI agents working on counterterrorism matters rose from 1,351 to 2,398 in February 2004. (See Figure 8.6.) The number of intelligence analysts working on counterterrorism increased from 1,023 in 2001 to 1,197, as of March 4, 2004. (See Table 8.1.) In addition, after 2001 nearly seven hundred new translators, both FBI employees and contract workers, were added. Among new employees, the increases have been particularly dramatic in the languages of the Middle East. (See Table 8.2.)

counterintelligence division restructured. The restructuring plan for the FBI's Counterintelligence Division instituted a new espionage section, focusing on investigations. This allows operations staff to concentrate their energies on detecting and thwarting intelligence threats. The division works more closely than previously with other government agencies and the private sector to protect U.S. secrets. An Office of Intelligence was created in December 2001 to provide a "tactical intelligence analytical capacity" ("A New FBI Focus")—in other words, to try to create a "big picture" from what may be many seemingly unrelated pieces of data.

cyber division established. The FBI established its Cyber Division in December 2001. This group, according to the FBI Web site, "coordinates, supervises and facilitates the FBI's investigation of those federal violations in which the Internet, computer systems and networks are exploited as the principal instruments of targets of criminal, foreign intelligence, or terrorism activity and for which the use of such systems is essential to that activity." The FBI works with private businesses, academia, and governmental agencies to procure the technology skills needed to conduct these high-tech investigations.


laboratory functions divided. During the FBI reorganization, the Laboratory Division was split into two separate divisions, Laboratory and Investigative Technologies, to address questions of "mission, staffing, and funding" ("A New FBI Focus"). The new Laboratory Division collects, processes, and analyzes evidence. It also provides training and conducts forensic research and development. The Investigative Technologies Division focuses on technical support to investigators, including electronic or physical surveillance and wireless or radio communications. Like the Laboratory Division, the Investigative Technologies Division also has training and research and development functions.

criminal investigation changes. With the emphasis on improvements to the FBI's counterterrorism efforts, Director Mueller pointed out that particular care should be taken that the new operations should not eclipse the FBI's "day-to-day" criminal investigation priorities: public corruption,


civil rights, transnational and national criminal organizations, major white-collar crime, and significant violent crime. While staff were transferred to counterterrorism assignments from criminal investigation areas like drug investigations, white-collar-crime investigations, and violent-crime investigations, these areas remain a priority.

However, in the short run, according to one of Director Mueller's statements before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the FBI

must be prepared … to defer criminal cases to others, even in significant cases, if other agencies possess the expertise to handle the matter adequately. In situations where other … capabilities are not sufficient to handle a case or situation, SACs [Special Agents in Charge] should be prepared to step in and provide FBI resources as needed. However, once the immediate situation is under control or resolved I expect SACs to reevaluate the level of FBI commitment and make necessary adjustments.

Director Mueller pointed out that it was also crucial for FBI agents working on seemingly mundane cases to be watchful for any evidence of terrorism. In his June 2002 statement he noted, "Other terrorist investigations have revealed patterns of low-level criminal activity by terrorists. It is the duty of every FBI employee to remain vigilant for suspicious activity or informant information that could be a tip-off to a future terrorist attack." That way, even FBI agents not involved in the FBI's Counterterrorism or Counterintelligence


FBI translators
Major language9/11/01PresentNet change
source: "Increased Language Translation Capabilities to Support Counterterrorism," in Report to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States: The FBI's Counterterrorism Program since September 2001, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, April 14, 2004, (accessed September 23,2004)

Divisions can become useful tools in the battle against terrorism.


In late November 2002 President George W. Bush signed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) bill, thereby officially creating one of the most important domestic security agencies. The new department is the result of reorganizing twenty-two federal agencies with some 180,000 employees into the DHS, which is headed by the director of homeland security. (See Figure 8.7.) Former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge was named the first secretary of the DHS. Efforts to establish the DHS were spurred by the September 11 terrorist attacks of 2001. According to the National Strategy for Homeland Security, homeland security is "a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur." Six aspects of the department are: (1) intelligence and warning; (2) border and transportation security; (3) domestic counterterrorism; (4) protecting critical infrastructure and key assets; (5) defending against catastrophic threats; and (6) emergency preparedness and response.

The president keeps abreast of issues relating to homeland security through the director of the DHS and an Advisory Council on Homeland Security. This council is primarily divided into counterterrorism and cyberspace security divisions and features policy coordination committees that oversee plans between state and local governments. The FY2004 budget for the new department was $36 billion. For FY2005, $40 billion was proposed. According to Securing Our Homeland: U.S. Department of Homeland Security Strategic Plan (Washington, DC: Department of Homeland Security, 2004), the department's immediate goals include identifying and eliminating


areas of overlap and omission within the twenty-two agencies, developing results-oriented approaches, and monitoring performance so that funds are allocated to the most successful efforts.


Immigrants have made the United States the strongest and most diverse country in the world, and the vast majority of legal immigrants work together to maintain the principles on which the United States was founded and make their adopted country a better place for everyone living within it. Even many illegal immigrants have a sincere loyalty to the United States and a desire to stay in the country because they believe the United States allows them to make better lives for themselves. Still, some people enter the country without the best interests of the United States in mind. They may actively seek to do harm to the nation's citizens and values. These people, many of whom are living in the country illegally, can present national security threats to the United States.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, present a good example of how illegal immigration or illegal entrance into the United States threatens national security. Of the nineteen alien airplane hijackers who participated in the attacks, several had no immigration documents at all, and others had overstayed their visas (papers granted by the U.S. State Department, giving permission to travel within the United States). Authorities and the public are still not certain how some of the hijackers, of whom the FBI and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) had no record at all, actually entered the country. As a result, after the attacks, reforming the U.S. immigration system became an important issue. In 2003 the INS became a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. In the spring of 2004 it was replaced by two new agencies, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

What Was the INS?

The INS began in 1933, after the immigration and naturalization functions of two different agencies of the federal government were consolidated by executive order within the Labor Department. It was headed by a commissioner who reported to the attorney general. During a period of increased international tensions prior to World War II, the INS was moved into the DOJ in 1940.

Since the INS determined who may enter the United States and enforced immigration laws with respect to those who remained, many people placed some of the blame for the September 11, 2001, terrorist events on the INS. The agency conducted immigration inspections of travelers entering (or seeking entry to) the United States; regulated permanent and temporary immigration to the United States; provided services such as granting legal permanent status, temporary status, and naturalization (the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship); controlled U.S. borders; and worked with other agencies to remove illegal aliens.

The agency also shared the responsibility for inspection of all applicants seeking admission to the United States with the U.S. Customs Service at about 250 U.S. ports of entry at land, air, and sea locations. The INS and the Customs Service prevented the entry of illegal aliens mainly by detecting fraudulent documents, including claims of U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status. Inspectors from the two agencies also seized conveyances used for illegal entry, such as cars, trucks, and boats.

It was the task of the U.S. Border Patrol, a subagency of the INS, to secure the eight thousand miles of U.S. borders—clearly a difficult and dangerous task. The Border Patrol worked to stop the influx of illegal aliens, the smuggling of aliens, and also seized illegal imports, like narcotics. In 2000 the Border Patrol consisted of some 9,200 agents. They located and deported nearly 1.7 million illegal aliens attempting to enter the United States.

Restructuring the INS

In the wake of the events of September 11, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced in November 2001 the Bush administration's plans to reorganize the INS by 2003 if approved by Congress. Under the new Homeland Security bill signed by President Bush in November 2002, INS functions were incorporated into the new DHS. On March 1, 2003, the DHS's Directorate of Border and Transportation Security (BTS) officially assumed responsibility for securing the nation's transportation systems and borders, including 317 official ports of entry, and also assumed responsibility for enforcing the nation's immigration laws. The INS's immigration enforcement functions were transferred to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the immigration service functions were placed under the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS). Both of these agencies are parts of the DHS.

The CBP combines the duties of four separate agencies: U.S. Customs, which supervised the import and export of goods to and from the United States; the U.S. Border Patrol, which had served to stop illegal aliens and smugglers; the INS, which had dealt with those wishing to become legal citizens; and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which had worked to keep diseased livestock and infected plants from entering the country. CBP employs some forty-one thousand people to manage, control, and protect the nation's borders. Of these, eighteen thousand CBP agents are stationed at ports of entry to carry out all of the functions previously performed by the earlier inspectional workforces. Called the "One Face at the Border" plan, this approach streamlines the enforcement of border security into a single coordinated workforce. While its primary goal is to secure the country from terrorists, the CBP continues the important traditional work of overseeing legitimate trade, stopping illegal aliens, assisting visitors and legal immigrants, and inspecting plants and animals entering the country. As CBP Commissioner Robert C. Bonner explained in a statement posted on the agency's Web site ( "CBP's priority mission is preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, while also facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel."

According to the CBP's Performance and Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2003, among the tasks of the CBP are:

  • Determining the admissibility of people and goods
  • Regulating and facilitating international trade
  • Collecting duties, taxes and fees—$25 billion was collected in FY 2003
  • Enforcing all laws of the U.S., including trade laws, at our borders
  • Intercepting high-risk travelers while expediting the travel of low-risk travelers
  • Deploying selectivity techniques, technology, and tools for the physical inspection of travelers' baggage and vehicles to enforce U.S. laws and avert high-risk situations

Among the new programs established by the CBP to meet its goals are the Custom Trade Partnership against Terrorism (C-TPAT), the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Program, and the Container Security Initiative (CSI). The C-TPAT is a joint initiative between government and business to ensure that proper supply-chain security procedures are in place—from factory to shipping dock—to keep all shipments into the U.S. safe from tampering by terrorists. FAST allows importers, truck drivers, and commercial carriers who bring goods into the U.S. from Canada or Mexico to enjoy expedited entry into the United States if they meet specific security criteria. The CSI concerns the safety of containerized cargo shipped into the United States. Under the program, foreign ports agree to have CBP agents inspect maritime containers headed for the United States before they are loaded.

In August 2004 it was announced that the DHS was planning to expand the powers of CBP agents. They will now be allowed to deport illegal aliens caught at the border without providing the aliens the opportunity to make their case before an immigration judge. Until this change, only illegal aliens caught at airports and seaports could be deported without a hearing. The new rule expands that power to those caught along the Mexican and Canadian borders. The process of appearing in immigration court can take up to a year. The DHS stated that this long process puts a strain on detention facilities and takes too much money and manpower resources from more important duties. Only illegal aliens who are third-country nationals rather than Mexican or Canadian citizens, and who are caught within a hundred miles of the Mexican or Canadian border, will be affected by this change.

The CIS handles immigration and citizenship services for those who wish to become U.S. citizens. The CIS staff consists of approximately fifteen thousand employees and contractors. The CIS Web site ( lists the immigrant and nonimmigrant benefits processed by the agency:

  • Family-based petitions—facilitating the process for close relatives to immigrate, gain permanent residency, work, etc.
  • Employment-based petitions—facilitating the process for current and prospective employees to immigrate or stay in the U.S. temporarily
  • Asylum and Refugee processing—adjudicating asylum and the processing of refugees
  • Naturalization—approving citizenship of eligible persons who wish to become U.S. citizens
  • Special status programs—adjudicating eligibility for U.S. immigration status as a form of humanitarian aid to foreign nationals
  • Document issuance and renewal—including verification of eligibility, production and issuance of immigration documents

The BTS also includes the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (formerly a part of the Department of Treasury) and the Transportation Security Administration (formerly a part of the Department of Transportation). In time, the Federal Protective Service (formerly a part of the General Services Administration) will also become part of the BTS to perform the additional function of protecting government buildings.

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