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Recommendation to Establish a Counterterrorism Agency Within the Department of Homeland Security

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Recommendation to Establish a Counterterrorism Agency within the

Department of Homeland Security

May 9, 2011

Recommendation to Establish a Counterterrorism Agency within the

Department of Homeland Security

It is a widely held belief by terrorism experts and government officials that the type of terrorism seen in other countries will eventually take place within the United States. The prediction by these groups is for an increase in suicide bombings within the country and for attacks against the nation's infrastructure and its citizens. To combat this threat, it is essential that an agency with specific expertise in counterterrorism be established under the guidance of the Department of Homeland Security.

It is recommended that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) establish the Office of Counterterrorism (OoC) for the purpose of preventing terrorist attacks within the United States. The DHS comprises twenty two agencies with expertise in criminal investigation and intelligence gathering. These agencies, along with outside agencies with specific counterterrorism skills can supply the investigators, tactics and tools necessary to establish an effective counterterrorism operation.

Terrorism within the United States is not a new phenomenon. Acts of domestic terrorism can be traced back to the Jamestown settlement in 1622. Over the preceding years, different groups have attempted to put forth their political agenda by using terrorism as a tool to facilitate change within the country. The bombings at the World Trade Center in 1993 and the events which surround 9/11made it clear that the United States was now involved in the global war on terror. As a result, the government devised policies which were designed to attack terrorism on a global scale. These policies included our involvement in the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and our general presence in the Middle East. Since the attacks of 9/11, the country has been basically untouched by terrorist attacks as compared to other countries, but experts believe that this is about to change. The OoC will be tasked with dealing with this threat to the country.

The OoC will be assigned the responsibility of protecting the United States, its citizens and its critical infrastructure from terrorist attacks. To achieve this goal, the agency will conduct investigations and intelligence gathering within the United States and abroad and will coordinate their investigations with other government agencies who are involved in counterterrorism activities. The policies of the OoC will reflect its responsibilities to the nation.

Due to the efforts of the military and law enforcement to date; terrorist operations are less centralized than before. Terrorist have had to modify their operations, but still seek to cause a division between Muslim and non-Muslims. The policies of the OoC must reflect that the terrorist networks of today are more technologically sophisticated than they were on 9/11. Intelligence gathering therefore, remains the core element in the elimination the terrorist threat. Once gathered, the information needs to be analyzed in a timely fashion and quickly disseminated to the appropriate division for an investigation to begin. The policy of the agency must also reflect the actions to be taken once the investigation is complete and the agency's rules of engagement should the elimination of the threat become its only option. The agency must then have a well defined set of responsibilities for each division to ensure that investigations are properly conducted and to eliminate a duplication of effort within the agency.

The OoC will be divided into three investigative departments with defined areas of responsibility:

1. Investigative Division. This division will use investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies to collect information domestically, conduct counterespionage operations and prevent domestic terrorist attacks. This division will also coordinate with other federal, state and local agencies to conduct multi-agency investigations.

2. Special Operations Division. This division will collect intelligence and conduct special operations abroad and will coordinate its overseas activities with the military when needed.

3. Intelligence and Analysis Division. This division responsibility is to collect and analysis intelligence, coordinates activities between divisions and outside agencies, and oversee the collection of technical intelligence. They will also be responsible for reporting the agency's activities to the Director of DHS.

The gathering of relevant intelligence by trained investigators is the key component in a successful investigation. This is the responsibility of the agency's Investigative Division.

The Investigative Division's priorities will mirror those currently in place at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). These are to protect the United States from terrorist attack and against foreign intelligence operations and espionage. The prime focus of investigators will be domestic intelligence gathering to detect key activities related to terrorist activities. Human Source Intelligence (HUMINT) is the most effective tool for investigators to obtain current information about a terrorist operation. HUMINT supplies information on person to person meetings, messenger activities and increased movements of suspected terrorist. These are all indicators of an impending attack. Once HUMINT is obtained, investigators need to combine this with information gathered from other sources to be able to view the overall picture. This is why OoC needs to take control of several operations currently being performed by the FBI.

The Terrorist Screening Center is one such operations which was designed to "consolidate terrorist watch lists and provide 24-hour, 7-day a week operational support for federal, state, local, territorial, tribal, and foreign government as well as private sector screening across the country and around the world" (DoJ OIG, 2005, p. 2). The center provides investigators with the appropriate and lawful use of information gathered through several screening processes used by the center. This center keeps track of those terrorist who are already in the country. The center will also establish a system similar to the FBI's Operation TRIPWIRE. It will develop an "intelligence base with a specific goal to aid in identifying potential terrorist sleeper cells within the U.S. It puts in place a roadmap for developing intelligence and collection

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