The Honorable Glenn A. Fine
Office of the Inspector General
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Mr. Fine:
I would like to thank you for providing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) the opportunity to respond to your report entitled, "The FBI's Efforts to Improve the Sharing of Intelligence and Other Information."
I recognize the substantial challenge the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has in producing timely reports on complex issues such as this. The audit process, by its nature, is slow and often results in findings and recommendations that no longer reflect the realities of today. This challenge is even more difficult when assessing FBI operations because of the rapid changes it continues to undergo to optimally position itself to address the evolving threats to our Nation.
The FBI is grateful to the OIG team that produced this report for agreeing to assess additional information after they had completed their initial audit. As a result, this report was able to document some of the tremendous progress the FBI has made in its national intelligence program. Ideally, we would like for the report to again be updated to provide a status of intelligence and information sharing efforts in the FBI. However, I realize that there must be a closing point to these audits. That said, I believe the report would provide a more complete picture if it included the following:
- Field Intelligence Groups have been established in all 56 FBI field offices with personnel dedicated full time to the intelligence process including the sharing of intelligence and other information;
- a multi agency Terrorism Screening Center has been established and is now operational;
- a nation-wide alert system using text messaging technology to alert senior law enforcement leaders of new terrorism- related information has been established and is operational;
- performance metrics have been established to assess the sharing of information bureau-wide;
- a detailed blueprint of the FBI's intelligence and other information sharing process has been completed;
- executive boards for each of the 84 Joint Terrorism Task Forces have been established to institutionalize the exchange of counterterrorism-related intelligence at the executive level on a regular basis;
- a teleconferencing capability is being used by several SACs to provide periodic unclassified briefings and up dates to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies;
- an FBI presence on Intellink has been established and the FBI is posting its intelligence reports and analytical products up to the TS/SCI level, providing intelligence community-wide access;
- an FBI presence on SIPERNET has been established and the FRI is posting its intelligence reports and analytical products up to the Secret level, providing federal agency-wide access;
- an FBI web page on Law Enforcement Online (LEO) is in the final stages of being completed and the FBI will post sensitive but unclassified reporting and intelligence products that will be accessible to local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement personnel;
- LEO has been connected to the nation-wide Regional Information Sharing System Network (RISSNET) which substantially expands local and state law enforcement access to FBI reporting and intelligence products;
- FBI analysts have been provided comprehensive training since 9/11/2001 which has included specific training on the sharing of intelligence and other information;
- an automated intelligence collection capabilities baseline assessment has been developed;
- The Global Intelligence Working Group, which is led by local law enforcement, serves as the advisory board to provide expert advice on the FBI's efforts to share intelligence and other information.
- a daily intelligence production board has been established to manage FRI-wide production of intelligence;
- a standard template and process has been established to integrate into the FBI's Intelligence collection and production process the Intelligence Information needs of local, state and tribal law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S.
- SES managers at FBIHQ and all Assistant Special Agents-in-Charge have received detailed briefings and training on the Intelligence Program including the sharing of Intelligence.
I want to thank you again for your efforts in producing this report, and we welcome the opportunity to discuss in detail the progress the FBI continues to make in this area.
As you requested, the report's recommendations were provided to appropriate representatives of the Counterterrorism (CT) and Criminal Investigative Divisions as well as the Office of Intelligence. Their comments are set forth below.
OIG Recommendation: Using the Concepts of Operations (CONOPs) as a framework, establish a written policy on - and procedures for - information sharing, including what types of information should be shared with what parties under what circumstances.
FBI Response: The FBI agrees with this recommendation and has already drafted written policy and is currently drafting procedures for information sharing using the Intelligence CONOPs as a framework. The FBI expects the written policy to be issued in January 2004 and written procedures implementing the policy to be issued in March 2004.
OIG Recommendation: Ensure that the FBI-wide enterprise architecture currently under development is accompanied by a process map for information sharing that clearly defines the current state and an end for the information-sharing process so that the numerous information sharing initiatives can be coordinated and properly monitored and managed.
FBI Response: The FBI has already completed a detailed blueprint and process map on its intelligence and information sharing process.
OIG Recommendation: Consider transferring responsibility for investigating crimes committed by environmental, animal rights, and other domestic radical groups or individuals from the CT Division to the Criminal Division, except where a domestic group or individual uses or seeks to use explosives or weapons of mass destruction to cause mass casualties.
FBI Response: The FBI has given this recommendation considerable thought and has come to the conclusion that transferring the noted responsibilities would have a detrimental effect by diluting the intelligence base directed to both domestic and international terrorism matters.
Title 18, U.S.C. 2331(5) defines Domestic Terrorism as activities that -
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended --
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnaping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
The goals of "social activists" are to effect social and/or political change through their constitutionally protected rights. When these "social activists" turn to the use (or threatened use) of force or violence, they become domestic terrorists. The goals of these criminals fall directly in line with the definition of a terrorist group as defined by federal law.
Domestic terrorists have caused considerable damage to the U.S. economy through their criminal acts. Terrorist groups, whether international or domestic, often use similar methods and patterns regarding operational and communication security, fund raising, money transfers and other recruitment and support statements. It is important to maintain responsibility for investigating domestic terrorists within the FBI's CT Division where there is a broad experience base to counter their criminal activities.
The FBI addresses all terrorism related matters, both international and domestic, through a threat based approach, establishing intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination measures with an integrated operational response. Examples of such are CT Watch, the Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF), the Fly Team and the Document Exploitation Unit.
A significant initiative of the CT Division is the creation and establishment of the JTTFs across the country as a primary means of addressing all terrorism threats and a mechanism to expand and enhance intelligence and information sharing among agencies. The FBI does not agree with the transfer of Domestic Terrorism out of the CT Program, which is an intrinsic part of CT on-going field operations. The FBI serves as the lead agency in all JTTFs. The JTTF Program is an integral part of each of the FBI's 56-field offices, which includes agent and analytical support. These individuals not only support the JTTF's but also all CT investigations within the field office. The JTTF program integrates tactical and investigative resources and expertise for critical incidents, which necessitates an immediate response from law enforcement authorities. To transfer the Domestic Terrorism portion of the CT field operation to the Criminal Division would diminish the FBI's efficiency by causing a duplication of effort between the CT Division and the Criminal Division, where the CT Division already has the support structure established. Within the field office, the JTTF's provide the ability to combine the expertise of state and local law enforcement and other federal government entities. This concept provides the CT Program with a surge capability providing an influx of expertise, operational guidance, and actionable intelligence in the furtherance of FBI's Domestic and International Terrorism Program objectives.
The JTTF concept has proven to be the most successful way to address terrorism intelligence operations and criminal investigations, when warranted, through an interagency approach involving the law enforcement and public safety community. In the past several years the CT Division's efforts in developing these task forces has broadened the interagency liaison and communications, eliminated any duplication of effort, and combined federal, state, and local law enforcement resources in the fight against terrorism. Information sharing is an intrinsic element that has enabled the FBI, nationwide law enforcement and the federal government to share information.
OIG Recommendation: For each CONOPs develop an implementation plan that includes a budget along with a time schedule detailing each step and identifying the responsible FBI official.
FBI Response: The FBI has developed an implementation plan for each relevant Intelligence Concept of Operations. The plans include a time schedule and the identities of each responsible official. To this end, the Office of Intelligence has assigned a senior detailee from the Intelligence Community to act as a Special Advisor for implementation to the Executive Assistant Director for Intelligence. The implementation steps are being tracked by a team that is dedicated to this purpose, to assist FBI managers who are responsible for implementation.
One of the CONOPs we developed addresses the budget process for building an enterprise-wide intelligence program. The CONOPs takes all actions and capabilities outlined in the individual CONOPs and costs them. We will complete this CONOPs by early January. Once we have done so, we will add a budget section to each individual CONOPs.
OIG Recommendation: Issue guidance on Urgent Reports so that top FBI managers' attention focuses on the most important matters of national security and public safety.
FBI Response: Executive Assistant Director Wilson Lowery directed the Records Management Division (RMD) to conduct an analysis of the Urgent Reports System. RMD assembled a review team that examined the content, format, delivery method, dissemination, timeliness and record-keeping aspects of Urgent Reports and identified six recommendations for improvements. The team's report and recommendations are currently under review and are awaiting approval.
OIG Recommendation: Focus the content of Intelligence Bulletins and Quarterly Terrorist Threat Assessments to provide - to the extent possible - actionable information on the high risk of international terrorism and any domestic terrorist activities aimed at creating mass casualties or destroying critical infrastructure, rather than information on social protests and domestic radicals' criminal activities.
FBI Response: The FBI has thoroughly reviewed this recommendation and has concluded that if adopted it would actually impede the sharing of relevant information with our local and state partners. The intent of the Intelligence Bulletin is to reach a wide-ranging law enforcement audience.
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, federal cooperation with state and local law enforcement became a paramount objective for the prevention of future terrorist incidents. The Intelligence Bulletin provides the most current and relevant terrorist-related intelligence information to a broad spectrum of users, totaling more than 18,000 recipients nationwide. Areas of focus include international and domestic terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction (including chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons) . Select Bulletins also provide actionable guidance in advance of large-scale protests or international events (e.g., World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, UN General Assembly) where the potential for criminal activity exists. These events offer an attractive stage for individuals, extremist groups, and even terrorist groups to exploit an otherwise peaceful gathering to advance their own agenda through violent means. To date, 139 items have been published in 91 Bulletins. The chart on the following page provides a breakdown of past Bulletin items:
Intelligence Bulletin Areas of Focus
||# of Items
Weapons of Mass Destruction!Threats to Critical Infrastructure
Large-Scale Protests and International Events
Criminal Activity with Potential for Terrorist Exploitation
Homeland Security Advisory System Threat-Level Adjustment
Quarterly Threat Assessment
Whereas the local JTTFs provide actionable information to law enforcement on a daily basis for operational purposes, the Quarterly Threat Assessment is a strategic document intended for coordination and planning. The Quarterly Threat Assessment covers four threat categories: international terrorism, domestic terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and civil disturbance. The assessment gives greatest emphasis to international terrorism.
In addition to your request for comments on the report's recommendations, you also requested the FBI provide a sensitivity and classification review for the information contained in the report. The results of these reviews are included as enclosures with this letter.
Please contact me or Deputy Assistant Director Kevin Perkins should you have any questions regarding this matter.