The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) - Responsibilities and Potential Congressional Concerns

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Data confidentiality can be an obstacle, since several laws govern the kinds of information that can be shared. Funding and other resources also can be limited. If USDA does not have a line item funding a particular effort, it does not have the resources to start work on something immediately. APHIS is currently considering the development of a line item for One Health—type activities where staff would be supported to do that work with public health counterparts in all of the states. In contrast, several things worked well, Dick observed. Collaboration can be very effective, especially if collaborations and trust are developed in advance of an event.

Edited by Stephan Leibfried, Evelyne Huber, Matthew Lange, Jonah D. Levy, and John D. Stephens

As a result, USDA continues to work hard to develop synergies with public health partners. Defining the scope of a collaboration also improves productivity and reduces cost. For example, collaboration within government and with the private sector on a swine influenza virus vaccine shortened development time and saved money. A strategic plan, four operational plans, a training plan, a communication plan, and a preharvest and zoonotic disease operational plan are all either finished or being developed.

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USDA is also examining its surveillance policies. For example, the Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health in Fort Collins, Colorado, is developing comprehensive swine surveillance that involves a number of data streams. The department also is working to increase voluntary sample submission. In this way, USDA can work with health departments to identify areas of the country where a virus may be spreading. In response to a question about the tools that state and local health departments can use to collaborate with their animal health counterparts, Dick replied that APHIS has received funds to support positions within each state though some positions extend across states.

The role of these animal health emergency coordinators, whose contact information is on the APHIS website, is to work with state and federal officials in those states to prepare for a variety of emergencies. Dick also commented on the need to expand animal surveillance to protect human health. USDA does not get funding to provide animal samples for human health concerns, but if there are associated animal health concerns, the agency can address those under its direct authority. APHIS also acts as a facilitator with state and local authorities, who have much of the authority to gather animal samples.

Further, Dick pointed out that APHIS has people stationed not only in the United States but also around the world to serve as subject-matter experts and monitor what is going on in the animal health community. In addition, about specially trained veterinarians in the United States can respond within hours to any private or state veterinary practitioner to assist in diagnoses and getting lab samples to be tested.

While the study did not focus directly on biosecurity, said Kravinsky, it provides many lessons that are directly applicable to biosurveillance because of similarities involving multiple agencies, needs, and information flows. As well, counterterrorism, like biosurveillance, serves an important role in protecting the nation. Most national security threats require a high degree of integration, yet the national security system remains structured along functional lines such as defense, diplomacy, agriculture, food safety, and so on.

The only place where integration can occur is at the level of the NSS, but this level does not have directive authority. NCTC, which was established by executive order in under the office of the Director of National Intelligence, has four core missions:. The Project on National Security Reform focused largely on the fourth of these missions. The mission statement for the Directorate of Strategic Operational Planning DSOP calls for it to be the focal point of the national security establishment by orchestrating and harmonizing the appropriate application of instruments of national power e.

Interestingly, said Kravinsky, the Government Accountability Office report on biosurveillance pointed to a lack of a focal point with authority and resources to guide and develop national biosurveillance capabilities. This is a multifaceted concept that could include the following integrating functions:.

In this way, it could compare the different components of authority for different government entities.

National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) Acting Director Russell Travers Presentation

For example, entities could have the authority to develop strategy, determine requirements, approve reprogramming and transfer of resources, establish professional development standards within the community, and so on. These types of authorities then could be compared to examine the characteristics of collaboration. However, NCTC had the same mandate.

Kravinsky closed by saying that some of these recommendations could be helpful to the biosurveillance community. Kravinsky made a point regarding resource allocation, noting that such aligning of resources to missions needed to occur within a greater context of prioritization, and not in isolation of other efforts.

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Similarly, he noted the importance of recognizing territorial issues around duties, responsibilities, missions, and scopes, and finding ways to work around them, potentially by executive order defining exactly who is in which role doing what. Within the NSS are a series of directorates, including the resilience directorate, which handles preparedness and response.

Biosurveillance is a top priority of the directorate. The purpose of biosurveillance is to inform the decisions associated with an event, said Hepburn. Decisions can have major impacts, but there are also low-impact decisions that involve who needs to be notified and what information needs to be conveyed. These decisions vary depending on the target of the information, whether it is the head of a government agency or the public.

At all levels, better information creates at least the potential for better decisions.

CRS Reports

As an example, Hepburn cited recent reports from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization involving the emergence of new strains of H5N1 influenza. Do we need to take any action? Do we need to ban any imports? Do we need to negotiate with foreign governments? Do we need to do something different than we already are based on this report? How do we inform the leadership on that? A complete picture of the situation on which to base decisions cannot be obtained from any one government agency, said Hepburn, though many agencies are essential to create such a picture.

Rather, analyzing the situation requires multiagency expertise. Osama bin Laden et al. The sort of imagery intelligence IMINT , often from satellites, used against nation-states is of limited use in tracking the movement of groups of small size and little physical infrastructure. More success has come from unmanned aerial vehicles UAV , which are hard to see and hear, to do such things as follow cars, or loiter above a building, photographic traffic in and out, often with low-light or infrared sensors that work in apparent darkness. Once that organization is identified, value transfers from it can point to other operational cells.

The term value includes cash and negotiable documents, but also materials such as gems, opium and drugs, and precious metals. Terrorist groups use three types of financing, which are increasingly difficult to track by U. According to the Center for Defense Information CDI , intelligence agencies help OFAC build its "freeze list" by sending it lists of individuals and organizations believed to be associated with terror, [18] but not all such suspects go onto the freeze list, since the intelligence community can use financial transactions as a means of tracking them.

One of the challenges of anti-terrorist FININT is that surveillance of transactions only works when the value transfers go through conventional, regulated banks and other financial institutions. Many cultures use informal value transfer systems, such as the hawala widely used in the Middle East and Asia, where value is transferred through a network of brokers, who operate with funds often not in banks, with the value transfer orders through personal communications among brokers, who know one another and operate on a paperless honor system.

A study from the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in India describes "narco-terrorism" as "the nexus between narcotics and terrorism It is recognised as one of the oldest and most dependable sources of terrorist financing, primarily because of the magnitudes of finance involved in both the activities. Some hawala brokers have placed some of their reserve funds in banks, where they have been frozen by OFAC.

On Nov. In addition to the placement of 62 people and groups associated with the two organizations on the asset freeze list, FBI and U. Customs agents raided the two networks' offices in six U. S cities.


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The founder of Al Barakaat, Shaykh Ahmed Nur Jimale, is believed to be an associate of bin Laden who invested in and is still an owner of the organization. Al Barakaat is a financial, telecommunications and construction group headquartered in Dubai and operating largely out of Somalia.

It was founded in and operates in 40 countries around the world. The Treasury Department said the raids on Nov. Hawala plays an important role in the Afghan drug economy , and in drug trade worldwide. The National Security Archive makes the point that the US government and intelligence community did not suddenly come upon terrorism on September 11, Although opposition to terrorism never really became the primary focus of the Reagan administration or successor administrations, each of these paid significant attention to the issue and produced many important documents that shed light on the policy choices faced today.

Terrorism has been the subject of numerous presidential and Defense Department directives as well as executive orders. The General Accounting Office has also produced several dozen reports evaluating the U. The CIA's Directorate of Intelligence produces analytic products that can help identify terrorist groups, their structure, and plans. FBI reporting is more irregular, but does do problem descriptions as well as specific reports.

While the Congressional Research Service technically is prohibited from making its reports automatically available to the public, several legislative efforts are underway to change this, and in practice, its reports are often Internet-accessible within a few days of issue, typically on the Federation of American Scientists website. While the initial implementation, the Bin Laden Issue Station , did not work well, there has been an Intelligence Community effort to avoid the problems of stovepiping , especially where it involves lack of communication between analysts and operators.

There is a continuing controversy about ensuring Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI information gets to analysts; the FBI culture has been extremely decentralized, so "dots to be connected" in two field offices were not shared; this was particularly relevant in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

The overall problems of stovepiping and encouraging cross-functional teams, in the context of terrorism, has been addressed by, among other groups, the House Intelligence Committee. FBI's main problem going forward is to overcome its information sharing failures. CIA leadership must ensure that HUMINT collection remains a central core competency of the agency, and should develop additional operational tools, in conjunction with other appropriate agencies FBI, etc, , penetrate terrorist cells, disrupt terrorist operations and capture and render terrorists to law enforcement as appropriate.

More core collectors need to be put on the streets.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?: Who Watches the Watchlisters?

ClA should ensure that a management structure is in place to steward the multiyear investments needed to build new platforms to collect on terrorist targets. CIA must also ensure sufficient numbers of unilateral CT slots in field stations and bases. CIA should lead an effort to improve watchlisting to ensure that all relevant agencies, including FBI, Homeland Security, and others, have access to a common database of up-to-date terrorist person-related data collected by US government agencies and other appropriate sources.

The creation of a terrorism watchlisting unit at CIA may be a useful first step.