Global security Essay

The aim of this paper is to discuss intelligence reform that has been underway since September 11, 2001 in the U.S. The 9/11 Commission voiced criticism of the functioning of American intelligence services. The Commission blames the U.S. Intelligence Community for the unsatisfactory level of preparedness for the attack. As CNN reports, ‘U.S. intelligence gathering was fragmented and poorly coordinated before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the 9/11 commission reported…adding that it remains unclear how such crucial information is managed’ (CNN, 2004, para.1).

Perhaps one of the reasons why the performance of American intelligence services leaves much to be desired is that the U.S. Intelligence Community is comprised of a variety of agencies and institutions that sometimes experience troubles networking efficiently. The U.S. Intelligence Community consists of:

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–                     Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, which, in turn, includes the Office of the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence for Community Management, the Community Management Staff, the Terrorism Threat Integration Center, and the National Intelligence Council);

–                     The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA);

–                     National intelligence agencies, namely National Security Agency (NSA), National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), National Reconnaissance Office (NRO);

–                     Departmental intelligence agencies, namely Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) of the Department of Defense, Intelligence entities of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) of the Department of State, Office of Terrorism and Finance Intelligence of the Department of Treasury, Office of Intelligence and the Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence Divisions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the Department of Justice, Office of Intelligence of the Department of Energy, and Directorate of Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP) and Directorate of Coast Guard Intelligence of the Department of Homeland Security (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, 2004).

The 9/11 Commission noted that there was no central body that bore responsibility for the coordinate intelligence effort and sharing of classified information. In response to the need for reform, President Bush signed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act on December 17, 2004. The Act mandated the establishment of Director of National Intelligence, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the National Counterproliferation Center. In order to enhance cooperation between various intelligence agencies, the Act laid down joint procedures for operational coordination between Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency. The Act also established guidelines for additional education and training for the intelligence community, ppen-source intelligence, and privacy and civil liberties oversight procedures (The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, 2004).

However, criticism of the intelligence reform includes the argument that the Act skews the system of checks and balances in favor of the Executive branch, since the Act ‘eliminates provisions to ensure that the Congress receives timely access to intelligence, and it also allows the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to screen testimony before the Intelligence Director presents it to the Congress’ (Byrd, 2004, para.21).

There is an opinion that the intelligence reform has gone too far by granting broad powers to the Director of National Intelligence and infringing on privacy rights of American citizens. Therefore, few politicians dare call for further reform of intelligence services.


Byrd, Robert C. ‘Playing Politics With Intelligence Reform.’ December 8, 2004. July 27, 2007. ;;

CNN. ‘9/11 commission faults U.S. intelligence.’ May 19, 2004. July 27, 2007. ;;

National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. ‘The 9/11 Commission Report.’ July 22, 2004. July 27, 2007. ;;

‘The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.’ December 17, 2004. July 27, 2007. ;;