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Friday, March 11, 2016

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Challenges to Mission Accomplishment

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Challenges to Mission Accomplishment

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) faces a myriad of challenges in facing the threats presented to the security of the United States. Partisan politics, organizational issues, concerns about civil liberties, and interorganizational law enforcement relations all interfere with the ability of the FBI to serve their mission; since 9/11, the primary responsibility of the FBI is counterterrorism.
Political grandstanding and hackery is nothing new to American politics. One example of this affecting the FBI is in Sen. Leahy's attack on the Bush Administration by proxy of asserted FBI failures (United States Senate, 2006, p.4).
There are three organizational problems that the FBI faces. The first is their responsibility for multiple goals. Svendson notes that “A persistent but frequently overlooked problem for the FBI is balancing multiple roles” (2012, p.376). A GAO report highlights the issues with vacancies in the counterterror mission, partly a result of shifting agents fro the CT mission (2012). Agency turf problems are also an issue; “Federal Bureau of Investigation officials are in a turf battle with other federal law-enforcement agencies over perceived attempts to muscle into what the FBI considers its territory” (Grossman, 2014, para. 1). The third issue is internal security with the issue. A RAND study examines this issue, particularly in the context of mole Robert Hansson (Treverton et al, 2003).
Concerns about civil liberties also raise opposition to FBI methods. Berman contends that “a Federal Bureau of Investigation wielding robust domestic intelligence-collection powers poses a threat to civil liberties” (Berman, 2014, abstract). However, we have also seen the problems that arise when FBI intelligence operations are overly restrictive, and agents find themselves as “risk aversive”, as Powers would explain.(2004, p.47). This is an area in which effort must be made to balance security with freedom.
Other interorganizational issues may arise with the consideration of relations with local law enforcement agencies. The FBI's major contribution is “the ability to communicate and disseminate intelligence through FIGs has proven effective, greatly improving coordination between agencies at the federal, state,and local levels” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2006, p. 6). There are those that would call for local agencies to be subordinate to the FBI, however those calls seem to ignore the system of checks and balances to central power that is the American federal system. Kincaid and Cole bring up the point that the major terror attacks on 9/11, in particular, the response of local agencies, “vindicated the values of self-government and the system of federalism” (2002, p.181). Fromme and Schwein use Operation Smokescreen as an example of successful agency cooperation, as opposed to hierarchical command (2007, p. 6).
Other examples of successful agency cooperation can be seen in the use of Intelligence Centers and Joint Task Forces. Each model is best used in the role it was created for, but both models benefit greatly from agency cooperation such as that illustrated in Operation Smokescreen. In the case of drug task forces, they “were designed to combine resources of many local police
departments and provide services across jurisdictions” (Reichert & Sylwestrzak, 2012, p.1). The mission of an intelligence center is to compile, analyze, and disseminate criminal or terrorist data, including public safety threats of all natures, and to support efforts to anticipate and criminal or terrorist activity (National Network  of Fusion Centers, 2014, p. 8). For all practical purposes, the intent and operations of the two models are the same.


Berman, E. (2014). Regulating domestic intelligence collection. Washington and Lee Law Review, 71(1), 3–91. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/ docview/1516782598?pq-origsite=summon

FBI oversight hearing before the committee on the judiciary  United states Senate. 109th Congress Second session. Serial No. J–109–122, § Committee on the judiciary (2006). Washington, D. C.

Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2006). FBI’s field intelligence groups and police: Joining forces. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 75(5), 1–6. Retrieved October 3, 2014 from http://www2.fbi.gov/publications/leb/2006/may2006/may2006leb.htm

Fromme, R., & Schwein, R. (2007). Operation Smokescreen: A successful interagency collaboration. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 76(12), 20–25. Retrieved April 30, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/215270968?pq- origsite=summon

Grossman, A. (2014, August 26). FBI agents say rivals encroach on their turf. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from http://online.wsj.com/articles/fbi-agents-say-rivals- encroach-on-their-turf-1409095148

Kincaid, J., & Cole, R. L. (2002). Issues of federalism in response to terrorism. Public Administration Review, 62(S1), 181–192. Retrieved September 28, 2014 from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/197170960/3D62A896B4E846 83PQ/18?accountid=87314

National Network  of Fusion Centers. (2014). 2014–2017 National strategy  for the  national network of  fusion centers. Retrieved April 24, 2015 from https://nfcausa.org/html/National %20Strategy%20for%20the%20National%20Network%20of%20Fusion%20Centers.pdf

Powers, R. G. (2004). A bomb with a long fuse. American History, 39(5), 42–47. Retrieved September 10, 2014 from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx? direct=true&db=a9h&AN=14624935&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Reichert, J., & Sylwestrzak, A. (2012). Examining multi-jurisdictional drug task force operations. Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from http://www.icjia.state.il.us/public/pdf/ResearchReports/Examining_multi- jurisdictional_drug_task_force_operations_Aug2012.pdf

Svendsen, A. (2012). The Federal Bureau of Investigation and change: Addressing US domestic counter-terrorism intelligence. Intelligence & National Security, 27(3), 371–397. http://doi.org/10.1080/02684527.2012.668080

Thornburgh, D.(2005). Transforming the FBI progress and challenges: A report by a panel of the National Academy of Public Administration for the U.S. Congress and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Washington, DC: National Academy of Public Adminstration. Retrieved May 20, 2015 from http://www.napawash.org/Pubs/FBI010505.pdf

Treverton, G. F., Darilek, R., Gabriele, M., Libicki, M., & Williams, W. (2003). Reinforcing security at the FBI. Santa Monica, CA. RAND Corporation.

United States General Accountability Office. (2012). FBI counterterrorism vacancies have declined but FBI has not assessed the long-term  sustainability of its  strategy for addressing  vacancies (No. GAO-12-533).

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