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THE CAPABILITIES AND LIMITATIONS OF U.S INTELLIGENCE IN SUPPORTING THE HOMELAND SECURITY EFFORTS

Updated on July 17, 2014

THE CAPABILITIES AND LIMITATIONS OF U.S INTELLIGENCE IN SUPPORTING THE HOMELAND SECURITY EFFORTS

Part 1

Capabilities

The intelligence function in the U.S government’s operations has dramatically changed over the years to become a critical element in both domestic and foreign policy. Presently, this community consists of more than 220 agencies and organizations. These are all directed by the office of the National Intelligence, which is the executive branch of the National Intelligence. Besides the conventional tracking of foreign military capabilities and scrutiny of the intentions of foreign governments, the intelligence has been changed to perform many roles. Some of these roles include scrutinizing terrorism plans, proliferation of nuclear, cyber threats, failing states, global warming, and the rationalization of the global economy. The intelligence community has been essential in supporting national security planning, implementation of the country’s laws, diplomacy, and homeland security[1].

The FBI, which is the largest agency in terms of intelligence monitoring, has been quite effective since it already has the lead on many issues related to domestic and foreign intelligence. Moreover, since the events of the 9/11, this entity has increasingly intensified its focus on intelligence, hence establishing a strong reputation in intelligence gathering. In addition, the FBI has also consistently developed and increased the number of informants within the country. The number of intelligence agencies has also been rising and developing to align with the modern security trends. Such new and more developed agencies include the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), an agency mandated to deal with drugs, the Interagency National Gang Intelligence Center (INGIC), among others[2]. Other effective entities include the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), mandated with the task of combating domestic terrorism threats, Investigative and Intelligence Centers (IIC), as well as the Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (IDTA), among others. Alongside these are two interagency task forces, which are tasked with the duty of monitoring security threats in various parts of the country. It should also be considered that there are also intelligence networks comprising of seventy-two local and state fusion centers. Majority of them are in liaison with the DHS through offering analytical and reach-back support to DHS. While these fusion centers are not quite popular in the country, they help in preventing insecurity and terrorism threats, as well assisting law enforcement officers in comprehending criminals[3]. It has also been estimated that the national intelligence is an enterprise comprising of more than 850,000 people with a budget that exceeds $100 per annum. This enables efficient implementation of its services. The 9/11 events have also led to the creation of more than 260 organizations and agencies, while others have been reorganized in order to be aligned with the new security and terrorism trends[4].

Limitations

Despite the numerous capabilities of the country’s intelligence agencies, there are also limitations, which have hampered effective delivery of security efforts by the Homeland Security. For example, the seventy-two fusion centers created by the government have elicited controversy among opponents of such institutions. The American Civil Liberties Union, for instance, has regularly criticized the Federal Government for increasing its efforts in formalizing, standardizing, and creating a network of local, state, as well as regional intelligence centers. They argue that plugging these networks directly into the information-sharing environment of the intelligence community is similar to creating a new national domestic intelligence agency. These will perform the same work of government employees from all levels of government sectors, the military, and the private sector in spying against their citizens. Many commentators have also argued against the culture of employing a large number of employees in the local and state intelligence agencies. According to critics, this is a waste of public resources, and should instead, be channeled to projects that are “essential”. Such criticisms and negative perceptions hamper the effective delivery of security by Homeland Security.

In addition, according to the 9/11 commission, the creation of many intelligence agencies and organizations in the land have resulted in the security being traded for liberty. The essence of the nation going for security at the expense of liberty has been termed as a “false choice.” In his statement, Murphy of the ACLU pointed that the citizens’ liberty have been infringed in the name of combating acts of terror[5]. Although this statement may be overly stated, the one thing that is clear is that the establishment of a vast intelligence structure, since the events of 9/11, has changed the balance quiet firmly towards more security than liberty in ways that are less understandable among the citizens. It is also apparent that many people are not comfortable at the many intrusive screenings that they are subjected to at the airport. In addition, while the use of undercover persons by FBI in conducting intelligent operations has achieved significant success, it has received substantial criticisms.

Part 2

A Critique of the Capability of the US Homeland Security in Meeting and Forecasting Emergent Future Challenges

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is one of the departments of the Federal Government established as a response to the 9/11 attacks. The department is mandated to protect the US and its territories from terrorism and insecurity threats. Since its formation, the department has tried to implement the main homeland security operations. In addition, it has also achieved most of its critical milestones and goals in many of its mandates. These achievements are significant given the fact that the entity has been working to transform most of its key areas for effective delivery of its functions. In recent perspectives, the Department of Homeland Security has enhanced its management role as well as the efforts of coordination among the stakeholders. It has also developed plans to upgrade its management aspects for improved outcomes. The entity has also portrayed a commitment to strong leadership and has established a strategy of addressing its management challenges as well as improving it management functions[6].

The DHS has managed to implement a US-immigrant and visitor status technology program. The program is capable of verifying the identification of foreign visitors who enter and exit the US by way of processing their biographic and biometric information. However, this program has faced problems such as delays in schedule and other problems relating to performance with the Secure Border Initiative Network, which has jeopardized the information technology program. The agency has also made significant steps in the provision of not only leadership, but also coordination efforts among the stakeholders. Other successful endeavors by the DHS are the development and implementation of the Secure Flight, a screening program for airline passengers that are suspected to harbor terrorism activities. Alongside these are new technologies and programs for screening passenger and checking air cargo and baggage. It should, however, be noted that DHS has not yet developed an effective plan of deploying checked-baggage screening programs and technologies. In addition, this entity does not have approved technology that can screen the cargo once it has been loaded into a container or pallet[7].

Another notable achievement of the DHS is the creation of the National Preparedness Guidelines (NPG), which describes a national framework for capability-based preparedness and a list of target capabilities in providing state level generic model that define all hazard preparedness. Further, DHS has created and finalized a framework for the National Disaster Recovery (NDR). The department is now able to evaluate the risks posed by the chemical, radiological, biological, and nuclear threats (CBRN). Furthermore, this entity has managed to deploy the capabilities in detecting the threats of CBRN[8].

However, up to date, DHS has neither succeeded in implementing a biometric exit program nor addressing issues of overstay in the country. While DHS has effectively deployed essential infrastructure in securing the border between entry points, and an extension of more than 600 miles in fencing, it still needs to improve its efforts in evaluating its efforts in hazard recovery and preparedness. In addition, it needs to create a structure with which to align itself in timing and involvement with the capacity of the local and state governments. The agencies’ efficacy in grand application processes also ought to be improved by mitigating redundancy and duplication within the different processes of grant programs. There is also a need for DHS to take an additional step in forging effective partnerships as well as strengthening the utilization and information sharing. This has negatively hampered its capacity of satisfying its missions in an efficient manner[9].

From its structure, composition, and operations, the one thing that is apparent is that the DHS is dogged by excessive waste owing to bureaucracy, lack of transparency and the many organizations and agencies with which it works. The excessive waste also emanates from the large number of personnel it has to pay on a monthly basis, the many security contracts, widespread misuse of credit cards, corruption, and fraud[10]. As a whole, the agency also has other challenges related to cost increases, schedule delays, and issues related to performances in some of the programs aimed at delivering crucial mission capabilities including technologies in container security. Further, DHS has encountered problems while deploying some technologies that need to meet specific requirements. Coupled with this is the notion of DHS’ employees lacking adequate expertise to carry out its missions in different areas. For example, the acquisition management is one area, which does not have sufficient and skilled personnel[11].

There is also need for more work by the DHS in strengthening its CBRN evaluations, mitigating capabilities and detection procedures. For instance, it would have been better if DHS partnered with the department of Human Services and Health when conducting CBRN risk evaluations. It can do so by creating written procedures and policies that will guide the development of such evaluations. DHS also needs to do more work in implementing its global architecture of nuclear detection, which determines the required improvements, as well as the programmatic progress of its missions. It should be noted that the entity’s strategic plan in building nuclear detection architecture does not at present include some essential components. For example, there is inadequate funding in meeting the objectives of the strategic plan, mechanisms for determining and monitoring the programmatic progress as well as identifying the required improvements[12].

Nonetheless, DHS has been generally heralded as “the most significant transition of the American government in more than half a century by transforming the current patchwork of state activities into one single entity with a mandate of protecting the homeland security.


Bibliography DHS, 2011. Fusion centers, empowering state and local Partners to address Homeland security issues. Available from http://blog.dhs.gov/2011/07/fusion centers

DHS. Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Report: A strategic Framework for a secure

Homeland, Washington D.C, 2010.

Dodaro, Gene. Progress Made and the Work Remaining In Implementing Homeland Security Missions 10 Years After 9/11, U.S Government Accountability Office 2011.

Gorman, Siobhan. NSAs Domestic Spying Grows, as Agency Sweeps Up Data, Wall Street

Journal March 10, 2008

GAO. 2003. Major Management Challenges and Program Risks Department of Homeland

Security GAO 03-102, Washington, DC

Lipton, Eric.Homeland Security Department Is Accused of Credit Card Misuse. The New

York Times, October 31, 2007.

Murphy W. Laura. 2010. Stopping the Flow of Power to the Executive Branch, U.S House of

Representatives, Dec 9, 2010

Shedd, David, 2010.Policy plans and Requirements, Available from http://www.dni.gov

University of New Mexico. The U.S. Intelligence Community, 2014. Available from http://nssp.unm.edu/the-intelligence-community/index.html


[1] University of New Mexico. The U.S. Intelligence Community, 2014. Available from http://nssp.unm.edu/the-intelligence-community/index.html

[2] Gorman, Siobhan. NSAs Domestic Spying Grows, as Agency Sweeps Up Data, Wall Street

Journal March 10, 2008

[3] DHS. Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Report: A strategic Framework for a secure

Homeland, Washington D.C, 2010

[4] Shedd, David, 2010.Policy plans and Requirements, Available from http://www.dni.gov

[5] Murphy W. Laura. 2010. Stopping the Flow of Power to the Executive Branch, U.S House of

Representatives, Dec 9, 2010

[6] DHS, 2011. Fusion centers, empowering state and local Partners to address Homeland security issues. Available from http://blog.dhs.gov/2011/07/fusion centers

[7] Dodaro, Gene. Progress Made and the Work Remaining In Implementing Homeland Security Missions 10 Years After 9/11, U.S Government Accountability Office 2011.

[8] DHS. Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Report: A strategic Framework for a secure

Homeland, Washington D.C, 2010.

[9] GAO. 2003. Major Management Challenges and Program Risks Department of Homeland

Security GAO 03-102, Washington, DC

[10] Lipton, Eric.Homeland Security Department Is Accused of Credit Card Misuse. The New

York Times, October 31, 2007.

[11] GAO. 2003. Major Management Challenges and Program Risks Department of Homeland

Security GAO 03-102, Washington, DC

[12] ibid

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    • Seasunit America profile image

      Seasunit America 3 years ago from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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