Sunday, March 25, 2007

In Domestic Intelligence Gathering, the FBI Is Definitely on the Case

Terrorism is not about stopping plots. We can stop plots, and do, with our partners in foreign security services, at CIA, at Homeland Security, with state and local police, and with Americans who help. But terrorists will plot again if we defend against only their schemes and fail to stop the terrorists themselves. So our focus is on what to do about terrorists once we draw an intelligence picture of who they are and what they are up to. When intelligence groups use their unique tools to stop terrorists overseas, they disrupt unilaterally and sometimes with foreign partners, often using those partners' law enforcement tools to take terrorists off the streets. But the end of their often brilliant intelligence operations is disruption: stopping people so they cannot plot again.
We operate within the U.S., and we have a different set of tools. But we have the same end as they do: disruption. Once we fully understand a cell, we can either let it run, which we often do, or take it down. When we take it down, we use tools that reflect American laws, used in ways that reflect American values. We penetrate cells to develop a sufficient understanding of who they are so we can limit the prospects of surprise. And once we have that understanding, we do what our partners do: We disrupt that cell using the tools at our disposal. Any security service around the world—MI5, CIA, Shin Bet—operates using this model

(from The Wall Street Journal, via

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