FBI Intelligence Chief Maureen Baginski Details Proposed Intelligence Directorate
are you proposing an Intelligence Directorate inside the FBI?
Baginski: It's the next logical step in improving
our intelligence capabilities. If you think about it, we started
creating a "service within a service" right after
9/11. In a disciplined way, we've gone from building our intelligence
capabilities in counterterrorism and then in the FBI as a whole
with a new Office of Intelligence and an Executive Assistant
Director for Intelligence. Now, we're moving to the next level
with a proposal to create a Directorate with authority over
resources. It's something we have to do to better protect the
is that budget authority so important?
Baginski: It comes down to this: how do we make sure
our intelligence program has the right amount of influence
within the organization? One essential way is to let the intelligence
authority control where resources are going, based on the threats
that it sees now and on the horizon. My job is to do the threat
forecasting, and the resources have to be lined up against
those threats. It's that simple.
kind of resources are you talking about?
Baginski: Here's an example: our linguists. The 9/11
Commission correctly recognized that our linguists weren't
necessarily connected to our intelligence requirements -- in
other words, the information we've decided is most important
to look for in terms of the threats. We've made changes to
improve that, but we can do better. So we're now proposing
that our language experts actually be managed by the Intelligence
Directorate so there is a close connection between what the
information the FBI needs as a whole and what they are looking
for when they do their translations.
will centralized management help in the collection of intelligence?
Baginski: It's one of the lessons we learned from
9/11. What's most important is the information itself, not
how or why it's collected. And that information can come from
anywhere. You can't forget the criminal intelligence base this
organization has. You can get terrorism information from criminal
cases, for example, and we have. So it's paramount to have
a mechanism in place to make sure the information gets synthesized,
regardless of where it comes from.
the threats to the United States change, will this structure
be adequate to address them?
Baginski: Yes. The Directorate would endure, because
it's threat-driven. So if we begin forecasting a threat five
years out, we will begin hiring people to work those threats
and begin moving people in that direction. That way, we'll
be out ahead of threats as they are developing and we'll be
the agile, adaptive organization we need to be.
you proposing this Directorate in order to head off efforts
to create a separate domestic intelligence agency?
Baginski: No. Congress and the President will make
that call. And we think this proposal is necessary regardless
of what's decided. Intelligence naturally flows out of our
investigative mission; it always has. I can't think of a time
when we wouldn't have vital information about those who would
do us harm that we would need to share with the larger national
security and intelligence community. So we have to get intelligence
right, and this proposal will deepen our capabilities.