The intelligence community comprises the many agencies and organizations responsible for intelligence gathering, analysis, and other activities that affect foreign policy and national security. RAND conducts research, develops tools, and provides recommendations to U.S. and allied decisionmakers to support their efforts at gathering and interpreting high-quality information.
Counterterrorism is not just about daring raids and drone strikes. It is about the hard work of collecting and sifting through vast amounts of information and managing relationships among organizations that often regard sharing information as an unnatural act.
Americans should be able to discuss the terrorist threat and how best to meet it, how much of the country’s precious resources should be devoted to homeland security, and the impact intelligence efforts can have on personal privacy and freedom.
Metadata from a phone call include information such as the direction (who called whom), length, date and time. The program does not record the location or the name associated with a call. No one is listening to the call and no content is recorded.
The U.S. should make two key reforms. First, the over-designation of material as classified makes it is harder to protect the few real secrets; this must be change. Second, the FISA court must become a gatekeeper for NSA access to communications data.
The chief political drawback is that target countries' populations view drone attacks as violations of their sovereignty every bit as much as manned raids. The chief military drawback: A drone attack destroys the critical intelligence that is needed to ensure that the tactical strike can be converted to strategic advantage.
Special operations to capture terrorists are more dangerous than drone strikes, and nimble terrorist adversaries will develop countermeasures to make them even more difficult. But they are politically more acceptable and offer opportunities for intelligence and the visible delivery of justice.
Domestic intelligence in the United States is an activity with a history, and efforts to consider future policy on this issue need to take that history into account, writes Brian Jackson. Public acceptability must be part of the calculus in devising oversight and control of intelligence efforts.
The recent decision to close 19 U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa because of intelligence indicating terrorist planning for unspecific attacks underscores the need to continue focusing attention and resources on the danger al-Qaida and its affiliates pose to the United States and its allies.
The Army's Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) program has been getting much attention from Congress, and its future was the subject of a heated exchange between the Army's Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno and Representative Duncan Hunter in May.
Unfortunately, during the Snowden affair, many news outlets have spent more time examining ways the government could abuse the information it has access to while giving scant mention to the lengths to which the intelligence community goes to protect privacy, writes Andrew Liepman.
The risk of overreaching in the name of homeland security is great. But the best and most likely outcome of this latest attack would be a measured security response built around Americans engaging anew in their own security, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.
The post-Vietnam “never again” attitude led to a severe atrophy of the U.S. military's counterinsurgency skills and it is quite possible that the U.S. military will go through a similar phase of unlearning over the next several years, writes James Dobbins.
A constrictive rule book against direct-action counterterrorism techniques could be in tension with operational realities. But it would go some way toward establishing the legal and ethical framework under which such difficult decisions are made, writes Patrick Johnston.
For many U.S.-born terror recruits, the prospect of blowing things up is a solution to an unsatisfactory life. Terrorism does not attract the well-adjusted, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.
Exploring how people use social media has provided useful insight into public opinion. This insight may be particularly valuable in countries where freedom of expression may be limited, for whom social media may serve as an important outlet, writes Douglas Yeung.
When terrorists are afraid to poke their heads above ground, it becomes exceedingly difficult for them to communicate, coordinate, and conduct attacks—especially sophisticated ones like 9/11, writes Patrick B. Johnston.
Questions not asked or stories not imagined by policy are not likely to be answered or developed by intelligence, writes Gregory F. Treverton.
Wary of communicating with each other and with al Qaeda's field commands, al Qaeda central could become more isolated, more dependent on its affiliates, allied groups, and individual acolytes, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.
Anyone concerned about nuclear proliferation or interested in the world of espionage will want to read Catherine Collins and Douglas Frantz's provocative new book, "Fallout: The True Story of the CIA's Secret War on Nuclear Trafficking," which tells a fascinating story whose characters come straight out of a spy novel, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.
Why aren't there more Times Square bombers? It is not a complaint, but a question that intrigues terrorism analysts. Why haven't more jihadist terrorist attacks been attempted in the United States since 9/11?, asks Brian Michael Jenkins.