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The U.S. Domestic Intelligence Enterprise

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One of the questions in the fight against terrorism is whether the United States needs a dedicated domestic intelligence agency separate from law enforcement, on the model of many comparable democracies. To examine this issue, Congress directed that the Department of Homeland Security perform an independent study on the feasibility of creating a counterterrorism intelligence agency and the department turned to the RAND Corporation for this analysis but asked it specifically not to make a recommendation. This volume lays out the relevant considerations for creating such an agency. It draws on a variety of research methods, including historical and legal analysis; a review of organizational theory; examination of current domestic intelligence efforts, their history, and the public's view of them; examination of the domestic intelligence agencies in six other democracies; and interviews with an expert panel made up of current and former intelligence and law enforcement professionals. The monograph highlights five principal problems that might be seen to afflict current domestic intelligence enterprise; for each, there are several possible solutions, and the creation of a new agency addresses only some of the five problems. The volume discusses how a technique called break-even analysis can be used to evaluate proposals for a new agency in the context of the perceived magnitude of the terrorism threat. It concludes with a discussion of how to address the unanswered questions and lack of information that currently cloud the debate over whether to create a dedicated domestic intelligence agency.

This research was sponsored by the United States Department of Homeland Security and was conducted jointly under the auspices of the Homeland Security Program within RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment and the Intelligence Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division.

This report is part of the RAND monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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