FBI needs improvements to combat extremism: report

Published March 26th, 2015 - 05:00 GMT
The FBI must work to improve its intelligence capabilities and information sharing to counter continuing threats, a report said Wednesday. (AFP/File)
The FBI must work to improve its intelligence capabilities and information sharing to counter continuing threats, a report said Wednesday. (AFP/File)

The FBI must work to improve its intelligence capabilities and information sharing to counter continuing threats, the FBI 9/11 Review Commission said in a report released Wednesday.

The commission, created last year by congressional mandate, said the FBI has made "measurable progress building a threat-based, intelligence driven-national security organization," but needs to step up the pace to counter its "change-resistant culture" and "fulfill its expanding global mission as a fully integrated, intelligence-driven investigative organization under visional leadership and enabled by state-of-the-art technology."

The 127-page report, "The FBI: Protecting the Homeland in the 21st Century," details the successes and weaknesses in the crime-fighting agency.

The commission reviewed the FBI offices nationally over a period of 10 months. The panel consisted of Bruce Hoffman, a Georgetown University professor of security studies; former Attorney General Edwin Meese; and Timothy J. Roemer, a former Democratic House member and former ambassador to India.

Commission members looked at five high-profile terror cases and found there was no meaningful informant information in the investigations. Members said the FBI should have had intelligence in cases that included a thwarted al-Qaeda attack on New York's subways in 2009 and the botched 2010 Time Square bombing.

Also among the 12 findings in the report:

While the FBI continues to investigate the 9/11 attacks, "there is no new evidence to date that would change the 9/11 Commission's findings regarding responsibility for the 9/11 attacks."

The leadership at all levels of the FBI is "not unified or consistent in driving cultural change." The frequent turnover in leadership "seriously hampers the pace of reform."

The bureau is lagging behind in programs that include development of a strong roster of informants.

The FBI must more quickly share information with the intelligence communities and local and state law enforcement.

The agency needs to recruit people with specialized skills to handle complex cyberthreats.

The FBI has enough linguists in the larger offices, but is in need in the smaller ones. 

"The Review Commission recognizes this is a challenging process; however, hiring additional linguists and integrating them into operations should be a high priority," the report said.

By Amy R. Connolly


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