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The Way Ahead

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The Way Ahead

The immense lack of strategic vision is the biggest problem that needs to be addressed within the counterintelligence field. Jennifer E. Simms and Burton Gerber emphasize three root causes that contribute to the weaknesses in the counterintelligence process in their article, The Way Ahead. Technological change, political culture and confused purposes are among the three contributors discussed in the article. United States counterintelligence can be used to its maximum potential only if these three issues can be controlled and improved upon.
As new technologies are introduced, new frustrations and complications for counterintelligence agencies arise. New detection technology forces agencies to adapt to an evolving technological world, causing countless problems. These new technologies however, need to be implemented between intelligence agencies and private industries. When properly collaborated remarkable things can take place; an example of this can be seen in the Circuit City store in New Jersey. The police were notified after an employee had been asked to make copies of an incendiary video. The FBI prevented an attack at Fort Dix due to the information passed down by the police officers.
Many civilians have the capability to hack into computer networks and patrol the internet. Atlantic Monthly reported that these individuals use both deception strategies and technical counterintelligence to catch con artists on the web. These hackers need to be aware of possible threats as well as whom to contact when that threat arises. In a proactive sense, top government agencies could instead recruit these individuals and utilize their hacking talents rather than hoping they contact the agency. It appears as though counterintelligence has left its offensive operations behind, and instead tends to focus on the defensive aspects of operations. This makes it difficult to catch up to speed on the capabilities of new threats or the technology to counter those threats. Counterintelligence cannot be defined by one term, but instead is confusing and has a broad variety of functions. However if a balance could be found between offensive and defensive counterintelligence, some of the weight of defense would be lifted off of intelligence agencies shoulders.
Counterintelligence and counterterrorism have been meshed together since the September 11th attacks. In a sense, these two terms are alike in the fact that they both fight hostiles. Where they differ is that counterterrorism’s activities deal solely on containing terrorists; and counterintelligence’s mission is broader in the sense that they fight hostile intelligence efforts, whether that is local, foreign, violent, or seemingly peaceful efforts. Although these two missions are linked, they are not identical to one another. When they do not possess the inability to separate them from themselves, disaster strikes and unsuccessful results are produced. Counterintelligence efforts tend to become too entwined in counterterrorism, and homeland security is then pushed to the backburner. This is not to discredit the many improvements counterintelligence has had in the events following September 11, but there is always more work to be done.
Jennifer E. Sims and Burton Gerber outline six steps that should immediately be taken to further enhance and develop our counterintelligence strategies. Firstly, federal governments need not expand their power but instead expand their connections with ordinary citizens and “first responders”. These people are willing to fight terrorism, given the chance and knowledge on how to help; and they can greatly improve our counterintelligence community. Secondly, counterintelligence needs to unravel itself from the counterterrorism mission and realign with national security. Thirdly, it is recommended that creativity be embraced and encouraged in the seemingly dull and old-fashioned workforce. Fourthly, in order to promote selective security, the “need-to-know” policy needs to be upheld at all costs. Fifthly, the U.S. intelligence communities need to submit a comprehensive rationale for the arising national domestic intelligence capabilities. Lastly, there needs to be a fixation in counterintelligence and intelligence alike, in the Congress, and at state and city levels (Sims/Gerber 287-292).
The FBI and CIA have a mischievous air about their actions that often leads the common American public to distrust their intentions. It is easy to apply such negative connotations to these organizations when what is done by the American tax dollars is taken into account. Tapping phone lines, stalking the internet and walking the thin line of privacy invasion are rarely looked upon in a positive light. It is important to inform the public and remind the FBI and CIA that it is counterintelligence’s goal to protect the American public through the securing of intelligence, without tromping on the liberties of the American populace.
Clearly it is time to reform the United States counterintelligence program. If change is not implemented, then U.S counterintelligence will forever be lagging behind our oppositions. The counterintelligence community and methods must evolve with the ever changing world in order to survive and overcome. With the incorporation of all available foreign and domestic resources, we can see counterintelligence transform into something truly successful.

Jennifer E. Sims Dr. Jennifer E. Sims is the director on Intelligence Studies and is a professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University Walsh School or Foreign Service. She earned her BA from Oberlin College and her MA, as well as her PhD from John Hopkins University. She serves as a consultant for both government and private corporations in regards to homeland security. Dr. Sims has previously served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence Coordination and as the Department of Stat’s first Coordinator for Intelligence Resources and Planning.
Burton Gerber Burton Gerber worked as a case officer for the Central Intelligence Agency for roughly 39 years. He served in the United States Army after graduating with High Honors from Michigan State University. It was there where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations. Now, he is currently a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, the Royal Society of Asian Affairs, and the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs.
The credentials of these two highly impressive authors of the article, The Way Ahead, are more than excellent. The ideas presented in their article are supported immensely due to their past and present history in the intelligence community.

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