The FBI as an Intelligence Organization

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has increasingly supplemented its traditional law enforcement role with new intelligence and counterterrorism functions, now says its paramount objective is to “prevent, disrupt, and defeat terrorist operations before they occur.”

New domestic intelligence collection activities that have been adopted in pursuit of this goal are described in unusual detail in the Bureau’s 2008 budget request (pdf).

Special attention is given to cultivating human intelligence sources.

“The FBI recruits new CHSs [confidential human sources] every day,” the budget request notes. But without increased budget support, the FBI says it will not be possible to validate these sources and to determine the credibility of the information they provide.

“With current resources, the FBI is unable to reach a point where all CHSs are successfully subjected to the CHSV [confidential human source validation] process.”

The budget request refers in passing to “more than 15,000″ confidential human sources requiring validation (page 4-24).

The FBI also seeks new funds for intelligence collection training and operations.

“Without this training, the FBI would lack the full capacity to provide SAs [special agents] the comprehensive tradecraft, procedural, legal and policy direction needed to execute the significant and constitutionally sensitive domestic intelligence collection mission with confidence,” the budget document states (page 4-27).

The FBI’s budgetary focus on expanding its human intelligence capability was first reported by Justin Rood of ABC News. See “FBI Proposes Building Network of U.S. Informants,” July 25.

The same FBI budget document provides significant new detail on other FBI intelligence and counterterrorism activities, as well as the FBI open source program, the National Virtual Translation Center, and other initiatives.

The Washington Post reported that there were nearly 20,000 positive matches of individuals seeking to enter the United States who were flagged by the Terrorist Screening Center, according to the FBI budget request. Despite the surprisingly large figure, only a small number of arrests resulted.

See “Terror Suspect List Yields Few Arrests” by Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, August 25.