from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
September 28, 2001


The defects of the U.S. intelligence bureaucracy can no longer be ignored, says the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in a new report which urges structural reforms and increased resources for intelligence.

"The United States has placed undue risks on its national security interests by not redressing the many critical problems facing the Intelligence Community," the Committee report said. "There is a fundamental need for both a cultural revolution within the Intelligence Community as well as significant structural changes."

The Committee cites the familiar litany of problems in human intelligence, signals intelligence, analysis, and foreign language capability and "implores" the Administration to revise its budget planning to allocate greater resources for intelligence, "our first line of defense."

The Committee notes that two Bush Administration reviews of intelligence are underway. "If history serves, however, no major substantive changes will occur after these reviews are complete. The Committee believes that major changes are necessary."

"The Administration must broadly address the shortfalls and needs of the Community, lest we continue to suffer attacks such as those inflicted on September 11, 2001--or worse!"

The new House Intelligence Committee report, dated September 26, is available here:


"Any effective anti-terrorism campaign must include tracking the money supply that funds terrorism and shutting it down," said Senator Carl Levin on Wednesday. "Disrupting terrorists' financial networks is vital to ending their ability to carry out massive terrorist operations like the September 11th tragedy."

An attempt to carry out such disruption is already one of the prongs of the U.S. government's response to the recent terrorist attacks. While there are intrinsic limits to what can be accomplished through this approach, there is also evidently much that can be achieved.

With this in mind, the Treasury Department has established a new Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Center which "is dedicated to identifying the financial infrastructure of terrorist organizations worldwide and curtail their ability to move money through the international banking system."

These and related efforts were the subject of a particularly informative hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on September 26.

Senator Levin described what is already known about the financing of the al-Qaeda network. Treasury Under Secretary Jimmy Gurule reported on the new Tracking Center and the 2001 National Money Laundering Strategy. Jonathan Winer, a former State Department deputy assistant secretary, discussed "what we can do to combat terrorist finance" and provided a detailed set of options.

The prepared testimony from the Senate Banking Committee hearing may be found here:

On September 24, President Bush issued an executive order that "expands the Treasury Department's power to target the support structure of terrorist organizations." See:


The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is the law governing intelligence surveillance and physical search of those who are suspected of being agents of a foreign power.

Amendments to that law are now under consideration in Congress in connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The last time that FISA was subjected to significant congressional investigation and amendment was in the aftermath of the Wen Ho Lee case last year.

The transcript of a March 2000 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on FISA and the "Counterintelligence Reform Act of 2000" was published last week. It is available here:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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