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Counter-Terrorism Efforts and Changes

Over the past decade, the Justice Department and its component agencies have fundamentally restructured their operations to better address national security threats and prevent terrorist attacks.  Some of the major structural reforms during this period include the following:

Creating the Justice Departmentís National Security Division

In 2006, the Justice Department created the National Security Division (NSD), the first new Justice Department division in 49 years, to merge the department’s primary national security components into a single division to more effectively combat national security threats.  The division brought together the former Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, the Counterterrorism Section and the Counterespionage Section from separate parts of the department.  The new Office of Law and Policy, the Executive Office and the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism have completed the NSD.  NSD’s structure is designed to fuse the authorities and capabilities of the law enforcement and intelligence communities to strengthen the government’s national security efforts.  Since its inception, some of NSD’s accomplishments include:

  • Improved coordination between prosecutors and law enforcement agencies, on the one hand, and intelligence attorneys and the Intelligence Community, on the other, to strengthen the effectiveness of the nation’s counterterrorism efforts.
  • Developed and promoted a national counterterrorism enforcement program that has yielded prosecutions against hundreds of defendants as a result of collaboration with department leadership, the FBI, the intelligence community and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices.
  • Re-organized and dramatically increased staffing for the Office of Intelligence (formerly the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review), with three new sections to handle the increased Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) workload, better coordinate FISA litigation and improve national security oversight.
  • Reviewed, processed and submitted thousands of FISA applications to the FISA Court on behalf of the government to ensure that intelligence community agencies have the legal authorities necessary to conduct intelligence operations.
  • With the lowering of the FISA “wall” between intelligence and law enforcement investigations, NSD has overseen and processed a steady increase in the number of requests to use information from FISA-authorized activities as evidence in criminal prosecutions of terrorists and spies.
  • Created and staffed a new Office of Law and Policy to harmonize national security legal and policy functions for the entire department, and to promote important national security priorities, such as updating FISA and other legislation, supporting cyber security efforts and strengthening counter-terrorism capabilities of our partners overseas.
  • Funded and staffed the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism, and designated 159 international terrorism events to allow for U.S. victim expense reimbursement.

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Transforming the FBI to Meet the New Threat

Since 9/11, the FBI has undertaken the most significant transformation in its history.  The bureau has restructured its operations in order to better detect, penetrate and dismantle terrorist enterprises as part of its larger cultural shift to a threat-based, intelligence-driven, national security organization.  Today, the FBI serves as a vital link between the intelligence and law enforcement communities, bringing the discipline of the criminal justice system to its domestic intelligence activities in a manner that is consistent with American expectations and protections for privacy and civil liberties.  As part of this strategic shift, the FBI has overhauled its counterterrorism operations, expanded its intelligence capabilities, modernized its business practices and technologies, and improved coordination with its partners.  Some of the major changes include:

  • Established clear priorities emphasizing prevention while ensuring the protection of privacy rights and civil liberties.
  • Established the FBI National Security Branch in 2005, which centralized the FBI’s national security programs, including its Counterterrorism Division, Counterintelligence Division, Directorate of Intelligence, Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate and the Terrorist Screening Center, into a single branch.
  • Established Field Intelligence Groups in all 56 FBI field offices and embedded intelligence groups in each operational division at FBI headquarters.
  • Doubled the number of FBI intelligence analysts and tripled the number of linguists.
  • Created the National Joint Terrorism Task Force (NJTTF) at FBI headquarters, consisting of approximately 41 member agencies.
  • Realigned resources, shifting some agents from criminal programs to counterterrorism matters and creating threat-based fusion cells to address the FBI’s top counterterrorism priorities, and to ensure that the collection of intelligence is focused against priority threats.
  • Established various units that have enhanced counterterrorism capabilities, including the 24/7 Counterterrorism Watch, which serves as the FBI’s primary point of notification for all potential terrorist threats; the Terrorism Financing Operation Section, which centralizes efforts to track and shut down terrorist financing; and fly teams, which respond to terrorism incidents or threats around the world.
  • Created and implemented a new operating manual for domestic operations based on new Attorney General Guidelines that apply across all program areas.

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September 11th Victim Compensation Fund
Ten Years After: The FBI Since 9/11
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