Review of United States Attorneys' Offices' Use of Intelligence Research Specialists
Evaluation and Inspections Report I-2006-003
Office of the Inspector General
According to the 79 intelligence research specialists interviewed, the three functions of their positions are intelligence analysis, information sharing, and JTTF and ATAC duties. The number of intelligence research specialists reporting that they perform each function is shown in Chart 4 below. Each function is discussed in the sections below.
Chart 4: Number of Intelligence Research Specialists
Seventy-six of 79 intelligence research specialists (96 percent) stated that their duties included information sharing. Our review identified that in their information sharing function, intelligence research specialists obtain, coordinate, and disseminate information related to terrorists and terrorist networks; provide the U.S. Attorneys with access to classified criminal intelligence and law enforcement sensitive information; and provide a liaison to federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement, as well as with national intelligence agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency.
The intelligence research specialists also share information by providing training to groups outside the Department, including local communities and businesses, and state and local law enforcement agencies. Intelligence research specialists reported to us that they have provided training on money laundering, port security, and other topics related to domestic and international terrorism. One example of information sharing through training is the development of a training module on port security issues. The Intensive Marine Port Area Counter-Terrorism Program focused on pre-incident indicators and prevention at maritime ports. Representatives from over 50 agencies and departments worked together to develop the 2-day curriculum that was presented in various cities in Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi. Training participants included law enforcement officers, first responders, and security professionals from private industries.
Fifty of 79 (63 percent) intelligence research specialists reported that they perform intelligence analysis. The Attorney General recognized the importance of analyzing intelligence information, stating, “Beyond collection and dissemination, information in your custody must be carefully and expertly analyzed in order to assess its relevance and reliability in identifying threats and investigative leads.”29 The Attorney General therefore directed the U.S. Attorneys to assess and improve their intelligence analysis capabilities. The Executive Assistant Director for the FBI’s Directorate of Intelligence also stated that turning raw data into actionable intelligence is an important added value that the intelligence research specialists can offer to the USAOs and the Department.
Intelligence analysis may include such activities as conducting case reviews, analyzing specific threats (e.g., threats posed by specific groups), and providing risk assessments (e.g., to identify vulnerabilities in a district or industry). This involves analyzing information from various sources to identify threats, offer courses of action, or provide insight on topics of interest. For example, during a USAO case review, the intelligence research specialist can identify possible terrorist links, work with the JTTF and the FIG to identify terrorist connections, check subjects against the proper databases for possible terrorism connections or other current wants and warrants; perform analysis to identify links between suspects and other individuals; review declined cases to ensure that no connections were missed; and brief the ATAC Coordinator and U.S. Attorney as appropriate.
JTTF and ATAC Activities
The third function relates to JTTF and ATAC activities. During our interviews, 58 of 79 intelligence research specialists (73 percent) reported that they worked with both the JTTF and the ATAC in their districts. Another 10 intelligence research specialists reported working with the ATAC only, and 7 reported working with the JTTF only. Overall, 75 of 79 intelligence research specialists (95 percent) reported participating on the ATAC, JTTF, or both.
The intelligence research specialists who participated on an ATAC or JTTF told us that their duties included coordinating ATAC meetings; sharing information with state, tribal, and local law enforcement through ATAC meetings or newsletters; working with the JTTF as a representative of both the ATAC and the USAO; providing advice, information, logistical support, and intelligence analysis to both the ATAC and the JTTF; and filtering intelligence bulletins for distribution to the appropriate ATAC or JTTF members. For example, two intelligence research specialists from different districts shared with each other Law Enforcement Sensitive information about a potential domestic terrorist group with ties to both districts. After reviewing the information and meeting with the FBI’s JTTFs, the JTTFs in each district began and are conducting investigations of the group.
Although most intelligence research specialists worked with the ATAC and JTTF, we asked the 21 intelligence research specialists who reported that they did not participate on the local ATAC or JTTF why they did not. The reasons included that there was no active ATAC in their district (7), there was no nearby JTTF (7), the workload did not allow the intelligence research specialist to support both groups (6), or their USAO had decided not to support their participation on the JTTF (1).
The table below identifies some best practice examples for each function.