Organization, Mission and Functions Manual: National Security Division

National Security Division Organization Chart

National Security Division Organization Chart (Text)

The National Security Division (NSD) was created in March 2006 by the USA PATRIOT Reauthorization and Improvement Act (Pub. L. No. 109-177). The creation of the NSD consolidated the Justice Department’s primary national security operations: the former Office of Intelligence Policy and Review and the Counterterrorism and Counterespionage Sections of the Criminal Division. The new Office of Law and Policy and the Executive Office, as well as the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (which previously operated out of the Criminal Division, complete the NSD) complete the NSD. The NSD commenced operations in September 2006 upon the swearing in of the first Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

The mission of the National Security Division is to carry out the Department's highest priority: to combat terrorism and other threats to national security. NSD is designed to ensure greater coordination and unity of purpose between prosecutors and law enforcement agencies on the one hand, and intelligence attorneys and the Intelligence Community on the other, thus strengthening the effectiveness of the Federal Government's national security efforts.

The National Security Division's major responsibilities include:

Intelligence Operations and Litigation

  • Ensuring that IC agencies have the legal tools necessary to conduct intelligence operations.
  • Representing the United States before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to obtain authorization under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for government agencies to conduct intelligence collection activities;
  • Coordinating and supervising intelligence-related litigation matters, including the evaluation and review of requests to use information collected under FISA in criminal and non-criminal proceedings and to disseminate FISA information; and
  • Serving as the Department's primary liaison to the Director of National Intelligence and the IC.


  • Promoting and overseeing a coordinated national counterterrorism enforcement program, through close collaboration with Department leadership, the National Security Branch of the FBI, the IC, and the 94 United States Attorneys' Offices (USAOs);
  • Developing national strategies for combating emerging and evolving terrorism threats, including the threat of cyber-based terrorism;
  • Overseeing and supporting the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council (ATAC) program by:

    1) collaborating with prosecutors nationwide on terrorism matters, cases, and threat information;
    2) maintaining an essential communication network between the Department and USAOs for the rapid transmission of information on terrorism threats and investigative activity; and
    3) managing and supporting ATAC activities and initiatives;
  • Consulting, advising, and collaborating with prosecutors nationwide on international and domestic terrorism investigations, prosecutions, and appeals, including the use of classified evidence through the application of the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA);
  • Sharing information with and providing advice to international prosecutors, agents, and investigating magistrates to assist in addressing international threat information and litigation initiatives; and
  • Managing DOJ's work on counter-terrorist financing programs, including supporting the process for designating Foreign Terrorist Organizations and Specially Designated Global Terrorists as well as staffing U.S. Government efforts on the Financial Action Task Force.


  • Supporting and supervising the investigation and prosecution of espionage and related cases through coordinated efforts and close collaboration with Department leadership, the FBI, the IC, and the 94 USAOs;
  • Developing national strategies for combating the emerging and evolving threat of cyber-based espionage and state-sponsored cyber intrusions;
  • Assisting in and overseeing the expansion of investigations and prosecutions into the unlawful export of military and strategic commodities and technology, including by assisting and providing guidance to USAOs in the establishment of Export Control Proliferation Task Forces;
  • Coordinating and providing advice in connection with cases involving the unauthorized disclosure of classified information and supporting resulting prosecutions by providing advice and assistance with the application of CIPA; and
  • Enforcing the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA) and related disclosure statutes.

Oversight and Reporting

  • Overseeing certain foreign intelligence, counterintelligence, and other national security activities of IC components to ensure compliance with the Constitution, statutes, and Executive Branch policies to protect individual privacy and civil liberties;
  • Monitoring certain intelligence and counterintelligence activities of the FBI to ensure conformity with applicable laws and regulations, FISC orders, and Department procedures, including the foreign intelligence and national security investigation provisions of the Attorney General's Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations; and
  • Fulfilling statutory, Congressional, and judicial reporting requirements related to intelligence, counterintelligence, and other national security activities.

Policy and Other Legal Issues

  • Handling appeals in cases involving national security-related prosecutions, and providing views on appellate issues that may impact national security in other civil, criminal, and military commissions cases;
  • Providing legal and policy advice on the national security aspects of cybersecurity policy and cyber-related operational activities;
  • Providing advice and support on national security issues that arise in an international context, including assisting in bilateral and multilateral engagements with foreign governments and working to build counterterrorism capacities of foreign governments and enhancing international cooperation;
  • Providing advice and support on legislative matters involving national security issues, including developing and commenting on legislation, supporting Departmental engagements with members of Congress and Congressional staff, and preparing testimony for senior Division/Department leadership;
  • Providing legal assistance and advice on matters arising under national security laws and policies, and overseeing the development, coordination, and implementation of Department-wide policies with regard to intelligence, counterintelligence, counterterrorism, and other national security matters;handling issues related to classification and declassification of records, records management, and freedom of information requests and related litigation; and
  • Developing a training curriculum for prosecutors and investigators on cutting-edge tactics, substantive law, and relevant policies and procedures.

Foreign Investment

  • Performing the Department's staff-level work on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews foreign acquisitions of domestic entities that might affect national security and makes recommendations to the President on whether such transactions threaten the national security;
  • Tracking and monitoring certain transactions that have been approved, including those subject to mitigation agreements, and identifying unreported transactions that might merit CFIUS review;
  • Responding to Federal Communication Commission (FCC) requests for the Department's views relating to the national security implications of certain transactions relating to FCC licenses; and
  • Tracking and monitoring certain transactions that have been approved pursuant to this process.

Victims of Terrorism

  • Through NSD's OVT, prioritizing within the Department the investigation and prosecution of terrorist attacks that have resulted in the deaths and/or injuries of American citizens overseas; and
  • Ensuring that the rights of victims and their families are honored and respected, and that victims and their families are supported and informed during the criminal justice process.

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Updated April 15, 2019

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