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 NSD is to carry out the Department's highest priority: to protect and defend the United States against the full range of national security threats, consistent with the rule of law. 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 (IC) on the other, thus strengthening the effectiveness of the Federal Government's national security efforts.
The NSD is led by an Assistant Attorney General, who is supported by a Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Chief of Staff, Executive Officer, and four Deputy Assistant Attorneys General who oversee the Division’s components.
The National Security Division's major responsibilities include:
Intelligence Operations and Litigation
- Ensure that IC agencies have the legal tools necessary to conduct intelligence operations.
- Represent the United States before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to obtain authorizations under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in international terrorism, espionage, and other national security-related investigations;
- Oversee certain foreign intelligence 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;
- Monitor certain intelligence 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;
- Fulfill statutory, Congressional, and judicial reporting requirements related to foreign intelligence and other national security activities;
- Coordinate and supervise intelligence-related litigation matters, including reviewing requests to use or disclose information collected under FISA in criminal, civil, and administrative proceedings and responding to motions for disclosure of FISA applications or suppression of FISA-derived evidence; and
- Serve as the Department's primary liaison to the Director of National Intelligence and the Intelligence Community on FISA-related matters.
- Promote and oversee a coordinated national counterterrorism enforcement program;
- Coordinate, develop and supervise the investigation and prosecution of terrorism-related cases through coordinated efforts and close collaboration with Department leadership, the National Security Branch of the FBI, the IC, and the 94 United States Attorneys' Offices (USAOs);
- Develop national strategies for combating emerging and evolving terrorism threats, including the threat of cyber-based terrorism;
- Oversee and support the National Security 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;
- Consult, advise, and train and collaborate 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);
- Share information with and providing advice to international prosecutors, agents, and investigating magistrates to assist in addressing international threat information and litigation initiatives; and
- Manage the Department'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.
Counterintelligence and Export Control
- Coordinate, develop and supervise the investigation and prosecution of espionage and related cases (including economic espionage and trade secret theft) through coordinated efforts and close collaboration with Department leadership, the FBI, the IC, and the 94 USAOs;
- Coordinate, develop, and supervise investigations, prosecutions and national strategies for combating emerging and evolving cyber threats from state-sponsored computer intrusions and attacks;
- Coordinate, develop, and supervise 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;
- Coordinate, develop, and supervise cases involving the unauthorized disclosure of classified information and supporting resulting prosecutions by providing advice and assistance with the application of CIPA;
- Counter malign foreign influence, including through enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA) and related statutes;
- Coordinate with interagency partners the use of all tools to protect our national assets, including use of law enforcement tools, economic sanctions, and diplomatic solutions; and
- Conduct corporate and community outreach relating to cyber security and other issues relating to the protection of our national assets.
Policy and Other Legal Issues
- Handle 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;
- Provide legal and policy advice on the national security aspects of cybersecurity policy and cyber-related operational activities;
- Provide 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;
- Provide 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 and Department leadership;
- Provide 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;
- Develop a training curriculum for prosecutors and investigators on cutting-edge tactics, substantive law, and relevant policies and procedures; and
- Support the Department of Justice’s participation in the National Security Council.
- Perform 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;
- Track and monitoring certain transactions that have been approved, including those subject to mitigation agreements, and identifying unreported transactions that might merit CFIUS review;
- Chair the process by which the Executive Branch responds to Federal Communication Commission (FCC) requests for views relating to the national security and law enforcement implications of certain transactions relating to FCC licenses, informally known as Team Telecom, pursuant to Executive Order 13913.
- Track and monitor certain transactions that have been approved pursuant to this process; and
- Coordinate with law enforcement and IC partners to conduct community outreach and corporate engagement relating to national security issues.
Victims of Overseas Terrorism - The Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVT) supports U.S. victims of overseas terrorism by helping them navigate foreign criminal justice systems and by advocating for their voices to be heard around the world.