The FBI and NCTC
United to Protect
The FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center
Before the attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Intelligence Community had no central location from which to pool, share, and analyze information specifically related to terrorist threats.
Now, in an unprecedented government integration effort, experts from 16 federal agencies are sitting side by side at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) with one major mission: avoiding another major terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Under law as well as executive order, NCTC serves as the nation’s primary agency for analyzing and integrating terrorism intelligence. It also conducts strategic operational planning for counterterrorism operations at home and abroad.
|The NCTC entrance.
Analysts and other specialists at NCTC have access to the raw intelligence reports of the entire Intelligence Community. They are tasked with sifting through massive amounts of data, looking for clues about potential attacks.
Created by Congress in 2004 and led by the Director of National Intelligence, NCTC tracks threats 24 hours a day from inside its Northern Virginia facility. FBI personnel—many from the Bureau’s Counterterrorism Division—are among those who work at NCTC, with all-source intelligence analysts representing the largest group. “Working in this environment gives you insight into the culture of the other agencies, how they do business, how they think,” says one FBI employee working at NCTC.
The heart of NCTC is its state-of-the-art Operations Center (OC), which is equipped with multiple computer stations, overhead flat-screen televisions, and other technology that facilitates the flow of information. The employees working there wear NCTC badges—not badges listing their home agencies—reinforcing the notion that employees in the OC work together as a single, integrated staff.
“We look at everyone here as a community player,” explains an FBI employee who works at NCTC. Multiple times a day, NCTC analysts and other counterterrorism specialists gather for secure video teleconferences (SVTCs) with other members of the Intelligence Community. During these conferences, participants provide updates on the latest threats and ensure information gets to those who need it.
Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups inspired by them remain resilient, but the unprecedented access to integrated terrorism information funneling through NCTC is a significant step in the campaign to prevent attacks and dismantle terrorist networks.
For more information on NCTC, including an informational video on the organization’s mission and priorities, please visit www.nctc.gov.